Guruphiliac: Winnowing Out Wilber

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

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!!"

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.
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.

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.


At 8/16/2006 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately all Resnick's comments show is that he's not really familiar with Wilber's output, but is familiar with discursive gossip and rumor associated with Mr. Wilber.

He was even offered repeatedly videos by one of the members on the aforementioned list and has apparently never even bothered to watch them. I did-- and If he had, perhaps his observations wouldn't be so flawed or Nation Enquirer-esque.

Just more Guruphiliac misinformation. No surprise there!

At 8/16/2006 7:32 AM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

perhaps his observations wouldn't be so flawed or Nation Enquirer-esque.

National Enquirer-esque is a compliment around here.

Just more Guruphiliac misinformation.

To someone wasting their lives as a "Wilberian monk", of course it is!

Do you bow in the direction of Fiji three times a day?

At 8/16/2006 9:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Wilberian monk" was a joke.

At 8/16/2006 9:38 AM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

"Wilberian monk" was a joke.

So was my comment about it.

At 8/16/2006 9:53 AM, Blogger guruphiliac said...

BTW: If you have a problem with Stuart's opinion, go to the discussion group and discuss it with him:

At 8/16/2006 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world is full of people who had an experience meditating and then quit practicing in order to write a book about it....

Wiber's claim to fame is the fact that he just happens to have published more books about his supposed "enlightenment" than most who lost their path. Really, does anyone truly find "the four quadrants" at all revolutionary? The real problem is the fact that they should be printed on toilet paper and then they would actually be useful for something other than killing trees.

At 8/16/2006 2:07 PM, Blogger stuartresnick said...

> Unfortunately all Resnick's
> comments show is that he's not
> really familiar with Wilber's
> output, but is familiar with
> discursive gossip and rumor
> associated with Mr. Wilber.

You're wrong that I'm responding to gossip and rumor. I'm reacting to statements like this (verbatim from Wilber's letter to the Adidam community in 1997):

"Do I believe that Master Adi Da is the greatest Realizer of all time? I certainly believe He is the greatest living Realizer."

If you want to Realize, then pay a little attention and you'll realize the truth of this moment. I say: it's a pointless and stupid exercise to talk about "Realizing" as a competitive sport, the way Wilber does here.

(Wilber actually makes 2 errors. The first is to make the duality of greater/lesser Realizer, and the 2nd is to be so arrogant as to pretend that he, Wilber, can be the judge of who the greatest Realizer is!)

Is it rumor and gossip that Wilber breathlessly endorsed Adi Da like this, just as he now endorses Andrew Cohen? While I don't care about Wilber per se, it's a useful point to slam the way Wilber's view (as expressed in the quote above) encourages people to look outside towards, some special person, for "realization," rather than believing in oneself.

I don't care what anyone thinks of Wilber as a person -- I never met the man -- but the views I'm addressing here can do lots of harm, and deserve to be knocked down.


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