Spiritual seeker v personal development (soul) seeker

Always felt that KW was/is primarily a spiritual seeker, and secondarily a human development pioneer and implementer. Others may see him and his model the other way around. For my self and many friends I have little interest in human development, and only to the degree that it is useful to spiritual development, KW’s ‘Waking Up’ so shadow work is something I will (and must do) for the sake of further Waking Up.

Many of the other models are of little interest to me, because they either ‘peter out’ at Integral or have no spiritual, Awakening component.

Now I have other friends who are spiritual seekers (they view themselves in this manner) who go the ‘new age’ route and really dig personal growth. They like the soul-growth, higher plane, meaningful-life-purpose, pretty much dualistic. Me-becoming god-like, over vast amounts of time, and immense growth through the cosmic planes. Kundalini, chakras, aura cleansing, indigenous-neo-shamanic-rituals, all that stuff.

I here confess my snobbery, my arrogance, my lack of tolerance, ‘my way is superior’ to the above described, they are all dilettantes. I listen to their ‘hopeful’ nonsense and occasionally throw in a guiding word in(lol). Whereas I already know, they are deluded, not being aware of our fundamental suffering state necessary to get serious about the whole matter.

It is not that there isn’t love there ( and respect to some degree) I want them to grow, I want them to break through, to “wake up” but there is nothing I can do. When you are on that trip, ‘l-am-a-soul and have- a-cosmic-purpose!’ it is very hard to go past it, partly because there is such a smorgasbord of possibilities at present. If you have money, time and interest. Endless.

Then I have other friends who are more about, psychological, healing and growth on a human level, very little, or no interest in spiritual or waking up affairs. I find these friends easier to deal with, we don’t ‘get into it’, they like their enneagrams which is about as close to spiritual as they would comfortably get and that is fine by me, I love these guys as well. They like hugs, which I do as well, it ‘communicates’.

Thus I seem to be a ‘fundamentalist’, stuck in my ‘superior way’ not really integral, not teal or turquoise, yet perhaps I can call on ‘yellow’ and say, but there is higher and lower, there is some value in seeing that ‘green’ needs some ass-kicking, some reality there. What do you think?

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Hi Marty, I think it take all kinds. God don’t make junk, so let’s let you be you.

In contrast to your preference for the spiritual over other forms of development, my main preoccupation is more on cognitive growth and associated social and emotional factors. But recently those roads pointed in the direction of requiring at least a stripped down spiritual practice to avoid stalling out. Currently I’m reading Thich Nhat Hahn, who fits my lean spiritual tendencies quite nicely. When in doubt, take a breath.

I have mixed feelings about the Western adoption (and commercialization) of esoteric practices from all over the world. I’m glad to become aware of such matters, but I also think these ingredients are best used by those properly trained in the practices. Due to his long exile in the West and global travels and organizing, I feel like Thich Nhat Hahn lets us Westerners into ancient Eastern practices without needing to check our Western identities at the door. That sort of effortless (appearing) globalism is much to be praised, and in any case, it works well for who I am, or least aspire to be.


Thanks robert, it’s quite refreshing to have such a 2 sided dialogue, and unusual for me. Wherein I can see and appreciate where you are coming from and likewise. Thich Nhat Hahn (hard spelling) yes, very popular. He is the famous, “wash dishes, when washing dishes” guy, came way before Eckhart Tolle on the Now, and enjoy his very pragmatic, open-eyed, yet simple mindfulness instruction.

Is it possible to develop with an exclusively spiritual goal?

I don’t think it is, which is why actually practicing Buddhism is so damn difficult and takes a thousand lifetimes (or whatever). Even after one attains a certain level in Buddhism above most other humans, it still takes something like seven more lifetimes. The number of people who have attained enlightenment in this manner is like a grain of sand compared to all the beaches of the world.

The personal development route ensures anyone at any level of spiritual development can get “on the track”. The seekers of “abundance” or “manifesting” or “being present in the moment” also have to enter the stream somewhere at a level that makes sense for them. Also, the followers of “Make more money so I can spend it on spiritual stuff” also have to enter the stream somewhere.

None of these are the final destination, regardless of what people think when they enter in those levels.

Also, there is something about the Christian world separating spirituality from daily living that is not really true in most of the rest of the world. In Christiandom, God could ONLY be received through His Church. You could not find God in a peasant’s hovel - you had to find it in the Church. To say differently literally resulted in death for well over a thousand years. This has led many in the West to just automatically think spirituality is something they have to DO, or they have to do something in order to ATTAIN it. Or the reverse, that spirituality is a TOOL to gain something they want, like wealth or health. Not that there is anything morally wrong about this, but with this mindset you have to kind of trick the mind into following all these convoluted methods.

You 2 are good integral thinkers and I appreciate the way you give everyone a fair shake. I hope to grow in this direction myself; working on it.

What you have there Ray is the classic Theravada model and I have real respect for the men and women who take this route seriously. However other forms, or later forms of Buddhism give a direct or present time awakening rather than a slow grind awakening and sometimes, ‘ever in the future’ possibility of awakening.

