Ken Wilber Interview Transcript

Ken Wilber # 452

April 30, 2018

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>>Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done hundreds of them now and if this is new to you, go to and look under the ‘Past Interviews’ menu.

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My guest today is Ken Wilber and I’m delighted to have Ken on the show, I’ve wanted to have him on for years and we’re finally doing it. It’s hard to really do justice to Ken in any short bio, like the one I’m about to read, but let me read this and then we will flesh it out a little bit more. And we have a whole list of points and topics we want to discuss today.

So, Ken, has over two dozen published books translated in nearly as many languages, he has created what is widely considered the first truly comprehensive Integral Map of human experience. By exploring and integrating the major insights and conclusions of nearly every human knowledge domain in existence, Ken created the revolutionary AQAL Integral Framework, which we will be explaining more in this discussion.

In short, the Integral Approach is the coherent organization, coordination, and harmonization of all of the relevant practices, methodologies, and experiences available to human beings. Ken states: “You can’t [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy.”

He is the founder of the nonprofit think tank Integral Institute, co-founder of the transformational learning community Integral Life, co-founder of Source Integral exploring the nature of Integral Society, and the current chancellor of Ubiquity University.

So, welcome Ken.

>>Ken: Welcome, good to be here.

>>Rick: Yeah. Let’s throw in a few biographical tidbits. In one interview you said you wrote your first ten books while working fulltime as a dishwasher, I thought that was interesting!

>>Ken: So yes, I did all of my formal education in things, like coming to Duke University and medical school, and decided that wasn’t really creative enough. I switched over to biochemistry, did a graduate degree in that, I thought I could do research. But none of those were really addressing all of those sort of silly questions about “Who am I? Why are we here? What does it all mean?”

And so it was about that time that I discovered Eastern traditions and this just blew me wide open, I had never heard anything like it. It certainly wasn’t the spirituality that I got in Sunday School. And so I just became absolutely enthused, totally enthused with these what seemed to be much deeper approaches to spirituality and seemed to steer away from the frankly, really problematic sort of fundamentalist approaches, you know “Every word in the Bible is literally true. Moses really did part the Red Sea,” all that kind of stuff.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Ken: And the Eastern approach to spirituality had nothing to do with that. They weren’t a matter of believing dogmatic, mythic, literal stories; they were technologies of consciousness transformation. And this is radically new to me, I had never seen anything like it, and of course, I got completely taken up with it.

And so I started practicing Zen, I started studying Vedanta, I managed to come back around to forms of Christian contemplation, working with Taoism – I went through at least a dozen of the world’s major traditions.

While I was doing that I had dropped out of graduate school because that truly wasn’t interesting me at all, and I was with a woman at the time, and we eventually got married for ten years, and I came home one day and said, “I’m going to drop out of graduate school and I want to write a book.”

And I told my professors that. They were used to talking about biochemical pathways and about thesis research and so on, and I said, “No, I’m going to write a book on the soul and consciousness and stuff!” and they just absolutely freaked out, they thought I had gone completely stark raving insane, but I did.

And after studying …well, the initial approach was that I would study a particular approach, like let’s say Gestalt Therapy, then I would study Zen, then practice them. Then I went to psychoanalysis and then I would get Vedanta. And there was something profoundly correct and important and useful in all of them. But unfortunately, most of them also contradicted each other, disagreed with each other in really profound ways and this started to become confusing to me.

And it dawned on me that before I was going to be able to get from sort of an unhappy state to a happy state, I was going to have to get from this confused state to an unconfused state. So I really wanted to know how all these various approaches fit together, if there was some sort of larger, overall, integrating framework that would allow each of their respective strengths to fit together in a way where they weren’t just blatantly disagreeing with each other.

And so I spent a couple of years studying that and when I was 23 came up with my first book, called The Spectrum of Consciousness, and it gave at least one version of how to bring together all of these major approaches to self-realization, including Gestalt, psychoanalysis, Jungian, Vedanta, Zen, Taoism, and so on. And the book is called, like I said, The Spectrum of Consciousness, and even though I was 23 at the time, it sort of catapulted me into a kind of semi-fame and that got my career started.

So what I had to do though in order to make a living is that I agreed with my partner, the woman I was living with, that we would just split costs down the middle, so we would each pay half the rent, each pay half the phone, that kind of thing. So I had to go out to some sort of job, and I ended up basically working in a place called the Red Rooster Restaurant, and it was the finest fried chicken in a five-state area.

And so working there and ended up … my job there was bussing tables and washing dishes, which by the way is the lowest, lowest possible role in a restaurant that you can have.

>>Rick: I’ve done it.

>>Ken: That’s the bottom of the bottom of the bottom of the jobs that you can get. Turned out to be sort of perfect for me because I was very, very much into Zen at that time, so those kinds of roles had a very Zen flavor to them, and so it all kind of fit together.

But I did for the next ten years work as a dishwasher and a bus-boy, and I also during those ten years wrote about a book a year. And so that’s what kind of really, really got me into the field and then after the point that I’d written about ten books, and these are being translated into eventually upwards of almost 30 foreign languages, then I could start to support myself. And that’s just essentially what I kept doing all the way to today.

>>Rick: Cool. I have a follow-up question which will take me a minute to ask and you can go with it. So, you mentioned a number of things you had done and a couple of other things I was aware of were Adi Da, TM, Philip Kapleau, some Tibetan Buddhist masters, Shabd Yoga. And a number of years ago you made a video where you hooked yourself up to an EEG machine and showed how different kinds of meditation changed your brain waves. I think it’s called “Ken Wilber Stops His Brain,” or something like that.

And at one point I think you suspended virtually all your brain waves while maintaining what you describe as a certain kind of witnessing.

>>Ken: Right.

>>Rick: You mention that you were doing a very specific and rare kind of meditation to achieve this. So I have a two-part question: is it possible to describe the meditation you were doing? –that’s one part, and the second part is, many people I interview say they have experienced a significant and abiding awakening, at the risk of putting you on the spot, have you?

>>Ken: Yeah. Okay, well, that “Ken Wilber Stops His Brain Waves,” that’s not actually a specific type of meditation that is taught in almost any of the traditional forms of meditation. There are some similar ones. In Theravada for example, you can get into what is called nirvikalpa or even deeper, something called Nirodha. Nirodha means complete cessation, so that no objects arising in manifestation at all, and in the deepest point, that is the state of Nirvana, where there is just no samsara, no manifestation arising at all. And those are very real states.

We saw shocking examples of them during the Vietnam War, where monks protesting the War would get into their lotus position and then get into that state of Nirodha or Nirvana or cessation, where nothing is arising, no manifest forms arising, and because of that, they were literally free of all pain, all suffering, all desire, all ego …

>>Rick: We hope.

>>Ken: And so immune were they to any sort of painful stimuli, continuing to sit in these … in their lotus positions. They had their bodies doused in gasoline and set on fire, and every one of them burned to the ground, completely to ashes, and not one of them even flinched. Now that’s a real state of cessation, that is a real state of Nirvana, and that’s why Nirvana claims it’s free of pain, free of suffering, and so on, it is. It’s a very real state and you can get into it.

The state that I got into was similar to that in that a lot of major activities are being stopped, but it was also a combination, it’s very hard to explain. It was also a combination of Dzogchen type of inquiry.

If somebody comes up to you and says, for example, “How do you feel from a physical point of view?” You can introspect and say, “I sort of feel sort of a little twitchy, a little comfortable, I have some muscle pains,” whatever it is, you have some sort of response to how you felt physically. And then we can say, “Well how do you feel emotionally?” And you would introspect and you would come up with some sort of certain response on how you felt emotionally.

And then I could say, “Okay, how do you feel mentally?” And you would introspect and come up with some sort of response to that. Now, what if I say to you, “How do you feel right now from all three of those perspectives, at once?” Now almost always the first thing that happens when you are asked that kind of question is your mind just goes blank

>>Rick: Yeah, it goes more silent.

>>Ken: And it’s just an asking, a questioning, an inquiring. But nothing is really arising at first; it’s just a pure, clear, awareness, without any real activity. Some people get the same kind of state if they’re walking around a corner and somebody jumps out and goes “Boo!” And then for just a microsecond or two you are just electrically frozen. Nothing is arising, you don’t feel any jerkiness or fear, anything, but just for a few seconds, you are just pure clarity, without even moving. And then all of a sudden, emotions start going out, your heart starts pounding and all that, but for that second or two you are in that really pure place of just sheer clarity.

Same as if somebody says, “How do you feel from all those different perspectives?” That’s the closest I can describe the type of attitude that I get into where these brain states just really go, essentially while on the screen they just all go to zero. Of course, they’re not totally zero because the brain cells are still alive, I mean, the brain is not actually flatlining; it’s not dead.

But what the very sophisticated EEG machine shows is that in left and right hemispheres, beta, theta, and alpha are all zero, and there is nothing but delta, which is equated with deep, dreamless sleep, turiya – the pure witness, the transcendental awareness. And that was constant during all of this because I had been meditating for over a decade by then and have a fairly constant state of witnessing available to me.

So to answer the second question, and traditionally teachers avoid that question because it is completely paradoxical, Because if you say, “Oh yes, I’m enlightened,” then that’s taken to be egoic bragging, and if you say, “No, I’m not enlightened,” then that’s taken to be, “Well, why should I study with you?”

>>Rick: Yeah, right.

>>Ken: So dammed if you do and damned if you don’t. But putting aside those subtleties, we know what that means, we know that even though the enlightened state is said to be, almost universally, to be a state that is ever-present, that cannot be attained because it is literally, 100% of it is present right now and you are 100% aware of it, so there is no “bringing it into being;” it’s absolutely unattainable.

The Prajnaparamita Sutras say over and over and over again, “If you could only understand that enlightenment is unattainable, you would be enlightened.” And it is unattainable because it is already present. You can’t attain that enlightened state any more than you can attain your lungs or acquire your feet.

>>Rick: Also, everything that anybody attains is usually something other than themselves. You know, “I attain” a certain job or “I attain” a certain experience, but what we’re alluding to here is something which you are, it’s not anything other than yourself.

>>Ken: And then the paradox is, yes, that’s true, and usually when you have a so-called “satori,” “metamorphosis,” or “moksha,” one of the most common things that people will report when they get that oneness with everything, is that as extraordinary and outrageous as it can feel, a very common component is: “Oh, that! God, I really had known that my entire life, before my life. I’ve known it before the Big Bang. I’ve always known this!” And that’s a very strong part of genuine waking up experiences.

So Zen actually has a statement that sort of encapsulates this paradox, and it goes like this: If in training for the Tao, if there is any discipline in the attempt to get it, then the completion of that discipline marks the destruction of the Tao. However, if there is no discipline in the Tao, one remains ignoramus.

So that’s the paradox. It is always already fully present, literally, 100%, and there’s never a point in your life when you are not directly in touch with that fully enlightened mind, and that includes during waking, dream, and deep sleep. It’s a constant consciousness that is always present.

But, clearly, there are times when you realize that and then you can also look back and realize there are times you didn’t realize that. So it could be fully present, but you still didn’t see it. And then when you see it, one of the things you realize is, “Ah! I’ve always known this. This is the one thing I’ve always known. This is the only thing I can know. It is the only thing that’s real. Of course, I was aware of it.”

