QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS – Part 2 of 2

 

Q: A single point: That which you seek, and that which seeks you are not necessarily the same thing. That which seeks you does not make, cannot make, decisions on your behalf.

Whatever you sense to be the case is, either consciously or unconsciously, your decision, not that of Ultimate Reality.

A: No. No human being is capable of “sensing” or “deciding” anything about the ultimate reality experienced by me or the experiencers who are subjects of the more than 6,000 cases being scientifically studied by the Hardy Foundation, or by the hundreds by Jefferey Martin from scientists around the world, or by the 300 or so studied and published by Sinetar. Our experiences were not our decision. We were not human in any sense when we had our experiences of ultimate reality, nor did we need to be or have to be. We were ultimate reality and ultimate reality was us.

There is nothing human that could imagine, grasp or conceive of ultimate reality without experiencing it, let alone conjure it up or even understand it if they could. UR exists completely independently of humans.

Q: We do not know Ultimate Reality in its own terms, as it actually is;

A: Yes we do!  This is exactly how experiencers know it.

Q: … to do so we would have to become the equivalent of Ultimate reality…

A: Exactly! And experiencers do become that while experiencing ultimate reality, before they slip back into the human experience … After that, the memory of the experience still develops, unveils within them.

Q: … and I’m sure that’s not how you perceive things to be.

A: But I do! Though a more correct word for “perceive” in this context would be, “know”.

Q: What we perceive as Ultimate Reality is always perceived, that is, it is, whether we like it or not, a ‘perceptual act’, and it has a context: you.

A: No. Ultimate Reality has no context yet known to man. It exists outside humaness or human experience.

Q: As for not staying around to help other human beings, that is a perfectly legitimate stance; but it is again a decision that you as a being who has experienced Ultimate Reality must have made at some point; it is not just something that happens of its own accord.

A: Yes it is, in my experience … No one on earth can invoke or evangelise it.

Q: Ultimate Reality’s push towards individual human beings (I’ve been working with this quite extraordinary set of affairs over the last months) has to do with complex forces and energies already working within a human being; it never comes out of nowhere for no reason.

A: Jesus is supposed to have said it did, not that that proves anything. but that point of view is echoed throughout the human history of “spirituality”.

Q: That would be a form of possession and it does not fit into any level of transcendent experience.

A: Possession is a human word, irrelevant in the experience of reality. The benign revelation of ultimate reality I know is much to be desired, at least in my case. I still mourn its passing.

Q: You can get knocked around quite a bit on occasions when the energies start to fly, but you are never overpowered without having, in some deep sense, invited the experience.

A: How can you invite something you never knew existed, or could ever have imagined or conceived? It’s not something that can be intellectually induced or conjured up. It’s not an hallucination. It’s completely uncalled for and mystifying. It neither asks for nor suggests or demands anything. It just reveals – in an exquisitely loving way with complete benignity and joy beyond human experience. It reveals that “All is Well”, though what that means I still cannot fully get my head around …

Neither do you ever experience anything so anomolous to direct experience of ultimate reality as “energies start to fly” nor are are you ever “knocked about” by the experience of Ultimate Reality. These human attributes are absolutely contrary to reality. They are not in any experiencer’s knowing or vocabulary; just the very antithesis in fact, not spiritual at all. They are not MER. Such violences sound as if they’re induced, ego driven, human mind stuff.

So far me saying , “That which I seek seeks me” is concerned, first of all I was a Seeker from birth I think, looking for meaning beyond the bewilderment of the temporary human condition. Then, I suppose, the Christian bible promise of “knock and it shall be opened” kicked in, if you believe in such things. I didn’t.

Whatever, since then nothing has been the same. The bewildering, sudden revelations beyond all human understanding, expectancy and expression came without bidding.

Now, I am content. Reality is enough.

The bad news is, humanity is incurable. The good news is, it’s terminal. 🙂

All is well.

 

KH:Nanaimo:May 2016

 

 

 

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IS THE MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE OF REALITY , (MER) A “Spiritual crisis” OR “evolutionary emergence”?

