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Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

Last post 06-23-2007, 8:49 PM by balder. 31 replies.
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  •  04-15-2007, 1:50 PM 21788 in reply to 21706

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Hi, David,

    It's nice to hear from you again too.  Arguably, from an Integral perspective, a legitimate critique of TSK is that it doesn't contain a strong component of "shadow work" among its core practices.  As I've tried to demonstrate through the quotes above, TSK is cognizant of the numerous ways that perception and cognition are limited and structured, and in theory it supports any mode of inquiry which will help to shine light on and "transparentize" these deep structures, but it doesn't directly outline many practices which would be considered "psychodynamic."  The closest it gets is its discussion of the many different layers of "narrative" that drive and shape our experience of self-and-world.  It advocates practices which allow us to trace various personal narratives back to the "founding story" which underlies most of them -- a story which posits the "self" as the doer and the "owner" of experience.

    Here is an example of an exercise which TSK offers, for use individually or in group (retreat/practice) settings:

    Protecting and Projecting

    Investigate the themes and narratives around which mental activity seems to focus. What ‘purposes’ do such narratives serve; what projects do they serve? Ask this question not only analytically, but by exploring ‘deeper’, more ‘encompassing’ narratives. Note that the sense of ‘being distanced’ that allows for this investigation is itself the outcome of a narrative. Continue to look for deeper, more encompassing narratives. At some point in this process, the ‘content’ of the narratives may fall away, leaving attitudes such as hope and fear, anxiety, and expectation to operate without their usual accompaniment. (Tarthang Tulku, Love of Knowledge).

    Best wishes,

    Balder


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  04-19-2007, 1:41 PM 21873 in reply to 21788

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Very interesting Bruce...

    We've recently been discussing Transactional Analysis on the Integral Relationships thread.  As you probably know well, this therapeutic approach seeks to disclose the unconscious narratives on which our lives tend to be based, analysing them in terms of life scripts, games and rackets.  It holds out a vision of life freed from domination by narratives, which is a life of spontaneity and intimacy, a life which is no longer devoted to manipulating others and manipulating experiences in order to achieve the futile goal of fulfilling a script.  The TSK exercise seems to have a similar aim in mind.

    Smile [:)] 


    'This is all the time you'll ever have'.
    ~ Dr Hannibal Lecter
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  •  04-19-2007, 2:17 PM 21876 in reply to 21873

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    I will check out that thread, David.  Yes, that TSK exercise -- along with several others that relate to it -- aims at exposing our narratives and finding a way to live that is not so driven by them.  A deepening familiarity with time, space, and knowledge manifests, on one level, as an increase in intimacy, openness, and appreciation, respectively....

    Best wishes,

    B.


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  04-22-2007, 8:57 PM 21950 in reply to 21703

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK


    balder,

    i've gone through 'time, space, and knowledge' rather quickly--not stopping to do the exercises--to get back to you as quickly as possible. without beginning to know as much as you or ken about this, there's alot i want to say, so, before i forget, let me say that an integral formulation of TSK would really be a wonderful contribution, imo, to integral literature.

    of late, i've found myself wading through 'philosophy in the flesh', who's lead author is from your neighborhood--he's berkeley professor of linguistics george lakoff. he and co-author mark johnson, professor of philosophy in eugene, have evidently taken an absolutist position about the relatively new zone 5 methodology of cognitive science. shall we call them subtle materialists? they recognize interior experiences but as necessarily, always embodied--in effect, as deriving from body, from material. it appears to me that tarthang tulku fails to provide evidence to the contrary that they would be willing to accept. as well as i can tell, the evidence he gives comes essentially from zone 1. for that matter, the only evidence i'm aware of that might arouse any doubts in them about their absolutist position would be ken's demonstrations of the ability to evoke various brain states at will--along with his aqal explanation of what he is doing (i haven't read michael murphy's 'the future of the body').

    t,s,k appears to me to subscribe to the perennial philosophers' chain of being, with interiors piled on top of exteriors, as if they were inherently better. i'm afraid this will only confirm whatever doubts cognitive scientists have about zone 1 endeavors. am i right here? doesn't tarthang tulku go from matter to body to mind to Spirit, i.e. Great Space, Time and Knowledge.

    with regard to zone 4, i think he needs to acknowledge that he is presenting an essentially tibetan buddhist perspective on enlightenment, even if he has adapted it to, and collaborated with berkeley, zone 6 weary enthusiasts (i'm a former berkeley, scientifically oriented resident myself). it's a valuable perspective, but it's limitations need to be acknowledged--also with regard to zone 2, which you've already brought up.

    those are my first thoughts. i'd be more than glad to elaborate more and help you, if i can, with the project you have in mind.

    warmly, even if not apparent,

    ralph

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  •  04-22-2007, 11:01 PM 21953 in reply to 21950

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Hi, Ralph,

    I really appreciate your having taken the time to actually read through one of the TSK books in order to be able to dialogue with me about this.  I'm glad you think that an Integral formulation of TSK would be a worthwhile project.  I'm quite committed to following through with that. 

    I am familiar with Philosophy in the Flesh.  I haven't read the full thing, but I've read significant parts of it and I think it makes a significant contribution to cognitive science -- though I agree with you that it is ultimately too narrow.  But I'm not sure how significantly they differ from Ken's position, at least with regard to the manifest world (e.g., the universe as it has unfolded out of Spirit's involutionary/evolutionary thrust).  Because Wilber also claims now that matter is not the bottom rung, but the outer husk of all sentient or cognitive occasions.  In other words, all cognitive events are in some sense mediated by (and, acc. to Lakoff/Johnson, constrained by) "body" or matter.  Cognition is embodied, Wilber would agree, but he would also point out that cognition is embedded and enmeshed in intersubjective and interobjective systems.  Wouldn't you agree?  

