SELF-HELP GURUS?

 

Oh boy! This reblog could be contentious.

It’s somewhat bigoted and prejudiced in my view. I cannot accept whopping generalisations, though in this case the author does provide some light provenance for his assertions.

As the article is a needed heads-up on the subject though, it’s re-posted here for you to decide:


SELF-HELP GURUS

by Zeno The Stoic April 12, 2018

Self help gurus are guaranteed fakes. So are all other self anointed gurus. Avoid them – run for your life and keep your purse locked.

I have parked this article under the category “health”, since I find self help gurus the most insidious but you will find this species of pariah in every walk of life and every area of commerce.

I first noticed them in finance: such people are a huge danger to your wealth. They promise you will make millions in up and down markets by buying their absurd courses. It is likely they have never traded in the financial markets and that if they have the exercise was a failure.

It is all about money: getting yours.

The Dalai Lama doesn’t need to peddle books, nor does the Archbishop of Canterbury. They may be worth listening to, they may not. But at least they are not looking for you to finance their expensive lifestyles. Much the same can be said for qualified doctors or therapists. At least they have (usually!) had a rigorous training in a recognised discipline.

The real con artists are those who sell books, courses and seminars telling YOU how to achieve happiness and contentment when THEY have singularly failed to achieve any measure of well being and are as far removed from nirvana as it is possible to be.

READ MORE

Reblogged on Mysticexperiences.net

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THE TREND FROM RELIGIONS TO ‘INDIVIDUAL SPIRITUALITY’*

Is this seemingly spontaneous trend leaping out of the religious frying pan into the ‘human-spirit’ fire …?

Is it missing the phenomena of the mystic experience of Reality (MER) that drives human evolution?

Perhaps mysticism being hidden behind the secret password of ‘direct experience’ makes such oversight inevitable …

So perhaps the only solace in this current trend is its emphasis on the individual. Perhaps it’s the inevitable human flight from failed collectivism which is the antithesis of ultimately real human evolution.

Aren’t Ananias and Sapphira of the bible and today’s massively failed national attempts at collectivism a warning wreckage?

Individualism is the essence of my mystical experiences of Ultimate Reality.

So perhaps the current trend away from religions to individuality is significant enough, for now – a step along the way.

*See ‘Spiritual but not religious’ on Wikipedia for a comprehensive study of the trend.

Mysticexperiences.net

FREE WILL AND FULL POTENTIAL? Answering your Calling.

Most humans won’t reach their full potential or achieve spiritual free will.
Does this explain the perennial state of human agitations, disappointments and struggles?

Science can’t deliver either attribute. Science isn’t in the same reality. Nor will any human effort, if the mystic experience is to be believed.

Humans have free will only within their developing human attributes, as dung beetles etc. have their free will within theirs. But in spiritual Reality free will does not exist, is redundant, in my experience.

Mystics on the other hand do achieve their current potential but for them free will is not an option or a consideration – they are Reality, where free will is irrelevant.

Mystics are emptied of their humaness to the point of human invisibility, (interestingly, a Sufi teaching tradition). They are free and as fully developed to their potential here as they can be.

Even if mystics announce themselves, most humans are not developed enough to understand they exist. So that’s why mysticism remains largely invisible, non mainstream, whatever characteristics it adopts.

However, scholars, theologians, scientists and philosophers etc. know the mystical experience of Reality (MER) exists and have even suggested mystics are, for example, “a new species”, the leading edge of human evolution, or “the better part” of spirituality.

So why can’t everyone achieve mystic status?

There is no evidence mystic fulfillment can be taught, only caught. Teachings don’t help though they might induce numinousness, empathetic secular enlightenment but only as a pale, insubstantial shadow of the real thing.

So the question has to be asked: Is human evolution impeded by a humanity so full of itself there’s no room left for what mystics are given freely?

