Formative Metaphysical Hypothesis
Examined and Applied
by Jordan S. Gruber
Ken Wilber and Ted Schultz
Ken Wilber's and Ted Schultz's respective criticisms are two of the most powerful attacks of the RCH ever made. An attempt will therefore be made to briefly respond to each of them.
* * *
Ken Wilber is a brilliant theorist, and deserves his title as the "Einstein" of transpersonal psychology. More than once I've had profound I-can't-wait-to-share-this-with-my-friends "aha!" experiences while reading his essays, [36*] and his description of the last hours of the life of his wife, Treya, is simply one of the most moving things I've read.  Ever. If you have not read it, you should. If, with respect to Ken Wilber, I should ever wander into the realm of the ad hominem, I would be deeply mortified. Having said that, I think Wilber is distinctly wrong about some crucial aspects of the RCH.
Upon first reading Wilber's article, "Do We Make Ourselves Sick," in the September/October 1988 issue of New Age Journal, it seems that Wilber has once again clarified a hitherto muddy area. Apparently displeased by friends who had inflicted "new age shame" on Treya by asking her "what she was trying to teach herself by giving herself cancer," Wilber attacked "neotrogenic guilt," or "guilt caused by the new age mentality," and in the guise of refuting the notion that we make ourselves sick he puts forth a fairly comprehensive -- but seriously flawed -- critique of the RCH.
Wilber's basic mistake is his confusion of "magical" and "infantile" with respect to basic New Age attitudes and phenomena; this leads him to fall, ultimately, into what he himself has brilliantly described as the "pre/trans fallacy."
Wilber is not shy of his disdain for the New Age: "The 'new age stance,' as I have come to see it, is largely defined by its narcissistic, grandiose, and omnipotent fantasies."  Similarly, he has previously written that it has been clearly shown that "much of the so-called new age is actually infected with, if not based on, narcissistic regression and self-centric fixation." 
Now, there is an odd tension in Wilber's article. He admits, on the one hand, that in some small percentage of cases, "the mind can initiate a direct and immediate healing response through, say, visualization techniques. That's not at issue."  What is at issue, he says,
"is the notion that, unless something is spiritually wrong with you, you should be able to do this all the time. And that if you can't, you should feel profound guilt. You have brought this disease on yourself, you see, to teach yourself some sort of lesson, and if you get that lesson, then in all cases you should be able to cure the disease by thinking it away, by visualizing it away, poof! And that "poof" is pure magical thinking." 
What is odd here is that (1) no one would disagree with Wilber that if a "miraculous" instantaneous healing should fail to materialize it is virtually criminal to cause guilt or shame in someone else, and it is quite useless to produce those feelings in oneself. Serious disease is bad enough; there is no need to make it worse, and that (2) Wilber admits here, as well as elsewhere in the article, that "miraculous" cures actually do happen in people.
Given that rapid, scientifically inexplicable healings do happen, what is so magical and narcissistic about believing in or choosing to experiment with the notion that everyone, not just the rare person, might be able to access and effect this same level of reality creation?
Or, if Wilber's real objection is that the notion that "you should be able to do this all the time" is questionable, then what is so magical and narcissistic about believing in or choosing to experiment with the notion that human beings might be at a point in their evolution where they can slowly or rapidly increase the percentage of time that they can, in fact, effect 'miraculous' cures?
With the exception of semi-mythical figures like Jesus, almost no one has been able to hold and sustain this sort of reality creation power. But just because almost no one has done it doesn't mean that it isn't an achievable goal, that it isn't possible. Again, Wilber admits that "miraculous" cures do happen, at least sometimes, yet he seems to indict the entire New Age for recognizing this possibility, a possibility which very well may represent an evolutionary advance in the ability of human beings to re-create their bodily reality in a more healthy and optimal form subsequent to falling ill. (See, for example, the sorts of ideas that Michael Murphy puts forward in The Future of the Body.)
Wilber's objection to the misuse of the RCH by over-eager friends trying to help his wife, but actually inflicting shame and guilt upon her is, of course, well-taken. Similarly, Wilber may be right that in saying that every headache is caused by first and second chakra problems, or that every digestive problem is caused by an inability to assimilate new experiences, is "new age nonsense." Ironically, what this unsophisticated misuse of New Age enthusiasm points to is not a wholesale invalidation of 1) New Age thought and aspirations, 2) the RCH, and thus 3) the core of a new orthodoxy, but rather, to a need to more precisely formulate the RCH and the ethical precepts and rules of etiquette surrounding its use.
