“MANMUKH” vs. “MINDFULNESS”

 

The word mindfulness is “manmukh” and can be safely ignored as a spiritual distraction.

(My teacher used this – Sanscrit? Urdu? – word to describe anything human).

Anything human is a distraction from the spiritual way. The spiritual way is human destiny.

So my teacher abjured us to use “manmukh” as a navigational tool of discrimination and discernment, to enable us to keep humaness, “manmukh” at arms length.

However, our dwindling personal humanity was not to ignore the need to be mindful of our duties while here as sons, daughters, nephews and nieces, neighbours, friends, colleagues, patriots etc, though not to let any of these potential hindrances distract us from our spiritual way.

(Personally, I have now used “manmukh” to steer me through the Gordian knot of human experiences with a personal mantra to meet my human duties by being Legal, Decent, and Honest, but that’s all – no further attachments, just legal, decent and honest).

Detachment, discrimination is key. This is the truth of spiritual mindfulness, in my experiences of the mystical experiences of Reality.

Mysticexperiences.net

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THE MYSTIC JESUS AND HIS TEACHINGS

IN REVIEW

The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of his Original Teachings, 1068 pages, by John Davidson MA (Cantab).

Due to the nature of this book and in order to make it accessible to as wide a readership as possible, its entire production, up to the printing and binding stage was performed as a service, freely given by the Publisher, ELEMENT in 1995.

So the price of this mammoth 1068 page book was kept down to $22 (US) and 14.95 Sterling (UK)! It has been distributed around the world.

EXCERPT

“It would seem, then, that there is considerable divergence between the teachings of Jesus and those of Christianity, and although these initial chapters are more concerned with the historical aspects of Jesus and the New Testament, the main emphasis of this book is on Jesus’ actual teachings. Therefore, since it is suggested that his teachings were those of a mystic, it will be helpful to discuss the nature of mysticism … it is something that a person lives, not a philosophy or doctrine which has been read or studied.”

COMMENT

It’s hard to imagine a single question, by ‘Christian’, atheist, agnostic, religionist or Seeker, that could be left unaddressed in this clearly written labour of love and tireless scholarly integrity. Even more impressive is the new knowledge, the insights and understanding this seminal work reveals of the workings of the mystic experience throughout history.

However, as my mystical experiences were spontaneous I have to lean to the proposition that the mystical experience of Reality (MER) cannot be achieved through reading, study, good works or anything else merely human.

I can only agree that such human hungering and thirsting for the experience can sensitise one strongly to a greater awareness of the ultimate mystical experience, but no more than that.

Discrimination is important when exposing oneself to “works” on mysticism. You could get diverted into morality and ethics, stuff of the human spirit, not the entirely different ‘spirit’ of Reality.

(Davidson says he’s been interested in mysticism all his life but doesn’t say anything about any personal experience that would qualify him as a mystic so he might be a case in point?).

Nevertheless, this book has to be recommended for those seeking some validation for their present unbidden passion for Seeking.

You might also be interested in other works by Davidson:

After leaving Cambridge University where he taught for 18 years, he wrote a series of five books on science and mysticism. The intention was to give a voice to the idea that an understanding of science was in no way incompatible with a spiritual perception of things.

These books received great reviews, and have been well received by the general public, especially by those who think “outside the box”, he says. They have been translated into a number of languages.

In 1989, Davidson began researching the origins of Christianity, to see if it was possible to determine what Jesus actually taught.

The main fruits of this research were first published in this book, The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of His Original Teachings (1995), revised in 2004. He has written several books concerning the origins of Christianity, largely containing stories, parables and poetry from early Christian times.

At the same time as he started research on The Gospel of Jesus, he began work on what was to become the multi-volume, A Treasury of Mystic Terms, of which Part I (six vols., 2003) and Part II (4 vols., 2016) have so far been published. Part III (six vols.) is completed and will be published in 2018 or early 2019, and Part IV is presently in progress.

