Years back, Ken Wilber, Dick Anthony, and Bruce Ecker edited a book entitled Spiritual Choices:The Problem of Recognizing Authentic Paths to Inner Transformation
(Paragon House Publishers, 1987)
The book is the product of a seminar on the subject. The Jonestown massacre was still fresh in everyone's minds. Scandals had happened at various Buddhist centers and Hindu ashrams. One case discussed was a local Psychosynthesis group that took a strange turn and become a personality driven cult.
The seminar even managed to arrange an in person interview with...Werner Erhard.
Among the roster of participating scholars was Professor Philip Zimbardo, who did the renowned and infamous Stanford Prison Experiment.
You would think that in a seminar of this kind, Professor Zimbardo would have had a prominent role.
But...no. He is only mentioned on page 27 of the book, in Footnote 9, in the list of participating scholars.
Zero use was made in this book of the findings of the Prison Experiment.
Instead, much of the book is dedicated to creating a typology by which to identify the kind of spirtual leader and type of group that will not abuse power.
This has remained Wilber's pipe dream all his life--a super person and super group that will not abuse power.
This has not kept Wilber from endorsing a series of very troubled teachers...Adi Da (da free John) Andrew Cohen, and Marc Gafni.
Zimbardo's Prison Experiment demonstrated that even the best and brightest among us forget our autonomy and regress when randomly assigned to role play guards or prisoners. No one is exempt.
Dr Zimbardo became more and more obsessed with that experiment and failed to see how badly things were deteriorating. It took a visit from an outsider, one of his own graduate students, who was so dismayed by the wholesale degradation of the participatns that she insisted things had gone too far.
It took an outsider, someone not caught in the undertow of the group, to provide the needed reality check..and led Zimbardo to stop the experiment before its scheduled
This very insightful experiment has a prominent place in the textbooks. But it can never be replicated by any ethical researchers, because the American Psychological Association pondered the implications and revised its code of research ethics to make such experiments impossible.
But...people like Adi Da and Andrew Cohen are not bound by these guidelines.
And it is an interesting blind spot in Wilber's own make up that in his decades of presence on the spiritual scene, he has never, for all his presumed intellect, ever been willing to make use of Zimbardos Prison Experiment...but that experiment delivers a most unwelcome message that Wilbers pipe dream of a creating super human people is not possible.
Dick Anthony went on to a career as ...well, look Dick Anthony up in the RR.com database.
For further research, Meyerhoff's articles, Bald Ambition
and Geoffrey Falk's angry but tightly researched Normal Einstein
article are essential reading.
David C Lane also has highly valuable critique of Wilber's tendency to hyperbole.
For more articles read here. Wilber's paen of praise to Rude Gurus is astounding to read. Yet he has never served time under any of the rude teachers he celebrates.
If you want information on AC, read this blog which was started by a former editor (Hal Blacker) of AC's What Is Enlightenment? magazine.
The EnlightenNixt articles are good start because they give an orientation to the entire collection of articles, plus comments.
The blog ran for 3 years.
And WIE magazine is still published to this day, and each issue includes an interview between AC and Ken Wilber, a tastemaker in these matters and who has also created a major media nexus that forms part of what Wilson termed a 'cultic milieu'. Ive seen it on the rack at our local upscale supermarket.
Here read this account to see what happened when one staff writer felt shame ridden guilt for having a writing block as deadline for WIE loomed.
Wilber has written this endorsement of harsh methods by gurus, yet he has never at any time been a student of a guru and never endured the methods he declares so beneficial..for others.
"When it comes to spiritual teachers, there are those who are safe, gentle, consoling, soothing, caring; and there are the outlaws, the living terrors, the Rude Boys and Nasty Girls of God realization, the men and women who are in your face, disturbing you, terrifying you, until you radically awaken to who and what you really are.
And may I suggest?: choose your teachers carefully.
""If you want encouragement, soft smiles, ego stroking, gentle caresses of your self-contracting ways, pats on the back and sweet words of solace, find yourself a Nice Guy or Good Girl, and hold their hand on the sweet path of stress reduction and egoic comfort. But if you want Enlightenment, if you want to wake up, if you want to get fried in the fire of passionate Infinity, then, I promise you: find yourself a Rude Boy or a Nasty Girl, the ones who make you uncomfortable in their presence, who scare you witless, who will turn on you in a second and hold you up for ridicule, who will make you wish you were never born, who will offer you not sweet comfort but abject terror, not saccharin solace but scorching angst, for then, just then, you might very well be on the path to your own Original Face.
