I don't find this the world's most interesting topic, but it is a key topic of unsurpassed importance that is worth the work of debating. How can the entheogenists and the meditationists have such different opinions and views? By defining the goal and purpose of enlightenment very differently.
We have a very different view of the purpose of enlightenment, and its benefits and content. I realized this while reading Zig Zag Zen -- that I have profoundly deep issues with meditationists regarding the entire conception of what spiritual practice is all about: what its nature is, what its content is, what its goal is, and what its promise is. My main question I came away with is:
Just what do you entheogen-diminishing meditationists think the goal is? Some feel-good, interpersonal lovingkindness, social emotion, or absolutely indistinct and evasive null construct that means nothing and denies the worth of any particular meaning? It has become standard for meditationists to disparage everything that I think is the heart of religion.
At the extreme, they say that meditation is not for creating an altered state, and is not for gaining transcendent philosophical comprehension, and is instead for some totally and pointedly evasive, unaccountable, unmeasurable achievement vaguely in the realm of interpersonal relationships during ongoing daily life.
derinkle wrote [paraphrased]
>>>The point of either entheogens or meditation is lost if the enlightening experience or revelation is not carried out into daily life.
Michael wrote [paraphrased]:
>>It is highly debatable whether the point of entheogens, meditation, enlightenment, or revelation is to improve daily life. The point of enlightenment is metaphysical enlightenment about the hidden nature of self, time, will, control, and moral agency -- not mainly or significantly about improving daily life. The point of revelation is discovering these formerly hidden relationships -- not improving daily life.
>>Daily life and mundane ethics are not directly affected or changed by revelation and enlightenment. Religious revelation or enlightenment is realm that is essentially distinct from daily life, even in the two realms have some relation or influence on each other.
Caroline wrote [paraphrased]:
>Entheogens give the impression that mystical realms are separate from 'daily life' realms, because the drug is taken at a particular time, certain distinctive experiences occur for awhile, the drug wears off, the experiences wear off, and then the individual reenters 'mundane' cognition. Meditation, on the other hand, works consistently from the inside out, without making any great leaps.
Here we see an instance of meditation advocates renouncing and denying that meditation has a goal of satori -- reaching a point of sudden state-shift in one's mental worldmodel. There is perhaps a tradition of thinking of meditation as completely slow, gradual development, set against an opposing viewpoint, that meditation provides sudden, complete transformation of one's worldmodel.
Remember, there are controversies and competing schools within Buddhism and meditation, as surely as Mary Magdalene has always battled against Peter within Christianity. As an advocate of the entheogenic lightning path, I accuse "gradual enlightenment" of being a false path leading nowhere -- salvation on the installment plan, that excels at entrenching egoic delusion ever more firmly, while claiming to provide enlightenment.
In the end, it is a false relabelling of delusion as enlightenment. Ken Wilber claims to have attained some exceedingly indefinable change of mental state, through years of gradual development during meditation. At this point it would be great if I knew the ancient debates between the advocates of the slow, gradual path and the lightning path. I think the slow path is a complete sham.
I have no reason to believe that the slow-path meditationists or contemplatives are accomplishing anything except increasing their own delusion. In making these accusations, remember that I have a very small, specific definition of enlightenment: the discovery in experience and in rational insight, of the idea of no-free-will -- timeless, preexisting-future, block-universe determinism.
When I say that slow-path meditation is a path leading only to delusion falsely labelled as enlightenment, I am asserting that the slow path does not lead to an experience of no-free-will and that it doesn't lead to an insight into the soundness and frighteningly elegant simplicity of the frozen block universe idea. Ultimately, pursuing this debate reveals two schools that are as different as "Gnostic versus Orthodox Christianity" (per Freke and Gandy's usage).
I've found that in religion, there are two sets of ideas that line up, as a rule. This can be called the "two sets" or "two paths" hypothesis. Advocates of short-path practice normally advocate entheogens and no-free-will, and strongly differentiate metaphysical enlightenment from ongoing daily ethical conduct.
