Integral World Forum

Alan KazlevM. Alan Kazlev is a self-taught esotericist and metaphysician, science fiction writer and fan, amateur biologist and palaeontologist, and student of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings and yoga. His website is at and he can be contacted at alankazlev (at) ihug (dot) com (dot) au (sorry - problems with spam!)



Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral, Part Three

Alan Kazlev

3. An Aurobindonian vision

3-i. Wilber on Aurobindo, and a counter reply

Wilber, while greatly admiring Sri Aurobindo[1], and having a reasonable theoretical understanding of some basic concepts in Aurobindonian integral psychology[2], criticises him as having an incomplete Integral philosophy. There are two criticisms here: one is that Aurobindo wasn't integral enough because he ignored or didn't fully develop the lower two quadrants[3], and the other is that he is still stuck on “metaphysics”, and hence (in Wilber's opinion) abstraction (sect. 2-viii). If I understand Wilber correctly, his methodology would be like this. Sri Aurobindo experienced of the Supramental consciousness, the infinite dynamic Supreme, Sachchidananda in manifestation; and described his experience in his many writings. His description unfortunately involves concepts that are totally at odds with the secular paradigm of modernity. Because modernity does not accept supra-physical realities (such as Supermind), and postmodern philosophers claim to have “deconstructed” metaphysics, Wilber therefore rejects Sri Aurobindo's entire description and all his teachings as “metaphysical”. But because he – and this I feel to be true – genuinely admires Sri Aurobindo for attaining transpersonal states of existence, Wilber abstracts what he considers the genuine “experiences” from Sri Aurobindo's explanation and description of them. He then re-interprets Sri Aurobindo's experiences according to his own understanding; i.e. Supermind is actually an experience of the upper left quadrant of the “Early Nondual” level, and thus exactly the same as an early stage of Da Free John's “Seventh Stage of Life”, Sahaja Samadhi, or a stage intermediate between “Advanced Insight” and “Enilightenment” in Daniel Brown's cross-cultural studies (which seem fascinating, although not having read the original material I cannot judge its relevence, or Wilber's interpretation of it), as well as other correspondences provided by the tables at the back of Integral Psychology).

Thus Wilber is claiming that what Sri Aurobindo says about Supramentalisation is no different to what mystics through the centuries have said about world-negating liberation. Wilber makes this claim without to my knowledge having ever read any of Sri Aurobindo's actual books, only edited compilations.[4] Nor has he engaged in dialog with members of the Integral Yoga community. He is however friends with Michael Murphy, a student of Sri Aurobindo who is also a member of Wilber's Integral Institute think-tank. There is even a discussion with Murphy posted on Integral Naked, entitled “The Divinization of the Body”[5] (the very phrase itself constituting the opposite of Wilber's Advaito-Daist and Buddhist-inspired spirituality, see 3-ix below). Not being privy to what was said in the Murphy-Wilber discussion, as I am not a subscriber to Integral Naked, I cannot judge the correctness or otherwise of Wilber's understanding of Sri Aurobindo in the context of the conversation. However in his subsequent writings Wilber still continues to misrepresent Sri Aurobindo (and other spiritual teachers) as “metaphysicians” who have “views from nowhere”, as evident from statements in his more recent online writings (see sect. 2-iii and 2-viii for quotes from his “Integral mathematics” piece).

It is also the case that nowhere in his published writings (whether in print or online) does Wilber actually refute or argue against Sri Aurobindo's statements regarding supramentalisation and the divinisation of matter. This is despite the similarity of the latter to Teilhard's Omega Point and the New Age end of history (as we know it) meme, which Wilber does strongly criticises at the end of Book One of Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality. Rather, he simply ignores every important aspect of Sri Aurobindo's teachings. Not once in any of his massive writings will you find Wilber making reference to “Master of Works”, “universal Mother”, “triple transformation”, “gnostic supernature”, or any other quintessentially Aurobindonian phrases and concepts. Nor is there any indication – at least to the present writer – that Wilber shows he understands the vital importance of the Psychic transformation (sect 2-iv), or what the result of Supramentalisation would be (sect. 3Viii – 3-ix). The impression one is strongly left with is that Wilber, who accuses others of misrepresenting him because they have not dialogued with him and properly studied his works, presumes himself able to write with authority on a subject regarding which he would seem to have only a selective second-hand knowledge about. I have given Sri Aurobindo as an example because he is someone I am familiar with, but one could easily extend this criticism more widely, as this is how Wilber approaches and explains away all mystic, esoteric, and occult experiences and teachings, reducing everything to a simplistic unilinear framework of his own making.

Wilber's critique of Sri Aurobindo in Integral Psychology p.85 is worth mentioning (and refuting) in a bit more detail, because almost every single statement he makes is either false or, more often, completely irrelevant and inapplicable. By way of explanation I have included his words, interspersed with my commentary:

“Aurobindo's greatest shortcoming is a shortcoming faced by all theorists, namely the unavailability of the important discoveries made since his time. ”

Following only two paragraphs after a description of Sri Aurobindo as “India's greatest modern philosopher-sage", including a – albeit very cursory and in inverted commas – reference to “integral yoga”, it seems strange to find him now suddenly relegated to the role of “theorist”. Anyone who seriously reads Sri Aurobindo (for example the Synthesis of Yoga) very soon realises that this is one individual who is most definitely not a theorist, the teachings are practical and visionary through and through. Therefore this “shortcoming” cannot be applicable. Wilber's statement might perhaps be better understood as another example of his projection of his own methodology on others (this has already been covered in the section on Wilber's over-mentalising approach – see sect 2-viii ) . That is, Wilber is a theorist, so he thinks everyone who writes in an intelligent manner must also be.

“Aurobindo was most concerned with the transformation of consciousness (Upper Left) and the correlative changes in the material body (upper right)”

This is again incorrect. Sri Aurobindo was concerned with bringing down the Supermind, to establish a global transformation in the Earth as a whole. The changes in the individual consciousness (upper left) are preliminary to the larger goal. The changes in the physical body (upper right) refer to the process of this transformation (sect. 3-ix, 3-x).

“Although he had many important insights on the social and political system, he did not seem to grasp the actual interrelations of cultural, social, intentional, and behavioural.”

The above rather condescending statement implies that Sri Aurobindo was seeking to formulate an intellectual “theory of everything” but his attempt was unfortunately incomplete because he missed the insights Wilber has uncovered. But Sri Aurobindo wasn't seeking to formulate an intellectual theory at all. His teachings are through and through practical, dedicated to the realisation of the Supramental transformation, and pointing the way for others to follow. His books are spiritual signposts, and have to be read as such, and not as intellectual treatises.

“Nor did his analysis at any point proceed on the level of intersubjectivity (Lower Left) and interobjectivity (Lower Right). He did not, that is, fully assimilate the differentiations of modernity.”

But this is contradicted by the last two chapters of Sri Aurobindo's opus The Life Divine speak of the supramental or Gnostic society, which would be not just individual (upper quadrants of the AQAL diagram) but collective (lower quadrants) as well. The comment about him having a poor understanding of the insights of modernity is also incorrect and misleading. Because modernity and secular physicalism is the highest level Wilber has attained, he seems, at least from the above passage, to assume that this is the highest level everyone has attained, with transpersonal mystics being limited to the upper left quadrant. But even from the perspective of a strictly Wilberian four-quadrant paradigm, it is evident that Sri Aurobindo has established an integral vision of individual and collective, subjective and objective, at the level of the Supreme and its manifestation in the physical consciousness and post-human (or Supramentalised) society. The following passage is from the concluding chapter of The Life Divine and is worth quoiting at length because not only does it answer all of Wilber's objections (I have inserted in square brackets parallels with the AQAL quadrants), but it shows how the Integral vision is central to Sri Aurobindo's whole teaching:

“It is, then, this spiritual fulfilment of the urge to individual [upper two quadrants] perfection and an inner completeness of being that we mean first when we speak of a divine life... The perfection of the spiritual and pragmatic relation of the individual with all around him is our second preoccupation; the solution of this second desideratum lies in a complete universality and oneness with all life upon earth [no equivalent in Wilber's quadrants] which is the other concomitant result of an evolution into the gnostic consciousness and nature. But there still remains the third desideratum, a new world, a change in the total life of humanity or, at the least, a new perfected collective life in the earth-nature [lower two quadrants]. This calls for the appearance...of many gnostic [i.e. supramentalised] individuals forming a new kind of beings and a new common life superior to the present individual and common existence. A collective life of this kind must obviously constitute itself on the same principle as the life of the gnostic individual.”

There follows a comment on the current collective situation (which Wilber claims Sri Aurobindo has not done)

“In our present human existence there is a physical collectivity [lower right] held together by the common physical life-fact and all that arises from it, community of interests, a common civilisation and culture, a common social law, an aggregate mentality, an economic association, the ideals, emotions, endeavours of the collective ego [lower left] with the strand of individual ties and connections running through the whole and helping to keep it together. Or, where there is a difference in these things, opposition, conflict, a practical accommodation or an organised compromise is enforced by the necessity of living together; there is erected a natural or a constructed order.”

In contrast, in the gnostic collective life there will be

“...a common consciousness [lower left] consolidating a common life [lower right]. All will be united by the evolution of the Truth-Consciousness in them; in the changed way of being which this consciousness would bring about in them, they will feel themselves to be embodiments of a single self, souls of a single Reality; illumined and motived by a fundamental unity of knowledge, actuated by a fundamental unified will and feeling, a life expressing the spiritual Truth would find through them Its own natural forms of becoming. An order there would be, for truth of oneness creates its own order: a law or laws of living there might be, but these would be self-determined; they would be an expression of the truth of a spiritually united being and the truth of a spiritually united life. The whole formation of the common existence would be a self-building of the spiritual forces that must work themselves out spontaneously in such a life: these forces would be received inwardly by the inner being and expressed or self-expressed in a native harmony of idea and action and purpose.”[6]

Note that the above interpretation of Sri Aurobindo in terms of dualistic quadrants is artificial and alien to Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of synthesis, which is based on unity, rather than mentalising duality.[7] I have only used this example to refute Wilber's suggestion that Sri Aurobindo was not a true or complete integral teacher.

