THOUGHTS ABOUT THE UKRAINE CRISIS

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Integral World: Exploring Therories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Brad ReynoldsBrad Reynolds did graduate work at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) before leaving to study under Ken Wilber for a decade, and published two books reviewing Wilber's work: Embracing Reality: The Integral Vision of Ken Wilber (Tarcher, 2004), Where's Wilber At?: Ken Wilber's Integral Vision in the New Millennium (Paragon House, 2006) and God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom: Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age (Bright Alliance, 2021). Visit: http://integralartandstudies.com/Portfolio3.php

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Part 1 | Part 2

Putin's War:
The Battle of Worldviews

Part 2

Brad Reynolds

The Eurasian Nightmare: Inside Putin's Brain

“E urasia” is an idea that was developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries during what is called the “Silver Age,” which author-analyst Gary Lachman defines as “a time of magic and mysticism, which [in Europe and Russia] saw a vital resurgence of interest in the occult, and a profound return to spiritual and religious values, along with a creative intensity unlike anything the West had seen since the Renaissance. This was the time of the God-seekers, pilgrims of the soul and explorers of the spirit who sought through art and the ideas the salvation of the world.”[10] Led by Rudolf Steiner and his popular lectures throughout Europe at the turn into the 20th century, Russia was being heralded as the savior of the Western decline into materialism and atheism. It attracted many poets, novelists, artists, musicians, and philosophers in Russia sparking a minor spiritual and cultural renaissance.

These inspired thinkers believed Russia could offer a “Third Way” to bridge the mysticism of the Asian East (including India) and the European West. As Steiner told his audiences it was the sixth post-Atlantean cultural epoch since there were, as Lachman summaries, “signs of the next cultural epoch, a new consciousness rising up that will transcend the separateness of the Western 'I' and regain its connection to the world [through the collective 'We'].”[11] However, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 shattered these idealistic dreams and plunged Russia into a Marxist communist state that ended up committing their own atrocities killing millions of their own, while also fighting and defeating the Nazis in WWII (sacrificing more millions), as well as fending off Western capitalists. The Russian communists overran a slew of Eastern European countries after WWII bringing them under the umbrella and control of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (including with satellite states in the Western hemisphere, such as in Cuba). With the collapse of the USSR in 1991, there was another “occult revival” (since the Bolsheviks had outlawed their literature and sources) that Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has exploited for his own advantage providing the Russian people with a renewed sense of nationalistic pride and spiritual renewal.

Patriarch Kirill and Pope St. Francis
Patriarch Kirill and Pope St. Francis

This is one the reasons, for example, why Putin is openly supported by the Russian Orthodox Church headed by Patriarch Kirill (or Cyril) since 2009. In early May 2022, during a meeting with Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome and head of the western Catholic Church, the theological counterpart to the Eastern Orthodox Church, he told Bishop Kirill: “Brother, we are not state clerics, we cannot use the language of politics but that of Jesus. We are pastors of the same holy people of God. Because of this, we must seek avenues of peace, to put an end to the firing of weapons.” Then as an afront to Kirill, Francis bluntly said: “The patriarch cannot transform himself into Putin's altar boy.”[12] On the day Putin invaded Ukraine (February 24, 2022), Kirill spoke to military leaders and published a definitive statement in honor of “Defenders of the Fatherland Day.” The leader of the Eastern Christian Church congratulated Putin for his “high and responsible service to the people of Russia,” saying the Church has “always striven to make significant contributions to the patriotic education of compatriots,” lauding military service as “an active manifestation of evangelical love for neighbors.”[13] WTF? Within hours bombs of death rained down on Ukraine and innocent souls.

One of the main talking points to emerge from this Silver Age was the idea of a “Eurasian Empire” which Putin seems to be using as one of his main motivators for war and expansion. In 2014, at the annual meeting of United Russia—since 2001 the country's dominant political party—Vladimir Putin presented his regional governors with a suggested reading list of some of his heroes.[14] This was an odd move for a president since they are fairly dense philosophical texts unless he wanted to make sure they knew what his vision was for Russia. These included Vladimir Solovyov, a friend of Dostoyevsky and influential Russian philosopher, Nikolai Berdyaev, an aristocratic Christian existential philosopher, and Ivan Ilyin, a political thinker whose ideas have been labeled as “Russian fascism.” Three other important philosophers could have been thrown into the mix: Julius Evola, who wrote Revolt Against the Modern World (a strong critic of modernity), Lev Gumilev, the late Russian historian who heavily promoted the idea of a “Eurasian Empire” (since he claimed Russia owed its heritage to the fierce nomadic steppe tribes including the Mongols, not Europeans), and perhaps most important, Alexander Dugin, who has been called “Putin's brain” due to his heavy influence on Putin's thinking.

