Mystic Gunslinger - Ken Wilber may be obnoxious, but he wants us to know it all

By Richard Handler

May/June 2007

Integral Spirituality
By Ken Wilber
Integral Books. 313 pp. ISBN: 1-590-30346-6

A Brief History of Everything
By Ken Wilber
Shambala. 339 pp. ISBN: 1-570-62187-X

The Essential Ken Wilber: An Introductory Reader
Shambala. 199 pp. ISBN: 1-570-62379-1

When you pick up the books of Ken Wilber, his bald, shining head and intense gaze in the cover photo suggests he doesn't take himself lightly, nor does he think we should. He resembles a hip academic, who wears a T-shirt under his tweed sports coat. His well-muscled neck and broad shoulders tell us he's a jock. Here's the man, with brains and brawn to burn, whom some have called "the Einstein of consciousness."

He's a cult figure for many readers of his more than 20 books. But his reputation is contradictory. A class valedictorian and a self-described "geek," he left graduate school in biochemistry to write his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness, at the tender age of 23. He's a practicing Buddhist and mystic who wants to combine the best of Western science and Eastern spirituality. Yet despite all the praise—the veneration, even—he receives, he isn't really academically respectable. He rarely publishes in peer-reviewed journals. You'll never see him in The New York Review of Books. But he's a one-man publishing industry, who's written dozens of articles, book…

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