Check out my review of Ken Wilber's latest book Finding Radical Wholeness

Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Alan KazlevM. Alan Kazlev is a self-taught esotericist and metaphysician, science fiction writer and fan, amateur biologist and palaeontologist, and student of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings and yoga. His website is at and he can be contacted at akazlev at bigpond dot com. For Integral World he has written two series of essays on integral philosophy: Towards a Larger View of Integral (4 Parts) and Integral Esotericism (8 Parts).

Evolutionary Allies

An Integral Approach

M. Alan Kazlev

Synopsis: In earlier essays I've made it known where I stand regarding Sri Aurobindo and Wilber. Now, a number of converging factors have brought home to me the importance of working together with mainstream Integralists in a more harmonious manner, while at the same time retaining my status as a strong independent voice. Various individuals and groups can serves as "evolutionary allies" and thus constitute an "integral alliance" of progressive thinkers and teachers that can help establish a new collective paradigm ("Spiritual Creatives"). But this is only possible if we adopt a non-sectarian approach. My (re-)definition of Integral can contribute to a larger definition of Integralism than that of traditional AQAL. The AUM 2007 conference, while not actually part of the "Integral Movement" as such, is nevertheless proposed as an example of how dialogue between different "evolutionary allies" can occur. I would especially like to thank Professor Charles Flores of JFK University, who was a panelist at AUM 2007, for his report of that seminal event.

1. A Change of Heart

In a number of essays on the Integral World website, as well as webpages on my own site, and various blog posts, I have been highly critical of a number of aspects of Ken Wilber's personality and teachings. In this essay I would like to take a very different tack, and support the call for an Alliance among Integralists and other "evolutionary allies" working for the collective transformation of the current culture. This includes even with Wilber himself.

This does not imply giving up criticism. Constructive criticism is an essential and healthy part of any avante garde movement, provided it is conducted in a civilised manner, without resort to sectarian divisiveness and shadow projection[1] But the problem is that the resistance to the collective social evolution that Cultural and Spiritual Creatives[2] (the latter including mature New Agers, integralists, and others) work for is so great that even constructive criticism can have a counterproductive effect, if not also balanced by cooperation, solidarity and unity. A small movement fighting among itself will never achieve a result in a larger community that is hostile to the principles it stands for.

Because of this, I now feel a different approach is required to the one I had taken previously. There are a number of factors, some old, some recent, that have been of deciding importance here; so much so that, despite my various differences with aspects of Wilber's philosophy and teaching method, I now consider myself allied with even orthodox Integralism:

  • I consider, and have since the beginning, Wilber's influence as a catalyst as a very positive one. My criticism here is not of Wilber himself, but that the Integral movement should not be limited to the personality and philosophy of one man; for it to do so means it would be a New Age cult[3], not a movement for planetary transformation..
  • I have had the honour to meet some very fine people associated with and supporting Wilber, and certainly I feel a lot of commonality there, even where I disagree on intellectual grounds. And even in spite of all the other factors listed here, were it not for people in the Integral movement sensu stricto that I greatly admire I would never have changed my position.
  • Steve McIntosh's call for Integral Solidarity and an Integral Alliance has a lot of merit[4]. . Steve's essay and his book Integral Consciousness marks an interesting development within the Integral Movement sensu strictu ; both drawing on the work of Wilber, perceptively criticising areas where he considers Wilber gets it wrong, and contributing new ideas to the Integral mix.
  • Certainly the Integral Institute has in the past been secretive and exclusivist[5]. But under of leadership of people like Robb Smith, the new CEO of Wilber's Integral Institute, there is a new policy of of accessability and dialogue[6]. If this good will can be maintained and carried through, then even the most Wilber-loyal Integral Movement promises to make very positive and essential contributions to the evolution of the collective consciousness.
  • but most importantly, it was a recent crisis on Wikipedia that really brought everything home to me, and illustrated the current "clash of cultures" - Old Paradigm versus New Paradigm, or Modernity versus Integralism. More on this a little later (see section 3. The Culture War)

For all these reasons I now consider myself allied with even orthodox Integralism. Although still with qualifications, as expressed in previous essays and critiques. So I am not in any way disowning what I previously wrote, nor giving up the right to continue to critique Wilber's work or anyone else's. But I am going to switch my emphasis from criticism to cooperation.

2. Defining Integral

If we are to speak of an "Integral Alliance" we need to agree on what is meant by "Integral ". Before I came along, the Integral Movement only had one definition, and that was Wilber's. and his students This identifies "integral" with "AQAL"[7]. So any account or theory is considered to be AQAL or integral if it accounts for or makes reference to all four quadrants. Integralists are those who are informed by Wilber's work and those of others who present compatable or complementary theories, such as Don Beck (Integral Spiral Dynamics) and Allan Combs (Wilber-Combs lattice).

