INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Barclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at www.lostsecretofimmortality.com for information on the book, graphic novel and film.
The Invisible Shadow of Integral Theory
The shadow of Integral Theory is the hubris of a postmodern perspective, which has told itself that the pre-modern definition of enlightenment is outdated by virtue of evolution.
The invisible shadow of Integral Theory is an incomplete definition of enlightenment based on psychological awakening, as opposed to inner energy refinement resulting in subtle body union. The mechanism for realization has always been the original reproductive energy of the body. This inner energy becomes the kundalini/golden embryo when fully refined, the goal of meditation, yoga and qi gong.
Even if this process is not fully completed, the activation of the pre-birth chi uses the dormant enlightened reproductive energy of the body to illuminate the brain and consciousness. A partial version is a kundalini activation; the complete Coniunctio unites the subtle and super subtle bodies. The super subtle body is called the golden or spiritual embryo in Taoist inner alchemy, and the Dharmakaya or original face in Buddhist meditation and inner yoga.
Integral postmodern meditation theory has completely omitted the original and authentic version of three body union that results in complete liberation, and often substitutes psychological and pseudosatori jargon for real awakening which is an inner energy activation. Traditionally the golden authentic self has been the basis of the concept of the Tathagatagharba - the embryo of Buddhahood or Buddha nature. In India the Hiranyagarbha or golden embryo is said to be the originator of yoga. The actual Coniunctio, the union of subtle yin and super subtle yang (the golden embryo) subtle bodies has been the goal of Tantric inner alchemy in many civilizations. In the Vajrayana tradition realization is described as uniting solar and lunar energy meridians within the central channel of the body.
The complete version of this process, which results in Tantric Buddhahood, is the union of mother and child lights, which is a metaphorical description of yin and yang subtle body union. Chinese civilization revolves around the metaphor of the marriage of the dragon and tiger, which is the same inner alchemical subtle body union poetically described. Although some scholars have noted the similarities between the Mahamudra tradition and southern Taoism, Integral Theory has not understood the completion stage of the process.
Buddhahood/immortality based on sexual yoga represents a future understanding of the ultimate spiritual potential of human beings, using the inner energy of the human reproductive system.
There are sexual and celibate versions of this process. Padmasambhava, Milarepa and Chang Po Tuan represent lineages, which are based on the sexual yoga method of achieving enlightenment. The celibate meditation model is better known because northern Taoism, and the Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhist traditions, do not use karmamudra/sexual yoga as one of the completion stage practices of meditation. Although the Tantric traditions sometimes insist that Buddha achieved enlightenment with his wife before leaving the palace, it is a general consensus among Chinese Neidan inner alchemy practitioners that the Buddha saw his original face under the Bodhi tree. It is obvious to any Neidan expert that has reached the completion stage, that the original face is the Buddhist term for the experience of the Coniunctio when the super subtle body (not the causal body) is united with the subtle body. This experience is the legendary return to void, the physiological dissolution of the energetic causality mechanism of enlightenment, the kundalini/golden embryo at the completion stage of meditation.
Few scholars have realized that this experience has been described as the recreation of conception in Chinese, Indian and Tibetan civilizations, as well as European Hermetic traditions. The oroborus, the serpent swallowing its tail, represents this experience of the Coniunctio, the conjunction of subtle and super subtle bodies. The oroborus first appears in Egypt, but represents the esoteric alchemical secret of many ancient cultures that had this inner alchemical process as their most esoteric secret of transformative practice. The post-Trikaya experience is the real goal of Integral Theory, the highest stage yet to be described. The Trikaya is the complete union of the physical body/Nirmanakaya, subtle body/Sambhogakaya and super subtle body/Dharmakaya.
