On the turning away…

File Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI

Having drained my storehouse of podcasts while home during peak pandemic, I went searching and remembered Buddhist Geeks, a modern, techie philosophical podcast I let drop years ago, in favor of a more Vajrayana focus. They’re still going, talking about psychedelics a lot (which many seem to be doing, almost as much as bitcoin), but what I was drawn to was a specific episode with Ken Wilbur.

I hadn’t remembered about Wilbur, that his teaching is specifically about integration. He doesn’t discourage traditional therapy as many do because there are countless examples of indeed ‘enlightened’ figures who we might characterize as having gotten into ‘moral shadow’ trouble. Everything else but the spiritual cannot be considered banal.

So Wilbur describes what he calls a Fourth Turning, working with the idea of the three turnings of the wheel of the dharma. I actually like this idea, because each turning was misinterpreted at first as being in conflict with, if not undoing entirely, the teaching before, ie. “what is poison at one level is medicine at another.” Over time, we see that contrast instigates growth.

In his fourth turning, rather than turning away from “the world” or samsara, we face and embrace shadow as witness and important, if not exactly a spiritual friend.


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