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Integral Zen and Ken Wilbur

personperson Don't believe everything you thinkthe void Veteran

I have long set zen aside as being too zany and illogical for me. But I relate to its Mahayana components and similarities with the Kagyu and Nyigma schools of TB and connection to Taoism. Anyway, I've been thinking I should spend some time and investigate it more thoroughly and honestly and I came across Integral Zen, which has a strong connection to Ken Wilbur and his Integral Philosophy. Anyway, there is a lot there on the surface that I am relating to, but there is also something there (which may be my own projection) that gives me pause. Does anyone have any knowledge of this tradition or Ken Wilbur?

https://integralzen.org/what-is-integral-zen/about-integral-zen/

adamcrossley

Comments

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    Why not study Taoism? It seems to have less baggage. I've seen Wilbur's name come up on a cult watch forum. I'll look into it for you. But if Zen seems too zany, why not skip past it, and go straight to Taoism? Just a thought.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @Dakini said:
    Why not study Taoism? It seems to have less baggage. I've seen Wilbur's name come up on a cult watch forum. I'll look into it for you. But if Zen seems too zany, why not skip past it, and go straight to Taoism? Just a thought.

    Thanks, yeah as I've looked a bit more I do like much of what I see in Wilber's integrated philosophy. But I do get a culty vibe from him and criticisms of his writing are things that I don't really care for. I've read a fair bit of Taoism already in the past and would rather stick to Buddhism at this point. The Integrated Zen looks as though it borrows heavily from Wilber and he has some involvement in it but, initially at least, it does seem to be its own thing.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    This for me comes back to the mind. Ken Wilber is someone I came across a while back and I always thought that he is too much in the mind with his models and philosophies. To what extent is Buddhism or even the search for enlightenment driven by conditioning the mind?

    A Buddhist monk who was taken in as a child would be conditioned in the ways of the Buddha for thousands of hours, does it bring him closer to enlightenment? Bodhidharma merely stared at a cave wall for year after year.

    lobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited February 12

    Brad Warner calls it "Wilberian garbage" LOL. Probably mostly stems from Wilber encouraging people to take psychedelics.

    lobsterpersonDavid
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 12

    @person said:
    But I do get a culty vibe from him and criticisms of his writing are things that I don't really care for.

    You want us to confirm that he is wonderful? No can do. Culty vibe becase he is a counter productive cu%t leader. Too harsh? Too true.

    Wilbur is an intellectual onaist. You want to move into Zen. Then all good.

    Fad Buddhism, Brain Gurus are not helpful ... just so you know o:)

    I've read a fair bit of Taoism already in the past and would rather stick to Buddhism at this point. The Integrated Zen looks as though it borrows heavily from Wilber and he has some involvement in it but, initially at least, it does seem to be its own thing.

    Disintegrated Zen is part of Ken Willbet's fan base ...

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I've downloaded a Buddha at the gas pump podcast with Wilber so I can hear it from him directly, but my own initial impression even from way back when his books first came out seem to be backed up pretty universally.

    I still plan on looking more into Integrated Zen as it does have elements that sound appealing. So if anyone has anything specific they can point to about it that would also be appreciated.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @lobster said:

    @person said:
    But I do get a culty vibe from him and criticisms of his writing are things that I don't really care for.

    You want us to confirm that he is wonderful? No can do. Culty vibe becase he is a counter productive cu%t. Too harsh? Too true.

    Wilbur is an intellectual onaist. You want to move into Zen. Then all good.

    Fad Buddhism, Brain Gurus are not helpful ... just so you know o:)

    I didn't express myself very well. I don't mean I don't care for criticism of Wilber, I meant that the specific things he's being criticized for are things that I don't care for.

    lobster
  • Ah sorry @person.

    Now understood. B) I feel you can do better. I wish you every success. Zen can be very formal and ritualistic due to the Japanese culture but Korean and Chinese Chan may also be considered ...

    I have a Soto Zendo near me and they have welcomed my attendance. Lucky me. May go sometime soon.

    The forums on Treeleaf provide excellent online Zen advice, support, sits and guidance.
    https://www.treeleaf.org

    personVastmind
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I did a bit more reading through the integrated zen website, and it’s interesting how they position themselves, giving a relationship to Rinzai Zen, and even mentioning Roshi’s and priests. The main Wilberian influence I saw was a four quadrants scheme which directs practice, but underlying that is some fairly standard references to the 4NT, the 8FP, the dharma Seals, the two truths, and the three poisons.

    They make some mention of trying to teach Zen Buddhism without much cultural baggage, but really I didn’t see anything that would give much benefit beyond what you might gain from a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings and Access To Insight.

