What's your biggest disagreement with Integral theory?


Hello, Kernotto, I am with you on this. It seems to be a cognitive bias built into the psyche of Homo Sapiens that we tend to assume progress has peaked with us. Even though we now “know” (or think we know) that the physical universe has a 13.8 billion year track record of producing systems of ever greater complexity, most of us seem to assume that things can only go downhill from here.

I am thinking of an anecdote about one of the great physicists of a little over a century ago. (Maybe one of you reading this can supply the name and a more accurate story? Max Planck, perhaps? I’m relying on a vague memory here). This man is supposed to have advised an up-and-coming young scientist not to go into physics. All the important stuff had already been discovered. Go into biology instead, was his advice, where great discoveries were still to be make. All that was left to do in physics was a few peripheral unsolved problems – such as black-body radiation. Then along came the Curies, and Einstein, and quantum mechanics, and now here we are, wrestling with string theory and dark matter and dark energy and quantum gravity which posits eight dimensions for heaven’s sake.

As a historian by training I know so many instances in so many ages where people just assume that of course it’s all going to go downhill from here, without questioning how we got “here” in the first place. Maybe now with Integral and second tier and all that we can learn to question this assumption.

While I’m at it, and speaking of quantum gravity, what about the assumption that “of course” there are only three dimensions? 250 years ago no one had any idea that there was more to light than the visible spectrum. Now we know that the visible range is only a tiny part of the entire electro-magnetic spectrum. Why should we assume that there are only three dimensions, merely because that’s all we are personally aware of? Assuming just four or five dimensions leaves room for all sorts of experiential phenomena that are considered “paranormal” or “metaphysical.”

Of course it is entirely honest to say that one prefers to stick with stuff that one can verify with one’s own sensory or intellectual apparatus. The scientific method is one of the greatest achievements of humanity, IMHO. But let’s also leave the door open for all the stuff we don’t know yet, and don’t even know that we don’t know. And let’s be careful not to invalidate other peoples’ experiences in the left two quadrants.

That’s my two cents’ worth.


Thank you very very much for clarifying this, Robb. It helps a lot.


Thanks for your sacrifice @robb. Your effort is appreciated and say a big thanks to your Mrs for us. Blessings. #yes,and… #infinitelove


Dear @frank I really find this thread interesting and also a little perplexing. It seems to me that this argument has been going since the Renaissance and the birth of modern science. I’m very new to Ken’s work so I am responding based only on my limited understanding of IT . And I am an engineer with some little training in science. I do have a bias also as I am spiritual.

My interpretation of IT is that it doesn’t claim to offer a complete detailed answer to all questions and I guess the Theory of Everything nickname could be misleading for some.

While I am spiritual Believe me I have many times doubted the existence of a God. I admire you coolheaded scientific rationalism very much and that of science which has brought is so many amazing benefits.

Ken Wilber seems to clearly articulate that he is no expert of everything and seems quite comfortable and confident that his logic is generally sound and he bases much of his deductions on the sound work of other researchers and scientists. I’m OK with that.

Yes he does put a lot of emphasis on spirituality and I understand how annoying that could be for someone without a religious aptitude and who is steeped in the physical sciences.

However lets accept the maybe Wilburs lifestyle and background has given him this bias and perhaps he is somewhat blindsided by it. I think he is aiming to present a framework of understanding of our universe that allows a place for every bias, every reality now understood , theoretical , imagined or not even yet imagined @Kernotto .

I have a small chuckle inside when I see an advertisement for the latest laptop or mobile phone (while I write this on my phone) how this new device will revolutionise your life . This dumb thing with some buttons and a pretty screen. And we’d prefer to Facebook than go outside and look at the sky and ocean. I realise what we know about the universe is about how much my phone understands about my fingernail. Please don’t take this as a criticism of scientists, who make amazing breakthroughs everyday, but it is an acknowlegement of the vastness of the universe and acknowledging how much we have yet to discover. Someone has already made this point, but I think it bears repeating.

