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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Zakariyya Ishaq is a writer who has just completed his first book on the subject of spiritual cosmology. An original new theory he feels can rival any:
THE ELLIPSE: THE FALL AND RISE OF THE HUMAN SOUL: SECRETS OF THE COSMOS
. In addition to being a writer he is a musician, computer professional, and community activist. He is a Graduate of Devry University in Digital Electronic Technology. Ishaq has been a mystical seeker of enlightenment for 30 years, a member of 3 Sufi Orders: and has studied formally and informally Buddhism, Vedanta Cosmology, Cabala, Taoism, Sufism, Integral Philosophy, and various other mystic esoteric and exoteric schools of thought.
Part I - The Myth of the Given
The Myth of the Given
and the Forgotten
Part 2 - Modernism and Mythology
Myth of the forgotten
This idea of discarding mythology as a tool to knowledge may be reasonable to examine, that is if the postmodernist/ modernist debunkers of it ever comes up with something to equal it, or take its place, in which I think that have failed miserably, as related to spiritual knowledge.
This part of this essay is about the attack and debunking of religious, and metaphysical mythology, by these superficial thinkers, Wilber included, who never understood the ancient science of mythology.
Nothing I know of is sacrosanct, but where is the beef in the reformation by modernists, and post- modernists in their rejection of occult mythology?
All they have is science to tout, but as for philosophy, mysticism, or mystical knowledge what has their ideas produced to further enhance these areas of human thought?
They are not interested in enhancing these areas. Because they want a total rejection of religion/ metaphysics and are perfectly happy in seeing mysticism, carved up and evaporate. And Ken Wilber believes in doing half of that. In other words, he seems no friend of religion, or certainly metaphysics and as I have proven in the first part of this essay.
There is no real western religion without mythology. Wilberism and modernists and postmodern secularists, and humanists have attempted in my view to alter the face of religion through its rejection and dismissing of the science of mythology, one of the most vital aspects of western metaphysics. Of course we can't remotely blame Wilberism for this, though he is one of the vanguard fans who support this kind of thinking, or shall we say, not thinking. Additionally it is absolutely nothing wrong with these thinkers in rejecting religion/ metaphysics and mythology, my point here is that their attack on certain aspects of metaphysics, that Wilber is so concerned with are based on their ignorance, and own subjective beliefs that they have very little to stand on in rebuking some aspect of religion/metaphysics.
These thinkers have an erroneous view of what they call mythic religion..
They have associated the psycho-spiritual chronicles in the Bible, Quran, Bhagavad-Gita, and indeed other chronicles with the narrow minded literalist who also have no conception of mythology either, and distort it with literal interpretations only. Their rejection of “myth” is unfortunate, because all the myths have not even been remotely understood.
They criticize the new age but don't realize they created the new age in a sense by avoiding the esoteric wisdom out of the so called scriptures. These “men of knowledge” modernists, post modernists, as well as the renaissance philosophers avoided handing down to posterity any real understanding of the psycho spiritual chronicles mythological richness thereby leaving a gap so wide as to be filled by magic, superficial occultism, on one hand and fundamentalism on the other, and in between what did we get: the new age, scientism, scientific mysticism, and cultural humanism, all essentially negative reactions to religion.
This new age led primarily by portable Gurus, magical occultists and their students, as well as western occultism, migrating to the gold mine of the western hunger for filling the gap that the elitist western intellectuals never filled with any genuine knowledge of the mythological.
Meanwhile thinkers like Nietzsche, Satre, Camus and other philosophers have led the charge against religion, and have been heroized by some postmodernist, and used as exemplars of their ideas. They are fathers of Wilber's scientific mysticism that has no base in anything but skepticism[ though Wilber has cast many of them aside since IMP] This phenomenon is only natural as the authorities of the Church tried to hoist on men like this of strong intellect, some infantile dogmatic myths about Jesus of questionable origin.
Indeed much of this can be laid at the door of the medieval Church and their torture chambers and history of oppressing free thought and discussion. This justifiably led to a hatred, contempt, and mistrust of exoteric religion and its paraphernalia. Additionally the Protestant revolution did not fill this gap either, for the main spiritual food that came out of the Protestant revolution was occultism, fundamentalism, and the beginning of the conspiracy theorists syndrome that is more pervasive than one would think.
Some of the attempts to rectify this by scholars like Gerald Mason, and Godfry Higgins have been drowned out by the louder voices in scientism, fundamentalism, superficial occultism, and postmodern/modernist humanism.
