Long-time follower of this Blog, Ron Krumpos, starts the debate.
Ron has degrees in philosophy from Northwestern University, Lucknow University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
His book, The Greatest Achievement In Life, is a comprehensive account of mysticism as experienced today. Ron interviewed 10 mystics from around the world to write it. It is a free reprintable pdf book with more than 70,000 downloads so far.
Ron: Keith, you said about MER, “It’s caught, not taught.” In religious terms what is ‘caught’ is grace. Divine grace is spiritual assistance not specifically earned by its recipient. Most mystics believe that divine grace is offered at all times
Keith: Grace is “A state of sanctification by God” according to Word Web dictionary. But that’s just an historically religious statement that gives the words “sanctification” and “God” old cultural meanings that have nothing to do with my experiences of Reality every year from the age of about 14 years to my late thirties.
Is there any empirical or experiential evidence that the experience is offered at all times? It’s not an option.
If MER (Mystical Experience of Reality) is an evolutionary factor could this suggest we will all become this Ultimate Reality finally anyway, grace or no grace? (Is that what the biblical Jesus meant when he said, I and my Father (God) are one?).
Ron: … in all places and to all beings, the sentiments, thoughts and actions of the ego self, and individual isolation, block its entry.
Keith: “… sentiments, thoughts and actions of the ego self, and individual isolation, block its entry” is unlikely if my experience is to be trusted.
The phenomena is spontaneous and does not need or accept invitations or permissions. The idea that anything could “block its entry” seems self contrary.
I certainly didn’t want to block my special experiences, nor could I have resisted such an engulfment even if I’d known how … The ineffable joy, oneness with all things then, now and forever, the knowledge, understanding, and humility, all given without any taking is truly ineffable. I was my true self. I tried desperately, bitterly to resist being gently deposited back into my humanity when each episode ended. There was never any question of choice in any of it.
Ron: “God’s grace is the beginning, middle and the end. When you pray for God’s grace, you are like someone standing neck deep in water and yet crying for water.” Ramana Maharshi.
Keith: The implication of this quote seems to be that everyone can experience the phenomenon of their own volition if they just pay attention. This is not my personal experience. My experiences were spontaneous, as I’ve said.
Ron: “God continually showers the fullness of his grace on every being in the universe, but we consent to receive it to a greater or lesser extent.” Simone Weil.
Keith: By the same logic a tulip could consent to rain or refuse it. It seems unlikely MER has ever been or could be left in the care of humans any more than to plants.
The hard question here is, can we do anything personally about emerging into what the mystics tell us we truly are?
On the evidence of the biblical Jesus’s attempts to evangelise the mystical experience of Reality, and other such failed attempts of historical note, plus my own anecdotal witness, I’d have to say No.
Keith, your experience is ‘your experience.’ Not all mystics are the same. Reality, ultimate Reality, is always present whether we realize it or not. Most people are too caught up in the little realities of everyday life to be aware of it.
My book view MER as essentially the same, but varying in degree, duration, frequency, and especially in interpretation. Using religious terminology is just an interpretation of that for which no human words are total adequate.
I have to say I find the use of religious terminology off putting in the extreme. I dislike intensely the concept of an overlord, an anthropomorphic master who determines my fate and who acts as a gatekeeper to a mythical realm of bliss. I can however accept religion and religious literature as an interpretation, a metaphor, or a pointer. Hence I find much enjoyment (instruction even) in the Psalms. But I view the Psalms as a poetic and often beautiful outpouring of human need and frailty. Human longing for safety and peace in an often frightening world. When reading the psalms I do not expect Jehova to put up from the floor and save me or even speak to me.
I live in the 21st Century and find much religious thought, let alone dogma, belittling and degrading to the human spirit.
Religion is, to quote that wonderful Eastern phrase, merely a finger pointing at the moon.
Where religions fail spiritually is their emphasis on emotional experience. For instance worship and adoration are not asked for nor required in MER. Emotions are a human attribute, probably there to aid Seekers through to the Real thing, but now I’m surmising. Many get stuck on emotions, which brings to mind the biblical caution, “many are called but few are chosen”.