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A Spirituality That Transforms

by Ken Wilber


Ken Wilber needs little introduction. A genius recognized in his own time, this prolific author is widely acclaimed for his visionary synthesis of philosophies East and West and has been hailed as one of the brightest lights of the modern spiritual world. With an ever-growing influence, his ideas claim adherents from an enormous diversity of ideological camps—while he, a practicing Buddhist, remains fiercely independent, aligned only to the force of his own inquiry. Unafraid to take the risk of being controversial, he has been harshly criticized for his outspoken and fearless questioning of many of the most cherished ideas held fast by the current progressive spiritual and cultural establishment. Yet it is this very quality, his unrelenting passion for genuine inquiry—a quality all too rare in the modern spiritual arena—that we find so refreshing. In the following original essay, Ken Wilber shouts from the heart, imploring each of us to take up the challenge of embracing "a spirituality that transforms."

Hal Blacker, a contributing editor for What Is Enlightenment?, has described "The Modern Spiritual Predicament" in the following way. It is worth quoting at length, simply because of its eloquence, straightforwardness, and unerring good sense:

We intend to explore a sensitive question, but one which needs to be addressed—the superficiality that pervades so much of the current spiritual exploration and discourse in the West, particularly in the United States. All too often, in the translation of the mystical traditions from the East (and elsewhere) into the American idiom, their profound depth is flattened out, their radical demand is diluted, and their potential for revolutionary transformation is squelched. How this occurs can be subtle, since the words of the teachings can be the same. Yet through an apparent sleight of hand involving, perhaps, their context and therefore ultimately their meaning, the message of the greatest teachings often seems to become transmuted from the roar of the fire of liberation into something more closely resembling the soothing burble of a California hot tub. While there are exceptions, the radical implications of the greatest teachings are thereby often lost. We wish to investigate this dilution of spirituality in the West and inquire into its causes and consequences.
I would like to take that statement and unpack its basic points, commenting on them as best I can, because taken together, those points highlight the very heart and soul of a crisis in American spirituality.

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