Indeed it is not my contention that mythology has been totally neglected just misunderstood, ignored, now rejected as obsolete by postmodernist like Ken Wilber, whom I contend most likely never understood it. Wilber's contention that myth is a prelude to knowledge is indeed well taken, but therefore if some misunderstand it, doesn't mean its original content or intent is bad. It may be that the rejection of mythology by modernist, and postmodernists has led to a gap of knowledge so wide as to leave posterity bereft of complete, or I might even suggest INTEGRAL knowledge of the spiritual sciences.
Perhaps the only relative success in this area can be ascribed to Madame Blavatsky and the theosophists, although their creed is overlaid with occultism, and eastern mysticism, it is clear nevertheless that this somewhat maligned school of thought owes much to mythology.
Blavatsky, Steiner, Alice Bailey, and I hasten to add Aliester Crowley, could be classified as more Integral than these modern Integralist, in my view, for the simple reason, not only due they honor our scientific heritage, but also include all the pertinent and relevant eastern, and western metaphysical concepts in their systems.
The modern Integrals of Wilber's I-I and other modern Integrals who have essentially striped metaphysics of its tools and soul will never fill this gap in my opinion between science and Metaphysics/religion, all he/ they will produce is an elite thinking group of very antiseptic followers of his thinking who are not at all truly integral in my opinion.
This can be changed if Ken Wilber will cease using his own ideas [what he likes] as criteria for what is integral. As well the postmodernists non Wilberian Integralist stop worshiping at the alter of scientism, and evolution.
Wilber's rejection of mythology though is not based on the same reasons some mystics avoid mythology to some degree, but is based on as well as other modernist scientific mystics, not any genuine understanding of the matter, but seemingly on his attempt to pacify the scientific culture and their absolute contempt for religion and metaphysics. Wilber understands that part, but doesn't agree with the scientist and modernist that religion should be rejected totally, just parts of it, mythology, and legitimate occultism included in these bad parts he thinks should be rejected.
Well then has anyone ask Wilber and his scientific and scientific mystic postmodernist fellow thinkers what will be left of religion after they take their scalpel and cuts out the most vital parts in his surgery?
The cancer is dogmatic coercive literalism, not mythology, or genuine occultism.
Mythology and metaphysics are the essence of esoteric religion in the west. Just because a dark movement in all our religions called literalist fundamentalism has been predominantly loud in claiming religion for itself, doesn't mean that mythology in itself or a reformed religion that eschews ignorance and sectarianism can't utilize mythological wisdom in its quest for truth and understanding.
Particularly is mythology dominant in the western strain of religion, less so the far eastern Buddhist and Taoist aspect of the spiritual traditions, although Hinduism has a large dose of mythology to match the western.
So what does Wilber leave us with, AQAL, a cosmological psychological hypothesis- along with the sterile Integral of today, that's puts people to sleep, rather than inspire. He will bridge the gap of amber and orange with wishful thinking and abstruse scientism, new age tools that most likely will leave the people he wants to help worst off, when they see through his house of cards world view. He doesn't see that people reject religion because it stopped offering them anything of substance, and people started to see through its fantasies, and distorted mythology, as well as the organized clerical religions began offering a horrible product to the people.
Wilber rather than being able to bridge the gap between scientism, and religio/mysticism has taken a strange rout in bridging this gap. AQAL this abstruse theory just has no connection with mysticism to be able to bridge the gap, and the only relationship it has with scientism, is theoretical philosophy and Wilber's arbitrarily mixing his lines of development stage, and state theories with mysticism a very unscientific indulgence. Therefore Wilber produces what he calls post metaphysics!
In my opinion in analyzing this Wilberian Integral it becomes clear that Wilber may be doing the opposite of what is truly integral, by splitting the elephant of metaphysics into further parts, thereby going against the grain of Integral SPIRITUALITY.
Though he has erected, with AQAL and IMP a replacement methodology or addendum methodology that just doesn't do the trick on any level. So in essence he is slowly almost surreptitiously trying to lower respect for traditional metaphysics, while the supposed modern metaphysicians are strangely quiet at Wilber's antics.
At least he has some solution however remote its possible success., but what do all the moderns, and post modern offer with their mysticism so respectful of some new age attitudes and their over bowing to the supposed superiority of scientism i.e. evolution, “and this overblown notion of “intersubjectivity” that all but leaves their postmodern mysticism bereft of anything of substance.
