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


"Sorry, it's just
over your head"

Wilber's response to recent criticism

Jim Chamberlain

Someday you will look back and see how unbelievably self-indulgent, narcissistic, and foolish Wilber is behaving.

Are some criticisms of Wilber's ideas without merit and therefore unworthy of serious consideration? Of course, and as far as I'm aware, no one has ever suggested otherwise. As far as I'm concerned that's a non-issue.

Is it okay for Wilber to blow off steam about the authors of meritless criticisms? Again, as far as I'm concerned, this is a non-issue, and I'm not aware of anyone ever suggesting that Wilber shouldn't blow off steam about meritless criticisms.

Is it okay for Wilber to be irreverent? Another non-issue. Who gives a flying fuck if Wilber is irreverent? Church Lady? The Queen of England? The couple in Grant Wood's painting American Gothic?

Daniel Goleman, speaking about warning signals that a spiritual group may be a problematic group or in danger of becoming one, said:

Of course, in one or another context each of these signals may be a false negative - a benign symptom with no underlying pathology. More often than not, they mean that an open-minded, skeptical inquiry is called for.

For those who like Wilber's rap on "taking up the injunction," here's an injunction for you, in another post by "anonymous," this time at Tuff Ghost's blog "Vomiting Confetti". Here is anonymous's comment in it's entirety:

This is for those still defending this stuff:

I don't know how to tell folks this, but Ken's latest response only makes things worse. I know this will sound terribly arrogant, but someday you will look back and see how unbelievably self-indulgent, narcissistic, and foolish Wilber is behaving. And, even more, how he's now basically screwed II for years to come. Don't take my word on this, though. Instead, do me a favor:

Print out Wilber's post, Frank's response, a few choice responses from bloggers, and Ken's follow-up, and do the following: ask your parents, your siblings, your wife/husband/partner, your kids (if they're of age), your good friends, your spiritual teachers, a favorite teacher or professor, your co-workers, your grandparents, etc. You get the idea: ask people who know nothing about Wilber and II, that you are close with and trust, to read through this stuff and tell you what they think. I guarantee they will tell it sounds horribly immature, rather cultic, and totally ridiculous and vulgar. Even more, they will tell you that they can't believe someone as smart and thoughtful and into spirituality as you, would be associated with it!

Do me a second favor: Ask yourself what, if anything, of substance Wilber has actually responded to in these posts. Has he addressed any of Frank/other's criticisms? No, clearly he hasn't, what he's done is play “three cards”, well known to anyone who has studied cults which sprung up with the mixing of eastern religion and western psychology in the sixties and seventies, e.g. Adi Da. These three cards are:

  1. The Higher Level Card (i.e. Sorry, it's just over your head). You're just not smart enough to realize I am smarter than you, because you're on a lower (less divine) level.
  2. The Projection Card (i.e., I know you are, but what am I). By criticizing me, you are really just criticizing yourself, because any problem you see in me is just a projection of a problem in yourself.
  3. The Skillful Means Card (i.e., it was only a test, dickhead). The most potent card of all! It's not abuse; it's not pathetic or ridiculous or wrong; it's a crazy-wise teaching. You know, like Zen stuff. So when I call you a dickhead, it's not because I'm a dickhead, it's because you have a dickhead-complex that you need to evolve past, and I'm here to help you see that.

Folks who work in deprogramming poor souls trapped within a cultic mindset find these three cards the final barriers and defense mechanisms they must break through to get somebody out (mentally and physically speaking). Note also, and this is important, that explicitly playing these cards rules one out, automatically, from any serious academic or spiritual/religious circles.

So, please do me these favors, before you get anymore sucked in (no pun intended).

Anonymous | 06.12.06 - 12:49 pm

Here is a link to the post by Tuff Ghost that anonymous's comment is in response to (this is Tuff Ghost's response to part II of Wilber's response to critics)

Added June 16 by Anonymous:

The underlying essence of the previously mentioned 3-cards, played often by cultic leaders and apologists of the eastern religious/western psychological milieu, is this: any negative response to the leader or inner circle of the group can only be ones own fault (i.e. blame the victim). You're either not smart enough to understand (at a lower level), lack sufficient self-awareness (are simply projecting), or have failed a very deep test (when the group/leader hurts you, this is actually helping you).

Consider the following in regards to Ken's latest Blog, and notice how he's now playing a few new cards, equally cultic:

(1) The Ultimate Guru Trump Card (Witness me, and see the truth): The evidence Helen offers in support of Ken's actions is not at all relevant to the issues at hand, but is, instead, this: "(I've) SEEN YOU, SAT IN YOUR AURA, and HEARD YOUR VOICE". Helen offers nothing of substance in regards to the actual issues being discussed. This is nothing more than GURU talk by a devotee and should be seen as a huge red flag to folks at II. This card is a real 'trump card' favorite among cultic apologists (i.e. if you felt his spiritual energy, man, you'd know it's true).

(2) The Hook, Then Heal Card (Listen, and be healed): Ken calls his previous Blogs "Hooks", which is just another name for the skillful means card. The "hook, then heal" combination deal, however, is necessary once the GURU trump card has been played. That is, once wisdom is established, it's time for compassion, forgiveness, and healing. This particular card implies two things at once: (a) Ken is the teacher (wisdom), you are the student; and (b) there is something wrong with you that can be healed by the teacher (compassion).

Consider how this has all come about. Ken, after taunting someone into a fight, with derogatory comments and snide remarks (HOOK), tries to then HEAL their angry nature by asking that they look at their own shadows (if they have the COURAGE to do so). The implicit point of this move is the following: if you listen, now that you've been HOOKED, and follow my instructions, you just may realize what is wrong with you, and be HEALED, never to get HOOKED again. In other words, when Ken hooked you, he did so only because you don't really know your true Self (IAMness). By listening to Ken, however, you might truly "RE-OWN" yourself, "RE-INTEGRATE" yourself, because he does care, he does FORGIVE YOU, and he is filled with compassion for you (notice he mentions he did this out of much love for Frank and Don) and will not teach you through his Blog and classes at IU (so sign up now!).

