I’ve been making a conscious effort to be more mindful in various aspects of my life. Somehow, I stumbled upon this book (perhaps it was a Goodreads recommendation), and thought the blurb sounded interesting. Could this be what I need to take my mindfulness practice to the next level?
First, the good news: I finished it!
The bad news: Seriously, what did I just read?
Okay, sure, maybe I should have been more familiar with “integral theory and practice” before I started reading this, (“more” meaning, any sort of familiarity at all). But come on, the blurb sold me: “a radical approach to mindfulness—combining an ancient meditation technique with leading-edge theory, resulting in a powerful new method of self-transformation.”
The 240ish something pages start off interesting. Ken Wilber makes an effort to explain what integral mediation is and how we can use it to grow up (not just wake up / achieve nirvana). This is the first I’d heard of “growing up” used in this context. Wilber uses various stages of human societal evolution as an analogy for the different aspects of growing up and becoming a better, more aware / awake person.
As the book goes on, it goes deeper down the rabbit hole of how awake you should be for given stages of your personal development and steps are needed to achieve the next level.
But as you progress through the book (and presumably through the levels), things seem to make a lot less sense and start to sound downright silly.
A random, out-of-context quote that highlights some of the word soup you’ll need to wade through:
“This, needless to say, was not an incentive to contemplative development, and the religious engagement of individuals increasingly focused on legalistic creeds, codes, and mythic-literal dogma of a particular stage of spiritual Growing Up, namely the mythic-literal. And so we ended up with the two major problems with religion in today’s Western world: no spiritual Waking Up, and rather low levels of spiritual Growing Up. Taken together, this is a cultural disaster of the first magnitude. I just can’t emphasize enough what a staggering nightmare this has been for Western civilization.”
Ultimately, it was a lot of random words jumbled together that I don’t entirely understand. There might be a time and place for reading it and getting something out of it, but I don’t think I will ever get there.
If you’re a Wilber fan, there’s probably a lot here you’ll like (it seems like others do). If you have no idea who this dude is and it’s your first time wading into one of his books (like me), I wish you the best of luck.