First, kw’s writings have traditionally generated a uniquely high level of interest within the inner circle of
Andrew Cohen’s community. Andrew’s now-former disciple Andre van der Braak had actually done his psychology
thesis on Wilber, piquing Cohen’s curiosity with his associated bookshelves full of kw’s ponderous works, and
resulting in their reported collective brainstorming as to how to get Wilber in as a student of Cohen’s:
Their persistent courting evidently paid off, however, for in Wilber’s foreword to Cohen’s
(2002) Living Enlightenment we read:
If being a “Rude Boy” simply means speaking unpleasant truths, then yes, “every deeply enlightened teacher”
has probably done that. Such beneficial behavior, however, is vastly different from what Cohen is alleged
to have indulged in.
Beyond that, the whole disturbingly violent “whack between the eyes” thing is a rather absurdly romanticized
view of Zen. Indeed, one cannot help but wonder: Has Wilber himself ever received such a beneficial, hard blow
between the eyes with a huge stick, or literally had the crap beaten out of him? Was that what brought on any
of his early, “verified” satoris, or his nondual One Taste realization? If not, he has no business recommending
such treatment to others.
In addition to attempting to spread his teachings through his books and personal counsel within his spiritual
community, in 1992 Cohen founded What Is Enlightenment? magazine. (He has also recently arranged to partner
with The Graduate Institute in Connecticut, in an accredited program of studies:
www.learn.edu/wie.htm.) That periodical has been praised by Wilber
(in Cohen, 2002) as follows:
Obviously, any sincere seeker reading such ecstatic praise from the most highly respected “genius” in consciousness
studies might be inclined to experience for himself the teachings of such a unique, “greatest living”
(Wilber’s words) Adept. Indeed, had I come across those endorsements in my own (teenage years, at the time)
search, and been aware of and unduly awed by Wilber’s status in the consciousness-studies community, I myself
might well have foolishly taken such exaggerations seriously enough to experience Adi Da’s community discipline
For my own part, not being a sociologist, I would never have caught on to the meaning of that word without
having it explained to me ... albeit years after the fact, here. I suspect that I am not alone in that regard.
No matter: Three years later, in 1990, Wilber was back to contributing endorsements for Da’s teachings, this
time to the humbly titled The Divine Emergence of the World-Teacher:
Note that, in the above quote, Wilber is evidently considering himself fit not merely to pronounce on the degree
of enlightenment of others, but even to confirm their avatar status, “without any doubt whatsoever.”
Again, note the oracular nature of the statement, as no mere expression of opinion, but rather as a
without-doubt, categorical evaluation of another person’s spiritual enlightenment—as if Wilber
himself was able to see into others’ minds, or clairvoyantly discern their degree of conscious evolution.
Others, however, have reasonably questioned the possibility, even in principle, of anyone executing such
Bharati himself was both a scholar and a swami of the Ramakrishna Order.
Other fans of Da—even those who have comparably considered him to be “the ultimate expression of the
Truth residing in all religions”—however, have claimed to find in his followers exactly what Wilber
would evidently rather not see:
By comparison, would Jim Jones re-entering the world from his isolated agricultural commune in Guyana have
made his teachings safe? If not, why would a comparable re-entry have been the solution to the “problematic”
(Wilber’s word) aspects of Adi Da? Isn’t it better for the world at large—if not for their unfortunate,
already duped followers—if these individuals do isolate themselves?
At any rate, none of the above milquetoast caveats from Wilber have ever been included in any of his books, where
they might have reached “a hundred thousand” people
(Wilber, 2000a). Rather, in terms of kw’s own attempts at
promoting that version of reality, the
(1996a) letter exists, at the time of this writing, only on his (publishers’) website ...
buried in the Archives section, not sharing the home page with his many accolades.
(1998a) offered an explanatory open letter to the Adi Da community.
That was posted anonymously (i.e., evidently
not by Ken himself) on the Shambhala KW Forum for date 8/1/01 in the Open Discussion area, a full three years
after the fact. (That forum itself has existed since early 2000.) There, he clarified his position on Da,
back-tracking significantly from any insight which one might have been tempted to credit him from 1996, and
explicitly stating that he had not renounced his view of (or love for, or devotion toward) Da as Realizer.