Ken, bringing it all together now, concludes by combing his wisdom and compassion, with spiritual waxing about bathing in the infinite well of rehabilitation.

Folks, outlining how and why this is classic cultic behavior is too elementary to even go into. Just pick up any book on the subject, or go read about the true root of all this: Adi Da.

(3) The Game Over, I Won Card (everybody stop, I'm the game-master): In the end, Ken is trying to silence critics/outsiders by asking that they simply STOP, which is all he really wants at this point. He asks that they take a moratorium on judging others, on loathing and condemning him. Notice that none of this addresses anything of any real substance; it's just an attempt to bring it to an end, with him still on top as the teacher. He is the game-master, after all. In real academic and/or spiritual circles (or within an adult community) such cards are considered completely and totally out of bounds. They only work in guru and cultic environments. Ken, PLEASE, you are the one who needs to STOP.

Is there anyone at II with the courage to tell him this?

Note that these cards are not designed in any way, shape or form to prompt a discussion or dialogue.

The problem with the "three cards" is not that playing them violates all standards of rational discourse, though they do. Nor is the problem that someone might have their feelings hurt if someone plays "three cards" on them. (Someone might, but that's a non-issue.) The problem is as anonymous said in his/her comment to MD's blog:

Note that these cards are not designed in any way, shape or form to prompt a discussion or dialogue. What can one possibly say to any of these cards? Nothing… and that is exactly the point. They are designed to end all discussion...

Da and Daists play these cards.

Cohen and his loyalists play these cards.

And now Wilber and some of his loyalists are playing them.

Is the pattern here not painfully obvious? Da, Cohen, Wilber.

Someone once said:

a positive group: Is NOT out to save the world. It has often been pointed out that a very high percentage of those in problematic groups initially entered with apparently very altruistic and idealistic impulses, a desire to help people and better the world. But that idealisim usually has a structure very similar to that of the "perfect master" -- archaic and narcissistic. The underlying impulse is "me and the group are going to change the world"...
Further, its narcissistic core is evidenced in the arrogance of the stance itself: we have the only (or the best) way, and we will change the world, that is, we will impose our ideas on the poor ignorant folks out there. Now they may not state it that way (I put it rather harshly); but they must in fact feel that way, more or less - how can you possibly presume to help someone, especially without being asked, unless you assume they are in need of help (i.e., inferior) and you are capable of providing it?

A much wiser Ken Wilber wrote this passage in Eye to Eye, first published in 1983.

But today, in part II of his response to critics, he writes:

[to those who] duly ranted and raged about wilber and I-I [in response to his "part I"]...believe me, we got the message: you don't like us, you hate us, you hate I-I, you hate wilber, you hate this and you hate that— we heard you loud and clear. And we saw you. And now we know each other, don't we?

I read many responses to Wilber's part I, and the only person who speaks as if he might actually feel anything remotely like actual "hate" toward Wilber is Geoffrey Falk, and I think that calling Falk "hateful" would require us to read more into Falk's way of expressing himself than may be there. But let's say for sake of argument that Falk hates Wilber and II.

Point me to one other poster, just one, who expresses anything deserving to be called "hate" against Wilber and II. Just one. Or is Wilber just kidding again when he says "you hate us, you hate II, you hate wilber"? Drink the Kool-Aid now, they hate us and they're coming for us! Just kidding, ha ha.

Wilber then addresses his loyal fans, the true believers:

You're in the closet, aren't you? Because if you express actual integral thoughts or ideas then the herd descends on you with a vengeance, yes? If you are in that 2%, your life is a living hell, in so many ways, isn't it? Because the first-tier rants are all around you, aren't they?

Like I said, drink the Kool-Aid now, because they're coming for us! What's next, a loft in Guyana? Just kidding! That was a fourth-tier test. If you were offended, you're green. If you weren't offended, you're orange. If you laughed, you're probably stoned. If you didn't laugh, you might want to try a suppository.

Here's a little test:

Q: How can you tell is someone is expressing "integral thoughts"?

A: If they are speaking in glowing, positive terms about Ken Wilber and everything he represents, they are expressing integral thoughts. If they have the audicity to ask critical questions - in public! - they are not only not expressing integral thoughts, they are expressing hateful thoughts.

Wilber then says:

Integral Institute is a sanctuary for second- and third-tier consciousness. ... Do you want to be part of the herd, or part of your own greatness? Every single one of you can rise to your own genius, every single one of you can do this….

If that interests you, and if you want to act from your own highest being—and help us act from ours—then please come and join us, play with us, give us a hand. ... can rise to your own highest occasion, meet your own greatness, and from there, change the world.

Wilber in 1983: The underlying impulse that we are going to change the world is archaic and narcissistic. The stance that we have the only way or the best way is arrogant and narcissistic. If you feel that you have the best or only way that the poor ignorant folks must rise up to, you are arrogant and narcissistic.

Wilber in June, 2006: We have the best way, we are in the elite 2%, we are above the herd, we will change the world.

Like he said in 1983, archaic, arrogant, and narcissistic, and I would add grandiosity to the mix.

The herd mentality that Wilber should concern himself with is the herd mentality he encourages in his young followers, the groupthink, the in-group versus out-group dynamic, the loading of the language with jargon and psychobabble, the arrogance, narcissism, and grandiosity.

Posted: 06/13/06, 12:14 am Post subject: Re: Wilber's response to recent criticism...
Ken Wilber Forum on Integral World.

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