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Integral Spirituality

Integral Esotericism - Part Eight

Alan Kazlev

8-i Practice rather than Theory

I originally intended to write a lot more about the practical side of integral spirituality. But in the end I wrote much more about theory. The reason is that for me practice is very simple; it involves simply reading books by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, attuning to the presence behind the words, and offering up whatever is in my consciousness to the Supreme. So I cannot really write more about it than that. Whereas it is much easier to create mental maps and play with ideas and possibilities of that sort.

But because practice is important, and is too often neglected, and because the Integral movement at present - both Wilberian and post-Wilberian) seems very unbalanced towards the theoretical and intellectual, with only a few exceptions like Matthew Dallman (Art), Michel Bauwens (peer to peer social activism) and C4Chaos (blogging as a spiritual discipline), it seemed appropriate that something be said regarding integral spirituality, to round out this essay. So here we go.

8-ii The Importance of a Living Tradition and an authentic Teacher

Living tradition does not have to mean living teacher[1]. It means a Teacher whose presence can still be felt and contacted in a spiritually concrete manner

Ultimately one gravitates to a spiritual tradition that one feels resonance with, and uses that as one's focus or central axis of spiritual development. But this can still be supplemented with practices and techniques from other traditions.

The alternative to this is dabbling and dilettantism. Here is a quote that introduces the book called Radical Spirit and shows precisely this attitude

Radical Spirit began as a quest to find like-minded seekers of my own age who were pioneering new ways of being. It bore fruit in the form of a wonderful book, a radically adventurous and realistic look at what it means to walks a path in a post-modern age. A taste of Buddhism here. A dip into the Kabbalah there. A sweat lodge. A yoga class. A workshop on Tantra. The marketplace for new forms of spirituality is vast and it is only gradually that we are growing into world-savvy explorers in this expanding space.[2]

I do not mean to disrespect the author who I am sure is a very sincere person, and I have already approvingly quoted from a much more favourable passage this book in sect 6-xi. But to me personally the above comes across as just more New Age hedonistic and holistic lifestyle (sect 6-iv). I am not saying these things are bad, not at all. There is no harm in sampling different experiences and traditions. And the necessity of freedom must always be maintained; this was something that simply wasn't and isn't present in many traditional cultures with their feudalistic and/or theocratic societies. But conversely it is not possible through dilettantism to get a true insight into any spiritual tradition or authentic spiritual commitment on a practical level. And it is also not possible to take a number of different spiritual practices out of context and create a sort of eclectic synthesis, such as Wilber has done intellectually with his integral theory.

This is why only a living spiritual teaching can suffice. But not something to be slavishly followed, not as a form of fundamentalism (sect 1-xi).

Everyone should be free to follow the teacher or teachings of their choice. One should choose one's teachers or teachings, depending on the attraction one feels on the subtle level. But here it is important to distinguish the difference between a real spiritual presence and transmission, and the alluring but misleading false voices of the Intermediate zone and the abusive and manipulative gurus and teachings. Abusive gurus and bad decisions must be avoided at all cost. In choosing a guru or teaching you are handing your life over to that person, would you even hand over a material possession, such as a TV set or a car, to a person you do not know? And one's life is worth more than one's material possessions!

Even if one follows an abusive guru from afar, as Wilber advises his followers to do regarding his own guru Adi Da, the problem remains that inevitably one still connects astrally with the guru's negative influence (might this be the cause of Wilber's own negative attitude, e.g. his hypersensitivity to criticism?). Or else one only a very superficial experience. Admittedly in the case of an abusive guru the latter is a good thing, but wouldn't it be better to choose a non-abusive guru and teaching in the first place, and thus be free to immerse oneself in the experience without harm?

Then there is the problem of the Tibetan concept (with analogies in other cultures) of "Crazy wisdom". Not all "crazy wisdom" gurus need be abusive; Meher Baba and Ramakrishna for example were fully enlightened selfless and compassionate beings, but nevertheless acted in strange or highly erratic ways. But unfortunately it seems that the better known ones in the west were or are. The usual explanation, which stems from these same abusive or quasi-abusive gurus and is used by them to justify their actions, is that their crazy wisdom actions are due to these gurus being so enlightened they are beyond normal human morality or ways of acting responsibly. An alternative explanation; one I find far more plausible, is the Aurobindonian one; that the so-called "crazy wisdom" is due to an imbalance or weakness in the being, which results in over-emotional bhakti (weeping, laughing, etc), or other such erratic behaviour; indulgence in the lower affective/desire nature (Trungpa) or abusive behaviour (Adi Da). All these things indicate weakness or imbalance, and lack of ability to hold the higher Force. As The Mother said, in reference to some bhaktis who behave in a very loud and uncontrolled manner

If a little drop makes you sing and dance and scream, what would happen if the whole thing came down?[3]

And as Sri Aurobindo says about the "Paramhansas" (perhaps equivalent to the Tibetan "crazy wisdom adepts"?)

The Paramhansa is a particular grade of realisation, there are others supposed to be lower or higher. I have no objection to them in their own place. But I must remind you that in my yoga all vital movements must come under the influence of the psychic and of the spiritual calm, knowledge, peace. If they conflict with the psychic or the spiritual control, they upset the balance and prevent the forming of the base of transformation. If unbalance is good for other paths, that is the business of those who follow them. It does not suit mine."[4]

While both bhaktis and paramhansas seem innocent, unlike the absuive gurus of the West, all would seem to share the same weakness of the outer (physical, affective, and mental) being. This is especially indicated by Trungpa's famous alcoholism, and Da's addiction to drugs and sex. Any authentic integral guru will be characterised by a refreshing lack of "crazy wisdom", abusive behaviour, and emotional manipulation justified as necessary "to break down the disciple's ego". Instead,

"...a sign of the teacher of the integral Yoga (is) that he does not arrogate to himself Guruhood in a humanly vain and self-exalting spirit. His work, if he has one, is a trust from above, he himself a channel, a vessel or a representative. He is a man helping his brothers, a child leading children, a Light kindling other lights, an awakened Soul awakening souls, at highest a Power or Presence of the Divine calling to him other powers of the Divine."[5]

I will conclude this section with a little personal history. For a long time, the subject of a spiritual tradition would have been a taboo subject for me. I didn't want to have anything to do with any groups or traditions, and in a certain way I still don't. There is a freedom in being able to look at many teachings without having a neurotic or irrational bias to only one. And as someone who loves freedom I didn't want to give that up (this is an issue with those who follow every spiritual path, every tradition, and even and especially the exoteric religions where there is far more restrictions). What changed me was the powerful resonance I have always felt with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's teachings and presence; a connection I cannot explain but is obviously due to some karmic and spiritual purpose. If I am to follow the spiritual path properly, their's is the only path I could comfortably follow. Even so, I still kept my feelings to myself. And if as I admit I have become a strong Aurobindo polemicist of late within the integral movement, it is only because there needs to be a counter-balance to monolithic Wilberism, and I feel that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother best fit the bill.

