Radical Wholeness and the Five Paths of Transformation

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Originally published on Andrew Holecek’s Edge of Mind podcast.

In this fascinating and far-ranging discussion, Ken Wilber and Andrew Holecek explore the frontiers of integral theory and human consciousness. Ken shares some of the key insights from his latest book, Finding Radical Wholeness, offering a novel and deeply insightful perspective on the nature of reality and human development.

Listen as Ken and Andrew discuss Ken’s five-fold model of transformation:

Waking Up: The spiritual path of enlightenment or awakening, involving direct experiences of non-dual awareness or unity consciousness. This path is about recognizing our fundamental nature beyond the ego.

Growing Up: Progressing through stages of psychological and cognitive development, from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric and beyond. This path is about expanding our perspective and capacity for understanding complexity.

Opening Up: Expanding our awareness and capacity across multiple intelligences or ways of perceiving and engaging with the world. This path is about actively cultivating different forms of intelligence, such as aesthetic (recognizing beauty), moral, emotional, and others, broadening our perception and deepening our engagement with life.

Cleaning Up: Working through our psychological shadows and unconscious patterns, integrating repressed or denied aspects of ourselves for greater wholeness. By facing and embracing our hidden fears, traumas, and disowned parts, we free up energy and expand our capacity for authentic self-expression and relationship.

Showing Up: Fully embodying our development in the world, actively engaging with life and manifesting our potential in practical ways. This path involves bringing our inner growth and insights into tangible expression, taking responsible action in our relationships, work, and communities, and living with authenticity and purpose in everyday life.

Each of these five paths leads to a distinct form of wholeness that cannot be found through the other paths. The wholeness of Waking Up is not the same as the wholeness of Growing Up, and the wholeness achieved through Cleaning Up is different from that of Opening Up or Showing Up. These various types of wholeness complement each other, but are not reducible to one another, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive approach to human development and transformation.

Ken and Andrew also discuss:

  • Wilber’s latest thinking on these five types of wholeness, with particular emphasis on the often-overlooked “showing up” dimension,
  • A nuanced discussion of the pre/trans fallacy and its continued relevance in contemporary spiritual discourse,

  • The critical difference between “adual” and “nondual” experiences,

  • An expanded view of matter and consciousness, synthesizing panpsychism, autopoiesis, and integral metatheory,

  • Insights into the relationship between involution and evolution, and their moment-to-moment relevance in personal experience,

  • Wilber’s thoughts on teleology in evolution, balancing fixed and playful aspects of developmental unfolding,

  • Practical strategies for embodying integral principles in personal practice and cultural engagement.

This conversation offers a profound glimpse into the cutting edge of integral philosophy and its practical applications. Whether you’re a seasoned integral practitioner or new to these concepts, this discussion promises to expand your understanding of human potential and the nature of reality itself. Join Ken and Andrew as they chart new territories in consciousness and provide a roadmap for personal and collective transformation in our complex world.

Quadrant GlyphInsight Map

  • Satori and Personal Development: Satori, or sudden enlightenment, is a profound mystical experience that unites the individual with the universe. Regular practice and engagement with traditions like Zen can lead to such transformative experiences. However, these spiritual experiences will not being us any closer to the kinds of wholeness offered by Growing Up, Cleaning Up, Opening Up, or Showing Up.
  • Aduality vs. Nonduality: Adual experiences are often confused with nondual states. Adual refers to pre-differentiated states of consciousness, while nondual experiences involve a transcended, integrated awareness where subject and object are transcended and included as a seamless whole.
  • Opening Up to Multiple Intelligences: Development involves various intelligences such as cognitive, emotional, and moral. Each intelligence goes through similar stages of development, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of personal growth.
  • Paninteriorism and Integral Theory: Synthesizing panpsychism (or “paninteriorism”) with integral metatheory reveals that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of all matter. This expanded view fosters a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.
  • Autopoiesis and Self-Organization: Autopoiesis, or self-making processes, play a crucial role in the development of consciousness. This concept bridges the gap between biological and spiritual understandings of life.
  • The Dance of Involution and Evolution: Involution represents the process of spirit descending into form, embedding itself within matter, while evolution is the return journey of consciousness ascending through increasingly complex forms, remembering and reuniting with its source. This interplay underscores the moment-to-moment relevance of spiritual growth, integrating the descent into physical existence with the ascent towards spiritual realization.
  • Mythic Literalism in Religion: Many world religions remain “stuck” at the mythic stage of development, interpreting their myths as literal truths. This stagnation hinders the growth of more advanced, inclusive spiritual understandings.
  • Cultural and Individual Growth: Individual stages of growing up are influenced, mirrored, and reinforced by cultural evolution, indicating that personal and cultural development are deeply interconnected.

