MARKIDES: “EASTERN ORTHODOX MYSTICISM, TRANSPERSONAL THEORY”

 

Below is a link to a paper written by Dr. Markides and published in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, in 2008 (Vol. 40, No. 2). It is entitled, “Eastern Orthodox Mysticism and Transpersonal Theory”.

As a “teaser” to the paper, this is Dr. Markides’ abstract. He writes:

ABSTRACT

“Christianity has remained relatively peripheral to the intellectual processes that shaped transpersonal theory. Eastern religions on the other hand provided the base upon which transpersonal theory was founded and developed. Spiritual traditions like Hinduism and Buddhism paved the way towards the exploration of states of consciousness beyond the rational mind.

My basic claim in this paper is that the eastern branch of Christianity, or Eastern Orthodox Christianity, has preserved and developed over the centuries a mystical theology and practice that may enrich and perhaps expand what eastern religions have contributed so far to the emergence of transpersonal theory.

This paper is an introduction to the mystical pathways of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. It is informed by seminal literature and scriptures, several years of participant observation and depth interviews of Eastern Orthodox practitioners (mystics, monks and hermits), and complemented by experiential data related to my own journey of discovery.”

Click to open Dr. Markides paper: Threefold Way-Markides (PDF)


Kyriacos C. Markides (b. 1942) is a professor of sociology at the University of Maine. He has written several books on Christian mysticism including Mountain of Silence (2001), Gifts of the Desert (2005), and Inner River (2012). Dr. Markides is a contributor to Transpersonal Psychology, a sub-field or “school” of psychology that integrates the spiritual and transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psychology. Based on the early works of Carl Jung, William James, and Abraham Maslow, it is also possible to define Transpersonal Psychology as a “spiritual psychology”. Dr. Markides is trying to introduce Eastern Orthodox Mysticism into Western secular Psychology. 

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BEYOND “GOD”?

A follower of this website was brought up as a Catholic. She had her first sailing experience with colleagues and friends when they were caught by a strong squall that had water pouring over the decks. She said she had a moment of epiphany and put it down to God.

I thought her movingly numinous story reflected her intensive religious background whereas experienced secular sailors would put it down to the well known phenomena of “Storm Ecstacy”. So would scholars and scientists known as “Constructionists”.

“Constructionists” believe all such experiences, including MER(Mystical Experiences of Reality), can be attributed to cultural conditioning.

“Perennialists”  on the other hand take their view from Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) who was an English writer, philosopher. He coined the phrase in what became a seminal book on the subject called, “The Perennial Philosophy”, from which the following excerpt is taken:

“At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines:

First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness—the world of things and animals and men and even gods—is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be nonexistent.

Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning.  This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.

Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul.  It is possible for a man, it he so desires, to identify himself with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.

Fourth: Man’s life has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.”

Dr. Persinger, a Sudbury University, Canada, professor, a cognitive neuroscience researcher with over 200 peer-reviewed publications has studied the experiences of the presence of God and claims to have developed a gadget you put on your head that can produce the presence of God at will.

He also suggests MER might be a psychotic state. A reading of the definition of psychotic makes it difficult to see where the good Professor gets this conclusion. Whatever, Dr Persinger can justify the title of “Constructionist”.

But other scholars and scientists have been aroused since the 60’s to study the historical phenomenon of the Mystical Experience of Reality, what Maslow called “Peak Experiences”, and other scholars and scientists by even more names. They take the subject as seriously as Huxley. They can be dubbed Perennialists.

My own MERs did not indicate God in any shape or form, which in those early days disappointed me because Jesus was my hero. I loved God with all my young heart and soul and strength.

My MERs were powerfully transcendent, out of body and mind experiences of joy, acceptance, humility. Everything belonged to me.

I was told that “All is Well”. I learned that in Reality, where all things are perfect, there are no names…” (I save space here by just giving the gist).

I have since realized that Reality is enough. It came well before religions or any human constructs of God, singular or plural …

There was no God of any man-made description in the transformational experiences I was given, none whatsoever.

Keith Hancock. 2015.