I am trying to be compassionate as I discuss professional rivalry and competitiveness. It is pervasive in the business world and many walks of professional life. One has to be cautious when being critical of others work. I really like the #yes,and… philosophy which pays respect for things one can agree to and also the things one may disagree to…AND…(as against BUT) here is what I can add to your work to expand on it or evolve it. There is so much in how things are expressed which gives it a positive flavour.

Am I making any sense here without being too direct?

I wish you all the best in your research and life endeavours. Blessings. #Yes,and… #infinitelove.



Back again already. I’m just starting KWs Integral Meditation. Having said on another thread I can’t meditate to save my soul, I wonder if IT can shed any light on how to improve my meditation.

To say I was flabbergasted by KW destroying Christianity in the introduction is an understatement. I can only surmise the perhaps K has had a negative experience on the past with Christianity.

He goes on to lament a future time when science could perhaps disprove a Buddhist view.

He is displaying a really strong bias here which I feel , even he would agree , does not belong in IT. He can be forgiven as , no one , certainly not me , is perfect and I’m sure the reader can move on to see the big picture benefit of IT.
Blessings. #infinitelove. #yes, and…


hearteveryonePeter, hello! So honest/authentic of you to acknowledge being “flabbergasted” by KW’s remarks on Christianity; I can imagine how it might feel to come across his remarks for the first time, particularly if one has a Christian background/orientation (which I don’t know that you do). It can feel like a loss, be very hard, to have long-held beliefs often formed in childhood and still cherished, at least unconsciously, not just questioned but scathingly confronted, seemingly assaulted.

While I’m not here to defend Wilber (and maybe I am, just a little), my own take, not from the Integral Meditation material with which I am not familiar, but from other sources (books and many of his talks throughout many years), is that he does not destroy Christianity, but rather confronts the amber-mythic perspective on Christianity, and in particular, fundamentalist Christian views. A myth by definition is a traditional story, emphasis on story, about a people’s history, oftentimes involving extraordinary or ‘supernatural’ events/beings. Colloquially, a myth is a false idea or belief that is commonly taken for truth.

Religious fundamentalism refers to beliefs in the absolute authority of a religious text or the teachings of a particular leader, prophet, or God. There is often a literal interpretation of said texts. Fundamentalists generally think their religion is the only “right” religion, and therefore usually want to convert others or force their religion upon others. Christianity and Islam are particularly noted for having fundamentalist sects within the larger religion, but probably all religions do; Wilber has written/spoken a lot about the fundamentalism in Buddhism as well.

Perhaps you already knew these things, but just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page here, terminology-wise. (I also don’t know for sure that these elements are examples of what you see as his destroying Christianity, but amber-mythic religious views of Christianity are usually talked about in his books, so I’m thinking this might be what you’re referring to. Correct me if I’m wrong.)

I have read and heard Wilber speak of Christianity and of Christ-consciousness, and give examples of how Jesus would be experienced at each stage of development (magical, mythic, rational, pluralistic, integral). I see no attempt on his part to destroy Christianity, only attempts to help people at amber-mythic levels move up the “conveyor belt” so as to embrace larger and more inclusive and more conscious perspectives.

Integral Life has also featured the teachings of (the late) Father Thomas Keating as well as Christian minister Paul Smith on the website, and Wilber has written glowingly of their (integral) Christianity, and was apparently very close with Father Keating.

Most recently, December 8, during The Ken Show, Wilber told of meeting with a group of Christian evangelicals who were interested in Integral perspectives. They themselves acknowledged being “sick of myths,” the myths of their religion. (He also acknowledged his surprise that they requested the meeting with him, remarking sort of jokingly on his “bias” in thinking they weren’t “smart enough” to be interested in Integral.)

