Translation and Transformation

Paladin

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Here's a great article by Ken Wilber on the above subject. Something that I have been thinking about lately, especially reading all the posts on this site. Right now I'm on pain meds after surgery yesterday, so my sentences may lack coherence. Those familiar with my writing however may notice little difference.
If the ulitmate realization is that all our mental constructs are designed to deceive ourselves into beliveing in a seperate self as postulated by people like Steven Harrison, can we continue to operate on a conventional level with any degree of alacrity?

Ken Wilber: A Spirituality that Transforms

In my own head without adult supervision,
Mark
 
The Two Functions of Religion

Paladin,

I think this is an excellent article. However, I don’t think the subject heading really shows what the article is about, so I’ll just post this intro I think, so folk can get a taste of it…

s.

"In a series of books (e.g., A Sociable God, Up from Eden, and The Eye of Spirit), I have tried to show that religion itself has always performed two very important, but very different, functions. One, it acts as a way of creating meaning for the separate self: it offers myths and stories and tales and narratives and rituals and revivals that, taken together, help the separate self make sense of, and endure, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

But two, religion has also served—in a usually very, very small minority—the function of radical transformation and liberation. This function of religion does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it—not consolation but devastation, not entrenchment but emptiness, not complacency but explosion, not comfort but revolution—in short, not a conventional bolstering of consciousness but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.

There are several different ways that we can state these two important functions of religion. The first function—that of creating meaning for the self—is a type of horizontal movement; the second function—that of transcending the self—is a type of vertical movement (higher or deeper, depending on your metaphor). The first I have named "translation," the second, "transformation." "
 
“The capacity of a religion to provide horizontal meaning, legitimacy and sanction for the self and its beliefs—that function of religion has historically been the single greatest "social glue" that any culture has.

And one does not tamper easily, or lightly, with the basic glue that holds societies together. Because more often than not, when that glue dissolves—when that translation dissolves—the result, as we were saying, is not breakthrough but breakdown, not liberation but social chaos.”


Yes, I think this can clearly be seen in certain (essentially secular) societies. The UK for one.:(

s.
 
"Thus, without in any way belittling the truly stunning contributions of the glorious Eastern traditions, the point is fairly straightforward: radical transformative spirituality is extremely rare, anywhere in history, and anywhere in the world. (The numbers for the West are even more depressing. I rest my case.)”

If this is true (East compared with West); I wonder why?

s.
 
“Because, you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: Those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms.

This is truly a terrible burden, a horrible burden, because in any case there is no room for timidity. The fact that you might be wrong is simply no excuse: you might be right in your communication, and you might be wrong, but that doesn't matter. What does matter, as Kierkegaard so rudely reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart. You must shout, in whatever way you can.

And so, given the measure of your own authentic realization, you were actually thinking about gently whispering into the ear of that near-deaf world? No, my friend, you must shout. Shout from the heart of what you have seen, shout however you can.”


What do you think of this? I may agree with every word Wilber has written, and yes the world is full of vulgar shouters but when I read this text above I’m thinking “evangelising, prosletysing…”…The kinds of things I find abhorrent. Or am I missing his point or being too simplistic? He allows for being wrong…Do we only need to shout to make ourselves heard above all the other shouters?...

s.
 
It is interesting to note that Wilber himself rarely shouts :)

What needs to be put out in the general mainstream of thought though, is the reality of what religion is and what purpose it may serve. I would be interested to see what Thomas thinks of this article.

The reality is, is that regardless of the nature of self, or non-self. Perhaps better expressed as "not-two" Wood needs to be chopped and water carried.
Kornfield intimated that in his book "After the Ecstasy, the laundry"

In other works, Wilber affirms that to skip any of the steps leading to the ultimate realization is to become sick and damaged. I note from personal experience that even though "Mark" may not exist, he damn well better keep going to AA meetings and watching his behavior, treat people fairly, and learn to be a decent human being.

This for me is the paradox of realization.
 
I note from personal experience that even though "Mark" may not exist, he damn well better keep going to AA meetings and watching his behavior, treat people fairly, and learn to be a decent human being.

This for me is the paradox of realization.

Could you ask "Mark" which of Wilber's books he's read as there seem to be more than a handful.:p

s.
 