My experience suggests there are those others who are spontaneously beset by an indescribable but undeniable yearning for the ineffablility of the numinous; Seekers. If you are a Seeker you might find solace in the following four suggestions I have identified as

ANSWERING YOUR CALLING:

  1. Serve humanity by being legal, decent and honest, nothing more. This starts to simplify life, to focus it.
  2. Carry out worldly duties and responsibilities (ie. as a parent, relative, neighbour, colleague, citizen) for as long as you can. (These attachments might never completely disappear at first but will assume their proper spiritual perspective eventually).
  3. “Let go” of everything else, even #2 above when the time comes.
  4. A tip: If you can describe yourself at the end of your life you’ve not achieved anything relevant; so simplify now so that that which is answering your Calling/Seeking finds space in the real you. Shed the unnessary elements of your life as you’re taken to your deepest, truest self, where everything falls into place effortlessly – axiomatically, automatically.

Does this work?

If it doesn’t work, will most humans ever reach their full potential or remain bogged down in the limits of human freewill?

Mysticalexperiences.net

FINDING THE SOUL

This excerpt is taken from an essay written by Ron Krumpos after he interviewed 10 mystics from around the world. The essay appears in his free pdf reprintable book, The Greatest Achievement in Life, which can be found at suprarational.org. The book is a comprehensive account of mysticism experienced today.

He writes:

“Finding the soul, even if that was possible, is less significant than living in the soul.

“Most of us live in our immediate emotions, our extended minds and our ever present bodies until death. Few of us live through the soul, constantly aware of the divine essence in us.

“It is the spiritual life which gives true purpose to our human lives. It is spiritual life which continues after this brief stay on Earth.

“It is the spirit in each of us which unites us with the spirit in All: all people, all sentient beings, all seemingly inanimate objects, and the divine.”

Mysticexperiences.net

THE TAG “CHRISTIAN MYSTIC” OXYMORONIC?

Humanity barely consequential; mysticism beyond, and limitless?

The suggestion the experience of Reality that defines a mystic has anything to do with religions is oxymoronic, in my mystic experiences.*
Universities researching “Christian” and “Islamic”, “Buddhist” “Hindhu” and “Judaic” mysticism as if the phenomena belongs to those religions are putting the cart before the horse.

Mysticism is not a religious experience. Religion is not even spiritual. Nor is mysticism for that matter, but the two are at heart very little to do with each other anyway.

Religions recognised the existence of the mystic experience but could not replicate it so made up coercive human rules of morality and ethics instead then enforced them – then and now …

So religions were born, faking Ultimate Reality. (Like reading the bible backwards and upside down).

In my mystical experiences of reality, described in my web pages, mysticism has nothing whatsoever to do with any manifestation of the human race, or even of humanity itself, let alone its religions. Is that why religions are being abandoned, failing, falling under the weight of their artificial “spirituality”?

The human spirit is very different to the mystical experiences of Reality I experienced. The human spirit, in my view, is not compatible with the mystical experience of Reality.

The mystic experience manifests itself only in individuals, not religions, nations, species or ideologies. It cannot be evangelised. It is caught not taught.

A mystic is one who however unworthy has experienced the mystic experience of Reality, (MER).

I doubt if a contemplative, a religionist or an academic who only sees the phenomena of MER as a subject of general anthropomorphic study – or anyone for that matter who sees MER as a human construct, a mere emanation of the human brain – is a mystic or has any experience of the phenomenon.

This effort to assimilate mysticism into merely human experience is an obfuscation of revealed Reality – bereft of hard evidence; sincere no doubt, but sincerely wrong.

Is this idea of assimilating mysticism into a totally unrelated human construct an academically anthropological acculturation, what some wisdom traditions refer to when they talk about “The Negative Principle” and its bedeviling work – what early primitive religionists called the work of Shaitan, the Devil?

If so, no problem! – on some scientific evidence, humanity is barely consequential anyway; mysticism is beyond, and limitless.

* If I say “me” or “I”, this is not meant to imply my experience is the final say for you. It is not, necessarily. My use of “me” and “I” are meant to issue a cautionary caveat, to invite discussion, comment and sharing. My experiences are of course true evidence so far as I am concerned but anecdotal by definition. Seekers must keep going on their present path until they can’t, then stop – discard, and move on. They can be comforted by the mystic tradition that That which they seek seeks them, just them. There are no failures. All is well.

LOVE?

What’s love got to do with it?

 

One of the most powerful discernments taken from my mystical experiences was the difference between Reality’s love and human love.

I experienced Reality’s love as Acceptance. Reality Accepts the individual – body, mind and soul – without distinction.

