Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Martin Erdmann is a German writer, poet, retired lecturer of Heidelberg University. He completed studies of English, French, and of legal science, both at the University of Heidelberg. He wrote several books in German focusing on the illusion of the I or Ego. As a cofounder of the German Spiritual Emergence Network (S. E. N) he provided counseling to people undergoing spiritual crises. For several years now he has conducted seminars on Advaita-Vedanta. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org Homepage: www.satsa.de)
Eckhart Tolle's Enlightenment and Ken Wilber's Endarkenment
Abstract: “I cannot live with myself any longer.” This was the thought that kept repeating itself in Eckhart Tolle's mind. Then from nowhere an idea hit him. “If I cannot live with myself”, so he deeply felt, “there must be two of me: the 'I' and the 'self' that 'I' cannot live with." He was “so stunned by this strange realization” that the second party, the myself, instantly dissolved. What remained was the one and only Self he had always been. This was Eckhart Tolle's blissful enlightenment.
Preliminary Warning: The reader is invited to turn back on himself to view the entanglement of the ego. This way the egoic process which enacts itself subconsciously can be made conscious. So it can eventually dissolve. This is no fast food. It may also be a new approach for the reader. Our general disposition is to go outside. Here we make a U-turn to go into an opposite direction. We have to reverse on ourselves to view the obstructions of the ego. This has to do with “how interested and passionate we are in contravening our cherished inclinations”, as David Lane pointed out in his recent essay Being Skeptical of Skeptics.
Table of Contents
1. Wilberland - The Home Country of Ego Superman
To Activate Your Super Human Potential and Become
The Greatest Possible Version of Yourself
“A few days ago, the website Your Superhuman Potential went live offering the above promises, through an online course based on the work of Ken Wilber”, writes Frank Visser in The Wolf of Wilber Street, Integral Goes $uperhuman
On above website we read
Join the renowned author, teacher and living legend Ken Wilber as he shares his latest discoveries about what this superhuman potential means for you and the world, and how you can start to accelerate your own development to unleash the greatest possible version of yourself.
Frank Visser comments
This sales pitch is meant to generate interest for a free online call with Ken Wilber in March 2014:
After this call, however, a $ 997 10-week training is offered to the public, involving hours of interviews with Wilber and contributions by other luminaries.
Here are some prominent selections taken from the website. We read
For the last 30 years, developmental scientists and researchers from around the world have discovered something truly profound.
In "Sorry, It's Just Over Your Head" Chamberlain writes
Wilber in June, 2006: We have the best way, we are in the elite 2%, we are above the herd, we will change the world...
The herd mentality that Wilber should concern himself with is the herd mentality he encourages in his young followers, the groupthink, the in-group versus out-group dynamic, the loading of the language with jargon and psychobabble, the arrogance, narcissism, and grandiosity.
Here are some precepts taken from The Rise and Fall of Ken Wilber composed by Mark Manson, who writes
There's not nearly enough room on this blog to do Wilber's theory justice...
We hear Wilber was done in by his “pride, his need for control”. Chamberlain enunciated: “He succumbed to “arrogance, narcissism, and grandiosity”, which are all manifestations of the ego. This leaves us with a mightily blown up integral ego. The result is that Integral Goes $uperhuman now, as articulated by Visser.
In his article Manson continues to write
The grand irony here is that Wilber's model itself, the Integral framework, accounts for and describes everything I said in the paragraphs above.
The crux of the issue, so I argued in Ken Wilber's Blind Spot, lies in the fact that the ego has never been seen by Wilber, nor by other (transpersonal) theorists. So Wilber naturally succumbed to the very faults he warned us about.
Wilber, writes Manson, “champions the idea of transcending the ego”. It is a statement which implies that Wilber is aware of the ego's nature, for anyone who wants to rise above the ego must know what this ego is, which he wishes to transcend. If he does not, he is like someone who attempts to surmount an object which is hidden from his sight. Wilber, however, has never viewed the ego's essence. So the Wilberian tries to overcome an ego, which he does not see.
