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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".
Barclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at www.lostsecretofimmortality.com for information on the book, graphic novel and film.
True Mysticism and the Real Postrational Worldview
Complete enlightenment is the successful recreation of conception within the body, which unites physical, subtle and super subtle structures of consciousness permanently.
There are a number of significant problems with the Western academic models of mysticism, which conflict with the actual practice and experience of the real completion stage of many of the contemplative spiritual traditions. The definitions of mysticism that are used - nature, deity, formless, and nondual - often result in generalizations, which are completely inconsistent with the stated goals and actual results of the esoteric systems themselves. The real problem, which cannot be acknowledged without losing all academic and scientific credibility in the process, is the conflict between premodern vitalist and 21st century rational worldview perspectives of authentic spirituality. If premodern classical vitalist Chinese and Indian medical models of the goal of meditation are accurate for example in explaining the Trikaya, the rational worldview of science cannot be maintained in its current form. Most of the attempts at compromise whether Integral, New Age or perennialist, are so watered down by 21st century given academic and scientific assumptions, that mysticism is basically defined as experiences of sacred unity that lie beyond language, culture and religion as the true nondual nature or ground of reality. Sometimes mysticism is explained as communion with ultimate reality by experts that seek to unite spirituality and science. The rational worldview insists that the experiences are based on confusing subjective altered states created by changes in brain chemistry with external objective realities that have been culturally condoned and conditioned by religious narrative.
Sometimes the idea is that everyone is climbing the same mountain to get to the same goal, but other approaches suggest a different mountain and a different goal for each system. A simple question arises when considering the possibility of a lost enlightened structure of consciousness, which is dormant within the human reproductive system, and the basis of the concept of the complete liberation of consciousness within the contemplative traditions. What if all the acknowledged Western spiritual “experts” have an incomplete view of mysticism because of a misunderstanding of the actual mechanism of complete enlightenment within the human body? The allegedly rational worldview means that either essentialist or contextualist approaches cannot acknowledge that the real universal narrative of mysticism is that the human being contains a divine spark of light that enables the true adept to achieve immortality. It should be noted that this essential narrative explains the goal of Buddhism, Taoism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and in particular the theory of kundalini yoga. What if science discovers that this is actually true in the 21st century? Could this be the consciousness singularity that explains the complete liberation of consciousness as the true mystical origin of science, and esoteric philosophy and religion worldwide? One of the worst models of the goal of mysticism is used by Integral Theory, which claims to be the most advanced and complete narrative, while actually rejecting and distorting the real vitalist theory of enlightenment. The conclusion is a meaningless watered down generalization that in light of evolution, “enlightenment is the realization of oneness with all states and all structures that are in existence at any given time”. This statement is so removed from the actual goal of the contemplative traditions that it is remarkable that it has not been completely rejected by the majority of meditation practitioners, researchers and scholars.
Complete enlightenment is the successful recreation of conception within the body, which unites physical, subtle and super subtle structures of consciousness permanently. From a postrational perspective this is actually based on reversing the rational worldview's framework of the evolution of consciousness. What makes the whole process possible is the divine spark of light within the reproductive system, which contains the dormant super subtle body, the Embryo of Enlightenment, a lost structure of consciousness unknown to current science as well as Integral Theory. Within this context the term divine has been used interchangeably with enlightened because there are both theistic and nontheistic descriptions of the union of the three bodies, which results in the complete liberation of consciousness.
