SPIRITUAL DOUBT.

By retired surgeon Anthony Good, a follower of mysticexperiences.net

Introduction: This is a remarkable first person document of lasting value to Mystics, Seekers, and those academics and scientists around the world who study our subject. It was an easy decision to ask for permission to re-propagate its contents here, for which permission was given immediately. – Keith.

Spirituality has, for me, always been immersed in doubt. I was brought up an atheist until I could think for myself when I moved onto the agnostic fence.

I could find no logical way to God, and even Soren Kierkegaard, the nineteenth century existential philosopher and theologian said that at some point there had to be a leap of faith, which I found hugely disappointing. How could faith be relied upon, when so many put their faith even in everyday things and are let down? I sensed a risk of falling into wish fulfilment.

The religious cultures I found so foreign, with constant referrals to faraway times, places, and ideas. Religious folk unfortunately are sometimes the worst exponents of the moral principles their creed advocate. (As I write there is a continuation of the unfolding sex abuse scandal in the English Roman Catholic Church.) How can the organised religions be so convinced of their God and yet reject each other’s; who is right, who am I to believe, where am I to put my faith?

Though many folks have a sense of spirituality outside the mainstream religions, it is poorly organised and without support outside the secret societies of the Masons and Rosicrucians who are often held in suspicion, and can attract hostility. So where does one turn?

Then there is the enormity of human suffering, from wars, failed political ideologies, disease, natural disasters I need not go on. How is all that accounted for in God and spirituality?

Nor was there evidence that God did not exist. Doubt looked both ways.

A Spiritual Opening

The existential crisis and spiritual opening were the game changer. There had been a couple of hints in past years but now this was like a slo-mo spiritual party cannon explosion of dreams, reveries, living mythologies, visualisations, spirit encounters, revelations, and far too many improbable coincidences. Before this curtain opening in my late forties, I would have considered its significance highly doubtful. It had to be experienced to be believed, then things will never be the same again.

I was pulled off the agnostic fence to at least follow this opening. There was no doubt about the experiences, but what they meant, or where it was taking me that was different. However, what appeared to be new truths were being laid before me and this was a kind of embodied living of what was happening rather than just some kind of thinking thing. It’s not willed, it breaks in, it is not lead by thinking, it leads.

The journey stripped away the old dependable truths, to the point where I was alone looking into darkness, a broken deconstructed character, and new truths doubted. I felt on the very edge of sanity.

Diminishing Old Doubts

Spirituality, had to be directly experienced, when it brings its truth value. Could I accept truth without having to understand it? The mystics say this experienced truth is higher than the trickster intellect. After all how many rational arguments and lines of logic have found their way into false conclusions?

I found my experiences were consistent with the mystics whether psychologists like Carl Jung and Roberto Assagioli, those from the main religions, and even the great artists, writers, and poets. They formulated an interconnected tapestry of consistent truths that revealed the push and pull of our existence.

Is it not unfair to expect the followers of the organised religions to be perfect, or even live up to their ideals, can anyone else do that? They are caught up in human failings like the rest of us even if also like us they cannot see, or even want to recognise them.  

I found faith in the authenticity of my experiences, without them I would have stayed on the fence, faithless, and doubtful as before.

My perspective on my life is of course human with an egoic orientation, but the true reference point for our lives may be the soul wanting to learn and grow into wholeness, holiness.  Oh, and how convenient to blame something else for our errors, an all supposedly loving God. Mankind has free will, and so how could God be omnipotent; man has to take responsibility, at least until man’s free will is perfectly aligned with God’s will? There is though enormous not knowing.

So if it’s true that we are looking at the work of effectively an infinite mind no wonder there is doubt and we need guides to find our way through. So many people seem to think they know the unknowable God. An egoic trap?

New Doubts on the Journey

Gradually, day by day experiences, contemplations, revelations, and more, have built up internal and external consistencies formulating what looked like the truth. Doubt has been diminished but waxed and waned.