Aleksandr Dugin
Aleksandr Dugin

They all held a strong critique of modernity plus some emphasized a vision of a rising Eurasian civilization that would initiate a new Russia—a “Holy Russia”—whose destiny is to fight the West, called the “Atlanticists” (since they are European sea-based powers), in a global fight to change the history of human civilization and defeat globalization. I am not going to review them in depth here, obviously, but they are who I am referring to when I say we must dig deeper to find out what is really motivating Putin, for it's not simply geopolitics and strategic advantage over Europe and the United States (although those goals are included). Alexander Dugin has recently clarified: “Russia is the guarantor of the territorial integrity of all post-Soviet states,”[15] and he is not joking. This extended quote from Lachman, who has looked at (and read) these authors in depth [see his books mentioned in Part 1] summarizes the views of Dugin, the one closest to Putin (and still alive), to give you a sense of the apocalyptic madness we are dealing with here:

One person who took the Eurasia idea very seriously was the ex-Soviet punk dissident turned establishment geopolitical savant Alexander Dugin. In 1997 Dugin's book The Foundation of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia appeared, and, if accounts of its success are accurate, it was an enormous bestseller. One thing it had going for it was Dugin's vision of a coming planetary Armageddon, a global apocalypse arising from the final and decisive clash between the world's two remaining superpowers: the Atlanticist West, which was determined to turn the world into a borderless marketplace, and the traditional, spiritual civilization of Eurasia, resolved to resist the commercialization of the Earth.

On a less millenarian note, Dugin's blueprint for the rising Eurasian civilization included regaining territories that had been part of the former USSR but had now broken away to form what in Russia is known as the “near abroad.”… there is reason to believe that events in Crimea and Ukraine in 2014 [and now in 2022] were not a little informed by Dugin's prophesies. References to Eurasia can be found throughout Putin's speeches, and the establishment of a Eurasian Economic Union—a kind of answer to the European Union—with many former Soviet territories [full members are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan; observers are Cuba, Moldova, and Uzbekistan], as well as other Eurasian-friendly organizations, suggest that Putin and others are taking the idea seriously.[16]

In his books, Lachman expertly reviews these “philosophers” that inspire Putin and how they have been on an aggressive campaign of media propaganda filled with “fake news” in a “post-truth” world—topics that folks like Steve Bannon and Trump have admired and exploited in like fashion. They begin by discrediting Modernity and the freedoms of individualism found in the West, including being anti-gay and anti-immigrant. Both Putin and Trump want to destroy “the System” and remake the world the way they see fit, as autocratic rulers do, not as the people want. They are anti-democratic and do not want to share power. Putin even couches his views as being religious based on an occult revival that's here to save spirituality from the materialism and decadence of the secular (and atheist) West, while Trump has used the Christian far-right and white nationalism to promote his autocratic intentions. It is obvious to see the similarities between Putin's Russia and Trump's version of America if you understand the deeper philosophical ideas driving them. Yet, in my opinion, Putin is much smarter than Trump so I am focusing on Putin here; plus, he has started the deadliest war in Europe since the Nazis. But this is precisely why it is SO IMPORTANT that we pick and defend the right side of history. For Putin keeps telling the world his intentions IF you know how to read them accurately.

Is this where Putin's dream-nightmare is headed?

For example, this past May 9, 2022 at the Victory Day Parade in Moscow—in front of thousands of marching troops, rows of armaments, and his nation via television—he spoke out against American exceptionalism (a common theme since the fall of the USSR) while ironically promoting his own idea of Russian exceptionalism:

The United States of America, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, started talking about its exceptionalism, thereby humiliating not only the whole world, but also its satellites, who have to pretend they do not notice anything and merely swallow everything….

We remember how Russia's enemies… tried to seed inter-ethnic and religious strife so as to weaken us from within and divide us. They failed completely. Today our warriors of different ethnicities are fighting together, shielding each other from bullets and shrapnel like brothers. This is where the power of Russia lies, a great invincible power of our united multi-ethnic nation.

Putin's comments here are called "projections" by psychologists, where he projects his own shadow, or unconscious thoughts, onto others or his enemies since he can't admit they are actually his thoughts.

Proud words, indeed, as if this “multi-ethnic” army portrays strength, whereas a counter argument suggests it shows weakness and exposes Putin's dilemma in that he has to use non-Russians to fight in Ukraine; estimates are 30% of his troops are non-Russian (including Chechens and Dagestanis) who are dying for Putin's twisted vision.. The only way he can gain conscripts is to wave a Eurasian imperial banner claiming they are part of Mother Russia. His deadly distortion of history is ruining millions of people's lives—this is NOT the fault of the West or NATO (a defensive organization of nations united against attack). Worse, Putin and his loyalists seem not to care if they destroy the world in the process, as Lachman points out:

It is no exaggeration to say that Putin's annexing of Crimea and incursions into Ukraine have been motivated in no small part by a strange theory of geopolitics that Dugin promotes… Geopolitics is the study of how geography influences world politics—a discipline at which the Nazi theorists excelled—and Putin's push into Ukraine and covetous glances at the Baltic states and other neighbors are informed by Dugin's take on this. Dugin's vision of a new civilization, along Spenglerian lines, rising up from the great “heartland” of which Holy Russia is the center, calls for a global struggle between the maritime forces of the “lunar” Atlanticists [the West], citizens of the “world island,” and the continental-based forces of what he calls “solar” “Eurasia” [Russia].[17]

