Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Recently, Wilber posted the following message to Japan in response to the tsunami and the subsequent tragic events there. Has anyone here seen it? I have held back from critically commenting on it because I recognize and respect the positive intention behind it, and I also agree with and honor parts of his message, but there is something about the overall way he has framed it that bothers me, encouraging (as it seems to me) an "ultimate identification" that preserves a massive split in the world (and renders "world," a la the old perennial traditions, as mere "surface").
We've talked about this before, this dualism that still seems to inform Wilber's metaphysics (and his message seems metaphysical, not post-). I guess I keep hoping not to see it preserved, and keep being disappointed.
Here's the message:
"Hello to my friends in Japan,
As one attempts to live an Integral Life, there are always ups and downs in the process. To have an Integral awareness means that you have a higher, wider, deeper awareness, with more perspectives and more care and more concern and more love. So even when difficult times arise, it's important to keep the heart and mind open and wide and embracing.
This goes for the troubles in Fukushima prefecture. The potentially devastating nature of these problems has a tendency to make one close one's eyes, narrow one's awareness, push the whole thing out of mind. But that's exactly what we shouldn't do. Instead of closing down, we need to open up, to keep heart and mind wide open even under these frightening circumstances. A steady, calm Witnessing in the midst of turmoil keeps one directly related to Spirit, as Spirit, and anchors one in what really matters and what is ultimately Real. That way, the surface phenomena can continue to simply come and go as they will, but you remain anchored in the unchanging Source and Ground and real Self of it all.
Do whatever you can to help with the surface phenomena, but remain anchored in their Witness, so that day-to-day realities "hurt you more, but bother you less." "Hurt more," because you are more sensitive, more aware of them and let them all in, you don't turn away or hide from them. But "bother you less" because you have ceased to identify with them, remaining "neti, neti," or "not this, not that" but the impartial Witness of them all.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all during these difficult times. May you rest in the real and integral Self and move forward as best you can!
Sending much love and light, Ken Wilber"
Maybe I'm quibbling unnecessarily -- I agree with his call to open to experience, to expand the embrace of heart and mind and the scope of our perspectives; and I accept the heuristic (and transformative,liberative) value of emptiness; and I also see the wisdom of simultaneously holding both "self" and "non-self" perspectives -- but something about the way he has put them all together doesn't sit well with me. I think it's because his neti, neti doesn't touch the Witness and so seems to encourage a dissociative sort of identification, a Real vs Unreal splitting that (I thought) was a mark of premodern traditions a post-metaphysical approach is intended to leave behind.
What do you think?
In any event, I'm noting that it seems to take a more controversial thread to lure other valued, but often silent, members out of the woodworks and to begin posting again. If I'm not careful, that could turn into a reinforcing feedback loop! :-)
Regarding your observation, or feeling, that a thread such as this is intended to "police" Wilber's thinking or to stop him from voicing his opinions, metaphysical or not, that is definitely not my intent. I have no desire to stop him from communicating, in whatever way he likes.
My way of expressing myself in my initial post was somewhat awkward. All what you say above is fine to me.
It is curious how differently people can hear what Wilber says. I sense in their comments here a hidden expectation that what ever Wilber says is something that must deeply positively resonate in them.If that is not the case, it creates a disappointment, that gets voiced sometimes even unnecessarily harshly.
When reading Wilber's message, I did not perceive any big problems in it. It is not one of his best texts, but it does not irritate me in anyway.
There are many Integral Life practice groups all over the world.My son is leading one in Helsinki. I'm participating in a tentavive one here in my home city Turku.
I hear him addressing these kinds of groups in Japan. For people in such a group his message is in place.
In catastrophes of this magnitude there is always real danger of getting secondary traumatized by getting emotionally too identified with the horrors, that you have not been actually been personally got hurt by.His advice is a good one in that kind of situation. The advice is not however easy to put in practice. If it fails, withdrawal from too much emotional involvement may be in place. Our defenses have many useful functions, and in this situation they may be called for.