It recognises no attachments: friends, colleagues, family, ‘isms’, politics or religions, collectives, colours, races, classes, creeds, cultures or nations.

It does not judge, threaten, cajole, blame, punish or use aggression or rewards. It does not ask, only gives. There is no hell or damnation.

Ultimate Reality is benign, universal, not by or about or merely for humans. It only nurtures individuals, wholly and forever.

By contrast, human love’s underlying compulsions are lust, anger, greed, attachments and ego, however selfless human love may seem.

Eventually, examining all forms of human love with detachment will reveal the reasons human love is what it is. But it’s still not the real thing.

In the meantime, Ultimate Reality’s Acceptance of individuals is pure. This Acceptance never alters or dies. It is the real thing.

Mysticexperiences.net

THE REAL HARD QUESTION – for scientists and mystics?

 

From a mystic’s point of view the dung beetle, for instance, and human science are in the category of the micro phenomena of existence – whereas the mystical experience of Reality (MER), is the only phenomena in current human experience that is the macro category it occupies.

So the real hard question of science and mysticism is, how macro is Reality?

Does mysticism already know?  If not, which one will know first, science or mysticism?

(Answer: Mystics! – Reality has been giving mystics the answer to this one for thousands of years).

Mysticexperiences.net

“WHY DOES SPIRITUAL AWAKENING REQUIRE A SHIFT IN OUR SPIRITUAL PRIORITIES?” – RAM DASS

 

It doesn’t. Humans have no say in the matter in my experience.

Humans don’t have any choice. Reality doles out individual  spiritual awakening, not humans.

Nor does Reality pay attention to human “spiritual priorities”. From my perspective, the notion of uncalled humans having “spiritual priorities” is an oxymoronic egoism.

Until Reality awakens individuals to the possibility of spirituality, humans aren’t aware of real spirituality. They become aware only when they’re made to …

If you’re having persistently recurring urgings to know who and what you are and what it’s all about, take comfort. That which you seek seeks you with such promptings.

Even after awakening, humans still have no spiritual choices, nor would that notion even occur to those awakened.

Reality has its own ways. Its ways are not human ways.

There is a lot to come, from before history to long after …

All is well.

Mysticexperiences.net

“YOU ARE NOT YOUR BODY, YOU ARE NOT EVEN YOUR MIND?”

“Not only can matter not account for the mind, but mind is needed to account for matter.” – Leibniz

An email reply to a friend/Follower:

Thanks, Barb.

“You are not your body, you are not your mind” is a mantra that came up in the last three years of my blog. Can’t remember its provenance.

Some science seems to be coming to the conclusion human evolution will certainly dump body and mind eventually. That is a Sufi tradition too. It’s certainly validated for me by my own experiences.

Humans and their minds have always been a spiritually poisonous distraction in the mystical experience of Reality. Just look at how the human mind created the diversion of religions from the purity of MER (Mystical Experience of Reality).

Our understanding of brain, mind, intellect and consciousness, especially MER, has undergone a considerable worldwide development since the days of Leibniz’s metaphysics I think.

Thanks again, Barb, you always stimulate …

MYSTICS AND RELIGION

Historically, mystics had no choice but to be in a religion – or else! Even so, they were tortured, incarcerated, banished, excommunicated and/or killed.

Today’s true mystics have no such restraints. Even so, they avoid religious distractions, even other mystics. Some Sufi schools even strongly advise meditating alone, not even to dally after satsangs/meetings to socialise, eat or drink.

Two contemporary Sufi schools, and a published Sufi master, distance themselves from Islam publically because they say the mystical experience is significantly further along the spiritual path, much purer; that religions are spiritually ignorant, man-made distractions to the truly called. One Sufi school says real, pure Sufism existed before religions anyway.

(Did the religions become the obscuring weeds of the original and ever present spiritual flower?).

An Internet guru ignores spiritual books in case his personal experience of Reality becomes adulterated.

MER, the Mystical Experience of Reality, is enough.

It has to be noted Jesus did not leave any spiritual instructions for enlightenment. His alleged biblical teachings were all anthropological – moral and ethical, not spiritual.

(What he imparted in the personal, face to face oral tradition of teachers with their pupils of his time however, a tradition still widely followed today, might have been purely mystical, but will we ever know?).

