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?

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Hi kela

Of course I agree with you about how to define buddhism. But I have been in Japan a couple of times before, and it is somewhere quite evident to recognize taht they are "deeply" incultured in Buddhistic thinking, in the same way we are christians in France or in Italy but secularized today. It is a given tradition, and there are different social patterns around death, mourning, cosmology for different societies.

Now speaking about the KW "injunction", it can be felt as pretty harsh.

Jiddu Krishnamurti could also speak harshly when people who lost a dear one came to listen to him for guidance. He could sound like a dickhead by toughly rejecting the person´s needs for consolation.

I am just considering different angles of view.

 

cheers

kelamuni said:

hi x,

hi xibalba,

i welcome your point concerning buddhistic cultures and also the one about grieving italian women at funerals. point taken.

but i don't think the buddhistic point necessarily holds water. first, i'm not so sure that the japanese are necessarily a buddhistic culture. i see them, along with the chinese and koreans, as more confucian in nature. second, even if we concede that they are buddhistic, then the sri lankans will be just as "buddhistic" in nature. and yet as several anthropologists have noted, after their tsunami, the sri lankans reacted very differently to their loss than the japanese have in the present case. differences in culture may indeed be involved but i'm not at all sure that one or the other being "buddhistic" really gets to the heart of the difference.

i also realize that my analogy concerning the badly raised child was not rigourous, but i did not really intend it to be. my point in using it, and i bring up the image often, was merely to indicate how flakey and trite new-age, Oprahesque advice about "remaining in one's centre" can sound in the face of actual tragedy, calamity, and loss, and how ridiculous and pretentious it can sound when monk-like advice about "detachment" is offered to people who are not cenobites. i simply find it out of place, no matter what the culture.

i also personally find the use of that kind of prescriptive language to in very poor taste. and indeed, in the case of the japanese, where cordiality, mutual respect, and non-offensive language is held in such high esteem, such language may be seen as particularly offensive. i teach several korean students, and though they have a tradition of listening to and honouring the teacher, i still have to be very careful, and sensitive, with my language when i offer correction and advice.

so my point is more or less, that ken's choice of words was rather vulgar and showed a certain lack of understanding. at the same time i'd like to know what an average group of japanese on the street thought about ken's remarks, and i'd be open to being wrong.

cheers.

Hi Bruce

 

This is the line that jarred with me:

"and anchors one in what really matters and what is ultimately Real".

Oh dear.

Maybe I'm too attached to the ever changing phenomena that KW seems to view as secondary to "Spirit", and so can't really relate anymore to this kind of split of his, which I feel indicates an unhealthy non-engagement with life. I've been there; this actually sounds like the kind of thing I would have come up with when I was tripping out on excessive TM meditation back in my twenties. ( Perhaps I've regressed since then and "re-attached to the world"?  :-)

I found Thich Nhat Han's letter to be far more sincere and meaningful.

 

 

Ken recently posted somehting over at Integral Life (I think it's part of an old essay of his?)

In it, he says this:


"...even though you and I might deeply believe that the most important function we can perform is to offer authentic transformative spirituality, the fact is, much of what we have
to do, in our capacity to bring decent spirituality into the world, is actually
to offer more benign and helpful modes of translation. In other words, even if
we ourselves are practicing, or offering, authentic transformative
spirituality, nonetheless much of what we must first do is provide most people
with a more adequate way to translate their condition. We must start with
helpful translations, before we can effectively offer authentic
transformations."

 

I'm thinking Ken's statement to the Japanese is his attempt at a "helpful translation" of their condition, and is not necessarily indicative of his own fundamental view.



hi x,

i guess i have some issues with painting cultures with broad strokes. for example, though i am a european and loosely speaking was brought up with x-tian background, i am also a wasp, and as wasps we don't cry at funerals, and certainly not at weddings, we don't bring up sex at family gatherings, we don't whimper when the germans drop bombs on us, and we don't give each those mendacious little hugs that continental and new agey types give each other. hahaha. at the same time i'm willing to admit that buddhistic notions like the "floating (fleeting) world" are deeply imbedded in the japanese psyche, as can be seen in her art. but i also wonder about whether or not the japanese actually mourn. i sense that the japanese still mourn; they are just not as interested in its public expression as other cultures.