Rather, he argued simply that Adi Da’s “World Teacher” status enjoindered upon him the maintaining of a presence
in the world, and the initiation of an “even more aggressive outreach program” by the community, as opposed to
his ongoing seclusion.
An “even more aggressive outreach program.” To put a positive spin on a “problematic” situation, and
“spread the word” to more people, thereby doing more harm? Or perhaps simply to warn potential devotees as to
what they’re getting themselves into, as if that would then clear up all of the reported problems with the
As posters in Bob
(2000)—themselves making no claim to genius, but clearly adept in common
sense—have insightfully (and independently) pointed out:
I find it absurd that Wilber seems to attach more importance to criticizing Da’s failure to appear in public
forums than he does to examining the very serious [alleged] abuses of trust and misuse of power that have
[reportedly] been perpetrated by Da under the guise of spiritual teaching. In light of the well-documented
[reported] problems that Da has created in his own life and his follower’s [sic] lives, it is completely
irrelevant to any evaluation of Da whether or not he accepts Ken’s challenge to go out into the world at
large. Who cares! Why would anyone want to see Da broaden his influence by speaking to a larger audience?
The full text of Wilber’s aforementioned
(1998a) open letter to the Daist Community is eminently worth
reading, toward one’s own disillusion regarding the caliber of advice given by even the “brightest lights”
in the spiritual marketplace. To summarize its contents: Wilber states that he neither regrets nor retracts
his past endorsements of Adi Da; that it is only for cultural and legal considerations that he can no longer
publicly give a blanket recommendation for people to follow Da; that he is pleased that his own writings
have brought people to Da Avatar and hopes that they will continue to have that effect in the future; and
that he still recommends that “students who are ready” become disciples/devotees of Da.
A month and a half after distributing the above nuggets of wisdom to the Adi Da community, Wilber
(1998b) reconfirmed his position in another open letter, posted as of this
writing on his website. There,
he states that the “real difficulty of ‘the strange case of Adi Da’ is that the guru principle is neither
understood nor accepted by our culture” (italics added). He further opines (italics again added) that
for those individuals who realize full well the extremely risky nature of the adventure, but who feel a strong
pull toward complete and total surrender of their lives to a spiritual Master, I can certainly recommend Adi Da....
[H]e is one of the greatest spiritual Realizers of all time, in my opinion.
Note further that the related title, “The Strange Case of Franklin Jones,” was used in
1996 by David Lane and
Scott Lowe, in their exposés of Da/Jones and his ashram environment. Unless that was a common phrase going
around in the mid-’90s, then, it would seem that Wilber was likely aware of their earlier, insightful critique
of the dynamics reportedly going on within Adi Da’s community. Rather than properly absorbing the information
in that, however, he has evidently simply seen fit to give his own, purportedly more valuable version of the
same—even though looking on merely from a safe distance, not as a first-hand, residential participant.
That is sad, since Lowe and Lane have offered real insight into the situation, while Wilber has consistently
failed miserably to do the same.
One further assumes that in praising Da’s spiritual state, Wilber was referring more to the man’s later
realizations than to early insights such as the following:
I remember once for a period of days I was aware of a world that appeared to survive in our moon. It was a
superphysical or astral world where beings were sent off to birth on the Earth or other worlds, and then their
bodies were enjoyed cannibalistically by the older generation on the moon, or they were forced to work as
physical and mental slaves (Da, 1995).
Of course, unless one is inclined to take the visions of “astral moon cannibal slaves” on the part of
Da Guru seriously, one arrives at serious concerns as to Adi Da’s mental stability.
After all, skeptics have long rightly held that even a single instance of any given medium or sage being
caught “cheating” in “manifesting” objects, casts doubt on every “miracle” that had previously been attributed
to the individual. Likewise, if even one aspect of an individual’s enlightenment has been hallucinated but
taken as real, the potential exists for it to all have been the product of delusion in a psychiatric, not a
So you have to ask yourself: Do you believe that there are B-movie-like “cannibal masters/slaves” on the
astral counterpart to our moon?
Wilber, at least, seems (in Da, 1985) to have no doubt, overall:
I am as certain of this Man as I am of anything I have written.