Conversely, advocates of long-session contemplation normally disparage entheogens, emphasize transformation as a very gradual process, and advocate blending a lot of freewill into their determinism, and they make a strong connection between ongoing daily ethical conduct and enlightenment. These two opposed camps begin and end with opposed notions of what religion is all about, and what it can accomplish, how it its best conceived, and how religious experiencing or religious practice relates to daily life.
It is good to consider this two-paths hypothesis, because if this is the case, we can avoid unprofitably debating individual points in isolation, and debate about whole models of religion all at once.
Dan Merkur's book The Psychedelic Sacrament portrays the entheogen-using rabbinic mystics as using a short-path, rational, entheogenic approach, against the orthodox mystics, who believed in a long-path, non-rational, non-entheogenic approach -- and I'd assume that the two camps also had a dispute about what the whole goal and potential of contemplation is.
Likely, these two camps had correspondingly different assumptions, different conceptions, different goals and notions about the purpose and nature of religion, and the content of enlightenment and mystic insight. For all intents and purposes, these two camps disagree about *everything*, regarding what religion (or even religious insight) is all about.
I hope there isn't anyone who agrees with my model of basic enlightenment while disagreeing about other main aspects of religion -- it is easier to theorize if I can neatly divide people into two opposed grand paradigms.
I am trying to portray the orthodox, dominant paradigm as holding:
1. Genuine free will to some degree
2. Diminishing entheogens
3. Read most religious figures literally
4. Non-rationality and unfathomable subtle complexity of enlightenment
5. Slow and gradual, perpetual meditation /contemplation
I am trying to define the truly enlightened, esotericists as holding this set of axiomatic assumptions:
1. No free will; the idea is as incoherent as separate-self
2. Entheogens are the main mystic technique, by far
3. Read religious figures purely mythically as mystic-state allegory
4. Rationality and remarkable simplicity of enlightenment
5. Slow and gradual, perpetual meditation /contemplation
This marks a milestone for me: I may need to add a fifth main element to my recent 3, then 4 principles. I recently added "rationality and simplicity of enlightenment" to the above-listed 3 main distinctive axioms; today I may add a fifth distinctive axiom, or expand the fourth. However, in my ~1996 summary of the Theory, I already included "enlightenment is fast" in my principle that "enlightenment is rational". We could almost add a distinct 6th classic point of debate:
6. Enlightenment should be measured by its effect on ongoing daily life.
6. Enlightenment is far more concerned with metaphysical revelation of hidden relationships, than with affecting ongoing daily life.
If ideas really do line up into "the two religions" or "the two paths" this way, then my goal in writing an updated summary article is to "offend in every way the conventional religionists" -- to refute every one of their main distinguishing assumptions.
Although there are many exceptions, dividing thinking into these two sets is warranted, because these two sets of axiomatic assumptions form the most stable polar opposite positions. It is most natural for advocates of interminable meditation and gradual enlightenment to disparage entheogens and to advocate some free will, and to literalize the religious founder figures, and to glorify non-rationality while highlighting the limitations of rational analysis. Similarly, it is most natural
>Meditation gradually alters 'mundane' cognition until it is transformed into mystical cognition, permanently, in a gentle, sustainable and balanced way.
>Meditation is not set against entheogens -- both have a certain value.
In significant, major ways, for all practical purposes, meditation is set against entheogens, constituting two opposing paths. A major contention I'm highlighting and revealing lately is the debate between the entheogenists and the meditationists. Individuals tend toward one of two conflicting sets of ideas about what religion is all about. Yes, the two can be seen as bringing their own value, but I'm interested in refuting the false and illegitimate diminishment of entheogens by meditationists.
Entheogen researchers have barely started to criticize meditation, fairly or unfairly. So far, all we've heard from lately is "what do the meditationists think of entheogens, potentially and as typically practiced?" We hear less about "What do entheogenists think of meditation, potentially and as typically practiced?"