    What do you think of the following passage by Wilber, both in relation to Lakoff and Johnson and TSK?

    Since space is often taken as ontological and time epistemological, then in third-person terms this amounts to saying that space and time are not separate but rather are a spacetime continuum. Fleshing that out with the AQAL metatheory, we say that the exteriors of spacetime appear topographically as chains of mass-energy interlinked in various networks and systems, while interiors appear as feelings and awareness interlinked in various cascades of intimacy. But they all arise together as perspective-occasions of the self-reflective Kosmos. (Wilber, 2005c, Appendix B, para. 30)

    It seems to me that Wilber is acknowledging both that interior and exterior are coemergent and codependent (as I think Lakoff and Johnson would agree), and that time, space, and knowledge are inseparable aspects of perspective-occasions in the Kosmos.

    Now, whether TSK has anything in it that would convince Lakoff and Johnson to take less of a reductionistic stance overall, I can't really say I know enough about their position to know how they would respond to it.  But I should point out two things:  one, TSK is bigger than the first book, and has continued to unfold and be fleshed out through a series of six primary texts by Tarthang Tulku and a number of "perspectives on TSK" books by practitioners, professionals, and researchers; and two, TSK is primarily about inquiry, and therefore its practices, exercises, and invitations to engage in deep, embodied inquiry are essential to its "message."  It must be put into practice to be grokked; it cannot be picked up simply on the level of theory.  Or, rather, it can be picked up on that level, but that would be missing a great deal of what it seeks to communicate.

    With regard to whether TSK adheres to the perennial philosophy, stacking interiors on top of exteriors, no, I do not think this is the case.  In no way does it devalue form or matter, and in fact it argues that the opaque world of flesh and matter is Great Time-Space-Knowledge.  With Integral, TSK does argue, ultimately, that the subjective/objective divisions that mark ordinary experience are in some sense derivative -- the products of perspectives or focal settings.  (And Wilber himself  accepts Spirit as a category which transcends perspectives, even while also radically including them.)  But in using the terms Great Time, Great Space, and Great Knowledge (as inseparable aspects or dimensions of Spirit or Being), TSK points towards a picture of wholeness rather than a bifurcated world of Spirit and Matter, Nirvana and Samsara.

    In expressing the TSK vision, I believe Tarthang Tulku has collaborated with more than weary scientists -- he has drawn on many different streams in modern Western thought, while also being careful to distinguish TSK from them.  TSK is not a synthetic model, created simply by sticking different things together; rather it is a vision which engages knowledge wherever it is found.  If you read any of the "perspectives" books on TSK, you will see that scientists, humanists, educators, therapists, artists, healers, managers, systems theorists, philosophers, political theorists, historians, sociologists, and many others have drawn on it and applied it in all of these fields.

    TSK's portrait of "enlightenment" is consonant with Tibetan Buddhist perspectives, on some levels, as might be expected, but if you explore the many ways that "enlightening" shows up in the context of the TSK vision, I think you will find important differences as well.  Some argue that Wilber, too, is essentially arguing for an Eastern conception of enlightenment -- the realization of one's Original Face prior to the whole explosion of the universe into form -- although he is clearly modifying it in important ways (e.g., arguing that the perspectives available to beings who have a nondual realization are nevertheless becoming "fuller and fuller" -- what TSK would describe as "cones of knowledge" unfolding from Zero and expanding in time and space).  I expect Lakoff and Johnson would probably balk at even this.

    It's getting late and I have the feeling I haven't fully answered you here, but I'll stop for now.  There will be time in subsequent letters to go into things more deeply.

    Best wishes,

    Balder


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  04-24-2007, 1:13 AM 21988 in reply to 21953

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK


    hi balder,

    i hope we're not cutting david out of the conversation: he definitely adds to a more integral perspective. i was amused by his addressing you once as bruce, to which you replied with balder, which is evidently your preferred nomme de plume, because you replied the same way to a message i directed to bruce last summer. definitely amusing: i'm sure i'm much balder than balder, but i'm not about to start calling myself baldest. again, the BBG has us beat.

    even if david or others don't join in, i'm looking forward to this conversation with you. ken has referred several times to the unique time in which we live, in which to a large extent all the knowledge developed by humanity in the course of its evolution has become available to us. i'm not aware of anyone who has come close to appreciating this as much as he has. 'everybody is right': how could it possibly be envisioned better?

    and, of course, this includes tibetan buddhism and TSK. from my perspective, however, i feel not only appreciative of what tarthang tulku has done but to ken, not to mention you, for helping me so much to be able to see what tarthang has done, which is not to say that i don't still have a good ways to go.

    at the same time, i can see where you may have already come to a deep understanding and practice of TSK before ken even entered the picture, and, accordingly, you would be less apt to welcome his 'help'. playing, again, the role of the devil's advocate, i'm going to be trying to persuade you of how much ken can be of help to you.

    that's good to know that you're familiar with 'philosophy in the flesh'. i came to it just after going through the excerpts again, so ken's characterization of zone 5, cognitive science was fresh in my mind and made it easy to nail just what lakoff and johnson are attempting to do.

    it's a noble effort in a way. aware of the shortcomings of gross reductionists, gross materialists, e.g. behaviorists; aware of the shortcomings of idealists, who are reductionists in their own way, e.g. phenomenologists, they are attempting to extend exteriors and materialism so that it encompasses interiors and idealism. but they fail because they don't begin to comprehend interiors as they can be in TSK, for example. their notion of interiors is limited pretty much to cartesian idealism and corresponding versions of platonism, for example. they appear to be largely unaware of, if not simply dismissive of, say, plotinus, nagarjuna, hegel, schelling, eastern spirituality, ... at least that is my impression from a quick, first reading.

