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An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Imre von SoosImre von Soos, architect, civil engineer, research scientist, philosopher and writer is a Hungarian born, Hungarian and Australian national. His anti-communist activities have forced him to escape from Hungary, and he lived and worked since in Australia, France, Germany, Austria, England, Switzerland, Brazil, the Czech Republic and now again in Austria. Read more... .

Comment on Ray Harris'
Christianity: The Great Lie

Imre von Soos

While I found Ray Harris' essay "Christianity: The Great Lie" a very informative, concise presentation of the various researches and conclusions drawn about happenings during the times of Christ and the very early Christian movements, they have only added to the mass of information in disfavour of the western organised religions; informations, which the religious fundamentalists will reject ab ovo, and rational thinkers already over-possess.

Wilber's statement "that all authentic spiritual experiences are translated into images appropriate to understanding of the person having the experience", is very true, but says nothing new, because any experience is translated into images or concepts appropriate to understanding of the person having the experience. This is also how idiosyncratic scientific theories are born out of particular scientific observations. Any particular translation can happen only within the scope of particular understanding.

I am not certain if "integral theory" isn't a misnomer and if "integral essential, fundamental thinking" shouldn't cover better the intellectual process applied in confronting the angels or the devils in the integral and in the details. But I strongly agree that "what integral theory [thinking] can least afford is to build an ivory tower for itself and hide away behind a self-made wall of grand theory, generalization and jargon", which is the style, however, that one encounters on almost any discussion forum.

I also agree that "there is also a second and equally important ethical imperative, the need to discover and tell the truth. No-one is served by lies, inaccuracy and incorrect theories. . . Any integral solution must be based on an accurate analysis". So, when Ray said that "some integral thinkers have not fully understood that capitalism, especially the neo-liberal version, does not lead to economic justice", it occurred to me that this problem might lie in some integral thinkers having different concepts of "economic justice" than some others do. Never existing a better time for something than the here and now, I am confronting the actual integral thinkers with the question: what is economic justice? Is it a Marxian definition? Does it mean that 'from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs'? Or does it mean that equal work done should receive equal pay (and that also anywhere in the world)? Or that 'equal pay for everybody', whatever he does or does not? Or that work, that can be done well only by one in ten thousand, should be much better paid than work that can be done by anybody? There are many other alternatives, but before this question is brought onto a common denominator at least within one panel (ISC, if you wish), or its meaning elaborated within the context of a thesis, it remains but an empty jargon within generalizations.

There is another, even more important key-concept blocking the rational outcome of most integralist discussions, even before they have started: it is the proposition that "all men are born equal". These words uttered officially in 1776, but never lived up to either by those who pronounced them or by anybody else around this planet, being also countering any scientific fact both from biological and from psychological point of view. People talking about Karma imply with it the existence of reincarnation (because what sense would Karma make, if each life would be annulled with physical death). All eastern philosophies are about "taking it with you and bring it back again", implying inequality at birth, some going as far as the "untouchables".

"When you consider the two primary ethical imperatives together you are compelled to act in a way that protects developmental evolution by honouring what is true. This also leads to the obvious point that developmental evolution cannot be helped by that which is false. To be even more direct, developmental evolution will be blocked and even reversed by that which is false. All ideologies based on falsity will end up causing a developmental pathology." wrote Ray, and I heartily underwrite this statement. So heartily, in fact, that I am going to present in the following some rational remarks that will cause in some people strong emotional objections. Being true that "We are story tellers and we like to comfort ourselves with convenient and pleasant lies." and that "In traumatic circumstances the mind will create an alternative reality, sometimes that alternative reality is so far from the truth that we call it madness.", I suggest to face these "pleasant lies" and "alternative realities" this time with rational minds and not with sloppy sentimentalism.

Long is the list, many the books and papers that prove that "Christianity, as an ideology [is] based on lies and error", which I enhance by asserting that all ideologies (where ideology means belief-system, creed, dogma) is based on lies and errors.

"Integral [and any other scientific] theory requires a spiritual path to be both authentic and progressive." So let us follow it.

"A progressive religion [as any other philosophical thought or movement] is one that encourages some form of personal development. Ideally it should provide a path of development right up to nondual realization." So let us adopt this as a criterion.

"A religion [as any other philosophical thought or movement] is regressive where it either blocks development or causes a devolutionary move." Another good criterion.

