Applied Cognitive Sciences
The Embodied Mind (Book Review) (print)
I Know I Left My Consciousness Somewhere Around Here (Review Article) (print)
The Law of Requisite Contrariety (print)
What's Important About Values, Criteria and Belief (print)
Translating NLP for Abroad -- The French Experience (print)
ICC -- A Mirror Image of NLP (print)
Edward T. Hall -- A Great Grandfather of NLP (print)
Ken Wilber's Integral Vision
A Light in the Wilberness (print)
Strategies, Brains, Neural Networks, and Cognitive Science: Re-Programming the P of NLP (print)
Neural Networks and NLP Strategies - Part 2 (print)
Neural Networks and NLP Strategies - Part 3 (print)
An NLPrimer on Spirituality (print)
Books by Ken Wilber:
The Eye of Spirit: an integral vision for a world gone slightly mad. Boston & London: Shambhala, 1997. Hardback. 414pp.
A Brief History of Everything. Boston & London: Shambhala, 1996. Paperback. 339pp.
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: the spirit of evolution. Shambhala, 1995. Hardback. 831pp.
Grace and Grit: spirituality and healing in the life and death of Treya Killiam Wilber. Shambhala, 1991. Hardback. 371pp.
Up from Eden: a transpersonal view of human evolution. Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1981. Hardback. 372pp.
The Atman Project: a transpersonal view of human development. Whea- ton, Ill.: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1980. Paperback, 204 pp.
No Boundary: eastern and western approaches to personal growth. Shambhala, 1979. Paperback. 160pp.
The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, Ill.: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1977. Paperback.
Reviewed by Brian Van der Horst
What can you say about a guy who can write a book a year and was called the “Einstein of Consciousness, at the publication of his first book, written at the age of 23?
If you havent heard about Ken Wilber yet, you will. His body of work is prodigious. Brilliant. Genius. You could also call him the Darwin, or William James, or Plato of our times. He has written dozens of books, and edited scads more. There are 271 web sites on the internet discussing, eulogizing and criticizing him. Psycho- logical and philosophical masters like Huston Smith, Michael Murphy, Rollo May, Daniel Goleman, Larry Dossey and Roger Walsh variously call him the greatest thinker of our time, or call his magnum opus, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, one the most important books ever published. Our own Robert Dilts often seems to have been influenced by him. And Robert McDonald, who is said to be trying to memorize A Brief History of Everything, has been inspired to create a Wilberian-flavored psychology called psychoteleology.
So whats he got? What can Wilber contribute to our discipline? What is worth knowing? Especially when reading any of his tomes seems like a monastic practice in itself.
Ken Wilber is a modeller par excellence. Neither primarily nor exclu- sively a behavioral modeller but a cognitive modeller. And a lot of people think hes come up with the model of models. Naturally, his books cover everything. But he is no instant intellectual jack-of-all-trades.
Wilbers approach is the opposite of eclecticism, says Jack Crit- tenden, in his foreword to The Eye of the Spirit. He has provided a coherent and consistent vision that seamlessly weaves together truth claims from such fields as physics and biology; the eco-sciences; chaos theory and systems sciences; medicine, neuro-physiology, biochemistry; art, poetry, and aesthetics in general; developmental psychology and a spectrum of psychotherapeutic endeavors, from Freud to Jung to Piaget; the Great Chain theorists from Plato and Plotinus in the West to Shankara and Nagarjuna in the East; the modernists from Descartes and Locke to Kant; the Idealists from Schelling to Hegel; the postmodernists from Foucault and Derrida to Taylor and Habermas; the major hermeneutic tradition, Dilthey to Heidegger to Gadamer; the social systems theorists from Comte and Marx to Parsons and Luhmann; the contemplative and mystical schools of the great meditative traditions, East and West, in the worlds major religious traditions. All of this is just a sampling.
Of course this is an incomplete list. From his footnotes and bibliographies alone, Wilber seems omniscient. And he keeps putting out a book a year.
I love assignments like this. It doesnt pay anything, of course. But it gives me the motivation to plow through this stuff that usually gets buried by a dozen new science fiction novels in my reading pile. And as with meditation, clean living and exercise, one feels so much better after reading a little Wilber. So Ive pulled some of my favorite Wilbers off my bookshelves to aid the novice reader in understanding what all the fuss is about.
Lets do this chronologically. The Spectrum of Consciousness was rejected by twenty publishers until it was finally published three years after he wrote it at the age of 23, in long-hand in three months of 12-hour bouts. He had no formal training in psychology. Most of his wisdom came from his own self-taught quest for knowledge: reading, meditating and practicing. He looks like a bald-headed ascetic now; but he started shaving it as a Zen filigree in his early 20s-after having been captain of the football team and valedictorian in high school in Nebraska. He had left a PhD in chemistry unfinished to write Spec- trum, but when it came out in l977, James Fadiman, a founder of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology said, Wilber has written the most sensible, comprehensive book about consciousness since William James.
In Spectrum, Wilber proposed a basic model of consciousness (re- produced in Figure 1). Turn it upside down, and it looks a little like Diltss neuro-logical levels. Essentially, Wilber was making one of the first complete post-modern statements. He was able to create a synthesis of religion, philosophy, physics and psychology that the world had not seen before. Much of this model comes clear if you compare it with the basic map of therapies and the spectrum that becomes apparent in his second book, a shorter, popularizing version called No Boundary which, for added reader interest, had a lot of how-to-get-better tips from his own experience in therapy and meditative practices.
In this volume, his models (see Figures 2 & 3) offered a path of human development. The theme of this book is basically simple: development is evolution; evolution is transcendence; . . . and transcendence has as its final goal Atman, or ultimate Unity Conscious- ness in only God.
My answer is to direct readers toward Grace and Grit, Wilbers moving personal story of falling in love with his second wife, Treya, and the tragedy of discovering her breast cancer a week after their wedding. This chronicle of the last years of her life, when Wilber dropped everything to take care of his beloved, makes a compelling statement of a man who has been profoundly moulded by the summits and depths of the spectrum of human emotion.
Wilber eventually transcended these years, and was next remarked in print around the publication of the first volume of his intended Kosmos trilogy, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Here, as Tony Schwartz wrote in his magnificent chapter about Ken Wilber in What Really Matters: searching for wisdom in America, In the five years since his wifes death, Wilber has put his heart into developing and refining his full spectrum model of human potentials. He has not only addressed the levels of the spectrum-matter, body, mind, soul and spirit-he has attempted to integrate ascending and descending currents; interior and exterior; masculine and feminine; the individual and the social.
Let me try to walk you through an outline of his model. Take a look at Figure 6, The four quadrants. Like the &#