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Two Kinds of Enlightenment

This Week on Integral Spiritual Center....

Two Kinds of Enlightenment - Terry Patten
IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics" - Ilman Waldner/Ken Wilber

Two Kinds of Enlightenment
States, Stages, and Oneness with Everything

What is enlightenment?
  The answer to this question (not to mention the attainment of it!) has eluded just about everyone for millennia, and counting.  Most of the things that are said about it can’t help but be misleading.  In this week’s video, Terry Patten shares a new—and revolutionary—approach to the great question, in the thought of Ken Wilber….

Traditionally, he says, enlightenment has been defined as oneness with all states of consciousness (in other words, the realization and stabilization of the nondual state).  There exists both an injunction for the attainment of this state, and a community of the adequate for validating its attainment.

Unfortunately, given the insights of modernity and postmodernity, this definition leads to paradox, not far down the road.  What, for instance, can be made of the Zen at War phenomenon, by which numerous WWII-era Japanese Zen Masters were both radically “enlightened” and also radically ethnocentric?  Is there such thing as an enlightened racist?

The answer can be found in the notion of state-stages and structure-stages.  State-stages have traditionally been the domain of the religious traditions, which guide their practitioners through the realization and stabilization of deepening states of consciousness.  The progression leads from oneness with gross manifestation, to oneness with subtle manifestation, to oneness with causal manifestation, to a state of nonduality.  Wilber refers to this sort of enlightenment as “horizontal” enlightenment, as it is often depicted across the top of the Wilber-Combs lattice (a diagram depicting different types of spiritual experience).

While accounting for oneness with all states, Wilber points out that this definition fails to account for oneness with all stages.  One can easily have a realization, for instance, of the nondual, without ever progressing beyond the amber altitude.  This is precisely the dynamic that can account for Zen at War.  Clearly, enlightenment in this day and age should take into account not only the highest states that have been encountered, but also the highest stages that have unfolded (this is referred to as “vertical” enlightenment, as it is often depicted down the side of the Wilber-Combs lattice).  By this definition, one can be said to be enlightened if they have experienced both the highest state and the highest stage in existence at that point in history.  Only then can one be said to have been “one with everything.”

What is enlightenment?  “Wake up” (horizontal enlightenment through state-stages), but also, “grow up” (vertical enlightenment through structure stages).  Dwell both in absolute freedom (horizontal) and in relative fullness (vertical). Walk in the footsteps of Christ, fully human (vertical) and fully divine (horizontal).  Wake up from the nightmare (horizontal), but—like a bodhisattva—come back for all sentient beings (vertical), caught in the same nightmare….

IS Call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics":6 (audio)
The Construction of Reality (audio)

Our experience is constructed, both by us and by our culture.  But is it completely constructed?  What are the constraints on its construction?  Join Ken Wilber and Ilmar Waldner for this fascinating inquiry, from the call on "Integral Post-Metaphysics," Appendix II of Integral Spirituality.

ISC Teacher Discussion Series


Please note that, due to the Integral Spiritual Center Gathering that begins on Monday, there will be no ISC conference call this weekend.  Please keep us in mind and heart as we host our teachers for the third annual gathering!

Published Saturday, October 27, 2007 4:04 AM by rollie

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