The ego is the “shadow self”. The shadow stems from our “unconscious desires”, which “sabotage our greater goals”, says Manson. Wilber who has not seen the ego's nature, has not viewed the shadow's essence. So he is caught up in the dilemma he tries to save us from.
He “succumbed to the same faults he warned us about”, what Manson calls a “grand irony.” There is, so I would like to argue, no real irony involved. What we find here is the natural outcome of Wilber's ill-conceived concepts of an ego.
To resolve our faults we must be aware of the origin of our flaws. As long as the source of our misdeeds is not seen we cannot overcome our failings. For one misdeed discarded another will spring up in its place. As long as the contaminated source is not witnessed, we shall succumb to its polluted outpouring, which will continue to inundate our psyche.
The fact that Wilber “succumbed to the same faults he warned us about”, is not a “grand irony”, as enunciated by Manson. It is the natural outcome of the blindness of a Ken Wilber, who does not see the egoic source of our faults. There is no irony, no paradox, no absurdity involved. What we find here is the natural outgrowth of an ego, which has not been seen.
The ego's essence remained hidden from a Wilberian view. Thus there was no way to have it dissolved. So we see Wilber and Wilberians go on feeding their own shadow without noticing it. What a scenery, what a spectacle enacting itself in Wilberland.
The dilemma of the ego is the major issue of my essay Ken Wilber's Blind Spot, from which excerpts have been included in this essay, linked with numbers of subtitles. Our theorists, so I stated, believe that there is something like the ego to be found.[See: Ken Wilber's Blind Spot - par. 1 The Myth of an Ego] In The Real Cause of Andrew Cohen's Dilemma Part II I argued that the unreal I or ego as such does not exist.
Wilber believes, that the separate I or ego has a real existence. He does so, because he confounds a mere linguistic convention with the reality of life. I write these words, not the I composes these lines. In the same vein the reader of this article will say to himself 'I read these lines'. He will not say 'The I goes through this essay'. Normally we do not speak of the I. We say 'I do this, I neglect to do that'. To explore, examine what we call I, we have to make it a linguistic object of examination. What in everyday speech is called I, must turn into the I, into the Subject, to be properly articulated in our inquiry.
What we call the I or the Ego, does not have any real existence. It is not a separate self as defined by Wilber. The Ego is a state of consciousness I am in. It is myself in an egoic frame of mind. The Ego is a mere linguistic convention we adhere to for our exploration to be conducted. So let us look more deeply into the illusory nature of the I or Ego.
2. Eckhart Tolle's Enlightenment and Ken Wilber's Endarkenment
Imagine that a person you respect, admire walks up to you and says: You are a big fool. In a process, which happens subconsciously, you turn the You into an I. So you say to yourself: I am a big fool to feel angry, depressed maybe. Half an hour later another person whom you highly esteem walks up to you and says: You are a great guy. The big fool is forgotten now, while you keep repeating to yourself: I am a great guy. The anger, the sadness you experienced a while ago has disappeared, sunk to the subconscious ground of your being. So you are no longer aware of it. The result is that you rise and shine now in an elated, in a euphoric state of mind, until you come crushing down again. After the rise comes the fall. So we ride up and down on the wave of the ego.[See: Ken Wilber's Blind Spot, par. 3: The self contracted as ego]
As the unreal I or Ego we try to become a You, an object, while remaining the I who we are. When I try to be a You, I attempt to be something which I am not. This way I become alienated, estranged from my true nature. I am one party, which endeavors to be another party. This creates an inner conflict, which is the breeding ground of all the psychic suffering in the world.
Trying to be an object, a second party, is an absurd undertaking. You cannot be anything but yourself. The object, the You I try to be exists in the other person's mind only. For myself it can have no real life. It is a mere fiction existing in my own mind. This is a truth, which revealed itself to Eckhart Tolle, to bring about the most profound inner transformation of his life. In the following excerpts taken from his Introduction to The Power of Now (199: 1-3) he writes:
Until my thirtieth year, I lived in a state of almost continuous anxiety interspersed with periods of suicidal depression:
I could feel that a deep longing for annihilation, for nonexistence, was now becoming much stronger than the instinctive desire to continue to live.
