Kevin R. D. Shepherd
ENTRY no. 55
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
ENTRY no. 55
Copyright © 2013 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.
David Lorimer edited A New Renaissance (published 2011), a book widely celebrated in the new age. Science and society would be transformed by the SMN heroes (even “Spirit” would be changed by their genius). The contributors included stock names in the “science and spirituality” front, such as Ervin Laszlo, the Grof supporter Richard Tarnas, Larry Dossey, Rupert Sheldrake, and Peter Russell. The Prince of Wales was also represented in this SMN volume. His royal entry was entitled “Restoring Harmony and Connection: Inner and Outer.”
An underdog wrote to the Office of the Prince of Wales concerning a relevant matter. My late mother (Jean Shepherd, or Kate Thomas) did not receive a suitable reply from royal aides. She had formerly thought highly of the Prince, believing that he would not ignore a discrepancy. Now came the reluctant admission: “I was wrong. He is unreliable, like the new age superstars.” Her friction with David Lorimer resulted in her total disillusionment with the “progressive” scene of “science and spirituality,” from which she completely withdrew in her last years.
The Prince of Wales had been sent data relating to SMN drawbacks. The data was disregarded. In 2011, Prince Charles supported the SMN, annulling any complaint of conscience. In 2011, A New Renaissance was advertised as an SMN production, being edited by two SMN members, with some other SMN members amongst the article contributors. The auspices are beyond dispute. The Prince of Wales effectively endorsed the SMN via his inclusion in the book at issue, thus proving compatible with Christopher Bache, and also the psychedelic exponent Richard Tarnas, a fellow contributor to the SMN manual.
Jean Shepherd had complained at the pro-LSD attitude of David Lorimer. The relevant episodes are documented (Shepherd 2005:405-410; Bache and the SMN website, 2007). The SMN website displayed a pro-LSD article, by a prominent American LSD enthusiast, for several years until 2010. LSD usage in Britain had formerly decreased. However, from 2013, an increase occurred; a resort to MDMA and LSD spread amongst young people in the age group 16-24. MDMA was in the ascendant. The reason for the resurgence of LSD popularity remained officially obscure. “Fashion” is not a sufficient explanation.
In 2016, one commentator wrote: “Over the last few years the number of young people in Britain who are trying out acid [LSD] has skyrocketed” (Young People in Britain taking more LSD). This was the highest number in fifteen years. One of the reasons may be urged in terms of advocacy from academic LSD supporters like Christopher Bache, strongly favoured by David Lorimer. Bache is not commended by medical experts, who adopt a very different assessment of psychedelic factors.
Medical experts were alarmed to learn that a small percentage of British schoolchildren had resorted to LSD. At first, this was only about one in a hundred, between the ages of 11 and 15. However, that psychedelic usage increased during COVID lockdowns to one in five young people who microdosed.
Meanwhile, complaints and ethical factors meant nothing to the SMN or to royalty. Management errors in “alternative” organisations are condoned. Objectors to drug use can be ignored and squashed. The SMN maintained public access for six years (2004-2010), at their website, to an influential American pro-LSD article of Grof disciple Christopher Bache. My mother’s disputing anti-LSD article was not permitted on this media, the SMN online promotion being completely one-sided. Psychedelic perinatal fantasy and LSD high dosage are no recommendation for David Lorimer’s SMN “new world values,” which encompass cordon and ideological suppression.
Drugs are fashionable in a decadent society. Cocaine is the predominant middle class drug indulgence in England. In general, the number of deaths from drug use has increased across the UK. During 2019-20, an estimated one in eleven adults, in the age group 16-59, took recourse to a drug in England and Wales, many of these people needing medical treatment. Some medical experts say that my mother was correct to warn against LSD endorsement, especially when this occurred under the auspices of “scientific and medical.” Christopher Bache represents LSD high dosage of 300-500 micrograms. Again, new world values can be faulted.
