Addendum: A few hours after sending 'The Old Spirituality and the New Vision' to Thea, she sent out (to her circle) on Sri Aurobindo's 140th birth anniversary, a letter that she had written in 1989 that was recently typed up by a student/colleague. Given its uncanny similarities, she has given me permission to publish it in conjunction with my open letter.
OLD AND NEW EXPERIENCE
1989 OCTOBER 20
1989 OCTOBER 20
…After reading a couple of things I received (from him) and you about [Wilber], I can only repeat what I wrote then. One piece was especially hard to wade through. The interview he gave to Quest Magazine. What mental contortions! And this is what everyone raves about… He is really so very much in love with his mind. It is frightening. And then there is that piece on his wife’s death. Well, what to say…
I don’t exactly agree with you that he was misinterpreting the signs, such as the raging wind when she was dying. I think it was all very legitimate. What happened, happened, and it confirmed, his Buddhist beliefs. But, so what? I mean, it confirmed Buddhism. That is, it only proved that if you follow a certain path you will get results along the lines that path lays down. But this we have known for ages. His experiences are real and true and valid—in Buddhism. But the point is; does it have any value for something else, for a new consciousness and a new manifestation? Of course not. And this is where people go off. They are convinced that the new consciousness which everyone wants and feels must be the basis for a new life can come by or through any path. This is the fallacy. If you practice Buddhism you attain Nirvana; if you follow Vedanta you reach the experience of the Self and then the Brahman Consciousness, and so on. If you follow Tantra you get the rise of the Kundalini and then dissolution beyond and into the Absolute Brahman. And on and on. But none of these have anything to do with the new thing. This is the point. But this is what is so hard to get across. Again I have to state: All paths do NOT lead to Rome!
I suppose that this will all work itself out once the new way is finally established in the world. Then the difference will be clear and unmistakable. For example, Wilber’s experience at his wife’s death means something only to him. I mean, objectively speaking. If we abstract that from the world nothing goes with it. He could have that experience or he could not. It changes nothing here, means nothing. It is purely subjective and only subjectively real. I wonder if I am explaining this properly. All these experiences of all the paths we know NEVER involve the world, or even groups. They are singular and cut off from everything else. Even when they convey to one the sense of the interconnectedness of the world and the interrelation between things, this is still a subjective experience. And by this I mean that its ‘reality’ lies strictly in this subjective meaning and importance. You can use that experience to make something different out of your own life. But if you withdraw the whole thing from life in this world, the world stays the same and remains unmoved, so to speak.
Whereas, you have the New Way. As you yourself have experienced, and it is the constant experience of all of us, there is no experience of this New Way separated from the world. And therefore if you were to extract it, you would have to draw the world with that extraction. The experiences are thoroughly interwoven in the planet’s time being and the universal harmony. Without that they do not exist and this gives to the experience a continuous sense of the objective. The new way is the lived experience of truth on this planet, at this particular time. This does not mean that it is therefore ‘relative’ but that it is simply an integrated part of the planet’s destiny. No sense can be made out of the experience if we abstract that destiny; in fact, there would be no experience at all. At the same time, this is what is so disappointing to people. When one pivots the ego and knows nothing else but that binary structure of which the ego is the axis of being, then only subjective experiences and perceptions will be found satisfying. Only that will be ‘real’ and meaningful. The moment one moves into the true realm of the Objective, then it is the unknown and becomes a frightening perspective. This is the main difficulty in trying to introduce people to this new way. The experience is so new, so unsatisfying according to these old patterns. It is a wonder that there is even a small group still involved and hanging in there!
So, the point I wish to make is that Wilber’s experience is subjectively valid because Buddhism is an entirely subjective experience since central to its truth is the Void. With that central you cannot have the miracle of true interconnectedness AS A LIVED EXPERIENCE, that is, objectively valid, truly REAL.
© Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet 1989