Ken Wilber is my hero. I mean that quite literally because Ken rescued me – from a life of confusion, fear and frustration as I tried to make sense of our crazy, mixed up world. Ken’s insights, set forth in his nearly thirty books and hundreds of talks and teachings, has organized life on Planet Earth from a disjointed mess into an elegant and meaningful whole. He has created a “theory of everything” that is worthy of the name, and which is helping countless people around the world to lead more intelligent, effective and loving lives.
Through his work Ken has revealed deeper dimensions of the prime force that powers the cosmos, evolution, by showing that evolution does not just explain the exterior forms of life, such as cells becoming sponges then fish then reptiles then mammals and ultimately human beings, but that evolution also powers the interior dimensions of the cosmos, and is behind the astonishing development of human consciousness and human culture.
To bring this down to everyday terms, Ken has shown me something that I attempt to show in my blog posts and podcasts: that we are evolving creatures in an evolving world. And further that there is a teleology, a directionality, to our evolution such that we human beings are indeed developing into higher dimensions of goodness, truth and beauty.
I realize that it doesn’t always look that way as we tune into the day’s news and see that for so many people (and creatures of all kinds), life is anything but good, true and beautiful. But this points to a deeper, paradoxical truth about evolution in general: while in its grand historical sweep evolution is beautiful, in daily application it is often not at all pretty. This realization is powerful, and calls all who realize it to enlist in the project of creating a more good, true and beautiful world. This is perhaps Ken’s greatest teaching to me: that in the final analysis we ourselves are evolution in action.
As he as done for four decades now, Ken Wilber continues to illuminate the path forward. So I thought it fitting, as I mark my first hundred episodes of the Daily Evolver, to invite the great man himself onto the podcast.
Last week we got together on the phone to take a look at the world as it is turning today, and to see if we can make some little bit of sense of it. We range through politics, religion and culture, from ISIS and Muslim extremism, to the situation in Russia and Ukraine, to political polarization and the future of government, to technology and trans-humanism, to the coming integral tipping point.
I’ve had the amazing good fortune to work with Ken over the past ten years and I know him to be not only the smartest person I have ever met, but also one of the wisest and wittiest. He is still the best and most sparkling vehicle for his own teachings, as I think this conversation demonstrates. I hope you enjoy it.
Here are some highlights from Ken to whet your appetite:
“There’s a race going on now between disaster and enormous breakthroughs. Human beings are transcending and including, transcending and including, which means that as our own history gets thicker and thicker and thicker, there are more and more levels to us. There are also therefore more and more things that can break down, more and more things that can go wrong.”
“Virtually all world conflict today is one ethnocentric group versus another ethnocentric group.”
Integral values are radically different than any kind of values that we’ve ever seen at any stage of development in any of humanity’s history, ever. Yet integral consciousness hasn’t yet self-identified. Most people that are integral don’t know they’re integral.
“My sense is that in twenty years we’re going to hit a second tier tipping point. It will be slow but as people start paying attention to interior degrees of development, they’ll see that it explains a whole lot of world circumstances that didn’t make sense before.”
“At some point we are going to have brain-computer linkages. It may even get to the point where we can tell from brain-scanning what a person’s mindspace is. So we will be able to certifiably say that ‘this person is orange, this person is green, this person is turquoise.’ It would come with a certain amount of authority and people would trust it. We’ve had a century of looking at our educational system as producing higher levels of consciousness, and I think it will take a century for people to get used to that. But once that happens it’s just second nature that people will take into account the developmental altitude of another human being.”
When you have these dimensions of reality that are so real and so significant, it just can’t keep happening that people overlook them.
“In order for this moment to come into being, it has to feel the previous moment. In order for any creativity to happen at all it has to add a bit of novelty. I think that happens in all four quadrants.”
“Wherever there is an ‘other’ there is fear – that’s the individual self. If you’re identified with the larger whole, pain still happens but suffering is lessened as you’re not identified with it.”
“Democracy in its present form, one body/one vote, will be seen to future generations as primitive. Right now, Mother Teresa and Jack the Ripper would get the same say. What would happen if we stopped giving physical bodies a vote, but instead give a vote for each conscious perspective a person could take?”