Inevitably this sort of attitude comes across as preachiness. The obvious solution is for many spiritualities and traditions to be incorporated; but how can this be done in an integral, rather than a merely eclectic and integrative (sect 6-xi) manner?. I myself resonate to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, but that is just my path. As mentioned at the start of this essay, Integral shouldn't mean just Sri Aurobindo, any more than integral should mean Wilber. But there is still that problem of apples and oranges, of relativism versus exclusivism. Should there be many teachers and teachings in a sort of insipid egalitarianism in which "everyone is the same". Or should one teaching be acknowledg4ed as the most complete and integrative path; which "includes and transcends" (or at the very least overlaps with) all of the others? I confess I don't have an answer for that that would please everyone or be "politically correct". I can only argue for what I feel, and encourage others to argue for what they feel.

8-iii. Right Speech

The Buddha taught "Right Speech" as one of the eight elements of the Noble Eightfold Way, and I've only recently come to realise how important this is. Speech of course doesn't have to be verbal, it can be in a written medium, such as email, blog posts, and so on.

In the Integral movement, as elsewhere, there is a tremendous amount of argument, abuse, flaming, ad hominem insults, and just a negative and antagonistic attitude from many people who are I am sure the most spiritual and nicest people and should know better. I have seen this happening on both sides of the Wilberian Divide, both pro-Ken to anti-Ken bloggers and emailers (and then there are those in the middle, and those who are not too enthusiastic about Wilber but are still pro-AQAL, and so on). So it certainly isn't that one side is right and blameless and the other in the wrong. It seems to be the case that people on both sides of the fence are the same, you have good and bad, spiritual and antagonistic. And sometimes even disagreements and anger between people from the same faction!

When faced with people who have differing opinions to oneself, and therefore are immensely threatening to one's ego and ego-projections, the immediate reaction is an emotionally-mechanistic self-righteous egoic response; the sort of thing that everyone who is not an adept or enlightened does, and that is the furthest from true conscious response that one can get. What Gurdjieff and Ouspensky have to say on the one hand, and Sri Auroboindo and The Mother on the other, about this is very relevant in this regard.

One can understand why people get emotional, they are trying to do what is right as they see it, but that's not the way things should be done. And it is one thing to get upset or angry in oneself, that happens to everyone, until one is able to attain mastery of their thoughts and responses. But to allow those feelings to spill out in interpersonal or public debate shows lack of control.

The problem is absolutely exacerbated by the fact that almost all of the Integral community functions, develops and evolves on line, via the medium of the Internet. It truly is a global community made possible through these advances in technology! Unfortunately the problem with cyberspace is that the low bandwidth medium results in the gaps in our normally very sensory- and nonverbal-rich human communication being filled with ego- and shadow- projection. The former results in unrealistic idealisation and expectations, whilst the latter, which often seems more predominant in debates, tends to magnify negative attributes like greed, hate and illusion (to give the example of the Buddhist kleshas) while lacking cues for empathy such as physical presence, voice tones, smiles, frowns, pained expressions, and so on. Thus it is much easier for people to manifest their worst sides. The anonymity factor also tends to bring out the the worst in us, since it lets people think they can function with impunity.

One of the things I personally would like to see is a more civilised level of debate. And if someone is abusive or slanderous to you, don't let it disturb your equilibrium, don't sink down to his or her level. Leave the petulant little school kids to play in the mud if they want to. I always strive (not always succeed, but I do strive) to be above that.

This is what true spirituality is about. Self-mastery, as the Buddha pointed out long ago.

This does not mean that Right Speech be about pulling punches, or acting meek and mild. Opinions should be stated, and sometimes they need to be stated strongly. But it is about being able to function in the internet and impersonal medium as a mature adult, not as a slave to their affective being. An integral spirituality means mastery of all one's faculties. Was or is there ever a case of Ramana Maharshi or the Dalia Lama getting all self-righteous and indignant? No. Never. Look at how the real adepts and enlightened beings behave for your example.

8-iv. Going beyond the Mental being

This is the whole point of integral spirituality, and indeed of all spirituality. To go beyond the surface intellect and rational-mental conceptualising. Just as there is Integral Spiritual theory and practice, so there is Integral Spiritual theory and Experience. These should not be confused, and Theory should not be a substitute for experience. As Sri Aurobindo is saying in the following passage from The Synthesis of Yoga:

"The one secure and all-reconciling truth which is the very foundation of the universe is this that life is the manifestation of an uncreated Self and Spirit, and the key to life's hidden secret is the true relation of this Spirit with its own created existences. There is behind all this life the look of an eternal Being upon its multitudinous becomings; there is around and everywhere in it the envelopment and penetration of a manifestation in time by an unmanifested timeless Eternal. But this knowledge is valueless for Yoga if it is only an intellectual and metaphysical notion void of life and barren of consequence; a mental realisation alone cannot be sufficient for the seeker. For what Yoga searches after is not truth of thought alone or truth of mind alone, but the dynamic truth of a living and revealing spiritual experience. There must awake in us a constant indwelling and enveloping nearness, a vivid perception, a close feeling and communion, a concrete sense and contact of a true and infinite Presence always and everywhere. That Presence must remain with us as the living, pervading Reality in which we and all things exist and move and act, and we must feel it always and everywhere, concrete, visible, inhabiting all things; it must be patent to us as their true Self, tangible as their imperishable Essence, met by us closely as their inmost Spirit. To see, to feel, to sense, to contact in every way and not merely to conceive this Self and Spirit here in all existences and to feel with the same vividness all existences in this Self and Spirit, is the fundamental experience which must englobe all other knowledge."[6]

And in The Life Divine,

"...the intellect must consent to pass out of the bounds of a finite logic and accustom itself to the logic of the Infinite. On this condition alone, by this way of seeing and thinking, it ceases to be paradoxical or futile to speak of the ineffable: but if we insist on applying a finite logic to the Infinite, the omnipresent reality will escape us and we shall grasp instead an abstract shadow, a dead form petrified into speech or a hard incisive graph which speaks of the Reality but does not express it. Our way of knowing must be appropriate to that which is to be known..."[7]