As for Wilber's criticism of Aurobindonian “metaphysics”, it has already been shown (sect 2-ii, 2-iii) that Wilber's own “post-metaphysical” stance is not a further evolutionary stage beyond all current esoteric and yogic teachings, but rather a compromise between the true esoteric and Yogic consciousness and the secular materialism of academia. And Wilber's claim of abstraction seems to apply far more to his own writings than to Sri Aurobindo's.

It may however be plausibly argued that Wilber interprets Sri Aurobindo's divinisation of the physical world as a function of Zen enlightenment; as a change in consciousness, which is also a change in the world, since the world arises in accord with our mode of consciousness. This can be indicated by the tenth ox-hunting panel, "back in the marketplace". after we are enlightened (or realize that we're already enlightened), the world is divinised. or maybe we just need to realize that the world is already divinised. All of which fits in very well with a Zen Buddhist or other nondualist or shunyavada perspective, but unfortunately this has very little to do with what Sri Aurobindo himself taught. The interpretation of Sri Aurobindo as an Advaitin-style non-dual metaphysician in which (according to the tables at the back of Integral Psychology) the Aurobindonian Supermind is equivalent to the “early non-dual” stage, and the Aurobindonian Sachchidananda to “late non-dual”, completely misses the whole point of what Sri Aurobindo is saying. It is not about an impersonalist and ineffable nondual states at all. As explained in the last two chapters of The Life Divine, it is about establishing that Supreme consciousness and transenlightenment in the material world, even – as the Mother showed in the Agenda – in the cells of the physical body itself, thus bringing about an actual ontological change in matter. The result is not merely, as in classical insight spirituality, an epistemological change, although it is that as well. It is an objective, cosmic evolutionary change as well, a spiritual descent and evolution of progressive stages of transformation of this world.

“This passage [from overmind – the Divine Reality that currently determines the cosmos – to supermind] is the stage at which the supermind gnosis can take over the lead of the evolution from the overmind and build the first foundations of its own characteristic manifestation and unveiled activities; it must be marked therefore by a decisive but long-prepared transition from an evolution In the Ignorance to an always progressive evolution ill the Knowledge. It will not be a sudden revelation and effectuation of the absolute supermind and the supramental being as they are in their own plane, the swift apocalypse of a truth-conscious existence ever self-fulfilled and complete in self-knowledge; it will be the phenomenon of the supramental being descending into a world of evolutionary becoming and forming Itself there, unfolding the powers of the gnosis within the terrestrial [physical] nature.”[8]

Moreover, Sri Aurobindo indicates that the Supramental realisation in the world is still something to be attained, when he says for example “but before the Supramental change can begin...”.[9] Consider also the Mother's frequent references to the establishment of a “New Creation”,[10] it is new precisely because it is still in the process of being established, or it is established on the subtle level but not the gross external level. In this context we are looking at something totally new as far as the traditional spiritualities go; not the ascent from here to a transcendent liberation or nirvana or union with Godhead, but the creation of new objective ontological reality here in the objective material world.

3-ii. Include and Transcend

Assuming Wilber's consciousness is strongly limited to the rational mental dimension (see sect. 2-viii), he is unable to comprehend Sri Aurobindo or the Mother. But according to even his own logic, the reverse is not the case, the higher holon can comprehend the lower. Thus, in making his criticisms, and hence arguing for the superiority of his own intellectual position, Wilber misunderstands Sri Aurobindo (as do some other intellectuals and even other spiritual teachers like Rajneesh and Da) because he only approaches Aurobindo in a mental way. In terms of the language his own philosophy, this is like a lesser holon (one at the “early vision-logic” level) trying to understand and include a larger and more encompassing holon. Perhaps this is because he has not studied Sri Aurobindo's with the depth of focus and one-pointed immersion required to contact his “presence”, instead reading in a more cursory way (Wilber apparently reads two or three books a day[11]) finding points of mental commonality scattered here and there, and inevitably (as we all do!) projecting a lot of his own ideas into what he reads as well, in order to find patterns to confirm his own paradigm. In addition, despite his repeated praise and citing of Sri Aurobindo, it seems that he has not even ever read any of Sri Aurobindo's books in the original. In this way, with only a cursory appraisal, he (and others) completely missing the Heart, the Inner or Divine principle, because he has not read the words as gateways to the soul. What Wilber understands (or misunderstands) and admires and applauds is not the real Sri Aurobindo, but the Intellectual Aurobindo, the Philosophical Aurobindo, the mental veneer that some people read and feel an affinity to, and who Wilber interprets and respects as “the greatest of recent metaphysicians”[12], even though metaphysics (in both the true sense and the vague and woolly sense that Wilber uses the term – see sect 2-ii) plays a very small (albeit necessary) part in Sri Aurobindo's essentially pragmatic and visionary teachings. And in so doing totally miss not only the Heart of his message, but the relevance of the Mother as well, who they seek to downplay or ignore because her totally immediate and common sense teachings and presence are unsettling to the academic, theoretic mind with its preference for physicalist or theoretical metaphysical theorising.[13] And she doesn't pull her punches either, she really tells it like it is![14]

And therefore, because Wilber is still at the rational-mental level, whereas Sri Aurobindo (and the Mother) have gone beyond that to the Supra-mental, it is simply not possible for Wilber to accurately critique Sri Aurobindo. The following quote from The Life Divine is quite applicable here:

“A mental description of supramental nature could only express Itself either in phrases which are too abstract or in mental figures which might turn it into something quite different from its reality. It would not seem to be possible, therefore, for the mind to anticipate or indicate what a supramental being shall be or how he shall act; for here mental ideas and formulations cannot decide anything or arrive at any precise definition or determination, because they are not near enough to the law and self-vision of supramental nature.”[15]

3-iii. The Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

A detailed explanation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is difficult, because this is a subject that so departs from the western consensus paradigm that it would take a whole book to properly explain it.[16] Yet to ignore this subject is to ignore the whole question of what Integral Spirituality means. And without Integral Spirituality, or to be more precise an Integral Yoga, an Integral movement cannot be complete. But here it is necessary, to use the language of sociology and anthropology, to present an “emic” (participant) rather than an “etic” (observer) approach. This is because an “etic” approach means one compatible with the limited rational-logical mind. Which is fine for rational-logical things pertaining the external physical reality, but not so good for understanding inner spiritual or subtle supra-physical realities!

With this in mind, we can review the central aspects of their teaching.

The Mother. To begin with, as mentioned, one cannot understanding Sri Aurobindo without also considering the life and teachings his co-worker the Mother (Mirra Alfassa), and vice-versa. Together, they constitute the twin avatars of the Supramental revelation. Theological issues of whether they are enlightened beings (in the sense of totally, completely enlightened), bodhisattvas who have reincarnated throughout history,[17] literal avatars (the infinite godhead taking on human form), or a combination of all three, really does not matter so much as their spiritually concrete presence that can be accessed through the Inner Being.

The Divine Center (“Psychic being”) rather than the Intellect (“Mental being”). If you read Sri Aurobindo on his own, intellectually, and hence superficially, he comes across as very cerebral. You need to learn to use the words as a gateway to the Soul; and thus to go beyond the intellect.[18] Speaking for myself, I can't read too much of him in one sitting. At best I can select a passage that catches the eye, and slowly read a few paragraphs. Sometimes, because of the style of writing, which is quite heavy, the mind wanders and it is necessary to go back and reread. He is not someone you can pick up at a single setting. I've been reading Aurobindo on and off for more than 25 years, and all I can say is that until very recently I really didn't understand him at all (I understood intellectually, sure, but I mean, I didn't really understand him)

What Sri Aurobindo and the Mother taught was not the way of the philosopher, or of the intellect (and yes there is philosophy there, in Sri Aurobindo's voluminous writings, but that's not what he primarily taught), but the way of attuning to the Divine Center within oneself, what in their system is called the “Psychic Being” (a term that derives originally from the occult master Max Theon, who was Mirra's teacher in occultism and inner experiences, some years before she met Sri Aurobindo), and which we have already referred to in a previous section. Thus it is necessary that all the faculties of the being have to be “psychicised” (compare here the “Magnetic Center” of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) and divinised before the next stage of the yoga can begin..

Integral Yoga begins where the perennial philosophy ends. Finally, this teaching is not part of the beyond the perennial philosophy, but to use Wilber's phrase “includes and transcends” it. Integral Yoga cannot be understood until one recognises that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother start where all the other teachings, where the entire perennial philosophy finish (including Wilber's own neoperennialism, which despite being “post-metaphysical” still has as its goal the nondual state).

In both perennialism and neoperennialism, Nonduality, Self-Realisation, Enlightenment, Liberation, union with God, the realisation of the Supreme (or the Absolute or God or whatever), call it what you will, is the goal and end and ultimate attainment. But with Integral Yoga, rather than being the goal, this is simply one of the preliminary stages that, while itself necessary, it is not on its own sufficient.

The Complete Divinisation of the World – Here, instead of fleeing the world, one works to transform it. And not in a trivial manner either, but at the deepest and most integral (yes, there's that word again!) level of its being. This is done both in one's own self through Integral Yoga, in which nothing is ignored or left out, and every part of one's being is transformed, and in the Earth as a whole, through the Supramental Descent, the divinisation of matter itself. It is not an otherworldly enlightenment. It is not even a this worldly enlightenment that sees the emptiness (shunyata) or the atman-brahman in all things but leaves the world as it was before, unchanged. Rather, it is the path of the concrete establishment of the Supreme Consciousness within matter and in and as the body, this finite physical body, itself. But this can only be attained through the Supramental consciousness, a consciousness that is far higher than conventional experiences of Enlightenment. But to understand this it is necessary to go beyond current preconceptions and limitations of spiritual understanding.

3-iv. Integral Spirituality – Soul-Realisation and Self-Realisation

To begin with, Integral Yoga refers not only to the standard concept of enlightenment or Liberation, but also to the radical idea (more esoteric Western/Middle Eastern than conventional non-dual Eastern) of the Divine center or “Psychic being”, in addition to the conventional Spiritual realisation. It has been suggested that problems with the Intermediate zone are the result of conventional sort of realisation, without the important balance of the Inner Divine principle or Soul Realisation. This distinction, I feel, and therefore the necessity of realising both higher aspects of consciousness, not just one, is at the heart of any authentic integral spirituality.