This Treasury is the result of contributions from a large number of contributors from various cultural and religious backgrounds. Its intention is to demonstrate the fundamental and universal elements in the world’s religious and spiritual traditions, for both information and inspiration.

Mysticexperiences.net

SUFI “WILD UTTERANCES”

“We give out strange phrases to ordinary people because our experiences cannot be put in their ordinary phrases. I have known that which cannot be described, through and through, and that which is in it overwhelms all ordinary definition.” – Ibn Atta, Sufi.

From The Way of the Sufi by Idries Shah. Iries Shah is the late thinker, writer, and teacher in the Sufi mystical tradition. He wrote over three dozen books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies. The Idries Shah Foundation (ISF) is an independent educational and cultural charity, set up by his family to ensure his spiritual works live on.

THE SILENT BUDDHA

A pratyekabuddha or paccekabuddha (Sanskrit and Pali, respectively), literally “a lone buddha”, “a buddha on their own” or “a private buddha”, is the so called “silent buddha” who does not try to share his realization with the world.

Pratyekabuddhas are said to achieve enlightenment on their own, without the use of teachers or guides, by “dependent origination”.

Traditionally, Paccekabuddhas give moral teachings but not enlightenment.

I believe this describes my state.

See Wikipedia for more on the subject.

Mysticexperiences.net

THE INTERNET CHRISTIAN v. “ME”!

That dratted word, “my”.

A Christian on the Internet objects to the use of “my” – as in when I say, “in my experiences” – when I draw on the spontaneous annual mystical experiences of Reality (MER) I had from about 15 to 35 years of age, to make posts on this web site.

He says my use of the word shows ego. Ego, he says, is not found “on the mystical plane”. He asks who am I to offer myself as an authority.

But my use of the pronoun is to say, “this is only my experience”. I use “me” as a qualifier to caution readers as to the identity of the source of my anecdotal, personal experiences. My experiences are the only authority I offer.

Another reason I use the word “we” is because I have to use a human language historically developed to express experience of the material world. But MER cannot be explained or experienced in terms of the material world.

I am trying to share experiences of a spiritual phenomena that cannot be explained by materialism. MER does not exist materially. It has no body or brain, it just is everything and everything is it. It has no need of language or explanation. MER can only be experienced, caught not taught.

So I am just sharing my mystical experiences to help me get as full a comparative understanding of them from others’ experiences, comments, writings, likes and emails – as I now do from among 68 countries including scientific sources around the world I had no idea were taking mysticism so seriously.

For instance, if I had not started this web site I may not have come across the likelihood of being a pratyekabuddha. (Coincidence? I’m not sure).

Apparently a pratyekabuddha, or paccekabuddha, is the so-called “silent buddha” who does not try to share his or her realization with the world.

Pratyekabuddhas are said to achieve enlightenment on their own, without the use of teachers or guides, by “dependent origination”, (spontaneity?).

Traditionally, Paccekabuddhas give moral teachings but not enlightenment. (See unedited descriptions in Wikipedia).

I certainly do not give “moral teachings”, or ethical ones for that matter as they’re man made, not to be found in Reality – according to my experiences.

Nor can I or anyone else so far as I am aware “give” enlightenment. Enlightenment is, as I say above, caught not taught.

Nor do I feel called to be a master, teacher or “authority” on enlightenment or Reality!

Many mystics who felt otherwise and presumably engaged in human affairs because that’s what they thought they were called to do, failed. The material world brought them to very bad ends.

Modern mystics, of which there are said to be many more than there used to be, seem to know better. They keep to themselves.

So the Internet Christian’s misunderstanding I reported in the first sentence above is a reminder to me of the advice I got from a Master with millions of non monetarised followers around the world who few humans even know about.

He cautioned me about posting my experiences to spiritually unqualfied Internet social sites like Facebook etc. So that’s why mysticexperiences.net is not posted to those sites now. Yet the blog grows organically almost daily.