Especially for those of us who are strongly mentally developed, there is a joy and delight in theories and intellectual understanding. And indeed I will suggest that the love of knowledge is itself a spiritual line of development (sect 8-vii), providing the mind remains open and free and supple to new insights. But to remain always in the rational-intellectual theoretical perspective, and to force reality to always conform to one's own limited small understanding, that is to remain trapped in one's own mental bubble, and to be ignorant of Reality as such. This perhaps is my biggest criticism of Wilberian integral theory. It seems (to my limited perception) that with all his great eloquence, Wilber is too clever, too intellectual by half. His obsessive theorising and interpretations of all other teachings means that there is no room for the reality itself because everything has to be slotted into categories like AQAL and IMP and Spiral Dynamics (TLDI 2-viiiyuhj). Of course Wilber was not the only one; Steiner did the same with his over-intellectual analysis of what were obviously authentic clairvoyant and subtle level experiences. This is why I passionately feel that it is necessary for the Integral movement as a whole to go beyond its current over-emphasis on the rational mental; not to reject the rational, but use it as a stepping stone to the trans-rational and transpersonal experiential states of larger realisation and transformation..

8-v. Going beyond the limitations of Mental understanding

While there is no doubt that the various integral and universal thinkers present "big picture" explanation of everything (sect.4-i), are such accounts correct? Here one has to look at things from the level of meaning, or level of truth. A worldview can be presented at a only a single level, or it can be an esoteric teaching that can span many levels. Kabbalah for example refers to different levels of truth when reading a scared text, with each level more profound than the preceding. These are (from lowest to highest):

  • Peshat - literal interpretation
  • Remez - Allegorical meaning, allusion and parable
  • Derash - Moral or homiletic meaning, exegesis
  • Sod - Mystical meaning, mystery

Similar epistemologic and heremenutic hierarchical levels can be found in Platonism, Mahayana Buddhism,Vedanta, Sufism, and so on. In all these instances there is the relative reality, which is empirically real. But to get to the truth of the thing you have to look at the mystery, the mystical meaning that is beyond all purely rational-mental understanding (including Vision-Logic). You have to take the words as gateways for the soul. If you don't do that, then all you are left with is intellectualisation, which misses the entire meaning.

And when enlightened and self-realised teachers speak or write, they are often doing so on all these levels. This can be misunderstood if one approaches things pruely from a literal point of view, or even from a metaphoric, intellectual point of view. This is shown for example by a paragraph from Ken Wilber's description of his integral worldview and perspective in the introduction to volume 4 of his Collected Works:

"In my own system, for example, the stage of dynamic dialecticism-which is generated by what I call vision-logic-is simply the opening to even higher stages of transrational, transpersonal development. That is, dynamic dialecticism (or mature vision-logic) might be thought of as the highest of the mental realms, or the highest philosophy capable of being grasped by the ordinary mind, beyond which lie transmental or supramental developments altogether (psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual).

Nonetheless, this mature vision-logic, with its dynamic/dialectical/developmental worldview, is the level through which most of the great modern philosopher-sages (such as Hegel, Whitehead, Gebser, and Aurobindo) have written and continue to write, even though they are often expressing insights seen at the even higher, transpersonal, transmental levels-and for the simple reason that, in order to mentally communicate at all, the mental realms must be used. These great philosopher-sages speak through the highest of the mental realms-the vision-logic mind-even as they are trying to communicate even higher transmental truths and realities."[8]

Here we have the fact that first Wilber lumps together the totally supra-intellectual or supra-mental Sri Aurobindo in with several intellectual-intuitive visionaries (although not having studied the latter I cannot critique them), as if they are all on the same level (see TLDI 3 for more on Sri Aurobindo and also on The Mother, who Wilber totally ignores).

Second he assumes that an transenlightened tecaher like Sri Aurobindo - and presumably also enlightened sages like Ramana Maharshi, Nityanada, and so on - had to scale their communication down to the mental level, because that is the only way they could get their message across. He again I have to beg to differ. Enlightened beings must certainly teach at all levels they have realised, including at the level the Kabbalists call Sod, mystery. So instead of scaling down their teachings to the level of the highest level of the rational mind ("Vision-Logic" in Wilber's jargon), they do succeed in saying what he said from the highest level. And it is not the case that "in order to mentally communicate at all, the mental realms must be used" because you can communicate even to one who is at the mental level, without words, or else with words but without the usual (and necessary to us normally) chain of logic; and it is surprising that Wilber did not pick this up through his study of Zen. But it is the reader's rational mind (and self-absorbed ego) that is the limitation, not the teacher's capacity. This is why one can only understand what a teacher is saying up to the degree of the level you are at (not the level they are teaching at). This is true with all mystics - Lao-tse, Plotinus, Abhinuvagupta, Ibn Arabi, Luria, etc. So if you approach these teachings with a purely mental, "vision logic" mindset, you will only have that limited mental understanding. If you can go beyond that rational level, which means going beyond all theories and abstract mental concepts , then you get the experience of the actual transmission of that teaching, an actual revelation.

Yet to go beyond the rational-mental without the necessary spiritual maturity - and without the connection to a genuine teacher or teaching - is also actually quite dangerous, because there is a whole region of mixed and fake revelations: the intermediate zone. Only if you are centered in your Heart consciousness, and allow yourself to be guided by your Divine Center, you can avoid falling into that trap. But that takes a lot of sincerity, and being able to rise above narcissism, which only few who have these powerful experiences seem to be able to do.

8-v. From Ego to Soul-Realisation

Central to every authentic spiritual teaching are two fundamental and interrelated principles - Aspiration for the Supreme, and going beyond the limited personal self or ego.

Concerning the former:

This is the first thing necessary -- aspiration for the Divine. The next thing you have to do is to tend it, to keep it always alert and awake and living. And for that what is required is concentration -- concentration upon the Divine with a view to an integral and absolute consecration to its Will and Purpose. Concentrate in the heart. Enter into it; go within and deep and far, as far as you can. Gather all the strings of your consciousness that are spread abroad, roll them up and take a plunge and sink down. A fire is burning there, in the deep quietude of the heart. It is the divinity in you--your true being. Hear its voice, follow its dictates. There are other centres of concentration, for example, one above the crown and another between the eye-brows. Each has its own efficacy and will give you a particular result. But the central being lies in the heart and from the heart proceed all central movements all dynamism and urge for transformation and power of realisation.[9]

This is the motivation, the will, the drive. If that is not there, if instead one is centered in the self, then true spirituality is not possible, and even the best one can hope for is becoming ensnared in the Intermediate Zone. So aspiration for the Divine has to be there from the start.