The term Self-Realisation is here used to refer to Enlightenment or Realisation sensu non-dual philosophy and mysticism, which would seem to be synonymous with what Sri Aurobindo refers to as “Spiritualisation”[19]. This can be complete and authentic (without ego), or it can be partial and incomplete, caught up in ego and the delusionism of the negative elements of the Intermediate zone. Soul-Realisation refers to the awakening of the Individual Divine and its transformation of the outer personality.

Just as abusive teachers and pop gurus can be recognised by the negative characteristics, so self- and soul-realised individuals can be recognised by positive characteristics. Obviously, an intermediate zone guru or teacher will have both negative and positive characteristics! And as we have seen it is this admixture of profound Truth and delusional Falsehood that makes this phenomena so dangerously beguiling and misleading. In some situations, the Falsehood is not just egoic, but even what might traditionally be called evil (i.e., on the relative level). The characteristics by which Self-Realised gurus and teachers, or those that have even a partial development on the inner or spiritual level, is already described in the literature of non-dual mysticism and from there in both Transpersonal Psychology, Perennilaist studies of mysticism (e.g. The first few chapters of Aldous Huxley's Perennial Philosophy) and Wilber's own writings, and need not be repeated here. However once can recognise them, even very partial stages, by the characteristics mentioned in relation to the Intermediate Zone, as well as their reference to paradox, Two Truths and the non-dual nature of Reality.

I would suggest the Soul-Realised Guru or Teacher might be recognised by their having all (not just a few!) of the following:

  • A teaching that emphasises complete aspiration for the Divine, usually in terms of the traditional mystic teachings of the Heart, or it may be just a simple moral message about having a wholesome attitude or living a spiritual life
  • Respond with love, sweetness and compassion, to those around them or who they encounter, regardless of whether or not they are their disciples
  • Total absence in the Guru's or Teacher's personality of even the slightest trace at all of egotism, narcissism, or self-serving tendencies (even if such tendencies are non-abusive), no displays of hatred or bitterness in speech or in words or any other form, no defensiveness or sniping at critics
  • A simple lifestyle, with no ostentatious accumulation of wealth, power, or sexual partners
  • Complete lack of hypocrisy; they practice what they preach, nothing more
  • Not a single confirmed instance of abuse towards their disciples in any way whatsoever – e.g. they never use insulting words or other abusive or exploitative behaviour to “break down your ego”, never take advantage of their disciples or abuse their trust in any way; the disciples' wishes and free will are always respected;there is never any attempt to try to control them or force them to do something they don't want to.
  • You never feel drained or uneasy in their presence

Other qualities, while authentic characteristic of genuine gurus, are more difficult to assess and hence cannot be easily used as guidelines. A feeling of Light, attraction, power, and common-sense wisdom shining from the Teacher's words and their presence, doesn't work, because many people attracted to fake gurus claim to have experienced this as well! (this is due to the deceptive nature of the Intermediate Zone and of some occult forces, by which, if one is not absolutely sincere, negativity can appear as or be mistaken for genuine divine Light). And the fact that followers of Wilber, Cohen, Da, and others would reject the above list out of hand indicates the deleterious conditioning of the false teachings.

Obviously, it is also possible to have both attributes, for example a Teacher who has been spiritually transformed by virtue of both the “One Taste” and the Divine Soul. Thus there are four possible combinations:

Fig.1 Various kinds of Realisation

Most yogas and spiritualities

Most often inauthentic, intermediate zone; there is genuine non-dual consciousness but also the strong possibility of being ensnared by the half-lights of the intermediate zone; hence abusive gurus, pseudo-enlightenment, etc. The majority of genuine teachings in the "spiritual supermarket" belong here. However there are also a few genuine authentic self-realisers (e.g. Ramana Maharshi)
Soul-realisation and Self-realisation

Integral Spirituality – Integral Yoga

The whole being is transformed, choosing either to remain in the world as a bodhisattva, enter nirvana or transcendence, or further the evolution and the process of divinisation of the World Very few have attained this stage.
Mundane consciousness

Non-spiritual existence

Outer existence or ordinary, non-enlightened, consciousness only, with all the weaknesses and limitations that the non-awakened state is heir to. Also, fake teachings belong here.

Spiritual life – True Mystic

Authentic spiritual aspiration; discrimination; guidance by inner Light and wisdom; if a guru or Teacher there is never any exploitation of disciples or other abusive or self-seeking behaviour These teachers are probably as rare as the authentic self-realised ones.

In both cases there can be various grades of partial awakening, and obviously there can also be combinations of one or the other, so the above is only a simple generalisation only.

3-v. A new map of Higher Spiritual states or Realisation

Thus true, integral, spiritual consciousness cannot be understood, let alone attained, without both Soul-Realisation and Self-Realisation. Nowhere does Wilber refer to anything equivalent to Soul-Realisation. Similarly both of the gurus associated with Wilber are strongly orientated to Self-Realisation, and show little or no evidence of even partial Soul-Realisation (Da Free John's “Fourth Stage of Life” does, it is true, have certain attributes in common with Soul realisation, but this has not been followed through, and perhaps refers instead to a more limited emotional bhakti state as opposed to the a more complete Soul-realisation). Because of this, the Wilberian understanding of spiritual and transpersonal development is based on gradations of partial to possibly complete Self-Realisation only, and hence is one-sided and non-integral.

Moreover it can be shown that Wilber's whole developmental pre-trans model is, I suggest, based ultimately on Da Free John / Adi Da's ideas regarding.“Seven Stages of Life”. This is because Da is the first one to combine developmental stages interpreted in terms of physical-emotional-mental (this idea seems to in turn be derived from Leadbeater (Neo-Theosophy) or Steiner) with a transpersonal progression of stages from personal-devotional to transcendent realisation, in a single linear progression. And Wilber rejected his old “Spectrum of Consciousness” view in favour of the Atman Project Pre-Trans theory at the same time that he first became a devotee of Da.

But why only Da Free John / Adi Da, when Wilber is also aware of, and has also tabulated several other esoteric systems in his tables such as Tibetan Buddhism, the five koshas of Vedanta, the ten Kabbalistic sefirot, and so on? The answer is that the other systems that Wilber correlates are either Western models sociocultural evolution and developmental psychology or of transpersonal psychology, which are all compilation or historically based and hence the result of subjective interpretation; or else Eastern or esoteric ideas based on traditionalist thoughtforms, or western mystical teachings that depend on exoteric religion. And as Jorge Ferrer observes, regarding these eastern philosophical writings (italics in the original):

“traditional descriptions of stages of the path should be understood not so much as descriptions of meditative states, but as prescriptions for spiritual development according to doctrinal commitments and scriptural canons. What is more, in some cases they may not even have played this prescriptive role either, but merely had a scholastic intention.”[20]

Of all the Teachers and Teachings Wilber is familiar with, only Da is relating first hand his own development and experiences. And as Wilber's developmental schema is almost certainly derived from Da's “Seven Stages of Life”, all of Wilber's mapping of levels, one half of the AQAL cosmological diagram of his later thought, is nothing but commentaries to Da (the other half of the AQAL diagram – the quadrants and truth claims – derives from Habermas).

The following table compares the Daist, and Wilberian representations of the ascent of consciousness. Wilber's correspondences with Da are for the most part those he gives in his tables at the back of The Atman Project and Integral Psychology. The exception is regarding Da's “Fourth Stage of Life”, which represents Partial Soul-realisation and hence cannot be mapped onto Wilber's unilinear developmental system. The left-hand column is the suggested interpretation according to the paradigm presented here. “Absolute” is the experience of the Atman or Shunyata, conceived of as the ultimate Reality.

Suggested interpretation Da –
Stages of Life
Wilber –
Atman Project
Wilber –
Integral Psychology
Physical Outer Being 1) Physical Pleromatic Uroboric 1) Sensorimotor
Emotional Outer Being 2) Emotional-Sexual Body-Ego 2) Phantasmic-Emotional
Mental Outer Being 3) Intellectual

(no equivalent)
Mature Ego

Biosocial Centaur
3) Rep-mind
4) Con-op
5) Form-op

6) Postformal/Vision-Logic
Partial Soul-realisation? Or Soul-transformed Emotional being only? (bhakti) 4) Spiritual/Devotional (no equivalent) (no equivalent)
Initial Self-realisation: Intermediate zone – Inner Experiences 5) Yogic/Subtle energies Low Subtle

High Subtle
Low Causal
7) Psychic / visions

8) Subtle / archetypal
Self / Absolute – realisation – Intermediate zone 6) Subjective enlightenment, subtle ego remains High Causal 9) Causal / formless
Self / Absolute – realisation Intermediate zone – Pseudoenlightenment 7) Early Da – Complete Enlightenment (advaito-buddhistic) Ultimate 10) Nondual
Self / Absolute – realisation Intermediate zone – narcisstic – delusional – Possession? 7) Current Da – Complete Enlightenment – claims to be the only one ever to attained this state (not applicable) (not applicable)

Table 1 Da Free John / Adi Da and Wilber – a correlation

Wilber considers his Ultimate/Non-dual level as representing the Absolute Reality. But this is also equated with Da Free John's / Adi Da's seventh stage of life (which Da has since come to consider as his own unique attainment) But since it has been shown here that Da is only in the Intermediate Zone (2-v), which means that he has not attained the state of Liberation, and so because all of Wilber's “trans” states are so closely based on Adi Da's, that means none of what he describes pertains to the Liberated State either.

Adi Da himself has become increasingly eccentric, now considering himself the one and only seventh stage adept of all time, past, present, and future, and downgrading previous seventh stage realisers like Buddha and Ramana Maharshi to sixth stage subjective egotism.[21] Which shows what happens to one who is stuck too intensely in the Intermediate zone. But that doesn't mean that his earlier accounts and descriptions should be discarded, or even, for that matter, that certain elements of his current experience, the transcendent Light aand so on, are not still valid. It only means that the experience is not pure, it is mixed with delusional ego-inflation.