I do not know Wilber personally, but from his writings and talks, and I’ve read and heard a lot over 20 years, I view him as a person of integrity. And also as a person who makes strategic decisions. I don’t remember in which book I read it, but he spoke of his strategic decision to be strongly confrontive of the pluralist/green perspective rampant in academia with its performative contradictions and such, and the failure of greens to advance to second tier. I remember him saying “I tried to be nice but it didn’t work…” (paraphrased), Perhaps he has made a similar strategic decision in confronting the mythic beliefs in mainstream and fundamentalist Christianity.

When I first started reading Wilber’s books and listening to his audios, I kept an ongoing list for several years of what I called “Integral Impressions.” Most of it was what I disagreed with or objected to, my negative critiques. I had forgotten about that file, but found it recently, and reading over it, I saw just how ignorant I was in certain areas in those early years, and how much bias and shadow I had around certain material.

So hearteveryonePeter, I offer this with the greatest regard for your good heart and intentions, and I hope you receive it that way. You’re right, no one is perfect, and that includes Wilber, and I suspect if you keep reading and studying and, importantly, inquiring into yourself around subject matters which arouse strong responses/reactions in you, you’ll come to see things in new ways, which is what growth and development are all about.


Hey HeartEveryonePeter, I just wanted to echo LaWanna’s invitation to check out some of Ken’s other discussions about Christianity, as I think you will find that he actually holds a tremendous amount of respect for the esoteric tradition, even though he is often frustrated (to put it kindly) about its far-more-popular exoteric and mythic forms. I am actually editing a new discussion between Ken and Paul Smith where they apply the “Three Faces of God” frame to the Christian Trinity – so, the Father in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, the Son in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, and the Holy Spirit in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. Very cool stuff, and will hopefully be published by the end of this week.

And here are some other discussions and presentations that you might enjoy:








”Today, millions of people in America and Europe try to find contact with tradition and with teachers who can show them the way. But in large part the doctrines and teachers are either fraudulent, or vitiated by the spirit of public relations ballyhoo, or mixed up with the financial and prestige interests of the respective gurus. Some people may genuinely benefit from such methods in spite of the sham; others will apply them without any serious intention of inner change. But only a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of the new believers could show how many belong to each group”.

From Erich Fromm’s book To Have Or To Be?

And so the question arises: where does Integral fall on this and to what degree? If someone says they are on second tier, how does one measure that? Or in my case, I consider myself a recovering Green yet I don’t know how to move forward to second tier. I’m still waiting for Susan Cook Greuter’s book and I hope she addresses this issue of spiritual gurus who claim to have higher levels of consciousness but don’t. It’s all too easy to be enamored with spiritual ideas and concepts and to such a degree that they literally delude us into thinking they are absolute truths. And what make this even more deceptive is that we are not AWARE of such deception- think Andrew Cohen, Teal Swann, and others who claim to know better. Maybe I’m beside the truth but it would be a good idea to know where any given spiritual teacher is in his or her -waking up and growing up- development respectively. If martial artsiest have 5 or 6 belt levels why not Integral?


Thank you @LaWanna for your comprehensive response and empathy. I understand and agree with everything you said. Even the greatest gurus allowed their human nature to guide their behaviour at times. Me too and it embarresses me every time.

Blessings. Happy safe holidays. #infinitelove


Dear @corey-devos thanks for your response and those resources. I’m grateful that you have read my feedback so perhaps it in a small way influences IT to be kinder to people from fundamental backgrounds. Lets face it a large part of the IT fraternity would be from one. We already struggle to relate back to our home faiths and that loss is real. Reading this was like being kicked while lying on the canvas. I’m sure the hair on the back of Kens neck would stand up if someone ripped into Buddhism in that way.

Blessings. Happy safe holidays. #infinitelove


The reference to the expectation that internet offerings and sites should be free is important. The implications of this expectation are discussed by Jaron Lanier in his provocative new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Accounts right Now". Essentially he asserts that the expectation of free use and content left companies such as FB with advertising as the only way to make sites income producing. The advertising in turn has led to our current mess by encouraging a culture of what amounts to behavioral control with highly individualized, often oblique, and often unsourced messages.

