Ken Wilber

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Raphael
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Post by Raphael » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

This seems like a wonderful TIME for the resident cosmogonist to add his thoughts to this SPACE.

But first allow me to quote the respected Claude Levi-Strauss.
I don’t pretend at all that, because I think that way I am entitled to conclude that mankind thinks that way too. But I believe that, for each scholar and each writer, the particular way he or she thinks and writes opens a new outlook on mankind. And the fact that I personally have this idiosyncrasy perhaps entitles me to point to something which is valid, while the way in which my colleagues think opens different outlooks, all of which are equally valid.
Daruma observed
What a childish waste of time! Fans argueing which star is best.


So does it appear we have a Campbell vs. Wilbur division?

But this is a very interesting debate because it hints at, on a much deeper level, the dichotomy of beliefs that permeate the global consciousness.
These two men exemplify (I would guess...I simply use pattern recognition to make 'quantum' leaps of understanding) what lies at the core of the 21st century myth.

Today we lie at the gate of understanding the metaphysical using quantum gravity...the theory of everything.
Science and Religion/Myth are merging.
Wilbur and Campbell exemplify this merging.
They could be seen as the Yin Yang of consciousness.

Now without having read all the threads posted here … I shall go out on a limb.
In this battle for our minds and hearts which exists on all levels…from the microcosm to the macrocosm we are presented once more with an opportunity to make a choice between the pre-dominantly Right-Brained Campbell and the obviously Left-Brained Wilbur.

Wilburs’ own analysis actually warrants this observation.
What we have here fellow associates is the metaphorical, allegorical and studied to death ‘duality’.

I also see Wilbur’s thoughts, his pre/trans fallacy as an evolution or expansion or Campbell’s own thoughts.
As Campbell himself said time and again…”when we leave the transcendent we enter the field of pairs and opposites”.

You must go here… http://www.integralworld.net/fallacy.html

Here Wilbur summarizes in psychological and sociological terms his interpretation of the dividing of the transcendent.
Or simply the splitting of the hermaphrodite.

Wilbur’s pairs or opposites existing in his trans-personal field of ‘dreams’ is the Personal and the Spiritual.

Under Wilbur’s classification of the Personal we see the classic metaphoric qualities or tendencies of the LEFT -Brained individual.

i.e. rational, man/masculine, science, ego, culture etc.

And the RIGHT-Brain is of course represented by the spiritual, women, religion, self/essence/being, nature etc.

And then Wilbur takes these qualities and further classifies them into 3 broader categories, as a Left-Brained individual would be prone to do.

1. Pre-Personal
2. Personal
3. Trans-Personal

Now I could take these three categories and suggest they also have been represented in great detail by mythical metaphor and scripture.
The Right-Brain would see these classifications as a ‘Trinity or Triune’.

However at this time I merely mean to plant that seed of thought, because what I really what to discuss is this apparent ‘duality’ of thought that has been represented throughout the ages, for tens of thousands of years.

What if I were to suggest that there exists, that there resides within our consciousness two symbols representing this division of thought?

What if I were to suggest these two symbols can be shown to have had their birth amongst the stars, in the apparent movement of the stars?

What if I were to suggest that these two symbols represent the duality that has become OUR modern myth, ‘THE’ myth of the 21st century?

What if it can be shown these two symbols represent the ‘polarity’ of thought that directs man’s collective behaviours?

What if these two symbols represent essentially the two ‘holocausts’ now immortalized in our recorded history?

What if these two symbols also represent the duality of Cain vs. Abel?

What if these two symbols help explain the division that exists between western linear theosophy and eastern cyclical mysticism?

What if we deny the evidence I am about to present?

The answer not surprisingly is in the heavens, always has been…observable with the naked eye…no telescopes are necessary.
(Thus for the answers, no ego or pride of accomplishment is necessary to build the telescope.)

Remember 99% of mankind’s activity took place as hunter-gatherers. And the 1% of recorded history, that epoch of butchery we call civilization is where we find ourselves today. So assuming our pre-historic ancestors were keen observers of the heavens and cycles of SPACETIME we can draw conclusions.
Watching the heavens was the ONLY show that played at the local drive-in at that time. It was a re-run, played nightly with slight alterations of the story line through the course of the year.

Here are the facts for those Left-Brained individuals who require information for analysis.
Those Right-brained among you, intuitively in the end will feel my hypothesis has merit.
It will simply ‘feel right’.

This duality of which I speak is also esoterically represented by the north vs. south magnetic polarities.

Just the Facts:
All comments italicized are not to be interpreted as facts, merely an interpretation.

Looking north we see but one star that dominates the night sky.
It is Polaris the North Star.
In the northern hemisphere all the constellations seem to revolve around Polaris in a counter-clockwise rotation. They revolve around a central point or axis.
The earth rotates counter-clockwise when viewed from above the north pole…i.e. from outer space but rotates clockwise when the observer is positioned in the northern hemisphere looking up at the sky.
It is without a doubt a ‘cyclical’ pattern which is observable and which can be shown eventually evolved into an ancient pre-historic Solar Cross.
This solar cross it has been shown without a doubt penetrated all the ancient civilizations with the exception of Egypt, Chaldea, Assyria and Phoenicia.

And the 2 twins most conspicuous as universal ‘timekeepers’ are the Big and Little Dipper, the Great Bear and Little Bear.
Each consists of 7 stars.