So within that paradox, understanding that … well, the first sort of satori I had was with a Zen teacher named ??. And I had been in a state of witnessing for several days and he knew that, so he walked behind me and he said …

>>Rick: And let me just interject here. So when you say “witnessing,” just to make sure everybody understands your terminology, and “for several days,” does that mean 24/7, even in deep sleep?

>>Ken: Yes.

>>Rick: Okay.

>>Ken: And then Ken Gary said, “The witness is the last stand of the ego.” And with that, the witness just completely disappeared and there was just this direct, radical oneness with everything that was arising. There was no separate self, no Ken Wilber in that sense, although this thing in Ken Wilber was arising, I wasn’t identified with that more than I was with the chair, table, or the woods outside. It was just all part of manifestation, all arising, and what I was, was all of that; one with absolutely everything that was arising, moment to moment.

That was my true self, and that realization, again, it’s paradoxical. You can realize and understand that it is actually the only thing that’s ever 100% real, it’s the only thing that you are aware of all the time, and then as soon as you have this paradoxical waking up to that, then you realize that that’s been this reality that you’ve known all along.

So those kinds of waking up, those kinds of satoris or kenshos, moksha experiences and so on, those continue to deepen over the years. And it got to the point where most of the time I was what’s called constant consciousness, which is that you are aware 24 hours of the day, through waking, dream, deep sleep, as a tacit awareness through all of that, unbroken.

That still can deepen and I think actually, there is almost no limit to how much it can keep deepening, even though when you get those early realizations they are staggeringly profound, and it’s really clear that if there is an ultimate reality, this is it.

And I would say that well over 90% of people that have that kind of deep satori agree that this is the most real thing they have ever seen. And it doesn’t matter if these people are ditch-diggers, waitresses, PhDs, technologists, doctors, lawyers … 95% of them agree, “Okay, this is it, this is reality.”

And that’s why it has stuck around for thousands of years. Not many people have it because it’s still not that well-known, but those that do have it, know it! And it changes their lives, clearly, profoundly

>>Rick: Yeah. So one of the major things we’re going to talk about today is your theme of “waking up, cleaning up, growing up,” and also, I’d like to also talk about your notion of “lines of development.” And maybe those two are synonymous or maybe they are sort of overlapping like a Venn diagram and relate to each other.

>>Ken: Sure.

>>Rick: So let’s launch into that and I’ll have questions for you as we go along. Maybe you could give people an overview.

>>Ken: Yeah, okay. It used to be, and this happened even …it was certainly what most of the great traditions believed, and even in the 1960s and 70s as Eastern traditions rushed into the United States and there were several new schools of psychology that were founded by some of the very, very greatest psychologists in America and around the world.

And one in particular called Transpersonal Psychology was founded by Abraham Maslow, one of America’s two or three greatest psychologists, and it was specifically to study these kinds of satori or enlightenment or waking up experiences because you just didn’t find that in psychology anywhere in the West, but clearly something profound was going on.

And so that school started and when it started, almost everybody felt strongly that if you got a satori, everything was fixed. If you had unconscious shadow elements and you had satori, it would wipe out all of those shadow elements. If you had any problems in your life, having a satori would absolutely fix them because satori is you’re becoming one with God, you’re becoming one with Spirit, you’re becoming one with everything! How could you possibly go wrong under those circumstances?

And we had articles written, literally by the hundreds, explaining about how when you get satori it lifts the repression barrier, all the shadow stuff comes up and is integrated, you start developing through all the developmental scales – Maslow’s scales, Kohlberg’s scales, Loewenthal’s scales, you just whip through all of those, everything is cool Get satori and you are superman! You are superwoman! It’s all taken care of.

We believed that, strongly, for several years, for at least a decade. By the end of that time we started realizing, “Wait a minute, some things are not quite right here.” And to make a long story short, after watching for about 15 years – that’s about how long it’s been since these Eastern traditions came into this country – and we’ve watched teachers, spiritual teachers, meditation students, we’ve watched them for 50 years.

And we’ve found that the waking up experience is profound and it does a staggering number of things, but that there are also a huge number of things that it doesn’t fix at all. And you can just list the dozens … not even obvious things like that it won’t make you a great banker, get satori and you won’t know how to do the Schrödinger wave equation in quantum mechanics, get satori and you won’t be able to run a 4-minute mile, get satori and you won’t lose 80 pounds, so an enormous number of things it didn’t do.

So what did it do? Well, there are a couple of areas that we really thought that it did [make a difference] that we found out it really didn’t. One of them was what we call “cleaning up,” and in other words, “cleaning up” is referring to psychotherapeutic, psychoanalytic, various forms of practices that help individuals uncover, come to grips with, and integrate their shadow elements.

Shadow elements are various types of emotions, feelings, thoughts, and impulses that you yourself are uncomfortable with, for various reasons. Take anger, for example, maybe your parents told you that you shouldn’t have anger, maybe the religion you were brought up in said you can’t have anger, maybe you just felt extremely uncomfortable whenever you had anger, and so you would push it out of awareness, you would actually disown it.

But pushing it away didn’t actually make it go away, it turned it into very painful neurotic symptoms, occasionally even psychotic, and that was a real problem. Now originally, during the period where we thought the satori did everything, we thought it would cure shadow elements. We what we found as we watched people meditate for 50 years is that it did not necessarily address shadow elements, and in some cases, it made it worse.

Because one of the stances of meditation, for example, one type of meditation is just witnessing, where something comes up and you go, “I had that but I’m not that. I’m aware of that but I’m not that. I see that but I’m not that,” and just pure disidentification, disidentification, disidentification. The problem with shadow anger is that you’ve pushed it out of your system, you haven’t integrated it, and as you push it farther and farther away, you’re just continuing to disassociate it, you’re not integrating it.

Before you can actually let go of it you have to fully own it, if not, you’re just aggravating the disassociation, you’re aggravating the repression. You’re not owning it, you’re disowning it, and that’s what meditation would do, it made it worse.

>>Rick: Let me interject a question here. Now you know, some of the ancient traditions, like Buddhism, have all sorts of ethical and moral and behavioral admonishments, and Patanjali with his Yamas and Niyamas, so it seems like those guys tried to address the “cleaning up” issue.

And when I was studying under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he refuted the notion that Patanjali’s Eight Limbs were sequential; he said that the limbs grow simultaneously, the way the limbs of a body do as it grows, and with the degree that Samadhi grows the other limbs will grow, but as you have been saying here, that doesn’t seem to have panned out in the real world. So I’m more inclined to think along the lines that you are saying now, but what do you make of the fact that these ancient traditions did seem to try to address cleaning up issues?

>>Ken: Yes, that’s very straight forward. Let me just give an example of let’s say, where I’m repressing my anger, and so my anger starts to show up in a recurrent dream I have where there’s a monster chasing me that wants to eat me and devour me. And what I feel every night in that dream is fear, because this thing is about to eat me, this monster, that is my projected anger, is now coming after me because I’m not owning that anger.

And so when that angry monster is coming after me to eat me and I feel overpowering fear, and I’ll wake up breathing fast and sweating and go, “Oh my God!” – if I take that scenario, just that, that there’s a monster chasing me and I feel fear, and I go to the radiations, all the traditions have very sophisticated understanding of defiled emotions, they don’t understand repressed emotions.

So if I got to a tradition, to a teacher, and present this complaint and say, “Here is this dream with this monster chasing me and I’m feeling fear,” then what would happen, like in Tibetan transmutation processes, is they would work with the fear as the primary emotion and they would teach you to go into that fear and have it transform into a higher wisdom, which is how many traditions would work.

Now the only problem with that is, that fear that it is working with isn’t an authentic emotion, it’s a diseased emotion; it is an emotion that is the product of repressed anger. No tradition knows that. So what would actually happen if you took that same dream to like Freud or Fritz Perls, they would first say, “Okay, we want you to talk to this monster back and forth, establish a relationship, find out what it wants, ‘Why are you here? What are you doing? Why are you doing this to me?’ And then change places, you play the monster.”

And so now you’re sitting there [saying], “I want to eat you, I want to kill you.” And so as you play the monster you’re getting in touch with this deep anger. And so you go back and forth talking that, and so then you’re going from being a person that has fear to being a monster that anger. Now that anger is what the real emotion is, that’s where it started, that’s the authentic emotion.

And so the final step is okay, now you identify with that monster, let that monster be you, reown it and reown that anger. So you take that anger back. You’re not taking fear into yourself, that’s a false emotion, and if you take that false emotion into yourself, you’ve reduced a false wisdom.

You first have to take the anger back and make that real, so that you have the anger pointing that way and the monster is you, you are simply projecting it. You won’t get that in any of the traditions because that kind of repressed emotion wasn’t discovered until about 100, 150 years ago by Freud, Jung, Adler, Otto Rank, and so on.

And so from that understanding of actually repressed, dissociated emotions, we find that only in the modern West. We find it in none of the spiritual traditions, East or West, anywhere, all they do is deal with whatever emotions are there, but they don’t understand all of the psychodynamic processes that can make those emotions to be false, inauthentic emotions, and not the real source of the problem. The source is an even deeper emotion that’s getting repressed and then turns into these other emotions.

That’s what the traditions work with, “cleaning up” works with the actual source of the emotional problem, and that’s why we found that even as people meditate, and some people have been meditating 50 years and their shadows, meaning “repressed emotions,” were not only not getting better, but in many cases, they were getting bigger because as I said, some forms of meditation make repressed emotions worse.

So what we’re saying is that there is a process of waking up that’s incredibly important, but this process of cleaning up (actually working with repressed, dissociated, disowned emotions), that discovery humanity figured out only about 150 years ago. And so that’s much too recent to appear in any of the world’s great spiritual traditions and in fact, it appears in none of them.

So those two things (waking up and cleaning up)… that’s one of the things that we split off: you can’t expect a spiritual teacher … what you can expect them to do is to help you wake up, if they’re a good teacher, if they are an authentic teacher, not all of them are, but if they’re authentic, that’s what you can get. But you’re not going to get cleaning up, no matter how good a teacher is, unless they’ve actually studied practices for cleaning up.

And of course, that’s what we do and call “Integral Spirituality,” but almost no spiritual systems out there have a good understanding of cleaning up. And that’s really a disaster because almost everybody that goes into religion or spirituality, they almost always have some sort of shadow elements that are part of their motivation. They are in there because of enormous guilt, or because of obsessive-compulsive drives, or deep types of jealousy, or anxiety, or depression, and those can only be reached by going to the original forms themselves and not simply by using techniques way up here where secondary emotions are being produced, that won’t do it.

So what we want to start doing is saying, “Okay, with more complete forms of spiritual practice we do want to include waking up” – and we talked a little bit about that, about being one with everything and waking up to that, so we’re now adding “cleaning up.”

We can talk about that and then I’ll go on to the next major one, which is the “growing up” factor and talk about why that’s important.

>>Rick: Okay, so what I have heard you saying here is you know, just as the modern sciences such as physics, chemistry, etcetera, know all kinds of things that the founders of the ancient traditions couldn’t possibly have known and didn’t know, even the modern science of psychology, if we want to call it a “science,” has something amazing or valuable to contribute that the founders of these traditions didn’t know …

>>Ken: Right.

>>Rick: And moreover, well, you mentioned how the shadow stuff can get actually magnified in an awakened being. And unfortunately, we have all too many examples of that, where these people who apparently are highly enlightened and who radiate Shakti and who are amazingly charismatic and articulate and everything else, are behaving in ways that their followers think, “I wouldn’t behave that way, why is this guy behaving that way?”

