Going around in circles

Collins describes Circular Logic as:
"This is formless logic and leads to a dynamic relative type of understanding, where polar opposites are complementary (and ultimately identical) in experience. It views logical connections bi-directionally in both/and terms leading to paradoxical simultaneous interpretation. Thus, in a circular relative sense, the atom is contained in the molecule and the molecule is contained in the atom.

"The very purpose of this logic is to erode exclusive identification with the polarized distinctions of the linear method. This then serves as preparation for a qualitative transformation through intuitive insight (where paradoxical meaning can be directly apprehended in spiritual fashion)."
Formless logic? Isn't this a contradiction in terms? By definition the formless is without form, one without second. Formless logic has form; it is a modification of the formless, ergo it is not formless.

Ray commits a basic error here, which he repeats continually through his comments. This again is his attempt to rationally interpret a notion, which should be understood from a dynamic interactive perspective, in a merely reduced analytic fashion.

So once more he fails to distinguish as between the dualistic context where poles are separated from the nondual context where poles are complementary (and ultimately identical).

So in dualistic analytic terms, form and formlessness mutually exclude each other and are clearly separated.

However from the more nondual perspective, in dynamic interactive terms, form and formlessness mutually include each other in interpretation and are ultimately inseparable.

"Form is not other than Void
Void is not other than Form"

So a formless logic in dynamic experiential terms necessarily includes (phenomenal) form.
The attempt to translate dynamic notions in either/or language - as Ray once again does does
here - is gravely inaccurate.

"Of course, Collins is trying to express an idea that is difficult (impossible really) to express. But somehow Collins feels that Wilber is lacking in such a subtle understanding. In 'The Marriage of Sense and Soul' Wilber uses the term translogical and defines it thus:

"Translogical means transcending the logical, the rational, or the mental in general. Formless mysticism, disclosed with the eye of contemplation, is translogical: it sees beyond the eye of flesh (and its monological empiricism) and beyond the eye of mind (and its dialogical interpretation), and instead stands open to the radiant Divine (in nondual gnosis). This spiritual opening can be directly accessed by neither the eye of flesh nor the eye of mind, only the eye of contemplation." (18)

Doesn't this sound rather similar to Collins' 'circular logic'?"

No! It bears no direct comparison at all.

Ken in his approach clearly differentiates monological, dialogical and translogical interpretation.

However once again in a dynamic interactive context, this makes little sense as monological, dialogical and translogical meaning mutually interpenetrate.

The very purpose once again of circular logic is to provide a dynamic interface as between these realms of meaning so as to enable their integration.

So in intellectual terms, we start with monological meaning, which is given through one-directional understanding (i.e. defined in terms of a fixed polar frame of reference).

We then move to (rigid) dialogical understanding when for example we recognize the necessity of mental interpretation for all empirical perceptions.

The bridge then to interactive dialogical meaning is given through mirror understanding (where one recognizes the equal validity of understanding from the opposite reference frame).

The combination simultaneously of understanding in terms of both reference frames (i.e. bi-directional understanding) then provides the appropriate interface with translogical understanding. Once again it creates paradox in terms of (rigid) dualistic interpretation, preparing the mind for a transformation in (formless) intuitive insight.

This translogical understanding in turn provides the basis for greater clarity of understanding at the monological and dialogical levels (rigid and interactive).

So in terms of their dynamic interaction, there is - relatively - a ceaseless (transcendent) transformation from dual to nondual and a corresponding (immanent) transformation from nondual to dual which in turn enhances appreciation of both aspects.

Ken Wilber never to my mind gives a clear intellectual interpretation of either mirror understanding (bridging rigid and interactive dialogical) or bi-directional understanding (bridging interactive dialogical and translogical).

So in intellectual terms, he provides a merely differentiated interpretation (where the experiential domains of monological, dialogical and translogical are considered largely separate).

However what is required in an integral approach is to show how these dynamically interact.

And this clearly he does not attempt.

"Wilber goes on to quote Plato in 'Sex, Ecology and Spirituality':

"It is not something that can be put into words like other branches of learning; only after long partnership in a common life (contemplative community) devoted to this very thing does truth flash upon the soul, like flame kindled by a leaping spark. No treatise by me concerning it exists or will exist". (19)

Wilber expands on this point (the emphasis in caps are mine):

"But on that central point, Plato was silent, as silent he could only be. That 'knowledge' or 'divine ignorance' is not verbal but TRANSVERBAL; it is not of the mind but of 'no-mind'; it is not part of a 'discursive philosophy' or merely 'talking religion' but a 'contemplative flash of truth in the soul'. And while this truth or sudden illumination can be directly and injunctively shown (by long contemplative practice in the community, as


I think it is important to re-iterate an extremely important point. Contemplative insight cannot of course be satisfactorily expressed in (reduced) rational terms.

However in experience dual and nondual must necessarily interact and the very task of a dynamic translation is to establish the appropriate interface as between both domains of understanding so that they can mutually enhance each other.

When we attempt to treat these domains (of contemplative and rational) as strictly separate we are in danger of impeding experiential dynamics leading to a considerable loss of proper integration in the personality. In this case, neither contemplative nor (refined) rational understanding can develop to their full potential.

Once again we can clearly see the same dualistic intellectual tendency revealed by Ken Wilber's statement on Plato.

It uses the either/or logic of separate opposites i.e. that 'knowledge' or 'divine ignorance' is not verbal but TRANSVERBAL.

However from a dynamic interactive sense - which is properly compatible with experiential integration - verbal and transversal meanings necessarily interact. So from a dynamic perspective, true contemplation is not so much transverbal - which defines the experience in a dualistic manner - but rather a state where any distinction as between verbal and transverbal loses distinct meaning. So from an affirmative nondual perspective, we can say that true contemplation fully unites both verbal and transverbal; from the equally valid negative perspective we can say that true contemplation is neither verbal nor transverbal (i.e. through being united dualistic interpretation has no meaning).

"it is not of the mind but of 'no-mind'; it is not part of a 'discursive philosophy' or merely 'talking religion' but a 'contemplative flash of truth in the soul'

Again this is so dualistic and non-interactive in expression. Mind and no-mind are again separated as opposite dualistic terms (which is the language of differentiation).

However in dynamic experiential terms, we can only come to knowledge of no-mind through interaction with mind. So ineffable contemplation entails the interpenetration of both so closely that they lose any separate (rigid) dualistic identity.