If you read Putin's speeches you will see this revision of history and distorted facts goes on and on. Still, my time is limited so I can only point you to the moon; you must take the journey on your own—and then you will recognize Dillard's own distortions more accurately and come to realize what Putin (and Trump and many other nationalistic autocrats) are really up to: they want to destroy Modernity and TAKE AWAY YOUR FREEDOMS! And that is, apparently, what Dillard supports (though I believe does so out of ignorance of the larger situation occurring in Russia, so I forgive him, but he does have a responsibility here since he's promoting Putin's views). Like I say, Dillard has cemented himself into a rigid position—because let's be honest: it's hard or nearly impossible for a person to admit in public they have erred after publishing several essays supporting a misguided view (I get it). I suggest using the true breadth of Integral Thinking and simply EVOLVE beyond the dualistic point of view that flatland Western critics and professors suggest we take—in other words, we need to move beyond the fight between Realists and Idealists, between Conservatives and Liberals, between the West (Atlanticists) and Eurasianists—and find a genuine INTEGRAL vision for uniting global humanity.

Dillard, on the other hand, acts like we are on a level playing field with Russia. He suggests that both Russia and the West are basically equal in their motivations and results, that is, national security concerns based solely on geopolitics and causality count. I, however, maintain that this limited perspective is reductionistic and fails to include the higher human values that Modernity represents, specifically the human rights of the individual or individualism. Let alone integrating the higher transpersonal values of genuine spirituality that I also openly advocate for (such as with my essays and book defending Guru Yoga and Satsang, particularly the Wisdom-Teaching of Avatar Adi Da Samraj[18]). But that's another story (yet, in a way, it's not).

Info Wars: Fake Truths

Vladimir Putin and Vladislav Surkov
Vladimir Putin and Vladislav Surkov

H ere is another important topic I will only briefly touch upon but one that Putin has helped mire the world in: fake news and postmodern spin doctors! I have yet to hear Dillard or Meyerhoff mention Putin's PR man, Vladislav Surkov, for this guy has been worse for Russia than FOX News has been in the United States (okay, maybe they're equivalent). Surkov was Putin's deputy chief of staff and deputy prime minister from 1999 to 2013. He was a prolific manipulator of media using everything from gangsta rap, writing poetry, best-selling pulp fiction books, to running slick television shows and “news” channels all for the purpose of distorting reality and promoting Putin's plans for Russia. The Russian people ate it up—sound familiar? It should, since FOX television and Steve Bannon (and others), hence Trump, have used similar techniques. They use double-talk to generate a policy of saying nothing definitive and then denying what they previously said so no one can pin them down while providing first-class entertainment. Lachman adequately summaries a stance that has also taken hold in the West, especially in the United States:

[Surkov made] cynicism the main business not only of Russian politics, but of Russian life itself…. Post-truths, alternative facts, and manufactured reality were Surkov's stock in trade, and with him at the political dashboard, a whole host of personae, “mutable beliefs,” and ideological chameleons took center stage. Trump may be America's first reality-TV president, a telly-tulpa, as it were. But Russia à la Surkov was one long season of Big Brother.[19]

When you realize how entire populations of supposedly “modern” people have been duped by distorted news channels and radio-talk shows, such as Alex Jones' Infowars (which started and stimulated in mad rants of lies and violence many of the weird conspiracies gripping the United States today) or the late Rush Limbaugh (and how many countless others?), you realize how important it is to disconnect from this postmodern madness. But everyone watches TV and their cell phones, billions of people are plugged into the illusion of social media, unable to distinguish between real news and competent journalists from fake news and propaganda megaphones. Surkov, for one, set the mold, as did Rupert Murdoch and his channel of FOX “News” which became nothing but a propaganda machine for conservative right-wing politics ultimately propelling a totally disqualified “reality” TV star into the White House (Roger Ailes final accomplishment).

What Surkov promoted was “managed democracy” (his term) where his aim was to master the use of democratic and liberal vocabulary in the service of a totalitarian government.[20] Surkov erected an authoritarian state under the guise of democracy, since by believing in nothing, he could get people to believe in anything.[21] Putin capitalized, in other words, on “fake news” that appeared as “factual entertainment” generating a slick blend of “show business and propaganda, ratings and authoritarianism.”[22] What Americans have experienced under Trump in limited doses was the daily diet of Russians streaming from the Kremlin as the grand vizier Surkov's task was to “synthesize Soviet control with Western entertainment.” Lachman deftly reveals the Russian propaganda blender making Putin a national hero (we've all seen the pictures, unfortunately):

To manage democracy efficiently, the people must be kept amused, and Surkov did this through television talk shows, news broadcast, political announcements, all geared toward getting the message across in the most entertaining way, with an assortment of colorful speakers creating a simulacrum of real discussion and feeding the emotions of nationalism and fear. Media hysteria and fake foreign foes complemented images of Putin as a kind of magician, transforming from macho outdoorsman and commando to postmodern tsar and global leader, star of the nation's most popular reality-TV show.[23]

