A provocative examination of how the great religious traditions can remain relevant in modern times by incorporating scientific truths learned about human nature over the last century.
A single purpose lies at the heart of all the great religious traditions: awakening to the astonishing reality of the true nature of ourselves and the universe. At the same time, through centuries of cultural accretion and focus on myth and ritual as ends in themselves, this core insight has become obscured. Here Ken Wilber provides a path for reenvisioning a religion of the future that acknowledges the evolution of humanity in every realm while remaining faithful to that original spiritual vision. For the traditions to attract modern men and women, Wilber asserts, they must incorporate the extraordinary number of scientific truths learned about human nature in just the past 100 years - for example, about the mind and brain, emotions, and the growth of consciousness - that the ancients were simply unaware of and thus were unable to include in their meditative systems. Taking Buddhism as an example, Wilber demonstrates how his comprehensive Integral Approach - which is already being applied to several world religions by some of their adherents - can avert a "cultural disaster of unparalleled proportions": the utter neglect of the glorious upper reaches of human potential by the materialistic postmodern worldview. Moreover, he shows how we can apply this approach to our own spiritual practice. This, his most sweeping work since Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, is a thrilling call for wholeness, inclusiveness, and unity in the religions of tomorrow.
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Audible works best for me. PDF of charts included
Ken Wilber is an acquired taste. You have to work for understanding, as he covers things broadly and thoroughly. Repetition aids in assimilation, and he is careful to explain as summary each time a term is reused . The first 4 chapters were an overview. Things were "fuzzy", but repetition in the subsequent chapters tend to make all seem more familiar. Listening time is over 30 hours. I plan to listen to it again in about a month and fully expect to understand it all better after the reflection and re-exposure to the terms and jargon which on initial hearing seems overwhelming.
Divergent cultures observe and describe what is known in terms which fit their experience. Wilber presents and integrates these over the grid work he helped to develop. He has been working in this field for decades, and this is a very good rendering of his thesis. The presentation is simple, but not simplistic. Effort to understanding will be rewarded, partly because he summarizes each time he reintroduces a word or concept. I did not find this annoying, but comforting and helpful.
In an overview of Integral Spiral Dynamics, you can see things at a "higher level" looking "downward" at a previous level that cannot be understood from the "lower levels" looking upward, as the awareness and vocabulary is not yet available or present at that lower level.I suggest Ala Alda's "If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?" as helpful in developing communication skills to encourage dialog instead of name calling between the stages or levels.
I found the narrator easy to listen to. Being "English", the narration is little like hearing Shakespearean performance in that attention is required until you get the flow under control of your "ear". He aided the work as it captured the "conversational style" of the written work.
What passes as "political discussion" today is appalling. Re-framing this in the awareness of "States of Development" has been helpful.
- Thomas Jay Janson, DDS