The accumulating English complacency about “recreational” drug use is contradicted by the pervasive vogue for cocaine, which fuels an international criminal activity. By 2018, Britain suffered the highest number of young cocaine users in Europe. The death toll is no proof of health. Cocaine users, like LSD users, can jump from balconies to their death. Hospital admissions for mental health disorders increased. In England, films and television features have glamourised drug use, helping to make cocaine acceptable. The high demand for this drug has attracted overseas drug dealers, who came to view Britain as a very desirable market. Scotland has suffered more drug deaths than England, with many of these being in the 35-54 age bracket (reports refer to poly-drug use, including cocaine and heroin). Recreational drugs are a hazard, condoned by ignorance of consequences.
Another celebrity name in A New Renaissance (2011) is English biochemist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, who has gained substantial fame as a critic of conventional science. “I want the sciences to be less dogmatic and more scientific” (Sheldrake 2012:7). Sheldrake’s book The Science Delusion gained both supporters and detractors. Others were more neutral, awaiting scientific or philosophical arguments to convince. One critic reacted to the Sheldrake opus in terms of: “disturbingly eccentric; fluently superficial, it combines a disorderly collage of scientific fact and opinion with an intrusive yet disjunctive metaphysical programme” (John Greenbank, The Science Delusion).
Several years later, the nature of “new spirituality” became evident in the “more scientific” agenda of Sheldrake. His book Ways To Go Beyond has a chapter highlighting the use of drugs and psychedelics, in a manner that is clearly approving and indulgent. He tells his reader that cannabis “can facilitate spiritual experiences.” Sheldrake describes psychedelics in terms of “visionary experience.” He says encouragingly: “At least as many people are taking psychedelics today as in the 1960s” (Sheldrake 2019, chap. 4). Psychedelics are here conflated with “spiritual openings,” in the deceptive manner of the American drugs lobby.
Sheldrake discloses that he first took MDMA in California during the early 1980s. Critics are not disposed to admire his feat of distraction. MDMA (Ecstasy) is a psychoactive drug, frequently used as a stimulant. The condoning approach of Sheldrake reveals the acute poverty of new spirituality, a form of buzz talk reflecting popular trends. The dogmatic “Californian” paradigm should not be internationally imposed. Pseudoscientists who encourage drug usage are a primary hazard, perhaps far worse than the materialism they lament. Psychedelic (and stimulant) pills are very material chemical creations of profiteers. In 2021, MDMA pills found at a nightclub in Manchester were four or five times the usual strength, and capable of causing deaths.
The LSD lore of cosmic spirituality in a pill is a banal deceit. Some big talkers are known to derive psychobabble from their drug experiences. Serious medical problems, not merely panic attacks, are caused by numerous drug complications. The man and woman in the street have to survive the hazards created by academic drug enthusiasts and psychedelic superstars like Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, Stanislav Grof, and Christopher Bache. Psychedelic advocates are not spiritually enlightened, as they often claim or suggest. They are instead deluded by hallucinations and Jungian archetypal lore which has saturated society.
The hallucinogen LSD is often described as non-addictive; however, a form of addiction to “trips” can occur. “LSD is considered psychologically addictive” (LSD abuse treatment). A psychological dependence on LSD and other psychedelics is not healthy, though nevertheless typical of drugs lobby activity. There are “documented cases of prolonged intense [LSD] use causing negative side effects such as paranoia or psychosis” (LSD addiction). LSD can also cause the affliction known as HPPD (hallucinogen persisting perception disorder). This problem can cause acute visual disturbance undermining the ability to function normally; the very undesirable syndrome is potentially permanent. “LSD use may lead to temporary or long-term mental disorders” (Hallucinogens).
In California, drug yobs opted to spike drinks with LSD, MDMA, and Ketamine (plus other commodities). The vogue for spiking has become international, a symptom of the social malaise caused by recreational drug use. Spiking now often occurs with the intention of robbery or sexual assault, even kidnapping. Spiking can result in hospitalisation or even death. The “date rape drug” society spells disaster.
