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on August 8, 2000
Ken Wilber has provided a synthesis of virtually all psychological theories and spiritual perspectives in this short introduction to his spectrum of consciousness. Consciousness, in this context, refers to our personal sense of identify, our personal answer to the question,"Who am I?" Wilber makes much of the fact that our first answer to this question is largely a matter of identifying that which is "not me." The distinction between "me" and "not me" is the fundamental human error, for in making it we deny our oneness with all reality. Hence the title indicates that to grow in consciousness is to eliminate these artificial boundaries. The first half of the book explains this in detail.
Fortunately, our denial of oneness with reality results in dissatisfaction with life that becomes the primary motivation to resolve four basic false dichotomies: (1) persona versus shadow; (2) ego versus body; (3) centaur versus environment; and (4) transpersonal identity versus unity consciousness. At each stage, the harmony in identity that follows elimination of the boundary becomes a new identity defined by new boundaries. Persona and shadow become ego. Ego and body become centaur. Centaur and environment become a transpersonal, but non-universal, identity. Only in unity consciousness, or oneness with all reality, do we eliminate boundaries and find peace.
Chapters are devoted to all four dichotomies. In each Wilber discusses the nature of the boundary conflict and therapeutic approaches sympathetic to its resolution. Interestingly, he understands the conflicts in various therapeutic approaches to be differences in dichotomy rather than truth. Some therapies work for one stage; others for another; all have value at times. Often he discusses the spiritual/religious impact of the dichotomies and their resolution. In each chapter he provides a narrative discussion of related materials by other authors for further study.
Everyone will not find Wilber totally convincing. Jungians will be disappointed in Wilber's simplistic resolution of the persona/shadow boundary. Christians will be uncomfortable with the strong Hindu emphasis in unity consciousness. Behaviorists will note their total absence in the discussion. Those predisposed to resist Wilber's synthesis should take note that it is not fair to reject Wilber without providing a equally sensitive and compelling synthesis of the myriad therapies, theories of personality and spiritualities that have lasting value worldwide.
This book is a primer, but one that awakened a desire in me to read more comprehensively and thoroughly. The analytical approach of experimental psychology is unlikely to answer the deepest questions of humanity. Wilber's spectrum provides a working model that may.
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on May 14, 2002
"No Boundary" was written by Wilber to be a complement to his first book, "The Spectrum of Consciousness". Written with a less-academic style and more of an emphasis on practice than theory, No Boundary sketches a basic program of psychological and spiritual development. Although it has been superceded by "Integral Psychology", "Boundary" remains an indispensible part of Wilber's early canon.
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