Regarding going beyond the limited, personal, individuality is equally important, because it is this limited sense of self that keeps us stuck where we are, full of selfish desire, fear, aversion, and ego- and shadow-projection. This limited self or sense of "ego", with its self-involved narcissism that is what keeps us limited in status and consciousness, shut in by the walls of our tiny petty personalities, full of fear and pompous arrogance at the rest of reality. It gets puffed up with pride when complemented, and flies into a rage when it (or anything it identifies with) is criticised. When it falls in love with another, what it falls in love with is simply its own egoic and (to use Jungian concepts) anima/animus projection on that other. It claims to understand (even if in a limited manner) the nature of reality, but it understands nothing except its own mental and emotional and sensory bubble, and ultimately all it really sees and knows is just its own small relative self projected into and superimposed over the world, and thus reflected back to it as its mis-understanding of the world. This misunderstanding is relative consciousness, avidya or metaphysical ignorance. And this is the nature of the human condition. We are trapped and limited by our own chains, by no-one else's but our own..

That is why, after choosing a living spiritual tradition, the next stage, indeed the essential core of the practice, is to go beyond the relative ego. If no progress can be made here, then there is no spiritual practice.

Unfortunately this very important insight has been twisted by false gurus (who far outnumber genuine ones!) into a justification of their emotional and/or physical abuse of their devotees, narcissistic power trips, sadomasochistic peccadilloes, and all the other perversities that abusive gurus tend to display. I have already discussed this in TLDI 2-iv, to which the interested reader is referred.

So in short, to go beyond the ego does not mean to break down the ego. It is not a reason to submit oneself to the tender mercies of a narcissistic pseudo-teacher, nor is it an excuse to get into some self-hatred trip and practice flagellation or harmful austerities.

There is nothing in the being that should be attacked, violated, or broken down in the name of spirituality. Because in true spirituality the process is gentle and organic. Perhaps progress is made quickly, perhaps slowly, or not at all. But there is no sadistic master standing over one playing out authoritarian power trips. Any so-called guru who acts like that is a false guru, and that means there teachings are also false. It's as simple as that.

The methods by which egolessness and transpersonal existence are gradually attained vary according to the authentic tradition in general, but they might include working at cultivating an attitude of aspiration, self-control, equanimity, focus, and surrender to the Supreme. All this happens gradually, very gradually, for this is a huge project, to totally metamorphise one's psychological nature, to complete shift the center of gravity of one's consciousness, to replace petty desires with spiritual transcendence.

8-vi. The Virtues or Wisdoms (Psychological Perfections)

There is a more authentic spiritual meaning of perfections as psychological states that are necessary for the spiritual path. These come about through progressive Soul-realisation and Soul-transformation of the outer personality, which allows fro a greater harmony with the Divine realities. According to The Mother

"to do the integral yoga one must first resolve to surrender entirely to the Divine, there is no other way, this is the way. But after that one must have the five psychological virtues, five psychological perfections and we say that the perfections are

  1. Sincerity or Transparency
  2. Faith or Trust (Trust in the Divine)
  3. Devotion or Gratitude
  4. Courage or Inspiration
  5. Endurance or Perseverance" [10]

These five principles recall the Tantric Buddhist (Vajrayana) concept of five 'poisons' (samsaric states that obscure the original purity of consciousness; equivalent to the kleshas of Hindu yoga philosophy), and the corresponding five wisdoms into which they are transformed in the enlightened mind. Each of these five wisdoms is also associated with one of the five iconographic Tathagata Buddhas and thus with many further correspondences (direction, gesture, colour, animal, element, chakra, etc). This can be represented in tabular form as follows:





greed, craving

Discriminating wisdom




Mirror-like Wisdom



delusion, ignorance

Space-like wisdom




Wisdom of equality



jealousy, envy

All-accomplishing wisdom



Table 17. The five poisons, wisdoms, Buddhas, and directions, according to Vajrayana Buddhist

The Tathagata Buddhas can also be compared to the Quaternities of Gnosticism and of Jungian Psychology, the Partzufim of Lurianic Kabbalah, and the Four Aspects of The Mother (Mahashakti) of Sri Aurobindo. In this way the five wisdoms or five virtues can each be represented as particular archetypal attributes of the Supreme in manifestation.

This is not to deny the many differences between the Five Psychological Perfections and the Five Wisdoms, but these are the inevitable result of cultural differences, different thought-forms, different specific practices, and different aspects of Reality accessed

8-vii. Yogas and Lines of Development

The idea of different spiritual paths for different temperaments - and specifically three primary paths - goes back to the Bhagavad Gita with its three yogas - Karma (the Yoga of Works, or Selfless Action), Bhakti (the Yoga of Devotion, or surrender to the Divine) and Jnana (the Yoga of Knowledge, or Self-Realisation). The idea is that each spiritual aspirant follows that oath or practice that is most suited to their personality. These three yogas formed a fundamental axis of Hindu spiritual practice, and in the foundation for the entire Integral Movement (via Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga[11]).

It would be nice if we could say that Wilber's Big Three (sect 7-ii) match up with the three Yogas, but this is not the case. In fact not one of the triads in each case can be matched with members of the other triad without arbitrarily making anything mean anything (which is easy to do and only obscures things).

The fact is, there would seem to be more than just three primary principles. One could equally mention four, five, or even six archetypes here: Introspection/Consciousness, Truth/Intuitiion Empathy/Morality/Feeling/Heart, Beauty/Sensation/Body, Knowledge/Theory/Thinking/Head, and Will/Action

These might be represented as follows (incorporating equivalent ideas in esotericism and integral psychology).





(Hermetic etc)


Big Three








Jnana/ Knowledge


Higher Intellectual







Yogi / Intellectual





Bhakti / Devotion


Monk / Emotional












Karma / Action


Fakir / Moving


Fire (as Will)



Table 18. The Three Yogas and correspondences

Obviously not all of these match up, because each set of correspondences comes from a particular cultural and experiential perspective. But what is more important is the common theme behind the particular thoughtforms. I agree with Wilber that the same archetypes would apply at different levels, although presumably there would be a convergence, culminating in the unitary consciousness of the Supreme (Supramentalisation in the Aurobindonian system). The whole idea of Integral Yoga, as defined by Sri Aurobindo, ios that it it integrates the three yogas of the Bhagavad Gita in a single system that leads to the transformation and divinisation of the whole being. A similar idea, but not as eloquently or comprehensively described, is found in the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdgieff, according to whom there is a "Fourth Way". According to this teaching, whereas each of the the tree traditional ways (of the Fakir,Monk, and Yogi) without the limited end result of only being developed in one faculty to the exclusion of the others, the Fourth Way can develop all of the faculties simultaneously.

