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spiritual wisdom (making up our own rules)

So I read Ken Wilber’s “Waves, Streams, States, and Self--A Summary of My Psychological Model (Or, Outline of An Integral Psychology),” and I am beginning the excerpt called “Introduction to the Deconstruction of the World Trade Center” taken from his novel Boomeritis.


Well, my feelings about his treatment of spirituality and the psyche are mixed. He takes a grand holistic approach and incorporates a hundred different modern and historical worldwide schools of spirituality and cognitive development, and essentially concludes that the mind and consciousness can be developed in stages (waves) which embed one another progressively. However, stages and peaks of awareness within each of these can be combined with others throughout, so that there is an ever-expanding spectrum of awareness to choose from.

Fine. I suppose it is also possible. But I question whether or not by defining and/or enumerating these stages and states do we not lead the witness, create a self-fulfilling prophecy that merely justifies/reinforces the experience and perspective of the first person to describe this phenomena as such?

It seems quite akin to the debate over whether ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder really exists or is it simply part of the natural course of growing up and the misperception of an oppressive society which cries pathology whenever anyone does not conform. I'm apt to believe that we overmedicate and that the pharmaceutical conglomerates are simply taking advantage of the self-aggrandizing psychiatrists and psychologists who narcisstically congratulate themselves for giving a new name to childhood precocity and curiosity.

I agree with his methodology of defining the universal “truths” common to all these systems by funneling and discerning the lowest (highest) common denominators in many of them. However, he then simply turns around and renames them, like a typical consultant trying to sell his own brand of TQM. Thus, he has not really contributed much.

Moreover, not only do I prefer to believe empirically-driven and deriven (derived) conclusions about the nature and machinations of the self, our consciousness, awareness, and cognitive control over reality, but I am also not in the position to test the theory of spiritual evolution as long touted by many of the world’s great religions/philosophies either.

I readily admit that I criticize with a gun that has not bullets in its barrel. For to truly understand how to achieve higher states of consciousness it seems that one must devote oneself entirely to the task for a sustained period of time, just as the fabled monks, gurus and hermits of history have done. When one can break away from society, civilization, conformity and obligation, one is liable to have the leisure of reflecting upon life and understanding man’s role in the world better than most. However, I am not willing to become a Nietzsche, Proust, Emerson, Theodore Kaczynski, Ghandi, or osho even.

I have ties which I am not willing to break in order to achieve greater self-fulfillment.

Although, I will add that those who do retreat seemingly are treated unfairly by society. They are perceived as oddballs and unsocialables, or should they be participant to a group effort—victims, lost souls, weak spirits. From the outside, it is easy to condemn them because they turn much of what we strive for in the world upside down—materialism, independence, individualism, fame and fortune.

However, when a person forfeits these amenities and values in the name of spirituality, and perhaps an enlightened, happier, purer existence, they are almost immediately deemed brain-washed and in dire need of rescue.

I suppose that where such groups have lead to suicide and homicide (i.e. The People’s Temple of The Reverend Jim Jones, Charlie Manson, Marshall Applewhite’s Heaven’s Gate, the Branch Davidians at Waco, TX) than and then we’ve got trouble in River City, for I do not subscribe to salvation through death. It is one thing for an individual to choose to be a martyr, it is another to mass murder.

Also, although Wilber certainly explores and ponders an area of serious and light-hearted interest for me, I am prone to accept clinical conclusions more than those that are simply pedantic and speculative. Or as, I have mentioned elsewhere, inherently comical and wise, such as what I have read thus far from osho. I’ve read work from other “spritiual gurus” such as Don Miguel Ruiz, Paulo Coelho and Kahill Gibran, but I was not very impressed. However, I’ve yet Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and I get the feeling that he may strike me somehow. I’ve also long yearned to read some of Arthur Schopenhauer’s work.

For spiritual guidance I have long looked to the adventurers, the doers, the dreamers; the poet-kings and princely-philosophers, as well as many of the action-oriented writers of the world. Some of my favorites include: T.E. Lawrence, The Dalai Lama, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzshe, Joseph Campbell, Michel de Montaigne. Erich Fromm, Robert Frost, Ted Turner, Nicolo Machiavelli, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohatma Ghandi, Leo Busgalia, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Ultimately, I think all individuals need to decide for themselves what is best in terms of consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, being. I strongly believe it is best that we all learn from various systems, then apply certain elements which befit our causes, as well as mold them to befit our particular circumstances, beliefs, values, desires and aspirations. Ultimately, to be happy, I believe we each must make up our own rules.

"Our schoolmaster should judge what his pupil has gained by the testimony of his life, not his memory. Let the boy examine and sift everything he reads, and take nothing on trust or authority. Then Aristotles’s principles will be no more principles to him than those of Epicurus or the Stoics. The diversity of opinions should be laid before him. If he is able, he will make his choice; if not, he will remain in doubt. And if he adopts the principles of Plato through his own reasoning, they will no longer be Plato’s but his. The man who follows another follows nothing, finds nothing, nay, seeks nothing."
~Michel de Montaigne

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