Of course the (nondual) insight of truth cannot be directly confused with discursive philosophy. However in experiential terms, its formation in development is not necessarily independent of discursive philosophy.

So from an intellectual perspective, Ken Wilber continually uses the language of differentiation as evidenced in this instance by his desire to clearly separate dual and nondual realms.

This is a huge problem - apparently unrecognized by him - which pervades his entire approach. Once again the purpose of an integral approach is to show how dual and nondual interpenetrate.

Yes, spiritual truth cannot be passed on to others who have not attained the requisite experience.

However this applies equally to all forms of truth. For example, in terms of my vision of holistic mathematics, others will not be able to appreciate its meaning until they too can understand in like manner. However, as always the situation is dynamic in that the very process of communication can help to a degree to develop such understanding.

"In other words, there is such a thing as transrational or translogical awareness that is associated with transpersonal states, but this awareness can only be experienced directly. It cannot adequately be described or talked about; in other words, it cannot be reduced to discursive philosophy, to the 'eye of mind'.

Yet, this does seem to be what Collins is attempting in proposing a 'circular logic' and a 'dynamic approach'. It's a kind of 'discursive philosophy' that discloses the translogical to the 'eye of mind'.

In a note attached to the above quote (note 4) Collins says: "So in dynamic terms bi-directional understanding serves as the essential bridge between dualistic reason and intuitive awareness."

Why do we need a bridge? And in particular, why do we need the bridge Collins' proposes? Is
Collins suggesting that one can't get from dualistic reason to intuitive awareness without it? Or is this bridge simply a means of dragging intuitive awareness back into the realm of "refined reason".

Of course pure translogical experience must be experienced directly; however indirectly it is necessarily experientially linked to non-translogical meaning. From a dynamic perspective it is vital to recognize this interaction and - in intellectual terms - seek to give it appropriate expression.

It is totally inaccurate to suggest as Ray once more does, that I attempt to disclose the translogical to the "eye of mind". His very quote of mine clearly shows my intention to establish a bridge as between rational and transrational (not to reduce one to another).

Now a bridge can be taken in two directions. Yet Ray as usual attempts to interpret my statement solely in one-directional terms.
In experience we do not simply move from dualistic to nondual experience; we equally move from nondual to dual. And the very nature of dynamic interactive understanding is to appreciate from both perspectives.

So to answer his question!

No! we cannot go in transcendent terms directly to nondual awareness (without recognition of the dual). All forms of meditation are implicitly based on this realization.

Equally - from the relatively immanent perspective - we cannot go to dual awareness without recognition of the nondual. So some degree of nondual awareness - however undeveloped - is implicitly necessary for any form of dualistic understanding.

Once again the intellectual task for a proper dynamic approach is to appropriately translate the nature of this two-way interaction as between dual and nondual (and nondual and dual) while respecting the crucial qualitative difference as between both domains. This clearly implies that appropriate dynamic understanding of such a translation requires the explicit interaction of both domains.

I have stressed this point repeatedly. However as Ray continually misrepresents the nature of my position let me stress it again.

I have no intention of confusing the domain of the (ineffable) nondual with the (phenomenal) dual; equally I have no intention of confusing the (phenomenal) dual with the (ineffable) nondual.
What I am concerned with however is in recognizing the necessary interaction of both domains in experience and in finding an appropriate intellectual means of properly translating this interaction.

However as this intellectual translation is itself dynamic, it requires both dual (rational) and nondual (intuitive) comprehension in mutual interaction.

"Collins uses the terms 'polar opposites' and 'bi-directionality' quite often. I find this quite curious.

Why the fixation with polarity? After all it is only one of the many types of categorisation, one way the mind sorts information. There is also similarity, dissimilarity, complementarity, group, class, mutual exclusivity, etc, etc. Nor are opposites always strictly polar. And it depends entirely on the context. The mind does not differentiate in such an absurdly simplistic manner."

For my part, I find it more than curious that Ray fails to appreciate the primary importance of polar opposites in defining all phenomenal experience.

The very basis of dualistic understanding - which is emphasized by Ken Wilber - is the attempt to understand in terms of such poles. Though secondary phenomenal categorizations are indeed possible, none can take place without this initial classification.

This is quite obvious in terms of Ray's attempts to provide alternative categorizations.

Similarity and dissimilarity are clearly polar opposites. Recognition of similarity (in any context) implicitly implies dissimilarity; likewise recognition of dissimilarity implies similarity.

The recognition of complementarity in any context again requires implicit recognition of what is not complementary. In the context in which I use the term recognition of complementary opposites thus implicitly implies recognition of opposites as separate.

Group and class are two terms, which imply a whole context for phenomena. Once again the recognition of this whole context implicitly requires recognition of the part.

For example in mathematics, the general notion of a group would have no meaning without implicit recognition of the particular members of that group.

Mutual exclusivity implies what is not-mutual and what is not exclusive (for its recognition).

So in the most general sense, the positing of any phenomenal characteristic implies the corresponding (implicit) recognition of its negative. So in dynamic terms we can only posit by equally negating.

However in customary analytic translation, this dynamic aspect is lost and objects are given a merely positive identity. So dualistic understanding necessarily entails a misinterpretation of the true dynamics of understanding.

It appears to me that Ray is confused throughout as between the two senses in which polar opposites are used.

In a dualistic sense opposite poles are clearly separated. Thus here - as we have seen - the positive pole is solely recognized (though in dynamic terms the negative is implicitly required for recognition).

So for example in conventional terms, sense objects are assumed to exist independent of the observing mind. So here the (positive) exterior aspect of phenomena is solely recognized. By contrast in psychology - even transpersonal psychology - it is the opposite interior aspect which misleadingly is often solely posited. Thus for example Ken Wilber has referred to the development of consciousness as an interior Upper Left-Hand quadrant affair. However from a dynamic perspective this is most misleading as exterior and interior aspects necessarily interact in development.

In the nondual sense - by contrast - opposite poles are understood as increasingly complementary and indeed ultimately identical which leads to the appreciation of spiritual emptiness (as opposed to material form).

In development both the dual and nondual aspects in relation to poles continually interact.

Quite simply the dual aspect is directly related to differentiation, whereas the nondual is related to integration.

Because the configurations of the differentiated and integrated aspects of experience continually change, the secondary characteristics of phenomena will always vary as between both polar extremes leading to endlessly diverse possibilities of categorization.