The only problem with his developmental schema, and hence with Wilber's, is the welding of normal ontological development (the first three stages) onto transpersonal and spiritual development (the next four). In Da's case this isnt too serious, because he is primarily at the level of intermediate zone self-realised, and hence not interested in building a grand picture theory of everything explanation. In Wilber's case it is, because he uses this structure as a framework on which to hang everything else. Arvan Harvat has shown up the self-contradictions and the misunderstanding of spiritual teachings such as Mahayana Buddhism that is inherent in Wilber II (The Atman Project)[22] but in spite of this the erroneous “pre-trans” developmental scheme is still used in the current Wilber V stage. It would be better then to see these two elements as distinct dimensions, although this requires us to reject Wilber's simplistic linear model. Thus Daist stages 1 to 3, or current Wilberian stages 1 to 6, constitute the ontogenetic, developmental series, and are completely limited to the “outer being” this includes Wilber's “Second Tier” Integral theory; it is no more spiritual than any of the other stages, as shown by its lack of ability to critique either abusive gurus or subtle (holistic) physicalism.

But we can also posit, perpendicular to this psychophysical evolutionary series, a distinct spiritual series of progressive Self-Realisation. This is Daist stages 5 to 7, or current Wilberian stages 7 to 10. As we have seen, Da has become stuck at stage seven, but there is no reason why there cannot be further stages beyond that.

Finally, we also need to posit, orthogonal to these two again, a further, distinct spiritual series of progressive Soul-Realisation. This is Daist stage 4, and, as mentioned, is not found any anywhere in Wilber's paradigm.

All of these lines of development – the psychophysical and the two spiritual ones – converge in Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. This provides us with an Integral map of spiritual states of development. Although Wilber does refers to an unspecified number of separate “lines of development”, this is not a theme that is well integrated with the rest of his philosophical system, and moreover all the lines have to follow exactly the same ten or twenty (depending on how you divide them up) stages. In contrast, the “lines of development” suggested here are each distinct.

Before proceeding further, it is necessary to distinguish between the “outer” and the “inner” reality. Note that here “inner” and “outer” should not be confused with Wilber's interiors and exteriors (his right and left quadrants). Wilber's entire AQAL diagram with its four quadrants pertains to the exoteric or mundane sphere, as indicated by his rejection of supra-physical realities and concepts, or as he refers to them, “metaphysics”. “Inner” and “outer” is here used in an Aurobindonian, rather than in a Wilberian context.

The “outer” reality is the exoteric, dualistic, limited, mundane world of physical consciousness; the reality acknowledged by Western secular knowledge, and the material-physical aspect of it understood through science..

One “inner” reality is the esoteric, spiritual, occult (in the context of hidden from ordinary perception and mundane consciousness), supra-physical, unlimited, causal reality, as described by mystics, esotericists, yogis, and so on,and representing by the “perennial philosophy” and esotericism.

The outer being should not be thought of as a single series in the manner of Da. Wilber, and Spiral Dynamics, but rather at least three; physical, emotional, and mental, each ontologically distinct and each with their own parallel line of development. These three lines, in as much as they are parallel, can perhaps best be equated with Wilber's. All pertain to the outer or exoteric aspect of the nature. The Inner Being is represented by Self- and Soul-Realisation and the Intermediate Zone. Note that these statements should not be taken too literally. These things are guidelines, not dogmas. From another point of view one could say that Self- and Soul-Realisation pertains equally to the Inner and the Outer Being.

Fig.2 The Intermediate Zone and the Way Through

The diagram shown here constitutes a very simplistic map of the intermediate zone and the various levels of Self- and Soul-Realisation, according to a synthesis of the Daist, Wilberian, and Aurobindonian “roadmaps” (to use the popular Americanism) of spiritual development. Open line arrows represent possible paths of spiritual growth, development, and transcendence. Single line arrows represent strong influence by another force or principle, and broken arrows a weaker influence. Everything in the left-hand vertical series represents Self-Realisation, and everything in the right-hand vertical series Soul-Realisation. The only reason there are more stages of the former is because these are mapped out in more detail by Adi Da and Wilber. Near the upper left hand corner is liberation, moksha, transcendence, nirvana, which is a static state. At the top and more to the right are the first of the higher stages of the Integral Yoga. Transenlightenment, at the top right of the diagram, is a neologism I coined to refer to the higher stages of transformational integral gnosis that lie beyond ordinary Enlightenment. This is Sri Aurobindo's levels of Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, and so on up to Supermind. The word “transenlightenment” is used to avoid confusion that may arise from Sri Aurobindo's unintentionally trivial language. e.g. Wilber, because he hasn't properly read Sri Aurobindo, quite reasonably but incorrectly misinterprets Aurobindonian Higher Mind to be synonymous with Vision-Logic, Second Tier, etc. when in fact the Higher Mind sensu Sri Aurobindo is the first of the transenlightenment levels.

3-vi. The Three-fold Realisation and beyond.

Many of the limitations and obstacles to higher understanding are dogmas that are central to monistic Perennialism, Eastern-derived pop Guru movements, Transpersonal Psychology, and the Wilberian Integral movement, are due to a generic acosmic, epistemological dualism. This is the idea that the goal of all spiritual development is the attainment of the impersonal Transcendent state as described in world-negating monistic, acosmic, or shunyavadan teachings, which is considered to represent the highest, most Supreme, most ultimate Reality ans realisation. According to this philosophy, all spiritual paths lead up the same mountain, to the state of impersonal transcendence and eternal liberation, nirvana, or union with the transcendent Godhead. Central to the Wilberian Integral Movement, the New Age and New Paradigm is the assumption that “all these teachings are saying the same thing”.

Taking this way of thinking to its extreme and over-intellectualised conclusion, Wilber posits a series of clearly defined stages, culminating in his own correct or incorrect interpretation of Rinzai Zen Enlightenment and equivalent states as the highest. Thus, using this logic, what Sri Aurobindo calls Sachchidananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss) must be equivalent to, for example, Buddhistic Enlightenment and Da Free John's “Seventh Stage of Life”. Why? Because in each case this is the highest stage, and since by this reasoning the same “deep structures” are being described, and the differences are only cultural, it follows that the highest stage in each case must be identical. Likewise Da Free John's “Sixth Stage of Life” would be identical to Sri Aurobindo's Overmind (see the tables at the back of Integral Psychology), which would come as something of a surprise to both Daists and Aurobindonians, and for that matter anyone who reads the original descriptions without bias in each case.

The perennialist approach to standardisation of spiritual experiences, of which Wilber's pigeonholing is simply the most extreme example, has been powerfully criticised by East-West psychologist and advocate of participatory spirituality Jorge Ferrer. Writing in his book that must already be a modern classic in its field, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory, Ferrer argues that despite their professed universality and inclusivist stance, these philosophies distort the essential message of the various religious and spiritual traditions, so as to covertly favor certain spiritual paths (those amenable to their own thinking) over others, tend towards an objectivist epistemology, and make arbitrary assumptions about the nature of the ultimate Reality, and concerning other spiritual worldviews that differ from their own. As against the perennialist forcing of spiritual diversity into a single preconceived mould (which includes the Wilberian neoperennialist, indeed Ferrer dedicates a large part of his critique of perennialism to specifically refuting Wilber), Ferrer suggests “an ocean with many shores”

Ferrer comes at things from from a postmodernist perspective, and so is still unable to describe things from the perspective of transcendental realisation. The participative epistemology and spirituality he and his teacher Richard Tarnas, and also from another perspective John Heron, propose is perhaps equivalent to the empathic and appreciative Soul-modified Mental perspective, as opposed to the hardened Mental Fortress (sect. 2-ix) of strict Wilberian Integral theory. Yet even without the Self-realisation and transenlightenment elements, Ferrer's rejection of a restrictive form of perennialism is supported by Sri Aurobindo, the latter writing from the perspective of spiritual experience itself, provides an awe-inspiring account of higher spiritual states of consciousness.

The following is from The Synthesis of Yoga. I have interspersed my comments

“...The Divine appears to one view as an equal, inactive and impersonal Witness Spirit, an immobile consenting Purusha not bound by quality or Space or Time, whose support or sanction is given impartially to the play of all action and energies which the transcendent Will has once permitted and authorised to fulfil themselves in the cosmos. This Witness Spirit, this immobile Self in things, seems to will nothing and determine nothing; yet we become aware that his very passivity, his silent presence compels all things to travel even in their ignorance towards a divine goal and attracts through division towards a yet unrealised oneness....”

The above represents the attainment of the Self, the immanent-transcendent Absolute beyond (yet also including) the world of samsara. Note that Purusha in this context refers to the supreme Purusha of the Vedas and Upanishads, not the individual purusha of Samkhyan ontology and other teachings that incorporate it, such as Kashmir Shaivism. In Wilberian Integral Theory this state would constitute the end and culmination of all. For Sri Aurobindo in contrast, it is merely the first stage of liberation:

“This is one side of the cosmic Self; the other presents itself as a universal Divine, one in being, multiple in personality and power, who conveys to us, when we enter into the consciousness of his universal forces, a sense of infinite quality and will and act and a world-wide knowledge and a one yet innumerable delight; for through him we become one with all existences not only in their essence but in their play of action, see ourself in all and all in ourself, perceive all knowledge and thought and feeling as motions of the one Mind and Heart, all energy and action as kinetics of the one Will in power, all Matter and form as particles of the one Body, all personalities as projections of the one Person, all egos as deformations of the one and sole real "I" in existence. In him we no longer stand separate, but lose our active ego in the universal movement, even as by the Witness who is without qualities and for ever unattached and unentangled, we lose our static ego in the universal peace. “

This would seem similar to the preceding stage, but is more dynamic, and is “cosmic” rather than “transcendent”. Yet rather than being more limited, it is actually more inclusive.

