A ONE-SENTENCE, 125-WORD EXPLANATION OF EXISTENCE AND THE SOUL?

Since Plato and Aristotle disagreed over the soul being spirit or physical, giving rise to the argument among humans ever since, it is my contention Ultimate Reality – which modern science, the way Professor Fred Alan describes it, suggests to me is an “‘intangible, irreducible field of probability; the quantum physical wave function from which all matter and energy arise” – that this Ultimate Reality “wave function” invented the phenomenon of the direct individual experience of MER (the Mystical Experience of Reality), thus explaining spiritual existence accurately and fully once and for all without any human intervention whatsoever, (even avoiding languages to do so, using individual human brains as receivers of MERs) – thus reducing scientific physics and philosophy to the level of mere materialistic technological enquiry …

PS: Perennialists 1, Constructionists 0.

Mysticexperiences.net

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TWO APPROACHES TO MYSTICISM: PERENNIALIST vs. CONSTRUCTIVIST

By David Robertson

I used to be very much interested in a life of academia. I quite liked the idea of spending my days, researching and writing about my passions, either at a university or perhaps even a think tank. However, there were a few things that disillusioned me from pursuing that path (for the time being at least) – but maybe this is a story for a later post. Nevertheless, I’m always interested what professors have to say about any given issue, and a year or two ago I was delighted to find that mysticism is a topic of intellectual debate.

This was surprising to me because although the followers of the numerous mysticisms of the world offer profound insights on the nature of humanity, the soul, the mind, the universe and God, it has never really been considered an intellectual pursuit in a conventional sense. Across the mystical traditions within the world’s religions, undergoing the mystical experience – union with God, cosmic consciousness, Self-realisation, annihilation, whatever the label – has never been achieved using the everyday mind.

Thinking about the experience, rationalising it, analysing it, using your will to acquire it, has never been a means by which to participate in the ultimate experience a human being can have. For lack of better words, it’s always been regarded as a natural, spontaneous, occurrence or a gift from God’s grace. Different mystical traditions and teachers have debated about how to achieve the mystical experience, but it’s fairly unanimous that you can’t think your way to it.

Which is why I found it interesting that there is so much academic debate about the mystical experience, and whether it is a genuinely true phenomenon or if it’s just an interesting happening of the mind that differs considerably from culture to culture.

This division has generally been labelled perennialist and constructivist. Perennialists hold that the mystical experience is a real union with the divine, or an experience of universal consciousness, or some sort of Absolute Principle. This perspective has been taken from the term Aldous Huxley gave for mysticism: the Perennial Philosophy (also the name of a favourite book of mine!). Whereas constructivists argue that the differences in reports from various religions and cultures suggest that they are social constructions imposed on a neurological phenomenon. In other words, our mind creates an incredible experience and we attribute that to God or other cultural concepts to explain it.

In the current discourse, the latter school has become dominant among academics. Unsurprising, due to the secular nature of modern universities whose professors typically don’t like to include in their work anything that isn’t within the realm of the physical universe. A bit of a shame, since many universities now don’t offer much relating to spirituality or religion, depriving students of quite a useful and fascinating realm of intellectual pursuit. Seeing that secular approaches are the current trend in academia, it doesn’t suggest to me that the perennialist school is inherently wrong or outdated, it’s just not popular.

Anyway, both schools of thought see the experience as real in a certain sense, but it is the origin of the mystical experience where the divisions arise. At the end of the day, as hinted, it largely depends on one’s individual beliefs to determine which school one belongs to. If you believe in God or something beyond the physical, you’ll be more inclined to accept the perennialist school, whereas if you’re an atheist, the constructivist school has a greater appeal. As to anyone who has read any of my other posts (or seen the name of this blog) I fall into the perennialist camp.

My perspective, by no means unique, is that both sides of the debate have quite valuable things to say. Constructivists argue that the mystical experience is only a phenomena of the mind because each purported mystic reports the event almost exclusively in terms of the culture and religion in which he or she has been raised – Christians will relate the experience to God and Christ, Hindus to Brahman and other gods, Buddhists to Nirvana and so on. This has the effect of “verifying” the truth of their religion, but it’s really just a product of their culturally conditioned minds, and suggests that instead of witnessing an objective reality, they are experiencing something more subjective and relative.

This is quite a valid point, though to me it is a little misguided. Firstly, it seems to ignore the fact that all mystics have reported the state of being as beyond words, incomprehensible, greater than any experience imaginable. Since this is the case, when the mystic attempts to translate this phenomena into speech, he or she will inevitably have to use inadequate terminology to convey it in a language that others (and probably himself included) can understand. For example, a Sufi is going to relay and understand his experience in the context of Islamic terms and concepts, rather than something culturally inappropriate.