Following the suggestions by Marko Rinck in a blog comment on Open Integral[12], a practical (as opposed to theoretical) integral spirituality can be created by considering and including a number of spiritual lines of development, and refer to specific teachings that are oriented around these lines. One can certainly select a representative teaching or teachings according to the line of development one wishes to follow. But an Integrative and Integral spirituality has to take into account all the lines. These lines of development might be attributes of the being as described in Integral Psychology, or archetypal attributes of the Supreme or the Manifest Godhead, or - more often because in most cases one is still on the intermediate level - the Intermediate zone, which to us as unenlightened beings seems like the supreme absolute enlightenment. However, following these lines through to their conclusion and origin (which amounts to the same thing here) enables a completely integral enlightenment and realisation. This seems also to what that Sri Aurobindo is saying in the following passage from The Synthesis of Yoga:

"...the Divine is in his essence infinite and his manifestation too is multitudinously infinite. If that is so, it is not likely that our true integral perfection in being and in nature can come by one kind of realisation alone; it must combine many different strands of divine experience. It cannot be reached by the exclusive pursuit of a single line of identity till that is raised to its absolute; it must harmonise many aspects of the Infinite. An integral consciousness with a multiform dynamic experience is essential for the complete transformation of our nature."[13]

In the following pages Sri Aurobindo specifies three important realisations which confer Liberation - the Divine as the Self (realised in an as one's own consciousness first, and then in and as all beings), the Divine as the World (or all beings), and the Divine as the Transcendent[14]. However, the liberation that results is not an Integral Liberation, but rather the Liberation of the Jnani-yogi. Considering the dualistic nature of Reality - the Absolute and the relative, the transcendent and immanent, he refers to three experiences - of Atman (transcendent self) and Maya (world-process as ultimately illusory), Purusha (Pure Consciousness) and Prakriti (mechanical world process), and Ishwara (Lord) and Shakti (Creative Power of manifestation)[15]. Overlapping with the preceding two trinities there are the three enlightenments or realisations, Liberation in the Transcendent Absolute (this being the Liberation that is usually described in Eastern philosophy, Neo-sufi inspired Perennialism, Transpersonal psychology, and Wilberian Integral theory), the Liberation in or Realisation of the Cosmic/Universal Absolute, and the Liberation in or Realisation of the Individual/Theistic Absolute (which is, in contrast to the conventional monistic perspective, considered the highest of the three)[16]

All of which can help us elucidate the various lines of development, as can the teachings of many different esoteric and spiritual systems, and the mandalic archetypes of any one system, such as the five psychological virtues or the five wisdoms, and so on. The following obviously very incomplete and perhaps overly artificial and formalised list might be suggested as a possible starting point. This does not mean that these are all distinct categories. Some may indeed be distinct, but others overlap and are indeed in places synonymous, or just different ways of approaching the same aspect of the Divine. With other lines of development, the same line can take the sadhak to different aspects of the Supreme. Finally, every spiritual practitioner may include as many or as few of these aspects and lines as he or she wishes to or is guided to do so.

Note also that this is not a sequential or value-orientated list. Nor should these categories be considered as distinct from each other. For that reason the various lines or aspects or paths are presented simply in alphabetical order:

  • Art. In this context, this is Art, specifically Integral Art, as a Spiritual and archetypal way of knowing. As already mentioned (sect.6-xii), Integral Art can be defined in terms of having many aspects or signs ("polysemy"). Talking about art's constitution as a conglomeration of signs leads inevitably to the question of "content". Realization of this over the last couple years has in part led to Matthew Dallman's recent work which attempts to create a path between the sadhana or practical spiritual aspect of integral art and the timeless sources of imagination and inspiration that he associates with the Humanities (defined as the arts, theology, the classics, history, philosophy, and languages), as opposed to the hard and soft sciences[17]. It is suggested that the renewal of the study of the Humanities in this manner can lead to a renewal of the use of profound archetypes in contemporary art, those archetypes that bring the full import of salvation and fullness that is at the heart of all great art through the ages[18]. Art is related to and overlaps with Ritual. The counterpole is Science as a path of pure knowledge.
  • Awareness/Consciousness of the self as a "witness" as opposed to the world-process or phenomena that arise in its field. This practice begins with Meditation, taming and controlling the "monkey mind" focusing on the field of consciousness, the inner center of awareness or in Aurobindonian terms the Mental Purusha. Although meditation itself is not enough to confer Liberation, and indeed according to The Mother as we have seen is not even a higher spiritual practice, meditation may enable a sort of kick start that will allow the mental purusha to attain liberation. This technique and line of development confers liberation and identity with the Supreme in the form of transcendent Consciousness. The counterpole might be Process/Shunyata. Focused meditation in itself does not confer an integral liberation, but can lead to a purely mental liberation. For practical techniques, see Raja Yoga (originally Patanjali Yoga, but also there are other unrelated groups like the Brahma Kumaris that, despite their bizarre cosmology, are very strong on practice) and Buddhist sitting Also described in Samkhya, and in Advaita Vedanta.
  • Empathy, Compassion: seeing the intrinsic worth of all sentient beings, feeling the pain and joy of others, Buddhism - practice of loving-kindness meditation, and equivalents in New Age and elsewhere. It is also at the center of the participative epistemology and participative spirituality of current Integral thinkers like Heron, Tarnas, and Ferrer, who are also some of the inspirations of Bauwens p2p philosophy. Most of all, the principle of empathy is central to the Integral theory and practice proposed in this current thesis as EIE - Esoteric Integral Ethics. It is not necessary to practice specific Buddhist techniques, as any principle of empathy based on sincerity will be effective. By opening the heart chakra, dissolving selfishness-enforcing barriers of the ego, obne accesses the higher emotional being for the welfare of all sentient beings. This is also the principle of the Bodhisattva, who sacrifices his or her own liberation for the sake of relieving the suffering of infinite sentient beings.
  • Dynamism and Creative Energy: Here the Supreme is realised or experienced as the polarity of Shiva or Ishwara (Lord, the Supreme in Itself) and Shakti (the Supreme's Creative Power of manifestation). Examples are Tantra Yoga, Kashmir Shaivism and again, Integral Yoga
  • Gnosis - this is the ascent of the consciousness through levels of higher gnosis; beyond and above the lower personality are progressive levels of higher (intermediate, enlightened and transenlightened) Realisation and Revelation, culminating in the manifest Supreme or Supramental as described in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. Sri Aurobindo finds reference these levels of higher insight in the original Vedas, which if so would indicate an insight on the part of the original Indo-European mythology (and hence in Persia Zoroastrianism, Zervanism, and Manichaeism with the insight of the higher hypostasis of Light and the darkness of matter, this being equivalent to Sri Aurobindo's polarity of Superconscient and Inconscient). The theme of intermediate, higher, and supreme stages of gnosis can also be found in the Platonic and especially the Neoplatonic tradition, in Alexandrian Christianity, Hellenistic Gnosticism, Sufism, Lurianic Kabbalah (the succession of higher worlds), Sikh esotericism (Sant Mat / Radha Soami), Hermeticism, and even aspects of the New Age movement. In terms of practice there may be many different approaches involving meditation, contemplation, intuition, theurgy (Iamblichus), the ascent of consciousness (Merkavah) and so on. The aim is to rise in one's intuition and higher consciousness to receive the downpouring of transcendent gnosis from above. According to Sri Aurobindo this is part of the Integral process of transformation and occurs spontaneously after liberation (hence my term "transenlightenment; it is beyond ordinary enlightenment or jnana yoga), if one chooses that path.
  • Identity (of Self with all things); the practice of Jnana Yoga, such as contemplating "who am I"as taught in Advaita Vedanta; e.g. Ramana Maharshi, Gangaji. This technique and line of development confers liberation and identity of the Self (Atman) with the transcendent Absolute, but it is not an integral liberation.
  • Love. This can be Love for another, or for all beings (there is however a subtle difference between Love, which is a complete giving of oneself, and Compassion, which is empathic feeling of another's pain) or for the Supreme or God. It is very important also to distinguish Love from narcissistic ego- or anima/anumus projection, infatuation, shallow romanticism, and other counterfeits that society and poipular culture holds up as romantic ideals. Love implies a total Surrender, in the sense of a joyous offering and acquiescence, not "surrender:" in the sense of losing a conflict, or defeat; in fact it is the exact opposite of the latter. Surrender to the Divine (in whatever form of the Supreme one feels comfortable with) is the theistic path of devotion or bhakti-yoga, an essential part of most authentic religious practice and spiritual and esoteric teachings. It involves Faith, Trust in the Divine, Devotion, Gratitude, and Agape (in the context of Love of God). Of course religions in their ecclesiastic and exoteric forms often lose track of this, and, allowing themselves to be inspired by adverse entities and lower astral attractors, preach hatred rather than love. This is why one should always be wary of dogmatic religions. Faith and Trust in and Surrender to the Divine, offering everything up to the Divine, is the most fundamental and powerful practice of any esoteric and spiritual path, simply because it is much easier than other paths. It involves the emotional being or heart center attuning to the aspiration of the Divine Soul, and thus to the Supreme. Examples may be found in genuine (not extremist or bigoted) forms of religions like Islam (which simply means "submission" (to God)), Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism (the Bhakti tradition in general, which is found in all Hindu sects), Sikhism, Pure Land Buddhism, etc. It also is the basis of esoteric teachings like Sufism, Integral Yoga, and more. To practice this teaching, simply associate yourself with whatever spiritual current or teaching you have an affiliation for, and take it from there. But be wary of false and mixed experiences of the intermediate zone. Provided one has sufficient sincerity, this simple teaching confers Liberation, but an Integral Liberation requires it be paired with the other lines of development as well.
  • Occultism, Theurgy, and Siddhis. This pertains to powers and knowledge of the subtle and the causal realities and the Intermediate zone. These can be extremely potent, involving forces and intelligences far greater than the little human personality. There are a number of traditions here, beginning with shamanic and animistic spirituality, magic, etc, which modern Western secular anthropology and psychology, up to and including Wilberian and Spiral Dynamic Integral theory, misinterpret and denigrate as "primitive". Occultism, Ritual, and Theurgy was an important element of Iamblichan neoplatonism[19]. More recent developments in the medieval and modern West are the Hermetic magical tradition of Kabbalistic and ceremonial magic. These categories overlap with Ritual, with Art, and to some extent with Gnosis. In Hindu and Tantric Buddhist thought, siddhis or "perfections" or Supernormal Powers refer to occult powers acquired through yogic practice or spiritual attainments. In pure mysticism they are considered normal occurrences that accompany advanced development, and should not be allowed to become distractions from the path. Another perspective is that each siddhi should be explored because it will allow one to understand the power of the Godhead[20]. Transcendental Meditation claims that their TM-Siddhi program, which represents their most advanced meditation technique, enabled practitioners to levitate, but this, like many of their claims, has been shown to be false[21]. A Siddha is a tantric or spiritual master who has attained enlightenment and as a result exhibits such powers, although these are peripheral to the Siddha's enlightenment. Reference to Siddhas can be found in South Indian (Tamil Nadu) Shaivism, and in the Natha tradition and in Tantric Buddhism. Yet the dramatic appeal (especially to the ego and the affective nature ) of siddhis or perfections as occult powers means that this is a dangerous path if one is not fully soul-realisation.
  • The "Pearl" or immortal body - this is an "immortal" yogic subtle body created through various disciplines such as retention and circulation of ch'i energy. It pertains to the etheric rather than gross physical. Taoist yoga, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and A.H. Almaas (who coined the term in this context) are among those who describe this element and its attainment. It appears similar to the Divine Soul, but differs in as much as the Pearl is something created through self-transformation (the activity of the Soul on the outer personality) whereas the Soul itself is pre-existent.
  • Pleasure, Delight in existence: This involves the transmutation of desire or pleasure into the Bliss and Delight of Liberation. One example is sexual yoga and the transmutation of the sexual impulse, as described in Tantric and Taoist sexual yoga. Nowadays this has been degraded into facile pop-Tantra, lifestyle tantra and marital aids (mainly through the influence of NewAge type sex therapists and pop authors who were in turn influenced by Rajneesh). Serious Tantric and Taoist yogic practice requires more discipline then most people have. Curiously, the transmutation of the sexual impulse is lacking in the Aurobindonian integral teachings, which in this regard (and the rules in his ashram forbidding sex) are more like the old celibate-ascetic yogas; William Irwin Thompson considers that this was due to his austere upbringing[22]. Which would show that even the greatest avataric revelation still has to be filtered through the samskaras (subconscious impressions) of the psycho-physical personality that Avatar chose.
    On the other hand, when these techniques are used by those who are not genuinely enlightneed there is bound to abuse, as indicated by the secret teachings and practices of Swami Muktananda (Siddha Yoga) in his later years, which combined higher consciousness (usually believed to be genuine Emlightenment, but much more likely to be of the Intermediate zone) with instances of sexual abuse and physical violence[23]. Bhagwan Rajneesh - who lacked Muktananda's genuine Tantric tradition - may have been an even more abusive teacher, although there is no doubt that his teachings and subtle presence also inspired and helped many, but that's the Intermediate Zone for you!
    Perhaps this is why Sri Aurobindo discouraged this subject (and Tantric-style practice in genera); this sort of energy is too powerful and difficult to control, too easily misused or leading to a downfall, if one does not have sufficient strength of will and inner purity[24]
  • Process/Shunyata - the world as a process flux and change; there is no persistent Self behind everything, only openeness or emptiness of qualities and definitions. This is the insight of Buddhism. It can be considered the counterpole to Awareness/Consciousness
  • Ritual - Ritual in the creative and artistic sense is the participating in something vaster than oneself. Through spiritual Ritual one invokes and attunes with archetypes and Gods, and the human and divine realities are brought closer. Many traditional cultures had elaborate rituals and ceremonies for invoking and attuning with Divine powers; Pharaonic Egypt and Vedic (as opposed ti Vedantic) India being two important examples. More recent examples are the Catholic Mass and Hermetic occultism (each of which incorporates in different ways ancient Egyptian elements) So great were their contributions that they served as the fountainhead for the spiritual and esoteric traditions of the West and of India for millennia. Rituals also help to affirm a collective consciousness and ethnocultural identity, such as in the various exoteric religions like Judaism, Islam, etc. Often however this can also become arid dogmatism, something that has to be performed but lacks inner light. It might be argued that Ritual should be considered a subcategory of Art; but I have only presented them as different because of traditional Rituals are highly formalised and collective-based observances, whereas Art is spontaneous and individual.
  • Science. In the truest sense, Science (and here the word is used in the sense of systematic knowledge of any sort, not just the natural, applied, and social sciences that pertain to the mundane world) is the pure striving and thirst for knowledge for its own sake, the joy of learning and acquiring understanding of the nature of the cosmos. The archetypal scientist is Einstein, who famously said