The American commercial craze for psychedelic therapy wants to invade psychiatry, which is stated to be ineffective by critics. Greedy investors are throwing millions of dollars into MDMA and psilocybin, ensuring that confusion will continue. The Grof supporter Rick Doblin, another psychedelic superstar, has accumulated over forty million dollars (via MAPS), a sum that could be better spent elsewhere than on the legalisation of psychedelics, which is the underlying objective of “psychedelic therapy.” America is governed by the Wall Street mentality, which will invest in almost anything unhealthy, such as the gun lobby, the fossil fuel industry, the plastics pollution. In dead end society, high status academics afflict and mislead the man in the street with psychedelic claims of “cosmic consciousness” and “spiritual rebirth.” Anything but due education, a factor obfuscated by markets like SUNY (State University of New York) Press.
SUNY advertised a book by Christopher Bache in terms of: “Bache argues that when the deep psyche is hyper-stimulated using Stanislav Grof’s powerful therapeutic methods, the healing that results sometimes extends beyond the individual to the collective unconscious of humanity.” This statement comes from the cover of Dark Night, Early Dawn (2000). The fantasies are never-ending.
Jean Shepherd at Findhorn
Jean Shepherd (d.2017) had the misfortune to join the SMN, at first believing this to be a credible project of “scientific and medical” relevance. She found an almost complete ignorance of basic medical facts relating to drugs. Her objection to Grof doctrine resulted in the dubious SMN preference for online cordon against her complaint. Dr. Christopher Bache alone sufficed for representation, championing the Grof cause of LSD neoshamanism, abetted by Lorimer at the expense of all other factors. The marginalised objector resigned from the SMN in disgust at the pro-Grof policy of David Lorimer. She also declined to enroll in the SMN video circuit of persona and prestige, which effectively outweighed ethical priorities.
The senior female dissident, screened from the “scientific” SMN website, had vivid memories of the 1990s Findhorn Foundation, a close affiliate of the SMN. Jean Shepherd related how Dr. Stanislav Grof would not respond to her letter of complaint when both of them were in the Findhorn vicinity during the early 1990s. The commercial elite must not be criticised, even when these entrepreneurs charged £415 for hyperventilation (holotropic breathwork) sessions causing acute stress and shock symptoms in many women. Only the fee counts, not the aftermath of discomfort which can last for weeks and months.
The founder of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. was notorious for dosing clients at Esalen with MDMA (LSD was also implicated). The psychedelic hierophant Stanislav Grof is a neo-Jungian archetype of deceptive self-discovery. Drug dosage in “therapy” was a means of controlling and hypnotising clients. Such projects thrive in the complete absence of critical ability.
Psychedelic hallucination was the ultimate reality for deceived and deluded clients who became converted to the drugs lobby. This scenario had economic dividends for the new age impresario David Lorimer. More audience for seminars, more subscriptions, more American donors. The Prince of Wales was a high status feature in New Renaissance publicity of 2011.
At the Findhorn Foundation, Jean Shepherd heard many declarations of environmental commitment. Unlike the confusing new age jet set, she had never been on an aeroplane. Moreover, she had never driven or owned a motor vehicle. In contrast, the giant carbon footprint of the Findhorn Foundation, SMN, and British Royalty is no remedy for climate change. Some urge that the psychedelic footprint of the SMN (and American affiliates) is more hazardous than the ecological factor.
Dr. Christopher Bache is a role model for the drugs lobby, in terms of 73 high dose LSD sessions he privately conducted over a twenty year period from 1979 to 1999. This project is reported in his own words (Bache 2019). He was strongly influenced by Dr. Grof in this personal venture, having read the misleading 1970s Grof book Realms of the Human Unconscious. Bache has claimed a self-transformation as a consequence of psychedelic experiences.
