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Ken Wilbur

In this article, we will look at the life and works of Ken Wilbur, who proposed integral theory, a comprehensive theory of human development.

Ken Wilber is an American writer and philosopher who has developed an integral theory that aims to integrate all human knowledge and experience. He is one of the most influential thinkers in the fields of transpersonal psychology, spirituality, and ecology. His theory is based on a four-quadrant grid that represents different dimensions of reality, such as individual and collective, subjective and objective. He also incorporates various levels, lines, states, and types of consciousness and development in his model.

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Wilber was born in Oklahoma City in 1949 and grew up as an only child. He was a bright student who excelled in science and mathematics. He enrolled as a pre-med student at Duke University in 1967, but soon became interested in psychology and Eastern spirituality. Later, he left Duke and studied biochemistry at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but did not complete his degree. He began to write his own books, synthesizing his extensive reading in religion, philosophy, physics, and psychology. His first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, was published in 1977 and was hailed as a groundbreaking work that bridged the gap between Eastern and Western approaches to the mind. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where he continues to write and teach.

Integral Theory integrates insights from various disciplines and traditions, such as psychology, sociology, spirituality, science, and art, into a coherent framework that explains the evolution of consciousness and culture. According to Wilber, human development aims at restoring the primordial unity of human and transcendental consciousness, which is lost in the process of individuation. He argues that each stage of development has its own validity and value, but also its own limitations and pathologies.

Wilbur proposes that human beings have the potential to access higher levels of awareness and wisdom, beyond the conventional ego and rational mind, through various practices and methods. He calls this process “transcend and include”, meaning that each stage of development transcends but also includes the previous stages, resulting in a more complex and holistic perspective.

He advocates for a holistic approach that honours the diversity and complexity of reality, while also recognizing the common ground and interdependence of all beings. Wilbur draws on various sources of wisdom, such as science, philosophy, art, ethics, mysticism, and meditation, to support his integral vision.

Wilber’s theory has been applied to various domains, such as education, business, politics, health, ecology, and art. He has also founded several organizations to promote his ideas, such as the Integral Institute, the Integral Life community, and the Integral Life Practice program.

He has also written extensively on topics such as mysticism, sexuality. Wilbur has also collaborated with other prominent thinkers and leaders, such as Ken Robinson, Deepak Chopra, Bill Clinton, and the Dalai Lama.

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Wilber continued to write prolifically, producing more than 25 books that have been translated into 30 languages. Some of his notable works include:

The Atman Project (1980), which explored human development from infancy to transcendence

Grace and Grit (1991), which chronicled his marriage to Terry Killam, who died of cancer

Sex, Ecology, spirituality (1995), which introduced his quadrant model and his vision of an integral culture

A Brief History of Everything (1996), which summarized his theory in an accessible format

Integral spirituality (2006), which addressed the role of religion in the modern world.

The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977)

Integral Psychology (2000)

A Theory of Everything (2000)

The religion of Tomorrow (2017)

In these books, he presents his vision of an integral world-view that can address the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. He uses quotes and examples from various sources to illustrate his points, such as:

“The point is not to get rid of the ego but to transcend it by including it in a larger whole” (Wilber, 2000a, p. 35).

“The more perspectives we can take into account in any situation or problem or issue or event or occasion – the more comprehensive our understanding will be” (Wilber, 2000b, p. 3).

“Spirit is not something that is added to or separate from matter; rather, spirit is the very interiority or depth or consciousness or value or meaning of matter itself” (Wilber, 1996, p. 42).


Integral Life – Who Is Ken Wilber? –

The Famous People – Ken Wilber Biography – Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline –

Totally History – Ken Wilber Biography – Life of American Psychologist –

Wikipedia – Ken Wilber –

Wilber, K. (1996). A brief history of everything. Shambhala Publications.

Wilber, K. (2000a). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy. Shambhala Publications.

Wilber, K. (2000b). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality. Shambhala Publications.

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