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Science author Ken Wilbur with background of stars in space.

Ken Wilber: A Genealogy of Reincarnation


This author has sought to make a “summa” of ideas surrounding death and the end of life.

Ken Wilber is a neo-platonic author whose work exposes the converging of influences such as mysticism, ecologic philosophy and developmental psychology (the latter follows the psychological and behavioral process of the individual, from conception until death, with the purpose of optimizing the development). After briefly revising Wilber’s bibliography, a few subjects from his theoretic program stand out: Integral Theory: an incredibly wide range of knowledge seeking a unitary, transpersonal human psychology. All this theoretic work, both practical and theoretical (he is something like an urban guru in the United States) was derived from the Integral Institute, founded in 1988, popular among people like John Doe and Deepak Chopra; even Bill Clinton and Billy Corgan have listed it as one their main spiritual influences.

One of the main subjects that take up a significant amount of his books is reincarnation –– namely because in most religions there is some sort of reincarnation theory. It is from this point that the author clings to, finding a transcultural paragon of sorts, to elaborate the integral theory of reincarnation. The theory extends onto topics such as the different stages of dying, which to Wilber represent the dissolution of the Great Chain; the stages of rebirth (not to be confused with resuscitation), supported by an interpretation of the subjective experience of dying and being born. On the other hand, it analyses near-death experiences, proposing meditation as a spiritual exercise that will prepare us for death, a type of awareness during the process of dying. These ideas find their foundation in the notion that is the basis of Wilberian thought: Oneness, the denial of duality.

We won’t try to outline his theory; however the theoretical ground where these ideas can be found is worth mentioning. Wilber creates a type of genealogy of reincarnation in cultures and religions of the world; and of course his most notable influences are Buddhist and Vedic. None the less, he also resorts to; for example, a book that goes relatively unnoticed and, which we should read much more, Aldous Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy, which is the basis for the entire transpersonal New Age diaspora. Additionally, Wilber was formed with the master of hermeneutics, Hans Georg Gadamer, one of last century’s most prominent theorists.

Wilber’s work suggests a sum of knowledge: derived from the space of rigorous academic signification, his thoughts move towards areas of religion and faith, assembling both theoretical and spiritual tools that are able to give his thought a rich and inspiring hue. With these tools, Wilber inspires us to face death’s question honest and directly, without lying to ourselves, using all the forms of thought that our ancestors left behind for us.

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