What Does Mysticism Have To Teach Us About Consciousness?
By Robert K.C. Forman, The Forge Institute and Program in Religion, Hunter College, CUNY.
Originally published in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1998, pp. 185–201.
“A key strategy for understanding a complex phenomenon is to look at its simplest manifestations. The gene structure of E. coli, for example, has contributed significantly to our understanding of gene functioning in more complex organisms.
“Mystical experiences may represent the simplest form of human consciousness and thus, by the same token, may provide valuable insights into the nature of human consciousness.”
“Not everyone who meditates encounters these sorts of unitive experiences. This suggests that some may be genetically or temperamentally predisposed to mystical ability; borrowing from Weber, the “mystically musical.”
“One might suggest that the mystic’s awareness is categorically different than other peoples’, i.e. that it is connected to the world in an ontologically deep way that the rest of ours is not.
“I find this unconvincing since every mystic I have read says he or she began as an “ordinary,” i.e. non-mystical, person and only came to realize something of what he or she “had always been.”
“Whichever explanation we opt for, however, it is clear that there is some ability the mystics have been able to develop — through meditation or whatever — that most of us have not.”
Publisher’s note: Dr. Forman’s thoughts seem to be predicated on the mystical experience of Reality (MER) being a human emanation. Also that it’s directed to the human condition. In my mystical experiences over several times a year for 15 years, neither of these limited anthropologic conclusions are evident.
I am more inclined to accept there are fields of non-human consciousness some humans experience spontaneously, as in my case, not necessarily by will, and that the brain is a receptor of an outer, non-human consciousness.
Dr. Robert K. C. Forman is a long-term TM-practitioner and a critic of the constructionist approach to mystical experience. He was a professor of religion at the City University of New York, author of several studies on religious experience, and co-editor of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. (Wikipedia).