And then they think, “Well, who knows, he’s enlightened and he must be in tune with God and so it’s crazy wisdom, and who am I to say,” and they do all this rationalizing and sort of jettison their discrimination, which creates huge problems.

>>Ken: Yes, yes. That’s part of the problem and that’s part of … if spirituality is going to actually survive into tomorrow, it’s clearly going to have to take these things into account. And we see this especially when we get to the topic of “growing up,” but right now it’s pretty well known that traditional religion, which usually doesn’t include these types of waking up practices or practices for liberation and satori and moksha, but just more of a fundamentalist Christian or fundamentalist Muslim, or Orthodox Jew and so on, and even a large number of practicing Buddhists and practicing Hindus, those are essentially belief systems about how to get them reborn into some happy afterlife, some Buddha heaven. Which by the way, you can’t get enlightenment in those heavens; in order to get enlightenment you have to have a precious human body, which means you have to be on this earth, in this life, in this body to get enlightenment.

But if religion is going to be able to exist into tomorrow, and I say in this in the background of such data as that in Northern Europe, for example, today, the percentage of the population that considers itself truly spiritual is 11%, that’s down from about 95% during the Middle Ages. Religion is going just like that.

The places that it is starting to catch up are in developing countries and individuals that are starting their growth and development, and we’ll see that when we start looking at what we call “growing up,” the growing up by the levels and stages of development that all human beings go through.

And what we find in those developmental sequences is that that lower stages tend to universally have beliefs and things like magic and mythic, and not in any high sense, not like in true siddhis or paranormal powers or even ESP. There is a fair amount of evidence that things like ESP exist, but we’re talking … when we say “mythic” in this case, we mean something James Fowler called the stage of spiritual development of “Mythic-Literal,” because people believe in myths and they believe that they are to be taken absolutely literally.

So, if you are a Christian fundamentalist you believe that Moses really did part the Red Sea, that Lot’s wife really was turned into a pillar of salt, that God really did rain down locusts on the Egyptians.

>>Rick: Locusts might have happened I think, but I don’t know about the other two. Could have been some environmental plague or something like Utah had when there were these huge locust invasions at one point when the Mormons first went out there. But anyway, continue.

>>Ken: Yes, well, any of those – Christ being born of a biological virgin, those types of things – but the higher stages of growing up don’t have those kinds of beliefs at all. And if we use …well, before I come back to that, let me give a quick intro to really what “cleaning up” is.

>>Rick: Sure.

>>Ken: Because what we found is that human beings have perhaps upwards of a dozen, multiple intelligences. They have cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, aesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, linguistic intelligence, spatial intelligence, and they also have something called “spiritual intelligence.” And spiritual intelligence is just that.

These are called “multiple intelligences,” and these have to do with how individuals think, how they use their intellect to reason about moral situations, aesthetics, interpersonal interactions, and there is a moral intelligence, which means thinking morally about what’s the right thing to do, and so on.

But there is a difference when it comes to spirituality between waking up, which is usually a direct spiritual experience, and then spiritual intelligence in growing up, and that is simply how we think about spirit. It’s an intellect, so it is how we intellectually conceive of God or Spirit of ultimate Reality.

Even when a new Atheist is thinking about ultimate Reality and trying to decide whether it’s there or not, that person is using their spiritual intelligence; they are deciding that there isn’t anything like Spirit. But whenever we … the multiple intelligence called “spiritual intelligence” is [being used] at any time human beings think about ultimate realities or think about what Paul Tillich called “Ultimate Concern.” By definition they are using their spiritual intelligence, whether they are Atheists, Agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, doesn’t matter.

Now spiritual intelligence, like all of the multiple intelligences, they are all very different from each other, but study after study has shown that they are all go through essentially the same levels of intelligence. So you have different lines going through the same levels.

It’s hard to find names for these levels of development because almost any name you use will be coming from just one of the dozen multiple intelligences. So if you say, “Well this level is the level of conformist belief,” well that’s true in the moral line of development but it’s not true in the cognitive line of development. And you can be at a form-operational universal level of cognitive development and have an extremely low level of moral development.

These can all occur at different rates, at different levels. So I give examples of Nazi doctors who have very high levels of cognitive intelligence and very low moral intelligence. So you can see – we call it a psychograph – but you can map how far a person is in cognitive intelligence, how far they are in moral intelligence, how far they are in emotional intelligence, how far they are in aesthetic intelligence and in spiritual intelligence, and so on.

>>Rick: Yeah. Let me ask you a quick question here. Do you know if you pull the leg of a stool, the other legs come along – or a table; they are tightly correlated. Do you feel that with these different lines of development that there is any correlation whatsoever, even like a big stretchy rubber band, or do you feel that they are completely unconnected, like a stool that has been sawed into pieces and you can pull one leg without influencing the others to any degree?

>>Ken: They tend to actually fall into three major groups and the lines in each group tend to develop within about a half stage of each other. So there are the cognitive lines and those tend to be the highest developed in people, and they tend to be necessary but not sufficient for the other multiple lines because if you, for example, were going to introspect and come up with an answer to a question about what is morally the right thing to do, you have to be cognitively aware of that moral line or you won’t even know what it is.

So cognition has to be a little bit ahead of moral development or you won’t be able to see it accurately. There are a few exceptions, but mostly the cognitive is necessary but not sufficient for all the other lines. And so it is often a stage or two higher than the other major two bundles of lines.

The second major one is in some ways the most important and it is what we call the “self-relating.” These are all lines of development that relate to your self-sense, to your very identity as yourself, and so it includes things like Jane Loevinger’s Stages of Ego Development, which is very clearly self-development, but also moral development, Maslow’s needs development, these all tend to develop within about a half stage of each other. But they can be one or two or three or four stages behind the cognitive bundle.

And then there’s another bundle that’s just kind of loose and sometimes can almost stay at zero, and those are the lines that we call “gifts” or “talents,” so things like mathematical intelligence, musical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, which has to do with things like sport capacity, and sometimes artistic intelligence.

There are people that are very high in cognitive intelligence, they are very high in self-development, but they couldn’t play a piano if their life depended on it …

>>Rick: And that seems to be fine, I mean, who cares if Ramana couldn’t shoot a basket like Stephan Curry or something, but one would expect Ramana to have a fairly high level of moral development in keeping with his high level of consciousness. So some things seem to be more logically or correlated and others are irrelevant to those.

>>Ken: You’re right. And all of these, the actual development of these lines through these given levels, that’s what we call “growing up,” and it’s a very specific capacity that humans have. And again, this is a capacity that literally wasn’t discovered until around 100 years ago.

There are now dozens of nature models of psychological development that give their own little tweaks and twists on exactly what development is, how it occurs, and so on, [but] the vast majority of them still have multiple lines, multiple intelligences, and they all have very similar levels of development.

I did one book called Integral Psychology and I included over 100 different developmental models, and I had charts on every one of them. And each of the charts included the stages that each of these 100 different models, how they saw these stages. And what was impressive is that there is a great deal of similarity between all of them. But they are very specific and things that you wouldn’t guess if you were guessing, nor can you see these levels of growing up by introspecting; they are much more like grammar rules.

People brought up in a particular culture, they learn to speak that culture ‘s language quite accurately, they put subject and verb together correctly, they use adjectives and adverbs correctly, in other words, they are following the grammar rules of that language quite correctly; a large system of grammar rules. But if you ask them, “What are those rules you’re following and can you write them down?” Almost nobody could do it!

Most people don’t even know they are following grammar rules very specifically, even though they are using them moment to moment. You and I are using them moment to moment, right now. But we can introspect and we can see these grammar rules at all.

Well, the levels of growing up are just like that. Each level has a different kind of grammar pattern, so each level sees the world profoundly differently. And when you are at one of these levels, and everybody is always at some level of growing up, you can’t introspect and see them, any more than you and I can introspect now and see the rules of grammar, it’s just not going to happen, and so that’s why it took so long for humanity to discover these levels of growing up.

And the problem is because these were only discovered about 100 years ago, that’s much, much, much too recent to be included in any of the great religions or in any spiritual system, worldwide. And that’s why there is not a single religion or single spiritual system anywhere in the world today that has anything like “growing up,” at all.

>>Rick: Couple of questions here, one is that you know, saintliness is in popular culture associated with enlightenment, at least in some circles – you know, we have St. Teresa or St. Francis, and the East also there have been some saintly figures – Anandamayi Ma and so on. Then, on the other hand, you have, like you mentioned, Zen and The Art of War, where you have people who are supposedly highly enlightened and deeply awake advocated very brutal practices in order to perpetuate Japanese culture or whatever.

How do you explain that dichotomy? Could it be perhaps that there are levels of development which include the heart and others which could be very profound, yet which have not really begun to open the territory of heart development?

>>Ken: Well, you can postulate any particular line that you want; I’ve actually seen probably over 50 lines of development that various people have postulated. Most of them don’t hold up, for complex reasons. A line of development is a very specific type of thing, and you do have to demonstrate that it does go through these various stages.

And the stages can be on the one hand very simple, some of them only have about four stages, most of them have between around 6 to 8 stages. So people like Lawrence Kohlberg in Moral Development, Maslow in Needs Development, Loevinger in Ego Development, Carol Gilligan in Women’s Moral Development – these are all levels of development in a particular line and they are all very, very specific, and again, there is an enormous amount of agreement among them.

But each level of development gives you a staggeringly different view, and that includes of course because you have these dozen multiple intelligences, that includes your moral development, your aesthetic development, your emotional development, and so on. And so as these develop, and here is one of the final things that we learned that just sort of changes everything, and that is that growing up and waking up, just like waking up and cleaning up, these are relatively independent.

You can be very high in waking up and very low in growing up. You can be very high in growing up and never have had a waking up experience in your entire life; these are two very different things. And unfortunately, because no religion has an understanding of growing up nor cleaning up, for that matter, but they are fundamentally teaching – if they are looking for ways to get to enlightenment or liberation – they are teaching what they’ve learned about how to help people wake up. But they are not teaching them anything about how to grow up because they know absolutely nothing about it, nor are they teaching them anything about cleaning up because they know absolutely nothing about it …

>>Rick: So, wait a minute now, if they know nothing about it and there isn’t any correlation, then how is it that there does seem to be a fairer abundance of saintliness among the Scriptural records of enlightened people? – you know, [that they are] full of compassion and great love and devotion, and there are all sorts of things like the Bhakti Sutras and all. There does seem to be some kind of correlation, but there are flagrant violations of it nonetheless.

>>Ken: Well, that’s the point. And when all the traditions have some form of ethical guidelines, that’s not what I mean when I say “growing up,” …

>>Rick: But people who have actually embodied those guidelines, not just people who seem to be spontaneously living a saintly life who are also apparently enlightened. There seems to be, you know, a fair number of those people that you can recount if you read all those stories in the Puranas and all that.

>>Ken: But the problem with that is when all of those stories were created and they had certain waking up when they talked about … well, let me first give a very simple version of growing up and you’ll start to see the problem.

>>Rick: Okay.

>>Ken: We can use Carol Gilligan’s version in this case. She found four major stages that all women go through in their moral development. We also find that men go through similar stages but in a different voice. Her first stage she calls “Selfish,” and we also call that “egocentric” – the woman cares only for herself.

The second stage she called “care,” because the woman extends care from herself to a group. Now this group or tribe or clan or nation, it is just one major group. It’s not all groups because that would be too big a step for this development; you have to take it one step at a time. So the first step is expanding your care from just yourself to a larger group of people.

