Here’s the transcript of a sweet conversation from Ken Wilber’s blog on how to bring shamanism into an integral framework. People who study shamanic disciplines–like everyone else excited about a spiritual practice–sometimes think that what they’re learning is “all there is,” and the intensity of the spiritual work can drive them away from thinking inclusively and seeing what other wisdom traditions have to offer. Wilber addresses this–he always looks at what religions share and asks: “What if each discipline has a core of truth?”
If you’re not familiar with Wilber’s mind-bending, integral approach to spirituality, you might get the hang of a bit of his philosophy here. Read the whole interview, it’s a lovely exchange, but here is an excerpt:
Wilber: And so what we’re looking for in a sense is an integral Buddhism and an integral Vedanta and an integral Catholicism; and all of those can look at their own lineages and see what resources they have to fill in some of the AQAL gaps that they haven’t been using, and then they can look elsewhere to take other practices to fill their own up.
One of the difficulties with the native orientations, shamanic orientations, is that for a lot of people that adopted it, they really kind of made it into a be-all and end-all; there was just a little too strong of that early impulse to sort of take each of these traditions and say “Well, this is just the whole thing, I don’t need to do anything else. This is it.” And we started to develop a term, that a lot of us started to use as we realized that we ourselves were guilty of this, and it was called “dharma bum.” It was meant as a bit of a criticism, but also affectionately. But the idea was, now wait a minute, I really do have to supplement my practice with some other thing.
And in some ways the Americans that picked up native shamanic practices really have been some of the ones to resist a more integral approach. But would we welcome it? Oh, absolutely!