However in all cases these characteristics are dependent on the primary existence of polar opposites in experience (dual and nondual).

So in a primary sense, the mind does indeed always differentiate in an absurdly simple manner. As we have seen in any context, what is posited (explicitly) in dynamic terms implicitly entails its negative. And this is the very basis of differentiation in experience.

Likewise the mind always integrates in an absurdly simple manner. Here in any context, both positive and negative aspects mutually include each other so that separate polar identity has no strict meaning.

The reason why this is not readily apparent in terms of secondary phenomenal terms is due to the fact that experience never represents either the differential or integral aspect in isolation (but rather the interaction of both).

"There is also 'this/not this' where 'not this' is everything that is not 'this'. For example, you are able to identify the computer screen by separating it from other objects. It is not the 'mouse', it is not the keyboard, it is not the desk, etc, etc, ad infinitum. This is not a simple polarity but a one/many categorisation."

Ray is here confusing a secondary form of classification with what is primary.

In mystical terms the one/many categorization is a key polar distinction. However it is not intended as the relationship of the single to the plural in finite terms but rather the (actual) finite "one" to the (potential) infinite "many", or alternatively, the (potential) infinite "one" to the (actual) finite "many".

When one differentiates an object such as a computer screen in experience, there is a relationship of part and whole, whereby the perception of the (part) object takes place against the background of its associated (whole) concept. So it would not be possible therefore to recognize the perception of "computer screen" without the implied knowledge of its corresponding concept.

Now we can only separate an object from other objects in secondary finite terms if they have already been differentiated in experience (which implies the primary part/whole connection).

Put another way in differentiating objects, we always have the relationship of what is actual and what is potential.

So whereas we recognize an actual object through perception, its related concept applies potentially to all objects that fall within its class.

Thus for example the concept of number applies to all possible numbers (which is an infinite notion). However actual number perceptions are always finite.

So strictly the one/many categorization as used in a mystical context expresses the relationship of the infinite to the finite (not finite to finite).

"So if we were to apply Collins 'circular logic' to a one/many categorisation wouldn't we be saying that from a 'formless' point of view that the screen is the same as the desk, the mouse, the keyboard? From the point of view of the 'formless' this may be theoretically true (is the non-dual sage unable to differentiate?) but there is a point at which this becomes absurd and madly impractical."

Well of course from a formless point of view, all objects are the same as other objects as the empty ground (and goal) of all form (which is spiritual).

However we cannot successfully move from form to formlessness in experience while still trying to identify phenomena in (rigid) dualistic terms.

So the movement from form to formlessness only has meaning in a dynamic context, where phenomena that have already been posited (and thereby differentiated), are now negated in experience (thereby facilitating integration).

This dynamic negation itself depends on the ability to switch smoothly - without attachment - as between opposite polar reference frames thus rendering dualistic knowledge paradoxical.

"The point of making distinctions is to communicate; the point of differentiation is to enable us to act. We cannot find numbats in the wild until we know what a numbat is. Indeed, even a nondual Sage differentiates in order to teach and to speak about his/her experience. Collins understands this because in order for us to understand his critique he differentiates 'circular logic' from 'linear logic' and a 'dynamic' approach from a 'static' approach. The irony being (as mentioned above) that in tackling the problem of Wilber's so-called multi-differential approach he has created even more differentiation.

We can't avoid this differentiation. Even when we start to experience transpersonal states. We name any and every experience. If we don't have a name we create one. Every tradition names and describes what it experiences, including the most profound. 'Circular logic' is just another name."

Ray apparently wants it both ways. On the one hand he asserts the necessity of differentiating; yet on the other hand he wants to criticize me - as he sees it - for allegedly creating more differentiation through my approach.

Unfortunately, he never really appreciates the crucial difference I make as between a (rigid) analytic approach which is geared solely for differentiation and a dynamic synthetic approach that is geared for integration. 1

Once again I have no problem with differentiation per se. It is a vitally necessary aspect of experience. What I do have a big problem with however is the manner in which intellectual interpretation, that is properly suited for the differentiation of experience, is then used as a means of integration.

This is a fundamental problem that I would consider of even greater significance that the pre/trans fallacy. It is so widespread in fact that it is generally not even recognized.

And Ken Wilber's approach is riddled through and through with this problem.

"But is it a name for a new vision? Basically, no. It is just a different name for an ancient problem. How to describe the ineffable, how to translate the experience of a higher understanding to a lower level. And this problem exists no matter which stage of the spectrum we are talking about. It is not exclusive to the relationship between the rational and the transrational. Wouldn't the theory of relativity cause disruption the world-view of the mythical/magical levels? What might the bridge between these levels look like?

The bottom line is that Collins is a reductionist. He is attempting to reduce the transrational to the rational, to reduce the Divine to something that can be apprehended by a more "refined reason", to something that can be seen by the 'eye of mind'.

This is something Wilber wisely refuses to do. For Wilber the highest rational level is vision-logic; the highest level that can be accurately and sensibly talked about is vision logic.

Any level beyond that must be experienced DIRECTLY and Wilber states this clearly and often."

If Ray wants to appreciate the significance of my vision, then he will need to understand it in the context in which I operate (about which I have been very clear).

The central issue that I am addressing relates essentially to the manner of intellectual translation that is compatible with contemplative experience.

Whereas the religious traditions may well deal in some measure indirectly with these issues, it falls outside their strict area of concern.

Put another way, I am attempting to deal in a very dynamic - yet scientific manner - with key philosophical issues relating to appropriate intellectual interpretation at the differing levels of the Spectrum, which I do not see adequately dealt with elsewhere.

The issue of the relationship as between Relativity Theory and the magic/mythic levels is one to which I have given considerable attention. Many years ago when reading Piaget, I was struck by the close correspondence of many "prerational" child concepts with those used in Relativity Theory. The key to appreciating this connection is the realization that "lower" and "higher" levels of the Spectrum are dynamically complementary. Thus what is understood in confused manner at the "lower" prerational levels, is only properly understood at the corresponding "higher" transrational levels. Thus the unfolding of a transrational level by its very nature requires the corresponding unraveling of the remaining confusion associated with "lower" level understanding. And as the "lowest" level is complementary with the "highest", then we can only achieve the full disentangling of the earliest infant confusion at the most advanced transrational stage.