Activating the kundalini/golden embryo represents the future evolution of awakening, because it has always been the fundamental theory and practice of contemplative traditions, based on achieving spiritual enlightenment. The reason you have never heard of the golden embryo as the original face, explained by Integral Theory, is because none of the Western spiritual teachers have reached this stage of post- Buddhahood perspective. The modern Zen definition of the original face is based on partial pseudo-satori experiences that have been misdefined as awakening and nonduality. Incomplete versions of Zen and Advaita Vedanta along with evolutionary enlightenment have become the shadow of Integral Theory, which prevents the experience of real spiritual liberation from being understood and experienced by teachers, students and sanghas. The current Integral Theory definition of the causal body must be transcended and replaced with an accurate understanding of the Dharmakaya as the embryo of enlightenment, the goal of complete transformative practice.
Meditation must be linked with a firing process to result in the complete integration of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies. A psychological misunderstanding of Buddhahood/immortality as the goal of meditation and inner yoga currently prevents both individuals and sanghas from realizing their true enlightened potential.
Enlightenment is the natural state of consciousness if the firing process opens the energy meridians and awakens the third eye. This means that the dormant inner energy of the reproductive system has travelled up the spine to the brain, supercharging the pineal and pituitary glands. The original face or golden embryo, the real super subtle body, (not the causal body), has the power to transform you into your true identity – a living Buddha. The yang super subtle body is what separates the real Trikaya from the current mistranslation of spiritual awakening, which confuses emptiness and the causal body with the real Dharmakaya. The Dharmakaya dissolves into emptiness during the process of the Coniunctio, at the time that Buddhahood is achieved. Taoism calls this returning the original spirit to void.
This means that the microcosmic human body has been fully synchronized with the macrocosmic information field of the entire cosmos resulting in the integration of heaven, earth and man - the triplex unity, the goal of transformative spiritual practice in Chinese civilization. For Integral Theory to reach its ultimate level in terms of transformative collective potential, a postmodern version of this alchemical process must be understood and utilized in the 21st century. An accurate translation of inner energy refinement is necessary before postmodern transformative spiritual practices can result in the real Trikaya.
Partial satori and transpersonal psychological translations of internal energy and subtle body union meditation traditions have resulted in a highly distorted description of the nondual absolute based on partial awakening. This key error in the definition of realization prevents the future evolutionary enlightenment of both the students and the sanghas. Integral transparency means that these mistakes must be corrected to benefit both the teachers and students with an accurate higher stage meditation model based on real inner energy refinement. Teachers and sanghas that have not understood enlightenment from an energy cultivation basis must update their model of awakening to a complete understanding of the union of the three bodies as the highest stage of consciousness evolution.
The fact that you do not see jing, chi, shen, or nadi, prana, and bindu, the Chinese and Indian descriptions of the harnessing of the inner reproductive energy of the body, described as the physiological basis of enlightenment and meditation by Integral teachers, is a clear demonstration of a totally incomplete psychological mistranslation of awakening. In this case an accurate translation is necessary to create a transformative model based on the real Trikaya, as opposed to the current Integral model of the stages of consciousness. The real nondual absolute is a post-Trikaya experience, which has not been scientifically explained by Western scholars. This incomplete definition separates the relative subtle body from the super subtle absolute, which results in physiological oneness with the entire post-Trikaya future field of enlightenment. A genuine union of the three bodies, as the definition of complete realization, is necessary to remove the invisible shadow of Integral teachers – a psychological translation of awakening which prevents a post-Trikaya transformative model of evolutionary inner illumination from emerging.
Correcting this outdated concept of Integral psychological oneness with everything, and replacing it with an accurate model of inner energy refinement is imperative. Why use a completely outdated paradigm of enlightenment that was not accurate to begin with, when the Neidan inner alchemical teachings are widely available, as are the Six Yogas of Naropa or Niguma? The Integral map of consciousness evolution has unintentionally completely ignored the inner alchemical and Tantric models of genuine enlightenment and meditation. The source of this problem can be found in the spiritual altitude of the Integral experts. The completion stage of Tantric meditation has simply not been understood.
