Utne Reader, Aug. 98

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In the Utne Reader, August, 1998, I read the article on Ken Wilber, philosopher, "Up Close and Traspersonal with Ken Wilber", an interview written by Mark Matousek. I was interested in reading Ken Wilber's philosophy because he is a baby boomer, like I. Went through the notorious 60's. I have never read any of his work, but was interested in this article on a very private person. I found his opinion on belief in higher beings and religion interesting. He is a practicing Zen. Actually, reading this reminded me of a class that I had while I was a student at a private college in 1965. At that school, we actually had to take classes in theology and philosophy, and one of the sections was on studying religions. The professor that I had, assigned us to study various religions, and we found a common thread and that was that all had the goal of securing life after death for the soul and spirit or reincarnation. The differences came in how each religion got there and what they called it. Mr. Wilber, after experiencing life's events and trials and the death of his wife from cancer, came to the conclusion that the common core in the world's great religions is the central tenet of the Great Chain of Being, or what he calls the "Great Nest of Being." There is a rigid hierarchy, or ladderlike system in all religions, but each is very different, different enough to cause people to war over their belief in the religion. He likens the hierarchy in religion to science, in that in the atom, molecule, cell, organism, each enfolds its predecessor. The ultimate goal is the "Great Nest."

Ken Wilber's philosophy on enlightenment of the New Age and liberalism to the modern West is that humankind proclaims the rights of equality, justice and freedom as its rallying cries. The West concentrates on political freedom and the East concentrates on spiritual freedom and mystical experience. He warns that the liberal vision has a downside, and that is "hyperindividualism", which he says can cut you off from community. He also warns that the outcome of liberalism is "Too many rights and not enough responsibility." That is an area, as an educator, citizen and parent, that I fear. My greatest hope is that the students that attend our school will be able to go out into the world and be responsible citizens, grow and make a positive difference. I can see evidence of his warnings in government and community. Do we not want to create laws to govern every problem? Do we always want to have something or someone to blame? Have we not created too many rights? Where is common sense and responsible judgement? Where is the sense of community? As Ken Wilber says,"Don't fuck up in your own backyard. It takes God to figure that one out?"

-- Anonymous, January 18, 1999

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