If Ray reads the second - and more important part of my article - of which he makes precious little mention, he will see that my dynamic model of the Spectrum is geared to establishing the complementary connection as between prerational and transrational levels of the Spectrum.

"The bottom line is that Collins is a reductionist. He is attempting to reduce the transrational to the rational, to reduce the Divine to something that can be apprehended by a more "refined reason", to something that can be seen by the 'eye of mind'.

This is something Wilber wisely refuses to do. For Wilber the highest rational level is vision-logic; the highest level that can be accurately and sensibly talked about is vision logic.

Any level beyond that must be experienced DIRECTLY and Wilber states this clearly and often."

I cannot refute this allegation strongly enough as I consider it to be utterly false.

The danger of such remarks - made without regard for the author's actual intention and stated position - is that they can be used rather shoddily to discredit a coherent overall position. And especially in the realm of the transpersonal such carelessness is inexcusable.

I have stressed repeatedly both in the original article and in my reply my actual position.

I do not try and reduce the transrational to the rational; neither do I try and elevate the rational to the transrational. They are qualitatively distinct domains and cannot be interpreted in terms of each other.

However I equally stress - which should be obvious from reflection on experience - that rational and transrational necessarily interact in the dynamics of experience.

So I have been deeply concerned throughout my adult life regarding the nature of the interaction between both domains.

It has been clear to me for a long time that at the level of intellectual translation that this dynamic relationship has been grossly misrepresented.

Far from this remaining an intellectual issue of little practical relevance, I believe that it has profound significance in terms of the very process of spiritual development in modern society.

The intellectual manner we customarily look at contemplative development is - beyond a certain point - largely inconsistent with that development. Therefore it can pose serious difficulties in terms of further advancement (even for those of good will).

So in the end, my motivation for this involvement is of a very practical nature in the desire to remove one of the potentially significant barriers to spiritual attainment.

Yes, the highest level of reason for Wilber is vision-logic. However - as I have so often stated - I believe his stance to be utterly mistaken.

Ken keeps identifying reason with its analytic expression where relationships in any context are considered within a fixed polar reference frame. This leads to the customary sequential asymmetric interpretation of relationships.

Now one may indeed attempt integration as Ken does through vision-logic. However by its very nature it inevitably leads to imbalance from an overall perspective.

When one carefully examines the considerable inconsistency in Ken's ever-shifting positions on so many key issues over the years, it will bear out my point. (Indeed I have detailed many of these at considerable length in my own contributions!)

However there is another type of cognitive structure, which only properly unfolds with the "higher" spiritual levels.

By its very nature it is very subtle and operates in an inherently dynamic manner where it increasingly interacts with spiritual intuition.
This is what I refer to as (circular) bi-directional understanding, which is based on the symmetrical nature of all relationships where the simultaneous recognition of opposite polar reference frames is explicitly recognized.

In my own work I have investigated this type of refined reason in considerable detail identifying distinctive types which are associated with each of the "higher levels H1, H2 and H3 (i.e. psychic/subtle, causal and nondual).

So analytic methods - which are based on the arbitrary fixing of the polar reference frame - make rational connections in a (linear) sequential asymmetric fashion and are inherently suited to the proper differentiation of experience.

However the refined reason of the synthetic methods is based on the dynamic mutual switching of polar reference frames in experience. It makes rational connections in a (circular) simultaneous symmetric fashion (i.e. the circle of understanding) and is inherently suited for the proper integration of experience.

It is a fundamental flaw in intellectual translation to attempt to achieve overall integration through the use of analytic methods. It will always lead to considerable imbalance and inconsistency.

Now vision-logic represents one such analytic method - what I refer to as Analytic 2 - and is not even the most advanced available of this type.

Indeed I stress the crucial importance of the Analytic 3 translation as the appropriate basis for making the smooth transition to the "higher" synthetic approaches (based on bi-directional understanding).

Analytic 3 leads to the formation of - what I refer to as mirror understanding - where every asymmetrical relationship in terms of one arbitrary fixed polar frame of reference, is now understood to have an equally valid opposite explanation (in terms of the alternative frame).
(I have illustrated this point at length in my earlier example on evolution and involution taken from Ken's work).

Bi-directional synthetic understanding then arises when we learn to treat understanding in terms of the mutual switching of these opposite reference frames in experience.

At H1 this is largely confined to horizontal (exterior/interior) connections within a given level.

At H2 vertical (whole/part) switching increasingly takes place between differing levels.

Finally at H3 diagonal (from/emptiness) switching takes place both within and between levels leading to disappearance of all levels.

Radial understanding then incorporates the mature interpenetrating use of analytic and synthetic modes of understanding in both a fully constructive and creative manner.

"One of the contradictions, even ironies, of Collins' system is that he claims to have found a way to develop a more "refined reason", one that integrates the so-called immanent and transcendent aspects through a 'dynamic' approach. Supposedly creating a higher order 'rational' level than vision-logic.

Yet, when I read Collins all I see is a rather confused 'rational' argument. All of Collins' definitions (vague and inaccurate as they are) are simply attempts to provide a rational argument for a more "refined reason". Wilber would probably call this a 'performative contradiction'. In other words, what appears to Collins attempting to use 'circular logic' is in fact Collins using rational arguments rather poorly with the result being that he simply ends up being illogical and irrational."

My position is very clear.

Associated with each of the "higher" levels are increasingly refined cognitive structures which are inherently dynamic in their mode of operation.

By this I mean that bi-directional reason and spiritual intuition increasingly interpenetrate in understanding at these levels so as to mutually serve each other.

Furthermore it is this type of understanding that is inherently suited for appropriate intellectual translation of the integration - as opposed to the differentiation - of experience.

As I have repeatedly stressed, I do not see vision-logic as the "highest" form of reason.

By its very nature vision-logic is based on asymmetrical distinctions that are separated in linear time. This is what I refer to as (one-directional) analytic understanding and is properly suited for the multi-differentiation of experience.

Even in terms of such analytic understanding, vision-logic is not the most advanced type available.

Though one may well attempt to integrate networks of relationships through vision-logic, this inevitably leads to imbalance and inconsistency (as by its nature it is based on fixed polar frames of reference).

Because however these polar reference frames keep shifting in the actual dynamics of experience, we need a more subtle method of translation that can simultaneously incorporate these opposite frames.