So this is called not “egocentric,” which was the first stage, this is called “ethnocentric” because it is focused on a particular group. And ethnocentric means just that: it is prejudice to that one group because that is the only group it can identify with, that’s the only group that it can feel has the one true way. And so it is notorious, virtually every native culture felt all other cultures were barbarians, were savages, they were not really “up to them.” And this included people who were doing waking up, they felt the same way about these others …

>>Rick: They say Papaji hated the Pakistanis.

>>Ken: … so they extended care and compassion to theirs, not to others. The next stage beyond “Care” Gilligan called “Universal Care,” that’s where the woman extends care to all groups, to all human beings, and attempts to treat all of them fairly regardless of race, color, sex, or creed.

And her final stage was “Integrated,” where the woman learns to integrate both masculine and feminine forms into her being. Now historically, the first time that humanity went from ethnocentric – and by the way, “ethnocentric” was the first time that humanity started to develop paths of waking up, this is where we got Zen and Vedanta, Sufism and Christian contemplative, mystical forms of prayer, The Cloud of Unknowing, Upanishads, and so on. These were all at the ethnocentric stage of development.

So you could take somebody like a Christian fundamentalist who had had profound waking up experience, and by the way, history is full of them. Almost all of the early Christian saints that were so full of love and care were at ethnocentric stages of growing up, even though they were having profound experiences of waking up – remember, these are now two different things.

So on the ethnocentric side, the Christian fundamentalist has a profound experience of waking up, but he is convinced – and it’s an authentic version of walking up, history is full of them – but he is convinced, as a fundamentalist, that the only other kind of people that can have this experience are those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and, “If you don’t do that, you can’t have this experience, sorry.”

>>Rick: So you think that if that experience is genuine it doesn’t tend to soften them up a little bit and make them a little more universal in their perspective? Can you really have that experience full-blown and maintain that adamant fundamentalism?

>>Ken: Every saint in history did.

>>Rick: Are you sure? That’s a bit of a blanket statement. I don’t know, I can’t argue with you on that because I can’t think of any exceptions off the top of my head. But I know in my own experience I’ve become much more broad-minded over the years just through my own growing experiences, even doing this show I’m able to talk to such a wide variety of people.

And there’s a quote from you someplace here: “I have one major rule: everybody is right, more specifically, everybody, including me, has some important pieces of truth and all those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.”

I feel like personally I’ve grown in that kind of perspective over the years, and if even me, then why not some of these great sages and saints?

>>Ken: Well very simple, you live in a world that’s global in its dimensions. You are fully aware not of just egocentric and ethnocentric stages of development; that’s all something somebody 2,000 years ago had. There were no “world-centered” stages of development, they hadn’t emerged in evolution yet; they didn’t emerge until around the Western enlightenment.

And so at that time, in about a 100-year period, from around 1770 to 1870, slavery was outlawed for the first time in all of history. None of these previous cultures that had waking up and had saints that were compassionate and loving are caring … Buddhist monasteries had slaves! St. Paul recommends to slaves, “Love Jesus Christ and obey your master.”

These are deeply racist organizations that are having waking up experiences, and when they say “compassion” they mean only within the limited tribe that they feel can have that experience, and that’s a problem. We see that for at least 3,000 years, until the modern era. And slavery was embraced by every single one of them, so was sexism. Every one of them was patriarchal. Did waking up help that? No.

There is even, and it still lasts to today, I heard a Theravadan Buddhist practitioner the other day, somebody accused Buddhism of being sexist and he said, “Oh, that’s just not true, I can prove it: even a woman can be reborn as a man!”

>>Rick: Hilarious.

>>Ken: Oh, okay, guess you’re not sexist. This is a huge discovery that we made only about a decade ago, that waking up and growing up are essentially different. Now yes, in certain ways they interact, of course, everything interacts with everything, but they can be separated and they tend to run on different tracks.

And if you look at it, there are actually different types of practices that you do when you are trying to wake up versus when you are trying to grow up; they are not the same. Practicing this won’t automatically increase this, and practicing this won’t automatically increase this. And so that’s what’s so important.

The crucial item as I see it is that today for the first time, literally the first time in history, we have a chance to put together waking up and growing up and cleaning up all in one package. And we should start to say, in order to help everybody realize, “If you are going to join a path and it doesn’t include something on all three of those, you’re going to get f#@!$%d. You are going to end up in a bad, bad way because one of these is going to go sour because you’re completely unaware of it, and it is going to be operating in a nasty way that it does, and at some point, it’s going to bite you and you will be extremely unhappy.”

And as we know, that is incredibly common. You have people that are fairly well spiritually, you know, evolved, and then they get into financial, sexual, power screw-ups because they are at a fairly low level of growing up. If somebody is at a world-centered, universal care world-centered stage, they are not going to morally infringe on a student, it’s impossible from that stage. That stage categorically hates that kind of behavior.

But we don’t train for that stage in spiritual practice, we train only for how to transcend individual self. We don’t train for, “Wait, how do you actually help grow that individual self?” Even though you are going to transcend it and you are going to realize the reality of ultimate oneness, you still have to express that oneness through whatever self you have.

And if your self is at a low egocentric stage of development, and if you have a massive shadow element and you try to express an otherwise authentic enlightenment, it’s going to be a disaster! You will make it sound ridiculous, you’re going to act ridiculous, and every follower who comes within 10 feet of you is going to say, “Well if that’s enlightenment, I’ll take less of that, thank you very much.”

>>Rick: Yeah, either they are going to say that or they’re going to hang on for years saying, “Well, I don’t understand it and this guy seems crazy, but he seems so bright and so amazing, and he’s got such darshan, and I better not leave or I’m going to blow it,” and then people 20 years later think, “Oh my God, how could I have been so gullible?”

>>Ken: You’re exactly right. That is probably the major unfortunate path that the majority of people end up taking and they end up wasting a life.

>>Rick: Yeah. So with your overview of the spiritual landscape, what percentage, or how would you break it down in terms of all the various teachers and teachings and groups and whatnot, in terms of the degree to which they all incorporate all three legs – waking up, cleaning up, and growing up?

>>Ken: It’s very, very slim, and the main reason is that as I was pointing out, the waking up path consists largely of a series of direct experiences that a person has, and all the maps that the traditions have drawn are maps of those experiences. So if you look at St. Teresa’s Seven Interior Castles, she is just giving you a direct, you know, “Then I experienced this, then I experienced this, and then I experienced this light pouring down.”

You’re aware of it, I mean, when you have one of those experiences you know it, you’re aware of it. If you have an experience of being one with the entire universe in love and peace, you’ll know it – that’s waking up, unlike growing up. When you’re in a particular level or stage of growing up – and I use as a model just as an example the stages Jean Gebser for the major stages of development, and remember, there are dozens of different names for these levels even though if you look at them you can see the great similarity in all of them – but he called these major stages “Archaic, Magic, Mythic (which means Mythic-Literal), Mythic-Rational, Pluralistic, and Integral or Integrated.”

When you are at any one of those stages you have no idea you are at that stage and that that stage is helping to interpret how you view any experience you have, including a waking up experience. And that’s why you can be, and we actually have empirical studies on this recently, you can be at virtually any stage of growing up – you can be at Magic, Mythic, or Pluralistic, or Integral – and you can have any experience of waking up, from the lowest to the very highest, and those again, are independent.

So you can be at a relatively low ethnocentric stage of development and have a complete experience, all the way up through full enlightenment, and we also have empirical tests on that. One of the really telling ones was of a group of researchers who took a large number of people, and this is a subjective choice, but took a large number of people whom the most people that they talked to felt they were fairly enlightened, sort of highly evolved people that were teachers or really advanced in their spiritual awareness, in their waking up in other words.

And they gave them about a dozen tests that are standard tests used to grade where you are on a multiple intelligence of growing up, so cognitive tests, emotional intelligence tests, aesthetic tests, and so on. And these more enlightened people that took all these tests got absolutely average all the way across the board; they scored no higher than people that had never had a waking up experience in their life.

They are two different processes, entirely, and that is what is so extraordinary, is that both of them are needed because your waking up experience will be interpreted according to the stage of growing up that you are at.

So is this very common nowadays? Is this understanding out there? No! And the reason is that the actual ingredients of growing up and cleaning up, as I said, weren’t discovered until about 100 years ago. Most forms of meditation and great religious systems are 1,000 or 2,000 years old, so this is much too recent to be included in these original spiritual systems.

I guarantee you, if somebody like the Buddhists or even somebody like the New Testament writes, if they were aware of the stages of growing up, they would have been all over them because it governs how you interpret your waking up experience, and they would want you to experience it from the highest possible interpretive stance. They don’t want you interpreting it from the selfish, egocentric, ethnocentric, Nazi level.

But they weren’t aware of it so this all got left out. So only about 100 years ago we discovered them and it was really only about a decade or two ago that we realized this back and how it fit together. I mean the data was all lying out there and they were all sort of doing their separate thing, and a few of us came together and said, “Wait a minute! That governs this and Jesus, we have to put this all together or it’s going to be a disaster.”

So it has only been a decade or two that this has been fairly well-known. That said, there are I would say at least several dozen of I think the very best spiritual communities you can find anywhere, that now use a system that incorporates waking up, and growing up, and cleaning up, and a few other things that we call “showing up” and “opening up,” but those are minor other items.

But they are using them and without a single exception so far, they are ecstatic, they report much better results, and they are reporting that the results stick longer. Because you can have a waking up, but if you have a really low level of growing up then you just drag it down, drag it down. And if you have a shadow, then it will come up and start screwing with it, and screwing with it, and so on.

>>Rick: I think people are coming to appreciate this more and more. These days you hear everybody talking about integration and people are getting fed up with gurus behaving badly. And there’s the Me Too Movement and the Time’s Up Movement and all of that, so it seems to be something in the air and I think you articulated it well; it is something that is very timely, what you are saying.

There are a couple of questions that have come in from people, related to what we have been saying, and I also have one of my own, which I won’t forget. The first is from Maurice in Guatemala who asks: “Are the levels of intelligence of the different lines predetermined?” – you were saying a minute ago how you can’t really tell what level you’re at.

Also Maurice asks: “Who has the authority to determine if we are actually evolving in any given line?” So let’s have you answer his first.

>>Ken: Are these levels fixed? No. If you go back 150,000 years ago when humans were moving … or even a million years ago, when humans were moving from great apes into what Gebser called “Archaic,” in other words, the earliest forms of recognizably human being, there wasn’t more than essentially, just the bottom line of development, that’s all there was.

There was an archaic level and little bumps of various types of intelligences that were starting to evolve, because human beings would run into areas that posed a question, and the more they ran into that area that posed the question, the more they developed, evolved ways to address that question.

So, if you wanted to run into something and were looking over there and wanted to know if it was raining outside, somebody would say, “I want to know if it is raining outside, would you check?” And somebody would go and look out of the hut or outside and they would say, “Yes, it’s raining.” So you would check.

So you are honing your cognitive intelligence, and cognitive intelligence helps to tell you what’s true, so it checks and says, “Yes, that’s true, that’s true, that’s true,” and so that started to develop the first level. And then there could also be things like emotional intelligence; women, in particular, started to develop that, because in those early stages men were hunting, women were generally at home caring for infants. That would change, but in those early days that tended to be the way it was.

And so, women had to be very nuanced to every single emotional twitch and twinge of an infant, and that’s how their emotional intelligence started to develop, to be very careful to that. So women ended up with something like 28 different degrees of emotional intelligence.

