Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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This essay is an endnote in the dissertation "Ontological vs. developmental aspects of transpersonal theory: A comparative study" defended by th author at the California Institute of Integral Studies for a Ph.D. in East-West Psychology in 1999. For a dissertation abstract see the bottom of this essay.
Sahasra dal Kanwal
And here, for comparison, is the corrected equivalence, based on Turner (1995), adding the Vedantic equivalents for the sake of greater ease of comparison:
Sahasra dal Kanwal
["m.k." = "mayakosa"]
Note that even here Wilber's singular "subtle level" corresponds to at least three distinct superphysical realms.
- The best introduction to Sant Mat remains Johnson (1985), while a good summary of Kirpal Singh's Surat Shabd Yoga can be found in Singh (1983).
- One possible explanation for this discrepancy would be to speculate that for some entrants into these remote states, their discrimination is insufficient. That is, they may simply be overwhelmed by the intensity of perception on these ultra-exalted metaphysical levels, which serves to drown out any sensate distinctions, even those belonging to the inner, spiritual senses. Another hypothesis would be to cite the contribution of the distinction between in- vs. out-of-body perception. That is, the spiritual methodology of Sant Mat (and Eckankar and Theosophy as well, largely) is based upon an out-of-body perspective, where the soul is no longer participating in physical-level reality, in contrast to other approaches, where this link is never severed.
- The term "lok" means world, plane or region. Here again is emphasized the viewpoint, characteristic of Sant Mat, wherein these states of consciousness are seen as corresponding to objectively real or actual levels of being.
- Wilber calls these seven levels, from Trikuti to Anami Lok, the "seven higher shabd chakras." Note that Sat Lok on "up" are all nondual in nature.
- These two are states of God-realization, which is distinguished from Self-realization in both Sant Mat and Eckankar. Vedanta and Wilber appear to speak only of refined Self-realization, or "Monadic realization" in Theosophical terminology.
- Note that Wilber's use of the term "nondual" is essentially different from its use in Vedanta. In the latter, nirvikalpa samadhifor Wilber, the characteristic mental state of the "high causal"is union with the nondual, where any remaining sense of duality of "form" and "formless" represents only an incomplete form of this samadhi, with a corresponding ignorance remaining, which needs yet to be developmentally, but not ontologically removed. (That is, not involving or requiring further ontological-metaphysical ascent.)
Bubba Free John. (1977). The Paradox of Instruction. San Francisco: Dawn Horse.
Feuerstein, G. (1989). Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher.
Johnson, J. (1985). The Path of the Masters. Punjab: Radha Soami Satsang Beas.
Rothberg, D. & Kelly, S, (Eds.) (1998). Ken Wilber in Dialogue. Wheaton, IL: Quest/T.P.H.
Singh, K. (1983). The Crown of Life. Anaheim: Ruhani Satsang.
Turner, R. P. (1995). Esoteric psychology: Expanding transpersonal vision. Journal of Esoteric Psychology, 9(1), 90-102.
Zimmerman, M. (1996). A transpersonal diagnosis of the ecological crisis. (In Rothberg & Kelly, 1998, p. 108.)
In this dissertation, three of the leading transpersonal psychological theories (those of Ken Wilber, Michael Washburn, and A. H. Almaas/Hameed Ali) are examined and compared, both with each other and with a fourth, strictly ontological model. Using the lattermost, an attempt is made to reconcile the developmental understandings of the first three theories by assuming a common underlying ontology. In the course of the comparison, some important deficiencies in the theories of Washburn and Wilber are revealed. Washburn's involve insufficient delineation of metaphysical elements, and Wilber's involve some errors of interpretation regarding the teachings of Sant Mat, and an errant understanding of the definition of "consciousness" in his notion of "retro-Romanticism". The author concludes that, while a strictly ontological unanimity is unproblematic, a similar degree of developmental consistency is not forthcoming. The dissertation ends with a few recommendations for further research directions in transpersonal theory, primarily involving the nature of the proposed interaction between physical and superphysical levels of matter-energy and consciousness.