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Kosmos ruff l/oS p i r i t u a l i t y & H e a l t h Give Us Ten Minutes…
We’ll Give You the Kosmos
Go ahead. Check your watch.
Let’s see if we can pull this
off. The next 10 minutes may
change the way you think
about evolution, psychology,
ecology, even God.
You may come away feeling that the half of the Kosmos that tends to get
crushed flat by modern science — your emotional life, your dreams, your spirituality — actually provides the high ground we need to make sense of But first let us give the credit to Ken Wilber, author of such monumental works as Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality, A Brief History of Everything, and The Marriage and of Sense and Science. Not a guru, but a voracious reader and disciplined thinker who is attempting to synthesize all that is known about science and religion. Each of his books is well worth devoting a long week-end. In fact several scholars and volunteer think tanks devote full time tohim. Think of what you’re about to read as Wilber lite. There’s a bit of aclimb before the view gets exciting. It’ll be worth it.
So get ready. Go!The story of our universe can be viewed as 14 billion years of nesting: Atoms nested into molecules, which nested into the first living “organelles,”which nested into cells, which, in turn, nested into more and more complexorganisms all the way up to highest functions of the brain. Each level of nestincorporates all the ones before it and then adds its own qualities. There areno molecules without atoms, no cells without molecules, no living or-ganelles without cells, and no complex neocortex at the top of the brainwithout a reptilian stem at the base.
(Okay, pause, take a deep breath, and glance at these nesting levels in the Upper Right portion of the diagram. These are the individualobjects that can be measured and manipulated so successfully by modern science. Notice, too, the progression of the nests: Fromphysical matter to life to mind to higher consciousness. Got it? I N T E R I O R I N D I V I D U A L I N T E N T I O N A L
S u b j e c t i v e Tr u t h f u l n e s s , S i n c e r i t y,
Now notice that for each Exterior on the Upper Right, there’s I n t e g r i t y, Tr u s t w o r t h i n e s s
a corresponding Interior on the Upper Left. Atoms have physi-cal interactions, living cells excite each other, more complexorganisms sense each other, act on impulse, have perceptionsand then emotions — nesting toward more and more complexbrains that use symbols, form concepts, and use creative reason.
Once again, each Interior level incorporates the ones before andadds its own qualities. There can be no perception withoutsensation, no concepts without emotion, no creative reasonwithout every nest below.
(Let’s pause again — just long enough for a hard-nosed scien- tist to pipe up that this Interior stuff isn’t important because wecan’t measure it — we can only interpret it. But, frankly, that’ssilly. Humankind has spent thousands of years figuring out howto separate good interpretations from bad ones. Interpretation ispart of the process that creates hard-nosed science, which, ofcourse, is only hard-nosed now for those scientists like to thinkit is….) Which brings us to the next big push: the Lower Left.
Like it or not, every truth exists within a context or culture — with its own corresponding nestings. Random atoms (aculture, of sorts) nest deeper into cells, which nest deeper intothe instinctual world-view of reptiles, into the emotional bondsof mammals, into the Archaic world-view of primates (in whichthe mind is undifferentiated from nature). With the arrival ofthe human brain comes a gradual separation from nature, fromthe Magic and Mystic levels (in which the bush Moses sawliterally burned but was not burned) to the Rational (in whichwe wonder critically about such beliefs), to the Integration ofmind and body and spirit. Once again, each level incorporatesthe ones before and adds its own qualities. We can engage insign language with apes, we can empathize emotionally withdogs, and we fall at the same speed as “pet rocks” all becausethese cultural levels exist within us.
(Oh my! The air is getting thin up here…. Just one last push The thing to remember for this fourth, Social truth, in the Lower Right, is the overall progression from physical matter tolife to mind to higher consciousness. So we start with galaxies,(the largest society of matter), which nest deeper into complex-ity to create planets, which nest deeper to create the firstcontained ecosystem, which nests into the animals with a divi-sion of labor between sexes, which nest into families, which nest I N T E R I O R C U LT U R A L
into tribes, which nest into early states and empires, to nation M u t u a l U n d e r s t a n d i n g , J u s t n e s s ,
C u l t u r a l F i t ,
Whew! That’s the hard part. Now we can play! Looking at this model, the first thing that jumps out is what Wilber calls the “self transcending drive of the Kosmos,” the E X T E R I O R I N D I V I D U A L B E H AV I O R A L
drive to both include and go beyond what was before. Whatever O b j e c t i v e Tr u t h , C o r r e s p o n d e n c e ,
you choose to call this drive — spirit or consciousness or cre-ativity or depth — the point is that the universe is clearly going R e p r e s e n t a t i o n
somewhere. And, says Wilber, “because the universe has direc-tion, we ourselves have direction. We are part and parcel of thisimmense intelligence, this spirit in action, this God in the mak-ing.” The next thing to jump out is that Wilber’s chart not only traces the evolution of the universe, but the life cycle of eachhuman being. We each start as a single, excitable cell, whichnests deeper and deeper until we pick up a body and brain. Thatbrain gets born into an Archaic world in which there is no sepa-ration between the self and the world. Then, around age two,our world becomes Magic, when it seems to be an extension ofus. Next, about age six, comes the Mythic stage as we discoverthe roles given to us by society. And next, around age 12, comesthe increasing Rational stage as we learn to question those rolesand beliefs. Many of us also catch glimpses of a higher level,where mind and body and all of creation are experienced as one.
Some rare individuals — the mystics and saints and sages from all cultures — live in this higher state, pointing the way.