The third Realisation is presented as being much higher than the preceding two:

“...(T)here is yet a third intensely close and personal aspect of the Master of Works [i.e. The Divine] which is a key to his sublimest hidden mystery and ecstasy; for he detaches from the secret of the hidden Transcendence and the ambiguous display of the cosmic Movement an, individual Power of the Divine that can mediate between the two and bridge our passage from the one to the other. In this aspect the transcendent and universal person of the Divine conforms itself to our individualised personality and accepts a personal relation with us, at once identified with us as our supreme Self and yet close and different as our Master, Friend, Lover, Teacher, our Father and our Mother, our Playmate in the great world-game who has disguised himself throughout as friend and enemy, helper and opponent and, in all relations and in all workings that affect us, has led our steps towards our perfection and our release. It is through this more personal manifestation that we are admitted to some possibility of the complete transcendental experience; for in him we meet the One not merely in a liberated calm and peace, not merely with a passive or active submission in our works or through the mystery of union with a universal Knowledge and Power filling and guiding us, but with an ecstasy of divine Love and divine Delight that shoots up beyond silent Witness and active World-Power to some positive divination of a greater beatific secret”

It is significant that Sri Aurobindo sees the Personal element as higher than the Transcendent. In fact the order of his three stages – Transcendent, Universal-Cosmic, and Personal-Individual – would seem to be the reverse of the standard perennialist and neo-perennialist (Wilberian) model. In this he agrees with theistic monists like Ramanuja, as against the pure nondualists of Advaita

"For it is riot so much knowledge leading to some ineffable Absolute, not so much works lifting us beyond world-process to the originating supreme Knower and Master, but rather this thing most intimate to us, yet at present most obscure, which keeps for us wrapt in its passionate yell the deep and rapturous secret of the transcendent Godhead and some absolute positiveness of its perfect Being, its all-concentrating Bliss, its mystic Ananda...”

As a mystic, Sri Aurobindo speaks of the delight and bliss, which is higher than the state of the transcendent universal Self or Paramatman (the first category of Liberation)

What follows next is interesting, because these three types of Liberation are themselves simply the aspects realised on “the spiritualised mental plane” Despite the name, this is not necessarily what we would call the Mental plane, rather it corresponds to even more than what we might call “God” or “The Absolute”, and what Wilberites might call the nondual or ultimate or Spirit (which latter is only the lowest and most easily realised, the “Transcendent” state). I am aware that according to Wilber the ultimate level, or Spirit, is not itself a holon, but off the ladder of holons altogether. But that is just the point, Wilber is basing his understanding on previous teachers and teachings that said this, and the reason they said it is because this is the furthest they got. Such is the path of spirituality that to those who have not reached a summit, it appears to be the Ultimate, but for those who have, it might just be nothing but another stage to be surmounted!

Incidentally, this is a common theme in a form of esoteric Sikhism known as Radhasoami. According to the Radhasoami teachings, there are a number of higher stages beyond the physical-material state (which they call pind or “body”), and the soul, ascending to each one in turn, can easily fall into the trap of believing that that is the final stage, and the Godhead of that plane is the Supreme and Absolute Godhead. Of course one could argue that even the Radhasoami highest state is simply another transitional stage! For that matter, one could say the same thing about every esoteric and spiritual account of higher consciousness and Enlightenment. So, to continue:

“In a Yoga lived entirely on the spiritualised mental plane it is possible and even usual for these three fundamental aspects of the divine -- the Individual or Immanent, the Cosmic and the Transcendent -- to stand out as separate realisations. Each by itself then appears sufficient to satisfy the yearning of the seeker. Alone with the personal Divine in the inner heart's illumined secret chamber, he can build his being into the Beloved's image and ascend out of fallen Nature to dwell with him in some heaven of the Spirit. Absolved in the cosmic wideness, released from ego, his personality reduced to a point of working of the universal Force, himself calm, liberated, deathless in universality, motionless in the Witness Self even while outspread without limit in unending Space and Time, he can enjoy in the world the freedom of the Timeless. One-pointed towards some ineffable Transcendence, casting away his personality, shedding from him the labour and trouble of the universal Dynamis, he can escape into an inexpressible Nirvana, annul all things in an intolerant exaltation of flight into the Incommunicable.”

Here we have three of the many shores of the ocean, in Ferrer's analogy. In the inflexible Wilberian schema, the Theistic/Individual/Immanent state would probably have to be pigeonholed into the Subtle stage, the Cosmic/Universal Wideness into the Causal, and the “flight into the Incommunicable” to the nondual Ultimate or Spirit. But for Sri Aurobindo, these are all equally three aspects of the spiritualised mental plane (although strictly speaking it is not a “plane” as such, as rather a state of realisation; in this regard I find Sri Aurobindo's use of Theosophical terminology misleading). He then talks about the transcendence and surpassing of even of those three states of Liberation.

“The Transcendent, the Universal, the Individual are three powers overarching, underlying and penetrating the whole manifestation.... In the unfolding of consciousness also, these are the three fundamental terms and none of them can be neglected if we would have the experience of the whole Truth of existence. Out of the individual we wake into a vaster freer cosmic consciousness; but out of the universal too with its complex of forms and powers we must emerge by a still greater self-exceeding into a consciousness without limits that is founded on the Absolute. And yet in this ascension we do not really abolish but take up and transfigure what we seem to leave; for there is a height where the three live eternally in each other, on that height they are blissfully joined in a nodus of their harmonised oneness. But that summit is above the highest and largest spiritualised mentality, even if some reflection of it can be experienced there; mind, to attain to it, to live there, must exceed itself and be transformed into a supramental gnostic light, power and substance. In this lower diminished consciousness a harmony can indeed be attempted, but it must always remain imperfect: a co-ordination is possible, not a simultaneous fused fulfilment....

...Only when we cross the border into a larger luminous consciousness and self-aware substance where divine Truth is a native and not a stranger, will there be revealed to us the Master of our existence in the imperishable integral truth of his being and his powers and his workings. Only there, too, will his works in us assume the flawless movement of his unfailing supramental purpose.”

On the basis of the above, and earlier discussion regarding the Intermediate Zone and Spiritualisation, we might construct a map or diagram of states of consciousness, enlightenment, and Divinisation. In this regard, I agree with Wilber in that there does indeed seem to be a sort of hierarchy of states of realisation. However, an Aurobindonian understanding might be that what Wilber calls the nondual or Ultimate stage, or Spirit as the Absolute Reality underlying all the other holons (and which he considers the highest of all the stages), is simply the lowest level of liberation, corresponding to transcendent Self-realisation, when it isn't actually part of the Intermediate Zone that is. It is like what the Radhasoami path teaches: at each stage you think you have reached the Ultimate, the Absolute, but really there are many further stages beyond where one is at. It might indeed be a very high state of consciousness for us, but it is only a very preliminary state in the the context of Integral Yoga.

On that basis, the following diagram can be presented (using the “height” metaphor and progressing from the bottom up, although such spatial metaphors should not be taken literally)

Sachchidananda Sat
Chit-Tapas – Ananda
Supramental Realisation – Matter becomes Consciously Divine
Overmental Realisation – Supreme Godheads
"Higher", "Illumined", and "Intuitive Mind" Ascent and Avataric Enlightenment
Individual/Theistic Absolute Cosmic/Universal Absolute and Liberation Transcendent Absolute (easiest form of Liberation)
Inner Being – Esoteric and Occult realities – Intermediate Zone
(many realities, forces, and aspects here, causal on the Outer Being)
Outer Being / Ordinary Consciousness

Fig.3 The ascent of consciousness

In this diagram, the Outer Being / Ordinary Consciousness represents the ordinary psycho-physico-spiritual consciousness. Beyond, Within, and Above this, like Neoplatonic hypostases or underlying realities, are the Inner Being, the Intermediate Zone, the Transcendent, Universal-Cosmic, and Individual Liberations, and finally the SupraMental and beyond.

Considering these successive stages in more detail:

Ordinary Consciousness. This includes the Outer being, the various stages of Physical, Emotional, Mental, and so on. Note that this also includes the level of mental understanding and hence of the “mental fortress” (sect 2-ix). To go beyond the mental fortress is to attain the level of the inner being and the spiritual experiences of the intermediate zone.

Inner Being. This includes the Inner or Occult levels, which may be both or alternatively Within, Above, and Subtle. But they can also be Outside, Below, and Gross or Dense (e..g the Inconscient or hidden consciousness of matter). They can be supra-physical or intra-physical, but cannot be reduced to the outer being in a reductionistic manner. One might also include here the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner and other occultists and esotericists (although they often still seem to also have a sort of mental limitation). Going beyond that as well, here we might also see the spiritual-divine growth stages that Sri Aurobidno refers to as Psychicisation (Soul-realisation) and Spiritualisation (Self-realisation), as well as of course the Intermediate Zone itself. This region or state is not negative in itself, but it can be negative if there is not an integral transformation of the inner being. Self-realisation without Soul-realisation may still lead to Realisation of Transcendent, Cosmic, or Individual, Absolute, but without true transformation; hence there is the meergence (especially where the self-realisation is very partial and not at all integral) of abusive gurus characterised by flawed enlightenment, self-delusion inextricably mixed with genuine experience. This reality I suggest would also include what Wilber calls the Non-Dual, Ultimate, or Spirit, and what Da calls “the Seventh Stage of Life”.(e.g. abusive gurus have a partial nondual realisation, but are still in the Intermediate Zone).

Liberation. Beyond the Inner Being in the world and the Intermediate Zone with which it overlaps, is the state of Liberation. This can be described in at least two ways, “vertically” and “horizontally”. “Horizontally” are the three (and there may very well be more) the three parallel, but also progressively greater and more inclusive Liberations, of Transcendent Absolute (easiest form of Liberation), representing Paramatman and Shunyata, Self-realisation; Liberation of phenomenal existence, Cosmic/Universal Absolute and Liberation (universal egoless realisation), and the Individual Theistic Absolute of Thestic Mysticism (the highest/more subtle form of Liberation, very few mystics ever get this high) ; the Personal realisation of the Absolute as “God” or identification of the Self with the God and Ground of Being.

One might speculate that a genuine enlightened sage like Ramana Maharshi would have attained the Transcendent Absolute (the easiest stage), and only the greatest mystics would have reached the Individual Absolute (most religious experiences of “God” come from the lower reaches of the Intermediate Zone at best). Abusive gurus cannot have passed beyond the Intermediate Zone (if they would have, they would not be abusive), and none of them would have realised their Divine Center (Soul-realisation). It has already been shown that concepts such as “breaking down the walls of ego” are based on a deficient spirituality that comes straight from the Intermediate Zone (sect. 2-iv, 2-v); the presence of these victimising pseudo-teachings reveal just how deficient this sort of popular spirituality (which is very often a fake spirituality) is.