Stephen Prothero does a good job in his book, God is Not One, showing that the Karen Armstrong, Huston Smith description of religion is not accurate, and prevents a clear understanding of the very real differences between the widely varying cultural religious narratives. This politically correct view that all religions have the same goal is completely inadequate. Steven Katz believes there is no perennial philosophy, and mysticism is fundamentally a self-fulfilling prophecy based on cultural expectation that conforms to respective religious narratives. Much of atheist and postmodern skepticism is accurate in showing that mysticism often confuses internal subjective states with culturally condoned spiritual narratives. When the modern scholar is unable to explain the complete liberation of consciousness, the result is that from the perspective of the rational worldview mysticism and religion are described as human longing for the lost One and Whole. Neurotheology and contemplative neuroscience suggest that experiences of God are merely caused by either conditioned or spontaneous changes in brain function and chemistry. Underlying critiques of 21st century definitions of mysticism is the rational worldview, which cannot even consider the possibility of a lost structure of consciousness, which explains the universal narrative of the divine spark of light within all human beings. The origin of this divine spark of primordial enlightened consciousness is not explained by evolution. Tai Chi Chuan is one of the best models of real mysticism based on harnessing and activating the power of the divine spark, the starting point of the body, to achieve immortality/enlightenment. This ancient martial art, in its complete and original version, refutes academic definitions of mysticism, the scientific worldview of human potential and origin, and the Integral definition of enlightenment, while proving the validity of premodern vitalism.
The problem with mysticism is that although it is believed to reveal a nondual essential unification of reality, the spiritual practices and experiences of traditional systems do not necessarily conform to the Integral map. These classification attempts reject or disregard many aspects of mysticism that are essential to the traditional cultures that have preserved premodern systems of spiritual development, including shamanism, yoga and meditation, and Tai Chi and internal alchemy. From the perspective of the spiritual seeker it is essential to distinguish between systems that merely result in spiritual experiences, often both positive and negative, and traditions like Tai Chi Chuan, that in their complete form, actually have the goal of recreating conception within the body by fully opening the subtle energy meridians. The actual completion stage of meditation is extremely dangerous. Although Chögyam Trungpa maintained that the six classes of beings were merely descriptions of psychological states, this is a rational worldview that does not adequately explain the actual experiences of practitioners that successfully achieved the union of the three bodies – the Trikaya. With the exception of transpersonal psychology, it is generally impossible to maintain academic credibility if the researcher acknowledges that the spirit worlds are real and actually demonstrate that the rational worldview is incomplete. As Max Weber pointed out, the essence of the scientific perspective of modern man is disenchantment, which all genuine mysticism completely contradicts. Habermas' statement, “there is no alternative to post metaphysical thinking”, which Wilber says he agrees with entirely, demonstrates the inability of Western intellectuals to understand the living reality of the spirit worlds and the validity of the contemplative traditions that emphasize a physiological complete liberation of consciousness. From the perspective of a Tai Chi adept that has successfully united post-birth and pre-birth yin and yang structures of consciousness within the body, the origin point of the body and the species is primordially enlightened. The essence of true mysticism is the divine spark of light, the starting point of the kundalini within the body, which is a dormant enlightened point of origin.
The postrational goal of Tai Chi, permanent integration with the Tao, an enlightened unified field underlying reality, is based on a premodern vitalist theory of complete consciousness evolution, which energetically recreates conception within the body. Underlying inner alchemical mysticism is an archaic dormant enlightened structure of pre-birth consciousness, which was the original goal of premodern Western science when it was called Infans Solaris. The activation of this primordial enlightened super subtle body is the goal of Tai Chi Chuan, which describes the complete union of yin and yang structures of consciousness within the body as immortality/enlightenment. This is far from conventional watered down American definitions of mysticism as the experience of Oneness, which now include Zen, Advaita Vedanta and Vipassana as incomplete theories of spiritual awakening. The concept of an enlightened primordial structure of consciousness dormant within the reproductive system of all human beings is a genuine universal absolute that underlies the contemplative traditions, and in particular, the premodern Chinese and Indian medical definitions of enlightenment. The successful activation of this illuminated origin of consciousness within the body is completely independent from language, culture, and exoteric and esoteric religious narratives. When correctly understood it shatters the current scientific belief in the rational worldview, and renders the majority of 21st century definitions of mysticism completely obsolete. An entirely new scientific model of consciousness evolution is necessary when the actual goal of true mysticism, the Coniunctio, which results in the complete liberation of consciousness, is correctly understood as the real esoteric perennial tradition. A tradition which although often concealed by secrecy, and a for-adepts-only “twilight language”, has been the esoteric core of many civilizations that revolved around the stories of the individuals that had successfully actualized the divine spark, the enlightened starting point of the human body. Although Jung recognized the esoteric significance of the Coniunctio, he was only able to explain it in psychological terms.