Men were just out there hunting. They ended up developing two degrees of emotional intelligence: forward and reverse, and that was kind of that. But emotional intelligence started developing as they started running into other dangerous areas, other areas of specific questioning. The different lines of development started to develop.

From about the earliest archaic to about 150,000 B.C., at the point the “Magic” stage started to develop. And so now we had two levels of development that the lines could go through. And if somebody stayed at an archaic stage they were looked at as being a little bit retarded or maybe a little bit slow. To be an adult you had to make one major transformation, from archaic to magic.

Then within about another 100,000 or 130,000 years, the “Mythic” started to develop, and that wasn’t hunting, that was farming. And so another level was added. And by the way, as this was happening and levels were being added, everybody was stillborn at square one. That is still true today.

Even if we are at a Rational or Pluralistic, fairly high stage of development in Western culture, everybody is stillborn in square one; they are stillborn in Archaic, they are stillborn at impulsive, at power-driven stages, at stages driven by aggression. So they are still going to want to form gangs, they’re still going to want to crave criminal acts.

And everyone is having to move through these lower stages of growing up before you get into the higher stages of growing up, like Care and Universal Care, and then you will want to do less of that. But it will always be a problem because you are always born at square one.

But no, they are not fixed and they keep growing. So we are at a kind of integral stage right now but there is no reason that there can’t be higher stages in the future, and that’s what makes it interesting.

And it also makes it interesting that if you are at a relatively high stage of growing up now, then you really are, the way you act today is going to help determine the structure of the level of consciousness that everybody gets tomorrow, and you really can have a hand in that. So I sort of make this up as a new Kantian imperative which is, behave as if the way you are acting will become the way everybody will act tomorrow.

It will get changed down the road and there will be another one, and that one will change and there will be another one, but right now, at the leading edge, most people listening to this conversation think they are at a leading, integral stage of growing up or they wouldn’t find this conversation interesting; they would have turned it off hours ago.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Ken: So if you are still here and still listening, or if you are still listening to good ol’ BATGAP on a regular basis, you’re in this, so take it seriously. You are actually helping form the structures and levels of consciousness that will be laid down tomorrow and delivered tomorrow. So it is a big responsibility.

So no, they are not fixed, they continue to grow. And again, you can be relatively, differently evolved; you can be very high in some lines differently evolved, medium in other lines, and very low in other lines.

And as for how to determine it, there are several different ways to go with that question, but one I’ll just say is that each of these multiple intelligences have one or two different types of tests that are fairly accurate at helping you determine what stage you are at in each of these lines of development.

So if you are really curious about that you can get online, Google around and find a number of places where you can actually take tests, if you want to, and figure out where you are.

>>Rick: Cool.

>>Ken: Or you can read my books and sort of pick it up from there, get a start on it. There are lots of other books out there too though and I would recommend pretty much all of them.

>>Rick: So in the last two minutes you made two points that actually segue into the other two questions that I wanted to ask. The first one was, you said that according to how you act you are impacting society and society is going to change accordingly if enough people act this way. And that tends to contradict something you seem to be saying, which is that there is no real correlation between your level of consciousness and your action, but maybe not, but will give you a chance to respond to that.

But one other thing I want to throw in here before you do is that a lot of people say that a spiritual awakening on a mass scale is kind of the world’s greatest hope, you know, it’s the one thing which is causal or fundamental enough to possibly offset the plethora of problems, any one of which could do us in, from global warming to genetic modification, to everything – all these different things.

By developing enlightenment we are getting right down to the bedrock and we are affecting change more fundamentally and more powerfully than we could at any more superficial level. However, if that sort of spiritual awakening wasn’t even able to change the personality of so many people who have attained it, you know, they’ve stayed at fairly Archaic levels of behavior, how can it have any hope to change the world?

>>Ken: It can’t. Here is the problem: again, simply having a waking up experience can happen at virtually any level of growing up, and that means a part of the problem with spiritual teachers that you know, they put on this façade of loving care, and outgoingness and wonder, but the really bad ones you find that they have a core of really just caring for themselves. Now how can that happen when you have a waking up experience?

Well waking up undercuts but it doesn’t completely dissolve, because you still have a conventional self, you still interact with the world. If somebody calls your name, you will still answer – that’s the conventional self, that still stays.

What happens with waking up is that you find a bigger awareness that you are identified with in a stronger way, a so-called “true Self” or “supreme Identity” – the Sufis call it “supreme Identity. It is an identity with everything that is arising moment to moment. And just taken in itself, that experience we would tend to say, “Yes, that’s what we need to help with global warming.”

People have to experience Gaia as their own body, then they will stop pissing all over it, they’ll start taking care of it just as they would their own body, and that is true if they are at an integral level of growing up. If they are at lower levels of growing up, if they are at Archaic or Magic or ethnocentric, Mythic, or merely a beginning world-centered [stage], they are going to end up acting and expressing that waking up through those lower levels, in terms of their actual actions.

And that is why somebody who has a deep egocentric, conventional-self, is going to be primarily the person that does get caught up in sexual abuse of their students, financial abuse, all sorts of authoritarian, even Fascist types of actions, even though when they sit down to do darshan they are open and loving and caring, and sure, they are, but how do they act? They act like egocentric Fascists, and that’s not going to help global warming.

But the first thing that we’ve learned about distinguishing waking up and growing up and cleaning up is that you can no longer just say, “Hey, we need just one of those to make everything better.” Because by the way, there are very large groups of people that champion just one of those, they don’t know about the others.

So there are people that are still out there saying, “It’s shadow problems. It’s all the hidden shadows that humans have that make them hate and make them greedy and make them fearful, and if we don’t clear that up, we’re never going to clear up all the disasters in global capitalism, crony capitalism, in global warming. We’ve got to clean our shadows up or we’re going to hell.” And that group believes that, deeply.

There’s another group that believes in growing up, that “Wait a minute. If you look at the data, whether it’s amount of aggression, amount of criminality, amount of drug abuse – serious drug abuse, if you look at prejudice – racism and sexism, all of those tend to happen in the lower stages of growing up, and as you get to the higher stages of growing up, those tend to go away. It’s from the higher stages of growing up that you get things like wishing to stop oppression and increase inclusivity, and make diversity an important thing. Those values don’t come from the lower four or five stages of development; those values don’t emerge until they are six or seven, ever. And so if you don’t have growing up, you can just forget inclusivity and lack of oppression and all of that. That is why it was only at a higher stage that slavery was finally outlawed. That was only 100 years ago, for Christ’s sake! We’ve been doing this for almost a million years and we only figured that out a hundred years ago? When we had already figured our waking up and we had had experiences of being one with everything and enlightenment?! That didn’t stop slavery, that didn’t stop the patriarchy, because they were at lower levels of growing up, no matter high they were doing with waking up.

So we are past the stage now where we can say, “Just give up waking up!” Great traditions had waking up and racism and sexism and slaves; that didn’t help. We need waking up and growing up, and we need higher stages of growing up, higher stages of waking up, and yes, cleaning up shouldn’t be forgotten.

But anything that leaves out any of those in any of our major problems is not going to work, and all we have to do is look at the world today. It is still not working and we’ve still never taken an approach that combines them all. We are taking approaches that are extremely important but we are fragmenting them off and just doing them one at a time and it just doesn’t work.

>>Rick: So as I understand you, an ideal spiritual practice would include all three simultaneously, not sequentially, that none of the three are more fundamental or influential than any of the others, that if they are developed in isolation you can actually create more problems than you are solving, and that you really just need to develop all three in the most effective way you can, simultaneously, for balance, growth, and for safe growth, we could say.

>>Ken: Yes, exactly, exactly. And that is what is so extraordinary about it, is that in ways that we are just starting to figure out, because again, this specific fact of having to use them all together was only discovered about a decade or two ago, so this is still a relatively a new idea, but every single thing we’ve done to look at it supports it in an extremely strong fashion. And people that really sit down and look at it and study the data and evidence, I would say that at least 80% of them have tended to agree.

So that’s what we want to start to do, and if we do that and we actually start developing systems that do include these important elements, then that might be a system that really could be embraced by a fair number of people, even very intelligent, educated people. And when they start getting a sense of the enormous amount of freedom that comes from waking up, the incredible sense of fullness that comes from growing up, and the incredible sense of cleanness in a sense, that comes from cleaning up, this makes religion an absolutely attractive package for people.

It’s not just, “Oh, you have to drive yourself to church and listen to some idiotic sermon for 20 minutes that would just bore you to tears, and then you sing some nice songs and give some money and then go home, that’s not a very exciting package.

>>Rick: Do you think the traditional religions are going to be revived and incorporate all three of these, or do you think that they are really things of the past and that there are going to be new forms of spiritual pursuit that will start afresh and incorporate all three?

>>Ken: I think almost any of those could happen. Unity Church for example, which is I think about the third or fourth-largest Church in America, a couple of years ago it officially adopted the AQAL Integral framework to put its teachings in. And it created twelve test communities where they started working on how to get integral spirituality across, and that included waking up, growing up, and cleaning up.

>>Rick: Good.

>>Ken: Incidentally, the first thing they found was that in order to start teaching these broader topics, which really for most people, that’s a lot of new stuff to learn, it’s just a lot, it’s like, “Wait a minute … there’s how many stages of growing up? And oh, there’s waking up? And wait, there’s cleaning up?!”

>>Rick: And there’s all these colors and quadrants and all this stuff. J

>>Ken: Yeah. But they found that people were inherently interested and they started doing it very enthusiastically. And the first thing they ran into as they started to transform was their old shallow elements, particularly coming from fundamentalist Bibles saying, “Oh, you can’t do this, or this is bad, or what do you mean that Jesus Christ is not the only world spiritual teacher?”

And by the way, the Catholic Church in Vatican Two finally admitted that quote, and this is paraphrasing, comparable spiritual salvation can be had in other religions. So after 2,000 years, they went from their own ethnocentric “We’ve got the one and only way, only Jesus Christ is it – if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ you’re going to burn in hell forever,” to saying, “Oops! Other religions can give you the same salvation.” That was a big, big jump for them.

>>Rick: Yeah. Wait till ET lands on the White House lawn, then we’ll discover there’s a trillion inhabited planets in the known universe, then they’re going to have to take a bigger jump.

>>Ken: It’s going to get bigger and bigger and bigger for sure, yes.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Ken: So they (Unity Church) are working to actually give like a six-month shadow workshop to help people integrate stuff as it comes up, and then they start moving into some of the other topics. So that’s an example of an established Church wanting to change.

We do have lots of groups, like SAND groups and Vedanta groups and Mormon groups, that are simply taking what they teach but then adding all the new material; they are adding growing up, and they are adding cleaning up, and they are adding showing up.

And they are working to make those fit with the practices of waking up that they already have, and many of those are working exquisitely, I mean just exquisitely. So it’s encouraging.

>>Rick: Yeah, that’s great.

>>Ken: The one thing that we do know is that the evidence for each of these areas – the evidence for waking up, the evidence for cleaning up, and the evidence for cleaning up is overwhelming. There are thousands of researchers that have looked into all of these and have found an enormous amount of evidence supporting them.

So this isn’t something that we’re just making up, it isn’t something like Jock Geredosky Construction, yeah, one person drugged up and it’s supposed to change things. This is being done by hundreds and thousands and over historical times, it has been done by millions of people, and so the evidence is overwhelming.