 

“Spiritual crisis (also called “spiritual emergency”) is a form of identity crisis where an individual experiences drastic changes to their meaning system (i.e., their unique purposes, goals, values, attitude and beliefs, identity, and focus) typically because of a spontaneous spiritual experience”.WIKIPEDIA.

Some psychologists regard MER as a personal experience of “spiritual emergency” as if its a symptom of distress, an anomaly.

Psychology could very well have continued as the enemy of human development had it been left to the way psychology was going.

So it is good to see that a new version of younger scientists are accepting MER as a vital sign, even as an evolutionary “emergence”.

Drs Jefferey Martin, Nicki Crowley, John Hick and Marsha Sinetar, are just four names that come to mind immediately, (though Dr. Hick’s outlook was younger than his age).

Einstein said: “Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it.”

Foundations, universities and scientists around the world from many scientific fields are joining in the quest to understand MER, (mystical experience of reality) as a powerful seminal force of cosmic reality.

“The Christian of the future will either be a mystic, that is somebody who has experienced something, or be nothing at all”. Karl Rahner, S.J., was a German Jesuit priest and theologian who, alongside Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Yves Congar, is considered one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the 20th century: Wikipedia.

Is this “emergence” – rather than personal, human “emergency”? Is the Cosmos not abandoning us to our relatively insignificant human condition? Is the existence of mystics a sign of hope for mankind?

“Spiritual emergence can be seen as a natural process of human development in which an individual moves beyond normal feelings and desires of the personal ego into the transpersonal realms of increasing relatedness to a Higher Power, or God. It is an acclimatisation to more subtle levels of consciousness.” “Psychosis or Spiritual Emergence?” Dr. Nick Crowley, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK.

Wikipedia’s idea of spiritual is limited to the human spirit, not the real, pure spirit of MER. There is no comparison.

MER, which is what this web page is all about, is not interested in the “spirit” of humans any more than it is interested in the “spirit” of beetles in relation to the vastness of Reality in which all consciousness exists.

There is no “emergency” in the pure Mystical Experience of Reality. MER is filled with an absorbing benign joy and fulfillment, awe and wonder that explains everything, everything known and unknown, then now and forever. It is the purest experience of joy, humility, and acceptance (love) humans will ever know. When it happens, you will know you are all of that.

Humanity could very well die out once done with, but in my experience as a mystic, I know that the existence that MER is revealing will go on forever, with or without us.

KH: Publisher: mysticexperiences.net


 

EMERGENCE

By Barbara Shaw, BA., (UCLA); Cert.Goethe Institut, Munich; BA, Georgetown University.

That we should be descended from all that life
to bring in the air, to rise inside, to fill our lungs
with love for all that long time, with that very
spirit and breath,

that we should live thus, in bodies
come from all that, and breathe in this gray day
damp as earth and sane as rain, that life might abide

a wee keening, as if the fact of life come down
sifted and sounding through the ages lost
were in the end the only real proof some gods
chose some laws.

But no, if left to chance what then
and not even this day to sip lightly
with every countless breath, what then?
what then?

no eyes to seek the moon, nor miss it.

ARE MYSTICS PSYCHOTIC? Part One of Two

Philosopher/author Douglas Lockhart adds his thoughts on the subject of “Are Mystics Psychotic?”

This is the question that divided Freud and Jung.

Freud saw all anomalous psychic/mystic experience in psychotic terms (he was, after all, dealing mostly with actual psychotics), whereas Jung saw the same experiences as indicative of a mental territory not in itself psychotic, but experienced in psychotic terms due to mental/physical breakdown.

Mental illness allowed both men to see into this ‘other’ territory, but each interpreted what they saw in alignment with their personal traits of mind.

Freud hated anything that smacked of religion; Jung realised he was looking into an area of mental experience not available to psychiatric scrutiny except in the mentally disturbed.

It wasn’t that the territory was in itself psychotic, but that a territory about which we knew next to nothing except through the pronouncements of mystics became partially visible in psychotic experience.

The barrier between psychic levels slipped open for psychotics, their incapacity to bear its contents and demands revealing a further aspect of their descent towards possible madness.

