I came across Ken Wilber’s book, One Taste, more than a decade ago, and his “A Spirituality That Transforms” (What Is Enlightenment), among other writings.
The following excerpt resonated strongly with me then — I found it both a compelling invitation and also (if one resonated with it) a sort of dangerous prayer, which I appreciated then and even moreso now. (More on dangerous prayers in another post!).
Since then, it has come back into my awareness from time to time, including recently. As with many things, I read and understand it differently each time.
And surely, so much has changed, shifted, challenged, and transformed over these last ten-plus years for so many of us.
So I’m moved to share the excerpt and invitation, timeless as it is, because I know it’ll be stirring for more than a few of you.
“And therefore, all of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authenticity always and absolutely carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.
Alas, if you fail to do so, you are betraying your own authenticity. You are hiding your true estate. You don’t want to upset others because you don’t want to upset your self. You are acting in bad faith, the taste of a bad infinity.
Because, you see, the alarming fact is that any realization of depth carries a terrible burden: those who are allowed to see are simultaneously saddled with the obligation to communicate that vision in no uncertain terms: that is the bargain. You were allowed to see the truth under the agreement that you would communicate it to others (that is the ultimate meaning of the bodhisattva vow). And therefore, if you have seen, you simply must speak out. Speak out with compassion, or speak out with angry wisdom, or speak out with skillful means, but speak out you must.
And this is truly a terrible burden, a horrible burden, because in any case there is no room for timidity. The fact that you might be wrong is simply no excuse: You might be right in your communication, and you might be wrong, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter, as Kierkegaard so rudely reminded us, is that only by investing and speaking your vision with passion, can the truth, one way or another, finally penetrate the reluctance of the world. If you are right, or if you are wrong, it is only your passion that will force either to be discovered. It is your duty to promote that discovery—either way—and therefore it is your duty to speak your truth with whatever passion and courage you can find in your heart. You must shout, in whatever way you can.”
[Ken Wilber “A Spirituality That Transforms, WIE; and One Taste]
What does it stir for you?