Most of Ken Wilber's books do not reveal much about the man behind the work. For most academic writers that is fine. But Wilber's writing, though seemingly theoretical or academic at times, is in fact about the most intimate of topics: coming to know ourselves. Perhaps because his writing is so broad in scope and yet ultimately so intimate in its implications, Wilber thought his readership might be entitled to a peek at how he is doing with his own personal atman project. This book lets the reader peek away,and you may or may not like what you see.
This was the first Wilber book I read. I had known about him for years, but my reading list is long and I just didn't pick his work up, until a respected friend gave me a copy of One Taste, and I could no longer put it off. I have now read almost all of his published work. With that perspective, I offer these thoughts.
First, the part that may trouble some. KW does come off as pretty darn egotistical in this book. He seems to realize it and mentions in the introduction that these diary entries were (supposedly) not written with intent to publish, and therefore what may seem like boasting and namedropping were in fact just factual entries meant for himself. These now candidly published entries might to the outside reader seem a bit...immodest. This would be a trivial matter but for the nature of KW's work, which after all is ultimately about transcending the ego.
I found KW's disclaimers about that less than entirely convincing, but the fact that he may still personally be a spiritual work in progress in my mind does not diminish the brilliance of his work. I was electrified when I read this. I have been a serious student of philosophy and spiritual practice for 30 years, and I find KW's work among the most brilliant and, to me, practically helpful work I have seen. Some say he does no original thinking, but only synthesizes the work of others. Yes, he only synthesizes the work of an unprecedentedly enormous body of thought, writing and accounts of mystical experience in a staggering array of fields over millenia, in ways no one else has before. I think this would qualify as original thought. Some say he doesn't write well. I find that he explains the ideas of many great thinkers more understandably than they do themselves. He relates their work to that of other great thinkers in ways that I,and I suspect most, never saw before. His writing can be moving and inspirational as well.
I'm not sure I would recommend One Taste as the first Wilber book to read, although it worked fine for me. It is one of his most accessible books. One criticism of this book is that Wilber's references are too obscure. But, this being a journal, KW has taken less care than usual to explain all his references, because this was ostensibly originally written for himself. Readers already familiar with his other work will be less baffled, and this may be one more reason to start with one of his other books. One Taste has the advantage of being one of his more recent books. Because KW is constantly refining his thought, this gives the reader a look at his most current thinking. I give it four stars instead of five, because I wasn't interested in many of the boring personal details ("I went shopping today"), but the meaty parts are first rate. I find his work so personally helpful in my own practice precisely because it is a synthesis of so much other work. He links it together in ways I could never have myself and has helped me to take a more integral approach to what had before been disparate and disconnected elements of my practice and study.