A further complication in all of this is ‘religious projection’ in alignment with the fixed canon of beliefs that the deeply religious carry.

Through contemplative activity, however, that too can open the door between psychic territories, but it is one fraught with the problem of theological notions reshaping the experience to conform to expectations. (Link to “Gnostic” post).

Mix all of this together and you end up with reductionist science’s quite understandable, but quite mistaken, view of what is actually taking place.

I’ve argued this point at numerous junctures in my work due to the seriousness of the accusation.

In relation to all of this I recommend “The Pearl Beyond Price” by A.H. Almaas. (Diamond Books, Berkeley, California, 1988).

Almaas turned up recently with a key paper  – “Experience, Self, and Individual Consciousness” – in volume 23, No. 1-2 of The Journal of Consciousness Studies, and is worth taking a look at.

Almaas’s book deals with the Integration of Personality into Being, follows an Object Relations Approach, and is probably one of the most advanced texts dealing with mysticism and its psychological variables that I’ve stumbled across. I think he’s Sufi in orientation, but he’s Sufi with a difference.

The papers in response to his paper were deadly serious and full of surprises. The book is a bit of a read, but this guy knows what he’s talking about, and it has led to an open discussion on mysticism and the nature of the self among the most unlikely bunch of professionals one could ever imagine.

As far as science’s take on mysticism and psychosis is concerned, it’s to be expected that some scientists will automatically interpret anything experientially anomalous in psychotic terms.

It started with LSD experience being interpreted as a psychosis-producing substance, and that led to mysticism being put in the same box due to an inability to tell the difference between religious projection and mysticism proper. LSD does not automatically produce mystical experiences, but it does open the door to a territory where mystical experience can occur.

My books are concerned with all of this; they’re an attempt to straighten out the field’s distortions and add to the growing realisation that a whole new paradigm is in the offing.

We may of course destroy the planet before it can take root, but that’s not for me to determine.

There again, this straightening out process doesn’t only apply to the sciences; it applies equally to the religious area and to those under the thrall of mysticism either negatively perceived, or not fully appreciated as to its subtleties.

Detection of the subtle differences between Indian, Tibetan and Christian mysticism are quite stark in places, and we have to find out why that is.

It’s my opinion that the human mind developed as a direct result of anomalous experiences, and at the end of his life even Freud had concluded that he ought to have been paying attention to such experiences.



IMAG0027-1Douglas Lockhart writes extensively on the dilemmas facing modern Christians, and on the philosophical dilemmas Christians and non-Christrians face in their daily lives. He is the author of Jesus the Heretic (1997) The Dark Side of God (1999) and Going Beyond the Jesus Story (2011), books dealing with the historical origins and development of Christianity (and much else). He has also just completed a three volume work titled The Perennial Philosophy Revisited in memory of Aldous Huxley’s paradigm-changing contribution to an understanding of the spiritual evolution of humankind.

ARE MYSTICS PSYCHOTIC? Part Two of Two

 

Psychosis or Spiritual Emergence? – Consideration of the Transpersonal Perspective within Psychiatry

by Dr. Nicki Crowley

‘Fool’s gold exists because there is real gold’ ~ Rumi

As we progress into the 21st century, psychiatry is broadening its repertoire to further understand the problem of madness.

Psychosis as an altered state of consciousness (ASC)

Our deepening understanding of brain, mind and consciousness leaves us no option but to expand the neurobiology of psychosis to incorporate the concept of consciousness; its nature, levels, dimensions and dynamics, and the impact this function plays in the development of challenging, abnormal states of mind.

Psychosis has been defined as ‘any one of several altered states of consciousness, transient or persistent, that prevent integration of sensory or extrasensory information into reality models accepted by the broad consensus of society, and that lead to maladaptive behaviour and social sanctions. Our deepening understanding of brain, mind and consciousness leaves us no option but to expand the neurobiology of psychosis to incorporate the concept of consciousness; its nature, levels, dimensions and dynamics, and the impact this function plays in the development of challenging, abnormal states of mind.