There are however several problems with this definition.

  • First, it reduces the entire Integral movement to Wilberian literalism. Fine if you are a Wilber loyalist. Not so fine if you aren't. And the whole idea is that we need to get away from reliance on the teachings of one man alone, no matter how useful or inspir8ing those teachings may be for many.
  • Second, and as a result of the above, this denies other definitions. An AQAL-only definition excludes the various other scientific and spiritual evolutionary visionaries, such as those of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Elisabet Sahtouris, Sally Goerner, Ervin Laszlo, and many others.
  • Third, it does not accommodate trans-rational insights. My own understanding of Integralism, for example, is informed by the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which is central to my worldview and spiritual practice. Thanks to these insights I am able to transcend the Cartesian subject-object (or interior-exterior) and individual-collective dichotomies that characterise Wilber's (and hence Integral sensu stricto) work. And this means that my definition of Integral is not reducable to AQAL.

Now, from a Wilberian perspective, it might be said that I am advocating a "post-integral" (or post-post-integral) position. But Sri Aurobindo had, as long ago as 1914 (the year the first serialised edition of Synthesis of Yoga appeared), already identified "integral" with the highest state of integration and transformation of and by Divine consciousness[8]; which would probably be equivalent to post-post-post-(however many)-integral in Wilberian terms. Since my own position is inspired by Sri Aurobindo's great insights, I take his definition as the primary one[9].

That is why in my essay Redefining Integral, I have proposed, at least as a working hypothesis, a five-fold definition - Integral as naïve religion ("worshipping" or adhering to Wilber as a charismatic personality and following him only in a literal sense[10]), as theory (where most of the Integral movement is now, including Wilber himself), as practice, as enlightenment (as in the path of Integral Yoga) and as Divinisation.

The current Integral Movement includes only theory and practice, whereas Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga includes, in addition, Yoga and Divinisation. Each of these is progressively more advanced than the proceeding, the last two exponentially so. The first two therefore (Theory and Practice) can be considered "exoteric" (pertaining to the non-enlightened consciousness) and are in a sense complimentary. They represent the "Integral Movement" and for that matter the New Age in a mature context, as opposed to a sensationalist or narcissistic. The second two are "esoteric" and pertain to an altogether more transcendent and gnostic level of insight, this is represented by the Integral Yoga.

This definition of Integral, which can include everything from Wilber's and others' exoteric definitions to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's esoteric definition, can form the basis of a few points of commonality. I am not saying it should be a final definition; indeed, there should not be any final definition. The aim is simply to open up further discussion, criticism (including criticism of my own work), and dialogue. And if "Integral" is too constrictive a term, being identified in the public mind with Wilber's philosophy alone, one can speak instead here of "Spiritual Creatives" and "Evolutionary Allies". It really doesn't matter what label one uses, it is what it represents that is important.

Another, complementary but more limited definition is to define Integral in terms of the current Integral movement. This gives:

  • Integral movement sensu stricto (in the narrow sense) - the original exoteric Integral movement, as founded by Wilber and the Integral Institute, and based on or uinformed by the teachings of Ken Wilber, Don Beck, and others associated with the Integral Movement
  • Larger Integral movement - either rejects the above as too narrow, or includes the above and also other philosophers, scientists, writers, teachers, artists, etc who identify themselves in terms of the Integral movement, Intregralism, or Integral Science.
  • Integral Movement sensu lato (in the broad sense) or Integralism refers to the above two, and also to any others who identify with the Integral movement. A practitioner of the Integral movement as a personal and spiritual path is called an Integralist.
  • Integral Yoga - the teachings of yogic transformation by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This is an esoteric teaching, not currently associated with the exoteric Integral Movement
  • Integral Yoga community - students and practitioers of the Integral Yoga. With the exception of myself and perhaps one or two others, this is not currently associated with the Integral Movement
  • Evolutionary Allies. This wonderful term was first informally used by the organisers of the AUM 2007 conference (see section 5, below), which was the first ime there was dialogue between the mainstream Integral movement and the Integral Yoga community. I use the term to refer to all those, whether they use the term "integral" or not, who are working towards the evolution of consciousness on not just an individual but also a collective level. As such, Evolutionary Allies include those concerned with everything referring to "integral' in a spiritual context; hence all of the above categories (Integral Movement and Integral Yoga). Hence the present paper is a call for unity among evolutionary allies.

I acknowledge that some mainstream integralists may feel uncomfortable at having their own teaching relegated to the exoteric. But exoteric is no less important than esoteric, it forms the outer aspect which is necessary as a support for the inner or esoteric. Everyone plays a part in the global transformation.

