Introduction to Excerpts, from Volume 2 of the Kosmos Trilogy
What follows are excerpts from the new volume 2 (there will be four excerpts--A, B, C, and D--posted over the course of the coming month or so). The working title of volume 2 is Kosmic Karma and Creativity, but I doubt that will stick. Anyway, these excerpts are from the first rough draft, only cursorily edited. As such, they will be modified, and in some cases changed considerably--particularly when it comes to items such as terminology, order of presentation, classification schemes, etc. It is simply that, because of other work I am involved with at Integral Institute (see www.integralinstitute.org) and www.EcoISP.com, it might be several years before this volume is released, and I wanted to share some of its general contours at this point.
Some critics, who have read most of the original draft material, are calling this "wilber-5." I myself would not, certainly not at this time; but it is an indication of a certain type of interest. In any event, the critics seem to agree that it represents a major advance in theory since SES. I'm a little reactive to such comments, since it implies that all of the other post-SES books contain nothing really new, whereas all of the concepts most central to the application of this work (such as "levels and lines," "states and stages," "1-2-3 of consciousness studies," "the Wilber-Combs lattice," etc. ) were presented in those post-SES books (e.g., A Theory of Everything, The Eye of Spirit, Integral Psychology).
Still, I have to admit I understand what they mean when they say those books contain "nothing new"--all of them still fit within the AQAL framework ("all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types"--or AQAL for short, pronounced "Ah qual") first introduced in SES. About half of Kosmic Karma and Creativity can also fit comfortably within that framework (much of this half has already been posted as the sidebars to Boomeritis). However, the other half, the half that is explicitly called "Integral Post-Metaphysics" (which is the so-called wilber-5 material), although it also fits perfectly within the AQAL matrix, cannot be explained by any of the concepts generally used to date. It is a curiosity of writing that I have been thinking in a post-metaphysical ("wilber-5") fashion for a decade or two (as several quotes below will reveal), but I would translate those thoughts into the terminology of the works already in print--writing has a life of its own. In any event, those aspects of the following presentation that fall under the rubric of "Integral Post-Metaphysics" all fit within the AQAL matrix, but they reinterpret that matrix in profound ways. Moreover, whereas aspects of my previous writing had at least some historical precedents, much of Integral Post-Metaphysics is without precedents of any sort. Whether or not it has any merit remains to be seen, but it is abruptly original.
Integral Post-Metaphysics--and its corollary, integral methodological pluralism--is important, I believe, for many reasons. First and foremost, no system (spiritual or otherwise) that does not come to terms with modern Kantian and postmodern Heideggerian thought can hope to survive with any intellectual respectability (agree with them or disagree with them, they have to be addressed)--and that means all spirituality must be post-metaphysical in some sense. Second, as Einsteinian physics applied to objects moving slower than the speed of light collapses back into Newtonian physics, so an Integral Post-Metaphysics can generate all the essentials of premodern spiritual and metaphysical systems but without their now-discredited ontological baggage. This, to my mind, is the central contribution of an Integral Post-Metaphysics--it does not itself contain metaphysics, but it can generate metaphysics as one possible AQAL matrix configuration under the limit conditions of premodern cultures. That is, the AQAL matrix, when run using premodern parameters, collapses into the old metaphysics (as Einsteinian collapses into Newtonian, even though it itself is non-Newtonian). On the other hand, alter the holonic conditions of the matrix by adjusting it to the parameters of the postmodern world, and the metaphysics drops out entirely, even though there still remains an entire spectrum of consciousness, waves of development, evolution and involution, and a rainbow of awareness that runs unbroken from dust to Deity--but without relying on any pregiven, archetypal, or independently existing ontological structures, levels, planes, etc. In fact, the entire "great chain of being" disappears entirely from reality, but its essential features can be generated by the matrix if certain mythic-era assumptions are plugged into its parameters.
Of course, some sort of "great chain of being" has been central to spiritual traditions from time immemorial, whether it appears in the general shamanic form as the existence of higher and lower worlds, the Neoplatonic version of levels of reality (e.g., the amazing Plotinus), the Taoist version of realms of being (e.g., Lieh Tzu), the Buddhist version of a spectrum of consciousness (e.g., the 8 vijnanas), or the Kabbalah sefirot--and down to today's newer wisdom traditions, from Aurobindo to Adi Da to Hameed Almaas. All of them, without exception, postulate the existence of levels or dimensions of reality or consciousness, including higher or wider or deeper dimensions of being and knowing--some sort of rainbow of existence, whose waves, levels, or bands possess an independent reality that can be accessed by sufficiently evolved or developed souls. In other words, they all postulate the existence of metaphysical realities--which is exactly what is challenged (and thoroughly rejected) by modern and postmodern currents.
Therefore, what is required is a way to generate that essential rainbow of existence but without any metaphysical or ontological postulates. In other words, IF we can generate the essentials of a spiritual worldview without the metaphysical baggage, then we can generate a spiritual worldview that will survive in a modern and postmodern world. That, in any event, is one of the central aims of Integral Post-Metaphysics (and its practical application, called "integral methodological pluralism"), both of which will be outlined in these excerpts. If we can succeed in this endeavor, then all of those spiritual worldviews (from shamanism to Plotinus to Padmasambhava to Aurobindo) can be reanimated and utilized within a broader, non-metaphysical AQAL matrix, which can generate the same rainbow of existence but without the discredited metaphysical accoutrements, and thus one can still utilize their profound wisdom without succumbing to the devastating attacks of modern and postmodern currents.
I should also say that from now on--and certainly as evidenced in the following excerpts--I am writing only for students of my work. Every book written up to this point has made the assumption that the reader had no prior knowledge of any of my material. Thus, most of my books, especially since SES, had to start with a long summary of the AQAL framework. The first third of each book would therefore repeat the same general overview (which certainly contributed to the criticism that I was repeating myself. Which, of course, I was).
Anyway, I am no longer doing so (except for the occasional, continued attempts at popular summaries or overviews, such as TOE). Henceforth, for the most part, my writing (including the following) assumes not just a passing familiarity but a working knowledge of the essentials of the AQAL matrix. Readers lacking such might first read A Brief History of Everything and then A Theory of Everything. And Boomeritis for fun, though it's not required by any means. For the same reason, I have ceased responding to critics and am devoting myself to working exclusively with individuals who understand the integral approach (and whose criticism from within is much more accurate and cogent).
I hope you find the following excerpts enjoyable. If you want to become part of the dialogue surrounding this material, you might check www.integralinstitute.org for some of our present activities.
Best wishes, Ken
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