Can Integral Theory Transform Civilization and save Humanity? With Ken Wilber
In this episode, Ken Wilber discusses “waking up” and “growing up,” the two major types of self-improvement practiced throughout human history. He covers states of consciousness as well as stages of human development, methodologies for arriving at higher stages, and how we can use integral theory and integral approaches to heal individual physiology and psychology.
In This Episode We Discussed:
- Stages of human growth and development
- States of consciousness
- Methodologies for arriving at higher stages
- How to use integral approaches to heal your physiology and psychology
3:57 2 major types of self-improvement: waking up and growing up
14:52 4 major stages of development
16:46 No system integrating waking up and growing up
27:06 Structures of consciousness
34:30 2 types of spiritual systems: esoteric and exoteric
35:55 5 major states of consciousness
52:15 Subject-object / mind-brain relationship
1:10:56 Integral approach & meta-theory
With over two-dozen published books translated in nearly as many languages, Ken Wilber has created what is widely considered the first truly comprehensive Integral Map of human
experience. By exploring and integrating the major insights and conclusions of nearly every human knowledge domain in existence, Wilber created the revolutionary AQAL Integral Framework. In short, the Integral Approach is the coherent organization, coordination, and harmonization of all of the relevant practices, methodologies, and experiences available to human beings. Wilber states: “You can’t [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy.” He is the founder of the nonprofit think tank Integral Institute, co-founder of the transformational learning community Integral Life, co-founder of Source Integral exploring the nature of Integral Society, and the current chancellor of Ubiquity University.
To explore Ken Wilber’s work more fully, be sure to check out his Integral Life website.
Mentioned in This Episode:
- Integral Life
- Kosmos Trilogy
- Howard Gardner
- Carol Gilligan
- Jean Gebser
- Lawrence Kohlberg
- Essays in Zen Buddhism – D.T. Suzuki
- Kurt W. Fischer
- James H. Fowler
- Alfred North Whitehead
- Ken Wilber Stops His Brain Waves – youtube
Daniel: Hello. Welcome everybody to the Neurohacker Collective Podcast, Collective Insights. My name is Daniel Schmachtenberger. I’m with Research and Development here at the Collective. I have just a part of a voice here today, so forgive that. Hopefully, I won’t actually be doing much talking today. Really, really honored and delighted to have Ken Wilber with us on the podcast [00:01:00] today. Ken is the founder of the Integral Institute and the system of philosophy known as Integral Philosophy, one of the most published full out American philosophers and translated into many languages.
He wrote The Kosmos Trilogy, which is one of the deepest bodies of work on integrating thought across many, many traditions regarding the foundational age of reality, how we go about knowing and how that’s applied to [00:01:30] the development of human experience and being human. The integral model is a model that’s put forth as a way of knowing that all of the episomal, which is all the perspectives that need to be taken to fully understand something or taken and integrated appropriately. That can be applied to enhancement, applied to ecology, government, medicine, lots of topics. As Ken is getting into this work, there was a deep background he had in medicine doing pre-med and biochem as well [00:02:00] as studying the nature of consciousness and the intersection across the hard problems.
As we’re going to get to dive in here today to the future of both the mind and brain and the relationship between them. This is an area that Ken has been pioneering very deeply profoundly for a long time. Some of the podcast shows that have been the most well-received here so far were Zach Stein and Dustin Diperna who were both long time students of Ken’s and taking [00:02:30] his work into their domains. For those who haven’t seen it yet or for those who have, we have Intro to Neurohacking Guide that utilizes the integral quadrants. We can get a look at Neurohacking from a psychospiritual or physiological, relational and environmental context.
Ken’s work directly and indirectly is influenced what we’re doing at the Collective a lot. Now, we get to actually have a dialog [00:03:00] with him. One other thing just in preface is just thinking about the neurohacking front of it. There interface of things like biochemical tech and enhanced neurotech with ancient traditions. There’s a very famous YouTube video of Ken hooked up to an EEG machine going into different meditation states and changing brainwave patterns including ones where the brainwave phenomenon drops almost to zero. Quite a long time ago, quite a long time before EEG based on our feedback was as popular [00:03:30] as it is today. Ken, thank you for being here with us today.
Ken Wilber: My pleasure, Daniel.
Daniel: We’ll just dive right in and say, your vision, the future of a comprehensive human flourishing system that gets to be appropriately generalized to things that are true for everyone and appropriately personalized and addresses physiology, psychology, etc. Can you just describe to us [00:04:00] what you see that replaces what we call medicine and psychology and etc. now as a human thriving system?
Ken Wilber: Yeah. What’s so astonishing about that whole general area is how much knowledge we actually have right now versus how much of that knowledge is generally available to most people or in for that matter, generally available [00:04:30] to most college professors. I’m expecting things that I’ve found as I began my career of trying to put a whole lot of different knowledge areas together is how rarely all of the different types of knowledge that I was looking at, how rarely it was all acknowledged and are actually utilized. It’s actually shocking. One [00:05:00] of the things that I would do for example is look at ways that human beings over the centuries, over the years up to today have developed in order for what you might call self-improvement.
This can include to use that term in a very broad sense can include everything from psychotherapy to various forms of [00:05:30] self-improvement programs to something like a great meditation tradition or a contemplative tradition where you’re trying to find your true self or higher awareness, higher consciousness, higher potential. If you look over the world at large, you can find that there are, depending on exactly how narrowly you define [00:06:00] self-improvement, you can find anywhere from two major groups to measure different types that tend to show up. Within those types, there is another anywhere from six to eight or so sub-types. I’ll give you the two broad types generally. Because you can see the problem just working with those.
We call these two types waking up and growing up. Waking up has [00:06:30] to do with general practices of things like meditation, contemplation, centering prayer. Paths that humans have had a fairly good understanding though for at least a couple of thousand years. Some versions of these interior paths of growth, these paths of meditation or contemplation or Shamanic origin or Elda [00:07:00] go back possibly 20, 30,000 years. If you take all of the really sophisticated meditation systems worldwide and this include everything from practices like Zen Buddhism down to Hinduism to Daoism, certainly Tibetan Buddhism over to Sikhism and Islam.
There are Islams or Christian [00:07:30] mysticism, Kabbalah and Hasidim and Judaism. You take the actual meditative practices of all those great meditative system. You put them all in a table. You look at them. You start to see certain family resemblances to the stages that they outline. That a typical human being who starts out with a sense of being identified with what Alan Russ [00:08:00] called a skin encapsulated ego. It’s just me, just myself, just this individual body. There are several stages of expanding your identity that happens in a first person subjective space. It ends up with what the Sikhists call the supreme identity.
This is essentially your fundamental being, your absolutely real reality is [00:08:30] one with the ground of all being. It’s called the supreme identity, this identity with supreme ultimate spirit as well. Now as I said, if you take all of the great meditative systems, put them all in a table and look at the stages they described that their human being in their own school goes through as they move from a very narrow, separate self-sense, they expand their space of consciousness [00:09:00] all the way up to an identity with a ground of all being and a sense of unity with the entire universe. You look at those stages. As I said, you’ll find a certain family resemblance, a certain similarity among those stages.
There’s some important differences. There are also some other. Some people that have actually studied this fairly carefully, one of them for example is a colleague and an assessive teacher for both Dustin [00:09:30] Diperna and I and his name is Daniel P. Brown. His work shows for example five or so major stages of this process we call waking up. One of the things that they all have in common is the belief that this small, narrow separate self sets is not our real self. We have deeper, broader, truer identities. Part of the human condition [00:10:00] is that we’re generally born in what the Christians would call original sin or what the Buddhists would call Dukkha, inherent suffering. The whole point is to get out of that prison of suffering, of separation, of illusion and awaken in a sense of waking up to this deeper and truer realities.
Again, Brown has found in several traditions [00:10:30] including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, various forms of Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra in Soutan, the Yerevan Buddhist tradition. Also, he did a couple of Western traditions but he’s found a similar set of these stages of waking up. Those turned out to be [00:11:00] and in my own work that was separate from Daniel Brown’s, I had also come up with around five major stages of waking up. Again, some traditions have what are clearly sub stages, broader stages. They’re essentially recognizable for at least the past couple of thousand years. That’s a very clear developmental [00:11:30] unfolding sequence. Thus extremely different from what the modern West has come up with as it has looked at human development.