“I cannot live with myself any longer." This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. "Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the 'I' and the 'self' that 'I' cannot live with." "Maybe," I thought, "only one of them is real. I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped.”
While Tolle's mind stopped, all thoughts, which nourished this fiction of a second party, of a 'self', disappeared. The outcome was an instantaneous dissolution of the illusory “self”. He writes
What was left then was my true nature as the ever-present I am: consciousness in its pure state prior to identification with form. Later I also learned to go into that inner timeless and deathless realm that had originally been perceived as a void and remain fully conscious. I dwelt in states of such indescribable bliss and sacredness that even the original experience I just described pales in comparison.
“I cannot live with myself any longer." This was the thought that kept repeating itself in Tolle's mind. A breath-taking intuition hit him, when he realized that the one he could not live with, the second party, did not exist. The result was that the illusory party instantly disappeared. What was left was the real I, the one and only party he had always been. So his true nature opened up in an ineffable delight. It revealed itself in an unspeakable blessedness, which continued throughout his daily existence. He writes
It wasn't until several years later, after I had read spiritual texts and spent time with spiritual teachers, that I realized that what everybody was looking for had already happened to me.
A time came when, for a while, I was left with nothing on the physical plane. I had no relationships, no job, no home, no socially defined identity. I spent almost two years sitting on park benches in a state of the most intense joy.
Later, people would occasionally come up to me and say: "I want what you have. Can you give it to me, or show me how to get it?"
Before I knew it, I had an external identity again. I had become a spiritual teacher.
In a deeply felt insight Tolle realized that he is the one and real I, which he had always been. So he stopped trying to become another party. The unconscious process directed at making ourselves into an object, evaporated. With it the illusory object was gone as if it had never existed.
What we see here is an enlightened individual, for whom the fictive object has disappeared. So he goes on blissfully living surrounded by an unenlightened mankind which holds on to the illusory object.
Here comes Ken Wilber, who says
I can look at myself, and anything at which l look must be an object of perception. (1999: 308)
So for Ken Wilber myself is an object. A person immersed in a normal egoic consciousness does not say; “I see an object, when I look at myself.” He knows the myself is the I. So a normal person sees himself as a subject. Ken Wilber who looks at himself as an object has become more deeply alienated from his true nature than the normal person.
Let us take again a person I like and respect, who walks up to me and says: You are a nice guy. We assume I am immersed in a normal egoic consciousness. So I believe now to be a nice guy. I think so, because I have identified with the you in a process which happens subconsciously. The result is an illusory object which is an illusory subject.
I do not see you or some other person as a nice guy. I see myself as a nice guy, the I and the myself being one and the same person. When I see myself as a pleasant fellow, I do not look at myself as an object like Ken Wilber does. I am aware of myself as the subject.
The myself is the grammatical object of the I. This does not make the myself a real object, as every normal person knows. Ken Wilber, who is not in a normal egoic consciousness, does not see this. He looks at the myself as an object. So he has become more severely divorced from his true nature than the normal consciousness has.
“I cannot live with myself any longer”, said Eckhart Tolle, and realized that the myself, the other party, does not have any real existence. So it evaporated. So Tolle has gone beyond the normal state of consciousness. There is no longer an I identified with a you. The illusory object, which is the illusory subject, has evaporated. The process of estrangement has been dissolved in the case of Eckhart Tolle who sees his own true nature.