Ascent to Higher Gnosis. In addition to the Transcendent, Universal-Cosmic, and Individual Liberations there are a number of “vertical” stages of progressively greater transcendent Gnosis and Noetic transformation of the lower being, and as I would see it the attainment of avataric status. It is these trans-enlightenment gnoses that Sri Aurobindo refers to somewhat misleadingly as Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, and Intuition (note on jargon: trans-enlightenment is a neologism I coined, meaning “beyond (what we know of as) Enlightenment”. Gnoses plural means that there are many stages of higher gnosis here).

As mentioned before, it is likely that Sri Aurobindo's unintentionally trivial language gave Wilber the idea that his Vision-Logic is actually the same as the Aurobindonian Higher Mind. In fact the Higher Mind comes after Liberation (the Spirit or Ultimate or nondual state of Wilber's Integral Theory) not before. To quote:

"The first most ordinary result [of the spiritual ascent] is a discovery of a vast static and silent Self which we feel to be our real or our basic existence, the foundation of all else that we are...(W)e can realise that this self is not only our own spiritual being but the true self of all others; it presents itself then as the underlying truth of cosmic existence. It is possible to remain in a Nirvana of all individuality, to stop at a static realisation or, regarding the cosmic movement as a superficial play or illusion imposed on the silent Self... (Or) there takes place a large dynamic descent of light, knowledge, power, bliss or other supernormal energies into our self of silence, and we can ascend too into higher regions of the Spirit where its immobile status is the foundation of those great and luminous energies....”[25]

The “higher regions of the Spirit” referred to here beyond the silent Self (Paramatman, Nirvana) are precisely the Higher Mind and the further gnoses beyond it.

Supreme Godheads. Beyond these gnoses again is the “Overmind” (note once again the misleading trivial language) which is the region of the archetypal Godheads.

Infinite Revelatory-Transformational Truth Consciousness. Beyond the Overmind is the Supramental Realisation, which reconciles and transcends the three stages of “spiritual mind”, as well as the multiplicity of the Overmind Godheads, in a single ineffable Unity, in which, nevertheless, diversity is preserved. It is from here that there is a Descent of the Supreme; and a Transformation of Matter

Sachchidananda. Beyond SuperMind again, at the summit of Manifest Being or Reality is the ineffable infinite eternal transcendent states of Sat (Pure Existence), Chit-Tapas (Consciousness-Force), and Ananda (Delight) that constitute what Sri Aurobindo refers to as Sachchidananda. This is not the same as Wilber's pseudo-Aurobindonian Sachchidananda, the latter is simply a synonym for his nondual Inner Being or Intermediate Zone experience.

3-vii. Extending Wilber's Levels

I have already shown (sect. 3-1, 3-ii) that Wilber's mentalising and abstractionist approach (2-viii) completely misinterprets Sri Aurobindo's stages of higher spiritual development and trans-enlightenment. But even allowing for this, it is still possible to create a simple mental structure that can show how Wilberian Integral theory can be understood as a lesser "holon" of a larger Aurobindonian sequence.

In this way, an (albeit greatly oversimplistic!) intellectual mapping of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings can even be accommodated in the Wilberian AQAL diagram, although it is necessary to go beyond Wilber's Advaito-Mahayanist-Daist synthesis for this to happen. If we take Wilber's “Non-dual” or “Ultimate” to represent not the highest stage and the reality beyond all the stages, as he believes it to be, but simply, as suggested in the current essay, equivalent to the “Spiritualisation” (Self-realisation) state of Integral Yoga, then beyond his Non-dual state there can be mapped a whole range of further, larger and deeper, "holons", culminating in the SuperMind, and beyond that, even greater "holons" of Ananda and unmanifest Sachchidananda.

Now, I am not saying this is necessarily the best way to represent these things. In my opinion Wilberian thought is seriously flawed and misleading due to the fact that it can only accept one ontological gradation, when there are in fact many.[26] This is why I favour many integral theories instead of Wilberian orthodoxy, as well as many aspects and dimensions to the Integral movement (Integral Philosophy, Integral Yoga, etc). But if, in for example the context of the Wilberian Integral Movement, we are going to restrict ourselves to this simplistic unilinear four-quadrant map, one can quite easily accommodate the various Aurobindonian stages as representing evolution beyond both current mysticism and current Integral theory, to the state of physical and material divinisation and beyond.

Taking the preceding concerns into account, the following very oversimplistic diagram compares the Aurobindonian, Daist, and Wilberian representations of the ascent of consciousness. I am using a linear model here in order to allow the there systems to be mapped against each other, and to correct the erroneous correspondences Wilber gives in his tables at the back of The Atman Project and Integral Psychology.

And while Wilber's “pre-” stages doesn't work because all three strata of the outer being – physical, emotional, and mental, can and – in Integral Spirituality and Yoga – should be equally developed, one can still posit a “trans-” series of stages of ascending-descending immanent-transcendent transenlightenment. In this table, [square brackets] indicate my own comments, otherwise the stages follow Da or Wilber. Note that Aurobindonian as shown here is a simplistic and probably therefore incorrect interpretation; all these levels would in fact overlap, so that the Intermediate Zone would extend down to the Inner Being levels, and the Liberation levels would also extend up to the Overmind. It is only rational-intellectual pigeonholing that puts things in boxes, as shown here.

Aurobindonian Da –
Stages of Life
Wilber –
Outer being – physical and vital [= emotional] 1) Physical 1) Sensorimotor 1st Tier begins here
1) Ocher – instinctive
Outer being – vital [= emotional] 2) Emotional-Sexual 2) Phantasmic-Emotional 2) Purple – animistic
Outer being – mental 3) Intellectual

(no equivalent)
3) Rep-mind
4) Con-op
5) Form-op (transition)

6) Postformal/Vision-Logic
3) Red – tribal
4) Blue – religions
5) Orange – empires
6) Green – relativist

2nd Tier begins here
7) Yellow – systematic
8) Turquoise – integral
Intermediate Zone / Inner Being 4) Spiritual/Devotional

5) Yogic/Subtle energies

6) Subjective enlightenment, subtle ego remains

7) Complete Enlightenment (early Da – Bubba Free John / Da Free John )
7) Psychic / visions

8) Subtle / archetypal

9) Causal / formless

10) Nondual [according to Da and others in the Intermediate zone]
9) Coral

(hypothetical higher stages)

(hypothetical higher stages and higher tiers)

(hypothetical higher stages and higher tiers)
Liberation (transcendent) n/a 10) Nondual [according to Ramana, Zen, etc] n/a
Liberation (cosmic) n/a n/a n/a
Liberation (theistic) n/a n/a n/a
Higher Mind n/a n/a n/a
Illumined Mind n/a n/a n/a
Intuition n/a n/a n/a
Overmind n/a n/a n/a
Supermind n/a n/a n/a
Sachchidananda n/a n/a n/a

Table 2. Daist, Wilberian Integral Theory, and Sri Aurobindo

Thus there is no relation between Supramental divinisation, let alone the even greater, almost incomprehensible, attainments of Sachchidananda beyond it, and the more trivial (relatively speaking; for us in our more limited consciousness things appear different) nondual state of conventional enlightenment, other than that the former represents a much more partial aspect of the latter. This is because according to Sri Aurobindo both spiritualisation (Enlightenment, the non-dual state) and psychicisation (Soul-realisation) are necessary prerequisites before higher gnosis can be attained (sect. 3-iv). Using a Wilberian framework one might see this as a classic case of “Include and Transcend”. The Aurobindonian paradigm understands and recognises the intellect and the non-dual path, and refers to (“includes”) them, but sees them as preliminary stages, because he has already gone beyond (transcended) them. The goal of course is not to reject the rational mind, but see it in its proper role, as the servant to the Divine Soul rather than the master.

3-viii. Traditional (World-transcending) and New (World-transmuting) Spirituality

The words “Traditional” and “New” Spirituality are used in a very specific context here. By “Traditional” is meant those spiritualities and yogas which strives for realisation and liberation apart from material reality; what Sri Aurobindo refers to as the Yoga of Ascent, the “refusal of the ascetic”.[27] This is the idea that the Supreme is not something to be realised “here” in the phenomenal world. Rather, it is attained through the state of Liberation from the phenomenal world (this is marked as the modes of “Liberation” in the previous table and diagram). Now while it is true that monistic advatin and shunyavada Buddhist teachings, the Absolute, or Liberation, or Shunyata, is not something that is found “somewhere else”, as it is the true nature of all things, it is still the case that in order to attain this state one is required to renounce all phenomenal existence, in order to attain a state of Transcendent Self (Vedanta) or non-being (Buddhism).

Ultimately, these spiritual paths, despite their profound wisdom, deep insights, and great benefit they confer on those who follow and practice them with sincerity, are still by themselves alone non-integral and dualistic. Non-integral because they are concerned ultimately only with the Transcendent, and leaves out the other side of the equation, the transformation of the world. And dualistic, in the sense of the duality of matter and spirit, or even samsara and nirvana, maya and liberation, in that it is based on the denial of the world and the things of the world. This attitude results ultimately in asceticism and concepts like maya in Hinduism, matter as evil in Gnosticism and Manichaeism, and the sins of the flesh in medieval Christianity.

This does not mean they should be rejected, or have nothing to offer; still less should they be denigrated or belittled because they don't lead to the divinisation of matter (a point Sri Aurobindo was at pains to make)[28], only that they do not constitute the whole or complete and total picture.

Even the “Embodied Spirituality” of Jorge Ferrer[29] and others is no better. While it at least recognises the body as a locus of experience, it does not do anything about changing the body in a way that also changes the world. Thus Kriya Yoga, Taoist Internal Alchemy, and other very worthy and profound techniques of transmutation of the vital force and hence of the individual body, are still no better in terms of divinising the Earth as a whole, than the more conventional paths of renunciation and world-negating forms of mysticism.