Jean Shepherd never ingested LSD, advocating independent mysticism as a safeguard. Her critique (though appearing in the SMN journal) was afterwards relegated by Lorimer, a noted fan of Bache. Lorimer has described Dr. Bache as an “intrepid psychonaut,” while referring to his LSD testimony as a “stunning revelation.” To an independent citizen, the partisan academic and SMN support for psychedelic experience is open to strong criticism. The chronic danger for Bache imitators should be cognised. A Bache high dose means 300-500 micrograms of LSD. Some medics wince at these excessive figures. Even the more diluted “full dose” of 100-200 mcg is considered very strong by clinical experts, indeed too strong to mitigate certain well known problems discernible. Even an LSD microdose of 20 mcg can trigger abnormal symptoms.
The reckless Bache was restrained by comparison with his inspirer. The psychedelic hero Stanislav Grof “took high doses of LSD – ranging from 300 to 1,200 micrograms – more than a hundred times, and supervised more than four thousand LSD sessions involving others” (Horgan 2003:163). Grof tried to convince journalist John Horgan that Hindu gurus, especially the controversial and promiscuous Swami Muktananda (d.1982), have psychic powers (siddhis). Horgan writes: “I now saw that he [Grof] was a hard core believer, a sheep” (ibid:166).
Grof was not a detached clinical observer. Instead, he innovated transpersonal psychology, a trend obsessed with therapeutic potential and the achievement of “transpersonal states.” Grof established an international “workshop” business to cater for the demand he created. The neo-Jungian “archetypal” talk was remunerative for Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. Dr. Grof flourished in a gullible milieu where many LSD experimenters believed they had gained paranormal powers such as telepathy. One of the major casualties of that era was retarded ex-Professor Richard Alpert, who opted for 2,400 micrograms of LSD daily at one period of his very confused existence. The overall damage caused Alpert (Baba Ram Dass) to believe he was a “spiritual teacher.” That dumbo phrase has no meaning. There were numerous psychedelic “spiritual teachers” seeking limelight in America during the 1970s and later.
The commercial Grof theme of “death and rebirth” was endorsed by the SMN at an influential Cambridge seminar in 1995. The seminar was named Beyond the Brain, this being the title of a book by Grof. The exotic neo-Jungian perinatal mythology was treated as fact by victims of drug dosage and hyperventilation. They were “reborn” as client initiates of Grof Transpersonal Training Inc. The reckless Cambridge seminar, arranged and led by Lorimer in university precincts, created a wave of Grof archetypal speak amongst affluent English middle class subscribers to the confusing new age. These fans were now helplessly confused victims of LSD lore as mediated by Grof. The brain was effectively obscured by putative archetypes.
The beliefs of Lorimer were influential in Britain, assisting the Ken Wilber craze and the American drugs lobby. At one period, Lorimer was blind to deceptions of neo-Advaita guru Andrew Cohen, though afterwards admitting that he had made a mistake.
Fans of Ken Wilber slavishly copied his eccentric colour code doctrine. This was not a psychedelic regimen, but nevertheless disconcerting. The American “integralist” Wilber particularly disliked green, meaning ecologists who lacked the transcendent spiritual heights which he claimed for himself. He was a turquoise enlightened integralist of epochal stature. The Dalai Lama was a midget by comparison, Wilber implied. Videos of Wilber integral discourse preached such altitude as “You are Big Mind.” There are still many confused victims of the Google video boom. Wilber regarded the exploitive guru Andrew Cohen as a facilitating authority for his own spiritual genius and integral vision. One of the punishments Cohen devised for dissidents was to have paint poured over the head in a gesture of contempt.
Beyond the Brain transpired to be a long-term SMN seminar investment, completely ignoring sidelined issues. Dr. Grof was still appearing as an SMN-hosted speaker in 2018. His celebrity was revered, his victims consigned to oblivion. The SMN here glowingly advertised Grof as “a psychiatrist with more than sixty years of experience in research of non-ordinary states of consciousness.” No mention is made of relevant criticism. The victims of “non-ordinary states” included the experimenter’s own wife and many terminally ill patients whom he subjected to LSD terrors in the guise of “transformation.”
