To the Best of Our Knowledge: Science, Spirituality, and the Future of Technology

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Steve Paulson is the Executive Producer of, and an interviewer on, “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” a Peabody Award-winning radio show produced by Wisconsin Public Radio, and distributed nationally. As part of a 5-hour series on science and religion, Ken agreed to speak with Steve. This was the first time in over 20 years that Ken had agreed to appear on NPR, and it was an exciting event indeed.

Steve is a true professional. He gears the conversation to a level of accessibility that will work for a broad audience, but rapidly covers an enormous amount of territory. Ken rises to the occasion, and likewise fires on all cylinders. This is definitely one of the best short introductions we’ve seen to the Integral Approach in general and Integral Spirituality in particular.

Topics include:

  • The relationship of science and spirituality in today’s world.
  • The difference between exoteric (mythic/dogmatic) and esoteric (meditative/contemplative) spirituality and religion.
  • The difference between science based on the five senses (narrow empiricism), and science based on experience per se (broad empiricism).
  • How meditative disciplines share the same basic methodology as traditional science.
  • The three strands of valid knowledge acquisition (injunction, apprehension, verification).
  • The role of stages of development in explaining mythic, scientific, and contemplative orientations.
  • Why documenting the brain waves of advanced meditators both helps and hurts the cause of proving that meditative states are “really real.”
  • How an understanding of the pre/trans fallacy can salvage the enduring trans-rational truths of the great wisdom traditions, while situating their pre-rational myths.
  • Why a strictly materialist worldview is inherently self-contradictory, why Idealism is equally untenable, and why only an Integral Approach can unite the important truths of both.
  • The relationship between interior consciousness and exterior form, and how increasing complexity of consciousness co-arises with increasing complexity of form (known also as the “law of consciousness and complexity”).
  • The metaphysical approaches of the great wisdom traditions, and how, from an integral or post-metaphysical view, spiritual realities aren’t meta-, or beyond, the physical, but intra-physical; they are not beyond matter, but interior to it.
  • The role of awakening or satori in artificial intelligence, and the startling ramifications of what it could mean if a computer became enlightened.
  • Ken’s personal experience of spiritual states such as nondual suchness, and how these kinds of states of consciousness are distinct from stages or structures of consciousness.
  • The importance of multiple intelligences in explaining how people considered by many to be spiritual masters can sometimes also be rotten individuals (just because one is highly developed in one intelligence or line doesn’t mean one is necessarily as highly developed in other lines—this general distinction is known as levels and lines).
  • Why the popular attempt to have quantum physics explain or prove mysticism is doomed to fail, and ends up violating the essential tenets of both disciplines. Ken goes on to explain why many of the founders of quantum physics were in fact deep mystics, not because of the explanatory power of physics, but because of the questions physics had no answers for.

If you’re new to the Integral Approach and AQAL Theory, this dialogue is a fantastic introduction. If you’re an AQAL veteran, this dialogue is an incredible lesson in how one can communicate the integral vision in a skillful and approachable way. Wherever you happen to find yourself, we invite you to join us on this energetic and clarifying tour of some of the most fascinating questions of our time….

Ken Wilber

About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.