Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Subtle Energies

December 30, 2009

The Kosmos Trilogy, Vol. II, Excerpt G: Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Subtle Energies

by Ken Wilber

You’ve heard it before: The whole universe is made of energy. Nothing can be created or destroyed, only changed. We’re all made of the same stuff, just stardust looking back at the stars. Observations like these have become cliche for new age spirituality–sincere attempts to divinize the universe, perhaps, but often founded upon hazy understanding of both science and spirituality.  Though it is true that there is an energetic component to everything in the universe, without defining just what we mean by “energy”, or discussing the many different kinds of energy, or how these different kinds of energy work and interact with each other, we are just reciting empty platitudes.  Fortunately, Ken Wilber has given a lot of thought to the relationship between matter, energy, and consciousness, culminating in this exquisite essay on subtle energies.  Here he presents a comprehensive taxonomy of energy, ranging from dense physical energies like weak/strong nuclear forces and electromagnetism, all the way to the subtlest energies associated with the most advanced states of enlightenment. This is a rather advanced essay, which may require some prior understanding of Integral theory, but one that may very well change the way you think about the natural world.

The following is an excerpt from the first draft of volume 2 of the Kosmos trilogy, tentatively titled Kosmic Karma (volume 1 of that trilogy was Sex, Ecology, Spirituality).  This excerpt suggests a coherent and comprehensive theory of the many approaches to subtle energies, their origin, nature, and development.  This particular excerpt comes toward the end of the volume, which means that somebody reading this excerpt will not have the benefit (or the torture) of having read the first part of the book.  I will therefore present a brief introduction, followed by an integral approach to subtle energies.

The first two excerpts from Kosmic Karma (“An Integral Age at the Leading Edge” and “The Many Ways We Touch”) can be found here; they explain the general approach itself.  “AQAL” (pronounced ah-quil) is short for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types,” which is the metatheory of the integral approach, and which will be explained as we go along.


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