For example, I recently had this dream; I was looking up at the sky with my dear wife and birds were flying over us when a big shaggy dog appeared jumping across the sky. I told her that when I saw Pegasus in the sky that is what it looked like, seemingly impossible but still able to walk on air. Then I saw the dog as a sheep, and then it broke up into birds. All along what I had thought was a dog running over the sky was an illusion of just birds coming together like the murmuration of starlings or swirling of a shoal of fish.

Is all experienced as spirituality merely a misinterpretation? Derren Brown the extraordinarily talented English illusionist when asked if he believed in God said he did not because he knew how the mind could deceive itself. The dream could have referred to sheep following dogma. Was I at risk of forming my dogma out of illusion and following that, sheep-like? Yes, of course. 

More recently I read the excellent book, ‘The Master and His Emissary’ by Iain McGilchrist (he is on YouTube). It is an up to date account of lateralised brain function, and how the relative predominance of left and right brain function has influenced history.

Spiritual experiences are held in the right brain which cannot directly vocalise; could we be tapping into this during the spiritual journey? Is this fascinating hidden part of the brain trying to create a seemingly legitimate false reality for our lives out of mostly lost memory cuttings?  I doubt that I have the imagination, sophistication, or creativity to construct what I have experienced spiritually, with its multi-layered complexity, intricacy, and revelatory push. But could spirituality be the dark side of the brain, and nothing more, or is our brain triggered into activity by something beyond it?

Could I be following a self-constructed elaborate fiction to live by, but then you don’t need to be in spirituality to do that! McGilchrist says that when people don’t believe in God, they find something less worthy to believe in.

Journeying with Doubt

Doubt is diminished by relating to events that go beyond our control or construction, such as synchronicities, predictive dreams, manifestations, and coincidences too improbable and frequent to dismiss easily, episodes of being rescued by unlikely circumstance or out of character individuals, and much more that cannot be explained by mere mental working and chance.

Maybe the most fundamental dissolver of doubt is a very solid and deeply felt sense of rightness about what is experienced (and not merely willed into creation by thought). Is this the faith that people describe; it’s not confected, wished, logicalised, but felt very deeply building up from experience and contemplation over years. It often, maybe usually, arrives without invitation, and is surprising.

Doubt, I have heard it said, is a necessary part of the spiritual journey, and will be with us to the end. The journey has eventually brought me to encounters that are more believable than not. There will always be a fear of self-delusion, but that diminishes with an honest appraisal of what I encounter. To wrestle with the truth and doubt and maybe God too is the surest way to find the right path on the journey to a purpose of our existence.

For now, I hope that in recognising my doubt, (and all its companions; faith, hope, wanting, fear, love, knowing and not knowing, and others) I can avoid being controlled and biased by it and relate to what comes in the next step with openness and balance as a seeker of truth.

For More Information:

https://theanthonygoodinfo.data.blog/ 

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REVIEW: TRANSCENDENT STATES

See below for a review of a paper sent to me by Academia.edu:

“A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF TRANSCENDENT STATES ACROSS MEDITATION AND CONTEMPLATIVE TRADITIONS”

By Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCR; Amira Sagher, MSc; Wallis Back, MA; Pooja Pundhir, MD; and Frederick Travis, PhD

View Article

This is a scientific investigation into scientific papers on the subject, plus experiments the authors conducted on hundreds of meditators using many cultural and historical practices to achieve transcendent states.

The authors claim that “… few studies have systematically examined transcendent states during meditation”.

The practices they studied included, Buddhist; Christian; Mixed (practitioners from multiple traditions);Vedic: Transcendental Meditation and Yoga.

The practices varied from transcendental meditation to yoga to contemplative prayer, to other forms of sitting meditation.

Electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiography, electro-myography, electrooculogram, “event-related potentials”, functional magnetic resonance imaging, magnetoencephalography;respiration, and skin conductance and response were measured.

Twenty five studies with a total of 672 combined participants were included in the final review. Participants were mostly male with a range of years of meditative practice. The authors found the results showed “similar unitive, ineffable state of consciousness.”