>Religious revelation and daily life are not two distinct realms. People should consider how to integrate their highest perspective into conduct of daily life, otherwise the transcendent perspective can only be a worthless intellectual grasping. The transcendent perspective should produce a core transformation that releases and liberates a person into the benefits of continuous non-egoic living.
Religious revelation is very distinct from daily life. We *can* consider ways to somehow integrate the highest perspective into conduct of daily life, but the transcendent perspective remains toweringly profound in its own right, high above the mundane realm, standing in dramatic contrast. The transcendent perspective produces a core transformation in the mental worldmodel, and a transient intense change in the sense of self (contrasting with the accustomed separate-self-sense and freewill-sense).
This transformed worldmodel integrates and enwraps the previous egoic worldmodel, transcending and including it, no longer taking the egoic view as literal reality.
This may have some effect on daily life, but such effect has been greatly exaggerated and has not been demonstrated as a clear correlation, and should be seen as a hypothetical ideal, and a dangerous one that may lead the metaphysically enlightened to falsely assume that they are also morally superior as measured by the standards of practical daily interpersonal life.
It's safe to assume instead that one is fully metaphysically enlightened but that one remains merely average in the realm of mundane living. It's dangerous to assume that one's metaphysical enlightenment (knowledge of the hidden relationships of self, mind, control, world, and time) correlates with an automatic increase in interpersonal ethics in the daily realm.
I agree one ought to be nice and ought to be metaphysically enlightened, but deny there is any major correlation between the two. They may be bundled into a package, but then, so ought other domains as well.
Just because enlightenment is good and ethical interpersonal conduct is good, doesn't mean that the two are closely related and should be both dubbed as "enlightenment". It's less confusing, and more helpful, if we keep the labels straight, using a stricter definition of enlightenment, and using "ethics" for the other.
What is the purported, promised "release" and "liberation" of a person into "the benefits of continuous non-egoic living"? What are these supposed, vague, unspecified benefits, involved in that view of what religion is all about? The dominant model of enlightenment suffers from chronic vagueness, a nebulous system promising nebulous results.
In my restricted model of enlightenment as just metaphysical revelation of the hidden way things are, enlightenment produces a *particular* kind of "release" and "liberation" and "benefits". There is a release from some *particular* cognitive dissonance -- the incoherent assumption of metaphysical free moral agency, and some release from the tense contradictions that are endemic to the false cybernetic self-control system that is based on the mind's taking as literal the egoic prime-mover illusion.
Also, a kind of liberation is experienced according to my 3-stage model: first, there is the unexamined assumption of egoic control-power over one's thoughts and actions. Then, during the peak of the entheogenic intense mystic altered state, there is the discovery of the feeling and logic of being frozen, affixed helplessly to the timeless block universe, with no possible mental move to regain virtual freedom.
Then, the mind is given its semblance of freedom back, after showing that the ego is not ultimately in control of one's own thoughts and actions.
One walks away from this ego death by using once again the structures inherited from the egoic operating system, but now, with a deep and knowing caveat: my thoughts and actions don't originate from me as egoic controller-originator, but ultimately, are given by the ground of being, and possibly by a hypothetical transcendent hidden controller outside the spacetime block.
Has one gained "freedom" or "liberation"? One first had ignorant assumption of freedom and liberty, then one awoke at the mystic peak to perceive hidden unfreedom (alarmingly), and was finally liberated from that unfreedom. This trajectory actually moves from freedom(1) to unfreedom to freedom(2) -- liberation in *that* sense is something real, definite, and specific, and attainable.
But the common misty, vague, social, interpersonal, and superficially spiritual notion of gaining "liberation" is no more than a hope, an ideal, a stylized notion, a "human" (mundane) construct.
>>The purpose of the high realm of experiencing and insight is to attain high experiencing and insight, not to polish and uphold the low realm of mundane existence. The high and low realms are distinct and we cannot attain the high realm if we insist on reducing its purpose to affirming and bolstering the low realm.