    Psychedelics and Cultural Change: The resurgence of psychedelics in scientific research underscores their potential to induce genuine mystical experiences and foster cultural and spiritual transformation, challenging traditional materialistic paradigms.

  • Information vs. Experience: In the Information Age, there is a tendency to equate the acquisition of information with genuine insight, knowledge, and experience. However, true understanding and transformation come from direct, lived experiences rather than mere consumption of data. This distinction is crucial for cultivating deep personal and spiritual growth amidst the overwhelming influx of information.
  • The Politics of Consciousness: The government’s decision to make psychedelic experiences illegal in the 1960s halted a significant cultural and spiritual awakening. This prohibition suppressed the widespread potential for personal and collective transformation that psychedelics offered, highlighting the tension between state control and the exploration of expanded states of consciousness.

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Lines GlyphOpen Up

Cognitive intelligence determines how we deeply we can engage with integral concepts such as stages of development, the pre/trans fallacy, and distinctions between various states of consciousness. This involves meta-systemic thinking, critical reasoning, and the cross-paradigmatic capacity to synthesize diverse philosophical and psychological ideas, fostering a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of reality. Spiritual intelligence involves how we think about Spirit or ultimate Reality. It encompasses forming spiritual ideas, using words and concepts to describe Spirit, and integrating these into theological, philosophical, or metaphysical frameworks. This contrasts with Waking Up, which involves direct experiences of Spirit or Enlightenment. Intrapersonal intelligence involves deep self-awareness and reflection, enabling individuals to recognize and assess their state of wholeness. This intelligence is essential for identifying how one engages with the five kinds of wholeness discussed in this episode. Through self-awareness, individuals can understand where they are whole and where they lack wholeness, fostering personal growth and integration across all dimensions of being​​.

Question GlyphKey Questions

Here are some questions you can contemplate while listening to this discussion. We suggest you take some time to use these as journaling prompts.

  • In what ways have I been neglecting or overemphasizing certain paths of wholeness? Reflect on your engagement with each of the five paths (waking up, growing up, opening up, cleaning up, showing up) and identify areas for potential growth.
  • How have my interpretations of “waking up” experiences evolved as I’ve continued to “grow up”? Reflect on how your understanding and integration of spiritual or non-ordinary states of consciousness have changed as you’ve matured cognitively and emotionally over the years.
  • How am I cultivating and integrating multiple forms of intelligence in my life? Examine how you’re developing various capacities such as cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, and moral intelligence, and how they inform each other.
  • Where do I see evidence of teleology or directionality in my own growth and in the world around me? Consider instances where you’ve observed a sense of purpose or trajectory in personal and collective evolution.
  • How can I more fully embody my spiritual and psychological growth in my daily life? What is holding me back from sharing my gifts with the world? Reflect on concrete ways you can “show up” more authentically in your relationships, work, and community engagements.
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”.

Andrew Holecek

About Andrew Holecek

Andrew Holecek is an author, spiritual teacher, and humanitarian. As a long-time student of Buddhism, he frequently presents this tradition from a contemporary perspective – blending the ancient wisdom of the East with modern knowledge from the West.