 

what this really comes down to, though, is my loathing for teachers who go public with spiritual teachings. i have deep distrust and dislike for teachers of spiritual traditions who go public -- write generalized books with prescriptive content, give a lectures series, go on television, etc. i don't see much of difference between them and those involved in the new age racket. this goes even for writers like krishnamurti and ramana. as for ken, as balder says, i wish he would have stayed a pundit. my dislike and distrust of him began when he started to take on roles beyond that of scholar. when he did, it really began to affect his writing style and the content of his books. kinda like when da started to write that dawn horse shit. hahaha. but that's just my opinion.

 

cheers.

to render this issue truly moot (which means, btw, not "irrelevant" but "a matter of academic debate") let's assume that ken is indeed addressing a buddhistic japanese culture in which notions of impermanence are ingrained, as can be found in such concepts as wabi-sabi and ukiyo-e. in wonder then about ken's choice of words in his letter. in his primary didactic passsage, he refers to concepts such as the Witness (Sanskrit: sakshin) and Spirit (Sanskrit: cit; chaitanya). but these are not buddhistic terms. they are terms from vedanta. and moreover they imply concepts of permanence (nitya) not impermanence (anitya). so, wtf? hahaha.

Yes, definitely; this is not really a "Buddhistic" letter.  It's much closer to Vedanta.

 

He does say, "my friends in Japan," so probably he isn't addressing the Japanese people per se, anyway, but just a group of Japanese students who are already well versed in Integral spiritual metaphysics.

I'm thinking Ken's statement to the Japanese is his attempt at a "helpful translation" of their condition, and is not necessarily indicative of his own fundamental view.

 

That could be.  But I've heard him say things like this in a number of other texts as well that seem to be presenting basic Integral theory.  While folks might criticize Thich Nhat Hanh for being "Green," his letter does seem a bit more grounded and humane.

Well I would not oppose that, hahahahah

I am not nor have been a fan of  "gurus". Thou I was interested in JIddu Krishnamurti. Younger, I appreciated his language style, It was refreshing, clear, brillantly analytical, comprehensive and better suited for a westerner.The language of the scriptures (buddhists, hindus, etc..) was a confusing nightmare to me. He literally ignited to look beyond all the ready made descriptions and interpretations of the world of my time: Freud, Marx, Sartre, Debord, the main "cultural background" of the late sixties.

 

 

 



kelamuni said:


hi x,

i guess i have some issues with painting cultures with broad strokes. for example, though i am a european and loosely speaking was brought up with x-tian background, i am also a wasp, and as wasps we don't cry at funerals, and certainly not at weddings, we don't bring up sex at family gatherings, we don't whimper when the germans drop bombs on us, and we don't give each those mendacious little hugs that continental and new agey types give each other. hahaha. at the same time i'm willing to admit that buddhistic notions like the "floating (fleeting) world" are deeply imbedded in the japanese psyche, as can be seen in her art. but i also wonder about whether or not the japanese actually mourn. i sense that the japanese still mourn; they are just not as interested in its public expression as other cultures.

 

what this really comes down to, though, is my loathing for teachers who go public with spiritual teachings. i have deep distrust and dislike for teachers of spiritual traditions who go public -- write generalized books with prescriptive content, give a lectures series, go on television, etc. i don't see much of difference between them and those involved in the new age racket. this goes even for writers like krishnamurti and ramana. as for ken, as balder says, i wish he would have stayed a pundit. my dislike and distrust of him began when he started to take on roles beyond that of scholar. when he did, it really began to affect his writing style and the content of his books. kinda like when da started to write that dawn horse shit. hahaha. but that's just my opinion.

 

cheers.

Hi kela

How much post-metaphysical are you nowadays in your scholar works?

How do you look at Halbfass´orientalism and the post-colonial view in general today?



xibalba said:

Well I would not oppose that, hahahahah

I am not nor have been a fan of  "gurus". Thou I was interested in JIddu Krishnamurti. Younger, I appreciated his language style, It was refreshing, clear, brillantly analytical, comprehensive and better suited for a westerner.The language of the scriptures (buddhists, hindus, etc..) was a confusing nightmare to me. He literally ignited to look beyond all the ready made descriptions and interpretations of the world of my time: Freud, Marx, Sartre, Debord, the main "cultural background" of the late sixties.

