Core Integral: Ken Wilber talks about Vision Logic, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, and Overmind

Ken Wilber (from

In a free audio posted on the Core Integral site, Ken Wilber addresses some tough questions from advanced students of Integral Theory.

The first question is from Kiernan who asks,

My question is about the higher structures in the cognitive line. Could you describe how you use Vision Logic, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind and Supermind in your day-to-day life, what does the experience of each look and feel like? And what did the move to each higher cognitive structure involve, how did you make the moves?

Ken Wilber’s response begins in this way:

Vision Logic is thinking wholes, Illumined Mind is sseeing wholes, Intuitive Mind is feeling wholes, Overmind is witnessing wholes, and Supermind is being whole.

Vision Logic, thinking wholes, feels just like thinking. What anyone would recognize when they think about thinking. But it thinks holistically. It thinks from one whole to the next. It doesn’t see individual ideas, but networked ideas, holistic ideas, big pictures, things that are hooked together intrinsically. And it still has a type of gross orientation to some degree. Nonetheless it is opening itself up as well into third-tier or more transpersonal aspects. But it is essentially thinking whole and in terms of wholes.

Illumined Mind is seeing wholes. That’s just actually an immediate perception so it’s not thinking from one whole to the next whole, it’s an immediate seeing of total wholes. And these just come into the horizon and it’s a total grasping, a total embracing. It’s seeing all the individual parts together in a single whole. And moment to moment, it moves from total whole to the next total whole to the next total whole. It’s very immediate and direct, as is Intuitive Mind, which is feeling whole.

I’m just giving very simplified versions.

Feeling whole is an immediate presence. It presents itself as a feeling awareness, but it is holistic. The thing that makes it somewhat different than the two preceding ones in terms of being more holistic is that it is actually feeling the connections. Instead of just thinking something or seeing something from a distsance in a third-person stance, it’s feeling it directly and immediately. It’s an immediate holistic presence that presents itself from moment to moment to moment from one felt wholeness to the next felt wholeness to the next. This feeling of whole is sunk in transpersonal awareness so it’s starting to include not just gross elements but definitely subtle elements. It’s an interesting type of cognition because it’s one of the first that’s anchored in an enduring subtle apprehension. It’s starting to see wholeness from the subtle domain. And yet because it transcends and includes it’s anchored in gross perception as well.

Overmind is where the witness becomes a permanent subject so it’s witnessing wholes and the Witness at this point is somehow, somewhat different from the Witness as a state at lower stages. The Witness as a state can be experienced at any structure, at any structure-stage. But here when the Witness becomes the permanent subject, absolute subjectivity, what it witnesses is whole. It is witnessing gross, subtle, and causal wholeness. That’s what makes the Overmind so interesting and so deeply holistic is that it is a permanent ongoing witnessing. It is a permanent ongoing radical subjectivity. It’s the subject that cannot be made an object, and yet what it is seeing, what it is primarily looking for, is gestalts. Holistic patterns. And these include patterns in gross, subtle, and causal domain.

The Overmind itself is anchored in the causal domain and so it sees from that perspective, and it sees a causal gestalt, subtle gestalt, and gross gestalts. And the gestalt nature is simply determined by the nature of what’s happening at any particular moment. So the gross wholes, subtle wholes, and causal wholes are simply those that present themselves from any of the quadrants at that particular moment that the Witness is witnessing. That just depends on where you are, what’s happening, outside and inside, and so on. But the difference here is that the Witness is being aware of gross and subtle and causal occasions, whereas the Witness as a peak experience can happen at red. And the it’s only aware of gross occasions. Red isn’t seeing anything in the subtle or causal domain. But here it is aware of all three.

And then Supermind is being whole. That is where suchness knows itself. Suchness is self-aware. That means with anything that enters the field of awareness is self-liberating, it’s self-cognizant, moment to moment to moment. That’s the ultimate state of cognition. And it discloses every single individual phenomenon in the entire world is self-manifesting, self-arising, self-knowing, and self-liberating. And that’s just all Supermind sees. It includes Big Mind, but it also has an awareness of all the earlier structures all the way down so it is the ultimate holistic viewpoint.

As the interview continues, Wilber explains how he uses these domains in everyday life to “spiritually hang out” and “check AQAL Theory” as well as how he moved from one to the other. He also answers the question of what he thinks is higher than Overmind, notes how his views compare to Sri Aurobindo’s, and where worldviews fit in.

Listen to the whole audio at the Core Integral Blog.


  1. says

    As a reader of both Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo’s work, I found Wilber’s take on these cognitive lines both intriguing and curious. There is definitely some over-lap, but also some significant differences. For instance, before Illumined Mind is Vision Logic, but for Aurobindo he calls it the “Higher Mind.” They do sound like each other, except for one important difference. The Higher Mind is not merely opening into “third tier” or “spiritual” reality, it is a form of spiritual-knowledge. Almost like a platonic idea or archetype. And while it does think in wholes, it also IS a whole. The thoughts drop down like mandalic patterns and overlays.

    The other terms Wilber uses are similar to Aurobindo, but again there’s definitely an esoteric “flavor” to the original writings that isn’t present in this new description. But I do like it for what it is. It’s about thinking, being, feeling the Whole; whatever that may be. And human intelligence/cognition is just the beginning of it. So would “cognition” really be a good term for all of these?

  2. says

    I strongly recommend reading and studying a chapter in the Life Divine called “The Ascent to Supermind.” There is almost no connection between the way Wilber defines these terms and the way Sri Aurobindo describes them. Which is fine, as long as Wilber hadn’t claimed he was using them in the same way. Unfortunately he has, and because of that, it is appropriate to say he defines them all completely incorrectly. To give one example, the “Higher Mind” as Sri Aurobindo defines it only appears AFTER full awakening. AFTER.

    Reflect on that. The further levels have nothing to do with gross and subtle. One may have an awareness of “wholes” below the higher mind level – at least, as described by Sri Aurobindo – with vast subtle awareness of subtle and causal realms

    Take a look at the original writing on these terms, then come back to Wilber. You’ll be astonished.

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