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Integral Spirituality is being widely called the most important book on spirituality in our time.
Applying his highly acclaimed integral approach, Ken Wilber formulates a theory of spirituality that honors the truths of modernity and postmodernity—including the revolutions in science and culture—while incorporating the essential insights of the great religions. He shows how spirituality today combines the enlightenment of the East, which excels at cultivating higher states of consciousness, with the enlightenment of the West, which offers developmental and psychodynamic psychology. Each contributes key components to a more integral spirituality.
On the basis of this integral framework, a radically new role for the world’s religions is proposed. Because these religions have such a tremendous influence on the worldview of the majority of the earth’s population, they are in a privileged position to address some of the biggest conflicts we face. By adopting a more integral view, the great religions can act as facilitators of human development: from magic to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral—and to a global society that honors and includes all the stations of life along the way.
In one of his previous books “Sex Ecology and Spirit”, Ken Wilber introduced a wildly ambitious schema that (as one previous reviewer accurately calls it) attempts to butt-weld western psychology onto eastern spirituality. His All-Quadrant-All-Levels (AQAL) model is a dizzyingly complex schemata that tries to appease, well, pretty much every major thinker in the eastern and western canon.
I expected more from Wilber at this stage, but still a good read.
100 people found this helpful.
on December 31, 2006
By Patrick D. Goonan
Integral Spirituality lays out a worldview that tries to encompass and take whatever is of value from as many worldviews as possible. It assumes that no particular position is completely wrong and looks for patterns of meaning across the world’s wisdom traditions. Anyone familiar with Wilber will already know this, but for those new to him this point may be useful to mention.
Full of great ideas, but a fully integral Wilber would use an editor
83 people found this helpful.
on March 17, 2007
I had the pleasure of teaching this book to a small undergraduate seminar on the Sociology of Religion last quarter. The reaction was decidedly mixed, with some students finding the material to be exciting and mind-expanding, while others, though sympathetic to the ideas, were totally turned off by Wilber’s egotism and bad writing. My #1 recommendation to Ken and the Integral Institute is to fully, integrally utilize the talents that are being gathered and produce works that are edited for maximum impact — there is a world of sentient beings to save, and time is short!
Status Report on the Wilber Project
52 people found this helpful.
on October 5, 2006
By Christopher Chantrill
Ken Wilber started out 30 years ago in “Spectrum of Consciousness” trying to butt-weld Buddhism onto western developmental psychology. Now in “Integral Spirituality” he is trying to imagine what religion would look like if it accepted that the modernist critique of pre-modern religion and the postmodernist critique of modernism (including science) are true.
Spirituality with intelligent thought: not a bad idea
27 people found this helpful.
on October 3, 2006
By Shashank Singh
The previous reviewer has done a great job summarizing the content in this book, so I’ll just make a few simple comments. This book will probably be most enjoyed by people who have some familiarity with Ken Wilber’s work (thought this is not necessary). Not a lot of time is spent defining and suiting his theory (thank goodness, since he’s already done that in a hand-full of previous books). It was refreshing to see Wilber present some significant new ideas, some revisions of previous ideas, and he also began to relate different parts of his model to each other in a more dynamic fashion (thought there is still a long way to go).
Problems with Ken Wilber
30 people found this helpful.
on December 27, 2006
By Walter J. Gordon
I have read just about all of Wilber’s material and find him extremely insightful, needless to say. But I continue to have certain major reservations. First, is “enlightenment” the goal of all religous/spiritual paths? Wilber talks only or almost exclusively of the “contemplative/medative traditions”.The implication being that “spirituality” only occurs primarily between the alone and the Alone or is primarily an “intellective”(cognitive)spirituality. When he discusses the Judeo/Christian tradition he points to the contemplative traditions within them (Father Keating, e.g.) but never addresses the essence of the tradition itself. Surely Kabbalah and the mystical/monastic tradition in Christianity are not the heart and soul of these traditions although they might fall within the broad scope of their historical manifestations. I would like to imagine a conversation, e.g. of Ken Wilber with Marin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas,along with a liberation theologian like Sebastian Kappen S.J. and a poltical theologican as Johann Baptist Metz. I don’t believe these religious teachers would primarily approach the Judeo/Christian tradition as a contemplative tradition. Rather was not Jesus a prophet in very much the style of the Hebrew prophets? And was the practice of Jesus and the Prophets not primarily monastic meditation but an immersion in the sufferings of the people of their day? Was not service the primary praxis? This does not deny the need for prayer or contemplation but it does not isolate this practice either as the quintessential praxis of the Hebrew or Jesus’s way of life. When Wilber discusses the “Spirit in 2nd Person” he points to only the “alone with the Alone” version. This is not the Judeo/Christian approach. Rather it is through service to our brothers and sisters in the world that we encounter the great Mystery, the great Thou. The ego purification comes about not primarily in one’s solitude but rather in one’s ego being rubbed raw in the existential immersion in the pain of the world.The dark night of the soul comes about in the midst of the world as it did for Jesus and the prophets. As Abraham Heschel once wrote: “The more deeply immersed I become in thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the prophets sought to convery: that morally speaking there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings.” It would seem to me that if we look at Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan as pointing to the very essence of his way, could we not say that we could have all the highest states, all the highest stage persectives, and the deepest of awareness and yet walk right by the man in the ditch fully AQAL-ed (so to speak). In Wilber’s scheme maybe we could say that the Judeo/Christian tradition prioritizes the moral/ethical line as well as emphasing the exterior doing of a way along with the interior growth of the inner person? Wilber once made the comment that a spiritual path could arise in any one of the four quadrants. And yet he exclusively focuses on quadrant one. Could we not say that the Judeo/Christian spirituality arises in quadrants 3 and 4 (compassion -3; and justice-4?)I would be very interested in a Wilberian’s response to these queries.
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