    so, while they think they have reached out and brought the UL within the sway of the UR, they have only brought a 1p perspective to a 3p perspective, i.e. zone 5. this is a valuable new methodology, provided we understand what they are actually doing--i don't think they do. which is nothing new. all the basic methodologies have tended to fall into this error. each has seen the shortcoming of the previously reigning methodology and, in going beyond it, have believed themselves to have arrived at the final, true methodology. that is, until aqal, which has the integral vision to see how each of these previous methodologies can be transcended and included in a meta-methodology, which, in the short term, is open to a great deal of improvement, and, in the long term, can be expected to itself be transcended and, hopefully, included. it does not see itself as some final methodology: it takes an evolutionary stance. however, lest we become overanxious to go beyond it too soon, it's good to take note that it is hardly even recognized so far by those practicing the basic, primordial methodologies, for example, lakoff and johnson.

    the question then seems to be to what extent does tarthang recognize an integral methodology. i've already expressed my doubt with regards to zones 2, 3/4 and 5/7--even 6/8 in that they are reduced to the lowest link in the chain of being. it behooves me now to begin coming up with more persuasive arguments than i did for you in the previous message.

    of course, i'm seriously limited by my kosmic address, which certainly doesn't reach anywhere near as high as ken's nor, in essential respects, as tarthang's or, no doubt, yours. but i can confidentally say i have consciously experienced nonduality on a number of occasions, albeit rarely, and that it is truly an existant for me, as i imagine it is for you. cognitive science is in imo incapable on its own of providing an adequate interpretation of this or any other interior experience. this is in fact worse than absolutizing a particular quadrant such as the UR. to get a completely adequate interpretation we would need to take into account all the quadrants, all zones. what if, in effect, i don't want to experience nonduality? wouldn't we want to take that into consideration? to say that it must have been a particular brain chemistry that made me not want to is horribly prejudiced, horrible science, imo. to reduce creativity, for example, to brain chemistry, would be, in effect, to abolish creativity. is that good science? i'm relying here, or course, on my own intuition and not hard facts or knowledge. so, do we want to do away with intuition? i hope not.

    i've focused on nonduality, because, as well as i can tell from my kosmic address, it is actually more a disembodied than an embodied experience. the self-contractions that rob us of the conscious experience of nonduality have the effect of embodying our experience in some separate self supported by some body, from causal to subtle to gross, depending on the extent of contraction. the embodiment and the experience co-arise. embodiment does not determine experience as an absolutist zone 5 would have it.

    of course, we don't have to depend completely on the view from my kosmic address, nor yours. we can trust ken's superior view. the point is that zone 5 is right--within limits, not absolutely so as to exclude any other zone. lakoff and johnson are quite clear about this: no real knowledge is possible from any other zone, including #1, which includes, imo--based on a first reading, most of TSK (zones 6/8 are acknowledged at the lowly level of matter, of course).

    ken was the first person, as well as i know, to go beyond the perennial philosophical chain of being, beginning in the 80's i believe, and only completely formulated in SES, so it's not surprising to me that tarthang would, without really thinking about it, have worked from that model in composing 't,s,k', which came out in '77. without specifically looking for this, it became clear to me that that was the structure of the progression he leads the reader through in the first few chapters, from matter to body to mind, and pointing towards Great Space, which always already transcends and includes them, so to speak the unspeakable. from the perspective of aqal, this is a progression from exterior to interior, something everyone engaged in spirituality was doing, without exception as far as i know, before wilber. just as, in our appreciation of TSK, we cannot accept the absolutism of zone 5, in our, perhaps, lesser but genuine appreciation for zone 5, we cannot accept the largely zone 1 absolutism inherent in the perennial philosophy.

    i'm not sure how to approach all of this, because i feel that you largely identify with TSK, and any limitation i may suggest, may be felt as an attempt to circumscribe your own scope. by the same token, i guess i can be looked on as identifying with the integral vision of ken wilber and, in particular, with aqal. the reason i asked you where tarthang might fit along an imagined spectrum from guru to pandit was because i suspect that tarthang is doing something different from ken, the pandit. ken, is this respect, has openly acknowledged that andrew cohen is doing something distinct from what he is doing, and with its own value. ken's intent, as well as i can tell, in collaborating with andrew, is to bring their distinct endeavors together, at least in dialogue, in a mutually enriching way.

    would it be fair to say that tarthang has attempted to be a pandit for a particular tibetan, spiritual lineage, which can no longer proceed as it had for many centuries? he is doing the best that he can, while living now for several decades in the bay area, to pass this on, requiring, among other things, that he radically adapt his message to a much different audience. and, at the same time, he has to be the guru for this new spiritual methodology that is emerging from his experience in the west, and berkeley in particular. it seems to me that he has been much too occupied in this respect to have the opportunity to even attempt to do what ken has in the meantime. can he possibly hope to have acquired the grasp of distinctly western methodologies that ken has? in our awe of what is possible with zone 1 methodologies such as various examples of tibetan buddhism we may be seduced into believing they provide some special insight into the methodologies of other zones, but we are only failing, in this respect, to take an integral perspective, and to acknowledge that everybody is right, as ken has so faithfully done, devoting, if anything, more attention to those of zone 1, because of our prevailing neglect of them. that's admittedly my limited view of how tarthang might compare with ken.