>There isn't evidence or justification for such a strong dichotomy between the transcendent realm and the realm of daily living. When you can see the boundlessness within the boundaries [once you can see that there is rich interaction across the boundaries that mark off the transcendent from the daily-life realm], then you are free to act.
You refer to "the boundaries", so I assume that you agree with me that there is some boundary demarcating the transcendent from the mundane. Then our argument is about the degree of interaction or relation between these realms. I doubt you'd deny there is a difference between mundane and transcendent realms, collapsing them into one, because that explains away the reality of the transcendent realm, or falsely elevates the basest existence, claiming it is enlightened.
To converse, we must agree that there is a higher and a lower realm, and therefore by implication, some demarcation defining the difference. The higher realm is different than the lower realm; they are not the same thing; there *is* a difference of some sort and a demarcation of some sort. To deny that is to immediately terminate the conversation.
To admit it is to make the conversation proceed to the debate over the nature of this demarcation. You assert that the transcendent strongly affects the mundane, whereas I assert that there is no clear correlation between attaining to the transcendent realm and altering one's mundane live. Is it really a good idea to define enlightenment such that one not only gains a revealed understanding and insight into things formerly hidden, but that one also alters one's mundane life?
We can define enlightenment that way only if we define a suitably two-part definition of enlightenment, or define two distinct types of enlightenment: theoretical, metaphysical enlightenment (which I'm systematizing), and lifestyle enlightenment -- that is, enlightened ethical conduct in ongoing daily life.
If you insist on jamming these two together so that enlightenment by definition necessarily involves improved daily life *and* metaphysical enlightenment, then what would you call the state of a person who doesn't lead a significantly transformed life -- suppose an average life -- and yet gains what I promise to offer, metaphysical enlightenment? You advocate always packaging enlightenment as a two-part deal, a two-part system, and labelling that "authentic enlightenment".
If someone becomes metaphysically enlightened but continues to lead an ordinary daily life, you would label that "mere metaphysical intellectual enlightenment, rather than full-bandwidth authentic enlightenment of both mind and conduct." My approach, in contrast, is to downplay the degree of interpenetration between metaphysical enlightenment and the realm of daily conduct (enlightened conduct).
There is only speculation, not evidence, that metaphysical enlightenment should normally be expected to highly improve daily ethical conduct. I say, we cannot gain metaphysical enlightenment when we overpromise what it can be expected to deliver.
We cram too many campaign promises onto the back of metaphysical enlightenment, and then fail to attain even the basic goal of metaphysical enlightenment, much less all the other goals that we have hopefully and idealistically loaded on top of that achievement. Per Ken Wilber's model, the person develops in many distinct areas, which have only a partial and moderate interaction.
Will enlightenment make you physically stronger, smarter, kinder, and more ethical, too, in addition to providing basic enlightenment? There is no evidence and no good reason to think so. Can we say that people who attain metaphysical enlightenment are normally ethically superior to unenlightened people? There is no evidence for such correlation.
I'm sticking with the most basic, streamlined, minimalist, and solid and defensible definition of enlightenment or basic enlightenment. You advocate fancy enlightenment, some sort of Integral Enlightenment. That's a long shot; good luck. I advocate first securing a far more modest and basic definition of enlightenment: strictly metaphysical enlightenment, with no necessary correlation promised between this and daily life conduct.
Yes, it is possible to legitimately define "enlightenment" as involving a combination of metaphysical enlightenment and some sort of enlightened ethical daily conduct, as do typical religionists. But who can deliver on that promised *combined* two-part goal, and is there any evidence such a strong correlation between attaining metaphysical enlightenment and enlightened ethical daily conduct?
There is no evidence that attainment of metaphysical enlightenment is correlated with improved or right ethical daily conduct; the supposed connection between them is just an arbitrary convention; everyone assumes that they go together, that unenlightened people act worse than enlightened people, though there is no evidence to support such a put-down of the conduct of metaphysically unenlightened people and elevation of the conduct of the enlightened.