I have not been a participant on Integral Life long enough to judge the specific approaches and offerings but am happy so far with what is available for the initial membership fee and will probably explore other aspects later on.


Hello everyone,

I’m not sure if this is necessarily a criticism as much as an observation. Over the last handful of years I’ve noticed that few if any of the people that are expressing ideas and thoughts about Integral philosophy, personally and professionally and interpreting reality from a 2nd tier level are evolved in careers that are considered a “working-class” demographic. Also, it appears that many had relatively solid upbringings or even privileged formative years. This is not a judgement nor am I envious it’s just the view from where I stand on the Mountain of life. I’m not saying that people coming from an Integral level haven’t suffered but there is a “bubble of luxury” that many appear to live in.

Do you know what “food insecurity” feels like off & on over the years? Do you know what it feels like to have “zero” family alive to support you? How about the frustration of having absolutely “NO” economic security and live paycheck to paycheck for decades? This is not the ranting of someone that sees themselves as a victim. As a matter of fact at 55 years of age I actually consider myself one of the luckiest people on the planet because my inner strength is abundant and I’ve enjoyed vibrant health beyond most people my age. I actually say to people that I’ve acquired a level of wealth that can’t be bought nor earned with a college degree.

What had manifested in my existence is a love for all and an ability to handle situations that many would fear, run from, or collapse! The circle of people that have become my “universal family” are diverse and from all walks of life and demographics.

There’s no “one path to awakening” and mine has certainly been bizarre but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Ultimately, the point I wanted to make is this: if you see yourself as someone that is interpreting existence from a 2nd tier, Integral level, try putting that to test: reach out and interact with a spectrum of beings that will disagree and challenge you. Don’t let yourself get into the “Integral Echo Chamber” in which everyone reinforces your perspectives and beliefs. Yes, its dam lonely out here sometimes and yes, it can be frustrating as hell, but what good is Integral if we tribalize it? No judgements here just sharing thoughts as they arise.

Peace and love,


I’m not sure how accurate that view is but I often share it at times Brian. Either an ivory-tower elitism or general sense that most have had at least the base survival/ safety needs met. And also a sort of a distancing from real problems in the world, a bias towards higher development regardless of how pathological a certain level may or may not be. Which to be fair is a problem generally in the world.

The fact that there have been a fair amount of at least reported abuses of power within the integral world though, or support of other organisations, Andrew Cohen’s Enlightennext comes to mind which I’ve never heard any of the official integral leaders comment on despite giving him a massive platform. Anybody know if that sort of stuff has been touched on in this forum? Cause personally I think those are signs worthy of serious disagreement.


Bad day at work, grump on its way. I work in a deprived inner city in the UK which has a significant immigration population. I work as a family lawyer and have clients ranging from manifestly failing to cope with what life has thrown their way to those who are clearly thriving. Integral theory has provided me with significant insights into the structure and content of the disputes that I am involved in. It has changed the way I deal with work and my attitude towards my clients and equally towards my opponents. I’ve given up giving answers (thinly disguised as advice) and taken to asking questions to help people sort out an answer that is of use to them. Can be difficult. This morning was sorting out how much time children should spend with father. Father (immigrant with no English and no permanent right to remain in the country unskilled in anything that would be useful in a western culture, plenty of skills that are useful in his country of origin) was so used to those in authority either dumping on him or telling him what to do that had no idea what to answer when I asked him what he wanted. Before Integral Theory I would have told him what the courts usually order and suggested he ask for that. He had moved sideways in tribal: do what the elders in his extended family said to doing what the elders in the government agencies told him to do. My questions were to help him move a little into egoic and consider what he wanted to do as a father for his children. He has safe parenting skills and so his children seeing him take control of that side of his life would get a good message. Its taken over 2 years to get him to the point where he can believe his views count , but his children now have a father they can be proud of.
As to whether Integral Theory has been of much use to me personally, I’m less sure. Disagreeing with Integral Theory is a bit like criticising a pair of binoculars because you don’t like the view you’re looking at… I’ve done plenty of waking up, far less growing up and virtually no showing up. And I think that’s because I’m a condescending intellectual away from work who finds it easier to be disdainful about something rather than deal with it.
From my perspective I can see loads of progress up the spiral at work, though Fat Tony would be scornful of me describing it in that way. Those actually living the change would probably find that they are hindered if they took an integral perspective - it would give them an out from doing the hard miles in their own development. It certainly has given me an out when I’ve needed to do the hard miles in my own life.