They report “transcendent states were most consistently associated with slowed breathing, respiratory suspension, reduced muscle activity and EEG alpha blocking with external stimuli, and increased EEG alpha power, EEG coherence, and functional neural connectivity.”

The transcendent states they found were “a state of relaxed wakefulness in a phenomenologically different space-time.”

The authors concluded that “Future research is warranted into transcendent states during meditation.”

Clearly, the authors did not come across someone like me. I arrived willy nilly at a state of transcendence, partially described here, every year for about 15 years without initially knowing of, or even later following, any practices or meditational techniques whatsoever. I did however practice two hours meditation a day every day for a year or so as part of my much later Sufi school experience. It was not discernibly successful. It did not redeliver me into my original mystical experiences of Reality (MER) or anything like …

View the original article

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SCIENCE AND THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY?

Problem: Will Science finally unearth the workings of Reality?

Answer: Not unless it changes its scientific values to the point of extinguishing itself, making what is called Science today extinct.

Question: So no, is the answer by today’s scientific disciplines?

Answer: Yes. Science is just mind stuff, human curiosity, mental masturbation into space, (ie. unproductive self indulgence except for collateral science effects on technology, health care and medications) But there is another answer:

By the time Science gets anywhere near the truth of existence, human existence will have died anyway  – human consciousness will likely have developed and left the human mind and body, become converted into the Ultimate Reality experienced by mystics.

Question: So in the long term Science has no future!

Answer: True. As the remnants of humanity disappear into something beyond Scientific thought or proof, only the scientific remnants of Technology will reign briefly then go the same way, or even continue in material relics, minus humanity and humanity’s Science, like lumps of matter sticking out of the sands of existence for other beings to ponder.

Question: … So no more Science, no more humanity as such!

Answer: None.

Question: So what now?

Answer: All Is Well and proceeding in good order by Reality’s standards, not ours … Being human is not the be-all and end-all of existence.

Mysticexperiences.net

SCIENCE CAN’T EXPLAIN MYSTICISM SO SHOULDN’T BOTHER?

We review an article by Dr Chris Fields, Physicist, multidisciplinary scientist, author, in IAI News – changing how the world thinks, Issue 86, 2nd March 2020

His article begs the question, Are Dr Fields’ views an example of the conclusion science has come to about the source of all human experience in general and, from our point of view, mysticism in particular? Is he saying science can’t explain MER so shouldn’t bother?

DR FIELDS: “The ‘hard problem of consciousness’ (HPC) as originally stated by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996) is the problem of explaining how experience is possible. How is any experience, anywhere in the universe, possible? From the perspective of the HPC, a single experience of a flash of light is as mysterious as a full human experience of a summer’s day or the most profound mystical experience of the most enlightened monk.” (Our italics).

Dr Fields says there are three responses to the hard problem that reflect different ideas about experience. He asks if the hard problem of consciousness can be solved by either approach:

“The possibility of experience (i.e. consciousness) is derived or emergent from something else … it could be fundamental rather than derived (man made) with only some having it sometimes; all entities have it in different kinds.

He says assuming response #1 we could take either of two tactics.  One is to define consciousness as some other property but this does not  explain how experience is possible. He says it “dodges the HPC instead of solving it. In short, the hard problem of consciousness seems unsolvable using response #1. It can be dodged, but not solved.”

In response #2 the problem is to explain how or why some systems have experiences but others do not. What is the basis for explaining this? What facts could possibly be relevant?

(So far no one has discovered a single common qualification for having the mystical experience of Reality, (MER). (Our italics).

Dr Fields says without such “independent criteria” the question is unsolvable.  “If a system is conscious, it is conscious by its very nature, not for some other reason.”

He says response #3 says that all entities – everything that exists – has experiences. “There is no reason why or how. They just have them. End of story.

“The hard problem of consciousness (MER?) is therefore either unsolvable or unstatable. Knowing this, how should we respond? In my view, we should quit worrying about it. It is irrelevant to any possible science of consciousness.”

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THE SILENCE.