And between the Two Bears is Draco the Dragon acting as a boundary between the Two Dippers.
Draco could be viewed as the metaphoric serpent guarding the Apples of the Hesperides which grow on the axle tree. - Joscelyn Godwin

Around 4000 B.C. the night sky could be recorded as thus … the 7-stars known as the Little Bear if placed in the sky according to the 4 seasons and the 4 directions of space revolving around the then Pole-star Thuban or alpha Draconis resembles without a doubt the Solar Cross known to us as the swastika or the Buddhist omote manji, a symbol of love and mercy.

It is interesting to note that this symbol represents also the rotation of the earth, west moving toward east, toward the rising sun.

But the most important realization is that the observer in the northern hemisphere sees circular trails, the stars as moving around a central point.
It represents the celestial observations and the birth of the Goddess worshipping cultures, the pagans, those who see the world as a sum of the parts, as a whole, those ancestors of ours who lived by the light of the golden sun and silvery moon, the predominant Right-brained tree-hugging pagans.


The swastika penetrated all of the polytheistic societies.

Now if we position ourselves in the southern hemisphere and look toward the night sky we observe a vastly different ‘light’ show, a vastly different message from the gods/god.

The stars do not rotate around a central point but appear to move across the sky in a linear fashion unlike the observers in the northern hemisphere that see the passage of time as cyclical.
What we have is cellular imprinting, the result of watching the same light show for thousands of years...my daughters repeat and mimic commercials after only a few viewings.

And there is also a constellation in the southern hemisphere visible to the naked eye called Crux. This constellation gives us a clue to the other symbol, known to us as the Crucifix.
It represents the dominant western thought directing today’s collective it appears.
It represents Linear theosophy…a beginning and an end…Genesis and Armageddon.
It was the birth of monotheism.

And today’s 21st century myth is the Exodus from Egypt of an oppressed people.
The myth speaks of a persecuted society condemned to wandering the earth.
The perpetrators of the Jewish Holocaust are forever symbolized today by the Swastika.
But the result of the Exodus was the establishment of a patriarchal society, which chose to eat and embrace the Tree of knowledge…representing the linear journey of man’s accomplishments, his history, the journey of his pride and ego.
But there has been another Holocaust that has been actually recorded since the beginning of recorded history. It has been the slow eradication of a belief system. Systems that had been in place for thousands of years prior to the advent of a written language. These matriarchal earth worshipper’s have had their beliefs and lifestyles marginalized by the Temple Priests…the obvious victors in the battle for our ‘hearts and minds’.
Yes it is the holocaust of the non-believers, those not indoctrinated by the Judaeo-Christians those who stood in the way of exploiting Gaia.
The ‘Chosen’ have been conducting their own stealth holocaust disguised as saving heathens, exploration and conquest strictly for the purpose of securing lands for energy resource exploitation, etc.
Through time the Left-Brained Intellectual Temple Priests and the Soulless non-elected Corporate masters have slowly plundered the earth.
Need I go on?
In conclusion it could be shown most polytheistic cultures had in their symbolism equal-armed crosses within a circle which is essentially a solar cross, a swastika.
And most monotheistic cultures have reverance for the Crucifix.
(A distinction should be made between the equal-armed cross and the crucifix which is visibly 'longer in the south'.)

So I suggest Campbell is a Right-brained intellectual who tried to explain life using symbols and archetypes choosing to see myths as representing the BIG picture. Joe represents the ancient Swastica, that of love and mercy, ALL the aspects contained within a circle, within the Monad.
Wilbur is simply first and foremost a Left-brained 'mathematical' intellectual who has a Cross to bear.

More of my cosmogony (more interesting connections … i.e. how the crucifix ‘evolved’ from the equal – armed cross) is expressed in the following threads…and remember before you judge my thoughts, “….for each scholar and each writer, the particular way he or she thinks and writes opens a new outlook on mankind”.

http://www.jcf.org/new/forum/viewtopic. ... 2&forum=27

http://www.jcf.org/new/forum/viewtopic. ... 3&forum=27

Namaste

Raphael


_________________
ENERGY = GOD ... Share Him is the Message...
God can be neither created nor destroyed; he can only be transformed into other forms of God. However there is a penalty for committing sin, for transforming God and it is called Entropy.


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Post by theoutlawjesse » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

At long last I have some time to jump in and ask some questions. I am not a brilliant scholar as most of you, but I am so inspired by Campbell and conversations here, I am venturing material/questions in hopes of finding more details about this subject.

Looking at two reviews which address the original post...
Has anybody here read the section of Ken Wilber's book "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality" that criticized Campbell's work?
It seems the controversy centers around Wilber's complete dismissal of mythic and archetypal consciousness/thinking as irrelevant and dangerous on our path to enlightened modern evolutionary transpersonal "awareness"/philosophies. Fundamentally, Wilber is saying we "outgrew" our need for infantile metaphors 3500 years ago.

In order to approach some insight about what you are discussing, I randomly gathered two Internet responses of reviewers' reading of this book:

~~~~ First, a fascinating review of "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality":

KEN WILBER, Messenger of the Kosmos, by A.V. Ashok

In this essay, the book is described as:
"...a biography of consciousness". It explains to some extent what Wilber intended by distinguishing "the mythic" as "insufficient" or regressive. "Reason" is a development in consciousness on an evolutionary trajectory. Campbell as mythologist and archetype purveyor seems less debated than made irrelevant. It seems that "mythic" is conceived , by Wilber, as the antithesis of democracy... and yet... we must remember he is integrating dualities...the mythic cannot be dismissed as much as downgraded and demonized as a conscious conceptual dead end of sorts. I'm just rambling out loud, as I have only a casual understanding of Wilber, having scanned a few of his works for inspiration more than for understanding.

To understand the criticism, I would like to read some direct quotes from the book. I would like to know how Wilber directly, personally criticizes Campbell, and on what basis.