Nor is the term "Integral movement sensu stricto" in any way intended to be a criticism. It is just a convenient label for the orthodox or traditional or mainstream Integral movement. If you are a member of the Integral movement sensu stricto that is no better and no worse than being a member of the Integral movement sensu lato, a member of the Integral Yoga community, or anything else. Wherever you are at is where you are meant to be; it is not a matter iof this person or group is better, and that one worse. Indeed, it is essential to give up all such rivalry if one wishes to be involved in an alliance of Evolutionary Allies / Integralists. Critiquing, sure, go for it! Rivalry and one-upmanship, absolutely not.

3. The Culture War

There is a striking difference between Modernity and New Paradigm/Integralism. The latter is very much a minority, dismissed as "new age" (in fact the New Age represents an authentic current within the global consciousness shift, even if some its commercialistic aspects are quite off-putting), "pseudoscience", and the like, by the former. This may change as society and consciousness does, but it will not be without a struggle.

A good illustration for me of this "clash of cultures" - Old Paradigm versus New Paradigm, or Modernity versus Integralism - was a recent crisis on Wikipedia. This involved an attack (in October 2007) on not only almost all pages relating to Integral thought[11] on Wikipedia, but also all of the Wikipedia pages on Sri Aurobindo's disciples or teachings[12], even though they have no relation with the Integral Movement in the West[13]. A lot of this was based on absolute ignorance of the subject in question[14], although that is not unusual for Wikipedia, whetre genuine authorities and specialists have to contend with ignorant know-alls, because Wikipedia has no way of ranking experts[15]. And because of the current bias of deletionism (deleting pages wherever possible) over inclusionism (keeping pages, even where they need a lot of improvement), Wikipedia as it is now is not the Wikipedia it was 2 1/2 years ago, when I joined. The attitude now is more conservative, reactionary, and deltionist to anything that doesn't fit the preferred categories of secular modernity and geek interests. It is likely that this trend will continue in coming years.

In a sense, Wikipedia represents the microcosm of the collective consciousness, especially the consciousness of Modernity. It ranks very highly in Google, and is often the first port of call for anyone searching for knowledge on the web (myself included), despite its many flaws. Please note that when it comes to subjects like Science, History, secular cultural studies, secular philsoophy, and so on, I consider Wikipedia to be an excellent tool. It is not the tool that is at fault, it is the way that it is used, as a database of knowledge that mainly or only supports the modernity perspective. Perhaps this will change in future, and new paradigm and integralist themes will be able to be included without the need for apology or academic distancing. Or perhaps a new global database will be established. Time will tell.

4. What is meant by Evolutionary Allies?

It was my experience on Wikipedia, a project I hace supported for more than 2 1/2 years - that made me realise that I have much more in common even with the most Orthodox Wilberism than I have with Conservative Modernity. This was a slightly unsettling experience (especially in view of my criticism of Wilber over several years!). But it was also something of a wake-up call, in that it made me come out in favour of Integral Solidarity, unity among Spiritual Creatives/evolutionary allies/Integralists.

But how would such collaboration work?

To begin with there has to be some sense of unity and fellowship among those working for the collective evolution of consciousness, is an alliance among spiritual creatives or integralists , and advocates of evolutionary ideals.

An Evolutionary Alliance would include not only mainstream spiritual creatives, but also any even more spiritually or esoterically orientated individuals and groups emerging within the cultural creatives. And also those who have gone beyond the mainstream spiritual creatives in a more yogic-spiritual and esoteric approach. Here we find esotericists, gnostics, integral yogis and partially (and very much more rarely completely!) enlightened individuals. They may be within the context of spiritual creatives and spiritual co-creatives, or they may be found in Traditional or Tribal cultures or in esoteric Modernity (using Esotericism here in the context of those informed by gnosis rather than by merely faith or reason[16]). Strictly speaking, it is not necessary to call for Solidarity in the esoteric stages of evolutionary enlightenment and trans-enlightenment[17], because all authentic esotericists and Enlightenmed beings are already in solidarity and unanimity regarding their experience of Truth. And this, much more so than the "Great Chain of Being" is the "Perennial Philosophy". This is not to deny the latter, only to place it in persective. It is only the external or mental forms of their teachings, and the depth and breadth of their enlightenment and divinisation, that differs.

But in the outer, external, secular level of organisation, an Integral or Evolutionary Alliance is necessary to establish the necessary foundation of cultural and planetary evolution. Without grounding things in the gross physical, there is no material effect, nothing is achieved.

In all this it is not necessary to have mental agreement; indeed mental unanimity means conformity. But what is required is spiritual agreement, and heart-centered unanimity

To initiate this process on the material level we already have the best technology possible, the "global brain" of the Internet. This allows a way of networking between "evolutionary allies", not only the Integral movement sensu lato, but those who do not identify with the term "integral" (which is why I prefer words like "evolutionary ally"). There can also be forums such as AUM 2007 (see sect. 5, below), with various parties involved. The Integral Institute, with its vast resources, can be invaluable here. Indeed, this may mark a new stage of growth and maturity for the Integral Institute, and new progressive opportunities for the Integral movement sensu stricto.