And, explains Wilber, they all tell a variation of the same story:“The story of awakening one morning and discovering that weare one with the all, in a way that’s timeless and eternal andinfinite.” And yet the descriptions of those mystics illustrate aprofound irony: The experience of the oneness is reserved to thefew.
Wilber goes on to explain how some folks, having experi- enced this state of oneness, come to believe that no truth isbetter or higher than any other. But that’s nonsense. The experi-ence of oneness is truth at the highest level we know. There arecountless lesser truths below that — not to mention an infinitesupply of ideas that are just plain false.
A Brief History of PsychologyIncreasing nests of complexity toward this higher experience of “oneness” also means increasing potential for things to gowrong. Freud was among the first to notice that trauma at theemotional and sexual levels of development could create prob-lems at every subsequent stage of life — so that to move forwardtruthfully, one first had to go back. Cognitive therapists thenidentified how problems at higher, rational levels of develop-ment could, for example, immobilize us with depression. Morerecently, transpersonal therapists have directly approached feel-ings of isolation at an even higher, spiritual level. And yet as EXTERIOR—SOCIAL
Wilber’s diagram makes clear, to understand ourselves fully wehave the daunting task of exploring all our levels.
So truly understanding the root cause of depression, for example, means becoming transparent to ourselves — bottomto top. But, if we’re short of time, we can also pop a Prozac.
Why? We have to remember that sinking deeper through all W h a t t o M a k e o f I t ?
those Interior levels is just one kind of solution, working with one kind of truth. For a brain scientist, depression may be seen Say you have a blinding, ecstatic, mind-blowing experience as too little serotonin in the brain. Pop the Prozac, balance the serotonin, and the depression goes away.
The experience is direct and immediate, but then you come Of course the problem with Prozac is that it won’t help you out of it and want to tell me about it — or maybe you just want to understand or interpret your interior pain. Worse, the quick to tell yourself. Now you must interpret what the experience Exterior fix creates the impression that our Interior depths are was. Was it Jesus Christ? Buddha-mind? an angel? an alien not real and don’t matter. So, if you think about it, such scien- tific “cures” take half the Kosmos away. Wilber calls this the How you interpret this experience will govern how you will creation of “Flatland.” Interior depths get flattened by the tre- fit it into your life, how you will share it with the world, and mendous power Exterior science, yet Interior depth is what what your future relationship will be to this light. Unfortu- nately, what often what happens is that people try to interpret The goal, says Wilber is not to deny either the Internal or the these experiences through just one quadrant of truth — and External, but to use both so that your true intentions match sometimes just one level in one quadrant. This process devas- your behavior. That is, your left will match your right. You tates the other quadrants and squashes the fullness of the won’t lie to others because you haven’t lied to yourself.
interpretations, cripples the fullness of the experience itself.
We can also trace in this diagram our responsibility for main- Upper Left: Many people interpret these experiences rather taining our environment. Says Wilber, “because human beings narcissistically solely in terms of their higher Self. They tend to contain matter, life and mind, as components of our own completely ignore the cultural and social and behavioral compo- makeup, then we must honor all of these not for there own nents. The New Age movement is full of this Self Only intrinsic worth, which is the most important, but also because they are components of our own.” In other words, it’s not just Upper Right: Others see the experience merely as a product that harming the biosphere will eventually catch up with us and of brain states. They attempt to interpret these experiences as hurt us from the outside. It’s that the biosphere is literally inter- coming solely or predominately from theta brain states or mas- nal to us, is a part of our very being, so harming it is literally sive endorphin release and so on. But this merely techonological suicidal, both from the inside and the outside.
interpretation completely devastates the cultural and social components, not to mention all the inner states of conscious- As our brains, our interior life, and our society have evolved toward greater depth and complexity, so has our concept of Lower Right: Others interpret the experience as proof that God. In the Archaic world, when men and women divided into “ultimate reality” is Gaia or the biosphere or the social systems.
hunters and gatherers, the Gods were both male and female. In In other words, that we’re all strands in some wonderful web.
the Magic world, where women farmed with hoes, the Gods But again, that one-eyed view flattens out all our interior levels were mostly female. In the Mythic world of empire building, of development and is rightly called ecofascism.
when man’s strength was required to handle a plow, God be- Lower Left: Others interpret this experience merely in terms came man — and so He remained in the Rational world of of collective cultural consciousness and a coming world-view nation states. But today, in our increasingly Integrated/Planetary transformation. This overlooks what individual consciousness world, we are gradually putting brackets around the particular can do at any given point, and denies the importance of social Mythic stories of our wisdom traditions so that we can all talk structures and institutions in helping to support and embed together about God as Spirit and share our experiences of the The whole point here is that we want to find ourselves in According to Wilber, the biggest challenge facing our world sympathetic attunement with all aspects of the Kosmos. We is not the income gap between rich and poor but the gap in want to touch the truth in each of the quadrants. And we begin levels of consciousness. The world is peopled with Mythic folks to do so by noticing that each speaks to us with a different killing in God’s name, with Rational folks trying to conquer the voice. If we listen carefully, we can hear each of these voices environment, and even with people who have moved beyond whispering gently their truths, and finally joining in a harmoni- those levels of consciousness only to be immobilized by the ous chorus that quietly calls us home.
mistaken notion that all truths are equal.
S p i r i t u a l i t y & H e a l t h
PRODUCT SAFETY & LIABILITY ! Reproduced with permission from Product Safety & Li-ability Reporter, 39 PSLR 321, 03/28/2011. Copyright 2011 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bna.comArguments of Parties, Amici. In the next preemptioncase set for argument, generic drug manufacturers (pe-titioners) and their amici argued that distinctions in thelaw