The Modern West has come up with is what we call growing up. That’s because this does some work with taking identity and expanding it to ultimate supreme God had status [00:12:00] or a radical, spiritual identity. This just takes a separate self-sense, which the traditions would look at as a fallen self, as an illusory self. Nonetheless, it has relative reality. It is there. They track the stages that this relative individual self goes through from the time it’s born until it gets to [00:12:30] at least the highest stages that developmental psychologists have found, have evolved so far. This is relatively recent where the waking up stages go back we said several thousand years. This growing up stages weren’t really discovered until about 150 years ago.
There are [00:13:00] probably a couple of thousand major models of this individual self-development. Again, if you put them all in a table and look at them all together, you can see some very broad similarities in the stages that they have proposed that human beings go through. As they grow up as a relatively finite, conventional individual self. [00:13:30] If you look at these, some of the models, they basically have around six to eight major stages of growth and development. These are clearly important stages though because you can look at them. Well, let me briefly footnote it by saying it looks like we don’t just have one [00:14:00] single intelligence, which is measured by IQ.
People like Howard Gardner and several developmental psychologists believe that we have multiple intelligences. Some think that there might be up to even around a dozen of them. Name two things like cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, moral intelligence, mathematical, musical intelligence. All of those [00:14:30] individual lines of development or multiple intelligences, they all grow or develop through a series of stages of development. Again, there are different models of what those are. There are some fairly heated theoretical arguments about who’s right and who isn’t. Again, there’s a broad similarity.
If you look at for example just to reduce it to very simplified form just so people can get a sense about [00:15:00] what’s happening, if you look at self-identity, we find that there are at least four major stages that that goes through. The earliest is called egocentric. It’s what Carol Gilligan calls selfish. The next major stage Gilligan called care. This individual extends care from themselves to a group. [00:15:30] We also call that ethnocentric. The individual’s identity spans through a whole group of individuals. The third stage Gilligan called universal care and we call world centric is an expansion from just a particular tribe, clan, nation, group, religion to an identity with all of humanity.
Her highest stage, she called integrated and its variation, [00:16:00] what we call integral stage of development and those tend to just integrate or unify all of the previous stages. Now again, there are variations on those stages. If you look at Gebser’s world view stages for example, he has archaic, the magic, the mythic, the rational, pluralistic and integral. Archaic and [00:16:30] magic are egocentric. Mythic is ethnocentric. Rational and pluralistic are world centric. Integral is integral. Again, you can see a fair number of similarities there. Now, the point about mentioning these two measured types of growth and development, one waking up and one growing up is that there literally isn’t [00:17:00] a major system anywhere in the world, East or West that’s included both of those.
That’s really shocking. Because in the one hand, you have essentially the only type of process, developmental process, growth process that humans have ever found. That the ones that do it claim fairly unanimously that this is an access to ultimate truth. [00:17:30] It’s absolutely showing you an ultimate ground of all being. You know that by directly experiencing it yourself. It’s a directed media apprehension. It’s not a darkness. It’s not a bleep. It’s not a myth. It’s experience in a peak or a plateau experience and a first person experiential fashion. This can be checked and tested with entire groups of people that are undergoing that developmental process.
The traditions themselves [00:18:00] are being painted that this is a pathway to ultimate truth. There’s also relative truth. Although the traditions are not really aware of Western developmental psychology growing up, which say that those are stages in growth of truth. They’re clearly important because one of the things that we find is that these two developmental processes are relatively independent. In other words, you can be pretty [00:18:30] high in one and quite low in the other or vice-versa. This is really problematic. Because in the one hand, if you have somebody who has gone very deeply into waking up and they had this experience of supreme identity and yet, in terms of their actual relative development where their mind is, how they’re interpreting their experience, their tools that they have.
If they’re an ethnocentric stage of [00:19:00] development, then they’re going to believe that their experience of supreme spirit. In order to have that experience, you have to believe in their particular path or ideology. This is very common with individuals who example are fundamentalists and have a peak experience of supreme identity. If you’re a Christian for example and you do that, then you’ll believe that [00:19:30] in order to have that experience of unity, divine ultimate consciousness, you have to believe in Jesus Christ as your personal savior. If you don’t, then you can’t have that experience. You might think you’re having that experience but you’re really not. Now, there’s the problem.
Virtually, all of the major Western developmental psychologists that have studied these stages of development of the individual self, [00:20:00] they’re not aware of or they give out emotional credence to any of the waking up stages of development. You don’t find it in any of the models. Some of them could see that because this developmental process of growing up was increasing a person’s identity, that they would just say, “Well, we haven’t found any examples that let’s say could go a lot higher than NASA for example beyond self-actualization [00:20:30] means you postulated self-transcendence.” Kohlberg postulated beyond his sixth stage of universal model using this seventh stage that he called mystical.
Aside from little mere examples like that and they have no theories about that. They have no practices going with that and the vast majority of Western developmental models have no understanding of waking up at all. They’re completely unaware [00:21:00] of it. What this means is because there’s never been a system anywhere in the world where human beings practice both waking up and growing up, it means that humanity has for its entire history has intentionally practiced being broken. We really haven’t found any system that unites both of those and therefore can actually give us something that would appear [00:21:30] to resemble the highest potential capacity human beings can reach. Now of course, there can be prior stages down the line.
There’s a run in evidence that all of these have evolved. Certainly, if you go back prior to humans, that they’ve all evolved. That’s just one example of what integral approaches do. They look at all these different areas of waking up and growing up are two. [00:22:00] We also have things you call cleaning up, showing up, opening up and so on. They’re all dealing with both objective accounts of what reality looks like according to very specific view points and perspectives. What human beings can do in order to grow and develop into the broadest possible comprehension they can of all of those various dimensions that each of these areas deal with. [00:22:30] Again, what’s so alarming about this is that the evidence for the reality of each of these areas is really stunning.
Again, if you put together all of the traditions that have some version of enlightenment or awakening, they’re everywhere. If you look at the studies of developmental psychology of growing up. Some of those models have been tested in over 40 different cultures. [00:23:00] They have evidence for them showing up time and time again. Yet nobody’s ever put them together. That’s horrifying because you can be a world centric, integrated individual self and you’re completely unaware of ultimate reality. You’re living in a world of illusion. You can also have this experience of having a kind of awakening or waking up experience [00:23:30] to an ultimate reality. You can still be identified and this will be ethnocentric or even egocentric identify.
In other words, you’re an enlightened Nazi. This isn’t good. That’s been part of the situation that struck me the most in my own career when I started out intentionally with a question, that of all these various systems that are out there. [00:24:00] That which one is right and comes out all wrong but how can they all get together? How can they all be right? Because that if all of them exist, they have some evidence that human being has written, adopting. It doesn’t mean everything they say is right. There’s some fundamental phenomena that they’re dealing with that are real. Because a human brain doesn’t react to just pure illusion, pure unreality. There’s something real going on.
The integral approach [00:24:30] into a meditator simply attempts to put as many of those together as possible. We do have an emphasis on what you can do to help your own first person consciousness grow and develop so they can embrace and encompass the dimensions that all of these other areas are pointing to or dealing with.
Daniel: I want to just underline something for the listeners. That is really important and underrepresented in a modern [00:25:00] scientific framework. What came in saying is he’s saying that he had an intuition that all homo sapiens that have genetically identical brains for us for a very long time weren’t completely stupid before what we call the advent of the scientific method. It’s not that all of knowledge and human inquiry and exploration up until the point that we figured out the scientific method was completely just gibberish. [00:25:30] Now that doesn’t mean it was all completely correct just like we are continuously error correcting science.
What has Mark called the overrating of wrong but if we acknowledge that there have been humans that had genetically identical brains to us that had time allocated to really thinking about things deeply for a long time. That we might want to see if there were some valuable insights and that if some of the ideas proliferated that there’s at least partial truths with looking at that that’s one kind of idea. [00:26:00] The next one is, core to the idea of what we consider science is the ability to independently verify measurements and independently verify the abstract on measurement, the scientific method and it’s actually come up with. It’s tricky to do that when it comes to subjectivity. That’s not impossible.
