Tami Simon of SoundsTrue has done a Waking Up interview series to celebrate their 30th Anniversary. A friend sent me her interview with Ken Wilber as we’d been discussing Turiya and Turiyatita. Wilber used those terms in their conversation.
Turiya means “the fourth” and refers to a state of consciousness along with waking, dreaming and sleep. Like the other three states, it is temporary and is measurable in the physiology. The Fourth is known by names like samadhi, transcendental consciousness or pure awareness. It is what meditation and related practices culture. It also arises in expansive moments of awe or release.
Turiyatita means “beyond the fourth” and refers to when we shift from having passing experiences of pure awareness to becoming it, a shift that is called Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness. This is the true long-sought spiritual awakening.
But in the interview, Wilber defined Turiya as the witness and Turiyatita as Unity. This is not a good understanding, and he was mushing together things that are distinct. I emphasize the difference between variations in experience and variations in stage of development to reduce this.
He also made it clear that for him, the eternal sense of Self still comes and goes. He does practices to strengthen it. This suggests it’s still an experience (Turiya) as continuity of Self is one of the key features of Turiyatita. Unity comes later.
Another alternative explanation is a non-abiding awakening where the shift has happened but it’s not yet subjectively clear. But his description didn’t suggest variable clarity but an experience that comes and goes. Further, a non-abiding stage generally becomes clear within some months or years.
He also didn’t meet the Rose test.
The distinctions between being close and being there are subtle in description but very distinct in reality. It’s very tricky to judge another’s stage. But when they’re a public figure claiming expertise, then it’s useful to have a sense of where they’re coming from.
Note that someone awake isn’t always noticing they’re awake. When one is focused on a task, for example, the task absorbs the attention. But then, if they pause to check, That is always there. And always has been.
It was also interesting that Wilber has never met anyone who claims to live Oneness ongoing that he believed. I would have asked him to clarify as he may not have been asking the right question. It’s not the me that wakes up so people would not claim “I am in Unity” quite that way. Awake people tend to make more exact comments like “it is always here and always has been” or “what is here is everywhere” rather than “I am ever awake”. This isn’t because the last statement is false but misleading for someone who experiences their “I” as something local.
The Three Ups
Later in the interview Wilber raised a very good point. He said there’s three parts of the journey. He suggested that most traditions only focus on one of them. A few cover two. But a more complete model that is gradually coming to light includes all three.
1) Growing Up (psychology)
2) Waking Up (spiritual traditions)
3) Cleaning Up (energy healing)
As he noted, without all three, you get spiritual luminaries who are bigoted controllers, or act out their garbage on their students, and so forth. This is why I talk about all of it. This was also part of the Sophia Panel discussion.
Ironically, his dubiousness about his example (Adi Da) being fully awake was probably more related to Growing and Cleaning Up than Waking Up.
I disagree that the three are mutually exclusive. One does help the others. But equally, major development in one can also amplify problems in another, like the spiritualized ego.