It is purely idealistic, and nothing more than an expression of what one would *expect*, to define "authentic enlightenment" as involving both metaphysical enlightenment and daily enlightened conduct. That construct, two-part authentic enlightenment, expresses a value system, rather than a discovered reality. My definition of enlightenment, in contrast, restricts itself to what there is evidence for, and what it can promise to deliver.
My definition of enlightenment is scientific; a report of what we definitely and consistently have found, rather that of what we expect and hope to find and may or may not find in the future. My approach is not to be driven by ideals, but by making sense of observations of actual dynamics of the world.
That is an arbitrary or unclear goal, the goal of "becoming free to act". You assert that the main goal of transcendence is to transform the realm of daily living in order to gain "the freedom to act". You assert that attaining transcendence is desirable because it increases one's "freedom to act". I question whether transcendence increases one's "freedom to act" -- whatever that means -- and I question whether the goal or value of transcendence is to increase one's "freedom to act".
Do unenlightened people suffer from a restricted "freedom to act", because of their unenlightenment? What problem does enlightenment solve -- the problem of "restricted freedom to act"? That problem definition and that promise of enlightenment seem arbitrary.
Does meditation deliver the goods it promises, or not? What does meditation promise and deliver? Meditation promises vague results, and refuses to be held accountable when no significant result is delivered -- atheistic relaxation training and plain, unassuming, straightforward philosophy of ethics perhaps would have been a better investment of one's time.
The model of enlightenment I've pulled together -- the simplest model of ego transcendence -- promises less than any other spiritual tradition, *and delivers* on its promise: you *will* get metaphysical enlightenment as it is defined by this model, and you might or might not get other benefits -- I sure can't guarantee that you will get other benefits, but I can easily guarantee the attainment of the modest and highly bounded type of enlightenment defined in this model.
>>Enlightenment transcends the mundane purpose of mundane self-help for daily life, as surely as Christianity should not be degraded by being restricted to the level of Christian-style self-help books that clog the shelves of the bookstores. It may be true that enlightenment should positively affect daily life, but no way can enlightenment be reduced to being measured in terms of what it can do for mere daily life.
>'Mere' daily life is our very existence...I love and accept my daily life...it is what I am now...and it is divine.
That collapses and dissolves the distinction between the lower and higher realms. You have either falsely denied the existence of the higher realm, falsely relabelled ordinary life as transcendent consciousness, or compromised them both by halfway elevating the lower realm and halfway lowering the higher realm. This is why today's popular American Buddhism leads to nothing determinate, nothing reproducible, nothing that ordinary ethics could produce just as well.
What is the difference between a good unenlightened Christian church person and a good Buddhist who rejects a distinction between lower and higher? None; they are both ethical systems that style themselves as "spiritual". American Buddhism is actually low (unenlightened, mundane) Christianity with the "Christian" styled skin replaced by a "Buddha" styled skin, but it's the same thing underneath: ongoing daily ethics mistaken for religion.
Where is the profound transformation and revelation? It is entirely absent from lower Christianity and from lower Buddhism. Lower Buddhism denies the existence or importance or separateness of a higher Buddhism.
Just as in the official denial of a second, gnostic, higher Eucharist than the Church's placebo Eucharist, so does today's popular Buddhist deny that there is a truly higher, distinct, profound transformation that is distinct from the lower realm; the two are collapsed into a single realm which can only devolve into the old situation of the lower realm relabelled as the higher.
What would I say to someone who agrees with my simple model of basic metaphysical enlightenment but who then advocates a definition of "full authentic enlightenment" that adds "enlightened ongoing daily conduct" to basic metaphysical enlightenment, requiring both aspects, for one to qualify as "fully authentically enlightened"? I would say that they are detracting from basic enlightenment by arbitrarily saddling it and harnessing it to something that is essentially and mostly distinct -- daily ethical conduct.