"Most of us, I suspect, prefer our spiritual teachers to be of the Nice-Guy variety. Soft, comforting, non-threatening, a source of succor for a worn and weary soul, a safe harbor in the samsaric storm. There is nothing wrong with that, of course; spirituality comes in all sorts of flavors, and I have known some awfully Nice Guys. But if the flavor tends toward Enlightenment instead of consolation, if it drifts away from soothing dreams toward actually waking up, if it rumbles toward a God realization and not egoic fortification, then that demands a brutal, shocking death: a literal death of your separate self, a painful, frightening, horrifying dissolution—a miraculous extinction you will actually witness as you expand into the boundless, formless, radical Truth that will pervade your every cell and drench your being to the core and expand what you thought was your self until it embraces the distant galaxies. For only on the other side of death lies Spirit, only on the other side of egoic slaughter lies the Good and the True and the Beautiful. "You will come in due course to realize that your true glory lies where you cease to exist," as the illustrious Sri Ramana Maharshi constantly reminded us. Your true glory lies on the other side of your death, and who will show you that?
"Not the Nice Guys and not the Good Girls. They don't want to hurt your feelings. They don't want to upset you. They are here to whisper sweet nothings in your ear and place consolation prizes in the outstretched hand of the self-contraction, balm for a war-torn weary ego, techniques to prop it up in its constant battle with the world of otherness. In a sense, it's very easy being a Nice-Guy teacher: no muss, no fuss, no wrestling with egoic resistance and exhausting confrontation. Be nice to the ego, pat it on the back, have it count its breaths, hum a few mantras.
"Rude Boys know better. They are not here to console but to shatter, not to comfort but to demolish. They are uncompromising, brutal, laser-like. They are in your face until you recognize your Original Face—and they simply will not back off, they will not back down, they will not let up until you let go—radically, fully, completely, unhesitatingly. They live as Compassion—real compassion, not idiot compassion—and real compassion uses a sword more often than a sweet. They deeply offend the ego (and the greater the offense, the bigger the ego). They are alive as Truth, they are everywhere confronted with egos, and they choose the former uncompromisingly.
"Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt Therapy, used to say that nobody comes to a therapist to get better (although they always say they do); they really come to perfect their neurosis. Just so, nobody comes to a spiritual teacher to get Enlightenment (although everybody claims they do); rather, they come to a spiritual teacher to learn more subtle and sophisticated egoic games—in this case, the game of "Look at me being really spiritual."
"After all, what is it in you that brings you to a spiritual teacher in the first place? It's not the Spirit in you, since that is already enlightened and has no need to seek. No, it is the ego in you that brings you to a teacher: you want to see yourself in the presence of the spiritual game, you want to meet yourself tomorrow as a realized being—in plain language, you want your ego to continue into a spiritual paradise.
"And what's a poor teacher to do, confronted with such egoic cunning? Everybody who comes to a spiritual teacher comes egoically motivated. And teachers have two choices in the face of this onslaught of the separate selves, this conference of the self-contractions: they can play to the audience, or they can blow the entire building up.
"Andrew Cohen is a Rude Boy. He is not here to offer comfort; he is here to tear you into approximately a thousand pieces...so that Infinity can reassemble you, Freedom can replace imprisonment, Fullness can outshine fear. And that simply will not happen if all you want is consolation, soothing prayers, ruffle-free platitudes, "It will all be okay." Well, it will not be okay if you want Enlightenment. It will, in fact, be hell, and only Rude Boys are rude enough to tell you that, and to show you that—if you can stand the rudeness, stay in the fire, burn clean as Infinity and radiate as the stars.
Wilber isnt exactly polite when he gets upset. He wrote this some years ago. Then when people were indignant, he claimed it was merely a test to see who was advanced enough to understand that all this was not meant as an insult but as a teaching.
What We Are, That We See. Part I: Response to Some Recent Criticism in a Wild West Fashion
June 08, 2006 16:24
In addition to language that is...unpleasant..the tone of the article is that anyone who has trouble or misgivings about Wilber is merely projecting their own hangups onto Wilber. Its classic guru-speak.
This unpleasant and nasty screed had the long term effect of alienating persons with enough adult autonomy to conclude that they-were better off pursuing their careers independently of Wilber.
One person who reached this conclusion was a man who had been a Wilber scholar for years, and had written a book about Wilbers work--Frank Visser.
But it left Wilber a hard core of loyalists capable of rationalizing anything he does.
To me the great puzzle is, that if Andrew Cohen treated a dog the way he has reportedly treated many of his disciples, he would have been disgraced, long ago.
It is astounding one can treat human beings in a way that would be considered utterly unacceptable if done to a dog.
Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2009 09:47PM by corboy.