The Jesus Conference of world-wide scholars and scientists says only about a dozen of the words ascribed to Jesus in the Bible can be verified as his. Not one of those words is a mystical teaching.

The other religions are in the same category – manmade constructions simply teaching current human moralities and ethics.

Still, one Sufi school admonishes its followers not to interfere with the religious as many religionists are called. They are finding their way. They will succeed ultimately – there are no failures in the universal mystical experience of Reality.

It has to be emphasised that the essence of the mystic experience is that it comes for individuals, not social collectives, countries, ideologies, political “isms”, theologies, philosophies, religions, or even mankind. It comes for you.

MER has its own agenda. MER is independent of all influences yet known to mankind. As the biblical Jesus is quoted as saying, it comes like the wind, from where and to where no one knows.

So all a mystic can truthfully suggest is, if you’re a religionist, carry on in your chosen religion until you can’t. Just don’t let religion become a danger to you or anyone else.

Seeking Reality is an individual calling, a singular voice for you only, for our ways are not Reality’s ways. Ultimately, Reality is the only way.

As for the rest, including human destiny, all is enfolding in good order as the night the day. All is well.

Mysticexperiences.net

ANSWER TO A REQUEST FOR A MEETING

 

“I don’t think you would get much out of me in your human quest to thrive and survive.

“My interest in being merely human is waning by the hour nowadays as a quick read of my Blog, mysticexperiences.net will show you, unless you have a proclivity for such experiences, in which case you will understand my existence better by looking at the 6,000 studies of people like me made by Oxford University, now archived at Wales University.

“Without understanding what I am, you and I would only get mired in human banalities, much of which you seem to be intuiting yourself through anyway.

“You sound like a wonderful person. I send you todos bendiciones, todos!

Mysticexperiences.net

THE ART OF TRANSCENDENCE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE COMMON ELEMENTS OF TRANSPERSONAL PRACTICES

We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing … a wakefulness that is the birthright of us all, though few put it to use.

– Plotinus

By Dr. Roger Walsh MD., PhD.,& Dr. Frances E. Vaughan PhD., from The Journal of Transpersonsal Psychology, 25:1 – 10, 1993.

When historians look back at the twentieth century, they may conclude that two of the most important breakthroughs in Western psychology were not discoveries of new knowledge but recognitions of old wisdom.

First, psychological maturation can continue far beyond our arbitrary, culture-bound definitions of normality (Wilber, 1980; Wilber et al., 1986). There exist further developmental possibilities latent within us all. As William James put it, “most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness …. We all have reservoirs of life to draw upon, of which we do not dream.”

Second, techniques exist for realizing these “reservoirs of life” or transpersonal potentials. These techniques are part of an art and technology that has been refined over thousands of years in hundreds of cultures and constitutes the contemplative core of the world’s great religious traditions. This is the art of transcendence, designed to catalyze transpersonal development (Walsh, 1990; Walsh & Vaughan, 1993). As such it is based on two fundamental assumptions about the nature and potentials of the mind.

The first assumption is that our usual state of consciousness is suboptimal. In fact, it has been described in terms such as clouded, distorted, dreamlike, entranced and largely out of control. This has been recognized by psychologists and mystics of both East and West (Huxley, 1945; Mikulis, 1991; Tart, 1986). For Freud (1917) it was the culture-shaking recognition that “man is not even master in his own house … his own mind,” that echoed the Bhagavad Gita’s despairing cry two thousand years earlier:

Restless (the) mind is,
So strongly shaken
In the grip of the senses:
Gross and grown hard
With stubborn desire …..
Truly, I think
The wind is no wilder.  (Prabhavananda & Isherwood, 1944)

In the words of Ram Dass (1975), “we are all prisoners of our own mind. This realization is the first step on the journey to freedom.” Or as Pir Vilayat Khan put it even more succinctly, “The bind is in the mind.” The second asswnption is that although the untrained mind is clouded and out of control, it can be trained and clarified, and this training catalyzes transpersonal potentials. This is a central theme of the perennial philosophy.