Psychotic phenomena such as delusions and hallucinations, described and classified in ICD10 and DSM VI 3, follow clinical observations, which in western society are understood as symptoms of illness. This is based on the assumption that we understand the nature of ‘reality’, and that there is a narrow band of ‘normal’ perception, outside of which there is little useful potential. That certain dramatic experiences and unusual states of mind could be more than part of a purely pathological mental state, and hold some potential for personal growth and transformation is the subject of this paper.

Spiritual emergency, consciousness and the transpersonal perspective

Observation from many disciplines, including clinical and experimental psychiatry, modern consciousness research, experiential psychotherapies, anthropological field studies, parapsychology, thanatology, comparative religions and mythology have contributed to the concept of ‘spiritual emergency’ a term that suggests both a crisis and an opportunity of rising to a new level of awareness or ‘spiritual emergence.’

This term was first coined by Stan and Christina Grof who founded the Spiritual Emergency Network at the Esalen Institute in 1980. Its remit was to assist individuals and make referrals to therapists for people experiencing psychological difficulties associated with spiritual practices and spontaneous spiritual experiences. Grof describes a spiritual emergency:

‘There exist spontaneous non-ordinary states of consciousness, (NOSC) that would in the West be seen and treated as psychosis, and treated mostly by suppressive medication. But if we use the observations from the study of non-ordinary states, and also from other spiritual traditions, they should really be treated as crises of transformation, or crises of spiritual opening. Something that should really be supported rather than suppressed. If properly understood and properly supported, they are actually conducive to healing and transformation’.

In order for psychiatry to appreciate the relevance of this perspective to the medical diagnosis and treatment of psychosis, it is necessary to move beyond our materialistic, biomechanical focus on brain function and start to expand on the concept of consciousness – that fundamental yet intangible core aspect of ‘aliveness’, within which is held our perceptual awareness of experience. Medicine, psychiatry and traditional psychotherapies hold the assumption that consciousness is a by-product (or epiphenomenon) of the brain and cannot persist independently of it (the productive theory of consciousness). The transmissive theory of consciousness holds that consciousness is inherent in the cosmos and is independent of our physical senses, although is mediated by them in everyday life. So the brain and the psyche can be thought of acting as a lens through which consciousness is experienced in the body.

This forms the basis of the transpersonal perspective, which received its initial articulation by thinkers and scholars in the field of psychology, Carl Jung, Robert Assagioli, Ken Wilbur and Stanislav Grof amongst others. They recognised the limitations of the field of psychology and sought insights and teachings from the spiritual traditions and certain philosophical schools of the east.

The term ‘transpersonal’ is used here to refer to psychological categories that transcend the normal features of ordinary ego-functioning, that is, stages of psychological growth, or consciousness, that move beyond the rational and precede the mystical. At the root of the transpersonal perspective is the idea that there is a deep level of subjectivity or pure spirit that infuses all matter and every event. A common metaphor throughout the spiritual wisdom traditions refers to this consciousness, or living spirit, (be it called Brahman, Buddha-Mind, Tao, or The Word) as having been breathed into all being at the moment of creation as a manifestation of divine nature. It is necessary for sentient life, because experience and awareness are possible only through the activating power that flows from this Source.

Transpersonal theory is a way of organising our experience of ‘reality’; it is not that reality itself. It relies on the phenomenological observations of inner subjective experience and instead of merely pathologising those which do not fit into expected socio-cultural models, attempts to set them in the context of the wisdom of the world’s spiritual traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Primal Religions) with some of the philosophical (Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, Kierkegaard) and psychological (Jungian, Humanistic, Existential) schools of the West.

Spiritual Emergence and the Transpersonal Levels

Spiritual emergence can be seen as a natural process of human development in which an individual moves beyond normal feelings and desires of the personal ego into the transpersonal realms of increasing relatedness to a Higher Power, or God. It is an acclimatisation to more subtle levels of consciousness.

In The Atman Project 7 Ken Wilber has described three levels of transpersonal experience, in ascending order: Subtle, Causal and Atman. At these levels people have access to a fluid creativity from a higher order of inspiration than that of the personality.