~~~~A second Internet response which seems to address the common argument that Campbell is being maligned/criticized in some way:

former "disinformation" site essay, no author?

2-7-98: JUNG, ELIADE, CAMPBELL and the Critique of KEN WILBER
In what he describes as "his first mature work", namely, "Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution", Ken Wilber ... concludes that (the study of) myth and archetype ... which reside in the collective unconscious of humanity ... most often leads to highly damaging forms of regression... Wilber is particularly hard on Joseph Campbell... [and] those on the path of the heart (Bhakti Yoga) -- drawn to myth and archetype as their PRIMARY MEANS of spiritual development)... "elevation" of myth and archetype ... causes human beings to revert to earlier stages of human evolution in the name of spiritual growth. Because of Wilber's growing influence in transpersonal circles, I am certain that many people have begun to turn away from myth and archetype believing that... it can no longer serve as an effective, primary spiritual tool in human evolution. "


~~~~~

Looking forward to any response.
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Post by Faolan » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello! Oh, how I wish I had more time to contribute to the thread I started! Thanks for all of the great responses. Here is one feeble attempt to catch up a bit…
Bodhi: Whereas Wilber's work has a philosophical/metaphysical bent, Grof's conclusions - which don't support this distinction Wilber makes - are based on thousands of case studies and clinical observations, rooted in good old fashioned empirical science. Like Campbell and Wilber, there are many parallels between Wilber and Grof, and significant differences as well.
Actually, Wilber claims the same distinction, and is perpetually talking about how meditation is a “deep empiricism”, a broad science of the mind. The levels of consciousness that he postulates—morphogenic fields or ‘potentialities’ as he sometimes refers to them—are explained as though they are territories at once created and explored by only the greatest of sages and saints. One difference between Wilber and Grof is that Grof based his theories on observation of patients in a clinical environment, much like Jung had. I don’t know to what extent Grof subjected his work to peer-review, but that’s another subject. Wilber, regardless of his reliance on the work of various developmental psychologists, bases his strongest opinions on his subjective experiences, the validity of which is based partly on the premise that he is entering into realms well documented in the past by meditators worldwide. He would say he follows the three strands of knowledge to gain his insights: specify the experiment, perform the experiment (meditation or contemplation), and observe the results. Then, a step not to be forgotten, he checks the results with others who have done the same experiments. An important point for his developmental theories is that he considers himself a part of a “community of the adequate”, which for him is comprised of people who follow certain distinct types of contemplative practices, not “creative paths”. As I said, Wilber bases his strongest opinions on his own meditative practices, and believes this theories and stages to be true because his experiences are shared by others following similar paths. How he gets to choose the community of the adequate is where I see the potential for scandal. But there is another trick to this. He considers eastern paths more integrative than occidental or western occultism practices, less egocentric, so he ranks western traditions below his own quasi-Buddhist preferences. Campbell too preferred the Eastern over the Western traditions, but he did not arrange them in a hierarchical fashion. So, While Wilber does not claim to be wholly Buddhist, and claims to enjoy many flavors of religion, he certainly does seem to prefer “One Taste”. How’s that for a nondual pun? Basically, I feel his pre/trans fallacy is important to him because it allows him to legitimize the necessity of a meditative path. That’s why he has so angered people who consider themselves fully spiritual but may lack interest in specific contemplative practices, “integral” or not. He would say those people are eating ethereal cake (metaphor mine).
I am curious - if Wilber finds a major difference between "pre" and "trans" states of consciousness is that in the former there is no personality yet, while in the latter the personality is transcended, where does this personality come from? Doesn't self-consciousness emerge from our biology, a result of evolutionary processes? Or is this self-conscious personality mystically and magically inserted into the biological vehicle (the body) from somewhere else?
Wilber says that personality (as proximate ego) is transcended but included in transrational states. He places self-consciousness as an emergent property of the brain, yes, because the noosphere transcends but includes the biosphere, in both the individual and collective perspectives. He would say that the mind is more significant, while the brain is more fundamental. The goal, he says, should not be to transcend and eliminate the ego, but to transcend and include it.
I’m not sure what Wilber would take issue with in this statement … other than the characterization of mythology "as a function of" biology – Wilber might prefer the word "emergent," for "function of" implies myth is but a subset of biology ... and yes, Wilber assigns mythic thinking to the lower arm diagonally opposite his hierarchy of biological/behavioral evolution on his detailed map of reality - but these aren’t necessarily rigid separations, as in Wilber's system elements of consciousness evolve in stages consonant with physical evolution
He ranks human development along with types of belief systems and societal structures, from archaic (instinctual), magical (animistic), mythic (membership), formal (rational), pluralistic (relative), integral (holisitic), and then transpersonal (subtle, causal, and nondual). He believes that Jung had some real insights, but he does maintain that most archetypes are drawn from the magic and mythic levels, which he feels are not “a source of transpersonal or genuinely spiritual awareness”.
That’s what myths do – sometimes they point to archetypes that Wilber would classify as prepersonal (such as the Great Goddess and the neverending bounty of her cornucopia from which all blessings flow, which may be linked to the infantile experience of suckling at Mother’s teat), and sometimes mythic images point to what Wilber would classify as transpersonal archetypes – such as Plotinus and the Great Chain of Being, or the Intuitive Mind/Overmind or Godhead of Sri Aurobindo, which point to the future and what we are evolving toward.