We must learn about these devious and deceitful plans of popular propaganda, then transcend them in vision-logic or integral thinking, grounded in spiritual meditation, and learn to reject their distortions (something Dillard has failed to do). Indeed, this is the call of the new century: debunk the fake—stop using the Internet and social media (and their algorithms) as the sole source of information. Learn where Reality (with a capital “R”) resides, i.e., not in people's minds, but in the heart. We need to learn how to breathe in silence and not seek constantly for entertainment. Ultimately, this puts the burden of responsibility on the people, on “everybody-all-at-once”—on each individual—which most people seem to resist because they quickly become bored and distracted. This is precisely why the Integral Call for the further evolution of consciousness is so vitally important in creating a better and wiser future.

What Surkov promoted was “managed democracy” (his term) where his aim was to master the use of democratic and liberal vocabulary in the service of a totalitarian government.

We are indeed in dangerous times where “chaos politics” has become the staple diet of large segments of the population even threatening the institutions of democracy itself. Steve Bannon, for one, who was Trump's chief strategist during the early years of his presidency, was deeply influenced by Putin's admired “philosophers” and Eurasia propagandists. Without going into all the details in this brief essay—please, look behind the curtain of these media wizards and do the research yourself—but, for now, let me excerpt this quote from a Newsweek article (4-17-2017) titled “Alexander Dugin and Steve Bannon's Ideological Ties to Vladimir Putin's Russia”:

A former banker turned film producer and right-wing polemicist, Bannon has praised not only Russian President Vladimir Putin but also a brand of Russian mystical conservative nationalism known as Eurasianism, which is the closest the Kremlin has to a state ideology. Eurasianism proclaims that Russia's destiny is to lead all Slavic and Turkic people in a grand empire to resist corrupt Western values. Its main proponent is Alexander Dugin, a Russian political scientist. Dugin's philosophy glorifies the Russian empire—while Bannon and the conservative website he formerly led, Breitbart News, revived the “America First” slogan, which Trump later adopted in his campaign. Despite their nationalism, Bannon and Dugin have something in common: They both believe global elites have conspired against ordinary people. Their enemies: secularism, multiculturalism, egalitarianism….

Bannon's fix for the world is to revive the nation-state—precisely what Putin's Kremlin is promoting as it backs anti-European Union candidates from Hungary to France…. Both men are also self-styled revolutionaries. Bannon—though he once worked at Goldman Sachs—reportedly described himself as a “Leninist” who wanted to “destroy the state.” And Dugin was the founder of the radical nationalist National Bolshevik Party, whose members have been imprisoned [by those countries] for attempting to foment armed uprisings among Russian minorities in former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

But how many of us knew and were reading the details? Most of us weren't since the news of the day, especially with Trump in office, kept us frozen in place awaiting the next potential disaster. Then the 2020 pandemic hit with COVID-19 (and the ensuing conspiracy theories). And now the Ukraine War has exacerbated the global economy just as we were beginning to emerge and recover from the worldwide virus pandemic. I won't even begin to go into how the Russian government and their cyber-attacks influenced the 2016 presidential election (in favor of Trump). The 2019 Mueller report stated that Russian interference in Hillary Clinton's loss was illegal and occurred “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” which Robert Mueller, the former FBI director, concluded that this fact “deserves the attention of every American.”[24] But we have forgotten (i.e., if people ever really knew since then-Attorney General Barr redacted much of the report). Russia's continued influence on the inner workings of democracies all over the world through cyber-attacks crippling industry and governments alike, and now starting a brutal war in Ukraine, have been favorably compared to Western foreign policies by Dillard and Meyerhoff (and others) thereby suggesting we should sympathize with Putin's Russia, not condemn them.

As wrong and blatantly hypocritical as the foreign policy actions of the Western world have been in the past—for example, promoting the idealism of liberal democracies (such as to the Arab world) but then countering those idealistic aspirations by the realist decisions of national interests, the Western world and its vote-based democracies and free enterprise system still offers greater Freedoms for the human race than does Russia or Communism (or China). Our task now and into the future—indeed, the task of EVERY generation—is to increase these Freedoms for every human being, women and men, regardless of race or religious belief. If you do not believe in these ideals then you are not progressive but regressive, not evolutionary but conservative, and in my view, therefore part of the problem not the solution. Integral theory tries to help guide us out of this maze of nearly endless options. And it does this by following the contours evident in the evolution of consciousness. The increased depth in the evolution of consciousness makes our task even more difficult, but regressing backwards to earlier structures is NOT the answer, though some prefer it as the easiest solution. Back in 1996, in A Brief History of Everything, Wilber warned us what was needed:

The more vertical levels of growth there are in a culture, the more things there are that can go horribly wrong…. The greater the depth of a society, the greater the burden placed on the education and transformation of its citizens. The greater the depth, the more things that can go massively, wretchedly, horribly wrong. The more levels, the more chances for the big lie (pathology).[25]

Russia's current market-oriented economy and the various forms of communism (including in China) that have appeared in the last century have basically offered top-down authoritarian or totalitarian regimes in service to the collective that have little desire to protect or guarantee the RIGHTS and freedoms of individuals, including the press. As Robert Kaplan in his excellent book on geopolitics, The Revenge of Geography (2012), points out: “Realists value order over freedom: for them the latter becomes important only after the former has been established…. Whereas devotees of globalization stress what unifies humankind, traditional realists stress what divides us.”[26] Dillard seems not to even take these factors into account in his analysis. He speaks about Russia and their form of government as if the order they provide to their people—which is what generates Putin's high poll ratings—is more important than the freedoms provided by the Western Enlightenment.

