Book Review Psychology Atman Wilber

TITLE: ‘The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development’ by Ken Wilber
ISBN: 0835-60730-5
ISBN 13: 978-0835-60730-8 / 1–57062-5026
Publisher: Quest Books / Shambhala Publications Inc.

Ken Wilber makes it clear at the outset that he sees the aspect of human consciousness manifesting the universe through a desperate act of searching for spiritual quality in a manner that undermines this very search. Spirit, the author tells us is timeless, yet, we search for it in a world of time. Spirit is likewise without space, yet, again, we search for it in space. Spirit at last, but certainly not least, is not limited to being an object, yet we search for spiritual gratification in a world of objects.

In restating his transpersonal theme the author reclaims his ground that humanity is already everything that it is searching for.  We will not find spirit out there, or for that matter in here because spirit is beyond a dualistic consciousness. Spirit is a process of whole evolution through self transcendence; to arrive at a point where the self is realized as a uniting force creating more unity or wholes in the Great Chain of Causation where many wholes transcend to create the infinite whole.

This non-dualistic transcendent consciousness may not be a new concept but it is certainly not the way we are trained to assess our position in the universe on a daily basis, and if it were, if we lived this way we would have no choice other than to accept full responsibility, make peace with our infinite self and seek balance based on the virtuality of who and what humanity is, what our reactions and actions create. Eventually, we would naturally see ourselves as part and parcel of the spiritual quality we’ve been chasing. If we live in harmony with the balance of the whole our spiritual nature would be at peace and not in search.  The Atman project would be at an end.  We would “be” the spirit we seek.

“…we are seeking for Spirit in ways that prevent its realization, and force us to settle for substitute gratifications, which propel us through, and lock us into, the wretched world of time and terror, space and death, sin and separation, loneliness and consolation. And that is the Atman project.”
-Ken Wilber, ‘The Atman Project’

 From this point we have to backtrack, to trace the psychological personality types and the cultures and traditions they evolved from – rare in the West – that can through their visions point us to this true consciousness of wholeness and its resulting spiritual harmony.  To that end ‘The Atman Project: A Transpersonal View of Human Development’ by Ken Wilber integrates views from Freud to Buddha, Gestalt to Shankara, Piaget to Yogachara, and Kohlberg to Krishnamurti.

One of the qualities I enjoy most about Ken Wilber’s writings is his ability to consider the living process from any marked stop in that process, thus keeping his writing fresh, and be able to explain it from the quantum point within that stop to the infinite whole, because he understands in a profound and caring way the “whole” thing!