>>Rick: That’s great.

>>Ken: And so it’s just a matter of putting it together.

>>Rick: Yeah. {another listener’s question:} “You tell your readers repeatedly that reality is mysterious and impossible to map perfectly …

>>Ken: Well I would agree with that.

>>Rick: Pardon? Oh, you agree with that, yeah. Well, this is a listener’s question: “But then you suggest a map, and you are brilliant at working out these maps, including color-coded charts showing the levels of development. And I’ve heard that your followers are always trying to figure out where they are in this system. In fact, a few minutes ago you alluded to looking it up on Google and taking a test. So any philosophy, including Integral Theory, can be overthought, resulting in concept addiction. Do you worry about that with your students?”

>>Ken: Sure. And I would say it’s a problem in about 30%. I didn’t criticize it a lot because it’s one of a handful of things that I think you really, really, really have to be careful about. It doesn’t change the fact that each of these areas are there and they do unfold in the way that they do, and so how you relate to that is up to you. But it is still there, it’s still operating, it’s still hitting you day in and day out, constantly, and you can take it into account or you can just ignore it and let it have its way with you, but it is having its way with you.

These things are operating and they are operating right now, so again, you can either be aware of that or you can ignore that. I think by far the better way is, of course, take it into account and attempt to come to terms with it. What you don’t want to do is reify it, turn it into …

I mean, if you would look at the so-called levels of development, I’ve made it very more clear that those are much more things like bands in a rainbow, they are very loose and merged together. They are not rigid like rungs in a ladder that you just have to step up on. And people, certain of their multiple intelligences are very high on the ladder, certain are very medium, others are very low. They are switching sort of all the time, they are constantly up and down, and going and flowing.

But there is, if you keep growing and developing, there is a subtle but continuing growth and increase in the degree of sophistication, the degree of maturity and development that you have, that each of these goes through.

And it’s not just that, it’s also just using it as an objective system. You can look at things happening in the world and it explains a staggering amount of material that otherwise seems just stupid or silly or crazy. It explains culture wars really well, it explains international politics really well, and so on. So there a broad spectrum of uses that you can have for something like this.

>>Rick: You brought out a point in, I think it was in your Integral Buddhism book, which I’ve been reading the last couple of nights, or maybe it was an article that you wrote: “To experience enlightenment in today’s world is not to become any freer than the ancient sages since emptiness doesn’t change, but it is to become fuller since the world has grown in complexity.”

I found that fascinating. It’s as though in a more diverse, complex, dynamic world enlightenment, if you can attain it, is actually going to be more interesting in a way, than it would be in a much more primitive world.

>>Ken: Right. It started out and the idea was: there was a world of samsara and there was a world of nirvana, and you had to get off the world of samsara, just gone, off of it, get rid of it, and embrace just the world of nirvana. And that is what Gautama Buddha originally preached and that’s what Buddhists practiced for 600 to 800 years.

And then a gentleman by the name of Nagarjuna came along and he said, “Wait a minute, there’s something not quite right about that. Nirvana is real, samsara is real, but they are not split. There is a deeper unity underlying them, it makes them one,” or what he technically called “nondual” – they are not two.

So the Heart Sutras say, “That which is emptiness is not another than form, that which is form is not other than emptiness.” That meant exactly that which is samsara is not other than nirvana, that which is nirvana is not other than samsara.

And so with that we got a whole switch in ideal, from an Arhat who promises to get into nirvana and get off the world of samsara forever, to the Bodhisattva who promised never to get lost in just nirvana, but to find the unity of nirvana and samsara and to, therefore, stay in both of them, as he helped individuals in samsara gain their own enlightenment, which was to realize the profound unity of nirvana and samsara.

And so being able to work those both together, realizing that you’re not looking for a kingdom that’s not of this earth; you’re looking for a heaven on earth, you’re looking for where heaven and earth are not two, and can make that the paradise.

That’s a completely different change, and that’s a change that has an enormous nobility to it, and an enormous care, and that is why compassion became so big to Mahayana Buddhism. It was said that even Plato, who originally had shadows in a cave and then the light outside the cave, and the idea was “get rid of the shadows, find the light.”

According to Lovejoy in The Great Chain of Being, Plato then in his final Form said that shadows were actually just a manifestation of the light and you were to find the unity between the two of them.

This is something we tend to see happen around the world, that there was first the idea that the manifest world is broken, it’s fallen, it’s alienated, it’s shot through with original sin, it’s marked by dukkha and it is inherently suffering, every bit of it, and your goal is to get the hell off of that realm, entirely, and find a realm that was free of all of that.

And finding that freedom was a religious salvation. That’s what salvation meant, was getting off this broken, horrifying, suffering world.

>>Rick: Yeah, real-life tended to be that way, I mean a toothache could kill you, there was a good chance childbirth was going to kill you, the average lifespan was maybe 30 years, so you couldn’t blame people for …

>>Ken: Absolutely not. And that’s what is so interesting, that when everybody from Nagarjuna to Plato to Plotinus started saying, “Wait, these are actually two different aspects of one underlying wholeness. Our job is to find the wholeness, not to latch on to just one half of that broken whole.”

And everything started changing at that point in the waking up dimension and that’s profound, that’s in a sense still where it is, this discovery of this nondual reality. But then part of that nondual reality of course is how we express it. Do we express it through egocentric modes, through ethnocentric modes, through world-centric modes, or through integrated modes? It’s our choice, we can do either, and they are all profoundly different.

And lower ones offer horrifying problems, and the upper ones offer an enormous amount of integration and wholeness that much more accurately reflects the nondual unity of ultimate reality itself. So this is one of the things that’s really important to help bring that kind of nondual reality, which is ever-present, but to have that realization occur of that ever-presence, and interpret it then from an integral, balanced fashion, and that seems to be about the best that we can hope for nowadays.

>>Rick: Yeah, I think that the two perspectives offer very interesting implications as to what God is. The one is, “God sort of really blew it in creating this creation, or He is some kind of a sadist who just wants to torture us and to make us get out of here” – that the main point of being here is to get out of here, and the second one is more like, “What a wonderful creation. It’s Divine, it’s the Divine play, there’s so much joy and creativity, and infinite possibilities and wonderful things, and all that,” which is the Divine created the creation for the sake of Lila, not for the sake of some kind of torment.

>>Ken: Right, absolutely. And that’s a big change, that’s a big change.

>>Rick: It is.

>>Ken: And you find it in East and West, not just one or the other.

>>Rick: It’s a much more pleasant perspective to live with.

>>Ken: It is, it is.

>>Rick: Here’s an interesting question that will shift our gears a little bit: “Do you think that there will be an acceptance of replicated inner experience as a process of scientific investigation? The psychiatric community trusts subjective reports from patients to modify pharmaceutical products, so why not trust the subjective reports of yogis to suggest therapies to help map out realities more subtle than scientific instruments are capable of detecting?”

>>Ken: I think that is possible in a sense up to a certain point, and then it leaves some things out. The traditions themselves tend to differentiate between what they call “relative states” and “ultimate states.” So if you look at for example some of the Neoplatonic traditions, if you look at Tibetan Buddhism, if you look at Vedanta Hinduism, you find the same five major states of consciousness that are given.

And these five by the way, are the five states that when you study them in a row become five major stages of meditation. And somebody like Daniel P. Brown has done an enormous amount of research now with over 20 different meditation systems showing that most of them go through essentially these five major stages of development. And I have agreed with that for some 20 years.

Dustin DiPerna by the way wrote a couple of books – Evolution Alley and Streams of Wisdom – where he points out that these five states that I recommend, and that this researcher, Daniel P. Brown, has discovered, and he shows that they are exactly similar and how fundamental they are.

I think there are several other ways you can talk about these states, but these five are central and are pretty important. There are three relative states and two ultimate states. The three relative states are states that exist in space and time, they have temporal duration, they have boundaries; they come, they stay a while and they go. And they are classically called “gross, subtle, and causal,” examples of which are always given as waking state, dream state, and deep dreamless or formless state. And these are relative, you know, they come, stay for a while and they then go, then the next one comes, stays a while and goes, the next one comes, stays a while and goes.

Then there are two ultimate states, these are states that are ever-present, they are fully present right now, and one is called “turiya” and one is called “turyatita.” And the word ‘turiya’ is Sanskrit that literally means ‘the fourth,’ and it is called “the fourth” because it is the fourth state after the first three states of gross, subtle, and causal – or waking, dreaming, and deep sleep – that’s three and then turiya is the fourth, but turiya is an ultimate state.

And then beyond turiya is turyatita, and that is what ‘turyatita’ means, beyond turiya. So turiya is just pure witnessing, it is not identified with anything, it is a radical, ever-present awareness, not any content of awareness …

>>Rick: Transcendental consciousness.

>>Ken: … just pure awareness.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Ken: And it’s not this, not that – neti, neti – not that, not that, not that. And in turyatita there is a sense of radical freedom because you are free of any identification with anything; you are completely free of any and all things. So the attitude is like, “I have sensations but I’m not those sensations. I have feelings but I’m not those feelings. I have thoughts but I’m not those thoughts. I am just the pure awareness.”

So that is pure turiya, pure witness, sometimes called “true self” or “real self,” and then when you get to turyatita, all of a sudden the witness which is standing back from everything and witnessing it impartially, without any pain or any attraction or any desire, or anything, all of a sudden the witness just tends to dissolve into everything that it is witnessing and there is just a pure oneness. So you no longer see the mountain, you are the mountain, you no longer see the clouds, you are clouds, you no longer feel the earth, you are the earth. That’s the state of pure, nondual oneness or pure unity, and it is sometimes called “ultimate Divine,” “unity,” “Divine,” “Consciousness,” and so on.

And so it is when we get to that ultimate state in which everything is arising and it is the ground of absolutely everything, that state is very, very hard to pin down in brain processes or brain waves. In the relative states you can definitely do it, I mean, you can already take, for example, waking, dream, and deep sleep, which tend to be things like beta waves for waking, theta waves for dreaming, and delta waves for deep sleep, and you can measure those out.

We talked about me stopping brain waves where I stopped all beta waves of waking state, or I stopped all theta waves of dreaming, and it was just delta witnessing – deep, dreamless sleep waves. And those can all be measured and we’re going to get increasingly sophisticated measures of those relative types of alternative states.

I think Ritchie Dickerson at Wisconsin is doing a lot of this, the Dalai Lama gaining access to pretty much every meditating Tibetan monk in the world for him to investigate and research on. I think they were the first to discover things like gamma waves, for monks that have been practicing Tonglen or compassion, having meditated for 20 years, they showed massive amounts of gamma waves.

So I think those kinds of things are going to increase, and we actually call them the “upper right quadrant,” which are things like brain waves and neurophysiological connections and so on, and upper left, which we call the “states of consciousness” themselves, the actual experiences of consciousness itself. And I think that is going to increase.

I think as you get to the ultimate states, particularly turyatita, these are incredibly difficult to pin down. Because what researchers can maintain, for example, if they are studying let’s say theta dream states and they track the theta waves in the brain when somebody is dreaming, that can be done fairly straightforwardly. But when you get to an ultimate state of consciousness, the experience, the phenomenological experience you have when you experience something like that radically ultimate state, is that that’s a ground that has been present throughout all manifest history. It goes all the way back to the Big Bang and before.