"Based on a lie [Christianity] cannot help but be regressive and struggle to discover authenticity. For the majority of believers it offers a fantasy, an easy theology that excuses them from making any real effort at discovering the truth. At its worst it is a dangerous doctrine that seriously misleads and deludes its followers, taking them across the chasm into group psychosis." A correct conclusion that applies, however, to all religious, social, political, commercial and economic systems and organisations.

"A doctrine will be distorted only if it can be distorted and it is the responsibility of the guardians of the doctrine to ensure it isn't distorted." A doctrine is a distortion of Truth, quasi by definition. Universal Truth IS: it does not have to be placed into the straitjacket of a creed; all that needs coercive dogmatisation is the lie. And, in practice, it is the job of the doctrine's guardians priests, social scientists, politicians, merchants and economists to ensure that the Truth stays distorted and the lie prevails.

Christianity didn't start with a pack of lies either; the lies were introduced slowly, in acceptable doses, until they have replaced all its truths. Every reformation and religious sect starts up in opposition to the lies and with elevated thoughts; just to be shortly drowned into the lies of its own power-hungry shepherds, into another theocracy, into the ruling of another priesthood, into another monumental disaster.

"Buddhism has been able to maintain its doctrinal integrity because it is both an authentic and coherent philosophy." Buddhism is a spiritual philosophy with several, sometimes even disparate trends and not a religious doctrine tailored for domination, the reason why it has maintained its authentic and coherent philosophy and its followers. It has, however created the wrong attitude towards earthly, incarnate existence. The universe being logical, the material world must have its very definite and constructive reasons for existence as integral part of summa being and becoming, and cannot serve only as a rostrum of appearances and illusions for some kind of intermezzos entered, from an otherwise purely spiritual existence, with the purpose of spending it full of desire and prayer for the return. By declaring material existence illusory, they commit the same error as the materialists, who declare the spiritual existence illusory; each living only in one half of Reality.

The oriental religions show much more insight, however, than the occidentals do, by having neither sin nor punishment, but poisons and their natural consequences. The seven poisons: Jealousy, Greed, Lust, Anger, Arrogance, Inertia and Ignorance are qualities of separateness, which eat the person, who suffers in consequence. Hence the psychosomatic diseases. This is quite logical in both philosophical and practical sense, but western religions refuse to accept the thought, for it does not serve their purpose of domination. For them it is God who punishes the man for not going to church, and the child for not eating his spinach.

Where the eastern religions were failing in the face of life was, where they believed to find the desired liberation through the unqualified renunciation of physical existence, disregarding all the questions directed towards the reason of its being. I state it here once more: to justify the existence of incarnate life with being an opportunity to compensate for deeds which could not have occurred if that incarnate life would not have happened at the first place; or with the reason to obtain unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground where we, as everything else, are, where we, as everything else, originated from and which we, as everything else, are parts of anyway , and to suggest that this infinite complex of an universe has been placed here to serve as a back-drop uniquely for that purpose, is a sacrilege, and should insult the intelligence of a moron.

The practical sense of the westerner rejected the idea of exclusive otherworldliness (and the idea of killing the patient in order to free him from the disease); but trying to find answer in somatotonic expansion and in compulsory hedonism peppered with televisionarism and super-hyper gadgets, ended up with a meaningless and empty existence. Anticipating that any realistic thinking would only reveal the total bankruptcy of all religions and social systems, and on the ground that the answer would incriminate him, man decided to abandon thinking (even more than before), and leave it to the disorder to become order through random action, the way their scientists keep telling them that things happen to happen in this universe anyway. With this mental attitude man has placed himself on the scale of intellectual evolution in direct line with the ostrich.

In final analysis and observing the results, all religions, eastern or western, have badly failed, together with all the other man-made system.

Ray is quite correct in stating that "The reason for the continuing success of Christianity (and the other mainstream religions) would seem to lie not in their truth or authenticity but in the desire of humans to conform. . . What motivates them is the sense of belonging and meaning that the religion gives them. . . Doctrine is actually unimportant, what matters is that the church provides structure in people's lives."

The desire to belong, to conform, to be given structure, security, support, meaning, happiness, pleasure and even redemption in their lives; this physical dependence and emotional parasitism a not only un-natural but anti-natural human pathology were and are exactly the base motivations of people on which institutionalised religions, national-socialism, communism, materialism, atheism and all the other mass-movements down to surfies, hippies and squares have built their strength and their impersonal power. Religions just like all other mass-movements without truth and authenticity are made for, and their doctrines are written for the herd people in order to herd, dominate and exploit them. As long as there will be herd-people, there will be also those who will herd, dominate and abuse them for whatever mass-movement they can soap-box-demagogise them into. Herd-people are not made by mass-movements: mass-movements are made by herd-people.