For Socrates:

In order that the mind should see light instead of darkness, so the entire soul must be turned away from this changing world, until its eye can bear to contemplate reality and that supreme splendor which we call the Good. Hence there may well be an art whose aim would be to affect this very thing (Plato, 1945).

Likewise, according to Ramana Maharshi (1955), “All scriptures without any exception proclaim that for salvation mind should be subdued.”

Although practices and techniques vary widely, there seem to be six common elements that constitute the heart of the art of transcendence: ethical training, concentration, emotional transformation, redirection of motivation, refinement of awareness, and the cultivation of wisdom.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a synoptic introduction to the art of transcendence and its common elements in the hope of stimulating appreciation, research and practice of them.

SIX COMMON ELEMENTS OF TRANSPERSONAL PRACTICES

Ethics

Ethics is widely regarded as an essential foundation of transpersonal development. However, contemplative traditions view ethics, not in terms of conventional morality, but rather as an essential discipline for training the mind. Contemplative introspection renders it painfully apparent that unethical behavior both stems from and reinforces destructive mental factors such as greed and anger. Conversely, ethical behavior undermines these and cultivates mental factors such as kindness, compassion and calm.

Ultimately, after transpersonal maturation occurs, ethical behavior is said to flow spontaneously as a natural expression of identification with all people and all life (Radhakrishnan, 1929). For a person at this stage, which corresponds to Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1981) highest or seventh stage of moral development-a stage that Kohlberg felt required transcendent experience-“Whatever is … thought to be necessary for sentient beings happens all the time of its own accord” (Gampopa, 1971).

Attentional Training

Attentional training and the cultivation of concentration are regarded as essential for overcoming the fickle wanderlust of the untrained mind (Goleman, 1988). As E.F. Schumacher (1973) observed of attention, “No topic occupies a more central place in all traditional teaching; and no subject suffers more neglect, misunderstanding, and distortion in the thinking of the modem world.”

Attentional training is certainly misunderstood by Western psychology, which has unquestioningly accepted William James’ century-old conclusion that “Attention cannot be continuously sustained” (James, 1899/1962). Yet James went further: “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgement, character and will. No one is compos sui if he have it not.

An education which would improve this faculty would be the education par excellence …. It is easier to define this ideal than to give practical direction for bringing it about” (James, 1910/1950). Here, then, we have a stark contrast between traditional Western psychology, which says attention cannot be sustained, and the art of transcendence, which says that attention can and must be sustained, if we are to mature beyond conventional developmental limits.

Being able to direct attention at will is so important because the mind tends to take on qualities of the objects to which it attends (Goldstein, 1983). For example, thinking of an angry person tends to elicit anger while thinking of a loving person may elicit feelings of love. The person who can control attention can therefore control and cultivate specific emotions and motives.

Emotional Transformation

Ethical behavior and attentional stability facilitate the third element of the art of transcendence: emotional transformation. There appear to be three components to emotional transformation.

The first is the reduction of destructive emotions such as fear and anger, a process which is well known in mainstream Western therapy. Of course, what is implied here is not repression or suppression but rather clear awareness of such emotions and consciously relinquishing them where appropriate.

The second component is the cultivation of positive emotions such as love, joy and compassion. Whereas conventional Western therapies have many techniques for reducing negative emotions, they have virtually none for enhancing positive emotions such as these.

In contrast, the art of transcendence contains a wealth of practices for cultivating these emotions to an intensity and extent undreamed of in Western psychology. Thus, for example, the Buddhist’s compassion, the Bhakti’s love, and the Christian’s agape are said to reach their full flowering only when they unconditionally and unwaveringly encompass all creatures, without exception and without reserve (Kongtrul, 1987; Singer, 1987).

This intensity and scope of positive emotion is facilitated by a third component of emotional transformation: the cultivation of equanimity. This is an imperturbability that fosters mental equilibrant and as such it helps emotions such as love and compassion to remain unconditional and unwavering even under duress.

This capacity is analogous to the Stoics “apatheia,” the Christian Father’s “divine apatheia,” the Buddhist’s equanimity, the contemporary philosopher Franklin Merrell-Wolffs “high indifference,” the Hindu’s samatva which leads to a “vision of sameness,” and the Taoist principle of “the equality of things,” which leads beyond ”the trouble of preferring one thing to another.”