One might say that Eckhart Tolle, the normal consciousness, and Ken Wilber are in an alienation of 0, 1, 2 respectively. So Eckhart Tolle and Ken Wilber are at opposites, with a normal egoic consciousness lying in between the two extremes. To look into the matter more closely we shall turn to Ken Wilber's earliest work, which is The Spectrum of Consciousness, first published in 1977. Wilber writes (italics added):
This separate and subjective 'self'…is obviously an illusion. It is an illusion because, although I imagine it to be the subject which sees, knows, and feels the universe, it is in fact simply another object of perception. That is to say, this 'separate self' is actually something which I can see, know, or at least be aware of, for this I betray all the time by saying such things as, “I am aware of myself,” or “I know who I am,” or “Of course I am aware of myself reading this book.” Inescapably I feel that I can look at myself, and yet anything at which l look must be an object of perception. (1999: 308)
We say: I am aware of myself. Now I ask you to look at the myself. Can you see the myself as you can see an object, like a knife or a burning fire. When you truly look at the myself you will realize that there is no object to be seen. The object of a myself, of a second party does not exist for the simple reason that the myself is a mere linguistic reflection of the subject who I am. This is a truth, which escapes Ken Wilber, who does not look at the myself. He indulges in the idea of a myself. So he has become lost in the abstractions, in the aberrations born from his mental reveries. Thus he does not see. So he writes
The illusory I or Subject is the reflection of an underlying fiction. My supposedly "subjective self" is not a true subject at all, it is a pseudo-subject, which, in actuality, is just another object! It is something which I can perceive and therefore it cannot be the real Perceiver! (1999: 308)
The subject can never be an object, not as the real subject, nor as the pseudo-subject. This is a truth, which had been deeply seen and felt by Eckhart Tolle. This is Eckhart Tolle's enlightenment. It is a truth which remains hidden from Ken Wilber's eyes. So he sees the subject as a real object. This is Ken Wilber's endarkenment. He continues to write
As for the real Perceiver, the true Self, the Absolute Self, the Absolute Subjectivity – it cannot be seen because it is doing the seeing; it cannot he known for it is the Knower. My true Self can no more see itself as an object than fire can burn itself or a knife can cut itself.”
My true Self is the subject. So quite naturally It cannot see itself as an object. When the real Subject tries to make the You into an I, It becomes an illusory subject. This does not make the illusory subject an object. It has become an illusory object only, which is the illusory subject. So the subject does not see an object. It continues to see it-self. In a state of an illusory subject It sees itself as what it is not. When the true subject lights up It sees itself as what It is.
The subject can do something what an object, like a knife, a burning fire, cannot do. It can turn back on itself. So it can see itself. A knife cannot turn round on itself. Thus it cannot cut itself. A fire cannot go back on itself. So it cannot burn itself. The subject, however, can do something which an object cannot do. It can reverse on itself. So it can see it-self.
A knife cannot cut itself, a fire cannot burn itself, but I can see myself. The nature of knife and fire, which are objects, does not tell me anything about the essence of myself, which is a Subject. Wilber, however, wants to derive the nature of the true Subject from the nature of an object, like a cutting knife or a burning fire. So Wilber affirms
The real Perceiver, the true Self, the Absolute Self, the Absolute Subjectivity – it cannot be seen because it is doing the seeing; it cannot he known for it is the Knower.
3. The Delphic Maxim Know thyself, which is not seen by Ken Wilber
This is what Ken Wilber bluntly affirms in the face of the ancient Delphic maxim, which says: Know thyself. The maxim was, so the Greek writer Puasanius, inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Appolo at Delphi. Here are some quotes taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which run under the title of Know thyself:
In 1734, Alexander Pope wrote a poem entitled "An Essay on Man, Epistle II", which begins "Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man."
In 1750 Benjamin Franklin, in his Poor Richard's Almanack observed the great difficulty of knowing one's self, with: "There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self." 
In 1831, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a poem entitled…Know Thyself', on the theme of 'God in thee.' The poem was an anthem to Emerson's belief that to 'know thyself' meant knowing the God which Emerson felt existed within each person.
In 1832 Samuel T. Coleridge wrote a poem entitled "Self Knowledge" in which the text centers on the Delphic maxim 'Know Thyself' 
Above sources agree that self-knowledge exists. If there were no self-knowledge there would be no reason to strive for it. Also in society at large the existence of self-knowledge is not doubted. This also applies when the term is employed in a negative sense. When I say 'you do not know yourself' I imply that self-knowledge exists. If there were no self-knowledge, the idea as such would not exist. This would deprive my statement of all content. So it would dissolve in itself.