    "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

    Although Reality itself transcends (but includes) the mental intellect, the Intellect, with sincerity, can elucidate and map out the various endless forms and expressions that the Supreme takes in manifestation. In the guise of philosophy and esotericism, systematic knowledge and understanding can also reveal the many details of the subtle, causal, and transcendent realities, as well as showing how the various aspects of the external reality fit together, and the external or gross in turn relates to the subtle. In this context Integral theory or philosophy can serve as a spiritual path. It is only when intellectual understanding becomes fixed, the mind no longer wide and plastic and receptive to all the infinite possibilities of reality, that Knowledge and Understanding ceases to be a spiritual path.
  • (Spiritual) Warrior The Spiritual Warrior contains qualities of Strength, Courage, Fearlessness, Energy and Enthusiasm, Endurance, the highest Morality and chivalry, and self (ego) -sacrifice. The Spiritual Warrior is one who stands up for what is right, who places their life on the line and faces any danger, no matter how intimidating or terrifying, without fear. The warrior does this on the physical level for the sake of defending those who are helpless and innocent (whether human or animal or the rest of nature), on the mental level in battling ignorance, on the spiritual level for the sake of self-mastery and the struggle against the lower self (the "Inner Jihad" of Sufism), and on the subtle level to replace negative occult forces with positive. All for the sake of the Divine Victory and transformation of the world. The Spiritual Warrior is the result of the transmuted and divinised affective being, especially the inner affective being. All those passions and energy and enthusiasm and love of battle are turned away from the cause of the petty ego, and of the debasement by human ignorance (which may be egocentric and self-serving, tribal, social, religious, nationalistic, or as the result of some cynical ideal and political manipulation) and placed totally and completely in the service of the Inner Divine and of the Supreme. Thus the true (spiritual) Warrior is the opposite of the bully, the thug, the religious extremist (today it is Islamofascism, in the past it was Christian Crusaders), and even of the na´ve person who obeys the dictates of their politicians and government without considering the moral consequences themselves. Most of all, the way of the Spiritual Warrior is a personal path of self-transformation, that includes all the other yogas and paths. In Lao-tzu's immortal words: "He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty[25]"

8-viii. Establishing an Integral Spiritual Community

So far, integral spirituality has been described on the individual level. But some New Age teachers have tried to establish communities based on a larger, collective application of spiritual or yogic principles. In terms of Wilber's quadrants (fig 2) and expanded holarchy (fig.8) this refers to the collective level, which should be the natural development beyond the individual. Some of these communities however failed, because the gurus and teachers who established them were imperfect and/or abusive; Rajneeshpurim is the classic example. But a few, such as Findhorn and Auroville, succeeded. They succeeded because the consciousness behind them, and the collective goodwill of their members, was and is pure.

If new age communities based on or around the personality cult of abusive gurus are to be avoided, then those communities lacking a real spiritual guidance are only somewhat better. Many alternative communities tend to be made up of people who are trapped in a mentality of marijuana addiction. I don't know if this is so in Europe or America but it is especially the case in Australia, where hippy communities have failed through lack of leadership and the large alternative community of Nimbin on the Northern New South Wales coast has been invaded by hard drugs and organised crime.

Thus it is necessary both to reject all drugs, soft as well as hard, and to have a proper spiritual practice and focus. In this respect, communities like Findhorn, Auroville, and Mirapuri represent proper "integral" communities based on a wholistic, ecological, and spiritual approach.

8-ix. Stages of integral development - Overview

All of the preceding approaches can be integrated and summed up in the following (admittedly even more simplistic) diagram:


Practice and Experience

Established Supramental:

Integral Divinisation (Tikkun olam)

Preliminary Supramental:

Supramentalisation of the individual (Surhomme/Overman)


Transformation even beyond conventional enlightenment/liberation Progressive divinisation of the the physical, affective, and mental being


Liberation from relative existence

Integral Enlightenment- individual, cosmic, transcendent; liberation on the physical, affective, and mental levels.

