How could it be, Huxley wondered, that modern psychology has turned its back on metaphysical realities upon which entire contemplative traditions have been built? In recent years, few thinkers and scholars have done as much to remedy that oversight — to bridge contemporary psychology and the mystic traditions of both East and West — as Ken Wilber. In a series of books written over the past two decades, Wilber has established himself as one of the most astute and comprehensive theorists of human consciousness, a penetrating thinker with a rare gift for absorbing, synthesizing, and categorizing ideas. Almost completely self-educated, Wilber spends most of his time reading and writing at his home in Boulder, Colorado.
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How could it be, Huxley wondered, that modern psychology has turned its back on metaphysical realities upon which entire contemplative traditions have been built? In recent years, few thinkers and scholars have done as much to remedy that oversight — to bridge contemporary psychology and the mystic traditions of both East and West — as Ken Wilber.
In a series of books written over the past two decades, Wilber has established himself as one of the most astute and comprehensive theorists of human consciousness, a penetrating thinker with a rare gift for absorbing, synthesizing, and categorizing ideas. Almost completely self-educated, Wilber spends most of his time reading and writing at his home in Boulder, Colorado.
His reluctance to teach, lecture, attend conferences, give interviews, or otherwise discuss his ideas in public, has led to considerable speculation about his personal life. While the mystique no doubt owes a thing or two to his publishers — for example, Random House got a lot of mileage out of the recent announcement that both Bill Clinton and Al Gore have been absorbed by his book, The Marriage of Sense and Soul — it seems only natural for readers to wonder about the man himself.
One Taste presents itself as a response to that interest. The result is a curious melange — not quite a spiritual diary, not quite an annotated reader, not quite a philosophical journal, but something of all three.
Wilber estimates that as many as one percent of all Americans are now actively engaged in transformative spiritual practices, for example, and an even greater number are helping to define what he describes a new person-centered civil religion.
While these developments hold promise for the future, Wilber is disturbed by the "rampant anti-intellectualism" that prevails in many spiritual and countercultural circles today. He deplores the "regressive" impulse behind much of what passes for spirituality, especially the blossoming interest in nature mysticism, magic, ritual, and even mythology. Myths may have an important role to play in fostering an integral worldview, he says, but they are not transformative in the true sense of the word.
As he puts it, we need to "stop confusing mythological stories with direct and immediate transpersonal awareness. Much of the interest in spirituality today is based on symbols and ideas rather than actual practices.
In his formulation, it promises "translation" — by redefining the world and conferring a sense of legitimacy — but not "transformation. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone. We learn that he has a "sweet" and "adorable" girlfriend, but little about what gives the relationship depth or significance.
We learn a thing or two about his daily routines he typically gets up around 4 a. Friends and acquaintances come and go but rarely do we get any insight into how they are important to him. He discusses his meditations, his lucid dreams, his heightened moments of awareness, but always with a kind of uninspired matter-of-factness.
Someone once observed that there are at bottom two kinds of writers, those who write what they know and those who write in order to know. Wilber clearly belongs to the former camp. His instincts are always explanatory rather than exploratory. His goal is always to reveal rather than discover.
In fact, as a spiritual diary, the book has few of the qualities associated with the great works of the genre. In short, Wilber writes well about transcendence in the abstract, but not as a visceral reality. Frithjof Schuon, another great expositor of the perennial philosophy, once remarked that "acuteness of intelligence is only a blessing when it is compensated by greatness and sweetness of the soul.
Hes definitely not for everyone. Hes not for scientific materialists He calls them flatlanders. But, Hes also definitely not for certain kinds of new-agers. He thinks theyre regressive However, if you are interested in the integration of science, developmental-psychology, and Mysticism, Wilber might interest you. Though Wilber is critical of Capras ideas Its difficult to summarize a Wilber book. One Taste is named for a metaphor for enlightenment. Authentic spirituality for Wilber is transcending feelings, through meditation, not getting in touch with feelings.
Or as he calls it a Great Nest of Being. Atoms become Molecules, which become humans, etc. He believes he has experienced this state directly as have many other wisdom-teachers throughout history.
The experience can only be described using metaphors, obviously, and the book is full of those metaphors. Basically Ken Wilber is a man who takes Mysticism and Science seriously.
Wilber can be infuriating with his thoughts on politics and culture. If you are interested in Mysticism and Science and you take both seriously — Ken Wilber has to be invited to the conversation. I recommend One Taste as well as Grace and Grit, which was a more personal and poignant book by Wilber and his now-deceased wife Treya.
According to Wilber, the non-rational stages of consciousness what Wilber calls "pre-rational" and "trans-rational" stages can be easily confused with one another. Freud considered mystical realization to be a regression to infantile oceanic states. Wilber alleges that Freud thus commits a fallacy of reduction. Wilber thinks that Jung commits the converse form of the same mistake by considering pre-rational myths to reflect divine realizations. Likewise, pre-rational states may be misidentified as post-rational states. Wilber sees science in the broad sense as characterized by involving three steps:   specifying an experiment, performing the experiment and observing the results, and checking the results with others who have competently performed the same experiment. Ultimately and ideally, broad science would include the testimony of meditators and spiritual practitioners.
Ken Wilber Quotes