The "highest" form of analytic understanding is this based on the clear realization that every asymmetrical relationship (considered in terms of one fixed reference frame) has a mirror image alternative that is equally valid in terms of the opposite polar reference frame. This is what I refer to as Analytic 3 understanding.

This form of analytic understanding provides the essential basis for moving on to circular bi-directional understanding

Bi-directional understanding, which is required for true integral translation, is based on the refined cognitive structures, which unfold with each of the "higher" spiritual levels. Once again they represent an increasingly dynamic form of understanding where refined reason and intuition increasingly interpenetrate in experience. This in turn facilitates the ability to explicitly recognize the manner in which polar reference frames continually switch, which then becomes incorporated in the intellectual translations of these levels.

Again in my own approach, I distinguish three distinct levels of bi-directional understanding (which reflect in turn the understanding of the three higher levels H1, H2 and H3.

If one attempts to interpret this subtle understanding in a merely rigid analytic manner - which Ray clearly does - then of course it will appear confused in somewhat the same manner that the relationships of quantum mechanics will appear confused to someone seeking their interpretation using Newtonian principles.

"In fact, Collins never actually uses 'circular logic' in his article, even to provide an example of how it might be used. Instead he uses quite conventional arguments to state his case."

This is quite ridiculous. The article is full of examples throughout of the use of circular logic.

Let me just briefly recap on some of these.

For example I illustrate the use of linear and circular notions of movement with reference to my example of the two drivers. I then use this illustration to show its deep relevance for a synthetic as opposed to a merely analytic interpretation of development.

The next section - which traces the relationship as between holism and partism - is likewise based on circular notions.

Nor is this treatment merely theoretical, as I give a very practical example of the importance of these related notions for the dynamics of spiritual development.

I also use circular notions in suggesting the appropriate dynamic interpretation of the relationship as between evolution and involution (and progression and regression).

I then go in a lengthy section to use circular notions to demonstrate the many inconsistencies in Ken Wilber's treatment of the four quadrants.

In the next section I use circular notions to highlight the limitations of Ken's transcendence and inclusion approach to holarchical development.

In fact, I use circular notions in my criticism of every important Wilberian notion in the article.

Then in the second and more important part of the article - which unfortunately Ray shows very little evidence of reading - I use circular notions in the construction of my dynamic model of the Spectrum. Each level here is portrayed as a unique configuration of linear and circular interpretation.

Then when I go on to discussion of my methods of translation, which provides the appropriate context for the entire article, I use circular notions (especially in the outline of integral and radial methods).

Finally when I return to Ken Wilber's work towards the end I use circular notions to highlight important limitations in this treatment of the pre/trans fallacy.

"Could Collins provide us with an example of 'circular logic' revealing the subtle level, the causal level and the non-dual? And in doing so can he guarantee that his 'circular' or 'dynamic' description will cause a 'qualitative' change in the reader leading to an intuitive insight, or a direct apprehension of the said level? This is a direct challenge. Collins says 'circular logic' will do this. OK, show us, demonstrate it for us. Bi-directional understanding."

Ray should well know that even the greatest guru in the world will be powerless to help a disciple attain spiritual attainment if there is a lack of respect and good-will in the disciple's heart.

So - given his present lack of resonance with my approach - I certainly would not offer him any guarantee that my descriptions of circular understanding will cause in him a qualitative change leading to spiritual transformation.

However for any reader who can relate to my approach, and then appreciate its validity in terms of his/her own experience, it might indeed act as a catalyst for spiritual insight.

Again Ray is quite inaccurate when he asserts that I claim that circular logic will lead to intuitive insight. For proper comprehension it requires spiritual intuition. Circular logic can then act as an (indirect) catalyst for the deepening of such intuition.

I would never offer short cuts to authentic spiritual development, which I have personally found very demanding and painful. What I would say however is that someone who is on a genuine contemplative spiritual path and finding difficulties with accepted modes of interpretation, may well find in my approach an intellectual system that that is more properly integrated with such spiritual development.

And then because of this integration, the intellectual understanding acquired could then naturally act as a catalyst for further spiritual transformation. (Equally such spiritual transformation would further assist appreciation of this subtler manner of intellectual interpretation).

"Remember that Wilber says that any level beyond 'vision-logic' is transrational and transverbal"

We have been through this before. Ken Wilber's confusion is in identifying reason solely with (linear) asymmetrical modes of interpretation (which I refer to as analysis).

Certainly the levels beyond vision-logic are transrational (in this limited analytic sense).

However Ken fails to properly recognize the dynamic nature of refined bi-directional modes of reason, which are circular and symmetrical in nature and only properly unfold with the "higher" levels. And these are an integral aspect of the unfolding spiritual process, facilitating further transformation is spiritual insight and in turn becoming further refined through such insight.

Once more appropriate integral - as opposed to differential - translations of reality are based on such bi-directional modes.

"Wilber says about spiritual systems:

"It dawns on a few interpreters that these systems are, through and through, from top to bottom, the results of actual contemplative apprehensions and direct developmental phenomenology. The higher levels of these systems cannot be experienced or deduced rationally, and nobody from Plotinus to Aurobindo thinks they can. However, after the fact of direct and repeated experiential disclosures, they can be rationally reconstructed and presented as a 'system'. But the 'system', so-called, has been discovered, not deduced, and checked against direct experience in a community of the like-minded and like-spirited. (20")

I would consider Ken's statement here as somewhat unbalanced.
Of course any authentic spiritual system can only result from experiential contemplative development.
Also it goes without saying that we cannot deduce these systems rationally.
However to stop here is to miss the crucial point, that even though rational and intuitive experiences constitute qualitatively distinct domains, they inevitably interact in the dynamics of experience. Therefore it is vitally important to translate as correctly as possible the nature of this dynamic interaction. Otherwise - even with the best of intentions - the desire for spiritual attainment may become greatly restricted.
In regards to Ken's last statement I would find it unduly conservative. Where radical change is taking place in society in spiritual, cultural and intellectual terms, true leaders are needed. These do not wait to get approval of the like-minded for the simple reason that such people do not yet exist in sufficient numbers in the community.
Thus the greatest spiritual leaders often come sharply into conflict with the established beliefs and customs of their times.

This is equally true in intellectual terms. Let me give just one example from my own field of economics.

The most influential economics book of the 20th century is "The General Theory" by John Maynard Keynes. 2 It subsequently changed in a radical manner the approach by Governments to overall economic management of the economy.