If we’re trying to explore the nature of consciousness and experience, we do have deal [00:26:30] with things like subjective reporting bias and all kinds of internal cognitive and emotional and existential biases. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t something like a formalism for how to explore the domain of subjectivity. You continue to say when we put them all on the table. If people across different regions that couldn’t have been influencing each other came up with things that were similar or different, the differences allow for error correction. The similarities for corroboration start to explore [00:27:00] something formally. Do you want to speak more about that, Ken? Subject relationship?
Ken Wilber: Yeah. One of the things that had a big impact on me as I was starting out looking at all this stuff when I went to Nixon and Western science and so on and all of that was great. The [00:27:30] 60s hit as a classic rumor and there’s this influx of Eastern traditions. It started with things like Zen Buddhism and a scholar called D.T. Suzuki who wrote a series of books including a three-volume set called Essays in Zen Buddhism. All of a sudden, there is this notion of something called Satori. This is an experience of this unit of experiential oneness, [00:28:00] this awakening to your supreme identity. This sense of oneness and the ground of all being, oneness of the entire universe as this fundamental reality.
That was something you didn’t get in Sunday school. We just never heard of this kind of stuff. It made a pretty big impact on the rest. Lynn White, a fairly reputable historian said it’s a translation of Suzuki’s [00:28:30] Essays of Zen Buddhism into English where he starkly ranked with the translation of the Bible into English. It really had an impact. It shook a lot of us up. It really shook me up because I was raised a Southern Baptist and as soon as I hit adolescence and form operational heart mission and I went science and threw over all of that since. It turns out though that there’s [00:29:00] religion and there’s religion.
There’s at least two very different types of things that have been called religion in humankind’s history. One of them occurs in the waking up dimension. One occurs in the growing up dimension. Of course, both of these are operating to some degree in most people. Waking up has to do with states of consciousness. These [00:29:30] are first person direct experiential space of consciousness. That in growing up, what most developmental psychologists study are direct states. They are more that interpretative structures or frameworks that human beings use after they have intelligence in a particular line. These structures of consciousness are much more like let’s say rules of grammar.
Anybody brought up [00:30:00] in a particular language speaking culture ends up speaking that language very correctly. If it’s subject and verb together correctly, they use adjectives and adverbs correctly. They’re following large system of rules in grammar. If you ask someone to write down those rules that they’re following, almost none of them can do it. Most of them don’t even really realize they’re following rules of interpretation when they speak or think. These stages [00:30:30] of growing up are very much like stages of kinds of grammars, world view grammars. Whether you’re looking at Kurt Fisher’s sensory motor to representation to stash and to systems or principles or if you’re looking at the simplified egocentric, ethnocentric or world centric, the integral, a person ethos stages has no idea that they’re at [00:31:00] those stages.
Because you can’t see these structures of consciousness by introspective. Now you can’t see the rules of grammar we’re both following. This goes up to even the more complex developmental models like Gebser’s archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic. If you look at Gebser’s archaic, magic, mythic, ration, the pluralistic, the integral, [00:31:30] many of the foundational texts of the world’s great religions. They were written during the axial periods, some 2000 years ago that happened to be a general era that most especially emphasized the mythic stage of growing up. That’s where a lot of humanity rise at that time. That’s where a lot of the early productions and human thought systems [00:32:00] were driven by.
You have something like the Old Testament where Moses parted the Red Sea and Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. These are all very mythic, mythological types of frameworks. Many of them can be produced by a seven-year old child today. Many of the fundamentalist religious texts around the world are either magic or [00:32:30] mythic. We actually have empirical studies on this best stages by James Fowler. He looked at individual scoring through the religious belief development. Again, he found about six major stages of development that human beings go through when they think about an ultimate reality or in his version, an ultimate concern. He actually called the mythic stage, the mythic ritual.
[00:33:00] Because that tends to be how that stage fix. If you have a fundamentalist, even if they cognitively have gone on and their irrational stage of development, their belief system particularly if they believe the Bible is the word of God and it’s focused on something that was actually written during a mythic literal time. They tend to keep their spiritual intelligence at this mythic ritual level. [00:33:30] There’s another type of religious engagement. That comes from that waking up side of the street. Again, that’s something that now we’re dealing with first person states of consciousness. When you’re going through the stages of waking up and you get to let’s say, sometimes called a cause or a formless dimension of awareness.
You have an experience of being absorbing this vast, infinite [00:34:00] abyss that’s flooded with infinite love and luminosity. You know it. That’s not like grammar. You’re operating and you have no idea. You have that experience of being one in universal love and bliss. You are directly aware. You know exactly what’s going on. That gives a spiritual experience. That’s very different than simple interpretative world view type of experience. [00:34:30] What we tend to find as we look around the world at the great religious traditions is that there really are two fundamentally different types of spiritual systems. Often as you call esoteric and exoteric. Exoteric is a simple belief that you can have and that’s usually a magic, mythic ritual belief and you learn it. You pledge allegiance to it.
You say, “Yes. I have the one and only God and his or her one and only [00:35:00] prophet,” or whatever it is. That’s fine. Then there’s the esoteric, the hidden or inner teachers of religion. That involves a series of practices of looking into this interior subjectivity. In a sense, it’s resting deeper and deeper and deeper and as it happens, you tend to go [00:35:30] through these how to be more real and more real and more real and more real states of consciousness or dimensions of existence. I mentioned Daniel Brown. He’s in the five that I have come upon. This is actually going towards the size of consciousness. There are actually several meditative schools that explicitly [00:36:00] give those five major states of consciousness.
We explicitly find this in Vedanta. We find it in Tibetan Buddhism. We find it near platonic schools in the West. Those five states are in the Vedanta version they’re called growth, subtle, causal, turiya and turiyatita. Now, an example of a growth state is just awareness [00:36:30] of the physical realm. The classic realm of Vedanta gives a common example of a growth state. It’s just the ordinary waking state. If you just sit in here looking at the physical reality and you exist in this body and that’s it. That’s a typical growth state. An example of the subtle state that’s usually given aids to dream state. That’s because in the dream state, there’s no longer a physical world. [00:37:00] Trees are gone. Mountains are gone. It’s just images, light. There is energetic currents, feelings and so on.
This is all held to be productions of the mind operating in an a subtle state. The causal state is taken to be that moment to moment as the universe is emerging, is manifesting out of an ultimate [00:37:30] reality. It first gives rise to the first forms of manifestations themselves. These are what the Greeks called archives primordial form. It’s the first forms of awareness. Those are said to be the forms upon which all other forms could happen. For Plato, they’re forms. [00:38:00] See things like color. Some include seeing geometric forms. It’s just part of this constant stream that virtuality or traditions see of this evolutionary outpouring spirit that creates the world moment to moment right now.
Spirit loses itself in each of those states. When it comes all the way down to the lowest state, which is the material physical [00:38:30] state, it then turns down and return trip in consciousness. That creates a very common body which generally called the great chain. The Christian version of that is the body, to mind to soul to spirit. Those are the five major states. Beyond causal is something called turiya. Turiya is simply a Sanskrit term that literally means the fourth. It got named [00:39:00] because it’s the fourth major state of consciousness after the first three. Not a very imaginative way to name it but that’s what it is. That’s just pure awareness, not any object of awareness.
Sometimes called the witness, it’s that in you right now which is aware of everything that’s arising. If you get a sense of your own individual self, you’ll notice that you’re aware of that and that means that what you normally call yourself isn’t your real [00:39:30] self. It’s just an object of awareness. That awareness is your real self. Now, the awareness, the witness is maintained to be a pure manifestation of spirit itself. That’s why virtually all the great traditions maintain that human beings have at least two selves. That the relative self that can be seen as an object or not as an object. There’s the seer itself that’s doing the seeing.
[00:40:00] That can’t be seen any more than an eye could see itself or Tom could taste itself. It’s just that pure Purusha or Atman that is one requirement. That’s your true self. Turiyatita, which literally means beyond the fourth is you sit in there and you have this sense of pure witness that is free of all manifestation. Because it’s selfish, just a pure absolute subjectivity. It actually [00:40:30] transcends subject and object. It’s a vast, formless, empty, infamous infinite reality, your true self. Just simply standing back is said to be it’s not this. It’s not that. I have sensations but I’m not those sensations. I have feelings but I’m not those feelings. I have thoughts but I’m not those [00:41:00] thoughts. I’m a pure witness of all of that.
