I used to enjoy reading Ken Wilber's writings. Then, I didn't. As I said in a 2009 post:
David Lane's essay, "Ken Wilber's Eye: Exploring the Danger of Theological Reifications," encapsulates my reasons for don't.
Basically, Wilber has an annoying egocentric attitude. I talked about this in Integral Egos Gone Wild: WIlber and Cohen relish worship.
First, Wilber and Cohen assume that God is real without offering up any evidence that this is true. They don't feel that they have to, because in the Integral scheme everything is true. That's why it's integral: nothing is left out, no matter how crazy some notion might be.
...Run, don't walk, from Cohen and Wilber, EnlightenNext, and any attempt to entice you into a religious cult masquerading as Integral enlightenment.
What they're pushing is old-fashioned religion in a New Age guise. Cohen and Wilber are the high priests, and they're looking for submissive acolytes who will worship them and submit to their authority.
Lane expresses some similar sentiments, albeit not as bluntly.
There is a sort of ontological hubris in Wilber’s writing that lacks the open ended sense of wonder that an adventurer in this field should have, particularly when even in this state of awareness we know so little, what to speak of realms yet to be explored.
...The problem with such statements as “I have seen It [God] myself” is that it lacks skepsis and tends by its very language to cut off further discussion or inquiry. Wilber’s continued use of such flowery descriptors as “Divine Spirit itself,” “naked and spontaneous, all pervading and all embracing”, “Buddha nature”, etc., suggests that his real goal is to bring us into his theological ballroom, but in order to accomplish this he misleadingly dresses us up with plausible personal and scientific possibilities.
...I say all of this because Wilber has given us many valuable insights, but they seem hamstrung by his apparent conceit to prefigure and finalize that which is still open for vigorous debate and refutation.
...One yearns for more of Wilber as the explorer and less of Wilber as the pontificator. Perhaps the recent downfall of Andrew Cohen will be the necessary lesson to shock Wilber into realizing this.
As noted above, a well-justified criticism of Ken Wilber is that he doesn't differentiate properly between experiences that can be validated and shared by other people, and experiences that belong only to the person having them.
When I look at a lake in the company of another person, we can validate each other's experience of the scene. "Do you see those cute ducklings? Seems like there are ten of them." "Yes, you're right. I count ten also."
A dream, though, is entirely different.
There's no way I can confirm that your description of a dream is what you actually experienced. And of course, the contents of a dream exist only within the consciousness of the dreamer --not in a shared reality.
Ken Wilber considers spiritual experiences to be more akin to looking at a lake than to dreaming. This doesn't make sense. Wilber correctly says that only someone who is in the same state of awareness, such as dreaming, can begin to understand what someone else is experiencing.
However, when an experience is private, when it isn't possible for other people to confirm that what is being experienced is part of a shared reality, then trying to equate seeing God with seeing ducklings on a pond strikes me as ludicrous.
David Lane, also.
For instance, you cannot appreciate dreaming unless you too have dreamt. That seems obvious. But that doesn’t mean that the dreamer is somehow privileged because of that ability to know the causation or ontological status of that dream.
Thus, while I applaud Wilber’s insistence that we should explore varying regions of consciousness (via mediation or otherwise), I think it is misleading to then pontificate about the “reality” or “truth-value” of such experiences by trying to equate seeing an apple in the sensorimotor arena with seeing God in contemplation and then lambasting those who argue that there may be a difference between them.
Here are some observations that Lane made about Sant Mat's meditation system, especially as taught by Radha Soami Satsang Beas, an India-based organization that he and I were both active members of in the past.
The problem, as I often note on this blog, is that true believers in a religious, mystical, or spritual tradition uncritically accept that their "inner experiences" are objectively true, rather than merely being expressions or results of their beliefs.
I can draw upon my own spiritual tradition to underline this epistemological conundrum. In shabd yoga circles (particularly within Radhasoami branches), it is almost axiomatic that when an initiate goes within during meditation he or she will see the radiant form of their guru who will guide them by light and sound to higher and higher regions of awareness and bliss.
Within Radhasoami Satsang Beas, to give an example from the largest sect of the tradition, meditators almost universally believe that the radiant form is a vision created by their Master’s grace from the audible life stream.
However, Faqir Chand, a longtime practitioner of shabd yoga and later an acknowledged adept, came to an entirely different realization. Due to a series of now famous events, Faqir realized that inner visions of his guru and other fantastic apparitions were projections of his own mind.
I still remember when I gave a copy of Faqir’s life story and teachings (see The Unknowing Sage: The Life and Work of Baba Faqir Chand) to my satsangi friend who was also my local mail woman. I caught up with her a few days later and see looked slightly distraught. I inquired about why and she said, “I started crying after I read about Faqir Chand’s revelations. It made me doubt all that I believed before concerning meditation and the Master’s radiant form.”
So let’s agree with Wilber that in order to access the inner sound current and explore subtler and subtler realms of consciousness one has to engage in some sort of meditation technique (or something similar to it). But what does that then mean in terms of “reality” or truth value?
Isn’t the real issue not one of worldspaces (that is an obvious given) and not even Kosmic addresses (don’t we already know this from from drugs and dreaming?), but of competing interpretations of what such inner and outer states mean?