Oh but of course some of these types don't necessarily want to take out metaphysics, just mythology from our traditions. They seem to want a metaphysics bereft of the occult tools that foster deep understanding that a true Integral and healthy view and understanding of genuine mythology would foster in their intellects. As opposed to their scientific meditations, ideas of evolutionary [enlightenment] and so they are left with a stale system that has nothing but the superficial intellect as the fuel. Here is what they don't understand: metaphysics is such a powerful tool that it needs something very powerful to bridge the gap between ignorance and real experiential knowledge. In Buddhism they use the powerful tool of Buddha's personality to bridge this gap, as well as monasticism, also the environment of the monks don't require mythology as much so in the west , therefore don't need mythology completely, though they often utilize teaching stories, in parables, and allegories. On the other hand in the West the interpretations of our sacred myths have not even remotely been comprehensively interpreted, or understood. The onslaught of modernism/postmodernism, and I am sorry to say” illegitimate” eastern mysticism, with their Guru cults of personality have all but drowned out the sacred science of mythology, and thereby have left western metaphysics barren of real men and woman of knowledge.
Wilberism is not at all helping with his antiseptic mysticism, based entirely on his personality, and mythos of mystic scientism.
Postmodernism/ modernism and Wilberism coming in its place in my opinion will not satisfy the thirst of people and genuine metaphysics and answers to matters of the spirit. He is not being integral by avoiding the mystical science of mythology he is only sucking up to a certain kind of new age scientific mystic, the kind that mirrors him.
What are they offering in place of classical mysticism, and mythology, the TOOLS CHOSEN BY PROVIDENCE TO GUIDE WESTERN MAN, by the way? Indeed what are they going to replace these two essential aspects of spirituality with they so glibly want to erase from the lore of our western wisdom traditions?
Scientism, philosophy, Wilberism- AQAL, Integralism, New Age occultism, New Age mysticism, all areas that have been swallowed up I contend by the laziness of the new age attitude of “god is easy” to approach: just a few “spiritual” exercises, sucking up to a guru, positive thinking, and reading some Ken Wilber platitudes is enough!
These areas of enquiry have replaced real knowledge with assumptions that we will examine each one of these in these fields of thought and see that their neglect of the study of mythology may be a huge problem.
Remember my contention above: healthy mythology bridges the gap between ignorance and faith, then faith to real knowledge, or the possibility of real knowledge, as well then real knowledge can be approached with understanding, and real theoretical possibilities, not assumptions based on emotions, and wishful thinking something that pervades every one of the above streams of thought I mentioned above
What has occurred is that the above mentalities have replaced the pursuit of real knowledge with not only assumptions based on new age platitudes, and emotionality but real time activities that are devoid of any substantial methodologies that produce understanding and knowledge, and this is replaced by magical thinking, and ideas of spiritual intellectual scientism [ Wilberism]
This is so because people like this equate metaphysics with feeling good, and health. This is fine, since it obviously reflects the desperation of people, but this should be covered primarily from a clinical approach. Unfortunately the psychological therapeutic institutions and their overdependence on drugs have led to this, I think. Metaphysics is not a psychological salve.
Don't misunderstand me, I am not blaming the new age here. The new age mentality is just the result of the failure of the renaissance and modern philosophers who do have a bit of innate wisdom, to guide the “lower tiers” to any real substance. The human element in this is that much of this depends on mystic methods being carved up by well intended people who use these methodologies to heal or “balance” people.
As for the negative aspects of mythology, there are certainly problems with it, based though on humans misunderstanding of it, and the literalist inspired dogmatist using these aspects as tools for their abusiveness. Though as an ontological device there is nothing other than direct perception through meditative methodologies that is superior to genuine mythology.
Mythology pervades all of our spiritual traditions, even Buddhist texts are filled with mythological symbolism of a high order, albeit not as pronounced as western or Hindu mythology.
Let's examine each one of the above areas of thought. And there not- knowledge assumptions:
Mystic Scientism: They assume[assumption #1] without proof- just wishful thinking that evolution is relative to metaphysics, and that science and religion can merge naturally[assumption #2] Religion and science have never been more apart as they are today! So this ass#2 has certainly not come to any realistic fruition, has it?
If you think that is has, then let's ask Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitches, the new Taliban of atheism what they think?
Philosophy: Perhaps better labeled the science of the ego, since this so called science has no discipline of the self, and includes primarily self centered skeptics attached wholly to modernism, and postmodernism. There is very little spiritual value in modern and post modern philosophy, to replace the worth of true mythological knowledge.
Wilberism: AQAL is an unsuccessful attempt to merge scientism with metaphysics that has turned into a grotesque caricature with Wilber's ironically rejecting in theory metaphysics while at the same time recognizing that there is nothing else[certainly not AQAL] that can take its place! Wilberism is assuming a posture of allowing its students to practice a traditional form of metaphysics [that Wilber is conceptually undermining] while at the same time accruing to their mysticism- AQAL, and IMP The assumption here is that Wilber will merge science with spiritualism in some form.