Obviously I shall have to be even more circumspect. Mysticism is clearly only for those who have ears to hear as the ancient saying goes …

Mysticexperiences.net

BECOMING A MYSTIC: Marooned

A Follower asks where he can find an account of my mystic experiences on this Blog. There are hints and affirmations throughout the Blog but no whole, progressive narrative account, so here it is:

I had spontaneous yearly experiences of mystical reunions with Reality from about 15 to 35 years of age. I kept them to myself for nearly 50 years.

They recreated me from a who to a what and gave me a sense of having existed from the beginning of all things to the end of all things; of belonging; and of “everything belonging to me” that others describe as “oneness”; an overwheming liquifying of my matter into pure joy; a profoundly thankful humility; a disappointment in not finding “God” there; a sense of knowing everything; of not existing anywhere but in the experiences; of knowing real reality of existence is the Reality I was experiencing; the frantic helplessness of desolation, of abandonment as each of the experiences ended.

As each of my experiences dissolved me back into my humanity I felt a keenness of loss, outcries of alarm, a profound, wrenching desperation of catastrophic bereavement. I scrabbled against it in futility. I felt marooned, a feeling that taints my human existence to this very second.

I was infused rather than taught or shown or guided. I remember there was nothing to see, hear, smell, physically feel, or think.

In one of my experiences a voice told me quite clearly and emphatically, ALL IS WELL. I was dumbfounded so the message was repeated three times …

The reason I was dumbfounded and deeply disappointed was I thought the message came for someone else. I looked around but there was no one else to see.

I was baffled for years over that message because I had not asked or thought of a question to which that might be the answer.

Another time, I was levitated out of my body. It happened without me noticing. When I did notice it seemed quite natural. I was overjoyed that God was ridding me of my body to take me up. Then I was bitterly betrayed on looking down to see my body still there about 15 feet below.

My conclusion now is there seems to be a Process into which I have been drawn, rather than “God”. This Process is nowhere near as limited as the human word “God” implies. It is benign, caring of all creation, guarding, guiding, aiding and comforting, a constant seemingly natural state of unending contentment, peace, tranquility, humility, gratitude, awe and joy. But it is not about making me a better human, though that, I think I can presume, is automatic, axiomatic. We are all more than merely human.

My sense of personality, character, body, mind, intelligence, intellect, did not exist in my MERs, nor did I miss them, expect them or need them.

I came away with the impression human bodies and brains die, but their spiritual knowingness become absorbed, added into this non-material Process of Reality beyond infinity that never dies. Reality seeks, but does not seek body, brain or mind it seems.

After MER, humans have no need of the anthropmorphic falsehoods of faith, hope or belief – after MER they KNOW. They are one with the Process, no longer needing gods or “God”. The experiences are fulfilling and keep being fulfilling after they’ve gone.

I was never given to believe humanity or individuals can invoke or influence this Process of Reality, either. In fact, being only human might be the reason so many humans have not yet had the experience of MER. Human attachment and egos are two strong deterrents among the many human attributes that come between us and this fulfillment.

The experiences were fulfilling beyond all ordinary human experience, imagining or knowledge. Reality seems to be the alpha and omega of everything, all knowing, a fundamental existential of being that just is, a given that can be taken for granted, does not need to be named. In Reality there are no names: everything just is and all is well. And I was and am that.

Between these experiences I toiled privately at the agony of being partly human despite the experiences’ development and continued effect on me – the continuingly joyous but alienating illumination of Reality and my true nature.

The stress of this growing alienation from “manmukh” – all things human – affected me severely.

The energy of the world, of the human spirit, is not compatible with the development of the spirituality of the ultimate reality of the Mystical Experience of Reality, (MER), in my experiences.

This struggle ruined my life, thankfully …

Now if I’m asked what I have especially taken away from my experiences I would say: Reality is a process. It is in charge. It never fails and is utterly benign …

Neverthless, at times the process got so desperate I developed and finalised the following secret plea to be rescued.

(At the time, I didn’t know how serious the act of writing can be, I just thought I was writing a poem. Later, the answer to this plea came by writing too and is also recorded here):

MAROONED

Divinity’s insouciant servants of the Light

Fly beneath my fears, over my plight,

Indifferent to my day as to my night.