Grof describes how his patients, dosed with LSD, “spent hours in agonising pain, gasping for breath with the colour of their faces changing from dead pale to dark purple. They were rolling on the floor and discharging extreme tensions in muscular tremors, twitches and complex twisting movements…. there was often nausea with occasional vomiting and excessive sweating”…. Transpersonal torture was Grof’s obsession…. At Spring Grove Hospital [in Baltimore] a total of one hundred patients were pressed into the LSD torture programme which Grof called “research,” though criminal license is probably a more scientific description…. Grof was enthusiastic about his patients having “vivid destructive and self-destructive experiences” which “involve bestial murders, tortures of all kinds, mutilations, executions, rapes, and bloody sacrifices.” These LSD experiences were interpreted by the Jungmaniac as life/death struggles on the way to spiritual peace. Grof should have been certified as a public menace, but was instead endorsed and glorified by both Esalen and SUNY [State University of New York Press]…. Grof’s wife was another casualty. Joan Halifax “had a major nervous breakdown due to LSD usage” while still married to Grof. Stories about safe dosages should be ignored, or rather castigated. (Shepherd 2005:13-14)
In New Renaissance medicine, LSD application may become compulsory at the command of transpersonal abusers. Hospitals might become playgrounds for psychedelic therapists keen to prove how much torture any one patient can endure before transformation at death, resulting in spiritual peace. Non-ordinary states of consciousness include agonies so intense that the afflicting subject would be deleted from any sober curriculum. “Beyond the brain” sadism is a shocking scenario.
In another direction, the Findhorn Foundation were primary subscribers to SMN agenda. An early instance of dysfunction at this location was child abuse; the strongly alleged culprit was an American practitioner of NeoReichian therapy. The Foundation management denied any problem; the “allegation” was suppressed (Castro 1996:53-54; Shepherd 2005:182). However, other persons were aware of what really happened. My mother was on the spot and heard details from those who feared the Foundation bullies. David Lorimer subsequently ignored the bullies in various reported situations, turning a blind eye to all discrepancies. Subscriptions were the priority; ethical concerns were adroitly disqualified as a nuisance.
The Findhorn Foundation management were empowered by the condoning BBC publicity, and the mercenary SMN. However, they gained the reputation of tyrants amongst those more familiar with events. In the New Renaissance, “science and medicine” can be confused with auspices of “love myself,” “transformation,” “planetary healing,” and related contrivances of the commercial elite. Suicides of Findhorn Foundation subscribers might too easily be explained away as “transformational death.” Acute psychological problems, of hospitalised victims, could be sanitised in bully lore as a healing process for the purpose of “being already who you really are.” Another key phrase of casualty is “celebrate your individuality.”
The Findhorn Foundation was founded by Eileen Caddy (d.2006), whose behaviour caused disappointment, despite her claim “God Spoke to Me.” The ecovillage ideal amounts to an “eco-house” selling for £300,000. Ecobiz is justified by exaggerated therapy jargon. In more general new age terms, child abuse could too easily be explained away by archetypal theories of transpersonal dionysian energies amounting to Who You Really Are. Paedophiles might even be knighted by the New Renaissance, in the absence of any due agency to check upon dysfunction within charity status organisations. Critical assessors will merely be dismissed as “judgmental,” of no relevance to funding, status credentials, and misinformation.
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
ENTRY no. 53
Copyright © 2021 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved
The American thinker Ken Wilber is associated with Integralism, generally described in terms of psychology and spirituality (and formerly classified in terms of transpersonalism). He reacted to the format of analytical philosophy (and also “continental” philosophy) associated with the universities. His outlook might be described as one form of citizen philosophy. I have attempted to point out the substantial differences from my own version.
Wilber became famous as a writer of numerous books on psychology, therapy, and “perennial philosophy.” Commencing with The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977) and The Atman Project (1980), his output continued in the 1990s with such works as Sex, Ecology, Spirituality (1995) and Integral Psychology (2000). This led to an accolade from the Dutch partisan Frank Visser, who produced a detailed study of Wilber’s books after having personally interviewed him. See Visser, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (State University of New York Press, 2003).