Secondly, regardless of whether there is a divine reality or not, the relativism involved in the constructivist approach denigrates the commonalities between human beings, and alludes to us being incapable of having shared experiences because of cultural differences. There simply seems to be something universal about the experience.

And finally, the idea that the mystical experience is a culturally subjective illusion potentially undermines the messages that often come from those who have had it. Ideas of unity and love, of harmony in the universe, as well as desires to do good for humanity, and to break down social constructs that pit us against each other. In essence, even if the mystical experience is ultimately an illusion (which I don’t believe it is), it is certainly just about as benign as they get. So with these points in mind, apart from my belief, this is why I’m more inclined towards the perennialist school.

So that’s about it, here’s a gloss over the academic debate about mysticism and the mystical experience. It’s not my typical post, a bit more “academic” than I usually like. But I’ve been meaning to write about this since I began my blog. Please let me know if you’re interested on some articles regarding this and I can email you some of the sources below!

Sources

Randolph T. Dible II, The Philosophy of Mysticism: Perennialism and Constructivism

Michael Stoeber, The Comparative Study of Mysticism

Adam Tyson, The Mystical Debate: Constructivism and the Resurgence of Perennialism


mmexport1513206371215 David Robertson is the Publisher of Perennial Follower, perennialfollower.wordpress.com

CREATION DIES WHEN HUMANITY DIES? OR, EVERYTHING DISAPPEARS WHEN WE CLOSE OUR EYES?

A lady explained to me​ that she believes it is impossible to have a total experience of Reality because we are still inside our bodies and brains, and they shape everything and are not reliably objective.

She says, “that we exist and are able to process consciousness, this universal ground of being, is a factor of having a complex structure of neurons and energy, supported by a living, evolving, eating, procreating living body, with which we can learn to explore that ground of being.

“Do all our experiences of a transcendent reality occur while we occupy our body and brain?” she asks. “A​nd just because from their point of view we sense an eternal reality there is absolutely no evidence to support the conviction that without body or brain we will have any experience at all. To assume that we will be conscious of our oneness with all-pervasive eternity, just because we’ve had hints of that while in this body-mind is perhaps a bit grandiose.”

Is she saying if we close our eyes there’s nothing there, that when we die Creation dies too because there’s nothing left by which Creation can be experienced, that Creation cannot be experienced except by humans?​

My experiences showed me that it is not we who realize Creation, it’s Creation that realizes us. It has its own terms, independent of any language, brains, minds, or physical attributes of mere mortals. Nothing in our make up is wired to
understand Creation.

Creation has its own “language” and methods. Creation, perhaps automatically, reaches out for the particles of creation that become ready. It harvests us perhaps? We have no say in the matter. ​ We are awakened coincidentally to the state of human illusion as a part of the process of Creation and move on past our humanness. In my view, there’s not much to be gained by studying humans. At a certain level they’re a clutter, a distraction.

The body and brain are irrelevant to Reality, see below. Experiencers of Reality don’t feel grandiose, far from it – see Dr Sinetar’s book, ORDINARY PEOPLE AS MYSTICS AND MONKS, for examples. Anyway, grandiose is a human word that has no relevance to Reality, where there are no names.

Nothing of the Experience has anything to do with body or mind. The body is physically left behind or was in my experiences. The brain and what we call mind do not function in the Experience, not at least in any way we can register or would even contemplate registering at the time, even if given the opportunity.

Everything Experienced just is and we are that. When humans die the first thing to go is the brain, then body and mind. Does that suggest just how significant they are to Reality?

(Some traditions say the brain survives and continues into Reality. This was not my experience. I was everything and everything was me, mind was irrelevant. But Dr. Stephen Hawkings is the man to check on the latest thinking on mind. Perhaps his examination of matter can shine more light on it?

(On the other hand the film director David Lynch said the following in a New Statesman magazine in 2013. He’s a great Transcendental Meditation man and claims TM can take you into Reality.

(“About 35 years ago modern science, quantum physics, discovered the Unified Field at the base of all the forces of creation. This is a field of nothing, but the scientists say that out of this nothing emerges everything that is a thing. This Unified Field is unmanifest yet all manifestation comes from this field.”

(No suggestion of human mind there…

(A scientist is currently asking on Google for Experiencers to volunteer for brain experiments. I presume he thinks the Experience can be induced at will. That is not my experience. My experiences were spontaneous, nothing to do with me that I know of …).

Reality is in charge. It would be human grandiosity to suggest otherwise. We have all we need, what do we want?

For what it’s worth, my experience of Reality has made me anxious to get out of this human experience so as to get on with the rest of Reality. In the meantime I am trusting and content. As Socrates suggested, I can endure. All is well.

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