How Reading Ken Wilber Can Help Us Understand Pain and Trauma

For those of you who haven't read the transpersonal philosopher Ken Wilber, I would like to introduce you to the works of a man that has had a profound influence on my work. CRST (Causal Release System Training) grew out of my experiences with my clients and their transcendental memories. They kept referring to traumatic events that were beyond the usual confines of time and space. Although the descriptions of these events were not clear cognitively, all of them had very clear emotional memories associated with the traumatic events. I gave these cosmic events descriptive names such as the first individuation, the second individuation, the descent into the physical, etc. because of similarities in cognitive and emotional content. But these cosmic events didn't fall into a coherent whole until I read Ken Wilber's books. For Ken Wilber describes these very same events as he has distilled them from the world's wisdom tradition.

To do this introductory subject justice would require a great deal of stage setting, not the least of which would be for me to describe what I mean by the descriptive terms mentioned above. But even more of a chore would be to digest Ken Wilber's work. I hope only to give you a taste, so that if you have not read him, you will seek him out and be amazed, as I have been.

In his books Wilber clearly explains the cosmic processes of involution and evolution. Involution is described as a gradual separating away (the descent into duality or my descriptive first individuation) from the Creator into the sangsara of individuality and duality. Evolution is gradual returning up the scale back toward the Unity with the Creator. This process, when looked upon as a continuum represents what Wilber calls the Spectrum of Consciouness. The importance of this concept of the spectrum is in the insights it gives us in understanding and applying the different healing therapies. We learn that the different therapies deal with bands of the spectrum, much like light and sound in the electromagnetic spectrum. Knowing what band we are dealing with, gives us much more coherent understanding of how to utilize the therapy and its limitation.

Another useful concept Wilber convincingly describes is the concept of No Boundaries. Wilber notes that we define ourselves by the boundaries we set regarding the thoughts, emotions and things that are included in our definition of "what is me" and "what is not me." As we evolve back up the chain of involution to the Creator, we start to perceive and include more and more of the total reality inside our boundaries, identifying it as "what is me." When all the boundaries have been eliminated, and there is nothing "that is not me", we have sucessfully returned to our original state of being. We remain individualized fragments of the Creator, but as one with the Creator.

The usefulness of these concepts to me is in the insight they give us to understanding the fundamental cosmic root causations of our basic response patterns to trauma and pain. All of us seem to have basic patterns of responding to pain and trauma and they seem to have been set at the "time" of the intial descent into duality. Some of us characteristically get angry, some of us run away, some of us try to be more perfect and hope that we will become worthy of returning to the Creator. These basic patterns seem to be reflected in the Sufi Enneagram. However, a discussion of the Enneagram is grist for another mill.

Written by James M. Price, MSW, MPA



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