The technological singularity is actually a 21st century postmodern version of this story, as is Integral Theory in its own highly distorted and confused way. If the Integral model of mysticism was successfully corrected, and the Embryo of Enlightenment clearly explained and defined as the goal of many meditation systems, it might eventually radically shift the evolution of the rational worldview, which would become postrational as Infans Solaris/Philosopher's Stone was rediscovered collectively. The result might very well be the long awaited integration of science and spirituality, which may eventually create a genuine collective Bodhisattva worldview. The real question is whether the spiritual experts will be able to actually admit the fundamental errors in current definitions of mysticism, which substitute pseudo enlightenment for the successful recreation of conception – the Coniunctio, the union of yin and yang structures of post-birth and pre-birth structures of consciousness within the body, the goal of Tai Chi. The fact is that the internal energy cultivation process of Tai Chi explains the goal of Taoism, Buddhism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism while revealing the dramatic flaws in current Western attempts to link mysticism with science. Although modern chemistry did evolve from laboratory alchemy as Lawrence Principe has done a good job researching at John Hopkins University, he is a chemist. Like Ken Wilber, he has no idea that the original goal of science was based on a real process of uniting anima and spiritus, (soul and spirit) within the corpus (body). Soul and spirit, in the genuine inner alchemical spiritual context, are (yin, lunar, post-birth) and (yang, solar, pre-birth) subtle bodies. Principe believes that 19th century occultists and the psychological interpretations of Jung hijacked alchemy when it was actually merely early romantic descriptions of chemical processes. Actually, the 19th century occultists were correct, and in many ways more accurate than Integral Theory in explaining real mysticism as inner alchemical union. The Hermetic tradition does represent a worldwide tradition of solar and lunar subtle body union well known in Europe as the Coniunctio, the goal of spiritual alchemy, which Jungian psychology has been unable to explain satisfactorily. This essential union of yin and yang structures of consciousness within the body, is called the marriage of the dragon and tiger in Chinese civilization, and is the primary origin story of the alleged founder of Tai Chi Chuan, Zhang San-feng. The early Western alchemists often called this union the chymical marriage. This process is vitalist. Modern mechanistic models cannot explain it without changing the entire rational worldview, which says that solar and lunar subtle bodies have been proven not to exist.
A real Tai Chi adept would question why nobody except a few occultists have noticed that the sun and moon union symbol on Padmasambhava's hat, is the same as the sun and moon union symbol behind the Egyptian god Thoth's head. Since Thoth became Hermes Trismegistus, the founder of the Hermetic tradition, and Padmasambhava was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, the non-recognition of the Coniunctio subtle body union experience as the real goal of inner alchemy, mysticism and meditation could be considered the central problem of effectively integrating science and authentic spirituality. The Integral model of mysticism that Wilber uses prevents genuine enlightenment and represents a remarkable demonstration of American hubris. A false model of mysticism is commercialized, which obscures or rejects the real Trikaya – the union of physical, subtle and super subtle bodies. The super subtle body is the spiritual gold or Embryo of Enlightenment that dissolves into the subtle body when the Coniunctio is completed. The essence of real mysticism in Tai Chi is the inner alchemical chrysopoeia or gold making. This entire process is possible because of the divine spark of light within the body, which also explains why the Abrahamic traditions insist that man is made in the image of God. Heating the starting point of the human body until the original face of the Golden Flower integrates the Tai Chi adept with the nondual enlightened source of the cosmos is also the goal of kundalini yoga. The complete union of the three bodies is often omitted from modern kundalini systems, although the Vedic concept of the Hiranyagarbha, the Golden Embryo, suggests an originally complete version. David Frawley, the highly respected yoga scholar, identifies the Hiranyagarbha as the ancient original founder of yoga.
