Transpersonal Psychology Spectrum Consciousness Wilber

TITLE: ‘The Spectrum of Consciousness’
by Ken Wilber
ISBN: 0835-60695-3
ISBN 13: 978-0835-60695-0
Publisher: Quest Books; Shambhala Publications

‘The Spectrum of Consciousness’ by Ken Wilber drilled through evolutionary ground in transpersonal psychology by presenting an expanded perennial model through which western psychological modalities could be integrated with contemplative eastern methods.

The journey taken to extrapolate a fresh psychological model from numerous sources east and west, ancient and contemporary, begins with Wilber’s axiomatic statement that we currently view – through a universal perennial understanding – human consciousness as a reality untouched by time or place. The reader immediately feels that this perspective is a closed box with no dynamic possibilities for change when Mr. Wilber draws a close parallel between the perennial philosophy and the perennial view of human consciousness by quoting St. Augustine concerning the three-thousand year old perennial philosophy on the reality of humanity and nature, “Wisdom that was not made, but is now what it always was and ever shall be.”

Ken Wilber then draws a clear foundation for ‘The Spectrum of Consciousness’ by stating its purpose as being an explanation of consciousness faithful to the perennial spirit of universal reality, however, simultaneously moving forward three-thousand years and opening the box to the psychological possibilities of ego psychology, psychoanalysis, humanistic psychology, Jungian analysis, and interpersonal psychology.

The author offers us a model that takes into consideration a consciousness that is universal yet expresses itself on multiple levels that each require individual recognition. The author feels, and rightfully so, that the perennial model is worthy and sound but does not unearth the full spectrum of consciousness. Ken Wilber begins philosophically and metaphysically laying groundwork to link eastern and western modalities and traditions by suggesting that human consciousness is not just universal, but that our innermost finite consciousness is realized of the same infinite mind as the universe. At this point Wilber links traditional eastern spiritual names to universal mind, such as: Brahman, Tao, Dharmakaya, Allah, etc.

The author effectively draws in the reader by wise usage of persons and spiritual philosophy building a body of evidence from a traditional eastern well of deep spiritual and metaphysical history along with a further detailed description and discussion of the individual levels of mind and how eastern consciousness theory and methods, for instance Zen Buddhism (Ch’an), can enhance the perennial western consciousness model and open the box to psychologists and psychoanalysts by adding tools such as meditation techniques.

I have always found the transpersonal side of Ken Wilber’s writings to be artistically and philosophically moving and  involving. Mr. Wilber has opened the door for me, as an Integral Yoga therapist, to bring my patients a different world-view, and I believe a vastly healthier one for the spectrum of consciousness levels that express and are expressed by mind, body, and spirit.

Ken Wilber’s prose are crisp and full of life as he imparts constant forward momentum through clearly detailed theory and more than enough evidence. While ‘The Spectrum of Consciousness’ theoretically is an evolutionary work, the author’s charisma is obviously that of a revolutionary adventurer in thought.

I do not generally dig back this far (1977) to review work in science and health.  However, I believe ‘The Spectrum of Consciousness’ by Ken Wilber to be an historically pivotal work in understanding the basic foundation for theory and practice in the field of transpersonal psychology. The book is still available on its own, and it has also been anthologized in ‘The Collected Works of Ken Wilber’ (My anthology copy is a first edition published by Shambhala Publications).