By the way, if there is something like Spirit, that’s what you would expect it to do! You wouldn’t expect a real spirit of the universe to be produced by your brain! What spirit is that? The Spirit is supposed to make the brain, it’s not produced by the brain; that would be ridiculous! It would also mean that there was no spirit in the universe until about a million years ago when human brains came along. That’s all backwards. That doesn’t work.

When you get to that ultimate state, if you are looking at how certainly how the traditions would view it, the brain exists in that state, that state doesn’t exist in the brain. So it does get into some really funky kinds of areas that scientists just don’t know what to do with. So at that point, it starts to get a little weird. But all the other states, yeah, I think we are going to have very, very clear and specific maps of those.

And it will be important to continue to remember that the map is not the territory, and that goes for all the maps I’ve made as well. They are not the territory and we don’t want to confuse the map with the territory, but at the same time, we don’t want to have a completely screwed up map. A screwed map is a map that gives you a spiritual awakening and tells nothing about spiritual growing up and spiritual cleaning up – that’s a bad map, that’s a broken map. But once you recognize those are there, it doesn’t mean you can just learn that map and know it; it means you have to go out and experience waking up, you have to realize your radical oneness with everything, and you actually have to grow through the stages of growing up, at least get into some higher stages that would get you out of ethnocentric, power-driven stages.

And if you have got some sort of mass of shadow, don’t just learn about it, do something about it. So these are the areas that we increasingly want to work on, and the more good maps we have of those, great, the better.

>>Rick:  Yeah, I think maps are important. When Lewis and Clark went across the country, even though there weren’t any roads, if they had had good maps that at least told them where the mountains were, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.

>>Ken: That’s the truth.

>>Rick: And I think that spiritual seekers, if the territory is more clearly understood, if we could have a modern GPS version of the spiritual territory versus the Lewis and Clark version, then I think people would be able to navigate much more efficiently and with far fewer mishaps.

>>Ken: I can relate to that, yeah, my great, great, great, great grandfather was Lewis.

>>Rick: Oh really! Cool.

>>Ken: Yeah.

>>Rick: Very good. Was he the one who killed himself or the other guy?

>>Ken: Yes he was, he was the genius who killed himself. I’m trying to live up to that.

>>Rick: Yeah. A bunch of questions have come in from people, this one is from Steven in Chicago. I think he is alluding to Shakespeare’s As You Like It, it says, “What’s the point of all this development if it is just a stage and we are merely players? Why take it so seriously?”

>>Ken: Depends on your capacity to endure suffering. If you can endure and carry and be beaten up daily by enormous amounts of suffering, fine, no worry. If on the other hand, you get tired of being flagged and bruised and battered and broken, then you might want to take up steps to do something about it. And the good news is there are many steps that can cure those problems, and there’s a good reason to do that if and only if you are tired of being tortured.

>>Rick: It’s a good answer. I mean, it’s rather glib to say, “Oh, this is only a dream,” but the dream can get pretty nasty, and if you can make it a more enjoyable dream and yet also be liberated, not just get caught up in the dream, why not?

>>Ken: History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken.

>>Rick: Yeah. How are you doing on time? Do you want a few more questions or do you want to try and wrap it up?

>>Ken: As long as you like to go.

>>Rick: Okay, we got a few more here. I don’t mind going a little longer, there are about 400 people watching live and many thousands will watch later on.

Okee dokee, here’s one from Sam in London, says, “Since Integral Theory is based on Sri Aurobindo’s works, what do you think of his work on ‘evolution of the supramental consciousness?’ What is supramental consciousness from your point of view and does it really affect the evolution of the material body?

>>Ken: Yeah, just a little technical tweak, it is common to say that Integral Theory is based on Aurobindo because he called his work Integral Yoga, but it was really wasn’t based on Aurobindo. And a great deal of the original framework had been created before I actually ran across Aurobindo, of course when I did, I loved him, just loved him.

But I also found that most of the central topics that we were both talking about I had already included because I had already studied a hundred systems from around the world. But Aurobindo was very special and absolutely brilliant, and I learned a lot of new things from him and I’m deeply grateful. He is one in a small handful of truly, truly great spiritual, philosophical sages.

And not only did he have a kind of intuitive understanding, he had a very good understanding of levels of consciousness and development. And he did see it going up into – and these are some terms that I borrowed from him, and this was in the growing up line, not just the stages of consciousness waking up line – moving to things like ‘overmind’ and ‘supermind.’

And overmind was in a sense kind of similar to a pure witnessing awareness, and then as you moved higher into supermind, that was more nondual, where spirit and matter were starting to come together in an absolutely almost fused way, and so much so, that spirit was sort of injecting matter with its own qualities, so matter was going to become more and more spiritual in its own way. And that was going to be a really major … for him that was the next new major stage of evolution.

And of course one of the things we find with a handful of people that really are largely and deeply enlightened, and that also study the understanding of evolution that was introduced by the West, particularly the German idealists, and Aurobindo was educated in England but he was deeply exposed to the idealists or somebody like Teilhard de Chardin – a profound researcher in evolution and one who had profound waking up experiences.

And so he, like Aurobindo, came to see evolution just moving till we get to finally this almost omega kind of point that’s just the unity of unity of unity of unity that can’t be outdone, and the supermind is like the biggest evolutionary development we could have.

And in some way, these are direct intuitions and deductions of extremely brilliant people that are thinking ahead and very far away, and have had some sort of waking up experience, and have had some understanding of evolution. And so those are incredibly important topics to be able to bring together and that’s what several of them did, and in a sense starting with Hegel, who saw all of history as leading up to the present stage.

For Aurobindo’s Supermind, because spirit is in a sense injected into matter, we’re going to start seeing changes to matter, including in some cases matter almost becoming luminous and glowing and changing its fundamental form, and this would change the entire nature of the body; would become spiritualized.

And so this is, as I would see it, it’s a hypothesis for these very real areas of evolutionary unfolding going to higher and higher levels, with capacities for waking up, and the fact that all you have to do is look at 14 billion years of evolution to see that we have already come from dirt, come quarks and atoms to the sonnets of Shakespeare, to the realizations of Buddha. This is an absolutely staggering evolutionary increase in capacity.

And if you just double that again, good God! If you don’t find something out there that looks like Spirit, that’s radiant and pouring off light and making every sentient being radically happy, I would be surprised! So who knows what is actually going to happen. But these were the guys right there at the leading edge saying, “Oh, I see some really profound stuff coming our way.”

So maybe, if we can survive global warming.

>>Rick: Yeah, and a number of other things.

>>Ken: Exactly.

>>Rick: I’m betting on surviving, personally.

>>Ken: I am too, but boy it’s getting close.

>>Rick: It’s dicey, yeah. There could be some turbulence before we’re in the clear.

>>Ken: Yes there could.

>>Rick: Couple of questions here from people who are obviously very familiar with your work, and so you may need to define a term or two in answering their questions. This is from Michelle in New Hampshire, she asks: “Spirit manifests as the four quadrants of the cosmos, thus Spirit is the ground, the formless. Are quantum field and consciousness subtle manifestations of formless yet one with all quadrants?” that’s part one of her question. Does that make sense?

>>Ken: I’ll start with consciousness. There are two different meanings of consciousness that are given by the great traditions and one of them is simply, in a sense, my own mind, my own individual consciousness as it arises in this organism, and as I can see and introspect and relate to, and so on.

And it is essentially bound in a lot of fundamental ways to this particular organism, it represents the consciousness of the increased complexity that the human brain has brought. As you go back and look at evolution and it moves from quarks to atoms to molecules to cells, to increasingly complex organisms, you find there is an increase complexity, there is an increase in wholeness, and there is an increase in consciousness.

So that by the time we get to the triune brain, whose neuronal patterns there are more of than there are stars in the entire universe, this is clearly the most complex thing that we are aware of, and so it has the most consciousness of any other Holon that we’re aware of.

>>Rick: And Holon means what? Define ‘Holon.’

>>Ken: A Holon is a whole that is part of a larger whole. So a whole quark is part of an atom, a whole atom is part of a molecule, a whole molecule is part of a whole cell.

>>Rick: So an atom is a Holon to a molecule, a molecule is Holon to a cell, etcetera?

>>Ken: The universe is made of Holons.

>>Rick: I see.

>>Ken: So that is the kind of consciousness that is localized, the type that Western psychologists would study, and so on. In most mystical traditions there is an understanding, there is a feeling, a direct awareness of individual identity just breaking out of this organism and expanding, pretty much the entire cosmos. And in many cases, it is seen and it is felt to be the actual ground of the entire cosmos, it is its foundation.

And when you have a satori, an enlightenment, a waking up, what you are doing is going from the small confined consciousness to this Big Mind, to this cosmically unified, vastly all-inclusive type of consciousness, and then it tends to be equated with things like Spirit, and you can’t really qualify it so it equated with things like emptiness.

So if we look at the small, localized consciousness in our brain, that’s found directly in the upper left quadrant; that’s what it is, the interior of the individual and the consciousness of the individual in the upper left.

Big Mind, Big Consciousness is not something that is found inside each quadrant, it is the ground of each quadrant. In a sense, if you draw the quadrants on a sheet of paper and write everything in that’s in them, then those quadrants are the manifest realm. In the upper left quadrant is consciousness, in the lower-left quadrant is morals in the lower right quadrant are social systems, including ecology and environment, and in the upper right are individual exterior things, like the actual triune brain itself.

Consciousness is located in the upper left and in Big Consciousness, Big Mind, isn’t in any of the quadrants; it is the paper, it is the ground on which all the quadrants are drawn. It is the fundamental ground of all reality. And so when mystics say, like Huang  Po talks about having experience of Big Mind, or Genpo Roshi talks about “doing Big Mind,” that’s the consciousness that, and again, under these circumstances, like in Hinduism Sat-Chit-Ananda – Being, consciousness, and bliss – and those are just synonyms for ultimate Spirit itself.

That by the way is the consciousness in which the brain exists, so this doesn’t all exist in the brain; Big Mind isn’t a product of the brain, small consciousness is a product of the brain.

>>Rick: Okay, good. There’s another one from Michelle: “How does universe as an informational hologram fit in this map of the cosmos, and the idea that everything is a participating conscious agent? What does human consciousness contribute to this?”

>>Ken: Right. Well here is where we have to actually be careful about how we can actually describe any ultimate reality. And the problem is that any word we use really has meaning only in terms of its opposite, so it is infinite versus finite, pleasure versus pain, good versus evil, up versus down, in versus out.

There are really very, very few terms that don’t have some meaning contrasted with an opposite. And they have some sort of boundary, they describe something, like the word ‘dog’ describes dogs, it doesn’t describe gorillas. So all the words we use are usually opposites and they all have boundaries. The problem is ultimate reality doesn’t have an opposite and it certainly doesn’t have a boundary, and that is why virtually every major tradition maintains there are two very different ways of even approaching Spirit.

So in Hinduism they have two names: ‘Nirguna Brahman’ and ‘Saguna Brahman.’ In Christian mysticism they talk about apophatic mysticism and cataphatic mysticism. These mean the same thing. ‘Nirguna’ – ‘nir’ means ‘without,’ and ‘guna’ means quality. So nir-guna, “without quality Brahman,” and so that means uncharacterizable Brahman, which means Brahman without any possible qualities, including that one, that’s denied as well.

And so this is sometimes called “neti neti” – it’s not this, it’s not that, it’s not this, it’s not that; you simply can’t characterize it at all. And that’s just one of the reasons why you can’t just sit back and think about alternate reality and have that be the same as satori, because it’s just a conceptual …

>>Rick: It’s a concept.