We are thus brought back to the pre/trans fallacy. Wilber writes elsewhere that:
"The essence of the pre/trans fallacy is easy enough to state. We begin by simply assuming that human beings do in fact have access to three general realms of being and knowing - the sensory, the mental, and the spiritual. Those three realms can be stated in any number of different ways: subconscious, self-conscious, and superconscious, or prerational, rational, and transrational, or prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal. The point is simply that, for example, since prerational and transrational are both, in their own ways, nonrational, then they appear quite similar or even identical to the untutored eye. Once this confusion occurs - the confusion of "pre" and "trans" - then one of two things inevitably happens: the transrational realms are reduced to prepersonal status, or the prerational realms are elevated to transrational glory." [42 ]
Wilber, for all his brilliance, does not seem to "get" that the ability to create, co-create, and re-create reality through ethical and ritual alignment with the deep child mind may, in fact, be a transpersonal ability, not a prepersonal fixation. True, there may be "no support whatsoever for this type of thinking in the world's great mystical traditions," but even Ken Wilber is subject to having what he knows best, the Great Chain of Being and the Perennial Philosophy, become the benchmark of his rationality, the filter through which he judges everything else.
If reality creation is a new, transpersonal ability, for the human race, then if we attempt to evaluate it in terms of the world's great mystical traditions we would inevitably classify it as being prepersonal since, by definition, it is a new and unfamiliar, or at least unauthorized, ability. In short, Wilber, justifiably angry at those who needlessly inflict guilt on the sick, and incredulous at those who fail to approach illness with a spectrum of cures ranging from the physical to the spiritual, has in effect chosen to throw out the psycho-spiritual baby with the reality-creation bathwater.
Wilber reinforces his conclusions with a somewhat odd "calculus of disease causation." With respect to the cause of disease, he calculates that a preexisting physical constitution predisposed to the disease counts for roughly one-third, a "whole series of physical-level risk factors" counts for another third, and a "physical-level failure of the immune system" makes up the last third. One's mental set "is maybe 20 percent of the third factor, or 20 percent of 33 percent. That's roughly . . . 10 percent or so. Now 10 percent is important, and you'd be a fool not to take it into consideration. But mindsets are not the sole or major causes. And they certainly aren't some sort of 'lessons.'" 
In this manner Wilber mathematically "proves," and thus gives a false sense of "scientific authority," to the notion that a disease can at most be 10% or so caused by "mental" factors. Even assuming this is true, his unjustified rejection off the RCH becomes apparent when he considers how visualization does sometimes assist the cure of a disease. Wilber writes that:
"trying to cure a physical-level illness by using mental-level techniques, such as visualization, can be a problem because by themselves they're just too slow. You see, upward and downward causation [on the Great Chain of Being] are sometimes quick and immediate, but when it comes to disease they are rather slow and elaborate. They have to go "up" and "down" the Great Chain, and they are dampened and absorbed by that movement. For example, you might have to have a Type A mental set for thirty years before it finally works its way down to the physical and gives you a heart attack. . . .Well, the same is true of most mental or attitudinal cures for physical illness, or cures by downward causation. They work -- it just takes a decade or so, usually, and you just don't have that kind of time. So you want to intervene directly and immediately at the actual level of origin, using same-level techniques, elements, and therapies." 
Again, most of us would be hard pressed to disagree with the notion that appropriate physical level cures should be used in the case of illness. However, it is also possible that the RCH can be brought into play, that through alignment with the deep child mind a sudden and rapid causal chain can, in fact, be set up. While it may have always taken a "decade or two" in the past, that might no longer be necessary if the RCH proves valid.
As long as the RCH is approached, for the time being, as a hypothesis, then it should be possible to completely believe in it and "go for it" one hundred percent while still using appropriate physical level cures and not inflicting New Age guilt or shame on anyone. What Wilber lacks, ultimately, is an openness to the possibility that the miraculous cures which he admits do sometimes happen might be a signpost to a new way of thinking and being, not just an anomalous, semi-freakish event that is not normally possible, nor even desirable, according to his system.