On the fifth state, that witness itself merges with everything that’s witnessed. We’ve got a pure non-dual unitary, ultimate oneness with reality. Okay. That’s a long introduction to saying that both of these two types of religious occasions, spiritual occasions [00:41:30] have very, very different types of truth associated with them. They’re very different types of reality that are associated with them. One of them is coming from a relatively low stage of growing up. The other is coming from the highest stage of waking up. These are night and day. What’s interesting is how individuals arrive at [00:42:00] these stages of waking up. Particularly the higher stages. Because here, we find they actually have a methodology that’s very, very similar to science in this sense.
If we look at some of the crucial elements of modern science, we find that there are generally at least three major components to [00:42:30] acknowledge that we can take it as scientifically true or real. The first is an injunction or some methodology. If you want to know this, do this. If you want to know if it’s raining outside, go to the window and look. If you want to know if the cell has a nucleus, invent a microscope. Cut a cell, a section of cell, stain it, look. If you want to know if Jupiter has [00:43:00] nine moons, invent a telescope and look. There’s a certain kind of what can be called an exemplary paragraph, a certain action that is generally felt to be necessary. Even mathematics start to parallel lines, that kind of thing.
Once you do that, you will have generally speaking, a direct experience or a data or an illumination [00:43:30] will occur. You’re looking down a microscope then you’re going to get data. You’re going to have an actual experience of the reality that that injunction has introduced you to. That is this data or illumination or direct experience is crucial to science and it’s generally what they call ethnos. This isn’t coming from a belief system. It’s an actual direct evidence of [00:44:00] illumination. Once you’ve done that, maybe you’ve gone to the window that’s your injunction and then you’ve looked and it is raining. Actually, you see the rain. That’s your data. That’s your illumination, your experience.
You could be hallucinating or something so you ask somebody else to come to the window. That’s the third step. It’s either a confirmation or a rejection. Some people put it in strong terms and maintain that it’s a principle. [00:44:30] More generically, it’s simply a group experiential repetition of people that have done your injunction, added data and then compared results. Now, that’s actually those three steps are exactly what every one of the major spiritual contemplative traditions does. If you take something like Zen Buddhism, that it’s not a belief system. You’re not [00:45:00] to memorize metaphysics or let alone a mythic system. You are first of all, given a series of injunctions. Things you need to do with your mind.
If you’re going to get access to this data. That includes a couple of different types of meditation. All of them have the net effect of having awareness this identify from the objects of [00:45:30] awareness. Mindfulness itself is just a direct objectification of everything that’s arising. You just see it all as an object. I’m aware of this. I’m mindful of this. I’m mindful of that. That’s just confirming all of these things that really are just objects. You just identify. You’re falling more and more just the witness, the pure witness. If you continue doing that, there might be [00:46:00] certain added exercises that go along with that. There is injunctions brought forth. There’s actual methodology. Things you actually have to do.
That will bring you to the second step, which is an actual illumination, a data. It’s called satori or kinship. That’s when you directly have this immediate experience with your real self or even deeper experience this unity with everything. Either one [00:46:30] of those constitute a satori or it’s also called the kinship. It means seeing your true nature. You have to check that with the community of people that have done the injunction and have the data. You compare your data with theirs. For the most part, your data should agree with what’s already been done because these injunctions have been done in most things for decades, centuries, [00:47:00] even millennia. The same way if you’re looking at the structure of water, you’re probably going to find that it’s H2O.
If you find something different, you really better check it with other people. These three strands are what we find on virtually every contemporary tradition. It really is a series of episomal logical verification procedures. That seems to be one of the reasons [00:47:30] that we do find these family similarities and most of the great meditative traditions. That’s why Dan Brown can find these five major stages and so on. If nothing else, these traditions give us a very good indication that one way to do a type of methodology. It can be repeated and that most importantly, shows that it’s not just private. You can’t train these [00:48:00] things and just get a private experience.
That’s the whole point of this training is that you’re making it public. It’s a public communicative thing. That’s why this knowledge can be passed on. Zen Buddhism is said to go all the way back to Buddha. Probably hidden but the point is, it’s certainly back to Buddha Dharma. It’s been passed forward for 1500 years. There’s a consistency to [00:48:30] that. Given the similarities both of the human brain among humans and the traditions would say given the similarities and the actual ontological structure of the cosmos, then individuals who follow these particular type of injunctions had that particular type of data. Compare it with community of nerds, there’s going to be a broad similarity that we’re going to find around the world in that.
[00:49:00] That does appear to be the case. That’s crucially important. Because again, you’re not asking anything in terms of their belief let alone myths or dharma or anything like that. That’s why these traditions are always separated from the exoteric ones, which rely on just mere belief or myths. That’s very interesting.
Daniel: I don’t want to try and go [00:49:30] into this as far as we could go with the deep rabbit hole but most of the people listening on this podcast have some background in scientific epistemology and probably not in other types of epistemology. There’s some obvious questions that come up. Let’s just address the most obvious ones. If someone’s doing an injunction that is a subjective injunction, Buddhists practice will have this experience. They’ve already heard ahead of time you’ll have this experience. [00:50:00] You have a confirmation bias that subjectivity is particularly sensitive to. You have no falsifiability. Meaning, if someone doesn’t have it, they’re just not enlightened enough yet. They keep trying until they have it. How do you address that this is something like a formalism with those issues of non-falsifiability and confirmation bias?
Ken Wilber: One of the ways that we do this in science is [00:50:30] after taking a particular result of one methodology, we get similar results looking at it from a different angle of methodologies. When syncing has happened with these spiritual peak experiences, because there are several different types of injunctions that end up apparently opening to the same degree [00:51:00] under these dimensions of awareness. We get similar types of reports. This also happens in some cases. For example, just common everyday peak experiences. Most recent poll I saw showed at about 60% of Americans have had some spontaneous peak experience where they thought one with the entire universe and often in a sense of love and great peace of mind, stuff like that. In other words, having a satori experience.
[00:51:30] There’s also psychedelics. We get some very similar kinds of experiences. There’s also the worldwide feedback on near death experiences, which are also very, very similar to these things. There appears to be some actual grounding in some of the structures of reality or at least dimensions of human awareness and human brain. Such that we can get similar results with several different types of [00:52:00] injunctions or methods. That just increases at the believability in what these things are doing.
Daniel: Okay. Even talking about the relationship between the waking up traditions and the growing up traditions, I want to talk about another interesting and maybe even trickier dual relationship, which is the subject-object relationship. Specifically, your mind brain.
Ken Wilber: Yes.
Daniel: You mentioned psychedelics [00:52:30] and that takes us right there. We can induce brain states chemically or with transcranial magnetic stimulation or whatever and produce subjective changes pretty reliably. We can also do things phenomenally objectively with our consciousness that change what we see showing up in our EEG.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: It’s of course it’s not surprising that since [00:53:00] the ontologic categories of subjectivity and objectivity are so different and they’re clearly related somehow that when we have an epistemology, we have a method of studying the objective and we see that they’re correlated. We end up collapsing the subject to being an emerging property of the objective mind emerges we know next from neural networks. Right?
Ken Wilber: Yes and no.
Daniel: I’m saying it’s pretty easy for if I have a scientific [00:53:30] method that can study the objective to say if there’s something other than objective that correlates with objective, it’s an emerging property of.
Ken Wilber: Yes. Yeah.
Daniel: Just to complete this so that you can speak to the whole thing. It’s also somewhat easy if you have a method that studies the subjective to say all of objectivity is either arising as a structure of consciousness. Either side can collapse the right hand quadrants to an emergent phenomena of the left or vice-versa.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: Getting into why tetra [00:54:00] arising fundamental co-arising is an important thing basis for that is and specifically, the mind brain interface of where we can address the psychopharmacology of brains and bodies and an effect consciousness and the consciousness that can then affect both consciousness and health to that first please.
Ken Wilber: One of the things that do [00:54:30] with integral meta theory in a way that we look at the quadrants anyway is essentially to say that these four quadrants are four different dimensions of a single happenstance, a single occurrence. If we just look at the upper left and upper right, although depending on how you define a consciousness, there’s [00:55:00] subject and object in both of those. Most commonly subjective to main is taken to be the interior of the individual, the upper left. Object is thinking to be the exterior upper right. If you go all the way back to a billion or two years after the Big Bang and you work with something like [00:55:30] Alfred Whitehead’s philosophical description of moment to moment existence or what’s happening, I like Whitehead because he doesn’t account to derive subject from object or object from subject.
