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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
OPEN LETTER TO THE
I no longer think that we can resolve this situation by forgetting all about it and putting it behind us.
This letter was prompted by Ken's "Wyatt Earpy" posts and all of the subsequent posting and blogging in the integral world to date (8/7/06.)
The reason for me to add my voice to all that has already been written, is to give some feedback from the "rank-and-file." I am not a published writer or blogger or contributor to any websites. I am 57 years old and have been active in the spiritual community for the past 37 years. For the past 3+ years I have been a member of an integral studies group which began as and still is a Ken Wilber "Meetup" group.
I consider myself an open-minded reader, and I do check in at Frank Visser's "Integral World" every now and then. I had been following Jeff Meyerhoff's book as it unfolded and found it a challenging study. I gathered that Wilber was under a certain amount of pressure to respond to some of Meyerhoff's criticisms, but I felt that he was free to respond or not. If any of Meyerhoff's points were valid, they would stand the test of time on their own.
However, when Wilber chose to respond in the manner he did, I reacted negatively. I am not offended in any sense by coarse, crude, vulgar language. Within certain of my social circles, and even at work, I give myself and those around me a great deal of latitude because in these groups we have agreements as to what constitutes acceptable language. In other groups and other contexts, such language is not acceptable because there is no such agreement. Wilber's response was not contained within social circles where this language was mutually agreed upon; it was published openly, and it circulated widely.
In addition to the language, the tone that Ken chose also bothered me. Referring to his critics as
"painfully sluggish, dragging their bloated bellies across the ground at a snail's pace . . . can frankly just eat my dust and bite my ass."
Here again a tone that disrespects not only his critics but also his readers!
In discussions with other members of my Wilber group, I came to agree with those who said, basically, let's cut Ken some slack. For whatever reason, Visser and Meyerhoff have really gotten under his skin and he is letting off steam. And it is, after all, in the context of a blog, which really constitutes the kind of agreed upon social network within which this language is acceptable.
The consensus of the group seemed to be that this fell into the "regrettable incident" category, but let's put it behind us and get on with our lives.
That was where it lay.
Until . . .
. . . more information unfolded.
First of all, Wilber came out and stated that he was not just blowing off steam; that his post was a highly considered piece of writing. He sent it out to his closest friends and advisers, weighed their feedback carefully, and revised it accordingly. At this time he revealed that it had been, among other things, a "test."
In fact, the original version started out with,
"The following is a test"
and ended with,
"p.s. Now think very hard, because here is the test: how much of the above did I really mean?"
But he pulled those two sentences out
"because they gave too much away."
So now I am back in shock.
The slack that we had (generously?) cut him was uncalled for and unwanted. And I was left with the realization that I had failed his test! (Doubly so, since I consider the testing itself to be gamey.)
Secondly, he included in his subsequent posts a series of articles about how to identify and deal with your shadow elements. The implication here seemed to be that if you were having a negative reaction to all this which I was the source of the negativity was to be found in your own shadow side.
To the contrary, however, I think that my reaction is a legitimate response to a negative situation not from my shadow and not from unevolved green/red/blue meme elements.
As a result, I can no longer put this incident behind me. I do not understand the value of the original post or his subsequent posts. They seem divisive to me and I find myself on the other side of a divide that I did not even know existed.
As an example of what I mean, in Wilber's final post on the subject he says:
"And if something as fluffy and goofy as this post (Wyatt Earpy?) is going to ruffle feathers, please let me see those whose feathers are ruffled, because I'm pretty sure I don't want to work with them."
After years of reading and discussing Wilber with great enthusiasm, it feels strange to find that my reading of Meyerhoff, as well as myself and my personal reactions have all become the object of Ken Wilber's judgment.
I no longer think that we can resolve this situation by forgetting all about it and putting it behind us. By the look of things at Integral World as well as kenwilber.com lines have been drawn and the divides have opened up.
In my opinion the burden of reconciliation lies squarely with Ken Wilber, for all the reasons given above. I hope he can rise to the occasion and help to re-integrate the integral community.
August 7th, 2006