Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ray Harris on Ken Wilber, Don Beck, and Integral Institute

It's worth noting that this post and the last one that I linked to are both by people who were initially courted by KW and I-I and then fell out of favor. They claim that the cause of their rejection is that they criticized Wilber and/or I-I, but we have only their word for it.

For a critique of the last post, see Jay's blog at Zaadz. He is somewhat dismissive of the evaluation.

On to the new material.

This comes from Ray Harris, blogger of Open Integral. He has some less than flattering things to say about KW and Don Beck, both of whom initially praised his brilliance then condemned his criticism of Boomeritis and the "Mean Green Meme."

Here is Harris's views after meeting KW and some other folks associated with I-I:

In my view it was all rather grandiose and unrealistic. There was a sense of mania about it all. Sure, there was a sense of excitement and of promise, but also a sense of over-reaching and of seeking the limelight. Ken wasn’t interested in beavering away in a quiet corner, he wanted to be centre stage. What I questioned was his idea of where centre stage is. With B grade actors?

After meeting some of the central I-I folk in San Francisco I came away with the feeling that there was more than a touch of narcissism and grandiosity to the I-I project.

Then things turned sour. When I returned to Oz I started to criticize Boomeritis and Ken reacted angrily, as did Don Beck. Instead of being touted as being a potential second in charge of I-I politics I had become, in Ken’s words “an angry greed dude, with red stripes”.

There’s more to this story about Don Beck (which I will share later) - but my conclusion is simply this. As long as you reflect Ken’s brilliance back to him you are fine. As soon as you find flaws you are attacked. The private emails to me, especially from Don Beck, were outrageous. How dare I criticize them! My motives apparently, were 1. Professional jealousy and 2. Personal animosity. This is just paranoid.

So I’ve been personally burnt by both Ken and Don because I crossed a line.
Harris goes on to caution that KW does eventually listen to his critics, though not always in the responsible, held-up-for-peer-review way that we might like.

Finally, He brings up the charisma element which was mentioned by Benjamin in the last post. He likens it to mania, but I am not convinced of this simply by his stating it. It is curious that even those who criticize KW find him so damn charming and charismatic.

As always, make up your own mind. It is my hope that if there is any truth to these evaluations of KW and I-I that both the man and the organization will take a hard look at themselves. If there isn't any truth in this, maybe Earpy will ride again.

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Unknown said...


You can't be serious comparing Ray Harris & Eliot Benjamin's careful, balance-seeking posts to pagan Jay Andrew Allen's short, daffy, spitting and snarlly fit of a post.

Harris and Benjamin write mature, scholarly essays, written in an effort to be object and say things about Wilber that are fully consistant with all outsiders' observations that I've seen.

Allen, in what is his fashion, writes a paranoid tribal flare.

william harryman said...

No comparison intended -- just suggesting that while I find some value in Harris and Benjamin, others don't take them seriously. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.


Unknown said...

"As always, make up your own mind. It is my hope that if there is any truth to these evaluations of KW and I-I that both the man and the organization will take a hard look at themselves. If there isn't any truth in this, maybe Earpy will ride again."

Bill: The considerable problem with your conclusion is that the opposite is what's much more likely to happen and you have it all backwards.

Wilber and his organization is becoming increasingly insular and tribelike, paranoid and cultish. Ken has bristled at criticism for a long time and engaged in displays of narcissism for decades and it all only gets worse and worse. Currently, he seems to be purifying his leauge of associates ever more such that they are boiled down to just the trusty sychophants and drones.

He DOESNT take a hard look at himself. He even posts old pictures of himself, he is so enamored of a view seen through gauze.

Earpy will ride again for the reason he told us he went on rampage to begin with: When it is time for a periodic Wilber tantrum.

We will all, I suppose, make up our own minds, or not, on all of this. But the danger is for suggestive types or those in need of a father substitute.

Plus, there is something ironic and subversive about a movement that, at its core, is good and mature and embracing being subsumed by a Cult of Personality run by a Stalin wannabe. The world is in crisis on many fronts. The Integral movement could have played a part in pulling us back from the brink. However, today, Integral is engulfed in a Crisis of Absurdity and is a joke that is unable to even help itself.

The Zero Boss said...

Let me understand this, Tom. I compliment the guy on a level-headed post...and yet I'm in a "snarling fit"?

Boy, I'd hate to see me when I'm REALLY angry.

Get a mirror, my friend. It may help you in spotting those uber-mega-projections ~C4 is fond of pointing out.

Unknown said...

Jay Allen Andrew wrote in his "level-headed post" ... "drags out the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, assigning a quotient to figure out if Wilber is going to instruct his devotees to hole up in Jonestown anytime soon" ... "Shouldn't we be focusing on which organizations are the most effective at awakening their participants? That's how we judge Atkins and Weight Watchers."

Jay: Since the topic is cultic, which translates to manipulation and control, authoritarianism and loss of freedom, it is appropriate to look at the enterprise in terms of abusive factors. The world is not running out of electrons; if you don't want to participate, take your brain elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I was quite impressed that he used the ABCDEF. I've followed Bonewits' writing for years, and have always liked the scale. And I wasn't being facetious about the Weight Watchers comment.

Tom, it'd be really nice if YOU rejoined the conversation. Your penchant for using insults and projection to replace reasoned argument is wearing thin.