He tends to see them arising, co-arising. Although they interact in very influential ways. [00:56:00] A moment comes to be is a subject of experience. It’s got a little bit of proto feeling or proto awareness or proto consciousness, whatever that interior, what I call apprehension or whatever apprehension is. While that’s arising, then that subject will pre-hand the previous subject making it object. [00:56:30] It will add its own degree of novelty. It will really get as each moment both transcends because they had such a degree of novelty. It includes because it pre-hands the previous moment. Subject and object are interwoven in this moment to moment trends and include fashion.
If you track those, if you’re going to track the interior of that atom and the exterior of that atom, then [00:57:00] what you see throughout the ages is you come upon life forms and then the first life form we have atoms come together, molecules and molecules coming together is the first cells. We stop at cells. There’s still cellular prehension and that’s the interior proto feeling, proto subjective aspect of that moment. The [00:57:30] object is anything you can see about a cell by looking at a microscope for example. That’s the manner energy component of it. Those are going to just continue evolving then we’re going to arrive where we have a human body with a trying brain and those are all exteriors.
On the interior, we have the whole prehensive unifications that every major evolutionary [00:58:00] stage of development. That includes all the way back to their atoms. There’s an atomic prehension and those are in molecules, the molecular those are in cells, the cellular prehension. Those are in multicellular organism and those go through fish and to fowls and to mammals and then we have a human body. The human body has whole lungs going all the way back to Big Bang. It has parts. It has atoms. It [00:58:30] has molecules. When you get to the first human beings themselves, 50,000 years ago, they started out using stages. They start out on archaic stage. In about 50,000 years, they go to magic stage emerge and then around 5,000 years or so, both mythic stage emerge and rational stage.
We get to rational stage here on the upper [00:59:00] left on the interior subjective consciousness component and corresponding with that in the upper right is a trying brain with all the exterior matter, energy, physiological complexity and so on that that has. These have co or risen together all the way back to the Big Bang.
Daniel: If you don’t mind, I just want to interject one thing so the listeners follow it and they were new to your work. I [00:59:30] want everyone to get that the idea of something like a pen psychism that there is consciousness or something like consciousness proto Qualia at various levels. You notice that all of the levels that Ken described and said hold on are self-organizing systems in the universe. He didn’t say there’s something that it’s like to be a car or a salt shaker, which is a complicated non-self organizing system.
You look at the self-organization of atoms or molecules [01:00:00] or cells, the idea that there is a self other than self-distinction from a self-organizing boundary that occurs with the internal and external forces that make that boundary is a radically clear way of thinking because then anything that you can identify at all even if non-self-organizing has a pro Qualia.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: It’s just an important thing to make sure you get.
Ken Wilber: I’ve never even in comfortable let’s say with [01:00:30] Whitehead’s presentation of prehension. Because it seems like he’s putting just a little bit too complex subjective realities into an extremely simplified form. It’s not quite enough. I’m always particularly at the lower stages of overall development starting with Quart’s Adams modules [01:01:00] is that they certainly have an exterior. Every scientist in the world would maintain that they got some exterior. I simply maintain, yeah. Exteriors don’t make any sense without interiors. They have to go together. Whatever the exterior is, it’s got an interior. I’m not a pan psychic. I’m a pan interior. Anything starting outside has got an inside. It just doesn’t make sense.
It just has no sense at all. [01:01:30] You can put anything you want to in it. For some people, they just not complete atoms any prehension at all. The worst cases I’ll say bind. You can see the evolutionary sequences in all quadrants. Wherever you’re comfortable putting consciousness in, do it. Presumably by shrimp or deer or apes. Some point, it pops in there. [01:02:00] The only important thing is don’t collapse the quadrants. That’s a disaster trying to reduce mind and brain or brain to mind. That doesn’t work. That’s the whole point about the third quadrant is that they are irreducible. That’s just a very simple but extremely important rule of thumb that stops an enormous number of absolutely catastrophic confusions.
Daniel: At some point in a different [01:02:30] podcast, for those who are interested in a very neat dive into prehension at the early levels, the heart problem and foundational ontology would be fun.
Ken Wilber: Sure.
Daniel: As we continue in what’s going to be interesting and useful for most people, there’s a co-evolution of subject and object of upper left and upper right quadrants.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: Now the question is, they both seem to be co-influencing I don’t want to say by directional causation. Because even causation is a particular [01:03:00] type of influence.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: Someone watched your video where you’re doing some meditative thing in the neural correlates and the EEG are changing or someone has taken psychedelics. It seems like consciousness is just a result of what I do to brain chemistry. How do we understand those things together?
Ken Wilber: This tends to be something that I have run into [01:03:30] a lot over the years. It has to do not only with those quadrants but literally all of those dimensions that I was mentioning are areas that I have eventually found to be important and to be real and to have plenty of evidence for. This includes quadrants and levels of development, [01:04:00] lines of development, states of consciousness. There is types and so on. It’s very, very rare that a person will be persuaded by any type of facts or logic or argument to set the reality of these dimensions. It’s almost like they’re native. I don’t believe [01:04:30] that. People tend to be open to these things. You just can’t really seem to get them to come along.
People tend to have very, very strong feelings about mind and brain. You look at general consciousness studies and it’s almost half and half. All of consciousness is nothing but brain physiology. Others they don’t wait, you only know physiology through experience. Experience is [01:05:00] primary. Upper left is real. I just throw my hands up. If any one of these arguments is really compelling, it would have won the day by now. No side of this argument has ever won. That’s why the hard problem is still the hard problem. Except for the meta theory. We haven’t solved it but it’s not a problem for us. Because we simply take these to be co-arising, [01:05:30] correlative realities. At the very least, both of them are equally real.
Now we can always find little ways that there are certain kinds of bi-directional causality occurring. There’s also tetra causality occurring. There’s also things going on. What doesn’t work is to reduce one together without remainder. It’s never worked. It never will.
Daniel: One of my favorite examples [01:06:00] of just what you’re mentioning right now is it really is the symbol grounding problem in AI. If a symbol doesn’t have a multi-dimensional intersecting sentry experience and it just doesn’t ground, you’d know the chemistry of the strawberry but know what it tastes like and it’s still not grounding. Obviously people like Sam Harrison they’re on the same side of consciousness or subjectivity emerging from brain. Yet Sam writes the book on free will. Dan [01:06:30] writes the critique that go back and forth. Sam thinks consciousness is real but free will isn’t. Dan thinks free will is real but consciousness isn’t.
They’re both coming from a post popper philosophy of science as the same epistemology and the same rules of critical thinking. They’re looking for the same logical fallacies. At the very end of the argument, Sam says the smartest thing to be said the whole time, which is apparently, we just have different intuitions on this.
Ken Wilber: That’s about it.
Daniel: That is actually [01:07:00] a really insightful thing to say is that the idea that this is a pure axiom data logical conclusion process isn’t actually true. Because the argument either lands as true or not based on its correlation with experience.
Ken Wilber: What’s not completely clear is presumably there’s some type of experienced evidence that a person could have that would change their mind. [01:07:30] People do change their minds and presumably, it’s for a reason. I bring this up because it reminds me of another place. I see this all the time. Namely, people having beliefs that can’t be altered by evidence or facts or arguments. That’s with the beliefs generated by the stages of growing up development themselves. If you have somebody at magic or at mythic or at rational [01:08:00] or pluralistic, you take somebody at a mythic ritual fundamentalist stage of development, they are convinced the Bible is literally true. It’s the word of God. You can say, “How about things like the fossil record?”
They’ll go, “Oh, right. The fossil record. The Lord created that on the fifth day.” No. No. You don’t understand. Let me tell it again. It’s not going to happen. No amount [01:08:30] of evidence. No amount of thought. No amount of argument because the interpretative grid through which they are seeing everything and it just reminds me when I see these kinds of arguments about the reality of the entire data. It could be just an honest intellectual mistake. It’s a conclusion they make and they’re just not quite [01:09:00] or it could be there’s some experiential occasion that’s going to give them the type of data that will have them change their minds. I don’t know exactly what that is. I keep hoping that we can find something.