"The one two three of God" Talk given on "sounds true"
Dauer rather liked "Integral Spirituality" though it drags a bit for me
"A brief History of Everything" is good

You can't go wrong in the choice, though it helps to understand some of Wilbers basic ideas. If you go to What's New on Integral Naked you might find a good primer on his ideas
Remember when I opened a discussion on Spiral Dynamics? Wilber uses this idea started by Clare Graves and has his own version as well as Holons, and a theory called AQAL (All quadrants all lines) Sounds a bit complicated? Not after you wade into it a bit. Since you are familiar with Kohlberg and Maslow you shouldn't have any trouble. :)
 
Alright, my 'shout' will be one of my favorite photographs:
 

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I've read a ton of Wilber's writings and think his perspectives are very good. (I've even as a result followed the debates with him by others and his responses to them which, perhaps not unlike all of us, have revealed that Wilber the man perhaps is very stuck in his "self-" the man has a hide as thin as a vapor as he's always engaging in ad hominem attacks on his critics with language most drunks in bars wouldn't use.:D But this isn't about the guy).

The dilemma with religion or any "path" prescripted to engage one in a spiritual journey is due to human nature being what is is the unending capacity for humans to turn a path of liberation/transformation into just another "skin" for the "skin encapsulated ego" as Alan Watts called it. Of course there's that famous teaching of the Buddha about setting aside the "raft" when one reaches the other shore and Buddhism has always talked about the 10 fetters to consciousness which included rituals and "views" of what the ultimate may really be about-remaining caught up in our views of reality as opposed to being-in-that-Reality. Though you'd think that among spiritual paths Buddhism might be less inclined toward this sort of trap, I've certainly noted on Buddhism boards that typically the discussions seem very "fettered" with folks seemingly as attached to their Buddhist self as any other aspiring journier. Don't know to what degree we need religion to paddle toward the other shore of realization but do know given the "self"-delusional workings of the human mind which tends to keep us "encapsulated," we do need some of the methods devised within religions-e.g., meditation-to help us begin to see through those sorts of veils. Great to see you back, Snoopy. Paladin, hope you're on the mend soon. Have a good one, earl
 
Paladin said:
Thanks Earl, I'm feeling much better today and should be away from those pain meds soon.

I agree about Wilber, he is quite the character, but a brilliant thinker. I think once we understand the role that religion plays in both translation and transformation I think we can be a bit more understanding of one another. It isn't uncommon for those at one level of understanding to be impatient with those at another. True growth then must be seeing the need for all levels, just as a child goes through its stages of development, so must the spiritual aspirant.
I know I used to be very impatient with the evangelical Christians and thought they were quite narrow and self deluded, but now I see just how important that meme is. I also see how important atheism is, and even beyond that level of thinking to a different view which is more integral.

Eventually, if we play our cards right we might just ditch the raft altogether and begin to live from what is, and even though we are aware of our own self delusion, we could begin to enjoy it as a great cosmic joke. One that is enjoyed at our own expense.
 
(snip)
I think once we understand the role that religion plays in both translation and transformation I think we can be a bit more understanding of one another. It isn't uncommon for those at one level of understanding to be impatient with those at another. True growth then must be seeing the need for all levels, just as a child goes through its stages of development, so must the spiritual aspirant.
I know I used to be very impatient with the evangelical Christians and thought they were quite narrow and self deluded, but now I see just how important that meme is. I also see how important atheism is, and even beyond that level of thinking to a different view which is more integral.

Eventually, if we play our cards right we might just ditch the raft altogether and begin to live from what is, and even though we are aware of our own self delusion, we could begin to enjoy it as a great cosmic joke. One that is enjoyed at our own expense.

Greetings Mark,

Yes, it seems that each stage is perfect in itself. Just as a flower is complete and perfect in each stage of its developement. Even when withered it is still a perfect withered flower. All is necessary to experience creation in its fullest.

Love
Joe
 
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If anyone's interested in what's coming out of Wilber's mouth/mind on an ongoing basis, here's his blog site:

+kenwilber.com - blog

If I remember correctly the archives here contain some of his characteristic rants against those who "don't understand him.":p

Paladin, there's another interesting article that had been printed in the WIE magazine & posted at the site, which I assume is a restatement of what you mentioned you'd listened to in passing on I believe an audio set, (by the great audio teachings firm "Sounds True," I'd bet) "The 3 faces of God," which I found fascinating for how it wove together theistic and non-dual perspectives:

God's Playing a New Game

Paladin, as to the notion that via this model folks at various depths of understanding of spiritual reality (ies) might be able to dialogue better may not be entirely true as I believe Wilber has made the point that without at least a taste of other realities those who are well entrenched in a very conventional level of understanding will not be able to really get beyond their conceptual lenses to be open to such a dialogue. But for those who have had that taste the old adage that all mystics speak the same language regardless of starting point, (religion) will have some experiential validity I believe.

take care, earl
 
Hello All... Paladin, I can intimately identify with the "great cosmic joke" part of the conversation. Also, I am in harmony with the flowering/whithering cycle of life. A great symmetry and truth there Joe. All the best to you all.

flow....:)
 
If anyone's interested in what's coming out of Wilber's mouth/mind on an ongoing basis, here's his blog site:

+kenwilber.com - blog

If I remember correctly the archives here contain some of his characteristic rants against those who "don't understand him.":p

Paladin, there's another interesting article that had been printed in the WIE magazine & posted at the site, which I assume is a restatement of what you mentioned you'd listened to in passing on I believe an audio set, (by the great audio teachings firm "Sounds True," I'd bet) "The 3 faces of God," which I found fascinating for how it wove together theistic and non-dual perspectives:

God's Playing a New Game

Paladin, as to the notion that via this model folks at various depths of understanding of spiritual reality (ies) might be able to dialogue better may not be entirely true as I believe Wilber has made the point that without at least a taste of other realities those who are well entrenched in a very conventional level of understanding will not be able to really get beyond their conceptual lenses to be open to such a dialogue. But for those who have had that taste the old adage that all mystics speak the same language regardless of starting point, (religion) will have some experiential validity I believe.

take care, earl

Quite true, whatever was I thinking? :)
 
I also see how important atheism is, and even beyond that level of thinking to a different view which is more integral.

I wonder what Dawkins would make of Wilber's assertion that religion fulfils two important functions in society and for individuals...

s.
 
In other works, Wilber affirms that to skip any of the steps leading to the ultimate realization is to become sick and damaged. I note from personal experience that even though "Mark" may not exist, he damn well better keep going to AA meetings and watching his behavior, treat people fairly, and learn to be a decent human being.

This for me is the paradox of realization.

Perhaps, in Buddhist terms, one can see the two functions of religion teased out in the eightfold path: the transformation through meditation and the translation through the remainder. Although, of course, it is not offered as a sequential path.

s.
 
Hi all —

I've never read Wilbur, so you must allow me to take him at 'face value' as it were. I have read the article and I think it raises some interesting and valuable points.

Before that however, I would like to comment on something Hal Blacker said at the start of the article:
"... the superficiality that pervades so much of the current spiritual exploration and discourse in the West, particularly in the United States. All too often, in the translation of the mystical traditions from the East (and elsewhere) into the American idiom, their profound depth is flattened out, their radical demand is diluted, and their potential for revolutionary transformation is squelched ... the message of the greatest teachings often seems to become transmuted from the roar of the fire of liberation into something more closely resembling the soothing burble of a California hot tub. While there are exceptions, the radical implications of the greatest teachings are thereby often lost. We wish to investigate this dilution of spirituality in the West and inquire into its causes and consequences."​

Bravo! Something, I think I can unashamedly say, that I have been saying consistently with regard to the nouvelle spiritualité!

My own twopence worth, is that the faultline sheers off from the Enlightenment, the point at which it was decided that absolute and objective reality was beyond human ken, and man is limited to the subjective, the relative and the contingent.

The result of this is that the modern West no longer accepts the data of its own traditions as given (let alone 'Revealed'), but rather more as 'plastic mediators' by which I mean the content of Scripture, for example, becomes not fixed in truth, but negotiable. The assumption is that either God does not speak, or if He does, He is incapable of expressing Himself adequately through man.

So in a sense I'm saying the West (and America) did significant damage to its own inherent traditions, before leeching onto Eastern traditions, and inflicting the same order of damage there ... the spiritual crisis that the author sees, from (presumably) a Buddhist or at least Eastern-orientated viewpoint, is the same crisis that affects Christianity, and is seen most clearly in America with the proliferation of denominations, especially those of an anti-intellectual and apocalyptic fervour.


The sum total of this process delivers us to the modern day, where man does not conform himself to truth, but rather conforms truth to himself — in effect this is not even a faith in sola scriuptura but in sola persona.

It is this single idea, at the very heart of 'relativism', that Christian theology challenges constantly, and it is this relativism, active in every domain of thought, that I think Blacker is addressing.

+++

Thomas
(more to follow)
 
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