Yes, freedom carries with it responsibilities which are difficult to maintain since you must be educated and mature, not merely entertained. Integral thinking maintains the West often fails miserably in meeting these responsibilities (at times), thus, for example, we can elect idiots like Donald Trump, and so on. In many ways, huge segments of the “modern” population seems to prefer order over freedom and diversity, looking to the mythic past not forward. This is, in my opinion, a large part of what is behind Trump's popularity and why his call to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) is so marketable. In other words, it is a form immaturity and cultic childish thinking that wants a “Big Parent” or strongman to take care of them. Real freedom, in other words, requires mature human behavior and advanced thinking, as Plato and Aristotle, for example, convinced us in The Republic and Ethics twenty-five centuries ago. But I diverge (or do I?). And, remember, Ken Wilber also reminded us decades ago in A Theory of Everything (2000):

The liberal autonomous self exists only in a network of mutual exchanges with other autonomous selves, and that network of agency-in-communion imposes new duties and responsibilities even as it opens new freedoms and opportunities: both must be fully honored.[27]

Russia has no desire to promote human freedom but rather wants to emphasize human collective ORDER over individual human freedom. This is obviously the attitude of communist China as well, which this essay has not discussed (since we're focusing on Putin's war). Fareed Zakaria recently stated it this way: “The best China strategy is to defeat Russia,”[28] because it will encourage China to abide by the law-based international order. Stopping this attack on Ukraine is the responsibility of the entire “Western” world—of the Modern world—to make sure that Putin's version of a “Holy” Russia falls short of its imperial goals. The fight is not with the Russian people, per se, for they have been duped and lied to, but with Putin's war against Modernity and a peaceful global order. He has no right to go after “lost” lands, regardless of his fears for security and his revisionist history.

It is vitally important to understand what Putin is all about, and what his heroes are about. Listen to him, he tells us all the time.

It is vitally important to understand what Putin is all about, and what his heroes are about. Listen to him, he tells us all the time, as I've tried to point out. This is why I am amazed Dillard has not incorporated these FACTS into his overall analysis. Consequently, as I have maintained in my comments to his essays, I believe he is doing a great disservice to the future evolution of humanity. Because Dillard is a smart man who has often expressed ethical concerns for humankind, yet now in supporting Putin I feel he has made a disgraceful error. Please, Joseph, repent and convert back to integral thinking. We must be motivated to DEFEND our Freedoms, not concede them to evil players and tyrants like Vladmir Putin. This is, for example, exactly why the United States Department of Justice must arrest and jail former President Donald J. Trump as the January 6 Hearings are showing (based on evidence) for committing seditious conspiracy against the United States Constitution and the will of the people who voted, the legal document that guarantees these freedoms for all citizens living in this great (but dis-eased) nation between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

We need to balance TV news with informed journalists published in newspapers, magazines, and books (as well as scientific journals, etc.). Although these sources may have gone out of style since Facebook and iPhones, it is crucial for mature human development to “unplug” and take the “red pill” that frees you from the illusions of the “Matrix” or conventional reality (even though for red-pilled right-wing conspiracists “the truth” they reveal is actually part of the matrix of illusion). Electronic “reality” is NOT Reality. Human reality, in truth, is connected to the Divine (or Ultimate) Reality—which is identical to Consciousness Itself—yet this must be realized by each person, not merely believed, for it's the only Truth that sets the heart (and mind) free.

We can never forget the truth of this reality which is exactly what the world's Mystics have taught to humanity for millennia. As Wilber summarized long ago in Up from Eden (1981): “The aim of the Mystics is to deliver men and women from their battles by delivering them from their boundaries. Not manipulate the subject, and not manipulate the object, but transcend both in Non-Dual Consciousness. The discovery of the ultimate Whole is the only cure for unfreedom, and it is the only prescription offered by the Mystics.”[29] This is precisely what Wilber has always emphasized in his published version of Integral Theory—"the aim of the Mystics” (i.e., Divine Enlightenment or Real God-Realization)—which is why, in my opinion, it is a mistake to overlook or downplay this crucial aspect of Wilber's great gift to humanity because he has made some mistakes in other areas (as Visser likes to emphasize).