Systems do not make people: people make systems. No system based on the present mentality will work. No new system can change the present mentality: only a new mentality can create a new system.

A new mentality must start with the understanding that the earth does not belong to man: man belongs to the earth in equal terms with all the other life-manifestations; the understanding that no man needs another man unless he is a child or a parasite in order to survive: he needs his symbionts, his partners in symbiotic association, the constituting members of the ecological community which he is also a constituent of.

"The lesson in this for an integral spirituality as an alternative to Christianity is that it must replace Christian doctrine with a progressive, integral doctrine that provides a sense of community and meaning."

This is the point where I strongly differ from Ray, a disagreement that has its roots in what I know and said above about doctrines and human weaknesses. Because doctrines, dogmas, creeds, canons, belief-systems whatever name you give to any article of faith without rational foundation can be built only on lies; otherwise they wouldn't have to have set guidelines. Even if they are comforting, convenient and pleasant lies, self-deluding lies, they are there with the purpose of herding people, and not for their spiritual liberation. And what a new world would mostly need is spiritual liberation; liberated spirits and not dependent onhangers and followers.

The "sense of community" is in my integral spirituality the "sense of ecological community", the understanding that without that symbiotic association any human would survive only as long as he can hold his breath. Because the next breath of air comes not from the human community, but from the ecological one.

Spirituality should start with the simple inner acknowledgement that there exists an underlying principle to each and all material manifestation, a spirit that is not of material character, leaving to every individual being the integral search and the recognition, through rational understanding, its fundamental nature.

Spirituality is not another belief-system. Spirituality is not knee-bent image-supplication or cross-legged navel-watching. It contains no worship. Spirituality is not humble, spirituality is proud. It is conscious of its fundamental being, of its freedom to think independently and be independent, and of his responsibility to use this freedom.

Spirituality should never become a movement, but a conspiration, a breathing and walking together, sharing the manifestation of the spirituality of each other, but never its deepest foundation, because the authority over the content of the spirituality of each one should rest within each free individual. Spirituality is not an alternative religious creed for the herd-people; it is a knowledge-wonder-quest travelling companion of free individuals.

An individual who is free is free from particular attachments. This does not mean that he has severed all his relations; on the contrary: he has extended them from particular having to universal being. He is a nomad who may carry his tent with him, but never his home, for his home is not only wherever he happens to be, but everywhere else in time and space. Analogously, he is related to everything that is natural. His loyalty is not to a city, a country, or to his biological kind; nor to a society, corporation, profession or association, but, through his work and contemplation, to the Universe, that, in a differentiated immediacy, is himself.

As for planetary consciousness: this is emphatically not the extension of nationalism or of any commercial or financial system. As nationalism has never spoken for more than the common average, globalism cannot speak for the whole world, because the world is not humanity, and not even every anthropomorph is a human. Global institutions might be represented by some persons, but can never represent one single human being. For every human being who is one represents himself with the personal pronoun "I", as does any higher holistic entity formed by the symbiosis of some of these individuals. "We" is an intermediate, conglomerative term, its conceptual value equalling the weakest "I" in the conglomeration. While planetary consciousness might be shared by many intellectuals, poets, painters, mystics individuals , I am certain that none of the commercial peddlers or executives or financial magnates have the foggiest notion about it, for it involves the consciousness of the psycho-physical holistic oneness of every healthy fraction of the planet, in fact of the Universe.

An integral personality, one who absorbed this in his own being, does not belong, he does not lean onto others for strength and support. The belonging, the dependent leaning onto each other for mutual support has only emotional motivations and emotional values. It is the "lateral", emotional interdependence of through their own limitations inhibited non-entities; as against the "vertical", holistic, rational, cooperative, organismic interaction of free and constructively constituting individual elements.

It is true when Ray says that "Christianity has largely been a monumental disaster." and that "it has actually held back development for close to a thousand years, and still holds it back." But so have been monumental disasters and held back development, one way or the other, all the other religious, social, political, commercial and economic systems and organisations man has concocted for himself since he has severed his harmonious relationship with the rest of planetary life, declared himself the rightful master of it all, proclaimed his own cockeyed laws to be the laws of Nature, exploded its population and became a runted species and a global parasite.

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