Motivation

Ethical behavior, attentional stability and emotional transformation all work together, along with practices such as meditation, to redirect motivation along healthier, more transpersonal directions. The net effect is a change in the direction, variety and focus of motivation as well as a reduction in its compulsivity.

Traditionally it is said that motivation becomes less scattered and more focused; the things desired become subtler and more internal. Desires gradually become less self-centered and more self-transcendent with less emphasis on getting and more on giving. Supportive findings from contemporary research suggest that psychological maturity is associated with a shift from egocentric to allocentric (concern f{}r others) motivation (Heath, 1983).

Traditionally this motivational shift was seen as “purification” or as “giving up attachment to the world.” In contemporary terms it seems analogous to movement up Maslow’s (1971) hierarchy of needs, Amold Toynbee’s process of “etherealization,” the means for, and result of, a life-style of voluntary simplicity (Elgin, 1981), and the means for reaching the philosopher Kierkegaard’s goal in which “purity of heart is to will one thing.”

In addition to redirecting motivation, the art of transcendence involves reducing its compulsive power. The result is said to be a serene disenchantment with the things of the world which no longer exert a blinding fascination or compulsive pull.

This is the Buddhist nibbidda and the yogic viraga and is the basis of the Athenian philosopher Epicurus’ claim that the way to make people happy is not to add to their riches but to reduce their desires.

This claim is explicitly formulated in the Buddha’s Third Noble Truth which states that the end of craving leads to the end of suffering. The reduction of compulsive craving is therefore said to result in a corresponding reduction in intrapsychic conflict, a claim now supported by studies of advanced meditators (Walsh, 1993; Wilber et al., 1986).

This is not to imply that redirecting motives and relinquishing craving is necessarily easy. In Aristotle’s estimate, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self’ (Schindler & Lapid, 1989).

Refining Awareness

The great wisdom traditions agree that in our usual untrained state of mind, awareness-both perceptual and intuitive-is insensitive and impaired: fragmented by attentional instability, colored by clouding emotions, and distorted by scattered desires. Accordingly, we are said to mistake shadows for reality (Plato) because we see ”through a glass darkly” (St. Paul), a “reducing value” (Aldous Huxley), or “narrow chinksn (Blake).

The fifth element of the art of transcendence, therefore, aims to refine awareness. Perception is to be rendered more sensitive, more accurate, and more appreciative of the freshness and novelty of each moment of experience. Likewise, intuitive capacities, usually blunted or blinded, are to be cultivated (Vaughan, 1979). One of the primary tools for this is meditation.

Meditators notice that both internal and external perception becomes more sensitive, colors seem brighter, and the inner world becomes more available. These subjective experiences have recently found experimental support from research, which indicates that meditators’ perceptual processing can become more sensitive and rapid, and empathy more accurate (Murphy & Donovan, 1988; West, 1987; Shapiro & Walsh, 1984; Walsh & Vaughan, 1993).

As the psychiatric historian Henrie Ellenberger (1970) observed, “The natural tendency of the mind is to roam through the past and the future; it requires a certain effort to keep one’s attention in the present.” Meditation is training in precisely that effort. The result is a present-centered freshness of perception variously described as mindfulness (Buddhism), anuragga (Hinduism), the “sacrament of the present moment” (Christianity), the “draught of forgetfulness” in which one forgets the past and comes anew into each present moment (Steiner), and characteristic of self-actualizers (Maslow, 1971).

Refinement of outer perception is said to be accompanied by a refinement of inner intuitive capacities. Contemporary researchers report finding “introspective sensitization” (West, 1987) whereas ancient wisdom traditions speak metaphorically of the development of an inner perceptual organ or the opening of an inner eye: the eye of the soul (Plato), the eye of the heart (Sufism), the eye of the Tao (Taoism), the third eye (Tibetan), or the Western philosophers’ nous or intellectus. For an excellent review see Hustom Smith (1993).

When we see things clearly, accurately, sensitively and freshly, we can respond empathically and appropriately. Thus, both ancient wisdom traditions and modern psychotherapies agree with Fritz Perls (1969), the founder of Gestalt therapy, that “Awareness per se-by and of itself—can be curative.”

