October 23, 2005

East-West dialogue and exchange

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
India and Globalization by Rajiv Malhotra
Among Western thinkers who have studied Asian philosophies in depth and who have incorporated aspects of the latter into their own thought, a notable modern example is Ken Wilber, whose “Integral Psychology” openly draws upon the work of the Indian thinker Sri Aurobindo. In his early book, The Spectrum of Consciousness (1977),[17] Wilber pointed out the similarities between Asian traditions and various schools of psychology current at the time. He drew attention to the real and valuable contributions to be made by non-Western schools of thought, and in particular those of India.
In this book, as well as in later works such as Transformations of Consciousness,[18] Wilber expanded the scope of modern Western psychology by also including within his schema the supra normal or “transpersonal” states of consciousness described and cultivated by practitioners of India’s meditators and yogis. He showed that Western psychology couldn’t afford to ignore the thousands of years of empirical experimentation in the field of consciousness studies and psychology that has been conducted by these practitioners, albeit under different names. Wilber’s debt to these traditions is particular notable with regard to Sri Aurobindo, who created a schema of states of consciousness. Not fearing to acknowledge his debt to Sri Aurobindo and the Indic traditions, Wilber has generally been quite up front with regard to his use and remodeling of the insights of the Indic traditions. Hopefully, Wilber and many others like him will continue to explore the very fruitful potential for East-West dialogue and exchange, in a respectful and intellectually honest fashion.

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