Interview with Ken Wilber on Salon.com
April 28, 2008 11:53
There is an interview between Ken and Steve Paulson being featured on Salon.com - be sure to check it out!
Steve Paulson is a Peabody Award winning Wisconsin Public Radio interviewer, and one-half of the acclaimed radio program “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” an audio “magazine of ideas” more than a decade running.
You are the river: An interview with Ken Wilber
Interviewed by Steve Paulson
The integral philosopher explains the difference between religion, New Age fads and the ultimate reality that traditional science can't touch.
April 28, 2008 | Ken Wilber may be the most important living philosopher you've never heard of. He's written dozens of books but you'd be hard-pressed to find his name in a mainstream magazine. Still, Wilber has a passionate -- almost cultlike -- following in certain circles, as well as some famous fans. Bill Clinton and Al Gore have praised Wilber's books. Deepak Chopra calls him "one of the most important pioneers in the field of consciousness." And the Wachowski Brothers asked Wilber, along with Cornel West, to record the commentary for the DVDs of their "Matrix" movies.
A remarkable autodidact, Wilber's books range across entire fields of knowledge, from quantum physics to developmental psychology to the history of religion. He's steeped in the world's esoteric traditions, such as Mahayana Buddhism, Vedantic Hinduism, Sufism and Christian mysticism. Wilber also practices what he preaches, sometimes meditating for hours at a stretch. His "integral philosophy," along with the Integral Institute he's founded, hold out the promise that we can understand mystical experience without lapsing into New Age mush.
Though he's often described as a New Age thinker, Wilber ridicules the notion that our minds can shape physical reality, and he's dismissive of New Age books and films like "The Tao of Physics" and "What the Bleep Do We Know." But he's also out to show that "trans-rational" states of consciousness are real, and he's dubbed the scientific materialists who doubt it "flatlanders."
Wilber's hierarchy of spiritual development -- and the not-so-subtle suggestion that he himself has reached advanced stages of enlightenment -- has also sparked a backlash. Some critics consider him an arrogant know-it-all, too smart for his own good. His dense style of writing, which is often laced with charts and diagrams, can come across as bloodless and hyper-rational.
When I reached Wilber by phone at his home in Denver, I found him to be chatty and amiable, even laughing when he described his own recent brush with death. He's a fast talker who leaps from one big idea to the next. And they are big ideas -- God and "Big Self" and why science can only tell us so much about what's real.