RELIGIONS, VALUES, AND PEAK EXPERIENCES: Reviewer Needed

Here is the contents list of Abraham Maslow’s fascinating book, Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences. It could do with a contemporary review. Anyone up to it? If so, I can send them a .pdf file. Please click COMMENT to let me know. Thank you.

CONTENTS

  • Editorial Introduction and Preface I.
  • Introduction II.
  • Dichotomized Science and Dichotomized Religion III.
  • The “Core-Religious” or “Transcendent” Experience IV.
  • Organizational Dangers to Transcendent Experiences V.
  • Hope, Skepticism, and Man’s Higher Nature VI.
  • Science and the Religious Liberals and Non-Theists VII.
  • Value-Free Education? VIII. Conclusions
  • APPENDIXES: A.   Religious Aspects of Peak Experiences B.
  • The Third Psychology C.
  • Ethnocentric Phrasings of Peak-Experiences D.
  • What is the Validity of Knowledge Gained in Peak-Experiences? E.
  • Preface to “New Knowledge in Human Values” F.
  • Rhapsodic, Isomorphic Communications G.
  • B-Values as Descriptions of Perception in Peak-Experiences H.
  • Naturalistic Reasons for Preferring Growth-Values Over Regression-Values Under Good Conditions I.
  • An Example of B-Analysis Bibliography

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CHARACTERISTICS OF SELF ACTUALISED PEOPLE

Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating a theory of psychological health for self-actualization. He was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Columbia University.

As one of Maslow’s steps to self actualisation included the description of the personal experience of Reality he called “Peak experiences”, I’ve paraphrased the article, 9 Characteristics of Self-actualized People by Kendra Cherry:

  1. “Self actualised people tend to accept themselves and others as they are. They tend to lack inhibition, enjoy themselves and are free of guilt. They treat everyone the same way.”

That could be a description of me. I always thought it was just me. I never linked it to my experiences of Reality.

  1. “A sense of realism” that enables self actualised people “to view things logically and rationally.”

Very much so! The mythomanias on which human cultures, practices and beliefs are based are incredulous.

  1. A “strong sense of personal ethics and responsibility” “motivates” such people. They have “problem solving skills” and “like helping others improve their own lives.”

Yes, but not the helping other people bit. I developed a discinclination to identify with human beings apart from attending my duties and responsibilities as a human. I long ago decided all humanity could expect from me is Legality, Decency and Honesty. There are more important things afoot than being merely human.

  1. Frequent “peak experiences”. According to Maslow, “Feelings of limitless horizons opening up to the vision, the feeling of being simultaneously more powerful and also more helpless than one ever was before, the feeling of ecstacy and wonder and awe, the loss of placement in time and space with, finally, the conviction that something extremely important and valuable had happened, so that the subject was to some extent transformed and strengthened even in his daily life …”

“Vision” didn’t come into my experiences, nor did “power” or “helplessness”, which sound suspiciously like human ego-expressions adulterating an experience pure of all humanity (in my experience).

  1. Non conformist when it comes to other people’s ideas of happiness and contentment.

With a vengeance.

  1. Value their privacy and enjoy solitude, which is not to say they don’t enjoy the company of others.

Absolutely …

But Cherry also suggests here that Maslow thought “taking time to themselves” as being “essential for personal discovery and cultivating individual potential” as if it is a personal determination. This is not true. After the Experience the Experience’s process in charge. It develops the experiencer’s potential, the knowledge of which is something humans are apparently not wired to understand, as yet …

  1. A thoughtful sense of humour and can laugh at themselves.

I don’t know about “thoughtful”. Spontaneous might be a better word.

  1. “… a tendency to be open, unconventional and spontaneous”, not confined by social expectations.

Yes, but that can be a lonely, alienating effect.

  1. ” … they do not see things simply as a means to an end. Their journey towards achieving a goal is just as important and enjoyable as accomplishing the goal”.

This sounds suspiciously like self will. The Experience does not give you a goal, it IS the goal … Deus Sufficit, or, in this case, Reality is enough. I think a Quaker Elder who said to me, “Let go and let God” was nearer the truth of the experience of Reality than this expression of human interference.

Mysticexperiences.net