    i'm not aware of a 2005 appendix B, but your quote from it appears to me to be completely consistent with aqal, but different from TSK, assuming Knowledge, rather than Time, to refer more or less to epistemology. it also happens to succinctly state why an absolutist cognitive science is unacceptable. i'm not sure why you ask--there must be more to this than i yet know.

    i don't think lakoff and johnson would accept that interior and exterior are co-emergent. for them, exteriors take precedence over interiors: mind emerges from body because of a metaphorical translation of the activity of a bodily group of neurons by a connected, mental group of neurons--that's the neuroscientific 'theory' they seem to be placing their faith in, as well as i can tell. evolution is essentially an exterior affair, even though it has interior consequences. i'm tempted to call this voodoo science, but i'd best refrain from doing so. i imagine they're basically content with prevailing opinions about evolution. perhaps the metaphorical nature of neuronal inter-relations just happened by chance!?

    in suggesting how they might react to TSK, i'm assuming they would attempt to take it seriously, but from an absolutist, zone 5 perspective, so they would deny that Great Space, Time and Knowledge exist, just as unembodied platonic ideas cannot possibly exist for them. the idea of focusing primarily on interiors is, for them, absolutely the wrong way to go about it. for example, linguistics is viewed as being derived metaphorically from more fundamental, sensory-motor realities. if you can't make a direct connection with UR neuroscience, then you're wasting your time, in their opinion.

    my reference to 'weary scientists' was my own, poor metaphor for the reaction to RQ science we saw, beginning more or less in the 70's with the emergence of green, especially boomeritic green. tarthang's treatment of physics, for example, appears to me to fit in with 'the tao of physics' and all that, where scientific endeavors, for all their materialist intentions, are leading us inevitably to the spiritual nature of reality, as can be seen in quantum physics, ha! ha!

    it's getting late for me, too, but i'm glad to have the chance to discuss this with you,

    ralph



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  •  04-24-2007, 2:08 PM 22005 in reply to 21988

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Hi Ralph

    No, I don't feel cut out of the conversation! Smile [:)]   Its just that, unlike you, I've been too lazy to actually read much of the TSK material myself, so I'm not going to pretend I know more than I do....

    I've been following the thread with interest though.  As for Bruce/Balder, I've had many a conversation here with him over the years, and I tend to use his names interchangeably out of habit.  I'm happy to be instructed on the correct nomenclature though... 

    One of the conversations we had related somewhat to the issues you talk about here:

    ralphweidner:
    i can confidentally say i have consciously experienced nonduality on a number of occasions, albeit rarely, and that it is truly an existant for me, as i imagine it is for you. cognitive science is in imo incapable on its own of providing an adequate interpretation of this or any other interior experience. this is in fact worse than absolutizing a particular quadrant such as the UR. to get a completely adequate interpretation we would need to take into account all the quadrants, all zones. what if, in effect, i don't want to experience nonduality? wouldn't we want to take that into consideration?

    Non-duality isn't an 'UL experience', of course - it isn't an 'experience' as such at all, including and transcending as it does both experiencer and experience.  Similarly, it isn't an 'interior experience', and I think you're getting at this when you refer to non-duality as being 'disembodied'.  One would have to use some nonsensical language (nonsensical in a right quadrant way) to make progress, such as - it's experience without an experiencer, right?    In the past we discussed the problem that all this sounds from a right quadrant perspective like a privileging of the UL, when in fact its about the whole of reality, seeking to evoke its seamless oneness.  I ended up concluding that it is impossible ever to demonstrate non-duality empirically, despite the 'Tao of Physics' and suchlike, and that you either get it or you don't.  I'm not sure whether TSK is in any better position that AQAL in this matter of bridging scientific scepticism and non-duality....

    Good wishes

    ~ David

     


    'This is all the time you'll ever have'.
    ~ Dr Hannibal Lecter
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  •  04-24-2007, 9:11 PM 22014 in reply to 21988

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Hi, Ralph,

    i hope we're not cutting david out of the conversation: he definitely adds to a more integral perspective. i was amused by his addressing you once as bruce, to which you replied with balder, which is evidently your preferred nomme de plume, because you replied the same way to a message i directed to bruce last summer. definitely amusing: i'm sure i'm much balder than balder, but i'm not about to start calling myself baldest. again, the BBG has us beat.

    I certainly don't intend to cut anyone out of the conversation.  My experience to date is that most people don't know enough about TSK to really be able to contribute directly on the subject, so these sorts of conversations never actually get very far.  I am hoping this can change...

    With regard to my preferred name, my use of "Balder" over "Bruce" in both instances you mentioned was an expression of unconsciousness, not intention!  I have used "Balder" (a contraction of my name, Bruce Alderman, and also a referent to an early childhood mythological hero, the Norse god Balder) for many years online, and in some of those forums (hot fundamentalist zones), it probably isn't even safe to reveal my own name, so I've just grown used to using it.  It's a habit.  Here, I do not mind at all if you prefer to use "Bruce" instead.

    and, of course, this includes tibetan buddhism and TSK. from my perspective, however, i feel not only appreciative of what tarthang tulku has done but to ken, not to mention you, for helping me so much to be able to see what tarthang has done, which is not to say that i don't still have a good ways to go.

    At this point, I can't tell if you actually think Tarthang Tulku has done anything positive.  It seems to me you think he is not at all Integral and is using a "new age" version of physics to bolster a purely Zone 1 perspective -- two criticisms I hope to debunk as we continue.

    at the same time, i can see where you may have already come to a deep understanding and practice of TSK before ken even entered the picture, and, accordingly, you would be less apt to welcome his 'help'. playing, again, the role of the devil's advocate, i'm going to be trying to persuade you of how much ken can be of help to you.