Wilber, however, affirms that the subject, the self cannot know itself, cannot see itself. No one in his right mind doubts that you can see yourself. The question is how to see oneself rightly. Google "how to see yourself"and you will get a few hundred entries. The first entry says: “It is quite possible to see yourself exactly as other people see you; however this takes courage, and the development of some insight…” To see oneself rightly is a major theme of psychotherapy.
No matter whether you see yourself rightly or wrongly, you always see yourself. This is self-evident for every normal person. Not so for Ken Wilber, who affirms that you cannot know yourself, that you cannot see yourself. This you cannot do, because fire does not burn itself, a knife does not cut itself. One may wonder where this kind of wisdom was born.
4. Ken Wilber copied from Alan W. Watts
For an answer we shall turn to the The Way of Wonder: A Brief History of Ken Wilber. There we read
Wilber greatly admired the lucid prose of Alan W. Watts and he taught himself to write using Watts as a model. "I took all thirteen or fourteen of his books and copied every one of them, literally sentence by sentence. I still have the notebooks downstairs. I wrote the books out, so that I could know the style of writing. Just getting a sense of being able to write clearly, and study syntax, seeing how you put paragraphs together." (quoted from Frank Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003, p. 19)
In Alan Watts - Creating Who You Are (Video) - Karma Jello we hear and read
You don't know yourself, because you never can. The Godhead is never an object of its own knowledge. Just as a knife doesn't cut itself, fire doesn't burn itself ….”
So Wilber copied from Watts also this one.
In his Forward to the The Knee of Listening, composed by Franklin Jones, Watts writes that he does “not know Franklin Jones [now Adi Da] personally”. This did not prevent him from singing the praises of Adi Da. We read
As I read Franklin Jones especially the Epilogue, which is worth the price of the book he has simply realized that he himself as he is, like a star, like a dolphin, like an iris, is a perfect and authentic manifestation of the eternal energy of the universe, and thus is no longer disposed to be in conflict with himself.
So Alan W. Watts saw what Adi Da himself had recognized, namely that he was “a perfect and authentic manifestation of the eternal energy.” Meeting the living person was of no avail to Watts. What alone counted was Adi Da's writing.
Watts, who derived the essence of the living human being, from a cutting knife and a burning fire indulged in mere mental abstractions. Also in the case of Adi Da he went astray in his brainy reveries, like Ken Wilber did. So Wilber, solely on the basis of Adi Da's writing , declared that Adi Da was ”the first Western born Avatar”, “the greatest living realizer”. This he reiterated even after he had been well informed about the wildly abusive (sexual) acts of Adi Da.[See Ken Wilber's Blind Spot - par. 23: Wilber and Adi Da Deluded]
Again we see a Ken Wilber, who had gone astray in his mental fabrications. So for him the (illusory) subject, the ego can never know itself, see itself. This it cannot do, because a fire cannot burn itself, a knife cannot cut itself. Like Watts in his mental aberrations he derived the nature of the myself, of the ego from a linguistic convention. Thus Ken Wilber looks at the myself, at the ego while seeing a real object.
5. Superhuman goes Subhuman
So in his forward in Cohen's Living Enlightenment, to fervently support Rude Boy Andrew in his ego-crushing design, Wilber advocates an ego-theory, which sees the ego as an inimical object that must be destroyed. Cohen firmly believes in Wilber's theory of an inimical ego that must be wiped out, as has been portrayed in The Real Cause of Andrew Cohen's Dilemma, Part I.
While hitting and slapping his disciples he sees the obstructing object of an ego disappear for the glorious road to open up, which leads to blessed self-liberation.[See Ken Wilber's Blind Spot - par. 11: The Punching Psychotherapist]
This is quite an ordeal you have to go through, with a Rude Boy like Andrew in your face, who has come to “roast your ass in a screaming second and fry your ego before you knew what hit it.” When hit in your face, then of course you will know what hit you. Yes, it was Andrew's slapping hand that was in your face to have you see your own Original Face. This is what you will realize, when you are out for an enlightenment as envisaged by Ken Wilber, who in his profound reveries sees the ego as an object that must be destroyed.[See Ken Wilber's Blind Spot - par. 10: Nice Guy Wilber and Rough Neck Wilber Joyously Holding Hands]
It is a view of an ego reflected in Your Superhuman Potential, where we read again
Discover a Revolutionary New Technology For Your Mind. To Activate Your Super Human Potential and Become the Greatest Possible Version of Yourself.