>>Ken: Yeah, yeah. But then most of them have something called ‘Saguna Brahman’ or ‘cataphatic.’ ‘Sa’ means with, and ‘guna’ – qualities, so ‘Brahman with qualities.’ Now these are all considered to be metaphoric, they are not absolute. Absolute is nirguna, you can’t say, but saguna means, “Here are some things it’s like that will give you an idea of what it is.”

And then in almost all the opposites that we can think of, Saguna Brahman is described by taking the positive aspect of the positives, giving it a capital letter, and then saying that refers to Saguna Brahman. And so for example, good versus evil, Saguna Brahman is capital ‘G’ Good, not evil, but the capital ‘G’ Good includes small good and small evil, because it is supposed to be nondual.

Love versus hate: God is Love, but that’s capital ‘L’ Love that includes love and hate. It’s Truth, Goodness, Beauty – all capital letters and all-including. So truth capital ‘T’ includes small ‘t’ truth and small ‘f’ false. Capital ‘B’ beauty includes small ‘b’ beauty plus small ‘u’ ugly, however you want to do that. Capital ‘G’ Good includes small ‘g’ good and small ‘b’ bad.

And it’s just one of the problems we have when we’re talking, remember, about the ground of being of everything that exists. What word could possibly accurately describe that when there is absolutely nothing else like it anywhere in our universe where we could ever have learned formed words about?

So that’s what makes that a very, very delicate situation, and being able to even talk about that makes that very, very difficult. And it is one of the reasons that Nagarjuna for example, but you also find this around the world, but Nagarjuna will call this ultimate Nirguna Brahman, ultimate Reality, “Emptiness,” and that means that you simply can say nothing about it. It is empty of words, it’s empty of things.

So Nagarjuna will say, “It cannot be called ‘void’ or ‘not void,’ but in order to point it out we call it ‘void.’” So always we have this problem of what we can actually say about that ultimate Reality.

Now for Nagarjuna and most mystics, there is still a way to know that ultimate Reality. You can’t say it, you can’t just think it, you can’t conceptualize it, but you take up practices where you directly realize it. And that is the only way to know what Emptiness means, when you have a direct satori realization. Before you have that, everything you say about it will be wrong, because you clearly have no idea what it is. When you experience it, almost anything you want to say about it will work, because you know what it is!

And that’s a problem, and it’s one of the real problems when it comes to trying to use modern scientific theories and say, “Ah! This is the same as the mystical realities that the mystics know,” or the Tao of physics, something like that. I mean, it’s understandable but it’s really bad mysticism and it’s bad physics.

So it is a delicate area, it’s a delicate area. We know it directly by acquaintance, not by description.

>>Rick: Yeah, I think the Upanishads or someplace says something like, “The knower, Brahman, is Brahman,” and there’s that saying in the Gita: “The self realizes the Self by the self,” you know, because if it is a thing that you standing apart from it realize, then it can’t’ be the Totality because you’ve already excluded yourself from it or it from you.

And it’s a Totality then obviously it has to contain all qualities like you were saying earlier, it has to be the wholeness that contains all the parts no matter how paradoxical or opposed to one another they may be, they are contained comfortably within that wholeness.

>>Ken: Right, and that itself is paradoxical because if you are going to include absolutely everything, then you are going to have to include something that excludes absolutely everything, if you’re really going to include it. So you always end up with some contradictions when you try to do it.

>>Rick: Yeah, I’ve heard mathematicians play around with this idea and try to put it in their language, but let’s not going there.

Here’s one from Cathy in Los Angeles: “You stated that Ramana Maharishi may be the greatest realizer of all time and yet that he is not a good example of your Integral view. Would you please elaborate on what ways is Ramana the greatest realizer ever, and in what ways does he not live up to your Integral vision?”

>>Ken: Yeah, well just in terms of the purity of his waking up. I think a lot of people who read him are just struck by the absolute clarity, the absolute consistency. I mean, he went into this like 3-day Samadhi when he was something like 14, 15, 16 years old, came out of it with a profoundly mature voice reflecting jnana or pure self-realization, and that voice never changed for his entire life. It is just like he plugged into it and it was just there, and it was striking. And again, just the purity of that waking up, just the purity of that realization.

But if you looked at any of the other talents that could have been included in what he was doing, he wasn’t in relationship, he didn’t have children, he didn’t have a job, he didn’t have any sort of work schedule that he had to do, he didn’t have any financial system. He essentially sat in a cave and sat, that was it. And so just by definition, that is not actually getting into very many other areas of human activity at all.

So although you can say and I continue to think that his waking up was just a beautiful, profound thing, the rest of the capacities that human beings have, he didn’t work on, he didn’t practice, and he didn’t really manifest many of them in any really highly developed and evolved fashion.

>>Rick: Perhaps we could say it just wasn’t his dharma, you know, whereas the vast majority of us listening to this and involved in the so-called “real world,” have dharmas that are going to have to incorporate or include all this relative stuff that we need to deal with, like some of the stuff you just itemized.

>>Ken: Yep.

>>Rick: Okay, going from the sublime to the ridiculous, the final question is about President Trump. You wrote a book called Trump in a Post-Truth World and Mario from Mexico asks, “Would Ken be able to give his thoughts on President Trump?”

>>Ken: Ha, ha, ha! Yes. Well, Trump is a … I think exit polls tell the story fairly, fairly well. 63% of the people that voted found Trump completely unqualified to be President – 63%.

61% of them found him to be psychologically unfit to be President – 61%. Another 60% said they had found words that he could do real damage to the presidency. And yet out of the 83% that wanted change in this country, over 90% of them voted for Trump, even though they were the ones that voted for all the others.

They still thought he was unqualified, they still thought he was psychologically sick, almost, but they wanted change so much that again, 83% ended up voting for him, and that was really what put him over.

And Trump himself clearly has some very strong narcissistic tendencies, that means that [he is] at the egocentric, selfish stages of development. In some ways he has a lot of ethnocentric. He is particularly xenophobic, anti-global, hyper-patriotic, and he is certainly charged, although these can be a little bit unfair, but he is charged with a great deal of racism, a great deal of sexism. If so, these are all ethnocentric stages of development. We find those qualities emerge at those ethnocentric stages of development.

But what that did, because then above that you have the standard, rational, modern, orange, Wall Street, business-type states of development and he clearly came out of that territory, but then above that are the post-modern, pluralistic, multicultural, politically-correct stages, and that’s what even in America, well even around the world, that has caused one of the major political problems that we have, is that there are people that just hate political correctness.

And Trump was somebody that everything that came out of his mouth was anti-political correctness, he just stepped all over it all the time. And the people that also hated political correctness loved him for that, absolutely loved him for it.

And so those were the lines that gave these two blocks the voting: one was working class, one was the egocentric and ethnocentric stages tended to be a little bit racist, a little bit sexist, but were totally anti-political correctness.

And then there were those who were political correctness, multicultural, social-justice warriors, and that was the typical Democratic Party, that’s what Hillary Clinton ran on, and that set it up for two violently opposed types of political thinking. And it just turned out that a large group of people had gotten so sick of the politically correct, social justice warriors.

Universities had safe spaces, and trigger warnings, and microaggressions. These were all just thrown over as people voted for Trump. And almost everybody that voted for Trump had a lot of qualms, a lot of questions because as I said, most of this 60% of those that voted for him found him unqualified and problematic, in the deepest sense.

But he spoke to some of these other deep issues that are really racking the world right now. We see the same issues in Europe and the real problems that’s causing, I mean so much so that somebody like Douglas Murray writes a book called The Strange Death of Europe. But it’s happening, and it’s happening because of these multicultural problems that nobody really knows how to handle.

And so you are for it or you are against. If you are against it you are for Trump, if you are for it then you tend to be for the far Left and things like Hillary Clinton. That’s a central cultural problem that we have right now, and that’s not really going to clear up very well at all.

And incidentally, it comes directly from these stages of growing up. The Mythic-Literal ethnocentric stage tends to drive the religious fundamentalists, and in the stage at orange, rational, world-centric, profit-excellence, that tends to drive Wall Street and the Wall Street Republicans, and they still like merit and progress and so on.

And then there is the third major values system in the cultural war, who are the multiculturalists, post-modernists, the relativists, and they think that all cultures are absolutely the same, and all human beings are also absolutely same, nobody is better or worse than anybody else. So it is a radically egalitarian value system, and the problem with it is that it is self-contradictory because they maintain that no value system is better than any other, except they believe that …

>>Rick: Theirs is better, yeah.

>>Ken: Right. So it is a real problem. But in large measure it comes from exactly these stages of evolutionary growing up and the major differences that they bring in the world, including religion, politics, science, it is just astonishing. And the only thing that is more disturbing than any of the previous stuff is that almost nobody has any understanding whatsoever about those stages of growing up.

They have been tested now in over 40 different cultures and this includes Amazon River tribes, it includes Australian Aborigines, it includes Indianapolis housewives, it includes Harvard professors, no major exceptions have been found to these major stages of growing up. They are real, but why almost nobody knows about them is almost completely unknown. There is hardly a college professor anywhere that has any understanding of them, it’s outrageous! But it’s just part of the silly, problematic areas that we face now.

>>Rick: Well I think there have been a lot of things over the years that have stayed beneath the radar and hardly anyone has known about them, and then at a certain point when the timing is right, they kind of go into the mainstream. And I’ve heard you talk about percentages, that maybe if 10% of society got to an Integral stage there would be a phase transition or a tipping point, and there would be a huge cultural shift, and I believe in that sort of thing.

>>Ken: Yeah, me too.

>>Rick: Yeah, I mean 1% of the cells in the heart are pacemaker cells, they regulate the beating of the rest of the heart, and the square root of 1% of the photons in a laser have to get coherent before the rest of them entrain and the whole thing becomes a coherent wave, so who knows what the percentage will be exactly, but it could be that …

And you know, in terms of how unexpected tipping points can be, you can have water at 99 degrees centigrade and have no idea that one more degree and it’s going to start boiling, but then, sure enough, all of a sudden it does.

>>Ken: Yep.

>>Rick: Yeah, and this North Korea thing is promising, I mean, wow.

>>Ken: And surprising.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>Ken: There it is.

>>Rick: Hmm, interesting.

Alright Ken, well I really appreciate your generosity. We’ve gone for almost two hours and 45 minutes, which is about 45 minutes longer than I usually go, but then I really wanted to sort of milk this opportunity for everything I could get out of it and I’ve gotten a lot out of it, and I’m sure all the listeners and viewers have, so I really appreciate your time.

>>Ken: Thank you, sir. It’s been a pleasure.

>>Rick: It’s been a stimulating conversation, yeah.

Let me make a couple of just quick wrap-up points. So as everyone knows, I’ve been speaking with Ken Wilber and as always, I’ll put a page on about this interview from which I will link to his website and any other relevant things that Ken is involved in, and including a number of links to his books, I won’t link to all of them but to a number of his books. And if you just go to and type in “Ken Wilber” you will probably see all of them.

And what else? I guess that’s it in a nutshell. If you explore the menus at you will see a few things that I don’t want to go into the details of talking about right here, but they are pretty obvious and you might find them very useful. So please do that if you are so inclined. And again, thanks a lot Ken.

>>Ken: You bet my friend.

>>Rick: It was great fun.

>>Ken: Ba-bye.

>>Rick: Okay bye-bye. You too.

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