Nevertheless, there are still a number of important challenges and obstacles to be overcome; more on which in sect.6.

5. The AUM 2007 Conference

The AUM 2007 conference at Petaluma, California[18] represented an important development in bridge-building between the Integral Yoga community and elements of the larger integral movement; as well as other spiritual evolutionists[19].

In an e-mail correspondence, Charles I. Flores, a professor at John F. Kennedy University and panelist at the AUM, shared with me his impressions of the different groups in the conference,as presented here (I have paraphrased and edited his words slightly, and added a little commentary):

Present were followers or students of Andrew Cohen, of Michael Murphy and Integral Transformational Practice, Brain Swimme himself, and many others. Wilber students were curiously absent. The only people interested in Wilber at the conference were a few followers of Andrew Cohen, who are attracted to Wilber and his teachings because of the "Guru and Pandit" discussions (see What Is Enlightenment? Magazine), although even they could stand apart from Wilber[20]. Cohen of course has his own spiritual outlook, and while he remains a highly controversial teacher, his followers have a great deal of good will and sincerity, so he must be doing something right. The Murphy people seemed to be there mostly to see him speak; they have no interest in Integral Yoga (nor does Murphy himself) but rather follow Integral Transformative Practice, reflecting Murphy's own ambivalence about Sri Aurobindo's later work and that of the Mother[21]. Swimme now incorporates with his "Great Story" cosmology spiritual practice based on a kind of nature mysticism. Barbara Marx Hubbard and Elisabet Sahtouris have their own spiritualities based on their understanding of evolutionary philosophy and biology. Then there is also the diversity inherent in the Integral Yoga community itself, although that has become more harmonious in recent years.

Significantly, many non-Integral Yoga participants did not resonate with the basis of Sri Aurobindo's teachings in Indian Vedanta, and perhaps its metaphysical implications, which is so different from the scientism-based worldview that still plagues even the New Paradigm / New Age movement..

At the same time, the participants saw a great deal of overlap, especially in Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary understanding."

We have the potential here for a broad-based collective movement of social and spiritual transformation. The commonality between the Integral Yoga community, the Integral movement, the Great Story cosmology, and related New Paradigm thought, that can form the basis for an Integral or Evolutionary Alliance, as a broad collective social and cultural transformation. It remains to be seen whether the momentum that has already been established at forums such as AUM 2007 will be maintained, and what further bridge-building and dialogue will occur.

6. Challenges facing the Evolutionary Alliance

Networking, cooperation, and synergy between the various individuals and groups of any such avante garde Alliance will not come easy. There are many possible difficulties this initiative would face. Here are some that I thought of, no doubt many others can be added to this list.