Intermediate zone: Enlightenment and profound realisation experiences although traces of ego and delusionalism remain

Integral Spirituality and Yoga, Aspiration, virtues, Lines opf development, Experiences of the Intermediate zone, soul-realisation, self-realisation, tending to enlightenment and transenlignenment

Relative personality:(trichotomy of physical, emotional and mental)

Theoretical ("the Map"):

Practical ("The Territory"):

Spiritual levels: Inner / Esoteric / Spiritual / Subtle/ Occult/ Intermediate etc

"Integral" Theosophy, Perennialism etc. Spiritual and esoteric teachings considered intellectually

Practical Integral Spirituality, development of all faculties of one's being, Four yogas, etc

Mundane Level: Outer / Exoteric / Secular

Integral theory, Integrative Philosophy, etc (Gebser, Chauduri, Wilber, etc)

Integral practice (Networking Management, p2p social models, etc)

Fig 23. mapping the Integral Progression - Theory and Practice

Each level includes those levels or stages below it. But also things need not follow a strict linear course. For example the Secular Integral would be the integration of all secular knowledge (theory) and/or practice in that particular field, or in all fields. One could combine the Secular Integral with the traditional "theosophical" or "perennialist" Esoteric (e.g. Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Huston Smith, etc) to arrive at an Integral theoretical Esotericism. Or Secular Integral (e.g Wilberian theory) can be combined with Occultism to give Integral Occultism.

8-x. Summing up

Summing up, it is my thesis that a new meta-paradigm is absolutely essential, not just a new paradigm but a larger understanding of reality in general. And with it a larger morality, and a more mature spirituality and philosophy, an Esoteric Integral Ethics.

This integral approach has to include all the ways of understanding - science, philosophy, esotericism, occultism, mysticism, etc - without being limited to any one. It has to incorporate all the ways of doing - art, morality, technology, practical spirituality - and then add still a greater perspective to the understanding, and still a greater action to the doing. It has to be based on compassion and empathy. And it has to apply to all sentient beings without exception; it cannot be merely anthropocentric and based on the rights of the human animal alone, ignoring the sufferings of countless billions of non-human animals, as well as the ongoing human-caused mass-extinction event. In short, it has to be about making this world a better place, giving equal attention to the transformation of the self, the transformation of society, and the transformation of the Earth.


[1] The affective being's ignorance and the western materialistic obsession with superficialities is such that even in supposedly spiritual teachings of modern western gurus there is a line like "Dead gurus don't kick ass", variously attributed to Ram Das (e.g. ) and Adi Da (popular with the What is Enlightenment? staff (Andrew Cohen) ); however none of the gurus who like this saying are in any way enlightened.

[2] Steven Dinan, Radical Spirit

[3] Collected Works vol.3 Questions and Answers p.11

[4] Letters on Yoga, vol. 1 p.96

[5] Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, p.67 (5th edition, 1999) For a larger quote of this passage see The True Guru - Sri Aurobindo on the Teacher of Integral Yoga -

[6] The Synthesis of Yoga, p.115 (3rd ed. 1999, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

[7] The Life Divine, p.293

[8] Online at See also Open Integral "The end of dialectic?" for this quote and discussion

[9] The Mother, Collected Works vol.3 Questions and Answers, p.1

[10] The Mother, Collected Works of The Mother Vol.8 p.42

[11]See e.g. The Synthesis of Yoga p.131. However that is just one reference, and this whole 900 plus page book is ultimately a commentary and development of and from the three yogas of the Gita,which are reconciled and synthesised in a fourth, Integral, yoga

[12] "Essay on Integral World" - comment by Marko Rinck July 26th,

[13] The Synthesis of Yoga, p.114

[14] Ibid pp.115-118

[15] Ibid pp.119-127; this trilogy of polarities is further described and explained in The Life Divine, Book 2 ch.2

[16] Synthesis of Yoga, pp.254-263 See also TLDI 3-vi. "The Three-fold Realisation and beyond" for more on this latter trinity of Realisations.

[17] See the most recent essay on this: Matthew Dallman 2006 "The Humanities As The Integral Tradition"

[18] See also POLYSEMY journal, which Dallman founded and edits

[19] Gregory Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus. Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University Press 1995

[20]This last sentence is from the (at the time of writing) rather brief Wikipedia page on this subject nd unfortunately does not cite references.

[21] What happens is a sort of hopping, which seems to involve a sudden contraction of the gluteus maximus muscles of the buttocks in the lotus-posture seated practitioners. Some 25 or so years ago I read two different articles, one in Penthouse (I think), and another in an Australian New Age magazine, which referred to this, and damaged the person's health (probably through upsetting the balance of ch'i). Reference was also made to cultic elements Unfortunately I don't remember the exact magazines, although I recall something similar or the same thing is mentioned briefly by Alexandra David-Neil in Magic and Mystery in Tibet. No further results have ever been demonstrated by TM. But it very early on became obvious that TM was a cult. e.g. I first read in an intelligently written but still Christian polemical anti new age magazine (the name I also forgot, this was so long ago) their mantras that are supposedly uniquely chose for each individual are actually simply given according to age. A full list of mantras was provided. For an even more complete list of mantras, see The TM and TM-Sidhi Techniques For more criticism of this organisation and their deceptive marketing and modus operandi, see Falling Down the TM Rabbit Hole by a former TM teacher Joe Kellett, Behind the TM facade , The Skeptic's Dictionary: Transcendental Meditation and Wikipedia . I was also amazed to discover that Ken Wilber endorses such a cultic organisation. For a comprehensive criticism of Wilber's methodology regarding TM as an example that shows that meditation can lead to higher states of consciousness, see Jim Andrews, "Ken Wilber on Meditation: A Baffling Babbling of Unending Nonsense", Appendix V to Geoff Falk's Stripping the Gurus,

[22] William Irwin Thompson, Coming into Being - artifacts and texts in the evolution of consciousness, St Martin's Griffin, New York, 1998, p.186. The Mother enforced the same rule as indicated in her talks; I would suggest that this was more due to her loyalty to Sri Aurobindo, as her earlier life (she was married twice) shows no indications of celibacy

[23] For an important essay by a Siddha Yoga insider that delves into the roots of Muktananda's teachings, see Sarah Caldwell The Heart of the Secret: A Personal and Scholarly Encounter with Shakta Tantrism in Siddha Yoga. For general criticism, see Lis Harris ''O Guru, Guru, Guru'', originally published in The New Yorker, November 14, 1994 and available online See also other online material at There is no doubt that, even if Siddha Yoga is not as blatantly cultic as TM, it is hardly free of taint either.

[24] This may also be the reason behind the theosophist Leadbeater's ridiculous association of the Swadhishthana (pelvic) chakra with black magicians of the left hand path! See C.W. Leadbeater, The Chakras, Wheaton Ill.

[25] Tao Te Ching, Ch:33

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