The saint or the enlightened being may do many good works while in the world, and act as a true saint to relive the sufferings of many, or further great social and political causes. Indeed, one might mention individuals like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King here, or for an example of enlightened beings who likewise did not shirk from service to the world and to the poor, Swami Vivekananda, and Meher Baba. As a historical example, one might refer to Jesus of Nazareth, although his life and teachings have been so distorted by later religious accretions and theologies that it is hard to know for sure. But regardless, once a saintly individual leaves their body, if they are indeed enlightened and liberated, that is it, they are not coming back; the classic example here being the life and teaching of Guatama Buddha. At best one can be (according to Mahayana Buddhist doctrine) a bodhisattva and, through compassion for the suffering of other beings, forestall indefinitely your own nirvana or non-existence, sacrificing yourself to remain in the phenomenal world until all the infinite transmigrating sentient beings are led out of it to nirvana, at which case you can finally attain your reward as well.

Although that aspect of traditional spirituality that has been incorporated in Perennialism, Transpersonal Psychology, and the Wilberian Integral movement is not concerned with the unhealthy “world as sinful” dualism (indeed this sort of dualism is alien to modern Western thought, which tends to be world-affirming), and more with acosmic dualism, the idea that the goal of all spiritual development is the realisation of the impersonal Transcendent state as described in world-negating monistic, acosmic, or shunyavadan teachings.

And all of these teachings leave the world-process unchanged. Suffering continues, imperfection remains, all the Enlightened being can do is point the way out of the prison, and help a lucky few to escape.

In contrast, the New Spirituality serves to transform the world. New does not mean a total break with the past, but rather a change of orientation; it is this that is novel and original approach of Aurobindonian Integral Yoga.[30] In a letter to a disciple, Sri Aurobindo gives the reasons why his yoga he teaches is new:

  1. Because it aims not at a departure out of world and life into Heaven or Nirvana, but at a change of life and existence, not as something subordinate or incidental, but as a distinct and central object. If there is a descent in other yogas, yet it is only an incident on the way or resulting from the ascent--the ascent is the real thing. Here the ascent is the first step, but it is a means for the descent. It is the descent of the new consciousness attained by the ascent that is the stamp and seal of the sadhana. Even the Tantra and Vaishnavism end in the release from life; here the object is the divine fulfilment of life.
  2. Because the object sought after is not an individual achievement of divine realisation for the sake of the individual, but something to be gained for the earth-consciousness here, a cosmic, not solely a supra-cosmic achievement. The thing to be gained also is the bringing in of a power of Consciousness (the supramental) not yet organised or active directly in earth-nature, even in the spiritual life, but yet to be organised and made directly active.
  3. Because a method has been preconceived for achieving this purpose which is as total and integral as the aim set before it, viz., the total and integral change of the consciousness and nature, taking up old methods but only as a part action and present aid to others that are distinctive. I have not found this method (as a whole) or anything like it professed or realised in the old yogas. If I had, I should not have wasted my time in hewing out paths and in thirty years of search and inner creation when I could have hastened home safely to my goal in an easy canter over paths already blazed out, laid down, perfectly mapped, macadamised, made secure and public. Our yoga is not a retreading of old walks, but a spiritual adventure.[31]

This path means the reform, change, alter and totally and utterly transmute everything. And not merely one's conscious perception of the world, in the sense of realising that things were “always enlightened”, a concept that, while originally very profound in Ch'an and Zen Buddhism, has since become part of the glib “New consciousness paradigm” and pop buddhistic, pop nondual mindset. In this new spirituality, instead of running away from the world to a transcendent Liberation, one works to transform it, until not only one's entire being, including one's physical body, but the collective physical, psychological, and occult reality of the Earth as a whole, is transmuted by the Infinite Light and Force and Consciousness, the SupraMental manifested, matter made divine, luminous, and enlightened, and the Supreme Truth Consciousness, a state beyond the highest consciousness of popular spirituality, is concretely established within and as the physical body and the Earth as a whole. Then evolution, instead of the stumbling process it is now, proceeds from Supreme Godhead Light to even Greater Light, from Infinite Eternal Truth to even Greater Truth.

In contrast to nirvana, cessation of all individuality, annihilation in the absolute, the new spiritual path means a new, integral, synthesis of the Individual and the Supreme. In the new creation, individuality is not lost, but it will be very different indeed, far more universal and harmonious, than to the limited ego-sense that we have today.

This dynamics of this process are revealed in an extraordinary 13-volume document known as Mother's Agenda[32]; a total and radical, utter transformation of all of the body's faculties and functions, right down to the individual cells. And not just in one's own body, but in all bodies, all over the Earth (and perhaps even beyond?). For example:

“It's a state, a state of intense vibration where you have at once a feeling of omnipotence, even in this (Mother pinches the skin of her hand), in this old thing, and . . . a luminous omnipotence. And always with something comparable to goodness, benevolence, but far beyond those things (they seem like ridiculous distortions in comparison). This (gesture of expansion) and static at the same time. In other words, there's a feeling of eternity in the cells.” (Agenda, 23 April, 1969)

“It's the body's experience. Before, those who had inner experiences would say, “Yes, up above, that's the way it is, but here” [things remain as they always were]. Now the “but here” will soon cease to be. This tremendous change is what's being conquered, so physical life may be ruled by the higher consciousness and not by the mental world. It's the change of authority.... It's difficult. It's hard. It's painful. There is some damage done, naturally, but... But truly, one can see – one can see. And that's the real CHANGE, that's what will enable the new Consciousness to express itself. And the body is learning, it's learning its lesson – all bodies, all bodies.” (Agenda, 14 March, 1970 (square bracket comment added)

All bodies... Universal, yet still paradoxically individual as well. This teaching is so radically different to everything else that the mystics and esotericists of East and West say (whether Vedanta or Tantra or Neoplatonism or Theosophy or Sufism or anything else), that it is difficult to convey, because the “thought-form” is not there. One can find analogies, for example in exoteric messianic Christian concepts of “a new heaven and a new earth”, or in Lurianic Kabbalah with its conception of tikkun or cosmic restitution, or even New Age myths of “harmonic convergence” and the transmutation of the DNA, but these are just hints and gleanings, often heavily mythologised and distorted, not the complete picture.

And ultimately, this is something that cannot be truly conveyed in words. The material is there (in the writings of Sri Aurobindo, and in the talks of the Mother, but one has to go beyond the rational-cognitive mind, and beyond the self-imposed conceptual straight-jacket limitations of scepticism and materialism, and feel it with one's Higher Self. This of course is the same with all spiritual teachings; the sceptical mind only gets in the way. But the more extraordinary the claims that a teaching makes, the more the doubting mind – conditioned as it is by secular modernity, resists.

3-ix. The Transformation

The way that this cosmic transformation works is through the total transformation of the physical body, a completely new way of physical functioning. As explained in the Mother's Agenda, this involves a transition or passage to a new consciousness, a new way of physical existence, a task fraught with difficulties, and going against billions of years of entrenched habit and functioning. For example

“It is very difficult for the body to change, because it lives only out of habit. So every time something of the new way of living slips in, free of thought, free or reasoning, free of anything resembling an idea, almost free of sensation -- almost automatically -- the newness of it throws the cells into a panic. So everything has to be changed, you see. It's no longer the heart that must pump the blood or receive the Force; it's no longer all that -- it must function in another way. The base of it all must be changed, the functioning completely modified -- while every single one of these cells tries to make sure that everything should work as usual!”[33]


All of a sudden the body finds itself . . . outside of all habits, all actions, reactions, consequences, etc., and that's . . . (Mother opens her eyes in wonder), then it goes away. It's so new for the material consciousness that, every time, you feel on the verge of mental derangement, or rather, derangement of consciousness, not mental derangement; happily, it has nothing to do with the mind! But for a minute the consciousness panics. . . . The body has enough sense to -- it knows it isn't ill -- it knows it isn't an illness; it's just an attempt at transformation. It knows it full well, but . . . there are all those centuries of habit.[34]

What we are looking at here is something radically new; not encountered in any other spirituality. This is where concepts like Perennial Philosophy, Traditionalism, and Wilberism fail completely. They rely on what has been said in the past, or in the case of Wilber with his interest in modernity and postmodernity, the present. And hence they have no absolutely conceptual framework with these sort of things. It is a radical new way of physical functioning; one that, I believe, involves altering the laws of the physical universe.[35] So if you are still only thinking in terms of transcendence, liberation, traditional mysticism, etc, you just don't get it. Moreover if the Daist-Advaitin or alternatively Zen enlightenment – which themselves need not necessarily be the same, despite Wilber's identifying them both with his non-dual stage – state were the same as Supramentalisation, then this transition would have already been achieved. Yet nowhere in the mystical literature do we see anything like what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are saying. Wilber himself denies any possibility of an integral Divine transformation of the world, rejecting this (e.g. With reference to Teilhard's Omega Point and New Age ideas) in favour of traditional conceptions of samsara, suffering and transcendence[36], showing that he has never experienced, come across, or in any way gleaned it either.

The importance of this change of orientation, away from otherworldiness, to the descent and transformation of matter, and divinisation and supramentalisation of the physical body, cannot be understated. It goes against everything that has come before in terms of spirituality. In this context, Wilberian Integral theory pertains totally, completely, to the old, traditional, way of doing things. Ultimately these sort of interpretations (Wilberian, and others like Da and Rajneesh who also failed to comprehend Sri Aurobindo and the Mother) come about because advocates of Traditional Spirituality (sect 3-viii), which go no further than the “Transcendent Liberation”, and are unable to understand the concept of an Integral Supramental transformation (including a collective physical transformation). Like most traditionalist teachers, Wilber is strongly against any conception of the transformation or divinisation of matter. He considers (as explained in his opus Sex, Ecology, Spirituality) ideas like the Teilhardian Omega Point as profoundly misleading, and (in his book Integral Psychology) relegates Sri Aurobindo to the status of a “theorist”. Nothing pertaining to the divinisation of matter can be found in any of Wilber's voluminous writings. Anywhere.

The mistake Wilber makes, which is the same as the mistake that most perennialists make, is to assume that ultimately everyone is saying the same thing (apart from minor details of individual and cultural interpretation), and therefore to see the final term in all spiritual systems to be synonymous. In each case, that highest term is identified with what the writer in question intellectually understands the highest level to be. As Ferrer observes, in the case of perennialists or traditionalists this is usually a transcendent or ineffable non-dual state as taught by monistic Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, Neoplatonism, and some forms of Sufism. This may be because the intellectual mind prefers non-personalistic accounts of the Supreme; I know this was my own position for many years. It is not in any way that the impersonalists are wrong, only that, as Sri Aurobindo will show, they are partial. In other words, their realisation is non-integral (exactly the same could be said for the theistic mystics too of course).

