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In Search of a New Moral Compass

The Guru and the Pandit
Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen in Dialogue


 width=Moral Judgment in a Postmodern World (8:57)

The leading edge of evolution can be a pretty lonely place. How many are willing to step out where the crowds thin, reaching for potentials barely forming on the brink of the future? How many have the courage to ask the kind of questions that open doors to tomorrow? Pioneers of consciousness have always been few—that just seems to be the way it works. But if the past has anything to teach us, perhaps it is that those few have made all the difference. "This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists," Martin Luther King, Jr., declared almost half a century ago. And the same undoubtedly holds true today. Radical shifts happen, as he understood, "not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority." This is the spiritual challenge to each one of us, the gauntlet thrown down by a future that really does depend on individuals changing—and changing fast. And this is why What Is Enlightenment? is dedicated to finding those voices on the edge, asking them the questions that matter and bringing them together.

In our last few issues, the potential inherent in such an inquiry has come alive most vividly in the ongoing series of dialogues between "the guru and the pandit*"—Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber. Cohen, founder of WIE, is also, as many of our readers may know, a spiritual teacher deeply committed to and engaged with the hands-on business of transformation. Wilber could perhaps most simply be described as the definitive integral philosopher-architect of an elegant and ever-expanding "theory of everything" that provides an unparalleled synthesis of the world's wisdom. United in a passion for the possible and sharing a refreshing intolerance for sacred cows, these two independent thinkers take spiritual and philosophical discourse into new dimensions each time they meet. In this, their fourth dialogue, guru and pandit explore the moral predicament of our time, illuminating the pitfalls of the postmodern landscape in which we find ourselves and challenging us to engage in the creation of a new morality for a new world.

*In Sanskrit, a scholar who is deeply proficient and immersed in spiritual wisdom.

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This article is from
Our Morality Issue


February–April 2004