Daniel: Let’s not try and actually properly address the whole ontology of the mind brain interface here. Let’s address the part that everyone experiences as real, which is [01:09:30] if I’ve got someone who has some chronic physical pain or anxiety or depression or addiction, there are psychotherapeutic processes that actually help neuro physiotherapeutic processes that help. They don’t help the same for everyone. One of the things we talk about if someone’s anxiety happen right after a black mold exposure. I’m probably going to CBT it away. If I’ve got excitotoxicity from certain mycotoxins, it had happened after a head injury. It didn’t [01:10:00] happen after an acute PTSD like trauma. They always had it because of early childhood attachment dynamics.
Anyone’s anxiety might be multi-factorial results of lots of those things. Some of which are largely psychological and even within that domain of different types, some physiological with different types. As we start to think about what is a system because we’ve been flourishing. Of course, if their environment still has mold, that’s a lower quadrant phenomena. If they’re around people that are lying to them all the time and they can [01:10:30] feel it so they’re anxious as fuck because they know what’s true, it’s a lower quadrant phenomena.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: If someone comes and tells me they’ve got an anxiety disorder, I have to do an all quadrant assessment to even have a sense of where I’m going to start my processes.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: That would be true for me with pretty much anything. If they say they have depression, I’m not going straight to they need to know their supreme self or straight to you have head trauma. I don’t know.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: I would love if you would speak a little bit to so [01:11:00] now, someone has an issue they want to get past or they have higher states and stages of both their own quality of experience and their capabilities they want to develop. How do we go about figuring out what is going to be most relevant for somebody across all the quadrants and how those parts come together to be able to help them?
Ken Wilber: Yeah. This is a crucial topic. It [01:11:30] truly is based on just how integral your overview is. Because my understanding of all these various dimensions, quadrants and levels and lines and states and types is that although there are very few knowledge communities that recognize the reality of all of those, they’re all arising. It’s all occurring moment to moment. They’re all interwoven. [01:12:00] They’re all impacting each other. If something’s going wrong then literally, you have to do an integral assessment of the whole shebang. God knows that’s not complete now. 100 years from now, 500 years from now but we at least know that these various dimensions that we’re talking about now, we know there’s substantial evidence with every systems.
We have plenty of examples of when people engage [01:12:30] in these variables all through them that they have a very profound effect on the issues that they’re trying to deal with. Even if you look at something like you mentioned pain, I talked earlier about the fact that waking up is so poorly understood and poorly accepted by a large number of authorities in the West. That the capacity for certain meditative states [01:13:00] to handle pain is staggering. You can get into turiya and follow consciousness to what appears to be at source and then the only way that we can interpret that source right now is how to peer subjectively because we don’t have any data from the other quadrants. We don’t have it yet done brain studies on this.
Subjectively, it feels like you’re literally at the source of creation of entire [01:13:30] manifest universe. You actually have at the spiritual source of reality. If you rest in that state, then the experience of consciousness is that phenomena will stop arising until they get to an actual state that they’re born Buddhism cause an erode. An erode means cessation. That’s actually a synonym for Nirvana. This is a state that Dharma Buddha originally [01:14:00] is recommending. He claimed that putting end to all suffering, all pain, all desire, all un-comfort. We had examples of the type of extreme pain that that state would stop during the Vietnam War.
When several monks pro casting the war would get into that position, get into that state, be completely doused in gasoline and set on fire. Right there on [01:14:30] live TV watched by millions of people, they were burned to the ground and not flinch once.
Daniel: I want everybody to go watch these videos and look at the pictures because since we don’t have that experience, it’s easy to just call bullshit. When you watch someone self-ameliorate and not flinch, which is real. Not even Grimm has sent body’s dead recognize it.
Ken Wilber: It is.
Daniel: There is something about consciousness that they’re experiencing that is outside of our reference frame.
Ken Wilber: Exactly. [01:15:00] If you are undergoing a great deal of pain and you wouldn’t say, “Well, what are my options?” If somebody doesn’t tell you that that’s a real option, you’re not being very confident in terms of giving your alternatives. Of course, we have other things. We have bio feedback. We have various types of brain mind machines. We have various sorts of chemicals, medical treatments for that. Like you said, [01:15:30] when we’re looking for causes, we have to make sure that we’re sweeping the environment. There’s even evidence that stress and disruption in a relationship or enormous amount of pain. If it doesn’t cause it, it can be exacerbated and aggravated enormously.
What we’re getting as we take integral approaches [01:16:00] to things are a much broader view of both the possible sources of the problem as well as a possible cures or some fixes that we can take to help the problem alone. The only thing that’s so surprising is that in virtually all the problems that we look at, the only thing that they all have in common is that [01:16:30] the most common solution that’s taken to the problem is not integral. It’s not including things that actually make it much better. In the cases that we do have, we have studies where actually a much more integral approach is taken and it works much better because it’s taking many more variables into account. It’s dealing with a lot more parameters that are actually impacting the problem.
When you take all those into account, you get much better results. [01:17:00] That’s one of the things that I just look at the future and what’s possible for humanity. It’s taken all of these variables into account. I think just one real quick. We talk about stages of growing up and how both intelligences no matter [01:17:30] what model developmental psychology we use, most of them have a series of stages that these multiple intelligences goes to. Many of the most common ones, Kurt Fisher deal with the cognitive line of development. That’s also related to the self-identity one, egocentric, ethnocentric, [01:18:00] world centric, integral. Studies consistently show that between around 60 to 70% of the world’s population is an ethnocentric or lower levels of development.
Even Robert Keagan estimates using his particular centric objective developmental model that three out of five, 60% don’t make it [01:18:30] to rational. In other words, they’re ethnocentric, mythic, magic or archaic. They’re egocentric or ethnocentric. We look at the world’s problems and we look at conflicts that human beings are having with other human beings. We almost always say, “Okay. There’s a technological fix or there’s an economic fix or there’s a military fix.” What we don’t do is look at the left hand quadrants. We say, “Wait a minute. You can’t [01:19:00] give people all the money you want.” If they’re still in an ethnocentric stage of development, they’re not world centric.
There’s going to be literal tribal animosity. It’s the standard attitude of ethnocentric stages of whatever name is Jihad. There’s a fundamental religious belief about whatever it is that religious Republicans or religious Democrats or religious feminists or religious Marxists and they’ll declare war [01:19:30] on people that disagree with them. Claire Graves use to call this stage absolutistic. That’s a problem. If you have a bunch of warring tribal groups that had absolutistic beliefs and you say, “What can you do to stop that?” The one thing that you don’t say is, “Oh, we have to work on interior development or nothing’s ever going to set.” That’s the one thing we don’t say. We say, “Oh, well. Let’s [01:20:00] military attack this. Oh, let’s economically help that one. Let’s just take logically over here.”
The whole plan about these different variables is how really central a lot of them are. The simple fact that there just are very, very few systems that are even aware of all of those metrics let alone actually set them and work with ways to incorporate them into actual solutions [01:20:30] or real problems. That’s a very serious issue. Unfortunately, it’s also an issue that almost nobody recognizes. Because integral systems just don’t have a problem.
Daniel: I mentioned earlier some of the critiques that I could hear happening or concerns I could hear happening from a modernist perspective of a, “Wait. This doesn’t sound like science.” Now, the post modernist perspective it says, “Well, this sounds [01:21:00] elitist.” You’re going to assess what a higher stage of development is. Zach Steinman, he spoke on about how to actually understand development in ecological and more complex way where someone might have been born into a rational world view and be a psychopath or be an asshole. Someone might have been born into a mythic religious world view but train on people like St. Francis and have really profound [01:21:30] tolerance and compassion, etc.
This is if you look at the multiple lines, the intersections between sub parameters because the idea that someone who has a rational, cognitive world view is going to be less problematic in the world than someone who has religious fundamentalist world view is pretty deep over simplification.
Ken Wilber: Absolutely. Again, the whole point is certainly integral meta theory goes [01:22:00] is it’s not just two variables. It’s literally all of these variables. If you’re looking at somebody who’s at a rational stage of development versus a mythic ethnocentric stage, it is true that if you’re correlating moral stages with those, and so you’re looking at moral stage coming from rational altitude and then you’re [01:22:30] looking at moral stage coming from a mythic altitude. Then the moral stage at the rational altitude literally is post conventional or universal world centric. That literally is somebody who if they’re living from that stage morally, then they would not treat other people unfairly.