  • Exclusivism. As mentioned, representatives of the mainstream Wilber movement were striking in their absense from AUM 2007. The only reason I can think of for this is a narcisstic elitism and exclusivism; one might even say a ghetto mentality. It's as if the other evolutionary spiritual or holistic-scientific teachings are not considered fully integral "green" or "postmodern" are terms often used) because they do not conform to the Wilberian definition of levels and quadrants (what I call the "more integral than thou" position[22]). Or worse, the conference isn't worth attending because it's not all about Wilber and AQAL. If the Integral Institute and Wilber supporters don't address this problem, they will surely be left behind, to become simply another eddy in the wake of the davnacing wave of conscious and socio-cultural evolution. The ball is in their court.
  • Misunderstanding of Sri Aurobindo's teachings (and total ignorance of the essential role of The Mother[23]) in mainstream Integralism. I have noticed that although Ken Wilber and many other mainstream Integralists speak very highly Sri Aurobindo[24], it is also a fact that his message has been seriously misinterpretated by Wilber and by all those inspired by his work[25]. The mainstream Integral movement needs to dialogue with people in the Integral Yoga community if they want to have a more accurate understanding of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings. But this can only work if Integralists sensu stricto let go of their attachment to rationalism, secularism, anti-metaphysicalism, and the belief that Sri Aurobindo's spiritual philosophy is an inferior precursor to Wilber's AQAL, failing to consider the lower quadrants[26] or clinging to outmoded metaphysical "abstractions"[27]. At the same time, it's not the task of the Integral Yoga community to convert the Wilber students or impose its own interpretation (and I concede I have been too pushy in the past, my excuse for what it is worth, being that this was necessary as a counterbalance). With openness, respect and good will all round, much can be achieved. .
  • Excessive Intellectualism. I have noticed that mainstream Integralism at times tends to be overly intellectual and theoretical, perhaps reflecting the nature of Wilber's own writings[28]. This is indicative of excessive head development over heart consciousness; the opposite problem to the New Age movement[29]. In this regard Integralism sensu stricto and popular New Agism complement each other nicely; both are equally necessary and equally one-sided. Integralism sensu stricto also needs to emphasise more the practical side, and this is now being addressed. Ideally the two aspects - head and heart; Integralism sensu stricto and New Age - need to balanced, along with the third one, body/action. There are some good examples where this is achieved: participative epistemology or participtive spirituality, represented by John Heron, Richard Tarnas, Jorge Ferrer, and Michel Bauwens; Kosmos journal of Global development, informed by integral theory and spiritual consciousness; Steve McIntosh's "Integral values"[30]; Wilberian "Integral Life Practice", and the Post-Wiberian Integral Praxis blog. Head, heart, and body/action together give entre to the three yogas of Jnana, Bhakti, and Karma, together, these three lead to Sri Aurobindo's "Synthesis of Yoga" (hence his book of the same name).
  • The need to address abusive spiritual teachers. This remains an element of contention within the Integral movement sensu stricto, with some supporting and others opposing and criticising Wilber's association with individuals like Andrew Cohen, who along with Wilber presents a mainstream integral evolutionary philosophy in his magazine What Is Enlightenment? I have already made my views known on this matter[31] and will not repeat them here. And yet it is significant that, unlike representatives of the Integral Institute, the Cohen people did participate in the AUM 2007 conference, as mentioned. I have the feeling that, like Wilber, Cohen's role is as a catalyst, a center around which devotees who, ironically are often of a greater spiritual and moral stature then their leader, can cluster and be inspired and motivated. Even Cohen himself would seem to genuinely believes in the need for an evolutionary transformation of consciousness and is sincerely doing what he can to help bring this about. It is only when the lower personality gets involved that things get screwed up. One sees the same phenomenon with Adi Da as well, another controversial guru who mixes both enlightened and undisciplined consciousness, and tends to have a very high quality of devotee. This is the paradox; on the one hand, many of the devotees of such individuals are inspired and uplifted by genuine transpersonal experiences, and because of this are motivated to positively contribute to the evolution of the planet. On the other, these very same devotees and disciples excuse and justify immoral actions where these occur. This is all part of what i call the paradox of the "intermediate zone"[32], which cannot be defined in limited human standards of right and wrong (in a sense, both devotees and critics are equally partial and one-sided). It is a snare for the spiritual aspirant, but ultimately those who are there are there because it is part of a larger cosmic plan. This does not mean that on the human level (the world of duality in which we find outrselves and in which evolution occurs) we have to go along with this for the sake of mere expediency or uncritical pluralism, the sort of soppy tolerance that "it's all paths up the same mountain". An authentic integral movement cannot afford to ignore morality, and intermediate zone or not, it must never, ever rationalise, justify, defend, stand by idly, or go into denial regarding known cases of psychological, financial, or sexual abuse by so-called "gurus" or "spiritual" sect-leaders. Indeed, without a moral foundation, the mainstream Integral Movement will be nothing but a laughing stock to the rest of the world, yet another crazy New Age cultic faction..
  • Internicine criticism and shadow projection. Okay, I fully admit I've been as guilty of this as anyone, if not more so! Although it is agreed that constructive criticism is an essential and necessary part of the intellectual life of the mainstream Integral movement, the situation has now become such that the movement seems to be bogged down in pointless infighting and pronouncements of superiority or condemnation that presents integralism as a fringe movement warring over minor scraps of credibility. What is required is to balance this constructive criticism and civilised debate with the equally if not more necessary element of cooperation and synergy. This is now something i would like to help work towards.

There is no doubt that we are seeing a global transformation of consciousness in the making. Thanks to global communications and the Internet, this process of collective change and transformation is probably more rapid than any in the history of humanity. Rather than speak in terms of centuries or millennia, we need to think in terms of years. The Earth moves inexorably towards the point of crisis that will decide the fate not only of humanity but of all of planetary and even, I believe, cosmic evolution[33]. And so what happens in the next few decades will decide the outcome.