Many readers were surprised when Visser soon afterwards became a critic of his subject. Other converging web critics such as Jeff Meyerhoff (author of an online book) also became noted for a resistance to Ken Wilber’s worldview, described as being too ambitious and lacking due supporting proofs. Wilber’s Quadrant Theory aroused opposition, claiming an “Everything” scope based on metaphysical doctrines and questionable deductions. Some counters are in evidence at the Visser site integralworld. Wilber has strongly denounced his critics as having failed to reach the spiritual “altitude” required for the perspectives under discussion.
Wilber has the rare distinction of having his Collected Works available in a multi-volume edition. He has launched in America the Integral Institute, declaring elaborate objectives and an interdisciplinary scope. I am certainly not against the interdisciplinary ideal, having myself pursued a form of that ideal for forty years. However, an objection of mine relates to the issue of what can usefully be integrated. I am not an integralist, but an analytical commentator.
My disagreement with the approach evolved by Ken Wilber has spotlighted, for example, the “new age workshop” issue. See Ken Wilber and Integralism (2009). Cf. Wilber, Integral Spirituality (Boston: Integral Books, 2007), pp. 201ff, referring to “Integral Life Practice workshops offered by Integral Institute.” Workshops are a standard feature of the commercial vogue for “human potential.” The Wilber version of new age is called integral spirituality, the title of a book he wrote.
A presentation in terms of workshops and proclaimed spirituality invites strong analytical responses. The claim to spirituality is a widespread contemporary problem. This does not mean that spirituality cannot exist; however, the claim is no proof of authenticity or competence.
Adi Da Samraj
Ken Wilber aroused query when he supported the controversial American guru Adi Da Samraj (Da Free John) many years ago. That deceased entity became notorious as an antinomian opportunist. See Ken Wilber and Adi Da Samraj. Wilber modified his enthusiasm in that direction; he nevertheless continued to esteem the teaching of Adi Da. He also substantially assisted the profile of the “neo-Advaita” guru Andrew Cohen, regularly appearing via a dialogue feature in the latter’s popular magazine What is Enlightenment? The dialogue duo were rolecast as the guru (Cohen) and the pundit (Wilber). Cohen became the subject of strong criticism. An American Professor of Philosophy described Cohen in terms of being “in deep need of long term therapy.” See David C. Lane, Andrew Cohen Exposed (2009).
Many contemporary confusions relate to the subject known as “perennial philosophy,” which became popular in the 1960s and later. Adi Da Samraj made some strong overtures in this direction, which critics found unconvincing, despite the trappings of “crazy wisdom” that supposedly proved legitimacy.
For long a promoter of perenniality, Wilber eventually opted for a “post-metaphysical” exegesis. The fantasised subject of “perennial philosophy” has thrived in contemporary alternativism. Archaeology was obscured in Wilber’s book Up from Eden. Much academic literature on the history of religion is ignored by new age fads that look ridiculous, in view of omissions clearly discernible. This has been one of my own complaints. My citizen presentation has quite frequently resorted to scholarly and scientific literature, which can supply information too often overlooked.
Ken Wilber is unusual for having defined his intellectual career in terms of successive phases. He has enumerated Wilber-1, Wilber-2, and so on. Wilber-5, concurrent with “integral post-metaphysics,” expanded his controversial Quadrant Theory, declaredly comprehensive. He affirms: “The Integral Approach involves the cultivation of body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature” (Wilber, Integral Spirituality, 2007, p. 26).
Wilber has emphasised a spiritual altitude relating to “levels of consciousness” signified by spectrum colours. Via Integral Life Practice, Wilber partisans are supposedly participants in the favoured zone of turquoise to Clear Light. Critics require a more convincing exposition that does not lead to “workshops” and bizarre American gurus whose followers have so often defected.