That statement may be more understandable if one considers the following:
It is possible to look at [Wilber’s] early but seminal book The Atman Project and see how his idea of
successive stages of psycho-spiritual development grew out of Da’s seven stages of life thesis
The purported day-long manifestation by Da of a “corona” around the physical sun was included as a documented
“miracle” in his (1974) self-published Garbage and the Goddess. Further, since Wilber had read that book prior
to writing the above 1980 and 1985 forewords—it is listed in the bibliography for his (1977)
Spectrum of Consciousness—one must ask: Does this mean that he was accepting that apparently
non-existent “miracle” (which skeptics in the community did not see) as being valid? One cannot help but assume
so, since the alternative would be to say that Wilber regarded Da as not accurately presenting his spiritual
accomplishments, but still chose to pen his complimentary forewords.
In the face of such gushing as all the above, one begins to suspect that no small amount of the praise given to
“greatest Realizers,” etc., might likely derive from the related hope that, the more one celebrates one’s
own heroes, the more others may celebrate you as their hero in the same unquestioning and hyperbolic manner.
Wilber’s posting of Brad Reynolds’
(2004) comparing of him to the Buddhist god Manjushri, comparable
to his own childish attitude with regard to Adi Da, certainly does nothing to dispel the above “tit for tat”
suspicions: “See? This is how you should treat me.”
Or as Kate Strelley (1987) noted after having left Bhagwan Rajneesh’s Poona ashram to be feted as a celebrity at a
relatively minor center in England:
[W]hat I really got off on was the fact that I was now being treated in the way I would treat Sheela.
One could substitute the name of any guru-figure or foolish pandit for the one-time respected administrator Sheela
in that, and it would apply just as well.
Of course, in any such context, you could not then speak out properly against even the radical shortcomings in
your own one-time heroes, as that would then license your followers to do the same to you. That is, the only way
to teach others how to treat you with proper respect would be to continue to speak publicly with exaggerated
regard for the idols. That must continue even long after it was obvious that they were not what they claimed to
be, and even if one could, when pressed, admit to the latter when safe from the public eye.
In private correspondence with me (and in person), Wilber has admitted that “Da is a fuck-up” (his words, not mine)
Of course, it may also be that Wilber is simply so desperate for
his (now-late) hero Adi Da’s approval, love and attention that
he will (publicly) do everything in his power to retain that. But that would be even less flattering than the above
explanation, as an explicitly immature, dependent stance.
Still, as Chögyam Trungpa’s former disciple Stephen Butterfield
In the guru/disciple relationship, [the] self-conscious longing for acceptance, regarded as a form of devotion,
operates to intimidate the student into deference.
And then, from the deferential Wilber
I affirm my own love and devotion to the living Sat-Guru [i.e., Adi Da].... I send ... a deep bow to Master Adi Da.
Wilber himself, interestingly, had elsewhere and earlier (in Anthony, et al., 1987) mocked followers who view
their spiritual leader as being a “perfect master”:
[H]ow great the guru is; in fact, how great I must be to be among the chosen. It is an extremely narcissistic position.
Indeed it is, particularly since the difference between “perfect master” and “greatest living Realizer” is hardly
significant. That minimal difference, further, is essentially irrelevant in this context. For, one will again
obviously feel extremely special for being noticed or chosen (e.g., to write forewords) by any “greatest”
Realizer, even if the latter is not “perfect.” “Extremely narcissistic” is thus absolutely right, but for the
integral goose as well as for the gander.
As Radzik (2005) noted:
People look to gurus as a way to get self acceptance. If they can get acceptance from the guru, then of course
they must be okay. The more powerful and magical and mystical the guru is, the more valuable his/her acceptance is.
Therefore, the tendency is to elevate the guru to superhuman mythical god-man status.
Another former follower of Da expressed his own perspective
(in Bob, 2000) with comparable insight:
Hell, saying he’s realized at all may be just a way to make myself seem less of a sucker for biting, and to
avoid dissing people I respect who are still into him.
Notwithstanding all that, as late as 1998 Wilber was again still publicly defending Adi Da, even after having
reportedly given the more negative evaluations in private at least two years earlier. Most likely, what he then means
is that Da is a “fuck-up” along moral lines or the like, but is still the “greatest living Realizer” along
spiritual lines of development. As little chance as there is of the latter idea being true, it would at least
partially avoid charges of hypocrisy against kw, for saying one thing publicly but another privately.
