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Wilber's book Integrating Science and Religion


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Here is an interesting excerpt, titled 'Real and Bogus,' from Ken Wilber's book Integrating Science and Religion. It is on the sujbect of real and bogus science, and real and bogus religion. I have inserted a few comments in brackets (the author's comments are the ones in parantheses).

 

                                                    Real and Bogus

      The first thing we can’t help but notice is that the founders of the great traditions, almost without exception, underwent a series of profound spiritual experiences.  Their revelations, their direct spiritual experiences, were not mythological proclamations about the parting of the Red Sea or about how to make the beans grow, but rather direct apprehensions of the Divine (Spirit, Emptiness, Deity, the Absolute).  At their peak, these apprehensions were about the direct union or even identity of the individual and Spirit, a union that is not to be thought as a mental belief but lived as a direct experience, the very summum bonum of existence, the direct realization of which confers a great liberation, rebirth, metanoia, or enlightenment on the soul fortunate enough to be immersed in that extraordinary union, a union that is the ground, the goal, the source, and the salvation of the entire world. 

 

And what each of those spiritual pioneers gave to their disciples was not a series of mythological or dogmatic beliefs but a series of practices, injunctions, or exemplars: “Do this in remembrance of me.”  The “do this”—the injunctions—included specific types of contemplative prayer, extensive instructions for yoga, specific meditation practices, and actual interior exemplars: if you want to know this Divine union, you must do this.

 

      These injunctions reproduced in the disciples the spiritual experiences or the spiritual data of the evolutionary pioneers.  In the course of subsequent interior experiments (over the decades and sometimes centuries), these injunctions and data were often refined and sophisticated, with initial or preliminary methods and data polished in the direction of more astute observations.  Of numerous examples: the growth of Mahayana Buddhism, which grew and evolved into the magnificent Vajrayana; the exquisite growth of Jewish mysticism through Hasidim ad Kabbalah; the great Hindu flowering from the early Vedas to the extraordinary Shankara to the unsurpassed Ramana Maharshi; the six centuries of refinement from Plato to Plotinus.

 

On the other hand, the moment that any particular spiritual lineage stopped this exploratory and experimental process—that is, the moment it ceased to employ all three strands of knowledge [the three strands of knowledge that he is referring to are: 1. to take up an experiment; 2. gather the data 3. verify your results with other people that have performed the same experiment] in the spiritual quest—it began to harden into mere dogma or mythological proclamations, devoid of direct evidence and experience or the power to transform, and it even served merely to translatively console isolated egos in their immortality projects, instead of transcending the ego [the word  “ego” used here is not referring to ‘having a big ego’; rather it is used in the psychological sense referring to the mental structure]  in the great liberation of a radiant and spiritual splendor.

 

The conclusion seems obvious: when the eye of contemplation is abandoned, religion is left only with the eye of mind—where it is sliced to shreds by modern philosophy—and the eye of flesh—where it is crucified by modern science.  If religion possesses something that is uniquely its own, it is contemplation.  Moreover, it is the eye of contemplation, adequately employed, that follows all three strands of valid knowing.  Thus religion’s great, enduring, and unique strength is that, at its core, it is a science of spiritual experience (using “science” in the broad sense as direct experience, in any domain, that submits to the three strands of injunction, data, and falsifiability).

 

          Thus, if science can surrender its narrow empiricism for a broader empiricism (which it already does anyway), and if religion can surrender its bogus mythic in favor of authentic spiritual experience (which its founders uniformly did anyway) then it suddenly, very suddenly, science and religion begin to look more like fraternal twins than centuries-old enemies.

 

      For it becomes perfectly obvious that the real battle is not between science, which is “real”, and religion, which “bogus,” but rather between real science and religion, on the one hand, and bogus science and religion, on the other.  Both real science and real religion follow the three strands of valid knowledge accumulation, while both bogus science (pseudo-science) and bogus religion (mythic and dogmatic) fail that test miserably.  Thus, real science, and real religion are actually allied against the bogus and the dogmatic and the nonverifiable and the nonfalsifiable in their respective spheres.

 

        If we are to effect a genuine integration of science and religion, it will have to be and integration of real science and real religion, not bogus science and bogus religion.  And that means each camp must jettison its narrow and/or dogmatic remnants [yes that means that Christians will need to drop their mythical belief about an afterlife, also that Jesus was god, and that the Garden of Eden really happened, etc… also the Buddhists will need to surrender their belief in reincarnation…these are some of the mythical beliefs that personally annoy me most!] and thus accept a more accurate self-concept, a more accurate image of its own estate. 

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I'm a big fan of Wilber.

 

Ya I'm a big fan of his writing too.

I'm actually reading his book One Taste right now and I have to say that it's my favorite book of his...Some of his entries in that in that book are just excellent (for example the one on the 4 stages of spiritual enfoldment: 1.belief 2.faith 3.direct experience 4.permanent adaption...I'm gonna post it on here sometime).

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I am reading Wilber's "Quantum Questions" right now. In this he debunks the new age, Tao of Physics type of extrapolation from physics to mysticism. At the same time, he presents an anthology of the writings of the giants of physics, who specify why they disagreed with the attempts of religious people to use quantum mechanics to prove spirituality, but at the same time were all mystics themselves. Bascially, what I am getting from the book is this; we do not truly understand the universe (not the material universe, but the underlying reality) and all science or other methods of interrogation provide is a close analogy, the "shadows in Plato's cave". None of these physicist believed in a personal deity (Yahweh, Allah, etc), but all did posit that there is no way to account for the regularity of reality in a purely materialistic manner.

 

Bruce

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