Did Keynes initially get approval from like-minded economists? No! His views were in fact sharply at variance with the conventional wisdom of the time.

Did he therefore cease to act until he achieved the approval of his professional colleagues? No! And we can be very grateful that he continued to campaign and that his views eventually achieved acceptance.

"With the understanding that, "it cannot be FULLY said or verbally passed on".

I wonder how much of Collins' system has been deduced? And if it is based on direct experience, if this experience has been checked and verified by a community of the similarly experienced?

And separate from those questions: how coherent and useful is Collins 'rational reconstruction'?"

Yes, my entire approach is based on personal experience, which I trust as deeply valid and meaningful. Therefore its greatest strength is that it is directly experiential and first-hand throughout.

Also the approach is genuinely original in that I can find very few precedents for its key insights (especially regarding its holistic interpretation of key mathematical symbols and relationships).

Though I am very gratified that some very intelligent people have already shown a distinct resonance with my views there is as yet no well-formed community of the like-minded from which to seek approval.

Therefore I am leading with new insights which I believe - if embraced - have considerable potential in terms of a proper integral scientific approach.

Zen Koans

Collins says that:
"The very purpose of this logic is to erode exclusive identification with the polarized distinctions of the linear method. This then serves as preparation for a qualitative transformation through intuitive insight (where paradoxical meaning can be directly apprehended in spiritual fashion)."
Well, okay. But isn't this what Zen koans are meant to achieve? In which case we are really talking about a 'technique', one that has long been used in eastern philosophy (not just Zen).

From one perspective, circular logic can be used as a practical technique for spiritual development. However, in the context in which I use it, it is much more, in that such paradoxical understanding is meaningfully incorporated into one's intellectual appreciation of the very structure of reality (when interpreted at the appropriate levels of understanding).

First I would thus distinguish as between "incidental" and deeply meaningful paradox.

The well known koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping" is an example of an "incidental" paradox in that it is not directly related to the very structure of reality.

The paradoxes of quantum mechanics however are of a different order in that can be seen as an integral aspect - at a certain level - of the behavior of matter.

So it is this deeply meaningful paradox - which at certain levels of understanding become an integral aspect of one's overall worldview - on which I focus.

Secondly I distinguish carefully in my approach as between three distinct levels of paradox. Furthermore - and extremely important - I establish a fundamentally significant connection with important mathematical notions (when given a dynamic holistic interpretation).

This creates an entirely new scientific context for application of such paradox (which is not envisaged by the spiritual traditions).

Thirdly I do not use paradox (circular logic) in isolation but rather in conjunction with linear modes of understanding.

Thus the real breakthrough for me has come from being able to interpret all modes of understanding as representing distinct configurations of circular and linear modes of understanding (precisely in the manner I define them).

This has then led to the very important discovery of a holistic binary system (based on linear and circular understanding) which complements the (analytic) binary system that is the basis of our present digital age.

So just as I and 0, in various configurations, can serve as the basis for the potential encoding of all information systems, likewise the encoding of the holistic digits (1 and 0) representing linear and circular understanding respectively, can serve as the basis for the encoding of all transformation processes.

Perhaps with appropriate imagination, Ray might be able to appreciate the potential significance of such an insight.

Furthermore far from this being just being speculation, I have consistently applied this binary approach to the construction of my dynamic model of development (which represents one very important transformation process). Indeed I would much rather elaborate in detail on what I see as the truly novel aspects of my approach that deal - as here - with so many issues that detract from this vision.

So Ray is simply ignoring the fact that I have created a new and - I believe - coherent scientific context for the treatment of (circular) paradox where it is creatively linked to linear notions and directly applicable as a scientific integral approach to all disciplines.

"In any case, does Collins seriously think that Wilber isn't aware of the concept of using paradox to stop the mind? Wasn't Wilber a Zen student at one time?"

Being aware of the use of paradox in a religious context is one thing. But the ability to apply paradox properly as an integral part of a scientific approach is quite another. And of course it is this latter aspect with which my article is concerned.

Once again Ken's asymmetrical intellectual approach to development is greatly lacking in paradoxical understanding and is indeed unbalanced and inconsistent from a dynamic integral perspective.

It is this need to formally incorporate paradox - in the form of bi-directional understanding - into an integral method of translation with that the article deals. As I show Ken Wilber does not do this which leaves his approach gravely deficient in this key respect.

"Now, if 'circular logic' is a 'technique' whose purpose is to erode identification with the linear method in order to prepare for transformation through intuitive insight isn't Collins assuming that this is what Wilber wants to do? Wilber is really acting as a reformer of western thought. He is not acting as a spiritual teacher with a set of 'techniques'. He does not intend his system to actually trigger transpersonal states. He intends his system to analytically criticise the state of western thought. He intends his system to be 'theory' upon which he hopes other, more directly experienced teachers, will create a 'practice' and devise appropriate 'techniques'. (In which case is Collins also simply providing theory or is he suggesting a practice? Is he qualified to suggest a practice?) Wilber has described himself as a pandit, not a Jagadguru."

Ray again is missing the essential nature of my criticism of Ken Wilber which is that any attempt to translate the overall dynamics of development without incorporating bi-directional circular notions of understanding will inevitably be unbalanced and inconsistent.

Such an intellectual approach therefore cannot be considered integral.

Thus my main criticism of Ken Wilber is in terms of adopting a faulty intellectual means of translating integration. Given that he is concentrating so much on the notion of the integral in recent work, this is of fundamental importance.

Ray claims that Ken is acting as a reformer of western thought. Well this may be his attention but I would certainly not consider him successful in this key respect.

However I would consider that Ken is genuinely using his work to trigger an interest in spiritual development which indeed is admirable.

Furthermore, I would say that he has been very successful in this regard especially for those who are already operating in terms of vision-logic understanding.

What I am saying however is that from the perspective of further spiritual development at the "higher" levels, that Ken's intellectual translation begins to break down and becomes more and more inconsistent with the dynamics of spiritual development. So in this context I would even see his unduly asymmetrical approach as constituting a barrier to advanced spiritual development.

As regards the question as to whether I am providing a theory or practice, my intention is to provide both. In terms of authentic development of "higher" levels, divisions as between theory and practice become increasingly less relevant and truth becomes measured in terms of its experiential value.