What has been happening in recent times as KW points out, is this has all speeded up and there are sources via media which can give pretty much anyone, a glimpse at least of the True Nature ( or whatever you wish to call it). I gave a link to one in another thread.

So yes it is possible to go into quite advanced waking up states, the classic line is “waking up is free, growth is earned” (or similar). But as many find out, the advanced states can’t be sustained, or we get a little (or a lot) out of kilter and ultimately have to deal with ordinary life and the shadow side.

So the ‘lucky’ spiritual seeker, realizes at some point, he or she has to go back and deal with it, or be stuck in mud.

Now having said all that and being agreeable, there is another insight at play. Well you are going to die and your body is going to rot. That is fact, unpleasant but inevitable, it is not ‘all beer and skittles’ here and for many outside of middle class suburbia, it can be quite horrific. So if you take this into account you may want to test out whether there are in fact more profound levels of being, than the waking state ( dreaming and sleeping). That was very much the traditional motive for spiritual practice. Therefore the heroism and creativity of merely human growth, though admirable and necessary needs to be be seen in the ‘big picture’.

Thanks for sharing @Marty and welcome! Your post rings with delight to my ears. My pen name on the Spiritual Quest Blog is Seeker Explorer.

I am all about the spirituality aspects of Ken Wilber and if you read my comments and discussion strings from my profile you’ll get a sense of my thinking on this esoteric stuff. I am not as educated as the scholars like @raybennett and @robert.bunge I consider myself an informed simpleton.

On the topic of spirituality I follow my own leadings which obviously began with sorting out shadows over decades of hard living. What I love about the less academic seekers is they are not stuck in the matrix requiring some honored precedent of previous intellects to stand upon.

Too often people are afraid to share their own attainments because it contradicts some expert with letters next to their names. I like connecting with real people, living real lives of genuine openness. Those wiling to challenge the matrix of academia and science not bowing in submissive worship to it.

My approach is simple, spiritual is the opposite of physical. The spiritual is perceived within you as inner sensitivities, emotional feelings, discernments, intuitions. The sought after positive feelings of love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, etc. and the negative shadows of fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, stress and worry, etc.

Through the internal spiritual work one learns to sort these inner experiences to use them as a divine guidance system to master life in this realm. ~ Peace :slight_smile:

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Coincidentally, yesterday I watched a video that mentioned this and attributed it to KW. For many years I had “figured out” something similar, but with different wording.
The wording I used was “transformation” and “Integration”. Transformation is an event, a state that can be achieved, or a “waking up” to a realization or embodiment that had not ben known or felt before. There are a thousand different modalities to achieve this, from being “Born Again” at a religious revival or during Baptism to >5 grams in silent darkness to various meditations or Yogas or Initiations or rituals of thousands of different groups over tens of thousands of years.
The other part of this is Integration, or as others might say “level” or as KW says “growth”. To what degree can this be sustained in one’s day to day life? When the “waking up” is conflated with the “growth”, we get all kinds of unfortunate situations in spiritual communities. At the top is sexual and financial exploitation of members because neither the leader nor the follower are actually at the level they think. They have had a “waking up” or transformation, but they are still essentially at the same “level”.
What I have discovered with my own progress is that there are some techniques that produce a transformation faster, more immediate and more explosive than others. High doses of Psychedelics and weekend retreats seem to be two ways to accomplish transformations (waking up) quickly. Then, in order to integrate (grow), there absolutely has to be some kind of ongoing support. Without the ongoing support to integrate the transformation, people naturally go back to the level they were at previously. I refer to this as a desire for homeostasis - comfort with the known and discomfort about the unknown.
The method I have used in my life to accelerate integration is something I still have to develop a term for. It’s something like “burning bridges” or “burning one’s ships”, so that the difficulty of returning to one’s old ways is bigger than the homeostasis of where one is currently (the higher level). The way to do this is to arrange a major change in one’s physical environment and lifestyle just prior to or immediately after an expected transformational event. In my example, I found that (in 2022-2023) having my own private room to “cave up” in was hindering my integration / growth at the level I was moving toward, so I arranged accommodations (or rather lack of accommodations) that do not allow me a private space to isolate in. I also did a few other things that kind of require me to connect more with people. Another person at a different stage (or me in 2019-2021) may need the opposite - they may need to isolate for a year or two. A co-dependent person will struggle with isolation and a person who is naturally private will struggle with lack of privacy and sharing oneself. Of course, those are just two examples of probably dozens. These dramatic changes in living conditions tend to prod our shadows. The result is that dramatic changes in lifestyle to the opposite of what one is currently at is a way to shine a big spotlight on the shadows and force work to be done.
The other part of this is having a support network to work through the shadows.

This is particularly true with people who want to go from zero to 100 in a weekend. Drink some Ayahuasca or join a cult and wham-bam one with all the universe in a single weekend, lol. Of course that will come crashing down.
On the other hand, a single step is sustainable. So a person can go from Orange to Green in a year or so, and from Green to Teal in another year or so. The main requirement is that the lifestyle changes in that year so as to integrate what has transformed.