Of course, that would still not settle the question as to how “surrendering completely,” even in a “mature” way,
to an admitted “problematic [i.e., Jonestown-like], damn fool, fuck-up” (kw’s words, all), could possibly be a
good idea. And note again that all of those evaluations were given by Wilber himself well prior to his
“deep, devotional bow” to the Master, above. Such behaviors could only have a psychological, never merely a
“logical,” basis and explanation.
So, too, for the following analysis from kw:
[Adi Da] makes a lot of mistakes. These are immediately reinterpreted as great teaching events, which is silly
Such a regard, of course, completely overlooks the fact that, if one is truly “surrendered completely” to a
guru-figure, there are no possible criteria which one could use to distinguish between valid “teaching events”
and “mistakes” on his part. (Plus, Da has reportedly told his followers that he “can do no wrong”
[Feuerstein, 1992].) Rather, it is all equally “divinely inspired,” and all equally done “for the benefit of
all sentient beings.”
Wilber’s own writings give no indication that he has ever been spiritually disciplined over an extended period
of time in a “crazy wisdom” environment. (By “an extended period of time” is meant a minimum of six continuous
months. At one point, he was considering
 taking a three-year meditation retreat at an ashram run by Kalu
Rinpoche, but evidently never actually did so.) He has attended satsanga at the feet of Adi Da on the Mountain
of Attention. But surely even he must realize that there is a huge difference between spending a few days or
weeks as a guest in such an environment, versus being trapped there for months or years.
Indeed, as to the difference between being in any such community as a “star” versus as a long-term peon, Bailey
For most devotees, a visit to the [Sai Baba] ashram means sitting in the darshan lines looking on, wishing and
hoping for interaction, whilst listening to the stories others tell. This is very different to being
“in there”—seeing how things work behind the scenes.
The same is true, of course, of every other ashram, under every other spiritual leader under the sun:
Even journalists who would come to write exposés on the doings at [Rajneesh’s ashram near] Antelope would come
out feeling, The place is really a nice place, those people are really fine people (Strelley, 1987).
[A]t the center of Moonism is the requirement of secrecy ... we had heard only a carefully devised elementary
lecture [when first visiting our daughter in Moon’s community] (Underwood and Underwood, 1979).
[W]hen government visitors, doctors, even our attorney ... came to Jonestown we put on a tremendous show for
them. The guests were wined and dined with foods we never got to eat. In fact, when they looked into our faces
we really were happy because on these special occasions we, too, got better food and we worked only half a day
The tours were entirely staged, with church members rehearsed in their roles, outfitted in borrowed clothes to
look the part, and coached ahead of time on what to say.... If a visit went off successfully and the outsider
went away impressed, Jones would switch to a new role. He would stand before the congregation and mock the
visitor, imitating his or her voice, repeating questions asked and laughing at how the women visitors had
brushed against him suggestively
Well-meaning individuals thus duped even prior to Jones’ flight to Guyana included Jerry Brown, activist
Angela Davis, future San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, and President Carter’s wife, Rosalyn. On the basis
of similar “dog and pony” shows, Oregon journalist Kirk Braun (1984) wrote “a highly favorable book on
ranch life” in Rajneeshpuram (Gordon, 1987). And astonishingly, one of the daughters of Congressman Leo
Ryan—whose cold-blooded murder by Jones’ men in Guyana precipitated the infamous cyanide
poisonings—later became an ardent follower of Rajneesh, living in the Oregon ashram.
Contrast all that we have seen so far, then, with Wilber’s
(1983b; italics added) ridiculous presentation of his own limited,
I have been a participant-observer in almost a dozen nonproblematic new religious movements, Buddhist,
Hindu, Taoist. In none of those groups was I ever subjected to any harsh degree of authoritarian pressure
(discipline, yes, pressure, no). In fact, the authoritarian pressure in these groups never even equalled
that which I experienced in graduate school in biochemistry. The masters in these groups were looked upon
as great teachers, not big daddies, and their authority was always that of a concerned physician, not
“Concerned physicians,” though, do not typically tell you that, if you leave their care to see a different
doctor, you will “suffer unbearable, subtle, continuous anguish, and disasters will pursue you like furies”
(cf. Trungpa), etc. As the Mill Valley Record
(Colin, et al., 1985) further reported:
One woman says that repeated group lesbian sexual acts, involving dildos, took place under [Adi Da’s] command
as late as 1982. Another woman says she has sustained permanent cervical damage as a result of participation
in similar incidents.