Wilber does allow that some archetypes are close to transpersonal, like the mandala, but feels it is the exception and not the rule. The Great Chain of Being he has renamed “the great nest of being” to put in sync with his mantra of “transcend and include”, so that each level subsumes the one below it, but he would not consider that construct an archetype at all. He also ranks experience of “god”, as I noted in a previous post; these are ranked in order of Nature mysticism, deity mysticism, formless, and nondual conceptions of god.

One thing about Wilber that mystifies me is how he can claim to embrace the legitimacy of experience on all levels, state that each level is sufficient unto itself and each perfectly “true” in its own context, all the while denying that he is in any way denigrating some spiritual experiences as somehow “lower”.


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Post by Ken O'Neill » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

It seems the controversy centers around Wilber's complete dismissal of mythic and archetypal consciousness/thinking as irrelevant and dangerous on our path to enlightened modern evolutionary transpersonal "awareness"/philosophies. Fundamentally, Wilber is saying we "outgrew" our need for infantile metaphors 3500 years ago.
This seems to follow Gebser's view of things.

Speaking only from my own experience, including what I think I understand of Campbell, I cannot agree with that position.

First, Campbell reminds us that a culture without a guiding mythos is a dying culture.

Secondly, any serious long term practitioner of the more advanced developments of Buddhism will tell you that position runs contrary to fact.

I can only share what I know from personal experience. That experience includes having become a kyoshi of a stream of Japanese vajrayana in 1972, having crossed trained in other vajrayanas of Chinese, Tibetan, and Japanese pedigrees, and having become a master practitoner of several versions of European esoteric spirituality. Not a one of them abandons mythos and archetypes in the slightest. They certainly work to first penetrate the ordinary mind in which those archetypes are actively at work with seeming lives of their own. Once deconstructed or emptied, their business is that of reconstructing the world on a foundation of emptiness.

Anyone trained in real Zen - and there's not much of that in the West to this day - is steeped in the traditions of mythos, including the Vimalakirtinirdesha sutra and the Kegongyo (translated by Cleary as The Flower Adornment Sutra). Both texts do not deal for long with the crucial matter of emergence of bodhicitta or the awakening attitude. Bodhicitta is synonymous with satori (understanding or gnosis) in Zen, and with shinjin or nembutsu in sukhavati buddhisms. The vimalakirti is almost totally occupied with the question of how does one create a buddhaksetra?

what's a buddhaksetra? well, sukhavati is one. It's a "buddha land" or "realm where waking up occurs naturally and gracefully". And that is the function of most mahayana sutras, namely reconstructing one's world and life experience from the inside out vis-a-vis bodhi or awakening.

As I've said before, I see no great evidence of Mr Wilber possessing much more than a pedestrian understanding of Buddhism yet seemingly feeling licensed to make all sorts of unqualified pronouncements akin to the style Mdm Blavatsky and her legendary mahatmas.

That Campbell understood this aspect of Buddhism is very apparent. The book entitled A Joseph Campbell Companion, a transcript of sorts of an Esalen workshop conducted in 1982, bears evidence to that influence.

My disagreements with Mr Wilber's position as reported above are those that any long term teacher/practitioner of vajrayana would offer - with the indisputable caveat that Zen is a movement within Tendai vajrayana.

An American writer who is invaluable in these matters is James Hillman, particularly his Re-Visioning Psychology published 30 years ago now.

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Post by Raphael » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Wilber is saying we "outgrew" our need for infantile metaphors 3500 years ago.


3500 years ago?

This potentially is further confirmation that Wilbur is simply a descendent of those ancient intellectuals who liked to write books and epics, the priests. Those same priests that killed and have been suppressing the goddess since around the same time, 3500 years ago.

Wilbur represents thus "New Age Temple Priest" a Left-brained gifted scientist/intellectual.
But just another scientist with a cross to bear looking to drive another stake through the heart of Gaia.
He is not to be confused with the Right-brained "New Age Goddess".
That's who I am patiently waiting for...the ressurrection of the Goddess.
To her I shall surrender my heart and mind and soul.
3500 years of BS is enough.
Wilbur is way off base actually if he believes that we should bury myth.
What if we need to go back and investigate those infantile myths in light of today's advances in science and connect them?
These myths were constructed by far greater minds than Wilburs...expressing a depth of understanding of the cosmos his ego apparently does not want assisting him in his quest for 'his truth'.

What an ego. Beware.

It takes genius to take something complex (the cosmos) and simplify it into the archetypes ALL the people can understand as was done with myth.
Wilburs ideas are for a select few.

Namaste

Raphael

_________________
ENERGY = GOD ... Share Him is the Message...
God can be neither created nor destroyed; he can only be transformed into other forms of God. However there is a penalty for committing sin, for transforming God and it is called Entropy.


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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2005-12-29 13:57, Ken O'Neill wrote:
Anyone trained in real Zen - and there's not much of that in the West to this day - is steeped in the traditions of mythos, including the Vimalakirtinirdesha sutra and the Kegongyo (translated by Cleary as The Flower Adornment Sutra). Both texts do not deal for long with the crucial matter of emergence of bodhicitta or the awakening attitude. Bodhicitta is synonymous with satori (understanding or gnosis) in Zen, and with shinjin or nembutsu in sukhavati buddhisms. The vimalakirti is almost totally occupied with the question of how does one create a buddhaksetra?

what's a buddhaksetra? well, sukhavati is one. It's a "buddha land" or "realm where waking up occurs naturally and gracefully". And that is the function of most mahayana sutras, namely reconstructing one's world and life experience from the inside out vis-a-vis bodhi or awakening.

As I've said before, I see no great evidence of Mr Wilber possessing much more than a pedestrian understanding of Buddhism yet seemingly feeling licensed to make all sorts of unqualified pronouncements akin to the style Mdm Blavatsky and her legendary mahatmas.