[1] On "fans versus critics" in orthodox Wilber integralism, see Scott Parker, "Winning the Integral Game?" This has proceeded to such a degree that the "critics" have now become "foes". Thus on a comment on Integral Praxis blog, "BAM BAM" (Anonymous) "It seems endemic that Wilber foes and fans both lack the resources to cite sources" - "Questioning Kazlev's Redefinitions" October 19, 2007

[2] David C. Korten, The Great Turning, from Empire to Earth Community, Kumarian Press / Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006 pp.79-81

[3] For an evocative insider account of Cultic Wilber worship see the anonympous comment posted on DASHH blog and on Integral World Note that there is absolutely nothing unique here; one finds this same experience in all charismatic cults, whether they be conventional religious, New Age, or Pop Guru

[4] See the introductory letter at - "...Criticisms are certainly appropriate in many cases, and in my new book I do advance a number of critiques of Ken Wilber's work. But even though I am not directly associated with the Integral Institute, I do continue to identify myself as Wilber's alley and supporter. And this is because, like most of you, I believe that the integral worldview represents our civilization's best hope for progress. I contend that as integralists it is our cultural duty to try to build cohesion within the integral movement and to exhibit a sense of ownership and commitment to this emerging new worldview. This integral perspective is bigger than any one person's philosophy, and so I hope that the opinions and scholarship on this website will continue to evolve in a way that demonstrates this truth" .

[5] See for example David Jon Peckinpaugh "Shut-Ins. A Story On Hermeneutics & The Wilber Inner Circle"

[6] See comment at Open Integral reposted at

[7] Matt Rentschler, AQAL Glossary, p.17

[8] For example his reference to "an integral method and an integral result", "integral realisation and liberation" and "the integrality to which we aspire" The Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, Pondicherry (3rd ed. 1999) pp.47-9. According to the Note on the Text, Sri Aurobindo made "only sporadic minor changes" to the five chaptrers of the introduction (which includes the chapter from which the above is cited) during the 1920s and circa 1932 (ibid p.915). Therefore, this material dates to the very earliest phase of Sri Aurobindo's thought.

[9] Although I acknowledge the central influence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in my own insights and philosophy, it should be made clear that my own ideosyncratic position is not representative of the Integral Yoga community as a whole. Similarily, not everyone in the Integral Yoga community is happy with the term "Aurobindonian". Just as not all Wilberians are happy with "Wilberian". Perhaps it may be better not to use these terms at all (although Post-Wilberian seems to have stuck, and is a very useful label I feel for those former students of Wilber's work who, while continuing to be informed by elements of his tecahing, have been disillusioned by other elements and by aspects of his personality, and have since gone on to develop their own insights into and understanding of Integralism), except as adjectives pertaining to Sri Aurobindo and Ken Wilber themselves.

[10] On Wilber as a religion, see my "Fourfold Critique", sect. 2D See also note 3 of this essay. On Charismatic religious leadership in general, see Len Oakes, Prophetic Charisma - the Psychology of Revolutionary religious Personalities, Syracuse University Press, 1977. Fans of Wilber may argue that I have the same attitute to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother as they have to Wilber. One the level of the mental being and relative consciousness this is true, and obviously one could equally say this about any ideology or human movement initiated by an individual or individuals. e.g. some Marxists may approach the teachings of Marx and Lenin in a "religious" or worshipful manner. But the difference lies in surrender and aspiration as a yogic path of ego- and cognitive-transcendence and enlightenment, as opposed to reliance on a human teacher who is not authentically enlightened. It is important also to distinguish between "religion", which is sectarian and has a mental and emotional insistence on one particular mental interpretation, and "spirituality", which doesn't. So I am not just talking here about Sri Aurobindo and The Mother alone but also about any authentic realised being; e.g. Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Meher Baba, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Bhagwan Nityananda, and possibly Mata Amritanandamayi. The Danish seer Martinus is a rare example of a totaly Western enlightened being. I am not knowledgable enough of contemporary personalities in the Sufi traditions but no doubt there are some there too who fall in this category. See also notes 31 and 32, this essay, on the problem of the Intermediate Zone versus the authentically enlightened spiritual teacher


[12] You can read more here and scroll down for my comments

[13] I have already suggested that Integral Movement and Integral Yoga are two very different things; as far as I know my own work is the first attempt at a synthesis, see especially in "Redefining Integral" , although Joseph Vrinte in 2002 was the first person to compare Sri Aurobindo and Wilber in a sympathetic light (Joseph Vrinte, The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul : An inquiry into the relevance of Sri Aurobindo's metaphysical yoga psychology in the context of Ken Wilber's integral psychology, Motilal Banarsidass, 2002). This came about because some were also listed on the Wikipedia page on "Integral thought" Perhaps representative of this whole resistence, the biography I wrote for Wikipedia on Vrinte was deleted without even going through the normal channles of voting.

[14] The dismissive comment why the Supermind page should be deleted is indicative of the attitude one finds in Wikipedia "Minor part of a minor school of philosophy created by one person" (see - old page, since revised) says it all. Of course, as anyone with even a second or third hand kbnowledge knows, the Supermind, rather than a minor part, is the central element of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. For the rest of my response here

[15] For more on this and other problems, see Philip Coppens "The Truth and Lies of Wikiworld". Nexus October-November 2007, vol. 14 no.6, pp. 11-15, 77, online at Wikipedia co-founder and now critic Larry Sanger has established his own alternative Wiki, which it is hoped will avoid the problems Wikipedia has become prey to; the Citizendium This will have with stricter editing rules, supervision, and madatory disclosure of editor's real names. It is however unlikely that the Citizendium would be more receptive to post-formal insights.