"Nor is Wilber particularly interested in providing a definitive description of transpersonal states. He only provides the minimum outline in order to point to their existence (in the hope that flatlanders will pay attention). He suggests that if people want proof of their existence that they take up a set of contemplative injunctions. He suggests that if you want to be guided through these states that you study under a genuine master, one who has fully travelled the road him/herself, one who will apply the right technique at the right time."

This may well be true regarding Ken's own intentions.

However once again it does not deal with the dynamic relationship as between contemplative practice and the kind of intellectual understanding that Ken offers in his books. Again I would say, that beyond a certain level, Ken's intellectual translation becomes increasingly inconsistent with contemplative practice.

"If Collins understood the wealth of the eastern traditions he would understand that the use of 'logical paradox' is actually a relatively minor and unimportant method. Yet, 'circular logic' is central to Collins' approach, which I think speaks of a certain naivety.

Here are some final questions for this section: does Collins' concept of 'circular logic' actually add anything to what Wilber has said? Or is it simply another (albeit a rather awkward) way of saying much the same thing? Is 'circular logic' really all that different to 'translogical'?"

The clear problem is that Ray completely ignores the context in which I make my remarks regarding logical paradox. Once again it was not my intention in the article to discuss the practices of eastern traditions which are not relevant to my stated goals.

Also as Ray clearly has demonstrated so little appreciation of my use of circular logic, he is not in a position to offer constructive comment.

To say that circular logic is central to my approach is equivalent to saying that that 0 is central to the binary system.

However just as the value of the binary digits only becomes apparent when 0 is combined with 1, likewise the fruitful scientific application of circular logic only becomes apparent when combined with linear logic.

This should be apparent to Ray if he reads the second (more important) part of my article where I deal in detail with eight methods of intellectual translation. However far from dealing adequately with this key section, he never even mentions it.

Let's isolate one particular passage:
"…spirit is made immanent but included in soul, which is made immanent but included in mind, which is made immanent but included in body."
In the sense that Wilber uses the terms soul, mind and body as levels of the Great Chain this statement is plain ridiculous. It is spirit alone that is immanent. Spirit is immanent in each level. Mind, or more correctly, the specific cognitive levels, are not inherent in all bodies. A dog, though it has a mind, has a very limited level of cognition, it cannot understand vision-logic. A plant, which has a body, does not have a mind.

As I have shown there has been a considerable shifting in position in Ken's position over the years with many statements being made - often unclear - that are not quite consistent with each other.

In an earlier statement e.g. Preface to the 2nd edition of "The Spectrum of Consciousness", Ken deals with immanence in a purely absolute fashion. Immanence IS whereas transcendence evolves.

However a recent position is SES is that at each step of evolution, Eros reaches up (transcendence) while Agape reaches down (immanence).

This clearly implies that realization of the immanent aspect - like the transcendent - also gradually unfolds throughout development (and envelopment). This of course is not properly consistent with his earlier statement, which merely affirms the Absolute nature of immanence i.e. that IMMANENCE IS.

Ray's comments in relation to the dog are not well taken. He admits that a dog has a mind but then goes on to say that it cannot understand vision-logic. However this is quite irrelevant to the point.

This is simply to state that every holon ultimately shares the same formless spiritual essence of all creation.

It has a soul in that this spiritual essence becomes embodied in each holon in a unique fashion.

It also has a mind relating to unique fundamental control/response interactions with the environment. (Many of the startling experiments in quantum physics for example have demonstrated how communication - even at the "lower" sub-atomic level - can occur).

Finally every holon has a body in that it can be phenomenally identified in a unique manner.

So every holon incorporates Spirit, soul, mind and body in a manner unique to its own level of existence.

Quite simply in reaching up, if the body (Eros) is transcended in mind, the mind transcended in soul and the soul transcended in Spirit, then - relatively - equally in reaching down (Agape) Spirit is made immanent in soul, soul is made immanent in mind and the mind made immanent in body.

"Collins also says:

"…a part atom is also the whole of a molecule (i.e. qualitatively includes the molecule), the part molecule is whole of a cell, the part cell is whole of an organism, the part organism is whole of an ecosystem, and so on."
Where on earth does this actually happen? We can see Wilber's model in action. It is real. We can pull apart an organism and see it as a collection of cells, we can pull apart the cell and find the molecules, but has anyone pulled apart an organism and found an ecosystem? Has anyone pulled apart a molecule and found a cell? This is just fantasy."

The clear problem once again here is that Ray is using a merely (linear) analytic mode of interpretation to criticize an understanding that is based on a more subtle synthetic mode.

So he is operating according to the "myth of the given" when he considers that atoms, molecules, cells organisms and ecosystems can be experientially understood in abstraction from the viewing mind.

In dynamic terms, atoms, molecules etc have no meaning independent of the mental perceptions and concepts we use to observe them. So in dynamic terms therefore, our understanding of such phenomena represents two-way holonic interactions that have both interior and exterior and individual and collective aspects respectively.

If we are to content to use the epistemologically inaccurate model of reality, that views objects as independent (with a merely exterior aspect), then of course when " we pull apart a cell" we will get a collection of molecules.

However in a dynamic context, it is vital to preserve both the quantitative and qualitative aspect of relationships without reducing the qualitative to the quantitative, which is the manner of conventional science.

The point I am making, is that in a dynamic context the meaning of wholes and parts mutually arises from the interactive context in which phenomena arise (without either predetermining the other).

Thus when we look at the relationship between atoms and molecules in this context, their experiential meaning depends on the dynamic interaction of both aspects.

Therefore if we quantitatively identify the atoms as included in the molecule, then equally - in relative terms - we must qualitatively identify the molecules as included in the atoms. This simply means that without the atoms, it would be impossible in this context to give a meaning to the molecules.

This is a vitally important point. When we adopt Ray's perspective we give a predetermined meaning to the "lower" elements. So then the "pre-existing" atoms are seen as included in the emergent molecule.

However without placing atoms in some wider context they can have no meaning to begin with. So whereas "wholes" get their meaning from "parts", equally "parts" get their meaning from "wholes". Unfortunately this circular relationship is lost when we get into the standard asymmetrical manner of interpretation.

In modern physics at the minute scales of matter, the dynamic viewpoint I am offering achieves an added significance (because of the inherent dynamic nature of such reality). So sub-atomic particles are included in strings as qualitative vibrational patterns of these strings.