That Campbell understood this aspect of Buddhism is very apparent. The book entitled A Joseph Campbell Companion, a transcript of sorts of an Esalen workshop conducted in 1982, bears evidence to that influence.

My disagreements with Mr Wilber's position as reported above are those that any long term teacher/practitioner of vajrayana would offer - with the indisputable caveat that Zen is a movement within Tendai vajrayana.
Thanks for your appraisal of the relation between Zen and Symbol!

I have never practized any form of Zen or a comparable training. So I cannot say much about that topic. I'm someone who is bound to images, no matter if it's viewed as good or bad. Say a word or a number or play a note on the piano, and I have an image in my mind. And I'm fine with it.

Maybe I belong to the same wretched species <IMG SRC="/forum/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif">like the Dutch author Janwillem van de Wetering. He has become famous for his thrillers, but he has also written a book about his experiences in a Zen monastery, entitled The Empty Mirror : Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery. What makes the book most recommendable is not at all his wisdom, but his honesty and humility. He writes about his doubts and true feelings, rather than depicting himself as an enlightened being. At one point is says, when he heard the word "Zen" he used to think of motorcycles and nude women. If I remember correctly, that's what prompted him to go to a Japanese monastery in his early twenties!

Mythic images can be used in different ways: We can interpret them in a rationalistic way, we can understand them literally, so to say in a "childish" way, and we can use them the way Joseph Campbell refers to in "The Symbol without Meaning" (from Flight of the Wild Gander): rather experiencing them, than trying to find meaning in them. Experiencing by transcending the image. (Taking them with humour and self-mockery, like Janwillem van de Wetering, may be a first step beyond meaning and rationalism. Humour as a form of transcending.)

Transcending the image means to go beyond rationalistic viewpoints. While it seems to me, that the classification of consciousness in different clearly distinguishable development stages is a rationalistic view itself. (However, egghead that I am, I find the concept very interesting.)

So a mythic symbol can operate in many different ways. A mythic symbol offers a wide range of possible impact, from literal and rational understanding to transcendental experience.

I have no objections against people who decide to get rid of any images or symbols in their own psyche. However, I don't like the idea of shaven-headed enlightenment too much, if it leads to another iconoclasm. I love myths the same way I love paintings. Myths and art are much more than a more or less valuable tool for transformation. It's an enrichment of life, like trees and clouds and animals. To try to get rid of symbolic images, because they are considered as relicts of a lower state of consciousness sounds a bit morose to me.

What is more, to call other people's paths to a deeper understanding or experience childish, makes me feel uncomfortable, because it gives evidence, that the one who's talking that way, is lacking composure - one of the characteristics I admire most when I meet people with a mature personality. If you say: Look, X is a childish person, referring to people who have chosen a spiritual path that is different from yours, the actual message behind the words is: Look, I'm more enlightened than they are.

However, I agree, that taking metaphors literally is actually an approach to mythology that is rather appropriate for children. Interpretations of mythic metaphors can indeed be helpful to go beyond a literal understanding of the metaphor. There's always the danger to project too much on the symbol you're talking about, but proper interpretations try to point beyond themselves. So they are not rationalistic. They are a tool, that helps us to experience the symbol directly, an ability we have lost, because we are lacking the necessary training and education.

I'm wondering if Campbell saw the mythic way just as another path to the truth beyond truths. In Pathways to Bliss he is saying:
Of course, in trying to relate yourself to transcendence, you don't have to have images. You can go the Zen way and forget the myths altogether. But I’m talking about the mythic way. And what the myth does is to provide a field in which you can locate yourself. That's the sense of the mandala, the sacred circle, whether you are a Tibetan monk or the patient of a Jungian analyst. The Symbols are laid out around the circle, and you are to locate yourself in the center.
So it seems, that Campbell saw the Zen way as a mythless way, while he thought of both ways to be on a par?

Maybe Zen is just a radical way of transcending symbols?



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Post by Ken O'Neill » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2005-12-04 21:12, Faolan wrote:
Wilber suggested that what Campbell was doing was not in fact revealing the value of myth qua myth. Rather, he was taking mythological material, inherently prerational material, and elevating it to the status of transrational, granting it more depth than it possesses. Thus the pre/trans fallacy accusation.

He said that Campbell was exploring myth in an "as if" fashion, reformulating the motifs and grafting them over a more sophisticated and secularized psychological model, in almost Jungian fashion. That, says Wilber, is not "doing" myth (quotes mine), but is rather a process of the rational mind.
That's an interesting take. But I'm not so sure it's true.

BTW, please excuse my writing today. I've been reduced to taking a "pain killer" due some results of a root canal and am not fully alert - or less so than normal!

Along with Campbell, I much enjoy the work of Wendy Doniger, holder of the Eliade chair at the U of Chicago, along with PhDs from both Harvard and Oxford (?), one in Indic literature, the other in Sanskrit. She's primarily a mythologist. And a fine writer with an immense soul and sense of humor.

Her little book Other Peoples' Myths offers wonderful insight into India. And India is important here since Sanskrit, the Upanishads, etc., are all formative to Campbell's view of myth. Remember, he cotranslated the four volume set of Upanishads way back in the early 1940s - so he knew them in a manner Mr Wilber does not and cannot.

Doniger exposes or reveals a simple truth about India. Other than the Vedas, nothing is cast in concerte. Ongoing mythogenesis is part and parcel of that culture.

I would hardly view Indian literati and not so literati as being pre-rational. In fact, they're damned good at transrational, transpersonal mythos and poetics. Their version of MTV includes music videos done up in modern tellings of classic themes.