Marooned in the humanity of my time,

Tired by glimpses of the divine,

Save me soon Lord, make me thine.

THE REPLY:

Marooned to solitude is your story;

Its contemplation leads you to my glory.

Love, understanding and compassion

Are the lessons of your life, your grace, your passion.

From the other side of Night,

I am your glory, your rescue Light …

1985.

(Nowadays I wouldn’t use the words “God”, “divine”, “faith”, “Divinity” or “Lord”. And I would call “the light” Reality, such a Light being a unique part of Reality.

(PS: The word “faith” has been bothering me. It signifies lack of real spiritual experience. So as I returned to this poem with my doubt about the rightness of the word the real word arrived. So I have deleted “faith” and as you will see, have inserted the more meaningful word “grace”).

Mysticexperiences.net

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

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.

GOLEMAN, D. (1988). The meditative mind. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher.

HARDY, T. (1926). Collected poems of Thomas Hardy. New York: MacMillan.

HEATH, D. (1983). The maturing person. In Walsh, R. & Shapiro, D. J. (Eds.), Beyond health and normality: Explorations of exceptional psychological well-being (pp. 152-205). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

HUXLEY, A. (1945). Tire perennial philosophy. New York: Harper & Row.

JAMES, W. (1899/1962). Talks to teachers on psychology and to students on some of life’s ideals. New York: Dover.

JAMES, W. (1910/1950). Principles of psychology. New York: Doubleday.

KONGTRUL, J. (1981 ). Essays on moral development. (Vol. I ). The philosophy of moral development. New York: Harper & Row.

KONGTRUL, J. (1987). The great path of awakening. (K. McLeod, Transl.). Boston: Shambhala.

MASLOW, A. (1971). The farther reaches of human nature. New York: Viking.

MIKULUS, W. (1991). Eastern and Western psychology: Issues and domains for integration. Journal of Integrative and Eclectic Psychotherapy 10: 229-40.

MURPHY, M. (1992). The future of the body: Explorations into the further evolution of human nature. Los Angeles: 1. Tarcher, p. 558.

MURPHY, M. & DONOVAN, S. (1988). The physical and psychological effects of meditation. San Rafael, CA: Esalen Institute.

PERLS, F. (1969). Gestalt therapy verbatim. Lafayette, CA: Real People Press.

PLATO. (1945). The republic. (F. Cornford, Transl.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 516.

PLOTINUS. (1964). The essential Plotinus. (E. O’Brien, Transl.). Indianapolis: Hackett, p. 42.

PRABHAVANANDA, S. & lsHERWOOD, C. (Transl.) (1944). The Bhagavad Gita. New York: New American Library.

RADHAKRISHNAN. (1929). Indian philosophy (Vol. 1, 2nd ed.). London: Alan & Unwin.

RAM DASS. (1975). Association forTranspersonal Psychology Newsletter, Winter, p. 9.

RAMANA MAHARSHI. (1955). Who am I? (8th ed.) (T. Venkataran, Transl.). lndia.

SCHINDLER, C. & LAPID, G. (I 989). The great turning: Personal peace and global victory. Santa Fe: Bear & Co.

SCHUMACHER, E. (1973). Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mattered. New York: Harper & Row.

SHAPIRO, D. & WALSH, R. (Eds.) (1984). Meditation: Classic and contemporary perspectives. New York: Aldine.

SINGER, I. (1987). The nature of love (3 Vols.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

SMITH, J. (1993). Educating the intellect: On opening the eye of the heart. In L. Rouner (Ed.), On Education. University of Notre Dame Press.

TART, C. (1986). Waking up: Overcoming the obstacles to human potential. Boston: New Science Library/Shambhala.

VAUGHAN, F. (1979). Awakening intuition. New York: Doubleday.

VAUGHAN, F. (1986). The inward arc: Healing and wholeness in psychotherapy and spirituality. Boston: New Science Library/Shambhala.

