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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.

    lobsterpersonDavidDakini
  • 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.

    adamcrossley
  • 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

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

    I kept coming back to Integral Theory. The idea of trying to synthesize the worlds spiritual and cultural traditions into a workable framework around the continued evolution of humanity is just too compelling an idea to me to stay away from, in spite of my intuitive warning system signalling something negative.

    So I decided to borrow the book and tentatively give it a go. Early on I think Ken himself maybe unintentionally shows his hand when describing the "Boomer generation" he is a part of. He describes it as an "odd mixture of remarkably high cognitive capacity and wonderfully creative intelligence coupled with an unusual dose of emotional narcissism". That sort of summary perhaps sums up my own sense I've been getting from Ken.

    We'll see how it goes. I feel like there are many good ideas here worth taking in but I get the feeling that I'm going to have to take a long shower after I'm done with the book.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 28

    I feel you have it right @person.

    Discernment is key. If in place, like a shower, we bathe without drowning. We untangle by loosening the knots. Gaining from those with restricted agendas, is like walking along Manjushri's Sword ...

    In time we appreciate the samsarians as buddhas ... and the ancient buddhas as barbarians <3

    personadamcrossleyDavid
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said:
    I kept coming back to Integral Theory. The idea of trying to synthesize the worlds spiritual and cultural traditions into a workable framework around the continued evolution of humanity is just too compelling an idea to me to stay away from, in spite of my intuitive warning system signalling something negative.

    So I decided to borrow the book and tentatively give it a go.

    I find it interesting that you get so caught up in an idea that it doesn’t let you go. I suspect your intuition is warning you of a forming attachment to an idea or stream of thinking that perhaps isn’t related to eventual progress to cessation.

    Synthesising the world’s spiritual traditions into one framework is an impressive goal, but for most people it would involve a widening of vision, taking in more information and traditions that are not your own in order to create some greater unity. But as far as your own inner progress is concerned, it’s worth asking whether the result is more than a distraction...

    person
  • I feel you are right @Kerome
    We have to be careful. B)

    I iz mostly jelly ... Put me anywhere near something fishy and I lose all sense of skilfullness ...

    If we have experiential certainty, objective discernment and a track record of unshakeable discipline, good on us. ✔️????

    person
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I iz mostly jelly ...

    Yeah me too, I have my fair share of weaknesses... sometimes my intuition warns me, and I’m grateful for that, and sometimes it doesn’t and I only notice the problems later on.

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

    I think what is appealing to me about it is the intellectual armor and ammunition it might provide to protect myself from the fundamentalists and ideologues who are hostile towards unconventional and heterodox views and attitudes.

    However, one chapter in and the hubris and over intellectualization around his ideas was pretty apparent to me, I think I can cope with that though. What I didn't expect was a pretty strong "creepy old man vibe". I tend to soak up feelings and emotions from the world and the sort of empathic roll in the mud was pretty unpleasant, I don't know if I can continue with the book.

    lobsterKerome
  • Intuition (gut based thinking), heady thinking, heart led thought, instinctual non-thought. Very different.

    Ideally we might say a teacher/lama/guide/dharma friend clicks a lot of boxes ... I use intuition a lot. I value intellect, critical thought, science and even Magick Unrealism or Dream Dharma ...

    Vastmind
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Often our intuition and empathy is picking up on things at a subconscious level, it is good to pay attention to it, otherwise you can end up regretting it later.

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

    @Kerome said:
    Often our intuition and empathy is picking up on things at a subconscious level, it is good to pay attention to it, otherwise you can end up regretting it later.

    I agree, I've found that its also important to take it with a grain of salt. That what we think may be genuine insight is really just wishful thinking or heavily tainted with our own biases. I guess trust, but verify.

    lobsterVastmindKerome
  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited March 1

    @person said:
    The idea of trying to synthesize the worlds spiritual and cultural traditions

    I haven’t heard of Mr Wilbur, so I thought I’d just comment on this idea. Something about it appeals to me, and something also seems out of place. There are some writers/teachers who take a really inclusive view of the spiritual life—TNH and Jack Kornfield in particular—but who still follow more or less a single path. I wonder if “integrating” is something you can only do for yourself. As soon as you organise or formalise your “integrated” path, doesn’t it become it’s own thing? Your own thing?

    A New Kadampa nun told me recently that she chose her tradition because it seemed like a “complete path” to her. I think for the right person, any of the major Buddhist traditions is a complete path. Wanting to integrate them seems to deny them that potential “completeness”. Does that make sense?

    person
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Does that make sense?

    Yes.

    Certain words are used differently in normal speech, dharma talk and head cases.
    https://www.thoughtco.com/buddhism-and-equanimity-449701

    There are many routes into and eventually out of excitable Buddhism. Initially certain aspects are important:

    • language and terminology
    • study and familiarisation
    • meditation and practice
    • experience and change
    person
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited March 3

    @person said:

    I think what is appealing to me about it is the intellectual armor and ammunition it might provide to protect myself from the fundamentalists and ideologues who are hostile towards unconventional and heterodox views and attitudes.

    However, one chapter in and the hubris and over intellectualization around his ideas was pretty apparent to me, I think I can cope with that though. What I didn't expect was a pretty strong "creepy old man vibe". I tend to soak up feelings and emotions from the world and the sort of empathic roll in the mud was pretty unpleasant, I don't know if I can continue with the book.

    See, I'm kind of getting that from Integral Buddhism too. His ideas are quite in depth but then he goes into too much detail for the ideas own good almost. I like how he tied the different Buddhist understandings together with the rungs and views analogy but then he seems to try and break typical hierarchies with yet another hierarchy.

    He uses Integral Buddhism as a launching for an integral theory and possibly Integral Zen as a launching pad for Integral Buddhism. As Buddhism is already fairly inclusive even where there are different views, it is used as an example of how it could work with all views.

    I do think he is on to something with this whole 4th turning of the wheel and I do feel a more inclusive spirit of the age on the rise. That being said, I don't think we need more gurus trying to be the moon they would point to.

    In a way I feel he would twist himself into another version of what he originally was turned off of.

    But I'm only halfway through Integral Buddhism (he seems to have written a few Integral books). I saw a couple videos with him and I have to say I did start to get a creepy vibe from him as well. Especially when he was getting excited about that new psychedelic drug.

    Being somewhat of an Omnitheist (sort of a many worlds theory meets the gods type scenario) I can relate to an integral theory but since there are so many differing beliefs, I will always be agnostic and open to views we haven't come across.

    All in all, I think the guy is onto something and quite brilliant but he's made too much of an identity out of it all for me to take him as any kind of authority on how it all works.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Integral Zen and Ken Wilbur

    I have listened to some of Ken Weber's talks and came to this conclusion...

    He may well be very clued up, but he's way too intellectual for my simple mind...

    adamcrossley
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