Maybe that's what a living wisdom tradition includes.

fading...
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Post by Ken O'Neill » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2005-12-29 14:09, Raphael wrote:
Wilber is saying we "outgrew" our need for infantile metaphors 3500 years ago.


3500 years ago?

This potentially is further confirmation that Wilbur is simply a descendent of those ancient intellectuals who liked to write books and epics, the priests. Those same priests that killed and have been suppressing the goddess since around the same time, 3500 years ago.
What you're referring to occured in the Nuclear Middle East. Not elsewhere. Riane Eisler doesn't always think outside of her paradigm, getting kinda myopic about world history.
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Post by Ken O'Neill » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2005-12-29 16:07, Martin_Weyers wrote:
Of course, in trying to relate yourself to transcendence, you don't have to have images. You can go the Zen way and forget the myths altogether. But I’m talking about the mythic way. And what the myth does is to provide a field in which you can locate yourself. That's the sense of the mandala, the sacred circle, whether you are a Tibetan monk or the patient of a Jungian analyst. The Symbols are laid out around the circle, and you are to locate yourself in the center.
So it seems, that Campbell saw the Zen way as a mythless way, while he thought of both ways to be on a par?

Maybe Zen is just a radical way of transcending symbols?
I have to disagree with this characterization of Zen. Campbell had a detrimental reliance on DT Suzuki - just like everyone else back then.

Suzuki's Zen interpretation had major formative impact on the West. In Japan, however, he was not regarded as a Buddhist scholar but as a Western scholar. There's a koan for you.

Recent work by both Robert Scharf (chair of the UC Berkeley Buddhist Studies program) and Bernard Faure of Stanford has finally deconstructed the Suzuki paradigm; hopefully, in short order, the Suzuki reign on Zen will likewise vanish.

Zen is first and foremost ritual. To become a roshi or Zen master involves at least 15 years of training. And that training is largely in ritual. And as Campbell put it, ritual enactment is what informs us of myth. By means of ritual, we re-enact the myth in ritual dramatization.

Zen in the West has taken Tang period rhetoric seriously - when in fact the message was metaphorical. Zen is anything but a myth free zone. Zen practitioners are steepd in the mythic texts, the sutras. Meditation has a place within larger rituals about making bodhisattvas out of us endarkened folks.

I'm working such material into a sort of guidebook for exploring buddhism. At best, we have sort of a bunch of half-truthes mistaken for the big picture, distorted by all sorts of premature generalizations and misinterpretations. Nothing takes the place of hands on doing to get to the bottom of what the traditions are really doing. Reliance on "Western traditional" writings is not the best way to proceed.

Compounding the situation is the fact that much of our Zen is what the Japanese regard as Protestant Zen - modern secular movements disengaged from traditional training, hence poorly informed. Scharf's article on the Sambyokan, a leading movement in the West with deep Suzuki influence is a good starting place for drilling down.

There's more to say on this, however the medication I'm on is wearing my mind and eroding my memory, so I will now stop for the good of us all!
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Post by Ken O'Neill » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

On 2005-12-04 00:25, cliff w wrote:
a cult of meditation (which the ch'an masters of the past warned against) and guru worship. Where's the self-determination, inner-directedness, and self-mastery in that
Ken this seems quite congruent with my perception of Buddhism. Can you please expand on this?
Since World War II, scholars have at last been able to dig into the more than 60,000 manuscripts stolen from Tonko/Magao caves or Tun Huang by Sir Ariel Stein. Among them are the world's oldest printed books, more than six centuries before Guttenberg. And the oldest Tibetan Buddhist materials, dating back about five centuries before the revised history of Tibetan Buddhism we're given today. Get the picture. Tun Huang discoveries are reshaping "history" perforce of new truths.

Texts found there take us back to the earliest strata of Zen, or ch'an. Essentially lost manuscripts.

They show that ch'an and nembutsu/amida buddha/sukhavati buddhism were one and the same thing. Amazing. Campbell sensed it, Buddhologists and popular Buddhism held the former out as "authentic", the other out as "popular" - for the unwashed masses.

Those texts reveal that robust Zen was part and parcel of the mahayana/vajrayana tradition. It's practitioners did meditation, did devotional rites, and were steeped in the sutras. Their work was what I call "bodhisattva making". They did not see themselves as separate and distinct, much less superior to, the rest of Buddhism. Much less did they believe in some cosmic Zen that existed outside of buddhism in lalaland.

With the Song dynasty, literati reformers attempted to create an ephemeral Zen. Zen practitioners stuck by their guns. That literati tradition has come our way, emphasizing a Zen that never was - one that was just sitting, just meditating. Contra that deviant view, orthodox masters began warning about this new cult of sitting. Just sitting stripped Zen of its character, its orientation, and its guiding mythos of bodhisattva making.

Campbell, Harman, Mead, and Montague collaberated on the SRI publication The Changing Image of Man in 1974. They concluded the way out of our current evolutionary impass requires a new system of education. The felt that an image akin to the bodhisattva was required, along with a curriculum bringing learning theory, mahayana buddhism, and general systems theory together. That's pretty much what classical Zen does.

A cult of meditation has no guiding image - at least not an expressed one - perhaps other than that of a "sitter".

We hear a version of it these days in American Buddhism - when they characterize themselves as "sitting buddhists". With pride, a sense of being elite, maybe arrogant. They distinquish themselves from Asian Buddhist groups who do little sitting, hence must be in some manner inferior. In fact, Chih-I's classic text from the 6th century upholds sitting meditation as important, in context of being one of four important forms of meditation. So in favoring being "sitting Buddhists" I guess that's the same as saying "one-quarter Buddhists" - and excluding the integrative approachs of Moving Meditation - taking it anywhere, anytime, without the luxury of a prophylatic sitting room and butt cushion. Tongue in cheek.