[16] Wouter J Hanegraaff, 'A Dynamic Typological Approach to the Problem of ‘Post-Gnostic' Gnosticism', ARIES (Association pour la Recherche et 1'information sur 1'Esoterisme) 16 (1992), pp. 5-43. and New Age Religion and Western Culture, SUNY, 1998, pp.518-20

[17] I introduce the term "trans-enlightened in . In Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, there are stages even beyond the nondual state of Enlightenment or Liberation (The Life Divine (10th ed.), pp. 276-277 ); these are colloquially called "trans-enlightened". However they are still a form of Enlightenment; only a much greater and more encompasisng Enlightenment than the original nondual states

[18] The latest of an annual series of conferences organised by the Integral Yoga community. "AUM" here stands for "All-USA Meeting" The AUM 2007 conference "Integral Yoga in Dialogue with the World", sponsored by the California Institute of Integral Studies and held at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, California during June 20th to 24th, 2007 ( ).

[19] As Charles Flores points out, "this AUM event was not viewed as, nor seen as an "Integral Movement" event, but an event which features those sympathetic to an Evolutionary view." (personal correspondence 14 November 2007)

[20] Wilber and Cohen also have many disagreements, and Wilber and Murphy, but this is never represented in the pages of WIE

[21] Murphy is attracted to the early experimental Sri Aurobindo of Record of Yoga, but not when the Integral Yoga in his mind became a "formula". In fact the whole basis of Integral Yoga is that it has no method, it has no formula; that is what makes it so difficult for many to understand. His Future of the Body (Tarcher/Putnum 1992) gives Sri Aurobindo the barest mention, being more concerned with parapsychology

[22] See "Redefining Integral" Ironically and unbeknown to me when using that phrase, Frank Visser, in an earlier life as Wilber supporter, had used this same expression to criticise Gary Jacobs, where he makes all the same errors of understanding regarding Sri Aurobindo that Wilber does, while at the same time criticising Jacobs for lack of Wilber quotations (a common theme, compare note 28 below) - see I have been told that Gary never intended this essay (which was only meant as a private email) to be published in the first place, and that it appeared on Integral World (at the time called "World of Ken Wilber") against his wishes. (Don Salmon, personal correspondence 11 November 2007)

[23] The only instance that I know of that The Mother is even mentioned at all in the entire Integral Movement is among the list of evolutionary philosophers and teachers in Tom Huston's "Timeline of Evolution" - see What Is Enlightenment? no.35, January-March 2007, p.83,

[24] This for example from Wilber: "Aurobindo's genius was not merely that he captured the profundity of India's extraordinary spiritual heritage. He was the first great philosopher - sage to deeply grasp the nature and meaning of the modern idea of evolution. And thus, in Aurobindo, we have the first grand statement of an evolutionary spirituality that is an integration of the best of ancient wisdom and the brightest of modern knowledge... nobody combined both philosophical brilliance and a profoundly enlightened consciousness the way Aurobindo did. His enlightenment informed his philosophy; his philosophy gave substance to his enlightenment; and that combination has been rarely equaled, in this or any time." - Ken Wilber, Forword to A. S. Dalal (ed.), A Greater Psychology - An Introduction to the Psychological Thought of Sri Aurobindo, Tarcher/Putnam, 2000. See also Integral Psychology, 2000, p.83. While Wilber's understanding of Sri Aurobindo contains serious errors, one should not ignore the respect he clearly holds Sri Aurobindo in.

[25] Wilber's errors in this regard have been pointed out by. Brant Cortright Psychotherapy and Spirit: Theory and Practice in Transpersonal Psychotherapy, SUNY 1997, p78, Gary Jacobs (see note 22 on the background of this essay. However even if never intended for publication, or as a scholarly work, it still conveys the sense of distinction between Sri Aurobindo's teachings and Wilber's misrepresentation of them), Rod Hemsell "Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective" and myself "Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo" - and "An Aurobindonian vision" Steve McIntosh Integral Consciousness Paragon House 2007 p.180 misreads a biographer to say that Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy first appeared through automatic writing and says that Aurobindo failed to recognise the connection between the evolution of consciousness and culture, but see The Human Cycle. Joe Perez associates Wilber's Buddho-Vedantic-inspired higher stages with Sri Aurobindo's; see and for why this is not the case. Again, for all my criticism of such interpretations, I do not deny the great respect many in the Integral movement hold Sri Aurobindo in.

