Contemplatives from eight different religious traditions—Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Native American, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic—met at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, to define their experience of Ultimate Reality as mystics.
After sharing their conclusions with other contemplatives and mystics they issued what became known as, “The Snowmass Conference Eight Points of Agreement”, as follows:
1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality, to which they give various names.
Comment: No, religions do not, as the slightest examination of some religions will show how mysticism is ostracised if not worse, derided, punished and far from accepted as mainstream or even allowable.
2. Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.
3. Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.
Comment: For Reality, yes. If the implication is humans can attain it under their own volition, No! There is no evidence humans can achieve this enlightenment on their own. Reading and deep stud might bring humans to a realisation of Ultimate Reality, even a sympathy and empathy, but not the actual experience of this Reality.
4. Faith is opening, accepting, and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
Comment: Faith, hope and belief are for those who have not had the mystical experience of Reality. Those who have had the experience, (mystics), have no need of faith, hope nor belief because they KNOW. They do not need to “Fake It To Make it”.
Belief systems may be invented around the experience but with the actual experience these systems will eventuality fall under the weight of their lack of real foundation, as we see today.
5. The potential for human wholeness—or, in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transcendence, transformation, blessedness—is present in every human being.
Comment: The “potential for human wholeness” is a gift of Reality, comes only by the will of Reality (“grace”?). We are limited by human attributes, abilities, and species evolution in a reality created and nurtured by Reality alone.
6. Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service to others.
Comment: There is no “religious practice” nor “human service” or involvement that can create the experience of Reality. It cannot be experienced through artifice, ie., “art”, “nature”, animism “human relationships” or “service to others”.
The experience is caught, not taught. It cannot be evangelised, prosyletised or politicised.
The experience It is not abandoned by Reality to the vagaries of human stewardship, gifting, human effort, or human qualification. It is uniquely spontaneous and non human.
7. As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.
Comment: Yes. But Reality is taking care of all that. Reality’s expectations are not yet our expectations, nor our current expectations Reality’s. Reality is in overall charge, not us.
8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life.
Comment: No it isn’t. It is essential for the religious life – concocted however sincerely by humans – but is not a requirement of experiencing Ultimate Reality. That, evidently, has been too important to Ultimate Reality to be left to humans.
… spiritual attainment is not the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.
Number 8 seems to contradict itself. There’s muddle.
Summary of Comments
I’m puzzled by the idea these eight contemplative results of the experience of Reality are being associated with the idea religions can now take charge of some implied need for “religious practices”, for “faith”, for the need to worship nature and love each other etc, when the very experience of Reality expunges all need for suchlike human preoccupations.
The mystical experience of Reality (MER) makes it axiomatic we become better human beings while we are human but there is more afoot than being merely human, as MER primarily attests. If we don’t get this we don’t get MER.
The fruits of the experience of Ultimate Reality are not mere human mind stuff, emotion, mythomania or meme. As part of human evolution into Reality, MER rids us of these old, materialistic human rigidities.
The message of Ultimate Reality is that Ultimate Reality is in charge of creation, which includes the human condition, and that humans have been given no stewardship of this reality whatsoever.
Yet I see the same assertive human distortions, (power grabbing?), in some of the eight points that also misled the biblical Jesus and lead to the failure of his mission.
It is sad to see such spiritual hubris persisting to this day by way of religions. It brings to mind the C.S. Lewis tale of the elder Satan comforting the younger Satan for letting his pupil have feelings for “God”. The elder Satan counselled the young Satan to divert his pupil into Christianity.
While these eight points are a welcome demonstration of the human condition emerging from its chrysalis to awareness of its spiritual identity, it’s sad to see it’s still being stifled by the demands of human mindsets like religions. Is this the innocence of evil at work?