    I actually have been studying TSK and Wilber's Integral Theory for about the same length of time -- though for a number of years, I kept them in separate compartments and didn't even think about comparing them or integrating them.   You could even say I have more of a "commitment" to Integral, in that I have earned a degree in it and invested a lot of money in it, while my TSK study has been mostly independent (apart from several weekend workshops and classes).  I actually do think Integral can complement TSK nicely, and I am open to that "help" -- but at this point, I disagree with the type of help you apparently think it needs.  To make this clearer, I'll try to spell out how I look at TSK and its actual relationship to Integral.

    TSK is not intended to be an "integral theory of everything," in my opinion.  Tarthang Tulku has not been engaged in the same project as Wilber, so it's fruitless to compare them directly.  At least, that is not my interest.  TSK is primarily a path of transformational inquiry, a spiritual vehicle.  It doesn't attempt to catalogue and "map" all known forms of human knowledge.  (It is possible to do that and hardly be "moved" at all, in terms of actual living transformation.)  As I tried to show in some of the opening posts, the TSK vision, as it has unfolded over the last several decades, has exhibited cognizance of and openness to an Integral range of perspectives and knowledge disciplines -- encouraging practitioners to explore all of them for their riches.  TSK does not attempt to "catalogue" or situate all of these disciplines one to another (that is not its aim), but it nevertheless exhibits an integrative perspective which is able to acknowledge and accommodate all of them as the dynamic, ever-burgeoning "play" of time-space-knowledge.

    In Integral Spirituality, Wilber argued that spiritual traditions in the postmodern world must do a few things:  1) adopt a fuller, more Integral perspective (integral-aperspectivism), and 2) come to terms with the truths of postmodernism (e.g., constructivism, contextualism).  They must jettison old, outdated metaphysical baggage and recognize the "myth of the given" that runs through many of their "timeless truths" and practices.  One reason that I have been beating the TSK drum on these forums is because I believe that TSK is a living example of a tradition which has done these things to a large degree.  In our phone call, Wilber agreed with me that TSK is at least post-modern in its outlook and orientation, but he said its three levels are not comprehensive enough and that he didn't think it showed much awareness of developmentalism and the evolution of structures.  As I wrote in my opening posts on this thread, I agree with him that the three levels are NOT comprehensive enough (for a fully Integral appreciation of relative development), but I disagreed with the latter criticisms, and I gave a commentary on a chapter to show why I disagreed. 

    I think one reason Wilber has that impression is that he read the first TSK book when it came out in 1977, but he hasn't read any of the others (according to my conversation with him at his loft).  And it is no more fair to judge the breadth of scope of TSK based on its first book than it is to judge Integral based on Spectrum of Consciousness.  That is not entirely an accurate comparison, since I think even the first TSK book presents a post-metaphysical perspective, whereas Spectrum did not.  But it is true that some of the "integral" scope of TSK's concern does not fully emerge or get clearly elucidated until later books.   

    Anyway, my interest in TSK in an Integral context is as a spiritual/transformative vehicle which I believe meets the major criteria for "postmodern, postmetaphysical spirituality" that Ken spells out.  I am not interested in presenting it as another "integral theory of everything," and I actually don't see it as such.

    the question then seems to be to what extent does tarthang recognize an integral methodology. i've already expressed my doubt with regards to zones 2, 3/4 and 5/7--even 6/8 in that they are reduced to the lowest link in the chain of being. it behooves me now to begin coming up with more persuasive arguments than i did for you in the previous message.

    I argued in my previous post why I do not think TSK reduces matter (or any of the zones you mentioned) to the "lowest rung" in the chain of being, and I gave some examples in my "commentary" post on a chapter from Love of Knowledge that I think TSK does acknowledge an integral range of perspectives and methodologies.  Would you be able to give a compelling argument, or some examples from the first TSK book, why you think TSK actually doesn't recognize these things? 

    ken was the first person, as well as i know, to go beyond the perennial philosophical chain of being, beginning in the 80's i believe, and only completely formulated in SES, so it's not surprising to me that tarthang would, without really thinking about it, have worked from that model in composing 't,s,k', which came out in '77. without specifically looking for this, it became clear to me that that was the structure of the progression he leads the reader through in the first few chapters, from matter to body to mind, and pointing towards Great Space, which always already transcends and includes them, so to speak the unspeakable. from the perspective of aqal, this is a progression from exterior to interior, something everyone engaged in spirituality was doing, without exception as far as i know, before wilber. just as, in our appreciation of TSK, we cannot accept the absolutism of zone 5, in our, perhaps, lesser but genuine appreciation for zone 5, we cannot accept the largely zone 1 absolutism inherent in the perennial philosophy.

    The three levels of TSK, as Ken pointed out in our talk, generally correspond to the major "states" mapped on the Wilber-Combs lattice.  Being a spiritual vehicle which aims at nondual realization, TSK does emphasize this "state" progression -- from gross/dualistic to subtle to causal to nondual.  However, I think you are misreading TSK if you think it actually suggests that there is no structural development, no unfolding trajectory of knowledge and form in time and space, or that these various developments are not not valuable or valid in their own right.  In fact, I think that TSK argues that these two trajectories are rather seamlessly interrelated, and that movement in one direction can enrich the other.