[26] Integral Psychology p.84. In fact and unbeknown to Wilber and his students, Sri Aurobindo does cover this very topic, see his The Human Cycle (Lotus Press, 1999). This work, along with all his other major works apart from Savitri, first appeared in serial form in 1914

[27] As Wilber puts it: "In other words, all of them are pre-quadratic [i.e. Pre-AQAL] attempts to derive the essentials of the Kosmos from a starting point that prejudicially has already collapsed the essentials out of existence and thus must attempt to recover those essentials with epicycles of further abstractions. Again, I am not saying that aspects of their work are not true; I am saying that they have abstracted their conclusions out of the matrix of indigenous perspectives and then presented them as "the way things are," oblivious to the perspectives in which their "views from nowhere" actually arrive.

This is certainly the case with "metaphysics" in general, whether we find it in Plotinus, Shankara, Asanga, Padmasambhava, Gurdjieff, Hegel, Rudolph Steiner, Carl Jung, William James, or the greatest of recent metaphysicians, Aurobindo." - Ken Wilber Online: Excerpt C - The Ways We Are in This Together For my criticism of Wilber on this point see in my "Fourfold Critique" section 2-viii. Why Wilber and Integral Theory are limited to the Abstract Mental Sphere of Understanding, point 4.

[28] Several informal examples can be given. One is the style of presentation of Wilber's material, which does not contain original research or experiences, only an amalgamation of what others have said. Another is the often dense and very academic tone of some of the discussions on forums like Open Integral, a post-Wilberian multi-authored blog, and even some discussions on Zaadz regarding Wilberian theory. Although I support these forums, I find it hard to participate, because of this very intellectual nature. Of relevence also is the criticism of lack of precise citations and footnotes, and ignoring the actual message of the essay, by several critics of my paper "Redefining Integral" "Questioning Kazlev's Redefinitions" My reply to this charge is that as I had already included references and footnotes in my "Fourfold Critique". I deliberately left them out here to make it easier to read (maybe it wasn't with all those urls!), and, I thought, less of a hassle for Frank to format. Wilber's A Brief History of Everything also lacks footnotes and citations. I don't mean to be critical, because I respect and support the need for all this. So it isn't that it is wrong or invalid, only that it is important that there be balance

[29] Here I am using New Age in the definition of Woodhouse (Mark B. Woodhouse Paradigm Wars, Frog Ltd, Berkeley, 1996) rather than Hanegraaff (Wouter J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought, Brill, Leiden 1996, State University of New York Press, Albany 1998.); "New Age: A primary, though not exclusive, concern with some combination of channelling, reincarnation, extraterrestrials, esoteric aspects of holistic health (psychic healing, herbn, etc) and self-improvement (obtained through rebithing, affirmations, etc)" - Paradigm Wars, p.52

[30] Steve McIntosh Integral Consciousness Paragon House 2007 pp.90f, 131ff., etc

[31] See part 2b on Wilber's recommendation of controversial self-appointed guru Andrew Cohen as a "rude boy" and the harrowing accounts by ex-devotees on What Enlightenment??! blog A good sign that a so-called enlightened teacher is not authentic is that they tend to accumulate a large number of disaffected and often traumantised ex-devotees and reports of quite narcisistic behaviour. Contrast this with, for example, the exemplary life and teaching method of Ramana Maharshi, a true Enlightened Being and one of the greatest spiritual giants of the 20th Century (see A. R. Natarajan, Timeless in Time - Ramana Maharshi, a biography, Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning, Bangalore, 3rd ed, 2002). Likewise in the life of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, there is not a single instance of abuse, ill-treatment, self-centered behaviour, or "breaking down the walls of the ego" as concerns their disciples. This is not to condemn or judge, but only to make an observation. It is upto the reader to draw their own conclusions; they certainly shouldn't feel bound by my conclusions.

[32] See "The Intermediate Zone" , "The Intermediate Zone Guru or Teacher" and other material on the Kheper website. The original reference by Sri Aurobindo was as a lengthy letter to a disciple. It was then published in 1933 in The Riddle of this World, a small booklet that includes several essays, and later in Letters on Yoga, (in the 3rd ed., pages 1039-1046). A number of copies have also been posted on the Internet as a Google search will reveal.

[33] While there is a common belief in other civilisations, the uniqueness and indeed the aloneness of the Earth and human evolution in the cosmos is strongly indicated by the absence of any evidence of extraterrestrial civilisations, but the fact that the planet hasn't already been colonised by a superior spacefaring race long ago (Stephen Webb If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens... Where Is Everybody? Springer 2002). Even the Earth itself may be absolutely unique in the history of the cosmos (Peter Douglas Ward, Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe Springer 2003)

Comment Form is loading comments...