Common factor — I

Ken Wilber

A renowned philosopher and the author of 22 books, Wilber has built a following of activist/thinkers — from philosophers and spiritual teachers to psychologists and scientists — and is the founder of the Integral Institute, a think tank encouraging the cross-fertilization of ideas.

What’s my philosophy? In a word, integral. And what on earth — or in heaven — do I mean by “integral”? The dictionary meaning is fairly simple: “comprehensive, balanced, inclusive, essential for completeness.” Short definition, tall order.

What would something like an inclusive or comprehensive spirituality mean? What could it mean? And would it even be remotely possible? Integral, in a sense, would be the ultimate ecumenical movement, if such a thing is even desirable. It would be a spirituality that claimed to leave nothing essential out. It would be a spirituality that in principle could be recognized and even practiced by believers in all the world’s religions without abandoning their own essentials. It would be based on what seem to be universal human capacities to interface with the Divine. It would be inclusive and comprehensive, touching on all the bases of this elusive thing called “spirituality.” It would be…. Impossible, is what it would be. But consider where we are in today’s modern and postmodern world. We have, for the first time in history, easy access to all of the world’s great religions. Examine the many great traditions — from Christianity to Buddhism, Islam to Taoism, Paganism to Neoplatonism — and you are struck by two items: there are an enormous number of differences between them, and a handful of striking similarities. —