best



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Post by mountaingirl » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

I would like to thank everyone who has posted on this thread. I have agreed and disagreed, paused to think and explore. Your banter has been informative and heartfelt. While reading through the thread (IMO) I kept thinking that this is what it is all about anyway, your experience to find your myth. I do remember one thing that Joe said that the Budda and all teachers,don't give you the answer they are guides like a lighthouse to guide you in the right direction, to steer clear of the rocks...Again, I appreciate and respect your posts here and look forward to further conversation. I only wish I had the knowledge to participate. Thank You
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Post by Martin_Weyers » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello Mountaingirl, welcome to the JCF forums!

I think you've put it very well: Since there's not one Truth, not one infallible teacher, there's more truth in a living conversation than in any profession of faith. (That does not mean, that we shouldn't have a viewpoint, or shouldn't agree with one teacher while objecting to another one's ideas, of course.)

Campbell once told the story of a young lady, who told him after a lecture he had given: Prof. Campbell, you don't understand. Today we go go directly from adolescence to wisdom. And he would reply: That's fine, dear. Then all you have missed is life.

I don't think BTW, that you have to be very knowledgeable to participate. A "fool's question" for example sometimes can be more inspiring than a knowledgeable disquisition. Cheer up!

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Post by DMB » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Hello bliss-ters:

I've never posted in this forum before but was especially interested in Ken Wilber's criticism of Joseph Cambpell, namely the pre/trans fallacy. Basically, I think this criticism is unfounded, but it is useful insofar as it serves as a warning to those who might like to believe that following your "bliss" means doing whatever you like whenever you feel like doing it. Campbell speaks to the issue of romantic regression in his MYTHS TO LIVE BY:

"Let me recall at this point Nietzsche's statements regarding classic and romantic art. He identified two types or orders of each. There is the romanticism of true power that shatters contemporary forms to go beyond these to new forms; and there is, on the other hand, the romanticism that is unable to achieve form at all, and so smashes and disparages out of resentment. And with respect to classicism likewise, there is the classicism that finds an achievement of the recognized forms easy and can play with them at will, expressing through them its own creative aims in a rich and vital way; and there is the classicism that clings to form desperately out of weakness, dry and hard, authoritarian and cold. The POINT I WOULD MAKE - and which I believe was also Nietzsche's - is that form is the medium, the vehicle, through which life becomes manifest in its grand style, articulate and grandiose, and that the mere shattering of form is for human as well as for animal life a disaster, ritual and decorum being the structuring forms of all civilization."

"One cannot help remarking, however, that since about the year 1914 there has been evident in our progressive world an increasing disregard and even disdain for those rital forms that once brought forth, and up to now have sustained, this infinitely rich and fruitfully developing civilizaton. There is a ridiculous nature-boy sentimentalism that with increasing force is taking over. Its beginnings date back to the 18th century of Rousseau, with its artificial back-to-nature movements and conceptions of the Noble Savage. Americans abroad, from the time of Mark Twain onward, have been notorious exemplars of the ideal, representing as conspicuoulsly as possible the innocent belief that Europeans and Asians, living in older, stuffier enviroments, should be refreshed and awakened to their own natural innocences by the unadulterated boorishness of a product of God's Country, our sweet American soil, and our Bill of Rights. In Germany, between the wars, the Wandervogel, with their knapsacks and guitars, and the later Hitler Youth, were representatives of the reactionary trend in modern life. And now, right here in God's Country itself (published in 1972) idyllic scenes of barefoot white and black 'Indians' camping on our sidewalks with their tomtoms, bedrolls, and papooses are promising to turn entire sections of our cities into fields for anthropological research. For, as in all societies, so among these, there are distinguishing costumes, rites of initiation, required beliefs and the rest. They are here, however, explicitly reactionary and reductive, as though in the line of biological evolution one were to regress from the state of the chimpanzee to that of the starfish or even amoeba. The complexity of social patterning is rejected and reduced, and with that, life freedom and force have not been gained but lost."

"The first requirement of any society is that its adult membership should realize and represent the fact that it is they who constitute its life and being. And the first function of the rites of puberty, accordingly, must be to establish in the individual a system of sentiments that will be approproate to the society in which he is to live, and on which that society itself must depend for its existence. In the modern Western world, moreover, there is an additional complication; for we ask of the adult something still more than that he should accept without personal criticism and judgement the habits and inherited customs of his local social group. We ask and we are expecting, rather, that he should develop what Sigmund Freud has called his 'reality function'; that faculty of the independently observant, freely thinking individual who can evaluate without preconceptions the possibilites of his enviroment and of himself within it, criticizing and creating, not simply reproducing inherited patterns of thought and action, but becoming himself an innovating center, an active, creative center of the life process. Our ideal for a society, in other words, is not that it should be a perfectly static organization, founded in the age of the ancestors and to remain unchanging through all time. It is rather a process moving toward a fulfillment of as yet unrealized possiblities; and in this living process each is to be an initiating yet cooperating center. We have, consequently, the comparatively complex problem in educating our young, of training them not simply to assume uncritically the patterns of the past, but to recognize and cultivate their own creative possibilites; not to remain on some proven level of earlier biology and sociology, but to represent a movement of the species forward."