The shadow of Integral Theory is the hubris of a postmodern perspective, which has told itself that the pre-modern definition of enlightenment is outdated by virtue of evolution. Actually evolution is outdated by virtue of Buddhahood. This Eurocentric bias is the Achilles heel of Integral Theory, and the pre/trans fallacy describes the theory of the enlightened pre-birth chi of the body, the basis of Neidan inner alchemy, as pre-rational regression, when it is the actual mechanism of Buddhahood/immortality. The post-Trikaya perspective is one in which Tantric Buddhahood theoretically becomes the goal of self-actualization in the 21st century when the firing process is understood. The Six Yogas of Naropa or Niguma are internal energy and subtle body practices, which are the basis of Tantric inner alchemy. The first, heat yoga, is considered to be the root of the path by Mahasiddhas, because it activates the prana of the reproductive system to illuminate the brain and consciousness. This is described as uniting solar and lunar energy meridians within the central channel. Karmamudra or sexual yoga is the completion stage of this process known as the practice of the lower gate. Genuine awakening is based on opening the energy meridians of the body, and this is the goal of transformative meditation practice, which rarely occurs merely by sitting cross-legged for extended periods of time. The Coniunctio is the final stage, known as the union of mother and child lights, in both Mahamudra and Dzogchen systems. Neidan inner alchemy calls this union the copulation of the tiger and dragon. Jung was the first Western scholar to recognize the alchemical importance of the conjunction of opposites, the Hieros Gamos, as the secret of secrets in many ancient spiritual traditions.
Few scholars have realized that the Coniunctio is the basis of esoteric alchemical Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as well as Asian inner yoga systems of consciousness evolution. This is why in India the originator of yoga is known as the golden embryo, Hiranyagarbha. The fact that Integral Theory has left out the entire framework of the golden embryo/kundalini process is based on misinterpreting certain states as pre-rational, when they actually describe the post-rational absolute from a post-Trikaya perspective. The altitude and perspective of the Integral experts has simply not been high enough to get the Kosmic address of the 21st century nondual absolute correct. States of pre-liberation are free but the ultimate stage, Buddhahood, has to be earned.
Traditionally the energetic refinement aspects of non-dual meditation systems were not taught openly. The secrecy resulted in uninitiated scholars mistranslating the metaphorical explanations that were written in the Tantric twilight language. This is why accurate translation and transparency are so important in terms of creating a 21st century theory and practice of inner transformation that actually works as intended, and results in genuine super consciousness. Right now Integral Theory just doesn't deliver the real promise of enlightenment. Like modern Zen, which has mistranslated the meaning of the original face into psychological pseudo nonduality, many systems have lost the experience of the golden vision of the super subtle self, the absolute united with the relative, the complete return to void beyond causality. Tantric Buddhahood is metaphorically based on the union of mother and child lights, which are the super subtle and subtle bodies, which result in the Trikaya when united within the physical body. This experience represents the ultimate goal of spiritual transformation, and the future evolution of enlightenment in the 21st century.
How The Dharmakaya Was Lost
Transformative nondual peak experiences, as well as kundalini activations have become defined as enlightenment leading to higher stages of development. The highest stage of consciousness evolution is not on the Integral map, and pseudo nonduality has become a given that obscures the real subtle body union and energy refinement process that results in Buddhahood or complete awakening. Because current meditation methods do not emphasize energy cultivation, the transformative practice model has unintentionally left out the necessary firing process. Zen in particular is characterized by a given assumption that any experience of oneness can be defined as awakening, and the original theory of the Dharmakaya as the embryo of enlightenment has been lost.
When there are major errors in the definition of complete enlightenment, they cause the concept of nonduality to result in an updated American myth of the given which is as flawed as the one that Integral post-metaphysics was supposed to have overcome. Most importantly the consensus of Western spiritual experts is dominated by problems in translating accurate traditional Eastern models of awakening into 21st century transformative practices that actually result in enlightenment – real liberation. Proof that the Dharmakaya has been lost is that there is no mention of the golden super subtle body in current Integral theories of theistic nonduality.