    Do you think that Ken Wilber, in his pointing out instructions, or Genpo Roshi, in his Big Mind work, are simply leading people from the exterior to the interior?  As David points out in his post to you, nonduality is not an UL (interior) phenomenon; it is not an "interior" condition which is opposed to the external world, but rather the realization of the seamless interrelationship and codetermination of inner and outer, subjective and objective.  Similarly, in pointing towards Great Time, Space, Knowledge, Tarthang Tulku is not pointing towards a purely UL journey or realization.

    i'm not sure how to approach all of this, because i feel that you largely identify with TSK, and any limitation i may suggest, may be felt as an attempt to circumscribe your own scope. by the same token, i guess i can be looked on as identifying with the integral vision of ken wilber and, in particular, with aqal. the reason i asked you where tarthang might fit along an imagined spectrum from guru to pandit was because i suspect that tarthang is doing something different from ken, the pandit. ken, is this respect, has openly acknowledged that andrew cohen is doing something distinct from what he is doing, and with its own value. ken's intent, as well as i can tell, in collaborating with andrew, is to bring their distinct endeavors together, at least in dialogue, in a mutually enriching way.

    would it be fair to say that tarthang has attempted to be a pandit for a particular tibetan, spiritual lineage, which can no longer proceed as it had for many centuries? he is doing the best that he can, while living now for several decades in the bay area, to pass this on, requiring, among other things, that he radically adapt his message to a much different audience. and, at the same time, he has to be the guru for this new spiritual methodology that is emerging from his experience in the west, and berkeley in particular. it seems to me that he has been much too occupied in this respect to have the opportunity to even attempt to do what ken has in the meantime. can he possibly hope to have acquired the grasp of distinctly western methodologies that ken has? in our awe of what is possible with zone 1 methodologies such as various examples of tibetan buddhism we may be seduced into believing they provide some special insight into the methodologies of other zones, but we are only failing, in this respect, to take an integral perspective, and to acknowledge that everybody is right, as ken has so faithfully done, devoting, if anything, more attention to those of zone 1, because of our prevailing neglect of them. that's admittedly my limited view of how tarthang might compare with ken.

    If I have to adopt one of those two terms, pandit or guru -- and I say "have to" because they have limitations as well as strengths -- then I would say that TT is more of a guru than a pandit, more of a pointer than a theorizer, more of an "inviter" and "asker" than a "teller."  I don't think TSK represents a compromise he has been forced to make with the West.  Tarthang Tulku is a fully committed and highly accomplished Tibetan Buddhist lama who happens to have founded half a dozen foundations, several retreat centers, and a successful publishing company, on top of writing dozens of books, teaching Buddhist philosophy and practice, leading retreats and ceremonies in the U.S. and Asia, and creating an entirely new vehicle of spiritual transformation.  This new vehicle took him by surprise, when ideas for it first began to emerge, but I think he is committed to it as something creative and new and valuable in its own right -- not simply an "adjustment" he had to make to communicate Buddhism to the West. 

    As far as I know, Tarthang Tulku has not mastered or deeply studied all of the fields of knowledge that Ken has absorbed and integrated, but I do believe he is conversant with a good number of them -- including modern and postmodern ones -- and that he has fashioned a spiritual vehicle which can easily accommodate and interface with them.

    my reference to 'weary scientists' was my own, poor metaphor for the reaction to RQ science we saw, beginning more or less in the 70's with the emergence of green, especially boomeritic green. tarthang's treatment of physics, for example, appears to me to fit in with 'the tao of physics' and all that, where scientific endeavors, for all their materialist intentions, are leading us inevitably to the spiritual nature of reality, as can be seen in quantum physics, ha! ha!

    Tarthang Tulku is not making the same argument as Fritjof Capra and his ilk; he is not saying that quantum mechanics "proves" that reality is spiritual.  I think you really must have skimmed the book if this is your impression.  His references to atomic phenomena are intended to challege some of our presuppositions about the nature and "givenness" of the world, and I personally think this is a valid use of this range of phenomena.  

    This response is long, but I wanted to be thorough and address your main arguments (as I saw them).  It's a bit general because of its length, but maybe we can zero in and get more specific in subsequent letters.

    Best wishes,

    Bruce


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  04-24-2007, 11:14 PM 22016 in reply to 22005

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK


    david,

    glad to hear from you, even if you haven't read any of tarthang tulku's books on TSK. your comments are, nevertheless, quite apt. yes! i'm not sure how to express my own particular, limited perspective on nonduality, but what i was trying to get at was that a 'philosophy in the flesh' won't even have a clue about this, imo. from its perspective, there is only the finite, so there can't even be an embodied Witness.

    it does have a healthy, postmodern sense of development: ever larger contexts, and even recognizes progressive levels of embodied mind, although their materialist, fundamentalist perspective leads these two authors to posit higher levels, for example abstract thinking, that are progressively more simple minded than lower levels. thus the brain is best at basic, unconscious activities. should we laud them for their humble opinion of what they themselves are doing? i don't think so, considering their absolutist put down of what anyone else might think.

    in particular, i suspect they would feel that tarthang tulku is seriously deluded about what he thinks he's doing, although they probably wouldn't be so crass as to say this outright. in our current pluralistic milieu i suppose it is easy for george lakoff and tarthang tulku to go about blithely contradicting each other in the same small city without anyone even bothering to notice, unless balder, say, uses an integral perspective to bring this up.

    i do think it is possible to demonstrate nonduality empirically, provided we're willing to broaden the definition of empirical, as ken has recommended, to include all experience--not just that from a 3rd person perspective--and taking into account that all experience is necessarily interpreted experience, which would even encompass nonduality, wouldn't it? in other words, when i say i've experienced nonduality, i'm referring to my interpretation of a past occasion, which, as you point out, was necessarily all quadrants. if, looking at similar (interpreted) experiences you have had, we can come to some agreement about this, then we're entitled, aren't we, to talk about our understanding of nonduality?