In 2015, a Wilber partisan made a comment on the internet about my article entitled Ken Wilber and Integralism. “What a waste of time and energy from a nobody wanting to become a somebody.” This form of American elitism opted for zealous relegation of a non-American author. My first book was published in 1983. In the ideology known as Integralism, an author who criticises Ken Wilber (in annotated format) is a nobody deserving only contempt.
The accusation was also made in relation to the nobody being a “non-Realised” entity, the insinuation here signifying that a lack of “Realisation” precluded competent commentary. The elite requirements are evidently loaded against ordinary authors lacking sublime credentials that are not everywhere recognised. The vaunted Realisation Authors are as yet an unofficial category. Ken Wilber is supposedly Realised, therefore to comment on his output requires a similar metaphysical standing. This argument can become a source of amazement outside the Integralist zone.
The same Wilber partisan Somebody suggested that I should study the Freudian Oedipal Complex and deal with hatred of the father. I was on good terms with my father, who had nothing whatever to do with Ken Wilber. The new age Freudian diagnosis interprets criticism in terms of unmerited anger. This irrational strategy is employed to offset due criticism of commercial therapists, healers, channellers, and celebrity gurus. If you criticise those entities, then you are criticising your father, which means you must study Freud.
The Wilber partisan continued with his diversion: “Or realise something about an area that you clearly only have interest in journalistic commentary and negative, one-sided critiques rather than practice and Realisation” (verbatim quote from the aggressive Somebody Integralist). I am not a journalist, and do not have sole interest in that form of writing.
The disjointed Somebody verbalism here displays a fashionable pride in “Realisation,” a commercial slogan pervasive in the American new spirituality trend. The complacent belief in “Realisation” of practitioners is accompanied by an insidious endeavour to deny all possible criticism of exalted figureheads. Self-realisation is a facile theory misextrapolated from Indian philosophy, accompanied by a ham-fisted interpretation of other Oriental themes. Wilber chanted “You are Big Mind” to audiences seriously confused by Integralist lore. The Up from Eden format, the Beck-Wilber meme adventure in colour coding, the Guru and Pundit duo performance, the Theory of Everything, the elitist claim to Realisation, the Integral omniscience of Ken Wilber. To contradict these beliefs and strategies is sufficient for the critic to be relegated by Integralist lore as a nobody.
My criticism of Wilber, dating back to 1995, preceded that of Visser, Meyerhoff, and others. This fact is obscured by Integralists, who prefer a blanketing latitude for censorship in terms of “nobody.” The derogatory profile awarded by Integralism is now an issue. Integralism is a shallow vogue word of supercilious complexion. The constraining logic amounts to: “If you agree with us, you are Somebody; if you disagree with us, you are Nobody.”
Elitist American Realisers are juxtaposed with a controversial scenario. Cannabis is legalised in some zones, with much more drug recreation in prospect. Car crashes and other problems may increase. Many LSD enthusiasts (including academic Jungians) are keen to indulge in further hallucinations misleadingly described as spiritual experience. Ayahuasca (and rape) is also celebrated in new spirituality. Pornography is an ubiqitous tool of American commerce to reduce restraint. The extensive spread of sexual diseases is conveniently understated. Cocaine is still hugely popular amongst the affluent. Tablet drugs are regarded as a form of confectionery in widespread situations. The meaningless “perennial philosophy” is a hazardous vista of Huxleyan psychedelic indulgence.
The American “new spirituality” is amenable to bizarre “workshops” and cults, flourishing in milieux where the victims can prove totally incapable of independent volition. Bearing in mind former trends at Esalen, the programme could too easily be: Drug the clients when they get up, keep them high all day, sell them expensive workshops in human potential and Jungian archetypes, a format designed to suspend all critical ability. The myth of de-Hinduised self-realisation means many dollars for entrepreneurs. Big Mind is a pretension of assumed status and commercial appetite. Narrow Mind is the outcome.