Ted Schultz is the editor of the book Fringes: The Whole Earth Catalog of Strange Beliefs and Eccentric Science. In his article, "A Personal Odyssey Through The New Age,"  he describes his transformation -- from founding the "Corps of Reality Engineers," a group which tried to levitate the Pentagon, to entering U.C. Berkeley as a student of the hard sciences. His original infatuation with the notion that "you create your own reality" was inspired by Joseph Chilton Pearce's two works, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg and Exploring the Crack in the Cosmic Egg. But over time, Schultz had a change of heart:
"The more I thought about Pearce's premise, the more convoluted it became. I decided instead to take a practical approach, and looked around to see how humans had most effectively changed reality. My observations revealed that the most obvious changes wrought on "physical reality" had not been achieved directly through the psychic power of belief alone but by an indirect strategy of belief in a concept coupled with the step-by-step manipulation of physical reality within the confines of known and understood physical laws. I saw no evidence that faith alone had moved mountains, but I saw that plenty of mountains had been moved by a combination of faith and dynamite.
I noted with interest that the world's greatest 'reality engineers' were scientists and engineers. The wonder of flying hadn't been achieved by negating the laws of gravity with levitation, yet it had become an everyday occurrence with the invention of airplanes. Diseases had been conquered not by positive thinking but by the discovery of microbes, antibiotics, and vaccines. . . . When it came to affecting physical reality, it became increasingly obvious to me that the 'magicians' who had produced the most consistently reliable results were scientists and engineers, not psychics and 'believers.' Perhaps Pearce was wrong, and there were physical laws that couldn't be changed by any amount of belief." 
Elsewhere in the article Schultz makes the same point in a slightly different way: "No amount of native spirituality made the people of India immune to the scourges of typhoid and cholera. Positive thinking and creative visualization may provide the inspiration and principles that serve as guides for our actions, but they are not a replacement for building an accurate picture of the natural world through scientific observation and experimentation." 
It is somewhat difficult to disagree with Schultz. Of course wiping out disease through modern medicine is a good thing. Of course airplanes are a good thing (the ozone layer notwithstanding). But just because there are great gains to be made in physical science doesn't mean there are no advances to be made in meta-physical science. Just the opposite: many have pointed out that the greatest threat to humanity and Gaia are the fantastic scientific advances since the Renaissance, advances which have not been paralleled by equivalent breakthroughs in spiritual/moral technology and knowledge.
While reality creation may not as yet have been mastered by almost anyone, that doesn't mean that it can't be mastered or that there wouldn't be tremendous physical, psychological, social, cultural, ecological, and even economic benefits from doing so. It is fine and wonderful to be a student, teacher, or practitioner of the hard sciences; it is also fine and wonderful to co-create and live by the principles of a new orthodoxy which, if the RCH should prove valid, will have the truly magical existence of everyday reality creation at its core.
Schultz's article is, in a certain sense, sneaky. He sets up an either/or with respect to reality creation versus real-world-things-that-do-things, and he then makes statements about these real-world-things that nearly everyone agrees with: science is good because it cured typhoid; even if telepathy exists, communication by telephone is much more reliable (even psychics, he points out, own telephones). We agree with his evaluation of the wonderfulness of scientific artifacts, and then we somehow find ourselves also agreeing with his sensible notion that New Age ideas are best seen as metaphors and myths, rather than as objective facts and possibilities.
Although he respects the New Age focus on higher principles such as morality, meaning, and development of creativity and intuition, and feels that the New Age does have quite a lot to offer in the realm of inner, subjective experience, "thus satisfying a vital human need that is largely unfulfilled in modern, twentieth century culture," he sadly concludes that it "is perhaps inevitable that new dogmas have arisen, which in short order have equaled or surpassed the amount of superstition contained in traditional religions." 
New dogmas, when taken in the highest sense of the term (in theology, a dogma, Webster tells us, is a doctrine or body of doctrines formally and *authoritatively* affirmed,) cannot exist without a new orthodoxy. If it is true that a new orthodoxy has not yet been forged, then what he is so quickly evaluating and dismissing is indeed not dogma, but just superstition. Ted Schultz worked with the RCH for some period of time, and then gave it up. Perhaps he will find, in the long run, that his initial infatuation was based on something as substantial as his later interest in science.