In my view this paper is not just an examination of a powerful poem about the mystical experience, it is also a valuable summary of science and academia’s current interest in the historical and contemporary experience of the Silence of the mystical experience of mysticism (MER).

The full text is available through Academia.net

Silence as Cognition in San Juan de la Cruz’ Coplas del Mismo Hechas Sobre Una Alta Extasis de Contemplación

By Michael Mcglynn, Professor at National University, Taiwan.

SUMMARY

“This essay is an expansive (non-reductive) treatment of one poem of the Early Modern Spanish mystic San Juan de SILENCE AND INEFFABILITY AS COGNITION IN SAN JUAN DE LA CRUZ’ “COPLAS DEL MISMO HECHAS SOBRE UN ÉXTASIS DE ALTA CONTEMPLACIÓN”

FORWARD

“This essay is an expansive (non-reductive) treatment of one poem of the Early Modern Spanish mystic San Juan de la Cruz, namely, Coplas del Mismo Hechas sobre un Éxtasis de Alta Contemplación.

“The refrain of this poem is a claim to transcend all knowledge through an ineffable experience. As disciplinary walls tumble. this ineffable experience bears re-evaluation with evidence from experts in pertinent fields, such as cognitive science. A case is made that Juan’s claim to know by unknowing is a feature of ordinary cognition, though perhaps his experience was an extreme case. As a corollary conclusion, it is observed that twentieth-century approaches to texts are quickly giving way to approaches that match the ‘holistic’, networked culture that characterizes contemporary society from Toledo to Taipei.

INTRODUCTION

“The sixteenth-century Spanish Carmelite priest Juan de la Cruz is famous for his poetry about the mystical union. The refrain of Juan de la Cruz’ 1578 poem about the mystical union, Coplas del Mismo Hechas sobre un Éxtasis de Alta Contemplación, expresses the ineffability of the mystical union with these words: y quédeme no sabiendo, / toda ciencia trascendiendo (2-3: ‘I remained unknowing while transcending all knowledge’).

“This ‘unknowing’, or ineffability, is a common trope in both European and World mystical traditions. The experience of transcendent divinity, whether one believes in divinity or not, is by definition beyond expression. As a poetic trope, the ineffability of such experience is not uncommon, even in secular poetry. San Juan’s more unique claim is that he came into practical knowledge directly by means of this ineffable experience.

“This is a handbook definition of cognition: ‘all the mental processes by which people become aware of and gain knowledge of the world’ (D.A. Statt, The concise dictionary of psychology, London-New York, Routledge, 1990). Juan uses the terms conociemiento, inteligencia and noticia.

READ THE FULL TEXT

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TO A MYSTIC, NOTHING IS “MYSTICAL”

 

Mankind has a limited view of mysticism.

The common, vulgari understanding of the word “mysticism” implies an unattainable “mystery”, or “myth”, whereas in fact a mystic has experienced something that has always existed and always will exist. It is no mystery or myth. Hundreds of university departments around the world are studying and delivering courses on the subject.

Everything known and unknown already exists, is developing, is yet to be fully discovered, is not created by us – or any other species.

Scientists can’t invent this Reality. It exists in and of itself. Scientists and mystics just “discover” its attributes – the scientists by experiment, the mystics by experience.

Mystics experience a Reality that scientists merely “discover” piece by piece by scientific experimentation and comparative observation yet it is still not commonly or fully known and probably can’t be  because ordinary humans are not presently evolved enough to be able to know. But this doesn’t mean Reality is forever “mystical”, “mysterious” unknown or individually unattainable.

To understand the human condition it is important to know the  Reality in which we exist is true. This Reality just is and we are that. We humans arise out of Reality. We are made of Reality. Everything known and unknown is Reality. Earth itself is part of this greater Reality that is much bigger than anything conceived by humans or their “Gods” or gods …  Reality is not just about humans. It’s about everything, undeniable but indescribable.