Wisdom

The sixth quality cultivated by the art of transcendence is wisdom. Traditionally, wisdom is regarded as something significantly more than knowledge. Whereas knowledge is something we have, wisdom is something we must be. Developing it requires self-transformation.

This transformation is fostered by opening defenselessly to the reality of “things as they are,” including the enormous extent of suffering in the world. In the words of the Psalms, this is the recognition that “our lives are only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, our years come to an end like a sigh” (Psalm 90 HRS). “Who can live and never see death?” (Psalm 89 HRS).

In our own time it is existentialism that has emphasized this recognition most forcefully (Yalom, 1981). With its graphic description of the inevitable existential challenges of meaninglessness, freedom and death it has rediscovered aspects of the Buddha’s First Noble Truth which holds that unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) is an inherent part of existence. Both existentialism and the wisdom traditions agree that, in the words of Thomas Hardy (1926), “if a way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst.”

Whereas existentialism leaves us marooned in a no-exit situation of heightened awareness of existential limits and suffering, the art of transcendence offers a way out. For existentialism, wisdom consists of recognizing these painful facts of life and accepting them with authenticity, resoluteness (Heidegger), and courage (Tillich).

However, for contemplative traditions this existential attitude is a preliminary rather than a final wisdom and is used to redirect motivation away from trivial, egocentric pursuits toward the contemplative practices that lead to deeper wisdom.

Deeper wisdom recognizes that the sense of being marooned in a no-exit situation of limits and suffering can be transcended through transforming the self that seems to suffer (Vaughan, 1986). This transformation springs from the development of direct intuitive insight-beyond thoughts, concepts or images of any kind-into the nature of mind, self, consciousness and cosmos.

This insight is the basis for the transrational liberating wisdom variously known in the East as jnana (Hinduism), prajna (Buddhism), or ma’rifah (Islam), and in the West as gnosis or scientia sacra. And with this liberation the goal of the art of transcendence is realized.

Discussion

These, then, seem to be six essential, common elements, processes or qualities of mind that constitute the heart of the art and technology of transcendence. Of course, different practices and traditions focus more on some processes than on others. For example, Indian philosophy divides practices into various yogas (Feuerstein, 1989).

All of them acknowledge ethics as an essential foundation. Raja yoga emphasizes meditation and the training of attention and awareness; Bhakti yoga is more emotional and focuses on the cultivation of love; Karma yoga uses work in the world to refine motivation, and Jnana yoga hones the intellect and wisdom.

However, the capacities of mind developed by the art of transcendence are highly interdependent and the development of one fosters the development of others. This interdependence has long been recognized by both Eastern and Western philosophers who held that “every virtue requires other virtues to complete it” (Murphy,1992, p. 558). Therefore, to the extent a tradition is authentic-that is, capable of fostering transpersonal development and transcendence (Wilber, 1983)-to that extent it may cultivate and balance these elements of the art of transcendence. Hopefully it will not be long before this art is better appreciated, and its study and practice are widespread.


rogerwalsh1ROGER WALSH graduated from Australia’s Queensland University with degrees in psychology, physiology, neuroscience, and medicine, and then went to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar. He is now at the University of California at Irvine where he is professor of psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology, as well as a professor in the religious studies programme. He is a proponent of the development of “transpersonal psychology” that includes phenomena such as MER (Mystical Experiences of Reality).


vaughanbw-210-expFRANCES VAUGHAN, Ph.D. is an author, educator and retired psychologist in Sonoma County, CA.

 

 

 

REFERENCES / SUGGESTED READING

ELGIN, D. (1981). Voluntary simplicity. New York: William Morrow.

ELLENBERGER, J. (1970). The discovery of the unconscious. New York: Basic Books.

FEUERSTEIN, G. (l 989). Yoga: The technology of ecstasy. Los Angeles: J. Tarcher.

FREUD, S. (1917). A general introduction to psychoanalysis. Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishers.

GAMPOPA. (1971). The jewel ornament of liberation. (H. Guenther, transl.). Boston: Shambhala, p. 271.

GOLDSTEIN, J. (1983). The experience of insight. Boston: Shambhala.

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The authors would like to thank all those who contributed to the writing of this article, especially Sonja Margulies, Ken Wilber and Bonnie L’ Allier.

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