The Subtle level is that level of conscious awareness which includes extrasensory perceptions indigenous to the body, as well as those apparently separated from it such as out-of-body experiences and psychokinetic phenomena (objects moving without a physical catalyst.) The experience of this level is thought to be related to a system of energy centres in the body called chakras in Sanskrit, that are of a more subtle order than physiological organ systems, and subsequently activate a higher order of perception than that possible from our five physical senses. Experiencing awareness of dimensions beyond physical, objectified reality is often the basis for accessing a deeper, revitalised inner meaning of oneness in connection to others.

People have experienced Causal level consciousness as ‘peak experiences’ secondary to spiritual practice, inspired by music, taking mindaltering substances or following emotional trauma, childbirth or during intense sexual experiences. It is described as a state of perfect ecstasy, untainted by any distracting thoughts, desires or moods. The Causal level includes the awareness of Subtle and material dimensions, going beyond them to a fuller realisation of union with ‘God’, where there is said to be no sense of time, only eternity.

The Atman level is beyond the Causal, but including all dimensions below it. This dimension of consciousness is said to be so completely immersed in the Highest Power that nothing else exists in awareness. It is described as bringing perfect ecstasy beyond emotion. Indications of the Atman level exist in mystical religious texts where it is referred to as being beyond description.

Experience of these transpersonal realms does not necessarily precipitate a crisis. These intense intra-psychic experiences can phenomenologically appear similar to pathological psychotic states, but given the appropriate context, sensitive guidance, and opportunity to integrate the experience, individuals can reach higher levels of awareness and functioning following such an experience.

This transpersonal perspective affords us an opportunity to build a modern scientific theory of ‘madness’ around a radically expanded view of consciousness, and allows us to differentiate extraordinary states of consciousness that are more adaptive than the ordinary state, from alterations that restrict one’s ability to function in the world.

 

The Future

Although scientific technology has furthered the success of some medical specialities, of concern for Psychiatry is the singular lack of resolution of depression, anger and violence amongst our patients, indeed in society as a whole. Despite the fact that modern science has all the knowledge necessary to eliminate most diseases, combat poverty and starvation, and generate enough safe and renewable energy, we remain living in an often violent, disparate world.

The problems we are facing now are not merely economic, political or technological in nature. They are reflections of the emotional, moral and spiritual state of contemporary humanity 20. One of the few hopeful and encouraging developments in the world today is the renaissance of interest in ancient spiritual traditions and the mystical quest. People who have had powerful transformative experiences and have succeeded in applying them to everyday life show very distinct changes in their values. Perhaps this development holds potential for all of us, since it represents a movement away from destructive and self-destructive personality characteristics and the emergence of values that foster individual and collective survival.

In 1999, The Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) founded a Special Interest Group in Spirituality and Psychiatry, to serve two needs: the creation of an enabling forum where psychiatrists could meet and explore the relevance of spirituality to mental healthcare, and to acknowledge the fact that user-led surveys had indicated that they felt the lack of spiritual dimension within psychiatry, and to work towards alleviating this. (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/college/sig/spirit) The recent development of the Spiritual Crisis Network in the UK also indicates renewed interest and motivation. (http://www.spiritualcrisisnetwork.org.uk/)

In Conclusion

Psychiatry must meet the challenge to broaden its repertoire. We can now include recent findings in medical and neuroscientific research, together with the ancient wisdom of the perennial philosophy, and consider the implication that has for understanding an expanded cartography of the psyche, which includes the transpersonal dimension.


Dr. Nicki Crowley, MB ChB MRCPsych., qualified from the University of Birmingham Medical School in 1993, with an interest in neuropsychiatry and complementary and alternative medicine.  She subsequently specialised in psychiatry, training with both the Royal College of Psychiatry (UK) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry between 1995-2003.  She gained entry onto the GMC specialist register in 2003 and has worked as an NHS Consultant since then. 

THIS PAPER WAS AWARDED THE ESSAY PRIZE FOR 2005 BY THE EXECUTIVE OF THE SPIRITUALITY AND PSYCHIATRY SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP, ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS, UK. The above text is an extract from Dr Crowley’s paper.