Integralism: A worthy idea but the assumption in it that is problematic is the wishful thinking that people can control themselves and shun selfishness. I myself am still indulging in this wishful thinking, eventhough the practical reality is that this idea will probably fail because of human [fallen] nature. Its chance of success is very slim. It assumes success because the idea is so positive, that it must be true.
Occultism/ Magic: Magical thinking at its most dangerous because it assumes anyone can have power without giving anything up but their time. A gigantic assumption that many people have personally experienced the untruth of this notion to their own detriment.
New Age Occultism: Ken Wilber correctly analyzes this syndrome and correctly labels it wishful thinking of the worst kind, added to that is a rejection of hierarchy, as well as an over egalitarianism that assumes all are equal.
The point in all this is to illustrate that these diversions of knowledge have all fallen by the wayside of seeking objective truth and want to substitute that for faithful knowledge, which is not knowledge at all, but a road to knowledge.
Wilber is having problems because his map has a rough time getting along with metaphysics, as well as being essentially rejected by science. And on the outside of his cause, the integral merging of metaphysics with scientism may be based on a wrong analyses of his:
Wilber's analysis of the Lines of Development's vertical clash in Integral Spirituality, pages 180-182 is an example of his misdiagnoses of the split in religion and science, that to me concerns other phenomena than his analysis in my view, he might be better served in locating the source of this problem in the LL Quadrant of the western man and his distortion of the “mythic” idea of the divinity of Jesus. That is most likely where the problem originated. Naturally the lack of true mythological understandings in the West is indeed most likely rooted in the western man's intellectual rejection of a distorted myth about Jesus. Most likely for political correct reasons Wilber wont even approach this notion. Remember this it was the western man's coming in contact with ideas of other cultures that contradicted the dogmas heaped on them by the medieval church that the western intellect began its rebellion against that psychic tyranny
Many of the conflicts Wilber has is with myth logically inclined people and people with occult leaning, even in his own movement. This is not a scientific assessment just an observation.
Can mythology be a useful tool in bridging this gap of religion and science? It may be impossible now since the postmodernists/modernists have control of the public dialogue actually being assisted by Ken Wilber in debunking mythology, Of course everybody loves Joseph Campbell, but he is put in moth balls like an old suit and the other mythologists are being pushed out of the mainstream, therefore leaning to occultism as an outlet of their knowledge.
Postmodernists/modernist I really think don't know what mythic religion is. They mistake mythic religion for fundamentalist or literalist religion. Nothing is further from reality in connecting these things. A literalist rejects classical mythology as much as the scientist, if not more so. He may be bound unbeknown to himself to a dogmatic “myth” but he none the less doesn't see that. All he sees is his faith in the lowest most insular dimension of the myth. What I am saying is that there has never been a real mythical religion.
But men like Campbell, and William Henry have gotten much gold out of myth to produce ten thousand theories with immense possibilities that equal or exceed theories such as AQAL.
Mythology is always given to us in layers where all levels of being amongst humans have a way to understand and utilize this in the best of conditions. What we have done in the west is totally reject this because we feel uncomfortable using the same tools to knowledge as the literalist use. Eventhough they don't even utilize this tool themselves.
If one man wants to use a tool as a knife to rob a bank, does that mean we should not use tools for legitimate reasons. Or that we are now obligated to use tools as knives?
This kind of mentality has brought us what I call fundamentalist atheist, like the above I mentioned: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchers. These individuals find it impossible to separate religious believers. All are stupid to them. The most coercive person in the Taliban, to the Liberal believer in a Unitarian church is the same to them.
They make no distinction between the two, because religion period is the culprit to them, and the reasonable religionist is not reasonable because they haven't destroyed or denounced enough for their taste, the literalist who is dangerous.
How are they going to eliminate this mentality in other people? Coercion; argumentation; Sure a great big divisive obsession laden debate about “god” and religion! That would be a really big show, indeed, as well more than likely a very dangerous one, that would horribly polarize people.
And these postmodernist think this is a good idea! What they have to understand is this: there is only one way to take ideas from people, and that is through coercion; or educates them, before they get indoctrinated, something practically impossible in today's world.
So what are they going to do? Argue people out of faith, shame people out of their beliefs? To risk the very freedom that they tout so much is the only way to take ideas from people at this point who if they [the postmodern atheist] had any rudimentary understanding of basic psychology, would understand that these people have a need to believe.