 

 

 



kelamuni said:


hi x,

i guess i have some issues with painting cultures with broad strokes. for example, though i am a european and loosely speaking was brought up with x-tian background, i am also a wasp, and as wasps we don't cry at funerals, and certainly not at weddings, we don't bring up sex at family gatherings, we don't whimper when the germans drop bombs on us, and we don't give each those mendacious little hugs that continental and new agey types give each other. hahaha. at the same time i'm willing to admit that buddhistic notions like the "floating (fleeting) world" are deeply imbedded in the japanese psyche, as can be seen in her art. but i also wonder about whether or not the japanese actually mourn. i sense that the japanese still mourn; they are just not as interested in its public expression as other cultures.

 

what this really comes down to, though, is my loathing for teachers who go public with spiritual teachings. i have deep distrust and dislike for teachers of spiritual traditions who go public -- write generalized books with prescriptive content, give a lectures series, go on television, etc. i don't see much of difference between them and those involved in the new age racket. this goes even for writers like krishnamurti and ramana. as for ken, as balder says, i wish he would have stayed a pundit. my dislike and distrust of him began when he started to take on roles beyond that of scholar. when he did, it really began to affect his writing style and the content of his books. kinda like when da started to write that dawn horse shit. hahaha. but that's just my opinion.

 

cheers.

i posted some of the conversation here on my fb wall, and one of my friends there, and a former poster here, added these comments (i'll not mention his name to respect his privacy):

 

|I am reminded of when a couple of months after 9/11 I happened upon a website devoted to writings about the event by contemporary Buddhists, including a piece by Thich Nhat Hanh. I then wondered if Wilber had posted anything online about 9/...11, and so I did a search and found his piece titled, "The Deconstruction of The World Trade Center: A Date That Will Live in a Sliding Chain of Signifiers." That title strikes me as glib, and everything Wilber had to say about the event struck me as coming from a very different emotional and political sensibility than that of the majority of writings by various Buddhists I'd seen. To be specific, I found Wilber's writing about the event to be emotionally dissociated, as if instead of feeling the impact of the event he ascended to some abstract "domain" that concrete tragedy cannot touch, and I found his thinking on the matter to be rooted in a colonialist and utterly Western-centric mentality. What Hahn writes about Japan strikes me as human, real, grounded, and spiritual in those senses. Wilber's "message," on the other hand, is more of what I've come to expect from Wilber...basically blather."
I know who that is...

yes I remember this paper, hahha,

But I also recall the madness of the red/blue meme gang at the peace and war forum in those days.

the other one was on the war in Irak, where he used the metaphor of the Bagahvad Gita such: " doing the job but not reaping thefruits of it".

Such a crap, and a couple of millions of people leaving the country.

Maybe he still thinks that the revolt in the arab countries is due to the domino effect theory of Dubya le fou unattached to the gain of his "forfanterie", the famous neocon version of a memetic wave.

 



kelamuni said:

i posted some of the conversation here on my fb wall, and one of my friends there, and a former poster here, added these comments (i'll not mention his name to respect his privacy):

 

|I am reminded of when a couple of months after 9/11 I happened upon a website devoted to writings about the event by contemporary Buddhists, including a piece by Thich Nhat Hanh. I then wondered if Wilber had posted anything online about 9/...11, and so I did a search and found his piece titled, "The Deconstruction of The World Trade Center: A Date That Will Live in a Sliding Chain of Signifiers." That title strikes me as glib, and everything Wilber had to say about the event struck me as coming from a very different emotional and political sensibility than that of the majority of writings by various Buddhists I'd seen. To be specific, I found Wilber's writing about the event to be emotionally dissociated, as if instead of feeling the impact of the event he ascended to some abstract "domain" that concrete tragedy cannot touch, and I found his thinking on the matter to be rooted in a colonialist and utterly Western-centric mentality. What Hahn writes about Japan strikes me as human, real, grounded, and spiritual in those senses. Wilber's "message," on the other hand, is more of what I've come to expect from Wilber...basically blather."

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