Excerpt | Integral Spirituality

Excerpt from the Fall | Winter 2015 edition of Kosmos Journal

By Ken Wilber

“…That brings us to the second major type of spirituality generally available in today’s world, namely the spirituality of waking up. This is not a series of belief systems. Rather, it is a psycho-technology of consciousness transformation, a series of actual practices. These lead from the small, narrow, finite, skin-encapsulated ego to what is said to be a oneness with the ground of all being, what the Sufis call a supreme identity, a union of the individual with this all-pervading ground, a state known variously as enlightenment, awakening, metamorphosis, moksha, satori, emancipation, salvation, the great liberation.

I won’t go into this overall path in detail except to note that this was the province of the world’s great meditative or contemplative traditions, the paths of the great liberation, the paths of waking up. Just as there is a great deal of similarity around the world in the major stages of growing up, research demonstrates a strong general agreement as to the four to five major stages of waking up. These include Evelyn Underhill’s stages that all Western mystics are said to go through, what she called gross purification, subtle illumination, infinite abyss or dark night, and ultimate nondual unity consciousness or what the Sufi’s called the supreme identity.

Similar stages can be found in virtually all major Eastern traditions as well from Mahamudra to Zen, Theravada to Anuttara Tantra, Kashmir Shaivism to Vedanta, as demonstrated by many researchers such as Daniel P. Brown and my own work to name just a few.

Virtually all of the world’s great traditions began with their founder or founders directly experiencing these stages to profound waking up or direct unity consciousness of the individual with ultimate spirit, the supreme identity. These experiences remain more common in the Eastern traditions such as Zen, Vedanta or Tibetan Buddhism. But many religions in the West, however, began identifying more with the religion found not in the path of waking up, but in the path of growing up, especially the lower or magic and mythic stages of growing up. These religions slowly gave up direct experiences in the path of waking up.

Today in the West, religion largely means mythic stories about a grayhaired gentleman sitting on a throne in the sky, which is why so many people now call themselves ‘spiritual but not religious.’ Twenty five percent of the American population now identify with the phrase “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” One poll showed a stunning 75 percent of millennials (age 18 to 25) identify with that phrase, which generally means they are looking not for childish stages of spiritual growing up, but for higher stages of direct, immediate, experiential waking up.”

Kosmos Journal subscribers have access to this complete article beginning November 4, 2015. 

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