    incidentally, it's best i acknowledge in this regard that i have not engaged in conventional meditative practices to anywhere near the extent that others have, so my 'experiences of nonduality' are no doubt much more shallow (less conscious) than theirs.

    it's great, as always, to hear from you,

    ralph


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  •  04-26-2007, 1:29 AM 22053 in reply to 22014

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK


    hi again, balder,

    this is really proving to be a challenging thread. i'm going to need to go back and look more closely at 's, t, and k'. i've also ordered the other book of tarthang's you've specifically mentioned.

    we seem to be in disagreement, so before i get all heated up, i want to see if i can't approach this from a more integral perspective. my first thought, looking at how ken has approached situations of this sort, is to look into the possibility that i'm talking about apples and you're talking about oranges.
    that's the value, for example, in distinguishing between guru and pandit. ken, incidentally, mentions several of the distinctions this entails in the latest guru-pandit dialogue, which might be of help to us.

    it's been awhile since i looked at the first two chapters from the 2nd (integral politics) volume of TMFT, so i went back and looked at the second one and, surprise!, our government is evidently looking to cognitive science to a major extent to get an idea what the next few decades may have in store for us: instead of interiors, instead of consciousness, only the insides of exteriors, only the materially determined.

    to me, the value of TSK, in this context, is that it offers an antidote to zone 5 absolutism. we absolutely need zone 1, but not in a form that pretends, mistakenly, to cover all zones, and that's the question i have about TSK and the reason why i think an integral formulation of TSK could be of significant value. evidently i wasn't suffciently clear about this, but i definitely place a high value on TSK as a zone 1 methodology, but doubt--especially given ken's remarks to you about this--that, as presently constituted, it could serve as an integral methodology.

    until later,

    ralph


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  •  04-26-2007, 7:39 AM 22056 in reply to 22053

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Hi, Ralph,

    I've also had the feeling that we might be talking apples and oranges, which is why I tried to draw the distinction between TSK as a spiritual vehicle and Integral as a "theory/map of everything."  I don't find the guru and pandit distinction to be that helpful (so far) in this discussion, simply because it is possible to be a non-integral guru or a non-integral pandit, and therefore deciding whether Tarthang Tulku is more of a guru or pandit doesn't help us determine whether or not TSK is integral or "integrally informed."

    If you have the energy for it, I would love for you to give some concrete examples of what you think TSK, as a spiritual/transformative vehicle, should do in order to be considered an integral methodology.  If you provide some examples of what you're thinking of, I'll be happy to give you my opinion whether or not TSK does those things, and I'll provide some examples if I think it does.  It may be that we actually agree about this, and we've just been talking past each other because we've been looking at different things.

    A more general way to frame the question would be to ask, what must any spiritual/contemplative tradition do in order to qualify as integral or integrally informed?  What must Buddhism or Hinduism or Christianity do to be "Integral"?

    Best wishes,

    Bruce


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  04-28-2007, 9:18 PM 22117 in reply to 22056

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Ralph,

     

    In this post, I would like to spell out more clearly how I see TSK in relation to Integral, and where I think Integral can complement or supplement it.  To do this, I will concentrate mainly on the criteria Wilber lays out for creating an Integral Life Practice and for countering the current “narrowness” of many traditional religions.

     

    First off, I want to emphasize that I see TSK – like Buddhism or Christianity or other spiritual Ways – as primarily a “UL vehicle.”  Which is as it should be for any contemplative tradition which aims at individual transformation.  This does not mean it doesn’t use or appreciate views and methodologies and structures from the other quadrants; it is just an acknowledgment that this is its (appropriate) focus.

     

    In Integral Spirituality, Wilber points out that contemplative vehicles and the contemplative fruits they yield depend in large part upon right View for their effectiveness and completeness.  Wilber argues that a truly integral spiritual tradition must exhibit knowledge of and appreciation for multiple perspectives (from at least 8 zones), and be capable of integrating them within its overall View.  This doesn’t mean that a practitioner of a (post)-postmodern, truly Integral spiritual tradition must master all the complex methodologies of all the major human paradigms to be worthy of the name.  It means that the tradition (and the practitioners within the tradition) must at least be generally knowledgeable of all of these perspective-dimensions and have a way of integrating their insights, on some level, into spiritual life and practice.

     

    My essential argument here is that TSK, as a Vision (e.g., a View), does exhibit knowledge of and appreciation for an AQAL range of perspectives, and provides practices for working with a number of them.  I further claim (and Wilber agrees) that TSK offers a postmodern/postmetaphysical understanding of reality, which makes it relatively freer of metaphysical baggage than many traditional religions.  However, I also recognize that TSK addresses a number of the perspectives that AQAL maps in a rather general way – pointing readers to them as fruitful areas of inquiry but without a great deal of specificity – and that the Integral model can add a helpful wealth of detail and granularity to the TSK perspective.

     

    In his chapter on the Shadow in IS, and elsewhere, Wilber argues that integral spirituality must acknowledge (and work with) the 3 S’s:  states, stages, and shadow.  Contemplative traditions have historically concentrated on state training, and TSK’s emphasis on realization of 2nd and 3rd level time-space-knowledge is a new formulation of this same general movement.  It is what makes it a contemplative vision.  But TSK also recognizes “temporal” stage-structures, describing (in some TSK books and also in a companion book, Knowledge of Freedom, which deals mainly with Knowledge and touches more lightly on Time and Space) multiple stages of development in individual life and in culture and history.  For instance, in Knowledge of Freedom, Tarthang Tulku claims there are at least 9 stages we pass through before reaching (conventional) maturity.  He argues that each stage involves different ways of experiencing and understanding, with attendant strengths and problems at each level.  Further, he argues that unresolved issues at any stage often go underground, becoming hidden “narratives” and limiting presuppositions which influence and often undermine our functioning at higher levels.  The “shadow” in TSK is described primarily in terms of these hidden narratives, beliefs, and feelings, which structure the ongoing “presentation” of the self in time.  Some of these patterns are available to direct observation, but others elude it (according to TSK) and must be uncovered with other forms of inquiry.

