I am often asked what Quietism is, presumably because it’s one of the descriptions I gave of myself in this blog’s ABOUT page.
I’m also asked why Quietism is frowned on by religionists (obviously by a questioner who has done some research on the subject).
Basically, Quietism is a description of how some who have had the mystical experience of Reality (MER) become “in the world but not of it” whether they like it or not, who thirst after righteousness to the exclusion of human interference.
I didn’t like it a bit from a human point of view when it happened to me because despite the joy and understanding and other fruits MER brought it was progressively, alarmingly alienating at the time. I kept it secret for over 50 years. Even now I haven’t told everything.
You could say MER ruined my life, and I thank MER for that …
I didn’t fit in. Quietism made me feel like one of philosopher, writer, lecturer Colin Wilson’s Outsiders. That was the name of his first book he wrote at the age of 24 that made him famous worldwide and is still in print since 1956 in over 30 languages.
The Outsider examines the human psyche through the lives and works of notables such as Nietsche, Gurdieff, Hesse, Kafka, Sartre, Blake etc. It studies the effects of their “dislocation” from the human condition, their need for transcendence, the effect these Outsiders had on society and society’s effects on them. Unfortunately I never read the book fully because it seemed at that period of my understanding to be too human oriented, too human polluting of my MER experiences.
There are, on the other hand, others who have had the experience of MER who are not affected by Outsiderism. They engage in human affairs.
For instance, some Buddhist schools recognise the phenomena of quietism in their description of The Silent Buddha: a pratyekabuddha, or paccekabuddha, the so-called “realised, silent buddhas” who do not share their Realization with the world. Traditionally, it’s said, Pratyekabuddhas give moral teachings but not enlightenment.
Like my spontaneous personal MERs, pratyekabuddhas are said to achieve enlightenment on their own, without the use of teachers or guides. (See fuller descriptions in Wikipedia).
Deepak Chopra says in his book, The Book of Secrets, “. . . there are a few people who enjoy stillness more than activity, and they dive as deep as they can to find where the water stops running, a point so still and deep that one isn’t touched by the surface waves at all. Having found this stable centre they experience themselves(?)* to the maximum and the outside world to the minimum.”
Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, said “the better part” of the religious life is the one of direct experience (MER).
Carl Jung, the father of psychology, and a proponent of mysticism, is well known for his clear distinction between the superior values of the individual compared to the inferior not to say dangerous values of the collective.
My personal experience is that Quietism is a fruit of MER and like MER is caught not taught – you can’t decide for yourself that you’re going to be a Quietest.
So why have the religionists historically taken such violent, extra judicial, not to say genocidal, even murderous views of individual mystical experience in general and Quietism in particular?
The Catholic Oganisation dictionary has this to say:
“Spiritual knowledge. In a valid sense it is the knowledge of divine mysteries possessed already in this life, though darkly as a “hidden wisdom” (I Corinthians 2:6-16). In a heretical sense it is the recurring error of those who claim to have knowledge of divine things exclusively from their own religious experience and even in contradiction to the Church’s teaching authority.”
Generally, religions are those human organisations that have conceptualised their notion of their original founders’ spiritual experiences into merely human moralities, dogmas, taboos and ethics, creating a lack of distinction between the generality of the lesser human spirit and the superior, focused, individual spirituality of Ultimate Reality that embraces everything known and as yet unknown and is indescribable, unteachable and unpreachable …
So what is the Quietist’s view of humanity?
My conviction is that humanity is a profound spiritual distraction.
The individual is more important to human development than any collective, is at a higher stage of knowing than the popular delusion that the needs of the many come before the needs of the individual.
Human collectivism is cosmically counter productive, a negative, evolutionarily destructive, malignant weed in the cultivation of Reality’s perfection.
Fortunately, collective totalitarianism does seem to be disappearing under the weight of its own irreality as an inconsequential sideline in humanity’s history.
The biblical example of Christianity’s failed attempt to establish communism is in the story of Ananias and Sophira, or more currently, the USSR, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam, Cambodia are all striking examples of the violent, inhumane failure of collectivism.
Spiritually, there is nothing of lasting value to be learned from studying the human race. Only individually experienced MER presents knowledge of the cosmic permanence from which all existence, including human existence, flows. And this cosmic source is all powerful, totally benign, loving. There is literally infinitely more than just being human, thankfully.
* No! In my experiences of MER, if that’s what Dr. Chopra means, Revelation is received from an “outside” completely independent of the self or anything human. Hence the inescapable, unbidden cosmic gift of the spiritual hunger that produces Quietists presumably …