- Integral Meditation by Ken Wilber
- Format: Paperback
Research suggests that human beings experience two quite different types of growth and development. These are defined as the processes of “Growing Up” and that of “Waking Up”.
From a psychospiritual perspective it is quite common to come across individuals who are seen as being grown up – that is to say that they have matured as people, but who have yet to become spiritually awakened or enlightened.
Conversely it is also possible for a person to be aware of their spiritual essence but who are relatively immature in nature.
In his book Integral Meditation Ken Wilbur, the author of over twenty-five books on philosophical and spiritual traditions, shares with his readers some of the techniques that he utilises at the Integral Institute when exploring and unifying these two seemingly separate aspects to personal growth.
The Hidden Maps of Development
In his book Wilbur identifies several key stages or levels related to he process of Growing Up.
These, he maintains, have emerged within humanity in a linear fashion, progressing initially from the Archaic Stage – one which is exemplified by the early stage of a child and their emerging awarenes of their immediate environment.
The final stage of the process – one which Wilbur believes is currently slowly emerging within humanity, relates less to personal concerns but which edges towards the establishment of a new consideration of our place within any broader Universal plan.
The Steps to Enlightenment
On the other hand the stages involved in the Waking Up process follows a less established path and requires, as Wilbur himself states, “.. a considerable amount of time, effort, and energy to peruse.’
At this point Wilbur Introduces the principles of mindfulness meditation as a practice through which this path is eased. He explores the state of consciousness that emerges from its practice and the benefits this can bring along the personal evolutional path.
The Four Quadrants
Wilbur moves into the third section of his book by introducing his concept of the AQAL which he states is a framework of “…four fundamental dimensions or perspectives through which virtually anything can be viewed…”
These principles can be expressed through several different modalities but simply represented Wilbur refers to them as the conditions of I, We, It and It’s.
Finally, the book closes with a summarisation of Integral Therapy and its purported importance as an emerging spiritual philosophy.
It is always useful to have a general construct by which to evaluate society, humanity and spiritual evolvement. In other words a map via which the journey – along with its obstacles and opportunities are defined.
If Integral Meditation is thought of as Ken Wilbur’s attempt to steer his readers through the process of circumnavigating the spiritual globe then it somewhat fails for should you decide to follow his directives then you should also expect to get lost and quite disorientated along the way!
This book is not, I repeat not, an easy, or accommodating read. I should know as I made several attempts to engage with Wilbur’s ideas here but all were ultimately doomed to failure due to his simple lack of ability to convey his ideas into a meaningful or digestible form.
Often he resorts, when expanding upon his theories, to resort to indecipherable jargon of no particular relevance to known spiritual concepts. Added to this his tendency to create his own complex phrases and terms and you are left, as a reader, disorientated and confused.
Are Wilbur’s ideas valueless or is he simply unable to convey them clearly? I do not know the answer to this albeit to say that any attempt to pigeon-hole humanity and spiritual evolution into such a disjointed framework is always going to be open to criticism and denigration.
Not a book for the faint-hearted nor for one looking for guidance on mindfulness – despite the book’s title.