Otherwise, “We the People” are trapped in Plato's cave of illusions—what Eastern mysticism calls maya and samsara—watching puppets and shadows dancing on the cave wall making us believe we are witnessing reality but we are not. We foolishly take the shadows, the objects of perception, the conspiracies theories and actual “fake news,” as being the truth, as Socrates (via Plato) were trying to explain. Whereas, in truth the shadow dancing of the separate self (the self-contraction) is the furthest distance from the real truth of Reality. This is why, as Plato's metaphor instructs us, we need to be educated (or awakened) to the actual situation in which we live, that is, to see the illusions of the cave or conventional interpretations for what they are. Human freedom, as the Mystics (and Socrates) have always claimed, comes from ego-transcendence, i.e., understanding and seeing beyond the illusions of the relative and corporate world, to see through the propaganda of politicians, the lies of autocrats, the wars of emperors, tsars, kings, corrupt fascists, and carney clowns selling us products to buy and unfounded ideas to believe in. Unfortunately, they have recently infected the halls of Congress and are appearing in the legislatures and leadership of Europe and around the world. Therefore, once again, as Ken Wilber called forth to humanity over twenty-five years ago, we still need to pick up this mission for world peace and cooperative tolerance by electing better, more integral leaders:

We are awaiting the new global founding Fathers and Mothers who will frame an integral system of governance that will call us to our more encompassing future, that will act as a gentle pacer of transformation for the entire spiral of human development, honoring each and every wave as it unfolds, yet kindly inviting each and all to even greater depth.[30]

Wisdom must become the torch that leads us forward, not the darkness of hatred and propaganda. Only love is the answer—just as you have always heard—yet so few put this realization into practice, especially in politics. Until a larger majority of the people finally Wake Up (without taking any pills) and walk the talk, do the practice of genuine spiritual living—do the yoga—we will never find true world peace. Please turn off the propaganda machine, especially the ones given by false leaders and autocratic tyrants. Consequently, now and long into the future, we must remain vigilant in protecting our freedoms and sifting out the wrong from the right. Thus, it is our daily duty to fight the Putins and Trumps of the world who must be the first to step aside if we want justice and a brighter future for all-and-All!

No End in Sight

I have no idea where our current world situation is heading or what is going to happen or how this terrible war in Ukraine will end. I just know that it is tragic and we need to blame who is really at fault: Vladimir Putin, President of Russia; not the West or NATO. I mostly hope it turns into a stable peace so Ukraine can rebuild their beautiful country and that their citizens may return home and rebuild their lives. But no one will ever forget, especially the Ukrainians, what Russia—or the Russian military—has done. Biden is right: Russia must pay the price (including repatriations for their destruction and violation of international laws). Putin should be arrested and tried for war crimes—but is that type of justice even possible in today's world?

Vlodomir Zelensky and Vladimir Putin
Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin

Granted, the trends are moving in difficult directions (as of June 2022): Russian forces are close to taking over eastern Ukraine, high oil and gas prices guarantee that money will continue to flow into Russia and create dissent in Western nations (particularly in the United States whose populace hate high gas prices almost always blaming the President alone, which is foolish), some Europeans nations are seeking “off-ramps” conceding some gains to Putin in exchange for ceasing hostilities, Moscow is offering to release Ukrainian grain (needed to prevent famine) in exchange for lifting economic sanctions, plus, importantly, Ukraine still doesn't have the necessary weapons to launch an effective counteroffensive. No one knows how this is going to turn out. Perhaps a palace coup in the Kremlin would be the easiest resolution. But in war conditions can change rapidly. Who would have thought the Ukraine military could have mounted such stiff resistance and defense of their country? Neither the USA nor Russia did. I suspect the Ukrainians themselves knew: such brave and determined people fighting and sacrificing all for their freedoms. Over three months into the invasion, war fatigue is setting in as the international alliance is already straining, facts Dillard seems to gloat over. Let us hope we are able to overcome these problems since an outcome in favor of Russia would be a global disaster. If so, our troubles are far from over. The road ahead is difficult and unforeseen.

Who knows, maybe it will turn out badly and Russia will gain land and eventually take over the whole of Ukraine in the next decade or so and proceed with their vision of a Eurasian Empire where they revive traditionalism and cripple the gains of Modernity accomplished over the past several centuries. It is certainly possible, especially when China threatens human rights and freedoms too. However, honestly, I do believe in Spirit-in-action—in the evolution of consciousness and the development of higher and more embracing worldviews—so I hope (and pray) the next few generations with be able to stabilize our global world order in a peaceful and productive manner. And this means being able to enact the global cooperation necessary to reverse the destruction of our planet's ecology and climate as well. Plus, we need to buttress international institutions that can prevent future invasions and wars, and shun the propaganda charades that delude people's minds.