"The key word here is 'qualitative'. But what does qualitative in this context mean? In order to understand this we need to go back over previous material. Collins associates 'qualitative' with 'affective' and 'aesthetic', with this mysterious cognitive process that is the polar opposite of cognitive. However, we have already discovered that this mysterious other is a very vague thing indeed. And it is a 'concept' that is unique to Collins."

Once again Ray is quite inaccurate. I do not associate qualitative merely with affective and aesthetic.

I would always maintain that cognitive and affective understanding, have both quantitative and qualitative aspects and this has already been amply illustrated in my response.

We also see here the limitations of Ray's vision. At an analytic level he wants to pin everything down in unambiguous terms, whereas in spiritual terms he wants experience untouched as ineffable.

However this is simply to compartmentalize two areas of experience that ceaselessly interact.

So the very essence of a dynamic scientific approach is to lead one to appreciate how this ineffable mystery is necessarily incorporated into our appreciation of everyday concepts.

And when properly experienced, there is indeed a mystery about the "qualitative" aspect (as there is about the quantitative) which cannot be rationally encapsulated.

However this "qualitative" aspect of experience, though ultimately mysterious, is certainly not unique to my approach.

"In the end this thing that inverts Wilber's process of transcendence in the Great Chain (that turns holons into on-hols) is really a conceptual device, an abstraction, a figment of an over active imagination, a phantasm. And that is all it is. It has no reality outside of Collins' mind. It is his 'feeling' that there is an 'affective' mode that makes the transcendent immanent. That is why it is personal and aesthetic. The thing is, there is really no language to describe this process properly (because it doesn't really exist) so Collins has had to distort, twist and doctor other terms.

It's all rather confused and confusing."

No! it is not merely a conceptual devise. One of the great problems I see is the continual dominance in intellectual terms of the transcendent over the immanent aspect of development. Insofar as the immanent is recognized it is generally subsumed under transcendence. This is wrong and indeed potentially extremely unhealthy.

So the purpose of my approach is to provide a means of equally emphasizing the immanent as well as the transcendent aspect of creation.

Ken Wilber's holarchical model is based on the notion of holism (where - in any relevant context - the "lower" holon is transcended and included in the "higher"). This thus leads to an unbalanced emphasis on the transcendent over the immanent aspect of development.

In the end what I am saying has very practical consequences which are vitally important in the context of spiritual development.

If we follow Ken Wilber's logic then we will always be attempting to use a top-down approach for integration i.e. in trying to integrate the "lower" from the perspective of the "higher" level.

However this is very unbalanced and likely to lead to significant repression.

We must equally attempt to use a bottom-up approach and integrate "higher" levels from the perspective of the "lower".

So for example if one reaches the causal level, it is not sufficient to attempt to integrate all previous levels from the perspective of the "highest" i.e. the causal. One must equally attempt to integrate the causal from the perspective of the "lower" levels.

So in the first instance holism and transcendence are emphasized; in the latter - relatively - partism and immanence are emphasized. We need to use both in a balanced fashion.

Ray's confusion has a simple explanation. It is due to his persistent attempt to interpret circular bi-directional understanding in a linear analytic fashion thus reducing it to an absurdity!


"We've gone about as far as I want to go. I could systematically pick through all that Collins has said, but that would be laborious and ultimately futile, as I believe we have covered all the essential points"

This is plainly ridiculous. For example, no mention whatsoever is made of my holistic mathematical approach or the precise formulation of the Spectrum of eight methods of intellectual translation (though central to the entire article).

Not surprisingly therefore Ray's interpretation of other points is greatly lacking in context and full of inaccuracies throughout. His total lack of concern for relevant context is even revealed in his own choice of words "pick through all that Collins has said"

To be frank, as yet he shows very little evidence of understanding the subtle nature of the thinking - expressed in a concise manner - in the article.

"What is bizarre in Collins' model is that this subjective/creative mode is opposite to an objective/empirical mode in that it moves from holism to partism, from transcendence to immanence. That it somehow reverses evolution. I have shown just how mistaken this idea is."

Again this statement is full of inaccuracies. I do not contrast a subjective creative mode with an objective empirical mode.

What I do contrast however is a synthetic mode (which is precisely defined in circular bi-directional terms) with an analytic mode (that is linear and one-directional).

Both modes necessarily have subjective and objective aspects as well as theoretical and empirical aspects.

Likewise Ray misses again the very essence of my bi-directional approach.

In the dynamics of experience, holism ceaselessly gives way to partism and partism to holism; likewise transcendence ceaselessly gives way to immanence and immanence to transcendence.

The notion of evolution as progressively moving forward in linear time is simply an arbitrary and limited perspective, which is ultimately inconsistent with the nature of nondual reality as continually present at each moment.

So what I do show, is how to move from an asymmetric view of development (as evolution) to a more balanced view that is consistent with nondual reality.

"And because it does not exist it cannot form a polarity with an opposite cognitive process. This being so it cannot therefore form part of a so-called 'dynamic' approach. The 'dynamic' approach cannot exist.

Wilber cannot therefore be criticised for failing to use a non-existent approach.

In fact without an 'affective' mode and a 'dynamic' approach there can be no circular logic. Collins' entire model collapses and he is therefore talking nonsense."

Again this is just laughable. One would get the impression that the terms "affective" and "dynamic" never existed before my article.

I would say to Ray that blanket dismissal of what one does not properly understand is no substitute for effective criticism.

To conclude, I am very confident that my article raises crucially important issues that have not been yet addressed in other arenas. Also it introduces an original integral scientific approach - based on the dynamic holistic interpretation of mathematical symbols - for dealing coherently with these issues.


1 Again to use holistic mathematical language, differentiation always entails the positing of phenomena (+) through the separation of poles in experience (with only one posited).

Integration - by contrast - always entail the negation of phenomena (-) through the complementary union of the positive with its negative.

An analytic approach is one-directional and based on differentiation; the synthetic is bi-directional and based on integration.

I define a radial approach - which is the most comprehensive - as one that combines both analytic and synthetic approaches.

2. The full title is "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" and was published at the height of the Depression in 1936.

In his Preface Keynes expresses that the real difficulty in writing his book was not so much in the new ideas offered but rather in relinquishing his attachment to the old (even though they were no longer working successfully).

This is a problem that faces anyone trying to offer a "new" vision that promises improvements in some key regards. Attachment to older visions - even if unsatisfactory in key respects - is initially likely to remain strong thus creating a strong barrier to ready acceptance.