Winnowing Out Wilber
File under: The Siddhi of PR
Over at the Guruphiliac Yahoo! discussion group, Ken Wilber is currently being batted about. Reader and commentator Stuart Resnick offers his take on why he has a problem with the guy:
I think it was the "Onion" that did this gag article about a spiritual olympics. There'd be meditation competition, to see who could achieve the most tranquility in 2 minutes, and the winning swami would jump up and down, screaming at his fans, "I am the serenest!!"While we're not sure we agree that Wilber is only going for a gold medal in serenity for himself, we do like Stuart's points regarding the essential illusoriness of "big meditation experiences" vis-à-vis actual self-realization.
That's what Wilber makes me think of. People do meditation and get these special states, then do what you like with them. In Buddhism, it's suggested that when you get something from meditation practice, you find a way to use it to help people ("save all beings from suffering"). It's a way of not feeding "I, my, me."
Getting big meditation experiences is like having a sharp knife. You can use it to perform surgery and save someone's life, or to commit murder. So the direction (i.e., the intention to use everything for all beings, not just myself) is as important as the experience itself.
My Zen master used to say, "Enlightenment is easy to get, difficult to keep." One moment you may attain perfect clarity, and the next moment that special state of clarity may become just one more attachment.
Wilber seems to be a guy who got some of those special, transient mind-states, and then chose to make it all into a competition. "Look at me! I'm at a higher level of evolution!" All his teaching seems to be about making levels, comparisons, distinctions. That may have its place, but where's the recognition that all things are already perfect and complete in this moment? In his crusade to become The Serenest, Wilber has lost this point.
It's standard operating procedure for big-time gurus to encourage and reinforce peoples' attachments to their meditation experiences. That way they can inject themselves as being indispensable in the spiritual lives of their devotees and thereby cop the glory most of them seem to feel is their due.