(lower torso) of the Taoist cultivator
When the experts reach a level of self-delusion in which they tell their audience that they are helping God evolve, there is obviously something wrong with the overall picture, which is inconsistent with the ideal. The goal should be a scientific explanation of spiritual liberation, which makes it possible for everyone to understand in terms of both theory and practice. The Integral perspective, based on pseudo-satori, has become the shadow, which dominates the struggle between incomplete definitions of spiritual awakening and the real experience of Buddhahood. By confusing pre-rational and post-rational stages of consciousness evolution, the spiritual jargon itself has become a psychological barrier that prevents the real nondual absolute from being understood and experienced, because of a set of assumed Integral givens that have not been accurate to begin with. These givens have become an incomplete dominator hierarchy that simply defines enlightenment as present awareness of oneness, which has nothing to do with the real original face, the nondual absolute. It is not that the nondual absolute is not always present, it is that the original spirit, or Dharmakaya must be returned to void, for it to be fully realized in terms of consciousness evolution.
Many of the problems with basic definitions, such as emptiness, Buddha nature and the original face, that plague Integral Theory exist within the original traditions themselves. Philosophical Buddhist scholarship is often confused with the true esoteric meaning and experience of Tantric Buddhahood. Unless a lineage has regular individuals that have achieved complete realization within it, in modern times, the real theory and practice of inner illumination is often lost. When evolution and transpersonal psychological definitions of selfindividuation are combined with meditation and theistic nondual pseudosatori the radical promise of liberation becomes completely obscured. An incomplete understanding of the Dharmakaya, the embryo of enlightenment or super subtle body, as it's understood in the West, controls Buddhism. This problem becomes even worse when Buddhism is mixed with Advaita Vedanta.
From both a Tantric and Taoist perspective, awakening is determined by the successful inner activation of the original reproductive energy of the human body. This essential nontheistic component of awakening has been completely disregarded in the West, and lost in much of the East as well. This lost subtle body represents a radical shift in the definition of what it means to be human when it is understood by science. Currently the qi gong theory of enlightenment explains this methodology of Neidan inner alchemical realization more completely than any other contemplative tradition.
More than 90 percent of the time practitioners who sit crosslegged for 20 to 30 years do not achieve realization although they often tell themselves they have because they've had powerful spiritual experiences sometimes confirmed by a teacher as well. This problem of incomplete awakening is the Achilles heel of spiritual teachers, their students, and Integral Theory as a whole. There is no magical realization that results from transcending the ego, or marveling at the oneness of nonduality in the present. Guru yoga can only work if the guru teaches the student how to activate the original chi/prana of the reproductive system. Causing the evil ego stress (abuse) as a teaching model to transcend the ego has nothing to do with realization, (opening the energy meridians of the body) or liberation, (uniting the subtle and super subtle bodies). The awakening of Integral teachers is a psychological translation based on misunderstanding the internal energy refinement process, and in most cases disregarding the mechanism of enlightenment, the union of pre-birth and post-birth chi or consciousness unknowingly. Since enlightenment is determined by the process and methods of opening the body's energy meridians, these outdated misconceptions are highly detrimental to the spiritual evolution of the meditation practitioners. Often charismatic spiritual speakers have become roll models of Integral practice who can answer questions, but are unfamiliar with the connection between chi/prana and the opening of the third eye.
Tantric Buddhism is actually a collection of techniques intended to activate the Dharmakaya, the golden face of nonduality, the super subtle body. Buddha nature refers to the embryo of enlightenment, which lies dormant in all human beings. This is why everyone is actually a Buddha whether they awaken or not because of this dormant super subtle body within. The book, Sexual Life in Ancient China by Robert van Gulik, does an excellent job of explaining the creation of Indian Tantra which occurred after Chinese sexual yoga methodology reached India. Van Gulik points out that the reason that there is no mention of karmamudra/sexual yoga resulting in enlightenment in the Kama Sutra is because the theory of liberation through couples practice had not yet reached India at this time. Mircea Eliade, in his book, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, also points out that Tantra was known as the Chinese method in India. Since the story of the Yellow Emperor and the creation of the Chinese medical system is based on sexual yoga resulting in enlightenment/immortality, this inner alchemical firing process has an ancient origin in many civilizations. Immortality does not mean that the physical body does not die; the subtle body has been transformed from yin to yang by the Coniunctio.
