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The Spectrum of Consciousness

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Wilber's groundbreaking synthesis of religion, philosophy, physics, and psychology started a revolution in transpersonal psychology. He was the first to suggest in a systematic way that the great psychological systems of the West could be integrated with the noble contemplative traditions of the East. Spectrum of Consciousness , first released by Quest in 1977, has been the prominent reference point for all subsequent attempts at integrating psychology and spirituality.

385 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1977

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About the author

Ken Wilber

221 books1,036 followers
Kenneth Earl Wilber II is an American philosopher and writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory, a systematic philosophy which suggests the synthesis of all human knowledge and experience.

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5 stars
304 (53%)
4 stars
175 (30%)
3 stars
73 (12%)
2 stars
12 (2%)
1 star
8 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Arash Aghevli.
36 reviews11 followers
July 25, 2007
Have no idea where to begin when discussing this book. In the first few chapters, Wilbur summarizes everything I had ever read about psychology and philosophy. In the next section, he creates one of the most comprehensive frameworks for understanding how almost every school of philosophy, psychology and metaphysical understandings of the universe fit together. Finally, he lays out his vision of how all of these forms of understanding evolve outward from one end of the spectrum to another through a process of fragmentation, and how we can reverse the process through involution. Unreal, and one of the most pivotal books of my life.
4 reviews2 followers
August 2, 2013
When I first picked up this book (about 15 years ago) I didn't understand it. It just didn't click. Then about 4 years later I picked it up again from my bookshelf and it absolutely blew me away. This book, maybe more than any other, caused a paradigm shift in my mind while simultaneously articulating something I felt I already knew intuitively.

For me this book was a profound revelation and put a dent in my mental construct of the world.
1 review
June 18, 2009
The single most influential book of my life. It unites eastern and western traditions in an easy to understand, quote-filled journey through the most interesting and important spectrum of the universe ..if not the only one that exists.
Profile Image for Carla.
11 reviews
May 4, 2008
Ah...one of my favorite books. This book changed my life. It answers a lot of questions about life's mysteries in this universe. It is truly fascinating, and encourages personal growth. Based in science, transpersonal psychology is a beautiful subject combining science, religions, and the metaphysical.
Profile Image for Peggy Warren.
34 reviews7 followers
October 26, 2018
A very worthwhile book, but not a casual read. Author goes into great depth about non-dualism from many angles. Background in eastern philosophies and/or psychology would probably be helpful. Getting through this book was a bit of a struggle for me, as I'm very unfamiliar with much of the vernacular. Thought provoking nonetheless, with some very illuminating viewpoints.
June 18, 2020
Deep thorough look at all the different developmental stages, levels, and lines of many different systems and developmental programs... What are their common denominators and how do we use all this like a roadmap to the inner and outer development of our being... Ken Wilber is one of a kind...
Profile Image for Kitap.
781 reviews36 followers
July 15, 2009
"It is on the question of interpretation of internal experiences that Wilber's system falters. Wilber fails to defend the validity of his practice of interpreting these internal experiences as epistemologically sound means of gaining access to valid knowledge about the true nature of extra-pyschic reality. Similarly, he fails to provide convincing arguments to explain why his interpretation of those experiences should be considered more valid than the theist's quite different interpretations of the same internal experiences. Finally, he fails to demonstrate why the non-dualist religious experience should be considered superior to the religious experience of theists, an experience which asserts and values the otherness of God. From this epistemological issue, other issues follow: the de-valuation of the personal, the separation of the ethical and the spiritual, Wilber's selective, non-representative use of sources, and others. The future status of Wilber's work and the field of transpersonal psychology will in part be a product of how successfully Wilber responds to these and other challenges from non-transpersonalist commentators." - George Adams, "A Theistic Perspective on Ken Wilber's Transpersonal Psychology," Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2002
701 reviews3 followers
July 17, 2016
Oh boy, what a challenge to read Wilber, but it is so rich and full of various other resources I can also study. I will need to read this over and over again to get the most from it. He is a genius and makes me want to study all that he studied (except the mathematics--haha). Only by changing consciousness and always aiming towards union is this world going to improve. At least, that is how I perceive things now. If one is serious about growing into full human potential, this book can certainly be helpful.
Profile Image for Gabriel Eggers.
54 reviews
March 20, 2019
Absolutely transformational! A unification of our understanding of the landscape of consciousness bridging across modern psychological theories of all school, as well as the comtemplative traditions of the world and beyond. I still can't believe that this was written almost 5o years ago by a 26 year old man. Reading this book provoked a profound interest in developmental psychology in me and helped supply me with the tools to understand a whole range of experiences and phenomenon that I had previously dismissed or overlooked.
1 review
December 23, 2021
This is a great book.
Some people read 60-70% of a book and leave it.
But if you are reading this one, then go from first page to the last page. Things will add up and whole picture will be clear till the end.
It is not easy to read a book with such a depth. But finishing this book is worth it.
February 12, 2020
If you have once experienced "It", the whole book makes sense, if not, you might think it is full of bs. I am a scientist and was a non-believer of everything which I cannot explain with a materialistic world view. I have started doing tai chi and meditation because of health aspects and relaxation. One day I experienced the "connection" during a meditation. It was absolutely terrifying for me, because I could not explain it with my existing knowledge, but it was as real as I am. My whole belief system collapsed because I didn’t know what to do with this new information. Thanks to this book I can assign it as a level of consciousness (transpersonal band as written by Ken Wilber) and begin to understand it. And now the whole Batiniyya and Tasawwuf tradition of my culture makes sense to me. I heard maybe countless times the Alevi song begins with the text “I am the mirror of the whole universe, since I am a human being”, but I ignored it as a religious mumbo jumbo. But now I can comprehend the meaning finally. This is a book, which might change lives literally.
Profile Image for Ricardo Acuña.
130 reviews13 followers
November 2, 2014
Es un libro que me pareció excelente, con muchos conceptos profundos de psicología y desarrollo de conciencia. Sin duda de mis favoritos. Presenta un análisis comparativo de las diferentes escuelas de oriente y occidente que concilia los modelos del desarrollo psicológico y de la conciencia. Y por si fuera poco, concilia también las diferentes escuelas psicológicas occidentales, poniendo muy claro el enfoque terapéutico de cada una en el modelo del espectro de la conciencia. En lo personal uno de los aspectos mas valiosos, es poder ver que todas las escuelas son verdaderas desde la perspectiva del nivel del espectro al que atienden. Todos los caminos del desarrollo de la conciencia llevan al mismo punto de no-dualidad. Me parece que contiene muchos códigos de significado para ser descubiertos, que cada quien podrá o no comprender, según la posición en el espectro que ocupemos, nuestros condicionamientos y conocimientos.
Profile Image for Domagoj Bodlaj.
102 reviews1 follower
November 24, 2019
Since discussion on consciousness cannot be based purely on logical and scientific discourse, it must deploy vague language of analogies, imagery, "what it feels like" descriptions and sometimes poetic figures. Having this in mind, the book still didn't trigger my bs detector, which i feel is somewhat sensitive. It did tingle at the moments, but I ascribed that to the nature of the subject and the neccessary use of the previously mentioned instruments. Wilbers comprehensive theory on consciousness seems to make a decent amount of sense
Profile Image for James Lowery.
29 reviews2 followers
September 9, 2022
I'm going to be honest I just couldn't finish this book. I made it to chapter 6 and just couldn't read anymore. The crux of the book is made in the first two chapters, then everything after that is simply repeating and rewording those two chapters while rehashing and using quotes from about ten authors, if that, used throughout the entire book. If you have an extremely poor memory or attention span this might suit you but I found it beyond annoying.
18 reviews1 follower
April 25, 2019
A Great synthesis