Imagine you ask someone immersed in a normal egoic consciousness: What are you plans for the future? What is your ambition in life?
He answers: To-morrow I will buy an Apple with the latest technology. They offer SSDs now, which are about 4x faster than a traditional hard drive, and they have no moving parts, so they are incredible reliable.
You reply: That is fine, but tell me what is your real ambition, your true aspiration in life?
He ponders for a while on your question. Then he answers: Well, I wish to get a promotion in my company. For this I want to acquire some new technical knowledge. I want to be the real expert in my field. Promotion means more money for the family. We need it for the new house we shall have. With my wife Mary we are in the process of examining three different architectural designs in order to select the best version.”
What our friend basically says is this. I want them to say: 'You are wealthy, you are competent, you are successful.' This is what he wants them to affirm so that he can say to himself: 'I am wealthy, I am competent, I am successful.' So he turns the I into a You in order to remain the I who he is. Thus he holds on to an illusory subject, which is an illusory object.
You asked him about his ambition, his aspiration in life. In answer to your question he does not say: 'I want to activate my super human potential and become the greatest possible version of myself. For this I want to apply a revolutionary technology to myself.' He does not say this, because he is immersed in a normal egoic consciousness. For him the new technology is assigned to the computer he wants to buy, the idea of the best version relates to the architectural designs he studies with his wife Mary.
He can very well distinguish between a computer, an architectural design and himself as a human being. So he does not see himself in terms of a new technology and a best possible version of himself. He does not see himself as an object. He sees himself as a human being.
This is different for Ken Wilber, who states “I am aware of myself.” That is why “I can look at myself”, and “anything at which l look must be an object of perception.” So Wilber sees himself as an object.
Along these lines Your Superhuman Potential builds on „the renowned author, teacher and living legend Ken Wilber”, to unleash “this superhuman potential… the greatest possible version of yourself.”
We see a growing number of Wilberians who have internalized Wilber's ideas, here of a human being who looks at himself as an object. An object is something you can destroy, something you can utilize for your own advantage. The first alternative finds rampant expression in Cohen's Sangha. Here one has set out to fervently exterminate the object of an ego. As an ego the individual remains the human being he is. It is merely an egoic state of mind he is in. So while the object of an ego is wiped out the human individual is being destroyed.
The second alternative, in which the ego is utilized to the individual's advantage, finds dramatic expression in Your Superhuman Potential. Here Wilber inspires you to “unleash the greatest possible version of yourself” in order to become a “superhuman” being. As a version of yourself you look at yourself as an object. While seeing yourself as an object you remain the human being who you are. So while exploiting a version of yourself you prey upon yourself as the living person who you are. You inflate yourself, while contracting yourself. While controlling all life you suppress, you victimize yourself.
The Wilberian, who has been divorced from his true nature, wants to heal the inner split to become one, to become whole. While doing so he sees himself as an object. This adds to the inner discord. This increases the inner division, separation. The Wilberian is caught up in a dilemma, which he does not see. While trying to save himself he destroys himself. While going superhuman he goes subhuman.
He is entangled in an inner conflict, which he does not see. To resolve the difficulty the underlying cause of the predicament must be revealed. The origin of the problem lies in Wilber's ill-conceived ego theory, in which man sees himself as an object.
The article wanted to raise the incongruity of Wilber's theory into the consciousness of the reader. This was the impulse from which these limes were born. When the absurdity of the Wilberian campaign, of a similar commercial crusade is seen one no longer falls prey to such a preposterous enterprise.
All literature is listed by date of publication at the end for quick reference
Tolle, Eckhart, The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Hodder & Sloughton, 1999
Cohen, Andrew, Living Enlightenment, a Call for Evolution beyond Ego, foreword by Ken Wilber, MOKSHA PRESS, 2002
Wilber, Ken, The Simple Feeling of Being, Embracing Your True Nature, Shamballa, Boston & London, 2004