Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Ken Wilber has a new book coming out, and a series of teaching as well, called The Fourth Turning: Exploring the Future of Buddhism. The link will take you to a website dedicated to these teachings, and includes several video clips of Wilber and Diane Musho Hamilton.
I've read a booklet-length document by Wilber called "The Fourth Turning," which I expect will serve as the basis for the book. Unfortunately (for me with my own interests), I did not find anything in it that was new -- that I hadn't read before in earlier books, or that wouldn't already be immediately apparent to anyone wanting to look at a topic with an AQAL lens. I am hopeful that the forthcoming book, and possibly the video talks (I haven't heard them yet), give more details ... more nuggets for those long-time students of Wilber's works who don't need another Integral 101 teaching.
From the Lingam video at the link, speaking of Nagarjuna's teaching:
"The idea being to clear the mind of any and all concepts about reality so that reality itself could be directly experienced" (5:20).
Recall this from Batchelor:
"As soon as the seductive notion of 'truth' begins to permeate the discourse of the dharma, the pragmatic emphasis of the teaching risks being replaced by speculative metaphysics, and awakening comes to be seen as achieving an inner state of mind that somehow accords with an objective metaphysical 'reality'" (92).
Immediately following Kennilingam goes on to say that every branch of Mahayana agreed with the last above statement. (Wrong, see the Batchelor thread.) And he then admits that the third turning was Yogacara, which also is in agreement with that statement. That is true, but again it is a continuation of a of metaphysics of presence, not at all the kind of postmetaphysics Batchelor talks about. Or Nagarjuna of Tsongkhapa, for that matter. At 7:00 he notes it's time for the fourth turning, and with that I'll agree. But it's Batchelor's sort of postmetaphysical turning, not the metaphysical rehash he's talking about in the above quote that he apparently wants to retain.
On the FB IPS site, there were several remarks about arrogance. I'll post my initial response here:
I've watched the first video now and can understand the 'arrogance' remark. I agree with Wilber that there are aspects of the major world religions that are outdated and in need of change, and I'm fully on board with creative efforts at religious re-visioning -- to 'see afresh' as a Buddhist or Christian or whatever from within the contexts of modernity and postmodernity (or beyond) -- but it is a little presumptuous to suggest that one's own innovation will have the epoch-making impact of a Nagarguna or Vasubandhu. All we can say is, time will tell. It also isn't really true that the traditions have been idle or unchanging for the past 1,000 years, without any substantially new or profound innovations. There's an incredible amount of exploration, experimentation, and innovation already underway, in multiple traditions -- increasingly so in the past century. It's just early yet to tell what will really stick.
I just attended a secular Buddhism study group last night. Secular Buddhism is one of those innovations in the West. Here's a website devoted to it. Batchelor figures prominently in it but there are others, like Jay Michaelson (IPS thread here), Ted Meissner and others. It's also organized as a P2P sangha. The next Buddha is a sangha, after all.* I'm guessing though that this movement would likely be swept under a Boomeritis Buddhism rug by the kennilinguists, and/or at least some kind of green relativism. But they're wrong, as usual.
* “The Buddha, Shakyamuni, our teacher, predicted that the next Buddha would be Maitreya, the Buddha of love…. It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Next Buddha May Be A Sangha” in Inquiring Mind journal, Spring 1994.
Also see this P2P Foundation wiki on that idea. This is the fourth turning in my mind. Btw, Balder under his real name is referenced in this article.
How did you like the group?
It was my second visit. It meets at the UU church and is facilitated by a UU member. UUers tend toward the liberal and open side of religious organizations, including within their ranks pagans and secular humanists. They are currently reading Batchelor's book Buddhism Without Beliefs, so that attracts me, as does the general orientation. The reading has generated some interesting discussion so far.
Roshi buys the Lingam's emphasis on the Lankavatara Sutra. See kela's blog post discussing this sutra and agreeing it is a Yogacara doctrine. And how the Lingam via Adi Da fuses Vedanta with Vajrayana using it. Another of his posts goes into other details in the Lingam/Da synthesis concluding that it "remains metaphysical at its core."
Julian Walker has a new kennilingus critique at Integral World. Since we don't have a Wilber bitch thread per se I'll post it here for now. A couple of excerpts echoing well-worn criticisms in the forum.
"The only problem is that a supposedly immaterial transcendent yet non-dual witnessing consciousness or 'Spirit' is supernatural by any other name."
"The Integral model rests on an assumption of panpsychism: consciousness is present in all matter, down to the level of electrons and quarks. It also goes one mystical step further, consciousness exists separate from and prior to the existence of the material universe."
"This idealist stance (in the philosophical sense) combines a pseudoscience sensibility with Vedantic metaphysics to create the appearance either that: a. Science somehow confirms panpsychism, or that b. the God of the Gaps argument made possible by the incompleteness of neuroscience does the same."
"A little inquiry reveals that these ideas about consciousness imply and indeed require mind/body dualism of the 17th century kind eschewed by the vast majority of modern scientists and philosophers. Specifically it is the assertion that mind/consciousness exists in a category distinct from matter/biology. Not even eccentric dualist philosopher David Chalmers believes this in the way that Wilber's model requires.
"There are many nuanced positions in philosophy of mind, and Wilber might argue that he is double aspect monist, but the flavor of transcendentalism, the supposed discovery in samadhi of your original face before the Big Bang, and the uber-consciousness of Spirit as an ultimate reality we are all evolving toward all but screams classical dualism to me."
"The core dualism then leads Wilber to adopt what I call an 'intelligent design in Vedantic drag' stance. It essentially amounts to a God of the Gaps/Argument from Ignorance position."
"Because there is this elaborate set of intellectual rationalizations that no longer seek to reconcile spirituality with science and psychology in reasonable ways, but instead weaves a protective patchwork cloak for mind/body dualism, panspsychism, and the religiosity of 'Spirit,' the discourse has devolved into a lot of very fancy incoherent footwork. A key example being the much-touted 'Two Truths' distinction between the supposed 'absolute truths' of an enlightened Vajrayana/Advaita perspective vs a decidedly postmodern attitude toward the 'relative truths' described by everything (including science) that is, well, not an enlightened Vajrayana/Advaita persepctive."
I was also reminded of Julian's participation in the Trivedi thread starting here. He (like me) is a long-time 'energy' practitioner and has realized its real effects. But I agree when he says:
"One should not buy into the contemporary version of supernatural explanation mixed in with pseudoscience claims of being able to affect molecular structure, DNA, change the past, use the power of intention to manifest physical realities etc... this is hokum and hogwash and is not in any way linked to the reality of feeling your 'prana' coursing through the nervous system in a yoga class, or seeing someone go through potent unwinding and altered states. No-one can affect molecular structure with their mind, water does not respond to the 'energy of thoughts.'"
Both of Julian's above posts, though different in content from the fourth turning, still address the same underlying metaphysical megalomania inherent to another of the Lingam's grandiose claims. Or perhaps we should substitute the prefix 'meta' and call it metalomania?
Reading Julian's bio here I discovered he trained in bodywork at IPSB in 1997. I attended IPSB for a year starting in the summer of '84. Back then it was located in San Diego and called the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing. In '90 they changed their name to the International Professional School of Bodywork (see IPSB history). There's another Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing in Los Angeles but don't know their relation to the IPSB I attended.
The Fourth Turning is out now.