Therefore, I would like to remind people reading essays on an integral website that we see the evolution of consciousness as being a real developmental process. And this evolution happens both individually and collectively. This is one of the great gifts that the integral theories of Ken Wilber (and others) have given us. But this site has been so brutal on Wilber and his theories that I feel people have lost the original power of his ennobling Integral Vision. It was Wilber who meticulously outlined humanity's march up from Eden “On the Way to Global” consciousness, so wonderfully summarized in is mid-90s books, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995) and A Brief History of Everything (1996). These chapters and their unfolding integral vision—“The Further Reaches of Spirit-in-Action”—were a culmination of decades of his groundbreaking work and research that inspired so many of us. But then cynicism and critics gained ground as the new millennium dawned, 9/11 changed the course of world history, and the internet of social media fractured people's view of reality. The rise of postmodern multiculturalism seemed to confuse people more than it liberates them. Once again, Wilber had predicated this dilemma decades earlier since he understood consciousness development so well:

Multiculturalism does indeed emphasize cultural diversity… therefore naturally but confusedly [they] say that we have to treat all individuals and all cultural movements as being completely equal, since no stance is better than another. They then cannot explain why Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan should be shunned. If we are really multicultural and all for diversity, how can we exclude the Nazis? Isn't everybody equal?

The answer, of course, is that no, not every stance is equal. Worldcentric is better than ethnocentric, which is better than egocentric, because each [higher development] has more depth. The Nazis and KKK are ethnocentric movements based on a particular mythology of race supremacy, and from a worldcentric perspective we judge them to be inferior stances.

But the typical multiculturalist [postmodernist] cannot allow this judgment, because they confusedly deny distinctions between moral stances altogether—all stances are equal, no judgments allowed![31]

This is precisely the dilemma—or aperspectival madness—our world is in today. It's so bad that people in the West can't outright condemn Putin without blaming the West, as Dillard and Meyerhoff have done on this site. And worse, as I have tried to emphasize, they have failed to see the larger picture, the more integral perspective, or Putin's true motivations. This is partly due to the fact they are critics of integral and Wilber so have lost the inherent wisdom of the Integral Vision. Indeed, I understand, for in my opinion even Wilber himself has lost his theory's simplicity and raw beauty once he got seeped in the quagmire of the “four quadrants” or AQAL as he began to deemphasize the necessity for spiritual evolution once the Integral Institute was opened (in 2001). But the contours of evolution, particularly the evolution of consciousness (although Visser has tried to debunk Wilber's version of “scientific” evolution) are real and can be observed, regardless of your politics or view about Wilber himself. As another example of what a great predicator this approach is, listen to how well Ken saw the future of American politics decades before it took full effect (and it ain't over yet), twenty years before Trump was elected:

All this [postmodern “identity crisis”] is actually doing is contributing to the retribalization of America, by encouraging every egocentric and ethnocentric fragmentation and grievance politics, the politics of narcissism. All stances are equal means every preconventional and ethnocentric shallowness is given encouragement. The country is facing its own identity crisis….

That is a typical fulcrum-5 [formop] screw-up, a pathology of the adolescent mind—still caught in a variation on the fulcrum-5 dissociation that is the disaster of modernity, still claiming to have overcome and subverted it, but still perfectly trapped in it, and thus forced into massive self-deception.[32]

That is a fairly accurate description where the modern/postmodern world is now today over two decades into the 21st century. Therefore, fundamental traditionalism, such as embodied in far-right Christian nationalist movements and the dreams of a Eurasian Empire correcting the decadence of the West have taken center stage and are trying to push away and destroy the progressive gains of Modernity, constitutional democracies, and the Western Enlightenment. We must wise up and push back with intelligence, and as I maintain—and what the Integral Vision used to more forcefully maintain—by evolving into real human maturity and accessing the transpersonal or spiritual domains of consciousness all the way to God-Realization and Divine Enlightenment, the actual “further reaches of human nature” (as Abraham Maslow called it). A genuine spiritual solution is what our future needs, not a slip backwards into religious authority and collective servitude. Gary Lachman noticed the same patterns, which he summarized in this extended quote from Dark Star Rising (2018), outlining the aperspectival madness of extreme postmodernism (or what Wilber mockingly calls the “mean green meme”):

The individual [according to Dugin, Evola, et al] is what is wrong with the West… He is the Frankenstein monster let loose—liberated—by loosening of restrictions. The freedom rampant in the West, which it wants to export, Dugin sees, is only a freedom from some constraint or other, it has no positive value; it is not freedom for some purpose or goal…. The individual “I,” once held in check by the restraints of religion and morality, has, in the modern world, been for the most part released from these. This is in fact part of the definition of modernity. We can do what we want—and that is precisely the problem.

What we want to do is consume, not only goods but, as Dugin argues, reality itself. The Western liberated ego knows no boundaries, and the assertion of the “I,” or rather, the “me,” demands that everything give way before it. Our “human rights” ensure this. This has led to developments like “gender fluidity,” in which men and woman believe that because they “self-identify” as the opposite sex, they “magically” are whatever gender they desire. Biological realities are negligible; everything is socially constructed.