The RCH, if valid, can bridge the gap between the present state of spiritual and philosophical disarray known as the "New Age," and the formulation of a genuine new orthodoxy. The term "New Age" may very well not survive, especially given the derision and disparagement regularly attached to it. (A wonderful new book called Paradigm Wars: Worldviews for a New Age (1996), by Mark B. Woodhouse, has some great material with respect to the term "New Age.") But if the RCH should survive by being proven valid, it can serve as a new orthodoxy's formative metaphysical hypothesis, laying the foundation for forging a new orthodoxy's other major dogmas and principles.
The RCH, then, might serve as a new orthodoxy's formative metaphysical hypothesis in three ways: first, it is a hypothesis, and eventually will become a dogma, which describes how reality, including but not limited to physical reality, is actually formed, actually created and co-created. Second, it will have been present during the earliest, formative stages of that new orthodoxy. And third, because of the RCH's dynamic self-referential nature -- that is, because of the positive feedback loop inherent in a hypothesis which, if valid, becomes more obvious, more powerful, and even more true the longer and more intensely it is tested, proven, and worked with -- it will be able to play the critical role of empowering the formation of that new orthodoxy.
To understand the RCH's crucial role, we must start with the New Age in its current form. To begin with, there seems to be general agreement that, in the words of the April 24, 1990, San Francisco Chronicle, "[t]here is no New Age orthodoxy."  Ted Schultz writes that "Because the New Age is so poorly defined, it's impossible to characterize its disparate movements by a common philosophy,"  and J. Gordon Melton, in his excellent "A History of the New Age Movement," tells us that:
The ideas of the New Age Movement are difficult for many to grasp, as they grow more out of intuition and experience than doctrines or logical reasoning. Moreover, the movement tends to embrace mutually contradictory ideas. . . . Affirmation of particular propositions or beliefs is not a criterion for participation in or acceptance by the movement. 
Clearly, as Robert Basil, editor of the lengthy anti-New Age volume, Not Necessarily the New Age, tells us, "Having repudiated drugs and politics, the New Age is much less defined than the counterculture - it lacks a so-called 'core-philosophy.'" 
But at the same time that Robert Basil tells us the New Age lacks a "core philosophy," that it has no orthodoxy, he also tells us that there is "a premise that is ubiquitous in New Age writings: 'You can create your own reality.'"  While it is occasionally said that "karma and reincarnation are the New Age movement's basic staples,"  it is my opinion that these notions, while interesting and perhaps even "true" via a sophisticated interpretation, are nonetheless of secondary importance.
Instead, it is the RCH which forms the motive power behind the vast majority of New Age teachings and practices. Even if the "central vision and experience of the New Age is one of radical transformation"  and "the essence of the New Age is the imposition of that vision of personal transformation onto society and the world,"  it is the RCH which provides the engine for that radical transformation, whether personal or planetary.
Moreover, for whatever reason, the RCH has rapidly risen to prominence in the New Age world and is undoubtedly the "hottest" concept now being worked with in New Age teachings and practices. Ultimately, it may be the dynamic, self-referential, positive feedback nature of the RCH which has created its special place as the new orthodoxy's formative hypothesis.
The RCH may ultimately turn out to not be the new orthodoxy's most important principle. It can be argued, for example, that an acknowledgment of the Gaia referent -- that is, that everything we can possibly do, know, or be is only possible because we are part of the organic biofilm that surrounds this planet, and that the truly amazing thing is not that we happen to possess or have access to the reality creation power, but that we are miraculous, wholly alive organisms possessing the power to think, to speak, and to use our hands, and that we are here for only a short while, and then we die -- is actually much more important and ultimately transformative than is the RCH.
Still, it is the RCH and not some other principle or hypothesis which is, right now, on the cutting edge of orthodoxy formulation. Further, it is the RCH which can be used as a tool to begin to pare down the many "false and misguided beliefs" of the New Age so that "a body of genuinely useful New Age ideas will remain: a baby in a sea of bathwater."  Thus, to the degree that the RCH is shown to be valid, it can be used as a sounding board and an explanatory anchor for the evaluation of the many other New Age beliefs in the process of constructing the new orthodoxy.
For example, if the RCH is valid, then we can immediately understand why so many bright and sensible individuals have had authentic subjective/objective experiences of the validity and worth of such disparate and often contradictory phenomena as UFO contacts, crystal energies, psychic healing, communication with dead relatives, ritual magic, psychoanalysis, entity channeling, human potential seminars, etc.