Many of the romantic cross-cultural poetic descriptions of mysticism and its ineffable qualities beyond language seek to confirm the living reality of the Godhead as the unified absolute ground of being. However, much of Christian mysticism, and many Vedic descriptions of the transcendental absolute are simply the result of changes in brain chemistry, which are interpreted as divine because of cultural religious narrative conditioning. Buddhism does not represent a clear model of the complete evolution of consciousness unless the Tathagatagharba or Buddha nature is understood as the dormant Embryo of Enlightenment, the starting point of the body, a literal enlightened point of origin. Contrary to evolution, this means that there is an enlightened point of origin both within the individual and the species. This is what makes complete enlightenment possible to begin with, as any genuine meditation adept that has achieved the actual completion stage would tell you. The original goal of meditation, qi gong, inner alchemy, yoga, Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Zen and Tai Chi, is based on a vitalist process in which conception is recreated within the human body. Western alchemy called this transmutation palingenesis and the end result was the complete union of corpus, anima and spiritus, which was believed to reverse the fall of man. The Tai Chi model of mysticism is accurate in emphasizing the opening of the subtle energy meridians of the body as jing or reproductive energy is transformed into chi. Kundalini yoga uses a similar model but often does not have a clear picture of the Embryo of Enlightenment in modern times. However, a small golden serpent, which is dormant within the reproductive system, is a relatively accurate description generally consistent with the actual experience of true Tai Chi adepts, which varies dramatically from current Integral Theory descriptions of mysticism and spiritual awakening. When you see the golden cobras emerging from the third eyes of Egyptian deities (the uraeus) this represents a clear illustration of real mysticism, a divine spark of light in the reproductive system, which activates the pineal gland or third eye when fully actualized. Mysticism is based on a worldwide tradition of occult science, often using sexual yoga to achieve the Coniunctio, which has been completely misunderstood by the materialist rational worldview. Because it is believed that vitalism has been successfully disproved by science, it is assumed that the Philosopher's Stone/Infans Solaris never existed. The Abrahamic traditions successfully demonized sexuality. This meant that genuine Tantric mysticism, like the Mahamudra tradition that existed in an esoteric Hermetic version in Europe probably derived from Middle Eastern alchemy was rejected or lost by modern science, which can no longer acknowledge the physiological enlightened origin of consciousness within the starting point of the body, the divine spark or Prima Materia. This is so well known and well documented in Chinese classical medicine as well as Tai Chi and qi gong, that it is remarkable that transpersonal researchers, scholars of mysticism, and contemplative neuroscientists are still lost in the dark for the most part.
The Integral model of mysticism is so confused by the Darwinian fallacy of a nonenlightened origin of consciousness within the individual and the species, that it actually prevents the true integration of science, meditation and enlightenment, which is its stated goal. Most importantly the establishment of a world renowned brand of pseudo mysticism and pseudo enlightenment, which has been successfully passed off as the real thing, is extremely destructive because it slows down and delays the long awaited collective Bodhisattva consciousness singularity, which has the potential to liberate the human race from mental slavery. Imagine a world in which each child is told by the postrational scientific educational system that the starting point of his or her body is a living Buddha? The fact remains that any scientist that fully masters Tai Chi, qi gong and meditation will confirm the eternal validity of the spiritual gold within. It is unfortunate that so few genuine adepts speak Western languages clearly enough to be understood. The future re-enchantment of the world may be inevitable when science eventually acknowledges the mystical truth of the Golden Flower underlying its own origin. The ever-present point of origin has always been nondual enlightenment in both the individual and the species.