Wikipedia can be a gauge of Narrow Mind. The Ken Wilber elitist clique, the Sathya Sai Baba sect, and the Meher Spiritual Center at Myrtle Beach, are diverse manifestations of an American superiority complex. Partisans of these movements effectively conspired in deletion of the Kevin R. D. Shepherd article on Wikipedia. Critics of elitist ideology are not allowed to surface on American media. American “neutral point of view” is suspect. Democracy is negated in new age fascism. A non-American (Irish-English) commentator was effaced by American “spiritual” exemplars. Identity eliminated, a feat also having the connotation of Get Integral (a Wilber maxim). American spiritual elite Somebodies are Big Mind, whereas the critics of inflated prerogative are just midget nobodies marginalised by preening Integralist giants.
Despite Integralist innuendo, I am not actually a complete stranger to Realisation, a straitjacketed subject capable of extensions neither cognised nor accepted by Narrow Mind Somebodies. Hinduism is a complex field requiring due attention to detail and sources, as distinct from workshop lore and commercial slogans. The nature of “Realisation” admits of different explanations, some of which are unfamiliar to supposed experts in abused phenomena. There is almost nothing that can be said about this matter in the current climate of overbearing ignorance and “new spirituality” sales drive.
In 2003, an epistle on national patriotism emanated from the influential Institute of Noetic Sciences (California), a new spirituality bandwagon. This item was written by John White, the former literary agent for Ken Wilber books. His Open Letter to Americans about Integral Patriotism included the assertion: “God is the foundational and overarching reality of the cosmos, and America is a deliberately constructed reflection of that.”
Critic Ray Harris (of Australia) described the content of this Wilber-related manifesto as “political pathology.” Harris viewed with incredulity the Integralist belief: “America has led the way in bringing democracy to the rest of the world as part of the divinely inspired ‘American spirit’.”
The Integralist mandate of patriotism is here interpreted, by the Australian sceptic, as a form of nationalist complacency, misleading readers on key subjects like slavery and the Native Americans whose lands were stolen. For many years, the US government failed to pay due compensation to Native Americans. Harris detects a “fundamental dishonesty” in the American version of history, which is adapted to suit conservative and popular tastes.
Sobering facts about America are presented: “The US has the largest per capita carbon dioxide emissions, the largest per capita energy consumption, the largest per person creation of waste (720K per person), the most civilian gun deaths php (per head of population), the most obese population php, the most reported rapes php, the largest prison population php, the greatest income gap in the OECD, the greatest rate of homelessness php, of relative poverty php, of teen suicide php, of school shootings php” (Ray Harris, The American Myth).
Recent trends are also disconcerting. The Trump administration created further havoc and misreadings of history. Racism is a discernible feature of American psychology. The global environment is wrecked as a consequence of technology and climate change (the full damage is only cognised by hard core ecologists, still very much a minority). Fake news is endemic to American society. A form of fake news is “Realisation,” a claim amounting to extensive delusion.
Meyerhoff, Jeff, Bald Ambition: A Critique of Ken Wilber’s Theory of Everything (Inside the Curtain Press, 2010).
Shepherd, Kevin R. D., Minds and Sociocultures: Zoroastrianism and the Indian Religions Vol. One (Cambridge: Philosophical Press, 1995).
——–Some Philosophical Critiques and Appraisals (Dorchester: Citizen Initiative, 2004).
——–Pointed Observations (Dorchester: Citizen Initiative, 2005).
Visser, Frank, Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (State University of New York Press, 2003).
Wilber, Ken, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (Boston: Shambhala, 1995).
———The Eye of Spirit (Boston: Shambhala, 1997).
———Integral Psychology (Boston: Shambhala, 2000).
———The Collected Works of Ken Wilber (8 vols, Boston: Shambhala, 1999-2000).
———Integral Spirituality (Boston: Integral Books, 2007).
Kevin R. D. Shepherd
February 6th 2010 (last modified 2021)
ENTRY no. 12
Copyright © 2021 Kevin R. D. Shepherd. All Rights Reserved.