I loved your story, Andrew, about the client you helped move “downwards” into the egoic, rather than “upwards” to the rational–that’s true integral work, I think, seeing what perspective-taking might truly serve the person in the current circumstance, and helping them view things in that way.

You also gave me my first laugh of the day, with your comment about “grump on the way.” Not bad humor for a ‘condescending intellectual’…


I enjoyed reading your reply to frank
God yes listen to some music


Hi Brian,

Thank you for your observations. I am new to the community but can attest to a very “bizarre” journey as well. The paradox of being purged from a very comfortable and safe environment into conditions of instability (rock bottom) which you describe is that it hopefully forces change and growth that might not otherwise happen.

As someone who was immersed as a professional within the mythic belief structure of evangelical Christianity, I don’t know that I would have experienced these transformations without the moments of lingering on the edge of the unknowns. Of course hitting the bottom came because I began to challenge the beliefs that I was supposed to espouse. Thus being purged–though a long and difficult journey–resulted in waking up again.

I agree that it can be lonely out here. When I began to encounter a few integral thinkers, one of whom (Richard Rohr) referred to Ken Wilber, I felt a great sense of relief and excitement that this community exists although I am still exploring its place in my journey. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for your challenge. Kim


Glad it gave you some joy, thanks. Speaking of music, with a user name ‘rubbersoul2,’ sounds like you might be a Beatles fan? Some great songs on that album.


la wanna well spotted !
yes what valuable and ever rarer place that has become “joy”
From my local anyways. I’m working on that .
Rubber soul it’s the LP that in “johns words. they had gained experience in the studio , became contemporary , played more precisely on ,
Also took over the cover artwork.
it was paul who came up with rubber soul, meaning ‘yer Blues ‘,I suppose,
Meaning English soul.’Rubber soul’. Just a pun.
Paul said ; he read about an old blues player in the states talikng about Mick jagger,Man .Well you know there good- but it’s plastic soul,’
So plastic soul was the germ of the idea just a pun.
Wow Awesome Lp. Nice
Audiophile is another part of my soul.
I’m not a Beatles only fan per sa , I like good music , for sure,!l as I have an idea you do .
Yes I have many multiple versions of all there early work .
I’m a record collector ,a life long fascination I live in an apartment
properly 10,000Records .
I live with them , there kinda organic my Libary is alive , a lot can now go though .
Music , the culture of musicians , the artwork it all means so much to me,
From a very young age it was super important, think I recognised very early on this is a great tool for ,my survival here straight of the bat.
As Otis reading said “Do you like good music’ .
Helps me communicate with suppressed difficult emotions , impotantly reminds me I have emotions , and it’s now time for them to be released regardless of how tough I think I’ve become through the day, week
For sure imparted wisdom from these master storey tellers are sacred spaces I will always create share & enjoy with others
Best I can .
Kind regards la wanna .


Hey, thanks rubbersoul2, for the lesson on the origins of the name of that album, which I listened to mid-morning today, which then made me have to listen to one of my Beatles favorites “Across the Universe,” which then had me singing “Jai Guru Deva, Om…Nothing’s going to change my world…” for the next 3 hours. So it’s been a great day. Hope for you too!