I / Its / We are Not a Cult

I have always shielded myself from cultish mentality. There was a time when I almost got sucked into the New Age vortex after being fascinated by The Celestine Prophecy. But I moved on. Then my interest in the occult, extra-terrestrial life, and panspermia was awakened by watching sci-fi films, attending mind development seminars, and reading Sitchin books to put me to sleep. I eventually lost interest, and I moved on. Then my interest in spirituality blossomed when I read Carlos Castaneda and after a chance encounter with a Buddhist pamphlet offering the key of immediate enlightenment. I practiced for a while, then I moved on. Then I got interested in science, quantum physics, consciousness, read a few books, learned stuff, got bored shit, then I moved on. And then there’s Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory. All of a sudden I’ve downloaded this meta-theory/philosophy which empowered me to organize all the stuff and baggage I’ve previously learned. And this has been my plateau, for now.

This doesn’t mean that I gave up being critical. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Integral Theory, it’s that I don’t have to take anything too seriously. By not taking anything too seriously, I can make room for any idea that crosses my stream of consciousness, and yet still be critical. And since the map is never the territory, Integral Theory was never exempted from criticism. I am not alone in this kind of mentality. In fact, most of the people I know who are familiar with Integral Theory have the same (or even better) attitude towards it. So whenever I read or hear someone indiscriminately calling Integral Theory enthusiasts as a “cult” (or Wilberoids, or Wilberites, or Wilberphiles), I just shake my head and walk away. But when former I-I insiders write impassioned criticisms of Wilber, I-I, and Integral Theory, I pay closer attention… just before I walk away.

Michel Bauwens’s criticisms hit close to home. However, no matter how truthful his tone, it’s still coming from just his own perspective, as he decently acknowledged. But his criticisms also include, to me, a very valuable attitude each of us must always keep in mind in our never-ending quest and thirst for transclusion:

You don’t have to follow me in this interpretation of the above incident, which may cloud my judgement because it generated such feelings of hurt and disappointment, but what it did to me was to free me from my fixation on Wilber. For years, I had been relying on his interpretations, and had not read enough primary material. So what happened is that I started a process that would lead to further criticisms. But please note that what I had done so far: as I was searching for the ‘truth out there’, thinking that it wasn’t in me, I had often given my spiritual discernement away to others, first spiritual masters, and finally, a theorizer. So in many ways it was liberating because I clearly felt from that moment on, that the locus of spiritual discernment was within myself, and that nobody, has a claim to the absolute truth. I would venture the hypothesis that the attractiveness of the grand Wilberian scheme is that it functions as an ultimate answer, an all-encompassing system, and that I am not the only one who placed my discernement outside of myself, to an external arbiter.

Also, let’s always keep in our gray matter and hearts what Integral Theory is really all about…

the real intent of my writing is not to say, you must think in this way. The real intent is: here are some of the many important facets of this extraordinary Kosmos; have you thought about including them in your own worldview? My work is an attempt to make room in the Kosmos for all of the dimensions, levels, domains, waves, memes, modes, individuals, cultures, and so on ad infinitum.

For me, that’s what Integral Theory is, and then some. The rest are just details.

p.s. While you’re at it, check out Michel Bauwens’s essay, P2P and Human Evolution: Placing Peer to Peer Theory in an Integral Framework. Good stuff. I wonder why Michel doesn’t have a blog.

p.p.s. I think I’ve already blogged too much Integral Stuff for this week. I’m now getting bored. So I’ll take a break from this intellectual pooh-flinging, drink a hot cup of coffee, and get myself a life.

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