As part of the process of Reality our physical earth fits us because we came from it physically. We are made of the same stuff. We come from the elements of the earth, are custom tailored by the earth. The earth is likewise customised to fit us. It’s the same with us and the greater Reality; we are compatible, synchronised; ever changing to match the exigencies of the greater Reality of the never ending, ever transitioning characteristics of the material and nonmaterial (spiritual?) cosmos of which everything is a part.

In this continuing process our minds appeared. The mind developed as a consequence of earth and humans being part of this creative, manipulative effect of the greater, non human environment of Reality.

So, the word “mysticism” is just a very limited human word. It’s not big enough nowadays to describe even the little we now understand. The growing acceptance of the existence of mystical experience of reality (MER) has made our old understanding of mysticism obsolete. The word still has lingering, wrongful connotations of occultism, spiritism, primitive ignorance, magic, religions, ecstasies, superstitions, mythomanias and cultural/political mischiefs, etc. In Reality however, where all things are perfect and all is well, there are no names – everything just is, and we are that! Mystics don’t need names. Nothing is “mystical” – it’s all Reality.

Mankind’s limited view of the mystic experience of Reality is not new. As the biblical Jesus discovered at the temple, even there at that part of the early human attempt to grasp what human existence is all about, religion and monetisation were already vulgarising the evidence.

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NEUROSCIENCE READIES FOR A SHOWDOWN OVER CONSCIOUSNESS IDEAS | Quanta Magazine

by Philip Ball for Quanta Magazine

Some problems in science are so hard, we don’t really know what meaningful questions to ask about them — or whether they are even truly solvable by science. Consciousness is one of those: Some researchers think it is an illusion; others say it pervades everything. Some hope to see it reduced to the underlying biology of neurons firing; others say that it is an irreducibly holistic phenomenon.

The question of what kinds of physical systems are conscious “is one of the deepest, most fascinating problems in all of science,” wrote the computer scientist Scott Aaronson of the University of Texas at Austin. “I don’t know of any philosophical reason why [it] should be inherently unsolvable” — but “humans seem nowhere close to solving it.”

Now a new project currently under review hopes to close in on some answers.

READ MORE

Source: Quanta Magazine

 

 

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

SCIENCE ON THE WAY OUT?

The thought occurred to me that science will eventually devolve into mere technology, possibly with fringe philosophical affiliations.

It will feel at home there where only matter can be experimented with, not spirit.

Spirit is exclusively represented by the mystical experience of Reality, MER, which is probably not even exclusive to humans, and anyway only accessible by experience not experiment.

Probably this is not a new revelation, though it’s not yet as mainstream as it will become.

Mysticalexperiences.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

A HUMBLE HEADS-UP FOR SEEKERS (In My Experience)

 

If you are involved as a spiritual Seeker in a religion, in science or other human inconsequentia, you are not a mystic, not yet.

If you are still in the morass of politics or other demanding human mythomanias you haven’t even got far with real evolvement, not even to Seeker stage.

But, if some Sufi tradition is right, then evolution will ensure you will move away from human distractions and such self identifications.

There is not much you can do about it when Reality calls to complete you. There are no failures in Ultimate Reality, however long it takes.

You probably think you are seeking Reality but you will come to realise that Reality is reaching out for its own, for you.

(Sufis ‘discovered’ this evolutionary process before Darwin. They recognised it went further than the physical limitations of his time).

Ironically, by the time you get to being a mystic it wont matter anyway – there are no names in Reality …

So, there are two things you can do to assuage your hunger and thirst for the truth of your being:

Let go. Be still. Keep letting go. Listen. You are being helped. Keep listening. Remain still.

Lust, anger, greed, your myriad human attachments, even your ego, will be lifted like invisible veils, almost without you noticing because you will be experiencing revelation

Or you can wait for religions, science, human stuff, to eventually release you as they wither away anyway. This could take time!

All Is Well.

Mysticexperiences.net

REALITY, CONSCIOUSNESS, NOT PHYSICAL OR MATERIAL !?

 

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” — Nikola Tesla

 

“I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental, and that the material universe is derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe… In general the universe seems to me to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine. It may well be, it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to be compared to a brain-cell in a universal mind.” — Sir James Jeans

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