What the free individual wants is what matters, and, as Dugin sees it, notions of human rights are trivialized in order to accommodate this. Even more, these rights will soon, he argues, be extended to forms of artificial life and intelligence, to computers and cyborgs. The Western “me” will soon find its own physical embodiment a limit that it should be liberated from and wants the “right” to merge with machines or even other species. In the past, religion taught that there was an “essence” to created things, to minerals, plants, animals, and humans. The postmodern Western “me” rejects this idea: anything, it says, can be what I want it to be.…

The dissolution of barriers, of difference, of any notion that some things are “better” than others, has led to a leveling of values in which perceptions of “high” and “low” are dissolved and the mass of individual “me's,” each pursuing its own desires, results in a vast, mediocre uniformity. Any expression of values that conflicts with this is seen as an attack of the “rights” of others, and any manifestation of difference too obvious to ignore is chalked up to “privileged” or some other social factor that promotes “inequality,” which can be rectified through social engineering. Such is the aim of the “social justice warriors.” They believe that we will all really be free only when we are all really equal. It is this sad state of affairs that, from Dugin's perspective, globalization and its agents want to spread across the planet….

It is not difficult to see these forms of “dissolution” as emblematic of the maritime, consuming Atlanticists [Westerners], whose fundamental metaphysics of “becoming” knows no boundaries or limits. It is also not difficult to see that the organic, collective, hierarchical, totalitarian “traditional” forms of human life and society that Dugin champions embody the metaphysics of “being.” It is these that Eurasia defends.[33]

Obviously, these critiques regarding the disasters of modernity and postmodernism ring somewhat true so they appeal to many people in Russia and the West. The answer, however, is not to regress backwards—a point Wilber hammers home with his critique of the “Regress Express”—to earlier times but to use today's crises to catapult us forward by evolving consciousness to greater maturity and spiritual development. And, as I maintain, this MUST involve genuine spiritual practices, deep meditation, active service based on compassion grounded in healthy ego-transcendence (and acute self-understanding). To help us achieve these advanced state-stages of human development we MUST also access authentic Guru-Adepts, real Spiritual Masters, to awaken true transpersonal consciousness. Mythic beliefs and religious institutions alone will not be able to accomplish these exalted goals of human evolution as history has proven. Integral theory offers positive solutions to modernity's reductionistic dilemma.

Alexander Dugin's answer, however, is global cataclysm and he has inspired Vladimir Putin to undertake this contorted goal. Thus, Putin's threat of nuclear war needs to be taken seriously. That doesn't mean we capitulate to the tsar-tyrant's demands, for the West must neutralize these forms of totalitarian madness (by moving beyond war). It is obvious that this project of further maturity also involves transcending the current fight against the “woke” attitude, or “wokeness,” seen currently active in the United States (and elsewhere). This is a massive problem and I believe the best guide or map out of this aperspectival madness is the vision-logic of integral thinking, and better, the sadhana and spiritual practice of Divine Enlightenment conducted in Satsang (unleashing the highest potentials of the human race).

Therefore, to dismiss Wilber's integral solutions too quickly, simply because he gets some details wrong, is a grave mistake. Otherwise, the war of worldviews will continue for centuries, disrupting the lives of our children and their children's children. Hence the time is NOW to make the Integral Enlightened Vision real for everyone, which means education and engagement. In other words: to Grow Up, Wake Up, Clean Up, and Show Up… but, mostly, to Wake Up! Before it's too late, yet it is NEVER too late to do what is right.

NOTES

  1. Gary Lachman, The Return of Holy Russia (2020), p. 2.
  2. Gary Lachman, The Return of Holy Russia (2020), p. 3.
  3. See: “Don't be 'Putin's altar boy,' Pope warns Russian Orthodox leader” in The Washington Post, May 4, 2022.
  4. Patriarch Kirill quoted in “Russian Orthodox leader backs war in Ukraine, divides faith” by Jeanne Whalen in The Washington Post, April 17, 2022.
  5. See: Gary Lachman, The Return of Holy Russia (2020), p. 5.
  6. See: “A Hard Talk with Aleksandr Dugin: The Empire Strikes Back?” on aze.media January 14, 2022.
  7. Gary Lachman, The Return of Holy Russia (2020), p. 9.
  8. Gary Lachman, Dark Star Rising (2018), p. 149.
  9. See: Brad Reynolds, God's Great Tradition of Global Wisdom—Guru Yoga-Satsang in the Integral Age (2021).
  10. Gary Lachman, Dark Star Rising (2018), p. 139.
  11. See: Gary Lachman, Dark Star Rising (2018), p. 141.
  12. See: Peter Pomerantsev, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia (2015), and Gary Lachman, Dark Star Rising (2018), p. 143.
  13. Peter Pomerantsev, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible (2015), p. 7.
  14. Gary Lachman, Dark Star Rising (2018), p. 142.
  15. See: Wikipedia entry “Mueller report” (retrieved June 2022).
  16. Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything (1996), 326.
  17. Robert Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography (2012), p. 27.
  18. Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything (2000), p. 168, 7n.
  19. Fareed Zakaria, GPS show June 12, 2022.
  20. Ken Wilber, Up from Eden (1981), Chapter 19: “Republicans, Democrats, and Mystics” (last chapter), p. 334 [title caps added].
  21. Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything (2000), p. 90.
  22. Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything (1996), p. 189.
  23. Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything (1996), p. 190.
  24. Gary Lachman, Dark Star Rising (2018), pp. 178-179.





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