The quick explanation? Whatever a person focuses on tends to become more and more real for them, no matter how "way out" the thing focused on. In other words, you can choose to go down nearly any reality tunnel you want to, and sure enough, you'll begin to find what you expected at the end of that tunnel. (Robert Anton Wilson has brilliantly explained how this works in his book Prometheus Rising.) Once the validity of the RCH is admitted, the question can shift from whether and how these and many other phenomena can actually come to "objectively" exist (at least in the mind or minds of those going down that reality tunnel), to evaluating the effectiveness and wisdom of spending one's life energies on any particular path of reality creation.
The RCH, ultimately, is our ticket to a new orthodoxy, or to what Jean Houston has called a "new natural theology." Perhaps it is not an accident that it has become so prominent so quickly. For if the RCH should prove valid, the question to ask ourselves becomes "Why, at this particular time in the history of human consciousness, have we co-created the opportunity to become aware of and aligned with our reality creation abilities?" Perhaps the answer can be found in the political contingencies facing us, and in the needs of Gaia.
The New Age might not be that new, [58*] but the times they are a changing, and it behooves us to take notice of the powerful new spiritual truths which are, somehow, being activated in our individual and collective psyches. These truths, including but not limited to the RCH, when properly formulated, can become the building blocks of a new orthodoxy. Thus, we find ourselves in a unique time: the evolutionary necessity of Gaia/life/consciousness to maintain and expand its current evolutionary platform has produced sufficient political and social pressure to make possible the forging of a new religious and spiritual orthodoxy.
One of the central principles of that new orthodoxy is likely to be the RCH (which, by the time it is precisely formulated, tested, and proven, will no longer be a hypothesis but will have been elevated to a principle or dogma, and ultimately, perhaps, to part of a comprehensive psycho-spiritual theory and natural theology). Providence has truly granted us a boon in making this principle so central, for it has the power to draw many more Western people into the world of true spirituality, in effect through the back door.
Western people like to do things, that is, we are interested in the world of physical matter and in changing, rearranging, and pushing that matter around in every possible way. We like to see and produce results, to make our mark, to have an effect, to accomplish things, to make a difference. Thus, the RCH, and the subsequent reality creation dogma, should appeal to the deep nature of Western woman and man, and while the ethical restrictions of the deep child-mind on what types of reality creation are and are not allowable may cause quite a bit of frustration for some people, at least it is likely to draw them onto the path.
A proactive, intentional, political program, overseen, of course, by that infamous leaderless network, is therefore to be hoped for. Since we create and co-create our individual and collective realities anyway, why not agree to promote the most beneficial version of that orthodoxy? Perhaps, then, one day we will be able to swear allegiance to something like this imaginary Preamble to a new Orthodoxy:
We the people of the Planet Earth, in order to co-create a more perfect Ecosystem, establish abundance, ensure inter-species tranquility, provide for the common healing, promote the general loving, and secure the blessings of consciousness to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Orthodoxy for the New Age of Gaia.
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36. For example, consider "The Pre/Trans Fallacy" in Eye to Eye: The Search for the New Paradigm. I like to believe that when I read Wilber's essays I feel somewhat the way Immanuel Kant must have felt when he read the works of David Hume and exclaimed that it was as if scales had fallen off his eyes.
37. Ken Wilber, "Love Story," New Age Journal, July/August 1989, p., 32.
38. Ken Wilber, "Do We Make Ourselves Sick?", p. 51.
40. Wilber, "Do We Make Ourselves Sick?", p. 51.
42. Ken Wilber, Eye to Eye: The Quest For A New Paradigm, "The Pre-trans fallacy."
43. Wilber, "Do We Make Ourselves Sick?", p. 53.
44. Id., p. 84-85.
45. Not Necessarily the New Age (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1988), p. 338
46. Id. p. 346.
47. Id., p. 3433-44.
48. Id. p. 351
49. San Francisco Chronicle, "'New Age' Mysticism Strong in Bay Area," April 24, 1990, Section A, p. 1, actually 77.
50. Not Necessarily the New Age (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1988), Schultz, p. 431.
51. Not Necessarily, pp. 45-46
52. Not Necessarily, Robert Basil, p. 28
53. Not Necessarily, Basil, p. 13.
54. Not Necessarily, Melton, p. 46.
55. Not Necessarily, Melton, p. 46.
56. Not Necessarily, Schultz, p. 431
58. For an excellent recounting of the spiritual and occult antecedents of certain aspects of New Age thought, see the opening chapters of Not Necessarily the New Age (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1988).