     

    TSK describes both individual and collective “shadow” (though it doesn’t use that word).  In addition to the narratives, beliefs, and emotional constellations that work under the surface in individuals, societies (and individuals within them) are subject to what TSK describes as “collective knowledge.”  This is the accumulated weight of patterns and structures of knowledge in history, which typically constrain knowing, but which can be turned (with practice and open inquiry) into resources for growth and transformation.  This transformation is facilitated, in part, by the recognition of the central role of interpretation in experience, at all levels.  (Several TSK books have chapters devoted to this issue).

     

    In the remainder of this post, I want to describe how the TSK vision, as a whole, relates to (and fulfills the requirements of) an Integral Life Practice. 

     

    Body:  TSK features a number of physical practices which energize, explore, and open the body and the senses.  In addition to the handful of practices which may be found in the TSK books, TSK practitioners (myself included) often also practice Kum Nye yoga, a complementary yoga and self-massage system taught by Tarthang Tulku. 

     

    Mind:  TSK primarily emphasizes open inquiry and taking multiple perspectives; it also recommends mental training and study.  In one of the books, Tarthang Tulku lays out the beginnings of a TSK Geometry (which “maps” the play of focal settings in time and space), which practitioners use as part of their inquiry, but which, I believe, can and should be even further developed.

     

    Spirit:  TSK’s contemplative emphasis is on transitioning from conventional, first-level perspectives to deeper, second- and third-level time-space-knowledge perspectives (which correspond to causal and nondual realizations).

     

    Shadow:  TSK offers a number of cognitive therapy-like practices and inquiries, as I mentioned above, which explore the hidden narrative structures of the self – exposing, analyzing, and opening/transforming limiting presuppositions and other forms of conditioning.

     

    Ethics:  TSK does not offer any explicit practices or teachings for ethical development.  However, TSK teachings do contend that the “course” it follows – of opening limiting positions and being able to adopt multiple perspectives – will lead naturally to a flowering of love and compassion.

     

    Sex:  TSK also does not offer any sexual practices.  Again, however, its basic teachings and perspectives – which include deepening our capacity for appreciation and intimacy – can be naturally extended to sexual relationships.

     

    Work:  Work is a very important component of Tarthang Tulku’s teachings – see his “Skillful Means” and “Mastering Successful Work” books, for instance – and TSK practitioners often also study these works, the principles of which are quite compatible with TSK.  The TSK books and practices address certain ways of functioning, the transformation of which facilitate working more efficiently and effectively – a fact which has been noted by a number of writers in the TSK tradition.  (See Steve Randall, Ron Purser, and Alfonso Montuori for examples).  As TT says, “We have a responsibility to work, to exercise our talents and abilities, to contribute our energy to life.”

     

    Emotions:  TSK has a number of exercises for inquiring into, opening or thawing, and transmuting emotions and feelings.  Further related exercises are offered in Kum Nye and Knowledge of Freedom.

     

    Relationships:  TSK does not offer practices tailored specifically for relationships, but seeks to cultivate qualities which can contribute to healthy, deepened relationship and increased intimacy – understanding reactivity, loosening self-contraction and challenging the basis of self-centered thinking, learning to adopt multiple perspectives, bringing compassion and appreciation into all our encounters, etc.

     

    There is more I could say here, to further flesh out this picture (and touch on other issues), but again I’ve created a long post for you to wade through, so I’ll stop here.  (I happen to be working on a paper which will argue that TSK is worthy of more attention in Integral circles, and will be going into a number of these issues there, so if I don’t get to everything in this discussion, then perhaps you can check out my paper when I’m done).  At the least, I hope I’ve made a case that TSK’s scope is actually wide enough to be considered integral, though there are many resources that Integral Theory offers that can deepen and refine the scope of vision that TSK presents.

     

    Best wishes,

     

    Balder


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  04-28-2007, 11:14 PM 22120 in reply to 22117

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK


    hi balder,

    what you're doing here, and what you want to do, is without doubt important enough to warrant my careful reading of 'space, time, and knowledge' and 'knowledge of love', which i should be receiving in the mail in a week or so.

    this has really been on my mind the last few days. i also happened to read 'life of pi' for the first time, and to begin reading caroline myss's 'entering the castle', oh!, and also the third installment from MFT, plus ken's preface to 'soulfully gay', and i've sort of come unglued from all this. so it will be good for me to take some time to get myself together, again, before trying to reply to you, anyway.

    best wishes to you, too,

    ralph

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  •  04-29-2007, 10:36 PM 22135 in reply to 22120

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    Thanks, Ralph.  I look forward to your response when you're ready.

    (Sounds like you've got a plate full of rich reading!)

    Best wishes,

    B.


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  06-20-2007, 1:00 PM 24700 in reply to 22135

    Re: Absolute and Relative Emancipation in Integral and TSK

    I just recently put together a blog entry which weaves together several of my writings on TSK and Integral, including posts from this thread, in order to give a fuller picture of my understanding of TSK as a postmetaphysical ILP.  If you're interested, here it is:

    Integral Time-Space-Knowledge

    Best wishes,

    Balder


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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