Saturday, 3 April 2010

Ken Wilber - The Great Search

I read an article on the Integral Life Website which is a portion from a book by Ken Wilber. In it he makes the statement that “The Great Search is the great enemy of what is”. To be searching implies that “you have not got” so to be in a searching mode you never actually arrive. It is only when you stop the search you begin to realise all you need is all you have and all you are. There is no longer any separation – no dualism – just being and connecting with all that there is. “This realization undoes the Great Search that is the heart of the separate-self sense.” This realisation affects our relationship with all that ‘is’ around us: ”… you simply are the mountain, you are the sky, you are the clouds, you are everything that is arising moment to moment, very simply, very clearly, just so.”
This is great stuff and a much needed call to awareness and to the present moment in which we become conscious of our aliveness and the goodness of all that is. It also helps us to come to terms with the pain we suffer as we in the words of Byron Katie ‘Love what is’.
As an addition and further development of these thoughts I would like to consider some words that Jesus is recorded to have said “Seek and you shall find”. In this case it is quite clear that seeking is a favourable thing and certainly not seen to be an enemy. Admittedly Ken uses the word ‘search’ and not ‘seek’ but I do not think this matters. The Greek meaning for this word ‘seek’ is actually in the present-continuous-imperative … literally ‘Seek and keep on seeking’. Sadly our own language does not have such verb distinctions so we often miss it in translation. I believe that a good interpretation of the passage above would be ‘As you keep on seeking you will keep on finding’ or  conversely ‘The moment we stop seeking is the moment we stop finding’ … almost like saying the moment the water stops flowing out the water stops flowing in. It seems in this context the enemy is quite the opposite of seeking. It is FINDING! … because once you have found you have stopped seeking and therefore you no longer are finding … Yo! Well actually to be more precise it is not the finding but the grasping that is the problem ...  finding is perfectly acceptable provided we do not seek to possess what we find for then we have returned to the egoic as our centre. There is a dynamic in Jesus view of God not dissimilar to the concept the Desert Fathers had in their perception of the Trinity in the word perichoresis which means to dance around … one part of the Trinity flows into the other in continuity … a constant movement. Another popular word used is self emptying the Greek word being  “Kenosis” used once by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippian Church where he says Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but (Kenosis) emptied himself. So as long as the seeking/ finding dynamic keeps moving all is well but as soon as egoic grasping and spiritual possessiveness kicks in there we have our “enemy”.
So it seems that another dualism is broken by Jesus – that is the dualism of seeking and having by making them dynamically mutually co-existent. Ken Wilber has created a dualism where there does not need to be.
“Should we simply cease the search?” Asks Ken. I would agree and answer” No”, but for a different reason. In Jesus teaching we do not have to. The activity of searching is accommodated for and anticipated by Spirit which pre-empts our searching. The moment of searching is the moment of finding.
Instead of saying the Great Search presumes the loss of God I would say the Finding of God Assumes or even CONsumes the great search.
Ken is left with the meaninglessness of all the effort made through prayer and other disciplines. If God is immediately present any act of seeking is perpetuating the lie that He is not. Eckhart Tolle perpetually makes reference to wasted effort in attempting to attain to that which is already here present in this moment. Ken’s argument is that the only use of such discipline is that it ‘speeds up the folly’ but surely better still not to enter the folly – let’s throw all the millennia of spiritual seeking away as one big collective enemy. However if we take the kenotic view above we find that we don’t have to because the seeking is the finding ... there is no dualism here.

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