    In short, it left me a bit sceptical of how much there was to it beyond a simple Buddhist core.

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I did a bit more reading through the integrated zen website, and it’s interesting how they position themselves, giving a relationship to Rinzai Zen, and even mentioning Roshi’s and priests. The main Wilberian influence I saw was a four quadrants scheme which directs practice, but underlying that is some fairly standard references to the 4NT, the 8FP, the dharma Seals, the two truths, and the three poisons.

    They make some mention of trying to teach Zen Buddhism without much cultural baggage, but really I didn’t see anything that would give much benefit beyond what you might gain from a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings and Access To Insight.

    In short, it left me a bit sceptical of how much there was to it beyond a simple Buddhist core.

    Yeah, I think that's sort of what I saw too, it comes across as basic Buddhism. I guess it has more to do with the emphasis than anything fundamental, but looks can be deceiving.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited February 12

    I started reading Integral Buddhism by Wilber a while ago. I'm about a third way through it and this thread is encouraging me to finish it right after my current Star Trek novel.

    Basically, Wilber would see the next turning of the Wheel and each new turning incorporates the previous ones.

    I haven't heard of integral Zen but judging from the title, it would be trying to reconciliate the different schools of Zen into one all inclusive Zen view. A quick look at the link you provided seems to validate that assumption.

    Morten Tolboll seems to have a lot to say about Willber and compares him to Richard Dawkins in a negative way. It seems like jealousy to me but I haven't heard the other complaints.

    I'll let you know more once I get back to it. Should be a couple of days before I settle back in.

    person
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 12

    ... Never mind....

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited February 12

    Yeah, never mind here too. I haven't read or heard of this guy.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    I listened to the podcast interview with him for 2hr 45 today. My impression was that he himself, according to his own believable accounts, has had deep meditative experiences. In his view of the path though those alone are not enough and other work needs to be done to avoid the pitfalls you find among "enlightened" masters. We all need to work on our shadow sides to avoid spiritual bypassing and work on what he called "growing up", which I interpreted as developing a mature, loving view of the world. So he isn't especially qualified as a developed spiritual teacher.

    So far I do find his integrated philosophy of the spiritual map pretty useful and interesting. With all these disparate spiritual and psychological approaches being available, it can be confusing to know which one to follow or if one is more true than another. It seems like he has done a fairly good job of integrating them all into a sensible worldview.

    While he may have personal failings I find his thoughts to be helpful to me in making sense of the world.

    lobster
  • @person that seems the grown up approach. B)

    It is not uncommon for teachers to illustrate the very traps they feel can be avoided.

    person
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A question for you @person ... do you feel that an integrated worldview of various spiritual traditions is useful? It feels to me like any such endeavour would attempt to fit some kind of theory onto pretty disparate streams of thought.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    A question for you @person ... do you feel that an integrated worldview of various spiritual traditions is useful?

    I do. With the world becoming so interconnected, all these disparate traditions are coming into contact with one another. I think the usefulness is in trying to build bridges and harmony to avoid potential conflict and tribal sentiment and isolation. I guess I have a hard time hunkering down in one tradition, I keep finding inconsistencies and misinterpretations of other traditions within each tradition. It seems to me that each has strengths and weaknesses and that they all have much they could learn from one another.

    It feels to me like any such endeavour would attempt to fit some kind of theory onto pretty disparate streams of thought.

    Could be, he might be trying too hard to force square pegs into round holes. I haven't really gotten into it but what it seems like he's doing is removing cultural and parochial trappings in an attempt to get at the essence of what each tradition is pointing to and then synthesize those important aspects.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @person said:

    @Kerome said:
    A question for you @person ... do you feel that an integrated worldview of various spiritual traditions is useful?

    I do. With the world becoming so interconnected, all these disparate traditions are coming into contact with one another. I think the usefulness is in trying to build bridges and harmony to avoid potential conflict and tribal sentiment and isolation. I guess I have a hard time hunkering down in one tradition, I keep finding inconsistencies and misinterpretations of other traditions within each tradition. It seems to me that each has strengths and weaknesses and that they all have much they could learn from one another.

    It feels to me like any such endeavour would attempt to fit some kind of theory onto pretty disparate streams of thought.

    Could be, he might be trying too hard to force square pegs into round holes. I haven't really gotten into it but what it seems like he's doing is removing cultural and parochial trappings in an attempt to get at the essence of what each tradition is pointing to and then synthesize those important aspects.

    I haven't gotten back to it yet but one reason I put it down for a bit is that he kind of takes doctrine a step further than I tend to care for. That is I think he is using conjecture but it does seem like he has a solid theory for how the next turning of the wheel would happen or is happening

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