“Concerned physicians.” And note again how, incredibly, Wilber’s indefensible assertion that “‘crazy wisdom’ occurs in a
very strict ethical atmosphere” was made in 1996, a full decade after news of Da’s “problematic” (Wilber’s word)
alleged activities had become public. It also came well after Osel Tendzin’s (Trungpa’s successor) transmission
of AIDS to his followers, knowing full well that he was infected with HIV but refraining from informing his
sexual partners of that.
One may embark on any series of short-term “intensive retreats,” experiencing grand spiritual realizations
during those periods. That, however, again does not even begin to count, as far as perceiving the real
pressures put on long-term, non-celebrity members of spiritual communities. To put it more flippantly:
You may spend a couple of weeks in India, but that doesn’t make you an East Indian. For, in Jung’s terms,
all the time you were there, you were “breathing bottled air,” or seeing everything from within a pre-existing
Western, rational perspective. Such a “vacation” cannot in any way be compared to growing up within the
environment, or even to spending years or decades in it.
If all of that leaves one wondering what specific relationship Wilber has to Adi Da and his community:
Wilber told me he was a “Friend” of the [Adi Da] group—a non-committed involvement
[T]o be a “Friend” of the Johannine Daist Communion one should contribute $70 or more and subscribe to
The Laughing Man Magazine
It is, indeed, only from such a safe distance that one could make completely unrealistic, purely theoretical
assertions such as the following:
[T]he true sangha always retains access to, and retains an appropriate place for, rational inquiry, logical
reflection, systematic study of other philosophical frameworks, and critical appraisal of its own teachings
in light of related areas
Note, however, that Adi Da’s, Trungpa’s and Cohen’s communities were/are all undoubtedly “true sanghas,” by any
reasonable definition, and certainly would have been such in Wilber’s view. Yet, all indications are that in no
way could the teachings be “critically appraised” in any of those environments without severe reported negative
Overtly displayed skepticism [cf. “critical appraisal” or non-conformity] might be a barrier to entering the
Vajrayana [in Trungpa’s sangha]. One Seminarian drank a toast to Vajra hell at a party, was reported to the
staff, and found himself questioned very closely before they would allow him to proceed.... I told my interviewer
that if I had cause to leave the organization I would do so, and I did not believe the furies of Vajra hell would
offer me anything to compare with the pain of divorce. This display of independence made me a doubtful candidate,
and I had to pass a second interview
If you resisted Free John, it meant you were failing to live up to his teaching (Jaclyn Estes, in
Estes was formerly one of Da’s “inner circle of wives,” living in his community from 1974 to 1976.
Can there even be such a thing as a “true sangha” which allows “critical appraisal of its own teachings,” as
Wilber describes? The odds are definitely against it. For, consider the idea that all spiritual communities,
indeed all religious beliefs, are pre-rational, by any sensible, reality-tested use of that term. That is,
metaphysical and parapsychological claims consistently do not stand up to any sort of thorough questioning:
proper skepticism simply causes the most cherished ideas to disintegrate. So, the only way to preserve the
latter ideas is to disallow the former questioning; which is, in practice, exactly what invariably happens in spiritual
communities, including Wilber’s own.
In any case, the committed, long-term residential relationship—evidently missing from Wilber’s
experience—under a guru-figure such as Da or Cohen is exactly where the real problems with “Rude Boy”
behavior, and the associated isolation and authoritarian control, would start to show. Such a lack of
long-term residence further avoids daily discipline to exactly the same extent as would one’s following
of an “Ascended Master,” no longer present on the earthly plane, as is common in New Age circles. The
positive aspect of each of those, however, is that you are then just bowing before an imaginary guru.
Far worse to surrender your better judgment to someone of flesh and blood who has a great deal to gain
from your unthinking obedience.
After being burned once with Da, however, Wilber has inexcusably gone back for more with Andrew Cohen.
That is, he has gone back there via safely endorsing Cohen from a distance, as he did with Adi Da, without
actually living under their respective disciplines. (Cohen proudly put his own grandiosity into
print—offering glaring warning signs, for anyone who wished to see them—as early as 1992.