This is why the Integral movement has to move beyond the Wilberian paradigm, beyond that limited, uniformist, linear way of thinking about spirituality.

PART FOUR: Where To Now For The Integral Movement?


[1] e.g. "Sri Aurobindo, India's greatest modern sage", The Atman Project, p. 313; “...Aurobindo's magnificent contributions...”, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, p.536; “...the magnitude of his achievements is hard to convey convincingly", Integral Psychology, p.83

[2]Integral Psychology, pp.83-84. Wilber's understanding however would seem to be second-hand here, as his footnote cites Reddy Integral Yoga Psychology, and Vrinte, The concept of personality in Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga Psychology and Maslow's Humanistic/Transpersonal Psychology, but not any original texts by Sri Aurobindo himself.

[3] Integral Psychology, p.84

[4] Despite citing Sri Aurobindo's books (usually The Life Divine and sometimes also The Synthesis of Yoga) in the bibliographies of his own works, it is apparent that Wilber has not read any of the original works. Rod Hemsell (Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective, ) analysed a quote by Wilber in one of his early books, The Atman Project, of Sri Aurobindo, and observed that "the reference is to a selection from The Life Divine included in an anthology of Indian Philosophy edited by S. Radhakrishnan (1973, p.598). It is possible to trace it back to the original, which is in The Life Divine, Chapter XIV, The Supermind As Creator. " I assume this is Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Charles A. Moore. A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1973. 683p. I have also been told that the references in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, to Sri Aurobindo's work were all from Robert McDermott's The Essential Aurobindo. Since I do not have that text, I cannot conform this fact, but I have been able to show that Wilber isn't using the original source material.

In my edition of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (coll. works vol.6, 2nd ed. 2000), on p.637 (end of note 8) Wilber quotes from The Life Divine, giving the book and chapter number, but not the page number; and on p.792 (references) he mentions both in the Collected Works Centenary Edition. Just out of curiosity, I googled a text string from the Aurobindo quote in question.

Here is the passage from an Aurobindonian website, which includes Selections from the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library – from Volume 18 and 19, The Life Divine”

“The spiritual evolution obeys the logic of a successive unfolding; it can take a new decisive main step only when the previous main step has been sufficiently conquered: even if certain minor stages can be swallowed up or leaped over by a rapid and brusque ascension, the consciousness has to turn back to assure itself that the ground passed over is securely annexed to the new condition. It is true that the conquest of the Spirit supposes the execution in one life or a few lives of a process that in the ordinary course of Nature would involve a slow and uncertain procedure of centuries or even of millenniums: but this is a question of the speed with which the steps are traversed; a greater or concentrated speed does not eliminate the steps themselves or the necessity of their successive surmounting.”

This is a different edition to mine; I have The Life Divine in a single volume (10th ed. 1977, Pondicherry). But I found the above quoted passage on p.931-2 of my edition; it is word for word the same.

Now, Google also found the same text string in Ken Wilber Online; at two urls: and Both give the same text, which is also in my edition of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality.

"The spiritual evolution obeys the logic of a successive unfolding; it can take a new decisive main step only when the previous main step has been sufficiently conquered: even if certain minor stages can be swallowed up or leaped over by a rapid and brusque ascension, the consciousness has to turn back to assure itself that the ground passed over is securely annexed to the new condition; a greater or concentrated speed [which is indeed possible] does not eliminate the steps themselves or the necessity of their successive surmounting" (Aurobindo, The Life Divine, II, 26).

Note that Wilber cuts out an entire sentence (after “new condition” and before “a greater or concentrated speed”, and adds some of his own material (in square brackets). However, unlike the quote in the Atman Project, Wilber does not here indicate with ellipses (...) that he has removed a section of material. While this may indicate carelessness, another explanation is that this text of the version is not from the original Collected Works. All this helps explain why Wilber doesn't understand Aurobindo at all; he simply hasn't read the original material

[5] Michael Murphy, The Supermind. Part 1. The Divinization of the Body, Integral Naked The discussion is dated 24 November 2003. The text says “In this fast-paced and demanding dialogue, Mike and Ken discuss the nature of the supermind: its meanings, why it has not appeared previously in history on any sort of widespread scale, and why glimmers of its emergence are starting to happen now, today.” And under most memorable moment: “The divinization of the body is not a sideshow but what Spirit intends.” However, not having heard the talk, I cannot comment further.

[6] The Life Divine, pp.1031-2

[7] The Life Divine, p.965

[8] The Life Divine, p.966

[9]The Life Divine, p.968

[10]e.g. “We are preparing upon earth the connecting-point, that point of communication and junction between the mental and terrestrial human consciousness and the supramental and superhuman Consciousness. It is a whole intermediate world that is being worked out, a new creation manifesting and materializing.” – June 1958 (in Mother's Agenda vol.1) “It's as if a choice had been made of those who will be the pioneers of the new creation” – November 27, 1965 (in Mother's Agenda vol.6) “We are at a specially favorable time of universal existence, when everything on the earth is preparing for a new creation, or rather a new manifestation in the eternal creation”. – Mother's Agenda vol.11 November 7, 1970. “For centuries and centuries humanity has waited for this time. It has come. But it is difficult. I didn't simply tell you were here upon earth to rest and enjoy yourselves, now it is not the time for that. We are here… to prepare the way for a new creation.” – April 2, 1972 – Auroville International Historical Charter . .

[11]"according to a Yoga Journal interview, [Wilber] regularly reads two to three books a day" from “Snapshots” By Marshall Glickman – Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, I have no idea how reliable this information is!

[12]Excerpt C: The Ways We Are in This Together – Intersubjectivity and Interobjectivity in the Holonic Kosmos

[13]By another example of synchronicity that seems not uncommon in my writing recently, I had just this morning been reading Satprem, one of the Mother's chief disciples, who writes of “those [in the Integral Yoga community] who wanted to separate Mother and Sri Aurobindo and found it more comfortable to philosophise than do the yoga concretely” Mother's Agenda, vol.12, p.101

[14]Unfortunately, you really need the Collected Works and the Agenda to appreciate the depth of power of Mirra's teachings. The compilations that are usually presented are simple, nonthreatening aphorisms and quotes. Inspiring, sure, but no different to any other spiritual teacher. As a starting point I would suggest, at the very least, the small book Conversations, being a record of some of her early Ashram talks in 1929

[15] The Life Divine, p.966

[16]A popular introduction is Satprem's Sri Aurobindo and the Adventure of Consciousness. For a radical and passionate introduction to the Mother, see The Mind of the Cells, by the same author.

[17]In Mirras' own words "Since the beginning of the earth, wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of the Consciousness, I was there." Mother's Agenda, vol.1, March 14, 1952.

[18]No one taught me to do this. I just found that one day I was able to. In another example of synchronicity, after I had written the above passage I was surprised to find the same thing stated independently by Aurobindonian scholar, Dennis Hargiss, Integral phenomenology – A method for the “new psychology”, the study of mysticism and the sacred, online at To quote:

(T)he Mother...stressed that to the quiet and receptive mind the sharing or identification with the being and consciousness of Sri Aurobindo may take place through the reading of his work, especially Savitri.

(footnote:) These notions continue a rich discipline of scriptural exegesis (mamamsa) in the Indian traditions. Compare, for example, the following statement of Smirat Anirvan from an article entitled Vedic Exegesis: “Interpretation always presupposes a spiritual communion between the interpreter and the subject he seeks to interpret. This becomes imperative when one seeks to interpret a culture, a way of thought, or a thing of the Spirit. A process of saturation, resulting in a participation mystique, must set in before the eyes are ready to see and the mind to grasp.” (Italics added for emphasis. From S. Radhakrishnan et. al., eds., The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. 1, p. 326.)

[19]The Life Divine, pp.908-910 (the term “spiritual opening” is used here), and Letters on Yoga part 4, section 1 both provide a detailed description.

[20] Revisioning Transpersonal Theory, pp.163-4

[21]I have brought together some quotes regrading this at “Is Da the only 7th Stage Realiser?” ; follow the links for the more complete coverage.

[22]The Atman Fiasco,

[23]Note that Wilber is incorrect in identifying (e.g. Integral Psychology p.202) “Vision logic” with Sri Aurobindo's “Higher Mind”; because the Higher Mind is the first of the spiritual mind levels that descends only after the realisation of the nondual enlightened state (what Sri Aurobindo calls “Spiritualisation”) see e.g. The Life Divine (10th ed.), pp. 276-277

[24]Synthesis of Yoga, pp.254-263

[25] The Life Divine, pp. 276-277

[26]See my essay “A New Integral Paradigm” at for an early version of this idea. These themes will be further developed in my work in progress, tentatively titled Evolution, Metapmorphosis, and Divinisiation.

[27]The Life Divine, ch.3

[28]See Letters on Yoga, vol.1, p.97 where Sri Aurobindo rebukes disciples for having a trivial attitude to traditional spiritual paths.

[29]Jorge Ferrer, “Embodied Spirituality: Now and Then”,

[30]Sri Aurobindo writes in letters to disciples “I have said that this yoga is "new" because it aims at the integrality of the Divine in this world and not only beyond it and at a supramental realisation” Letters on Yoga vol.1, p.97, and “I have called it the integral yoga and that means that it takes up the essence and many processes of the old yogas – its newness is in its aim, standpoint and the totality of its method” – Letters on Yoga, vol.1, p.99

[31]From Letters on Yoga, vol.1, pp.100-101, also in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1973. also at

[32]Mother's Agenda, Institute for Evolutionary Research, New York, NY (13 vol set) synopsis of each volume here

[33]Mother's Agenda vol.4; 9 January 1963

[34] Mother's Agenda vol 11; 20 May 1970

[35]For an essay I wrote on this subject many years ago (my views have been modified somewhat since then, but I still feel the basic thesis is sound) see M.Alan Kazlev “The Divinisation Of Matter -Lurianic Kabbalah, Sri Aurobindo, and the New Physics” This essay first appeared in Esoterica (later Magick) magazine, issue no.7, 1996. Online at

[36] Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, pp.323-5