Good for you brother,

cognitive intelligence v spiritual intelligence, no need to compare with others, I can feel where you are coming from, you seem sharp enough to me. You don’t have to be an academic to grow or wake up, in fact it may be a retarding factor ( obviously) stuck in orange mindset for instance. Can also carry huge mental baggage, that may need to be dumped at some stage.

Only thing I would add is if you have not already, study the vast spiritual traditions intently (as Wilber did) and modern teachers- teachings, much to be gained there, a sort of ‘broadening’ rather than narrowing, you may get if you are going it alone.

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Had to chuckle at that Ray, to quote Sartre { “By there mere appearance of the Other,” says Sartre in Being and Nothingness , “I am put in the position of passing judgment on myself as on an object, for it is as an object that I appear to the Other.”}

“Hell is other people!” Don’t we know it (lol). I too have noticed what I call the ‘social dilemma’ nothing like the private room to escape from those annoying assh*les.

Yes our social being can get really stuffed up in the shadows. Example : when I was around 14, I was okay socially, sort of part of the local social order, then one day without warning ‘extreme self-consciousness’ came out of the blue, just walking down the street, everyone appeared to be looking at me ( critically) this is quite common in adolescence, but I had no tools to deal with it. So I just had to grow out of it, but it haunts me to this day, and as you did, will open my self to the gaze of others, which is in many cases just a friendly one, not the critical one, a bit of work there for sure.

Yes open to that, but it has to be proven, what I mean is there are many ‘advanced’ characters (via Youtube mainly) who seem full of ‘it’ to me. They may take on a persona and run with it, since there is really no one to call them on it. So you really have to be sharp here, enquire of it, test it, no B.S. enough of that already.

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My degree is in Accounting and Business Administration. Metaphysics was not an elective :grin:

So as far as bonafides, I am just as unqualified as anyone else against Academia unless you want to know about Debits and Credits on a balance sheet. :grinning:

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I haven’t actually seen anything on youtube about a sustained integration. The products of “waking up” have a much higher profit margin than “growth”. A waking up product can have a price tag of thousands of dollars and be completed in a single weekend to a week with a ration of 1 to dozens or even 1 to thousands. The more you charge the more perceived value there is and the higher the profit.

Growth on the other hand has a low profit margin. It requires at least weekly support, lots of 1:1 and hard work for at least a year to years for each stage of growth.
If people want to accelerate growth, they have to make major life changes like change their social network, their occupation and even their family or partner. How many times have I heard the complaint that one partner wants to grow but the other is stuck and even drags them down.
Not many people are willing to take paths that make them less attractive to the vast majority of the opposite sex so that they can focus on their own transformation rather than appeasing a partner’s desires, which are often conrtary to growth.

This is the reason why we see so many Waking Up events and programs but the population isn’t growing spiritually, or I would say it is having transformational experiences but isn’t integrating them and levelling up.

@Marty I have spent a life time reading and studying most of the spiritual traditions. From religion to self-improvement, mysticism to the occult, Jehovah’s Witnesses to Kabbalah. Integral Theory to meta-modernity. I go down and through all rabbit holes to find the patterns and nexus points between all my discoveries.

I’m mostly alone because I am not tied to crystalized thought indoctrinations of the devotees in any discipline. I feel my way through things as I explore with logic and rational thoughts. I have shared them on my blog and written about them in my Spiritual Quest Book if you’re ever interested.

Thanks for your commenting and activity here, you most certainly belong! ~ Peace :slight_smile:

Thanks @raybennett :slight_smile:

I studied very intently getting “High” in the 1970’s … That’s why we called it “high school” … that was the joke from the Vocational School that I didn’t finish. I think you’re old enough to remember the stigma that carried back in the day.

I was inspired to become a Janitor, I was a good one. I am also an artist, a musician, an entrepreneur, and there are hundreds of other labels, I am sure you can articulate a few of your own too. I accept all labels attached to my ego life.

My life was and is all about life! … I love life … I love all of it … I love being alive … I love people … I love everything about this amazing journey I am on … and I love you @raybennett ~ Peace :slight_smile:

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Yes John, I am very late to the party, but I do have something to offer, that I have not come across yet. I can see the limits in KW’s theory and the shift to Aurobindo as base spiritual icon. Even though Wilber, puts him aside, to some degree. I think Aurobindo does not really represent the ultimate understanding of spiritual reality. Even though he may well represent the highest idealization of human spirituality, there is a component of almost fantasy in some of his work.

As in my earlier post I have only just begun to see ‘objectivity’ as a component of spiritual work, that, and having to accept that all points of view ‘may have’ some merit (tough one for me).

So yeah, much to study and catch up on, will try and add useful comment and posts.

I’m about half way through Integral Yoga and I’m wondering what others think about Aurobindo, in particular how representative he is of more general Vedantic traditions.

His exploration and writings around the nature of consciousness in connection with the evolution of humanity particularly the possibility of a spiritual transformation. Eckhart Tolle in his New World book reveals this too.

I write about these ideas my own book too, specifically on how we can transform ourselves from within to help in this endeavor. We need a spiritual transformation from within, on the inside of us in our spiritual perceptions before we can ever change the external world.

Kabbalist Michael Laitman writes about this transformation too, published yesterday.