“Spectrum has intrinsically different characteristics—different needs, different symbols, different modes of awareness, different motivations, different compensations, and so on. When a particular level is rendered unconscious, so are the major features of the characteristics of that level. Thus, the unconscious is stratified, and for the very same reasons that the Spectrum itself is stratified.”
Profile Image for Arman.
22 reviews7 followers
February 28, 2021
Simply enlightening. An evocative tale of the evolution of human consciousness from the initial thought to the neurosis caused by suppression and projection of our Shadow. A must-read for philosophy and psychology enthusiasts.
March 25, 2023
A windy road of repetition—at least, the parts I read. Couldn’t finish. Some interesting nuggets here and there, yet the perennialism sitting at the center is hard to swallow, tougher to digest, and lacking in nutrition.
June 18, 2023
This is the best book I've read so far this year(2023). The incredible fact that it was written over forty years ago is humbling. It expresses truths about the nature of reality in a very comprehensive and extensive way that merges science and spiritual/wisdom traditions.
Profile Image for Luciano Lisiotti.
116 reviews2 followers
October 29, 2021
Finally finished !

It’s a heavy book but quite interesting, with lots of interesting points.

To be read in your mother language, because it’s not an easy book to read!
10 reviews
April 5, 2022
The best anchor that you will ever find for your life. It completely reorientes your being and marries rationality with intuition
Profile Image for Austin.
2 reviews
January 28, 2023
Ken is extremely thorough and integrative. A bright mind of our time.
Profile Image for Nadia.
116 reviews
December 8, 2018
Phew. What to say. Fascinating concepts, impressive synthesis. The first half of the book is a mess. A repetitive series of tautologies bookended by long quote after quote that are rarely explicated. It doesn't help that he uses phrases he coins himself like "centaur awareness." I nearly didn't make it through those weeds. But once I made it to "Involution" I found myself really appreciating it.

As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, I appreciated the concepts.
Profile Image for Andrew.
51 reviews1 follower
July 29, 2008
this is the book which put ken wilber at the forefront of the transpersonal movement. a book which lays the groundwork for his more specialized books which have been written since. wilber does not look at the universe through any specific lens but rather offers the first glimpse of his integral approach.
Profile Image for Giovanni Bianco.
25 reviews9 followers
January 27, 2017
O Espectro da Consciência é um clássico do pensamento transpessoal. Apesar de Wilber, primeiramente, ter se desligado do carácter retrorromâtico da obra e, depois, desligado-se do próprio campo da transpessoal, o livro ainda é cheio de insights profundos e já demonstra o brilhantismo integrador do autor, manifestado desde muito jovem.
33 reviews3 followers
June 4, 2008
The book that started it all. This is the Ken Wilber that predates the cultish figurehead that now exists. Bring your dictionary.
Profile Image for Hope Gwilyams.
Author 2 books1 follower
November 10, 2016
Let Ken Wilber, a noted Buddhist scholar, walk you through the many levels of human consciousness -- both those you already know and those you can aspire to.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews

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