Paul M. Helfrich

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The Simple Feeling of Being

Pointing Out What Is Always Already Just This

July 2004

The Simple Feeling of Being: Embracing Your True Nature by Ken Wilber is a compilation of the essential elements of Wilber’s “poetic” writing. Many excerpts are taken from the end of sections, chapters, or books, where he reminds the reader that we are all aspects of Radiant Spirit – All-That-Is – as pointed out in every authentic nondual tradition. The main thrust of this opus reveals that the complexities of his integral theory are always a means toward an end: awakening to who and what we really are.

In short, the simple feeling of being is about “what is” “always already” “just this.”

Remarkable! Simple.

Four of his students – Mark Palmer, Sean Hargens, Vipassana Esbjörn, and Adam Leonard – assembled this “greatest hits” compilation. I really enjoyed seeing some of my favorite excerpts from various books in a new context. Readers of his books will likely find this to be the case, too. A relatively easy read, there’s no need to worry about long endnotes, complex diagrams, or overly long technical explications.

Thus, we are treated to an array of Wilber’s poetic riffs on concepts like the Witness, spirit-in-action, immediate awareness, passionate philosophy, always already, being-in-the-world, One Without A Second, and the brilliant clarity of ever-present awareness. There are also excerpts from The Collected Works, forewords to lesser-known books by other integral thinkers, and more obscure writings.

Moreover, there is a Memoirs chapter of personal material that casts Wilber in a human and vulnerable light. My favorite excerpt is still when he comes to terms with his second wife’s – Treya – approaching death in a German beer hall, drinking, crying, and dancing with complete strangers whose compassion and acceptance allow his many conflicting feelings to surface.

The Simple Feeling of Being is a tour de force by one of the great integral philosophers of our era. Echoing three decades of Wilber’s nondual experience, research, and personal meditation practices, it is relentless in pushing one’s awareness back into itSelf, towards its ineffable Source. In this sense, it is closer to One Taste than A Theory of Everything (2000) or A Brief History of Everything (1996).

While I wouldn’t recommend it as a first book to those just beginning to explore the details of Ken’s integral theory, I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in a lucid, mindful, and passionate pointing out of “what is” “always already” “just this.” Regardless of what path, practices, or philosophical background we come from, Wilber’s integral poetry speaks directly to who and what we really are.

Perhaps this is the first in a series of compilations based on various aspects of Ken’s work?

© 2004 Paul M. Helfrich, All Rights Reserved.

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I am currently the Pedagogical Coordinator and Music Teacher for Grades 1-4 at the Westside Waldorf School in Pacific Palisades, CA for the 2023-2024 academic year.

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