Has Wilber still not read those early books, even while endorsing the more recent ones? Or, if he has read
them, how could he imagine that Cohen’s near-messianic view of himself would not find its way into his
reported treatment of his disciples?)
To make that same gross mistake twice is, quite frankly, an indication that the same celebrated “rude” behavior
is latently present within one’s own psychology, and is simply looking for a vicarious outlet.
In any case, none of that lamentable behavior on Wilber’s part could do anything to lower the regard given him
by his friends and followers, or even touted by himself for himself:
On a practical level, Wilber’s greatest contribution may be as a critic of teachers, gurus, techniques, ideas,
and systems that promise routes to encompassing truth but are in fact incomplete, misleading, or misguided.
“I’m the guy,” Wilber told me only half-jokingly, “who comes in after the party and tries to straighten up
In any such self-appointed cleaning, however, one must take care that one does not accidentally knock over
the half-empty bottles from the night before, or carelessly dump the ashtrays onto the floor, lest one create
an even greater mess than one began with.
In the end, then, David Lane
(1996) put it very well:
When it comes to guru appraisements, Wilber is just plain naïve. He is as gullible as the rest of us and given
his track record with Da perhaps more so.
What is perhaps so worrisome about all of this, of course, is that Wilber does not show the kind of level-headed
discrimination that is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff. It would be one thing to admit to a bit
of “greenness” (e.g., “Hey, I am a sucker when it comes to perfect masters”), but it is quite another to pose
like you are a seasoned veteran of the guru wars.
KW is indeed no “veteran of the gurus wars.” He is rather an inexcusable apologist for the reported actions of
the likes of Da and Cohen. He has even been visited personally by cult-aware persons such as the renowned
cult-exit counselor Steven Hassan, to no avail. You take seriously his foolish ideas on the value of
“spiritual violence”—and his own proud practice of the techniques of manipulation he has learned from
his “enlightened” heroes—only at your own peril.
And then there is the false humility:
Ken jokes that “being called the foremost theorist in transpersonal psychology is like being called the
tallest building in Kansas City”
(in Wilber, 1991).
The above could be simply an unconvincing attempt at self-deprecation, or a posing at humility, meant to endear
himself to an attractive woman. (The one to whom it was told actually ended up becoming Wilber’s second wife.)
Or, it could be a not-too-veiled shot at the unimpressive work of his “shorter building” peers in
transpersonal/integral psychology and, more recently, the broader field of consciousness studies. Probably
some of both. Regardless, Wilber need not have published the above observation, taken from his now-late wife’s
diaries, if he was uncomfortable with how it could be understood by others. And both of the above interpretations
of subtext are completely predictable and reasonable, for anyone who wishes to look.
(2003a) then offers an observation regarding Wilber’s overall attempts at being
liked, with which one cannot easily argue:
His self-deprecating asides [in One Taste, e.g., regarding his “world-famous”
chili, “of which nobody took seconds”] seemed aimed only at making us admire
(1991) has given analyses of himself which could well be taken as substantiating
I think everybody should love me, and when someone doesn’t, I get nervous. So, as a child, I overcompensated
like crazy. Class president, valedictorian, even captain of the football team. A frantic dance for acceptance,
an attempt to have everybody love me.
If you wonder at where kw’s subsequently paranoid, “if anybody loves me, they are sick” emphasis comes from,
or how deeply rooted that is, you need puzzle no longer: it is just the flip-side of the same pattern, and thus
More recently, and with far less of an attempt at false humility than in his “tallest building in Kansas City”
(2003a) has stated his own attitude toward at least one of his critics, as follows:
I’m sure if [Hans-Willi] Weis would read my work in this area [of authoritarian control and the like in New Age
movements, on which points Wilber is consistently and wildly wrong, as in his
dangerously foolish Spiritual Choices
book] that he
could find something to hate about it, too, and we are all eagerly looking forward to his next round of
criticism, although I’m sure that I will be forgiven if I don’t respond, since I might have more important
things to do, like feed my goldfish.
One might take that condescending attempt at humor as an implicit admission by Wilber that, in other cases too,
when he has disagreed with but not responded to other authors’ ideas, it was simply because he had “more important
things to do.” That is, they did not merit a response from him.