The whole point about the universal moral stage of development is that all people are treated fairly regardless of race, color, sex [01:23:00] or creed. Whereas if you had an ethnocentric, mythic stage of development, then you’re morally invested in either a particular race or sex or creed or belief or nation. That’s the nature of that stage of development. You can be at that stage and be a stage or two higher in the spiritual intelligence line. That would give somebody a much [01:23:30] broader embrace of humanity. They could still get caught up in their ethnocentric prejudices. That’s just the nature of what that stage does. On top of all of that, tossing states.
Whether a person’s had, who are their experiential what Dan Brown calls vantage point of the vantage points. All of [01:24:00] those are coming into play. For post modernism, one of the striking things about that is that if you look at these stages of development and you look at the type of world views that they generate, it’s certainly an enormous amount of evidence that as we’re tracking these stages in the cognitive line let’s say and you’re going from a sensory motor type of intelligence to a [01:24:30] simple conceptual pre operational type of intelligence then up to a concrete, operational, conventional, conformist mentality and then up to formal operational or pure rationality and then stating on that is a multiplistic type of cognition.
The world views are produced at [01:25:00] these stages at the mythic ethnocentric stage is what Graves call absolutistic. Because they really can’t take a lot of other perspectives so it just has its one ethnocentric view. That’s absolute truth. That’s the word of God. That’s the way it is. There are a lot of people in today’s world that have a particular belief system. It comes from that absolutistic level. Again, it can be belief systems that came from much higher levels. Again, it can be Marxism or feminism. It doesn’t [01:25:30] come at a very high level. They can end up being absolutistic. Then you move up to rational and Graves called that multiples because that takes multiple perspectives. The stage beyond that he called relativistic because each stage transcends and includes its predecessor just like molecules transcending through atoms. Cells turned to molecules.
[01:26:00] Each stage has that enveloping capacity. Another way to say that is it differentiates and it integrates differentiates and then integrates. What we find with the pluralist, the relativistic or polaristic post modern stage of development is that it really is that relativistic stage that tends to have a structure that’s extremely similar [01:26:30] to a large number of the post modern philosophies. There really are relativistic in that particular sense. There is no objective. It’s a social construction. There is no one correct or higher culture. All cultures are equal. It’s egalitarian. This really is a multi-culturalism. The whole problem with that is on the one hand, you can see that what they’re trying to do is they’re still [01:27:00] reacting to the ethnocentric movement.
They don’t want racist. They’re sexists. They’re misogynistic or homophobic or transphobic or on and on and on. They’ve tended to take their own steps as an exception and an exception they don’t allow to anybody else. According to that stage, the post modern philosophy in general, there really is no such thing as any universal truth. [01:27:30] They’re very serious about that. They give a whole series of reasons about how knowledge is created through constructivism and contextualism and a perspective-ism so that every knowledge really is an interpretative event that there are no universal truth claims. It maintains that every single one of those things that it said is universally true. [01:28:00] It’s true for all people at all times and all cultures. It’s not interpretation. It’s absolute ultimate truth.
They maintain to have it and nobody else does. That’s the problem with post modernists. It’s got some terrifically important partial truths. As post modernism first began or if you call Gary Von and Luke Khan and those folks, they were showing us a lot of important, very novel discoveries about knowledge [01:28:30] and its creation. Their partial truths that I think are important to incorporate. As it went on, as unfortunately fairly often happens, it got more extreme and more extreme and more extreme. It went just from, okay. All truth is contextual and situated. Then literally, there is no truth. It has post truth as factual. It’s a direct result of the post modernist leaking out of universities [01:29:00] and into the culture at large. It’s funny to see Trump come along. Because he plays so fast with the truth.
He seems to mimic some of the conclusions that the post modernist make. In particular, the way he accuses the media being fake news and it’s a post truth world. We have about a month or two of his coming into office. [01:29:30] Every university in every country on the planet, there is this deafening silence. It was the post modernist refusing to say there is no truth. They are so embarrassed by Donald Trump’s new of the fact that there is no truth that they just saw their idiocy and they stopped using it. Even far leftist organizations at the New York Times took out and paid millions of dollars for ads that said truth is our profession. [01:30:00] They are to say that 10 years ago or 15 years ago, so we suddenly see an evolutionary correction in the wake of Donald Trump’s stand.
Daniel: It’s interesting because we can look at post modernism from the perspective that you shared of a certainty on the limits of certainty, which as an epistemological inquiry. We can look at the sociologic side of it. Science was co-emerging with [01:30:30] the industrial revolution and imperialism in colonialism and with the understanding of the bias, the political bias in the social sciences being overextended into the physical sciences. We can also recognize that you get to a post truth world from a game theoretic perspective when I can win by bluffing.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.
Daniel: When intentional dis-information that leads other sides to behave improperly is actually [01:31:00] a really good strategy on all sides with exponential information tech. There’s so much noise amplification that signals no longer relevant. It’s just what distortion bubble can we get everyone to believe in enough to win at a game? That’s another key insight. That’s how this either one that Trump is coming from. It’s not a deep epistemological insight. It’s a poker player who knows how to bluff well enough and how to create distortion bubbles.
Ken Wilber: Yeah. Again, all of those is set in context of at least implicit [01:31:30] truth.
Daniel: To just wrap up this piece that we’ve done so far, if we think about it in light of what is being exported at Neurohacker Collective, how can we feel, integrate, upgrade human physiologic process and psychologic process at the individual level in relationship with the environment both interpersonal and objectively? It seems [01:32:00] like the future hospital and the future monastery and the future school are the same place.
Ken Wilber: If they’re doing it right, they will be. You all have on the Neurohacker website, you have a four quadrant outline. You’re explaining in terms of body care and environment care and mind care, relationship care, which is a terrific way to look at them. [01:32:30] One of the things that people can do to start to take advantage of the types of things that integral approaches can offer. The first thing is just a simple knowledge about what’s actually available. Because that’s where we find as we work with these integral meta maps or meta models is I’ve been saying it throughout this conversation [01:33:00] is how frequently, even experts and authorities are just completely unaware of a large number of these areas.
If they’re there, they know that’s there but they don’t take it seriously. They don’t look into it. For a lot of people, we’ve been talking about waking up for example and the possibility of this so-called waking up or if you’re awakened. Many people still don’t know [01:33:30] anything about that. The extraordinary value that that type of direct media experience is claiming to contain. For most people who have had any exposure to these types of practices, we definitely agree. That means if you take somebody who’s [01:34:00] working with Zen Buddhism and is right on the verge of having satori experience, those that do is like an extraordinary number of those who do is well over 90% maintain that this is the most real, most valid, most certain experience they’ve ever had.
It’s just nothing compares to it. That’s a very, very [01:34:30] common first person response to that type of experience. Even though that’s the case, it certainly does not subjectively seem like an illusion at all. If it is an illusion, God bless it. It’s pretty wild illusion. Most people still don’t know anything about it. One of the things you can do by looking at the neurohacker [01:35:00] site or integral life side or Dustin Diperna, Zach’s any of these is look at what’s actually available to you in terms of your own potentials. What you’ll find is that number one, there are a lot more treasures than we suspect. They’re really extraordinary. Yet these are all available to you. If you decide you want to spend some time [01:35:30] lifting those weights to develop those muscles. It’s a broad smorgasbord.
Not everybody wants to do everything. We have something called the integral transformative practice or integral life practice that works on the theory. There’s actually some research being done on this. It’s astonishing. We call it spiritual cross training. Studies have shown for example that people that do [01:36:00] cross and people who do cross and weight lifting the same amount of time, both groups according to the judgments of the teachers, the students that are doing the cross and weight lifting are doing better in the personal. Just do the personal. Now we have studies that include almost a dozen different variables, all being trained at once. It’s staggering because all of them increase greater than any experiment done so far on using one of them [01:36:30] alone.
This came out of Santa Cruz this summer I think. Mark Murphy, one of the first developing integral transformative practice who used to say we have to be careful because we’re going to give people metaphysical hernias. Because you can overdo it. There’s a lot of stuff. There’s enormous amount of potentials that human beings can do. The belief of course [01:37:00] as more and more people check these things out and because they’re inherently, intrinsically gratified. That indeed as the future unfolds, then spiritual practice, medical practice, health practice, educational practice are going to start really in tangent on each other. If any one of them is going to be effective, then the more effective they’re going to be, the more they’re [01:37:30] interwoven with these other dimensions.
