Notable Books

Notable Books 51 – part 1

Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development. Ken Wilber, Jack Engler & Daniel P. Brown; With chapters by John Chirban, Mark Epstein and Jonathan Lieff.

For more information on how and where to obtain a copy of this book (published in 1986) click the following link HERE

Notable Books 51 b

This is a relatively comprehensive and well written introduction to theories of growth and development as dependent upon emergent structures and stages unique to certain phases of life development. The text includes and explores conventional stages of development well known in current psychological and psychiatric literature, but also what might be referenced as degrees or stages of spiritual awakening and experiential expression as recognized in several Contemplative traditions.

In the beginning of our part 1, the ground work is laid for a general understanding of terms used, such as deep and surface structures, stages, and lines of development. Different theories, concerning the various areas of development are briefly discussed. These include areas of ego development, self-development, cognitive, aesthetic, moral and social development among others. Their general flow and development, or the stages through which maturity in each line occurs, moving from the pre personal and personal, beyond to the post or transpersonal levels are pointed out and viewed in contrast with others. A typical description of what such developmental lines look like, and how they progress, in the so-called healthy mode, is presented. Through the use of this comparative process, the authors work to demonstrate that a certain order of development occurs cross culturally, perhaps with surface or superficial differences. The point is made that it is likely through such particular structural emergences, stages, and developmental lines, that all developing human beings in general progress. if progression is harmonious, healthy development is expected to occur.

Using such comparative information, an attempt is made to generate a template of types, integral in nature, that embraces all structures, stages, and lines of development, applicable cross culturally, not as an end product, but as a beginning endeavor for understanding the human developmental potential.

Having come to an understanding of such structures and their likely sequential and developmental order of arising or emergence, there is also the recognition that for one reason or another, such structures may come to be damaged, arrested in their expression, perhaps inappropriately aborted, or otherwise altered such that pathology, sickness, suffering, and/or disease arises that plagues the egoic being. Hence another portion of the book addresses possible treatments and therapeutic remedies, modalities  and interventions that may be used for healing the different  types of disease that arise from particular deficits occurring at the different stages of development.

All along, there is discussion concerning the aims of psychotherapy and their relation to meditation. Here there are thoughts presented that pertain to prerequisites that are likely required before different types of meditational stages of unfolding are properly experienced.

In the latter part of this first portion of review (chapters 3,4,5,) Ken Wilbur presents an introductory view, related to his understanding of nine general basic or fundamental structures of consciousness and their general sequential order of emergence. He discusses nine general stages of basic development, from the pre-personal stages of birth (sensory-physical, phantasmic-emotional, representative mind) to the personal structures (rule-role, formal-reflexive, existential), and then the transpersonal structures ( psychic, subtle, casual). Alongside these, he identifies “fulcrums”  of emergence, separation and individuation, at each stage, followed by the problems or diseases that can arise at each stage, as well as recommendations on treatment approaches from his view, for healing and restoration, such that further healthy development may unfold.

Although this very brief review and introduction has not skimmed the richness of even the surface ideations presented, needless to say, this is a book well worth reading and study for a more integral understanding of complex developmental theories concerning humanity, using both conventional and contemplative research and experiential approaches to understanding.

Our next review will embrace part 2 of this work, dedicated to the study and research relating to the structures of contemplative development that emerge with mindfulness meditation, as well as a cross cultural study and review of stages of meditation involving the Mahayana, Patanjali Yoga Sutra and Theravada systems of meditation. This will also include developmental stages related to meditational development and experiences in Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

To be continued

Wishing great reading, and greater Realization!


Notable Books is a series compiled by Eugene Jennings