These are the heirs of the anti mythologist, and “mythic religion haters” that are being nourished by the scientific mystics of today, who in a sense are betraying their own wisdom. And the modernist/post modern scientist and humanist whose direct agenda is to slowly erase religion from the map of human thought or to distort it into harmless obsolescence.
I am not associating Wilber with these atheists, though he is all for the book burning of mythology, occultism and other parts of metaphysics that the modernist/ postmodernist atheist fanatics, want to burn the whole enchilada.
Mythology is what bridges the gap between real knowledge and faith because it gives us through its proper use legitimate theories, possibilities and hypothesis that science might take ages to come up with. Mythology are the words of advanced adepts who have wrapped up divine knowledge in allegories, myths, parables, and analogies that hold within them ALL knowledge that has to do with the salvation and liberation of humans.
Some forms of mysticism often times doesn't need to approach mythology, as Buddha understood, therefore avoids it primarily, but not completely, because some mythology is required even in metaphysics to teach some levels of understanding.
I don't want to say that we have in the west thrown the baby out with the bath water, but that's just what I am saying. And it seems the baby is drowning.
Science lives on the theoretical and we starve ourselves of a rich essence that could be utilized in the search for knowledge or used as a powerful tool in the mystic hunt for esoteric truth.
Surly Joseph Campbell rejected the ignorance, and non human ideals of literalist religion, and at the same time gave us a rich unparalleled source of knowledge out of mythology as numerous mythologists who are amongst our wisest people because they are in tune with a legitimate wisdom source that is neglected by most western intellectuals..
I am not saying that we all now should go and pour over the arcane symbols in the book of revelation looking for secrets. Not at all, we could intelligently investigate allegory as we see fit, and take advantage of skepticism as a useful balancing apparatus in this regard. I think this would enrich Integral. But by neglecting almost half of the western mystical heritage passed down to us, and replacing it with something substantially unrelated to metaphysics, is a questionable tactic in brining scientism closer to metaphysics in my opinion.
The idea that we should leave behind the non human ideas in “mythical” religion and accept and pursue the deep neglected science of mythology that the ancients mastered is a legitimate one. There is a large space to create a respect for mythology as a legitimate way to knowledge.
To the modernist/postmodernists:
Modernism and postmodernism and its now long lasting debunking of religion, metaphysics, and spirituality, have never been based on anything scientific. It has hidden under the skirts of science and played its dirty tricks on spirituality [perhaps with a degree of justification, for the religious probably are as culpable, in destroying its reputation]
It has made surveys that say religion is not doing this or that[ which are always good to do] but have rarely understood that there may be bad religion and good religion, bad metaphysics and good metaphysics, something by the way true in all fields of human endeavor. So their conclusions about metaphysics are un-scientific, subjective, and based on their prejudicial feeling towards spirituality in general.
Most modern and postmodern thinkers who believe they are at the apex of modern intellectual and spiritual thought [heaven knows what they base that on] have the idea they are in high school. It may be a shock to them that they might be wrong, in that they have skipped grades or cheated, and like the child passing in grades by a school hierarchy only interested in moving along the system, they are sorely in need of remedial attention, for their ideas have really not gotten us to far, have they?
Appendix III in Wilber's Integral Spirituality, is filled with Wilber's crusade of spreading IMP his newest incarnation to the masses. This section clearly illustrates Wilber is like a rocket ship of to the stratosphere of his own version of Integral. He really can't help himself, though he has every right to spread his gospel as he sees fit, despite its questionable veracity. He methodically in this section of the book dissembles people like Deepak Chopra and William James for not being Integral and avoiding IMP, and intersubjectivity and suggests their ultimate failure because of it. This is an unpardonable sin now in Wilber's mythology of his own growing theology and desire to placate scientism.
What Mr. Wilber doesn't understand, and probably never will is that metaphysics is about a specific thing, not all knowledge. These “levels of knowledge he thinks are vital to the human are not. They are basically irrelevant to the spiritual welfare of the individual. He is simply misapplying this knowledge- AQAL and IMP, and doesn't himself know where it belongs.
If a man takes a train from Paris to London, what does he care whether he could of just as well taken a plane or walked, as long as he gets to London in one piece.
In the end there is no limit on ways of travel, indeed one could of ridden on the back of mosquito to London and been just as happy.
As to Mythology:
We see clearly that Wilber has traded mythology and occultism to the modernist/postmodernist and have given them AQAL and IMP a concession that ironically they don't accept. No dice Wilber, we want it all! That is Wilber's real dilemma, for we know his real goddess is essentially scientific mysticism; and his Faustian deal has not worked, has it? Indeed in the end Ken Wilber if he isn't careful will loose everything just trying to gain so little!