Physiologically this means that golden nonduality could be considered to be the origin point of the human body, in the lower torso that is united with the brain at the time of realization. Generating inner heat within the lower torso is necessary to open the energy meridians and the third eye. The Tantric theory is that the reproductive energy of the body is the mechanism of enlightenment in the form of the kundalini/golden embryo. Mahamudra theory is that after successful heat yoga practice, sexual union without energy depletion by orgasm can result in Tantric Buddhahood, the recreation of conception, the union of subtle and super subtle bodies, if the correct methods are used. These teachings have always been transmitted secretly and the end result, Buddhahood/immortality, is the most valuable experience on earth because it is genuine liberation from time, space and causality. From a current Integral perspective immortality is a pre-rational misconception, and this is definitely not the case. Immortality is the post-rational future of genuine post-Integral theory.
Both Zen and Advaita Vedanta, in their modern forms, are unable to explain Mahamudra, Dzogchen, and Neidan internal alchemical traditions. This is problematic for an Integral understanding of the stages of consciousness based on Tantric Buddhahood as the highest level. The current Integral definition of enlightenment is so distorted that it actually removes God from within, because theistic esoteric alchemical systems have always considered the super subtle body to be the dormant divine spark within man. It is this divine spark, which makes inner illumination possible to begin with. The post-Trikaya nondual experience, which is the end result of the completion stage of Tantric meditation, is based on a vision of enlightened origin, which is always present. The Tantric explanation of Buddhahood is one in which enlightenment is discovered within the reproductive system of the human body. Of course this leaves a problem for the evolution of culture, which is: how did an enlightened subtle body, later known as the Philosopher's Stone, become completely lost in modern times? Integral Theory has simply not reached a high enough stage of evolutionary enlightenment to notice this omission.
The Inner Science of the Future
The inner science of the future can be expected to sharply differentiate between psychological awakening and whole field, three body union enlightenment. At this point in history an entirely new paradigm of consciousness may be emerging from the future. As in any scientific revolution, the old paradigm must be transcended for the new model to upgrade the current definition and experience of evolutionary spiritual awakening. In this case we must transcend and exclude the current Integral definition of awakening as a flawed and incomplete model. From the perspective of the inner science of the future, the postmodern concept of nonduality has not successfully integrated Eastern inner energy refinement and subtle body union theory, with a scientific understanding of spiritual realization.
The current Western paradigm of enlightenment uses a psychological model of awakening, which actually prevents the next stages of the evolution of consciousness from emerging – the potential integration with the fully evolved probable human of the future, that has transcended time, space and causality by achieving Buddhahood. The essence of the nonduality of the future is complete synchronization of time, space, and nondual awareness. It is the progressive integration of physical, subtle, and super subtle levels of the human body, which enables the fully awakened inner science of the future to upgrade the collective reality of the present. The potential collective enlightened field of the future suggests a clear scientific understanding of awakening, using an evolutionary model of inner illumination that integrates Chinese and Indo-Tibetan medical definitions of ultimate liberation achieved by inner energy refinement. When the lost super subtle body is rediscovered the result will be a radical change in what it means to be a fully enlightened human being.
The shadow can be defined as any obstacle, energy blockage, or story that prevents the successful spiritual evolution of the students and the teachers, that are integrating with the enlightened information field, which exists outside of linear space and time. The revolutionary paradigm shift of the future is the collective realization that the super subtle body of every human being is identical to the entire field of information, when fully integrated with the subtle body. Classically this was called squaring the circle, and the end result was the Unus Mundus, the triplex unity – the conjunction of heaven, earth and man. Higher and lower dimensions become completely synchronized with the human body after the microcosm of the human being is united with the macrocosm of the universe. The Net of Indra, and the mustard seed, which contains the polar mountain, are ancient metaphorical explanations of the post- Trikaya experience. All of the mirror symbolism in Buddhism, and Dzogchen in particular, are references to the experience of the true original face, golden nonduality as the famous realized Tibetan Siddha, Shabkar, described it.