WALSH, R. (1990). The spirit of shamanism. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher.

WALSH, R. (1993). Meditation research: The state of the art. In R. Walsh & F. Vaughan (Eds.) Paths beyond ego: The transpersonal vision. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, Inc.

WALSH R. & VAUGHAN, F. (Eds.) (1993). Paths beyond ego: The transpersonal vision. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, Inc.

WEST, M. (Ed.) (1987). The psychology of meditation. Oxford: Clarenden Press.

WILBER, K. (1980). The Atman project. Wheaton, IL: Quest.

WILBER, K. (1983). A sociable God. New York: McGraw-Hill.

WILBER, K. ENGLER, J. & BROWN, D. (Eds.) {1986). Transformations of consciousness: Conventional and contemplative perspectives on development. Boston: New Science Library/Shambhala.

YALOM, I. (1981). Existential psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

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.

Mysticexperiences.net

GURU OR NO GURU?

 

An excerpt from a memoir of Dom John Chapman, Order of Saint Benedictine, Abbot of Downside Abbey, by Dom Roger Hudleston, O.S.B., in the paperback, “Spiritual Letters”, first published 1934, current pubs., 2003 and 2004 by Burns & Oates, London, New York:

“A good Director, he held, must be a nurse, no more. He should confine himself to the task of teaching his penitent how to walk alone and unaided. That done, he should be ready to retire into the background; only emerging on rare occasions when unusual circumstances or some particular crisis called for his attention. Directors of this kind would be of no danger to simplicity or humility, while an over dogmatic or too eager Director, giving unsuitable or unnecessary advice with relish and impressiveness, would harm both his penitent and himself.”

First published in 1935, the timeless spirituality of these letters are straightforward expressions of a committed truth seeker impatient of religious cant and “stupidity”, steeped in “omnivorous” scholastic reading and analysis.

As a notable Church establishment figure, Dom Chapman’s knowledge of and acceptance of mysticism is a surprising discovery.

Mysticexperiences.net

SEVEN “GIFTS” OF CATHOLICS

Is this where we went wrong?

These seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (MER?) are excerpted from an article by Frank X. Blisard in the December 1 1960 edition of Catholic Answers magazine:

1. “Wisdom is both the knowledge of and judgment about “divine things” and the ability to judge and direct human affairs according to divine truth (I/I.1.6; I/II.69.3; II/II.8.6; II/II.45.1–5).

COMMENT:  So, is this the very heart and soul, of where religions get it wrong? Is this where the devil, so to speak, thwarts MER by diverting the truly divine into the merely human fabrications of “faith, hope and belief”?  These three myths signify that those who practise them are ignorant of Reality. When you have experienced MER you don’t need “faith, hope and belief”, you know.

2. “Understanding is penetrating insight into the very heart of things, especially those higher truths that are necessary for our eternal salvation—in effect, the ability to “see” God (I/I.12.5; I/II.69.2; II/II.8.1–3).

3. “Counsel allows a man to be directed by God in matters necessary for his salvation (II/II.52.1). ***

COMMENT:  No one needs salvation. Salvation is an irrelevant manipulative human concept, nothing to do with a sinless Ultimate Reality. It is an oxymoron, an ignorant unspiritual presumption.

As for “the ability to to see God”, I expected to see “God” in my MER experiences, though I was disappointed when I didn’t. I was however humbled by the joy of Ultimate Reality’s acceptance of me; and by the awe of its revelation of Existence.

But if by “God” this “gift” means Reality, then there is nowhere Ultimate Reality isn’t and we ARE Reality – whether Reality is seen, known, realised or not. In so far as we are chosen then we experience Reality AS us, and we are Reality.

4. “Fortitude denotes a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so, and the confidence to overcome all obstacles, even deadly ones, by virtue of the assurance of everlasting life (I/II.61.3; II/II.123.2; II/II.139.1).

