Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Speaking Out with Passion

Wilber once wrote:

"Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must.... This is truly a terrible burden, a horrible burden, because in any case there is no room for timidity. The fact that you might be wrong is simply no excuse: you might be right in your communication, and you might be wrong, but that doesn't matter. What does matter, as Kierkegaard so rudely reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart. You must shout, in whatever way you can." (A Spirituality that Transforms, What is Enlightenment, issue 12)

Indeed, and in my opinion this applies equally to Wilber's critics -- in fact, even more so. For a system that is bent on promoting and even marketing it's own products and seminars, will have difficulty listening to critics, simply because it will hurt business. I have heard a lot of talking lately about who is qualified to criticize Wilber and who isn't, who understands his system and who doesn't -- the net result is that the integral ranks are closed to outside criticsm.

It is precisely those who disagree that can point out inconsistencies, come up with counter examples, see potential biases, check Wilber's statements against his own sources and those of others, etcetera. I have received many positive responses to my Talking back to Wilber. For these people the message was completely obvious and a matter of common sense. The integral debate should be a public affair, open to criticsm from whatever corner, or it will become an ideology.


Anonymous M Alan Kazlev said...

hi Frank

I think it's necessary (and indeed high time) that the Integral movement grow completely beyond the boundaries of the Wilberian paradigm. Not reject or deny Wilber outright, or criticise without offering any alternative, but provide a larger paradigm that includes Wilberism as one faction.

The problems you mention, about the inner circles of the Wilberian movement being closed to outsiders, the organisation not welcoming healthy criticism etc, are typical of what happens with all such organisations which degenerate into dogmatism and narrow ideology (and in this instance Wilberian Integral theory seems to be degenerating into what I call Wilberanity, a religion). The Integral Movement is much too important to be allowed to end in such an ignoble manner! So far critics (including myself) have variously shown that Wilber's scholarship is shonky, his philosophy inconsistent, his spirituality one-sided (none of which takes away the positive stuff that he talks about). Fair enough, what intellectual thinker is perfect? Or is free of ego? I still admire the guy for what he has achieved, but i criticise the limits of his philosophy as well (including in my current work in progress, which critiques Wilberian thought from an Aurobindonian perspective). So imho it is upto us critics then to not just criticise the guy (anyone can do that!), but to also provide an alternative, by which I mean a larger and more profound definition of Integral, one that includes but also transcends the Wilberian paradigm, and all other paradigms as well.

As someone pointed out on wikipedia, even identifying "Integral theory" with Wilber implies a politiocal act, an act of choice in the sense of a biased choice. Take the California Institute of Integral Studies. That's just as Integral as Wilber. Why don't we mention them as well? Hence, a larger definition would accomodate both equally, without prejadice. And it would accomodate esotericism too, and other forms of spirituality apart from the non-dualism and Rinzai Zen style that Wilber favours, as well as them (because nothing is excluded). And naturally , anything else that doesnt fit within the "respectable" secular physicalist paradigm favoured by academia (and which Wilber is trying to address, although it seems that academia isnt too impressed with him, probably because he talks about higher states of consciousness), should still fit within a larger integral pardigm. As should academia itself.

Frank I really like your essays reconciling the Wilberian and Esoteric (you and Wilber call it "Perennialist"; what's in a name...) paradigms. Ken would hate it of course, because as his latest "Integral spirituality" and "post-metaphysics" work shows he is dead against the concept of supra-physical realities, ontology, and so on; which he refers to generically (and I believe inaccurately) as "metaphysics". But I think "metaphysics" (keeping the inverted commas) is the way to go. It's necessary to break out of the straitjacket of physicalist, modernist and postmodernist secular thinking, to appreciate that what modernity says regarding its own reality is true (e.g. the natural sciences are factual), but it is also limited, and reality "includes and transcends" it.

And most of all, a true Integral movement should, as you so perceptively point out, be open and public. And this should be one of its defining features. Not just part of the way it conducts itself, but a defining feature as well. An integral movement by its very nature should be inclusive and universal, not exclusive and secretive. That's not to say there is anything wrong with secretive organsiations (well, maybe there is...), only that they are not integral in the truest sense (even if they think they are!). I very much like the quote in your article about science not being done behind closed doors. The Integral movement is the same. And the Internet is a wonderful tool that enables us to do this!

This blog for example, and your Integral World website, both of which allow commentators from both sides, supporters and critics alike to have their say. It is all part of the global brain awakening, a collectivity that is bigger than any exclusive viewpoint.

And that is why there is nothing stopping us from going beyond (include and transcend; very useful phrase, that!) Wilberism, and including other forms and difinitions and meanings of Integral too. Indeed, not only can we do this, not only should we do this, but as philosophically and spiritually inquiring human beings we have no choice BUT to do it, as it is all part and parcel of the whole process of the evolution of individual and collective human understanding.

Okay, that's enough rant from me :-) My essay is taking longer than I thought (because it's bigger), which is why i decided to post a few thoughts i've had in writing it here.

Cheers, and keep up the good work!

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At Shambhala's Open Ken Wilber Forum there has been an ANONYMOUS BLUSHING LINKER that makes low relevancy links to much so that it has apparently slowed the site down considerably...this is one of the problems with a public forum...a strange species arrives and things go remains to be seen how this will be resolved...stay tuned!

{-_-}...moving across The Anonymous Spectrum....

7:20 PM  

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