That’s what we are in the process of working out. Find out just what are the best combinations? Variables are really out there. What’s the best way to put them together and so on? We’re right on the door of that extraordinary research opportunity. It’s amazing really.
Daniel: I want everyone to really get a sense [01:38:00] of what Ken is speaking to that’s so profound that’s exactly what we are working to do some part of advancing along with the work that everyone and certain places as we’re doing this. When you look at the post meditation and weight lifting having a virtuous cycle relationship that could actually be surprising. It could almost seem like those things should be dichotomous and take people in opposite directions. There really is this process [01:38:30] where a physiology that’s more balanced as a neurophysiology that’s more balanced has the hardware that is mediating conscious experience able to work better and vice-versa. When someone is doing mindfulness practice, they get better at sports.
Yet what that doesn’t say is that you look at someone like Romano Marsh who clearly doesn’t seem to be suffering from his rheumatism but he didn’t cure his rheumatism either. The most badass bio hacker triathletes [01:39:00] that have amazingly refined physiologies, they might have less depression and anxiety because their physiology is more balanced. It doesn’t mean that they necessarily have a better insight into the nature of reality in any meaningful way. The fact that you get synergies between the modalities doesn’t mean that you can collapse one to the other. Then we start looking at, okay. If what’s going on for one person is neurophysiology, has to do with mold exposure and somebody else had head trauma and someone [01:39:30] else has a gut brain access.
It’s not just like this thing called physical. We have to get into the sub anthologies of each of these domains. We don’t want to just say, okay. As far as waking up, everybody does the sana. How do we do the right kind of assessments of what is going to be the most meaningful for each person psychologically, spiritually, physiologically, relationally, etc. for where they’re at now? They both keep changing in what their goals are. The integral psycho graph [01:40:00] in the world developed was a starting point towards the deep nuance kinds of assessments. This is the work that Zach I like because he’s taken that can both customize education, customize psychotherapy, customize psycho spiritual practice and medicine.
We’re not that far from having the capacity to really be able to understand the individual radically synthesize knowledge from many domains and be able to customize not just [01:40:30] all of that knowledge but the synergies between these knowledge nut. That I think really is the synthesis holy grail that we’re working towards.
Ken Wilber: I can just track my own embarkment in this when I first started. I wrote my first book when I was 23. It’s called The Spectrum of Consciousness. It was looking at all the major forms of psychotherapy. [01:41:00] I was pretty convinced that all of them has something to offer. It wasn’t really clear why there’s so many of them. They all differ from each other. They often reach opposite conclusions. Psychoanalysis they have the strength in your ego and Zen Buddhism, they had to get rid of it. All is completely new to us back then. We have no idea how these things fit together, how they related. [01:41:30] That was just the dimension of therapy on the interior upper left quadrant. Where we’ve come from almost 50 years ago to where we are today is getting very, very close exactly what you’re talking about.
We can already do a fair amount of it. That’s just so astonishing. Certainly, a lot of the big chunks, we have a pretty high probability that they’re [01:42:00] there. They’re important. They can be included in ways that we started to understand. It really is a period of conscious optimism for this type of growth and development. It’s really great. Society’s going to become a neurohacking collective at some point. That will be very, very cool time.
Daniel: Just [01:42:30] as a last treat to leave everybody here with, we’re going to put in the show notes this link to this YouTube video from I don’t know, 20 something years ago of Ken doing this EEG meditation demonstration. We’ve had people on the show like Dr. Andrew Hill from UCLA, one of the top neuro feedback practitioners in the world on the topic of neuro feedback. Ken wasn’t actually doing neuro feedback there. I’m sure no feedback was part of the meditation training but he was just doing a meditation technique and showing what’s happening with [01:43:00] brainwaves and the different meditation techniques and different brainwaves signatures.
High delta, there was a high alpha theta and then there was this really strange, very little brainwave activity in it. Now, we didn’t have gamma. We didn’t have lots of leads but it’s still something really minimum and fun to watch but beyond that, something really philosophically is interesting is happening. Would you just speak a little bit to how someone [01:43:30] might interpret what’s happening in that video?
Ken Wilber: Yeah. It’s an early very simplified in a sense version of a kind of EEG machine. It was developed I think a German, National Case. I actually talked to his primary associate, a woman who was running the foundation [01:44:00] at that time. What it shows is very simplified. It’s got about 16 channels and has left hemisphere and right hemisphere. It has beta, alpha, theta and delta waves. Particular video shot that happens to be on the web is I had actually just gotten [01:44:30] this machine. I just put it together. By the time I get it up and running and I just pointed a video camera at the screen so you could see what it was doing and then you can see me. What you see is because I was just doing a lot of analytic thinking stuff, you can see enormous amount of activity on the upper left hemisphere. Not very much on the right hemisphere and not very much in alpha or theta. [01:45:00] Delta is maximum and that is always interesting. One of the reasons that I talk to National Case collaborator was I wanted to make sure I was using the machine correctly. The sensitivity right now, that’s exactly what I wanted to be some artifact of a machine or anything like that. We walked through it on several occasions. She was convinced that it was working correctly.
Daniel: Most neuro [01:45:30] physiologist-
Ken Wilber: What I hear-
Daniel: Brain tumor.
Ken Wilber: Huh?
Daniel: Most neuro physiologists would jump straight to brain tumor.
Ken Wilber: Well, I understand. The initial simplified not necessarily correct interpretation is that delta waves occur often in deep sleep. They’re equated by the traditions during the sleep is a causal state. It’s a pure [01:46:00] dreamless, formless spiritual state. All I was trying to do was go into a path of meditation that I developed over the years, which really is a suspension of activity. The way it feels is that I’m just really relaxing the brain. That’s what it actually feels like. What you see on the screen, and I lie down and I set the video camera and try it now to see [01:46:30] what happens. I lie down and all of the lights are lit up across the screen. I lie down and I go into this state and one by one, every single light goes zero. It’s all the way down the screen.
It’s shocking actually. It’s like I’m brain dead. It’s like these two delta are still at maximum. That’s not even a common meditative state that I do. It’s just one that I had learned how to do after [01:47:00] methods of meditation. It’s a type of neurode or type of cessation experience. The sensitivity is set at high sensitivity. It’s apparently not an artifact of the machine. People should understand that just because all these lights go to zero doesn’t mean that my brain actually isn’t functioning. It just means the machine can’t detect it but the activities are clearly quite lower. [01:47:30] Across a lot of areas that neuro physiologically would technically probably be said this isn’t something that’s possible. You can watch it and decide.
Probably about half the people that have seen it think I doctored it somehow but I didn’t. This is straight out of the box, first time I ever used it and you can look at it and see what you [01:48:00] think.
Daniel: Yeah. I think it is as intriguing a impetus to a start of meditation practices. Any 10-minute video on YouTube if someone hasn’t already started.
Ken Wilber: That’s a good excuse to have it up then.
Daniel: In terms of people being able to go deeper into both integral philosophy and integral life practice, I would say preface to everything is still a great introduction to philosophy. Would you say integral life [01:48:30] practice? That book is a good one for people that are wanting to look at the practical side?
Ken Wilber: That will work fine. There’s a simplified, almost picture book called The Integral Vision and that goes over things fairly well. The recent edition of brief history of everything has an after work that was done, a conversation between me and Lana Wachowski, the [01:49:00] writer of The Matrix movies who found my stuff a long time ago and we’ve become really good friends. It’s a fascinating conversation so people can enjoy that.
Daniel: In terms of just your current thinking on different topics, kenwilber.com is the best place where people can stay up to date.
Ken Wilber: Yes and no. I haven’t actually kept that up to date. We’re going back and updating [01:49:30] it. Probably, the website that has the most amount of material including weekly dialogs between me and various individuals on these types of topics is just integrallife.com.
Daniel: Great. We’ll put all those links on the show notes. I look forward to hear any particular thoughts and questions that the audience has on areas we might want to go deeper in the future. Ken’s was really [01:50:00] a delight and honor to have you with us and to have you.
Ken Wilber: My pleasure, my friend.
Daniel: Appreciate how much you’ve done to lay the foundation of the field that we can keep exploring in. Thank you so much.
Ken Wilber: Yeah.