COMMENT: Seekers not yet fulfilled will find fortitude a necessary discipline perhaps, but not those who have experienced MER, to whom fortitude is no longer relevant. There are no obstacles of manmade “spiritual” inventions, not even human darknesses like “evil”, in Reality. 

5. “Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice (II/II.9.3).

COMMENT:  “Judge”, “faith”, “right action” and “path of justice”, are clear intentions to direct the experience of MER into mere human concerns. This is purely ignorant human religious devilry, however innocent; an attempted coup against Ultimate Reality. 

6. “Piety is, principally, revering God with filial affection, paying worship and duty to God, paying due duty to all men on account of their relationship to God, and honoring the saints and not contradicting Scripture. The Latin word pietas denotes the reverence that we give to our father and to our country; since God is the Father of all, the worship of God is also called piety (I/II.68.4; II/II.121.1).

COMMENT:  The Reality experienced in MER cannot be reduced to any concept of “fillialness”, “piety”, “worship” or “duty”, “(national) patriotism”, or “saints”. These are man-made words; mindstuff. The god that requires such obeissance is insignificantly small, a human fiction. There are no names or descriptions in Reality.

7. “Fear of God is, in this context, “filial” or chaste fear whereby we revere God and avoid separating ourselves from him—as opposed to “servile” fear, whereby we fear punishment (I/II.67.4; II/II.19.9).” 

COMMENT: Fear of Reality is another oxymoron, a spiritually ignorant human supposition. MER is humbleness (not humility),  joy, bliss, acceptance, belonging, complete oneness in everything that exists. Fear is a product of human darkness. It does not exist in Reality.

Mysticexperiences.net

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

REALISATION FROM “WITHIN”? NO!

Any suggestion that mystical realisation of Reality is “within you” would be limiting if true. There was no suggestion in my experiences that the mystical experience of Reality (MER) is limited to coming from “within”.

We are equipped to receive it but not gift it to ourselves, or to anyone else.

If this “within you” description were true the conclusion would be that human existence, probably only human existence, is necessary to experience MER. That isn’t my experience of the mystical experience of Reality (MER). It’s OUT there and it applies to everything known and as yet unknown, including humans.

The bible puts it well when it refers to the veils lifting (2 Corinthians 3.16). Does this mean yes, that our ability to experience spiritual Reality is real, but latent, can only be triggered from outside ourselves? Yes, that’s my experience. It’s not within the gift of any human to achieve MER by their own efforts exclusively. Humans didn’t invent MER.

My experiences suggest that human beings are developing an ability to evolve into an Ultimate Reality that already exists as the foundation of all existence – of which humans as they are now are not necessarily a significant part.

Also significant to note is that this experience only comes to individuals, which is an important point in view of humanity’s current tribal, totalitarian, community and political instincts that work to the contrary.

The Jesus of the Christian bible evidently mistakenly believed MER is about making better humans. Is this why, when this premise failed even in his day (even with his disciples exhibiting complete ignorance of Jesus’ spiritual significance, Luke 9:46), humanity was only left with teachings of morality and ethics for the human spirit, not the Real, spiritual “holy” spirit of MER?

MER, as Jesus said, comes and goes like the wind, from where, and to where, nobody knows … ( JOHN 3:8), the implication being that there’s not much humans can do about it.

Is that why Jesus’ mission failed, because he still misinterpreted his own spiritual experience and thought it could be evangelised, prosyletised from his own MER?

My experience is that the mystical experience of Reality (MER) is caught not taught. If this is generally true, is this why Jesus’ mission was eventually limited to being merely anthropomorphic, no more than the teachings of morality and ethics of the Boy Scouts or social service clubs?

MER is a gateway to an existence more important than being or remaining merely human; in my experience of the phenomena.

The good news is that seeking or even studying this “Holy Spirit”, MER, even if we don’t experience it yet, makes us better human beings – axiomatically, automatically. MER reveals that all is well. We are loved, guarded, guided, helped, directed and protected. We are not abandoned. We are not left to our own devices “within us”.

Mysticexperiences.net