How, then, would such a person be likely to react if he were to suddenly find himself on the receiving end of
the same behavior, in apparently being ignored until he went away? Would he perhaps unconsciously take that
behavior as being driven by the same motivations as he himself has openly admitted to possessing? That is, would
he take it as his colleagues evidently feeling that they had more important things to do than to waste time
explaining things to him?
Would he then perhaps feel sufficiently insulted by that as to periodically lash out at the people who have not
given him his due, in the form of a response—any response? (Without receiving an answer, after all, one
feels as though one does not exist in the other person’s world. As Jean-Paul Sartre put it, “I am seen:
therefore I am.”)
Would such a long-term lack of response further perhaps even leave him feeling confident that he could lash out
in unprovoked nastiness, without having to worry about the targets of his insults hitting back? (As Matsakis
 observed in a different context, in discussing “express[ing] your anger
in a letter,” never to be mailed:
you “can be as nasty as you want without worrying about it backfiring on you.”)
Would that not account for his continuing, and wholly unprovoked, mistreatment of the late David Bohm, as detailed in this book’s appendix?
Interestingly, by Wilber’s own
[W]hen fear overcomes me, my ordinary lightness of outlook ... degenerates into sarcasm and snideness, a
biting bitterness toward those around me—not because I am snide by nature, but because I am afraid.
Bohm’s Nobel-caliber ideas would not have been felt by Wilber to fearfully threaten his own place in the world,
had he properly understood them—except in that anyone doing superior work to his own, as Bohm was
performing even while Wilber himself was literally still in kindergarten, could have displaced him from
his high position as the “Einstein of consciousness research.” Having thus grossly misunderstood even the
popularized versions of that brilliance, though, the fearful Wilber has, predictably, treated Bohm
(and his memory) with nothing but unkindness.
Do you imagine, then, that he would behave any more nobly toward his contemporary peers—or friends,
or lovers—were they to equally threaten his high place in the integral world by doing far superior work
to his own? Or, were they even just to fail to give him unconditional support, thus putting themselves at risk
of being disowned from his integral world.
Or would he more likely misrepresent
their work as unapologetically and insultingly as he has done of Bohm’s, thereby “nudging them out of the picture”?
And what friends might then stand by his side to claim, even years after the fact, that he had committed no such
misrepresentation, even when the incontrovertible facts say exactly the opposite?
(Of course, we already saw confirmation of all that in the behaviors of Wilber and his followers during his “Wyatt Earpy” period.)
Whether one is “captain of the football team” or the “Einstein of consciousness research,” the potential loss of
that valued status would bring great fear to the surface. That is so, just as surely as the original gaining of
the position, in high school as in middle or old age, would be done with at least the subconscious goal of having
“everybody love you.”
* * *
As one of his more-recent projects, Ken Wilber has co-founded a think-tank with the ex-rabbi Marc Gafni: the so-called Center for Integral Wisdom. As the
New York Times
A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni “a bold visionary.” He is a chairman of
the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch. The Whole Foods website shows a seven-part
video series of conversations between the two men.
The new media pioneer Arianna Huffington spoke, via teleconference, at Mr. Gafni’s invitation-only conference last year. The author
John Gray has asked Mr. Gafni to help write a sequel to Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
However, Gafni’s past is littered with accusations of sexual exploitation, involving girls as young as fourteen, as revealed in
the same NYT article. A more-detailed documentation of Gafni’s alleged behaviors, apologies, and later withdrawal of the same,
can be found in the Internet Archive
Gafni has actually taken polygraph tests, in the attempt to prove his innocence. Anyone with the slightest background in skepticism,
however, knows that the results of such “lie-detector” tests are
worthless, in attempting to determine whether someone is telling the
For his own part, Wilber had this to say about the claims of improprieties on the part of Dr. Gafni:
Mr. Wilber said that before forming a partnership with Mr. Gafni, he personally researched the rumors about him and commissioned an
employee to investigate. In the end, Mr. Wilber concluded that Mr. Gafni was, at worst, “insensitive as a boyfriend.”
“Marc has a lot of Shakti,” Mr. Wilber said, using a Sanskrit word for energy. “I don’t think he understood the impact it had on
So clearly, Wilber has applied no more coherent analysis to Gafni’s behaviors (incl. his admitted statutory rape), than he ever did to Andrew Cohen or Adi Da.