Its interesting to note that the "ridiculous nature boy" sentitment infected Germany's budding Hitler youth and our own Hippies, which are so very opposite from each other in many ways.

On a slightly different note, I'd like to take issue with the Wilberian idea that pre-rational myths did not and could not have expressed trans-rational spirituality. More than Campbell and Wilber, I'm a big fan of Robert Pirsig, author of ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE and of LILA. His metaphyisical system looks a lot like Wilber's, namely it asserts and evolutionary reality and divided it into levels. He also reccommends Campbell's MASKS OF GOD series. Anyway, I think Campbell and Wilber can sort of be reconciled thru Pirsig on this point. Without bogging you down in jargon, dear reader, one of Pirsig's main ideas is to draw a line of distinction between "spiritual" experience and the static forms of expression used to depict. In this way, myth is not seen as any less true than intellectual or philosophical forms of expression, its just that they are more flexible and inclusive, so to speak. I think the idea here is simply that spiritual experience is always the same, but the means of communication used to talk about that experience is more of less evolved. And when you think about it, it hardly makes sense that the Buddha was less enlightened than today's spiritual athletes just because he didn't have access to, say, the terms of developmental psychology or comparative mythology or whatever.

My two cents.
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Post by ritske » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

DMB,

Welcome to the forums! Thanks for all those quotes - wonderful stuff. Could you perhaps let me know the page number of the Nietzsche one about art? Interesting to bring Pirsig into this - I see your point, although - obviously - I don't think Wilber would agree.
DMB wrote:

I think the idea here is simply that spiritual experience is always the same, but the means of communication used to talk about that experience is more of less evolved.
Wilber would say that the experience ISN'T the same - the experience which lies at the roots of primitive myths is not the same as, for example, the experience the Buddha had under the bo tree. (Wilber would never say that Buddha's experience was in any way primitive or outdated, by the way - he makes it clear that for him, Buddha was someone who experienced the transpersonal at a time when most people around him could not.)

Wilber, therefore, isn't saying that no one in the past got it right - just that very few did. If you read 'Up from Eden' - which I can recommend to anyone interested in myth, and which is probably one of the books most relevant to this discussion - you can see that Wilber says that almost at all times, there have been people who experienced the transpersonal. This begins with the shamans, then moves to some of the priests of Egypt, then Budha and Jesus. What Wilber is saying is not that everything from the past is outdated - just that not everything which contains mythic symbols should be read in the same way. The experience which lies at the root of a certain myth is key: if it's a genuine spiritual experience, its in - if it's an experience of primitive, biological, instinctual urges (the pre-rational, in other words) it's out.

To me, making this distinction makes sense. Surely, we shouldn't read all myths in the same way. Some of them are primitive (for want of a better word) and outdated, some of them reflect higher truth and should be kept.


Ritske

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Post by ritske » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:22 am

Ken O'Neill,

Thanks for all the wonderful information about Zen. My own image of the tradition has almost singlehandedly been shaped by Suzuki, and I was therefore very interested to read your claim that Zen is not a non-mythic tradition. Could you refer me to some books that reflect a more accurate (in your opinion, of course) picture?

Another point. It seems probable that Wilber's understanding of Buddhism leaves something to be a desired, as you claim. Obviously, as someone whose name I've forgotten already pointed out earlier in this thread, Wilber can't have read everything - he's a generalist, and writing the sort of stuff he writes requires wide reading. As Bertrand Russell put it in the preface to his 'History of Western Philosophy':
If, however, books covering a wide field are to be written at all, it is inevitable, since we are not immortal, that those who write such books should spend less time on any one part than can be spent by a man who concentrates on a single author or a brief period.
Let us discuss, therefore, Wilber's GENERAL argument: the perennial philosophy. Do you think such a thing exists? In other words, can we make such general statements as Wilber makes, and come to conclude that mystics of all times and places had - roughly - the same kind of experience?

Here is how Wilber himself describes the essence of the perennial philosophy:
"One, Spirit exists, and Two, Spirit is found within. Three, most of us don't realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation and duality— that is, we are living in a fallen or illusory state. Four, there is a way out of this fallen state of sin and illusion, there is a Path to our liberation. Five, ifwe follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or ,Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within, a Supreme Liberation, which—Six—marks the end of sin and suffering, and which—Seven— issues in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings

quoted in: 'Ken Wilber, thought as passion', by Frank Visser, p. 50
In other words, when a Zen monk has a satori experience, is he experiencing the same thing as a Hindu ascetic or a Meister Eckehart, as Wilber claims? (I'm not saying here that Wilber claims that all mystic experiences are the same - he does make distinctions. I don't want to get bogged down in the technicalities of Wilber's framework, though, to keep this discussion clear).

Another point: I feel we should make distinctions between Wilber's earlier books and his later books. Wilber's first book- The spectrum of consciousness- just isn't very good (at least not in my opinion). He wrote it when he was very young, and we could say that the man has almost had to grow up in public. This is reflected by the fact that wilber himself now no longer endorses the views in the earlier books - he has moved on, although not everyone realises this. Do you feel Wilber's recent books also contain factual errors, or is it just the earlier books you take issue with?

Ritske

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