Ken Wilber on the Ego (and he should know). Plus, funny photos.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Mar 9, 2009
get elephant's newsletter

ken wilber genius

Ken Wilber, Integral Icon, on the Ego. Plus, a few funny photos.

Ken Wilber is one of today’s greatest philosophers, a towering man built like an athlete whose brain is bigger than elephantjournal dot com’s 68K monthly readers combined. Because I’ve had the honor of knowing him a bit since way back in my days slaving away at Shambhala Publications, and have interviewed him re: his Integral philosophy for elephant, folks often ask me about him. They always start with this question (always): is Ken Wilber really as arrogant as he seems?). And I always answer,

ken wilber integral

“Definitely. But at least he has something to be arrogant about. Me, I’m at least as arrogant as Wilber, but I have no excuse—I’m no genius.”

So I had me a little smirk today when I came across this spot-on quote via Mr. Big Brains himself:

If we are going to insist on identifying with just the little self in here, then others are going to bruise it, insult it, injure it. The ego, then, is kept in existence by a collection of emotional insults; it carries its personal bruises as the fabric of its very existence. It actively collects, hurts and insults, even while resenting them, because without it’s bruises it would be literally nothing. ~ Ken Wilber

This quote ably describes the smallness of my usual state of mind—like one of those fish that puffs up whenever it’s poked.

ken wilberken wilber stuart davis

Videos of varying relevance:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


12 Responses to “Ken Wilber on the Ego (and he should know). Plus, funny photos.”

  1. chad henry says:

    Did genius Ken Wilber actually put an apostrophe in the (non-possessive) "it's" in this interview? Or was that the non-genius journalist's work? I like the Zen aphorism–"how you do anything is how you do everything".

  2. […] great to see him in conversation with one of modern philosophy’s greatest minds and most forceful, charismatic characters: Ken Wilber of Integral […]

  3. […] that day was the latest of a series of conversations called “The Guru and the Pandit” between Ken Wilber (“the Pandit”) and Andrew Cohen (“the Guru”). I can’t think of any thinker […]

  4. Anna Fidz says:

    not sure why but this guy, Ken w., gives me the heebie jeebies! and i've got to follow my instinct and intuition!

  5. Blake says:


  6. elephantjournal says:

    Great catch! Not from me…I copied and pasted that quote. That said, I shoulda caught it!

  7. elephantjournal says:

    That video was written about in some depth here:… . See my comment…I had a different take.

  8. Diana Powell says:

    I totally agree, Bob. Thank you for this enlightening post and very important message. I do wish Ken would stop hanging out with Cohen, a dangerous man indeed. I will say, however, that What is Enlightenment, now EnlightenNext, is a fabulous magazine.
    I *love* Ken and have been reading his works since 1985, attending iEvolve workshops and ISE, but I truly don't understand why he continues to associate with this egotist.

  9. guest says:

    I think Ken Wilber is very arrogant, although he would tell me that's just my shadow talking.

    I'm not the hugest fan of Eckhart Tolle, but I remember he wrote something like "ego is attracted to ego", and I've noticed that most of the people who are drawn to Ken Wilber are arrogant, and it's a delusional arrogance at that.

    They love to praise themselves by praising Ken.

  10. guest says:

    Follow your intuition.

    My original feeling, from the first moment I discovered him, was the same. And years later, after becoming familiar with his work and with the community that worships him, I still feel the same — except I'm even more convinced now.

    He plasters his face across every book and dvd package that he sells.

    He surrounds himself with people who worship him; if you stop praising him, you're out of the club.

    He has his own special integral jargon.

    Basically, he's just a guy with a bachelor's degree in science. Yet he thinks he's above people with actual advanced degrees, he looks down on them and gives them a color.

    He calls himself a "private person"… just google him or search him YouTube to see if you think he's a private person.

    Most people in the integral community have seriously messed up lives / families, yet they think they are superior to people who don't buy into Wilber's view of reality.

    It's scary and dangerous, in my opinion.

  11. matteo says:

    sorry for the english!!!

  12. […] egotistical.” If someone thinks you have a really “big ego,” they may even post a blog calling you an “egomaniac.” From the standpoint of our mental health, it’s important to have self-esteem or what some […]