The current Integral understanding of spiritual awakening has become its own outdated shadow, a story that prevents the narrative of the future of enlightenment from being translated and experienced by the sangha of the present. The narrative of the enlightened information field of the future, which describes the complete integration of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies, on both an individual and a collective level, upgrades the nondual paradigm to a future in which Buddhahood is theoretically experienced by many individuals. This nondual worldview describes the beginning of the past, and the end of the future, as simultaneously integrated with the constantly evolving totality of the present. This perspective is the true narrative of the enlightened information field of the future, which is the illuminated potential of both the individual and the Integral sangha in the 21st century. Radical progressive nondual evolution can be expected when science rediscovers the Philosopher's Stone, the super subtle body within all human beings.
spiritual evolution and inner transformation of man
The shadow of transpersonal psychology is an incomplete understanding of the union of the three bodies, physical, subtle, and super subtle, which prevents an accurate translation of the theory and practice of Tantric Buddhahood. From a post-Trikaya perspective, the union of the three bodies is the actual fabric of reality itself - the nondual awakened consciousness of the future. The human point of origin is the super subtle body, which is fully awakened in the beginning of the past, the end of the future, and the experience of the present. This is the real Dharmakaya/original face when activated and returned to void post- Coniunctio.
The super subtle body is the primary body, not the physical body. It is a point of super space, which lies dormant within all human beings. Each point of super space contains the entire field of information and is simultaneously contained by the entire information field. The metaphor of the Tower of Maitreya, and the Net of Indra describe this in the Avatamsaka Sutra, arguably the most advanced holographic, multidimensional description of enlightenment in Buddhist writings. This concept of interpenetration, similar to multiverse theories, is illustrated by a famous story in which a candle was placed next to a statue of the Buddha in a dark room lined with mirrors to show the Empress of China the holographic interdependency of the Buddhaverse. The relative and absolute have always been inseparably interconnected.
The original reproductive energy of the body, the pre-birth chi or consciousness, is always connected to this unified field of totality, which is fully accessed by uniting the three bodies. The primary purpose of the human reproductive system, from the potential perspective of the future, is the enlightenment of both the individual and the collective, which are not two. Since the relative and the absolute are indivisible, the fabric of reality itself is nondual. This means that the future story of spiritual awakening is a probable world paradigm of an integrated Bodhisattva civilization. This civilization of the future appears to be eventually inevitable because of the structure of fully awakened human consciousness, which is the complete integration of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies - the post-Trikaya experience of enlightenment.
subtle body union that results in Buddhahood
Theory and Practice
Although this process of complete spiritual evolution has already occurred in the future, the current individual recognition of the nondual essence of reality, is the collective thought experiment of the future. To fully integrate the individual and the collective with the enlightened future, the Integral teachers must provide their sanghas with a firing process, which completely opens the energy meridians of the human subtle body structure. This inner alchemical process, which unites the subtle and super subtle bodies, is described by Chinese medical theory as the union of pre-birth and post-birth consciousness or energy. The prebirth consciousness is considered to be inherently illuminated and inseparable from the enlightened information field of future evolution. Current Integral Theory has completely ignored the enlightened chi of the body, created between conception and birth that lies dormant in all human beings, considering it pre-rational.
This new definition of nonduality and transformative practice is a necessary progression of evolutionary awakening. This integration is the physiological goal of meditation, and all energy and inner yoga practices, which result in complete transformative experience of the nondual absolute. The union of subtle and super subtle bodies radically upgrades the vibrational frequency of the human subtle body, fully integrating the individual with the absolute – the totality of the information field of future enlightenment. This post-Trikaya experience, the complete synchronization of time, space and nondual awareness beyond causality, is the true goal of transformative spiritual practice that results in genuine liberation. The future definition of real spiritual awakening, complete physiological synchronization with the absolute, has always been the nondual origin of consciousness itself, because the starting point of the body is the divine spark within man.