There is no great justification for so strongly correlating ordinary ethical conduct and metaphysical enlightenment. I warn that the unwillingness to keep distinct fields carefully separated and bounded as distinct, will cause the inability to gain success in either field. If you can't differentiate politics and religion, you'll end up with bad politics and bad religion.
Actually my most general principle in the theory of "domains" is "differentiate and integrate". The best daily conduct and the best metaphysical enlightenment require that you fully differentiate and integrate the two areas or domains.
Differentiate *and* integrate ongoing daily ethical conduct and metaphysical enlightenment. Don't confuse the two and insist on fully jamming them together into one, or both domains of life will be degraded, resulting in malformed enlightenment and malformed daily conduct. Likewise, don't totally isolate the two domains, because they actually reflect on each other to some extent.
>The enlightenment experience has to be incorporated into one's being, not just revealed in a time of relaxation or intensity of understanding.
>It's too vague to just assert that legitimate enlightenment must be "incorporated into one's being" or must be "carried out into daily life".
Caroline wrote [paraphrased]:
>When one can live and respond in the knowledge that 'I am not these thoughts; I am not this body; I am not these emotions; all will pass, all is changing, all is
impermanent', one can live truly freely, liberated from the kneejerk reactions of blame. The systematic reconception of self, control, etc. leads to right action. 'Integration into daily life' is a specific concept.
Having a metaphysically enlightened worldmodel does open up some alternative ways of thinking about interactions in daily life, but it's by no means a cure-all; jerks remain jerks, problems remain problematic, labor remains labor. It remains an open question and a matter of debate and discussion, the extent to which a transformed mental worldmodel can be correlated with improved ongoing daily life.
It is highly questionable whether we should measure the value of a transformed mental worldmodel purely in terms of its practical value in mundane life. Revelation is awesome and valuable in its own right, and the transcendent realm remains distinct and demarcated from the realm of daily living. This is not an easy, simple debate, identifying the best understanding of the relation between the realms of the transcendent and mundane.
>Transcendent experiencing on certain circumscribed occasions, set apart from 'daily life', *plays a role* in complete transformation.
>But transcendent experiencing on certain circumscribed occasions, set apart from 'daily life', *cannot effect complete* transformation.
How should we define "complete transformation"? Is it a good idea or a natural, justified combination, to marry metaphysical enlightenment closely to conduct of daily life? A debate at some length is needed, to adequately investigate this and to identify different defensible positions. Certainly I'm against the common assertion that "meditation isn't about the temporary altered state, but about how we conduct daily life".
That's often used as a flimsy excuse to explain why meditation is unable to produce the tangible cognitive results of entheogens and yet is supposedly better, more effective, and more legitimate. True meditation is very much concerned with the temporary altered state, as the main instrument of transcendent insight and transformation of the mental worldmodel.
This transformation *can* improve daily life in certain distinctive ways, but there's no evidence for a strong correlation of metaphysical enlightenment and improved interpersonal conduct -- such correlation is essentially an ethical ideal rather than a reported, observed reality. I acknowledge that the other side has somewhat of a case; this suggests further discussion could be profitable.
We perhaps must reject both extremes: the false story that meditation is only hindered by altered-state fireworks and that meditation should be measured purely in terms of mundane ethical conduct, and the notion I advocated that the transformed worldmodel has basically no effect on or relevance to daily living. Still, I hold a higher view of mundane ethics and self-help "art of conduct" than most American Buddhists, and I hold a lower view of the potential of enlightenment than most American Buddhists.
Equating enlightenment with excellent ongoing living tends to overly put down the ordinary conduct of the unenlightened and declare ordinary people's lives to be religiously corrupt and despicable, and it tends to attribute too many benefits to enlightenment, so that enlightenment is given credit that actually belongs to the venerable field of ethics. Enlightenment sheds light on ethics and ethical agency, but the realm of enlightenment is distinct from the realm of ethics, or ongoing daily interpersonal conduct.
It's *not* as though ethics (ongoing daily interpersonal conduct) is utterly lost and hopeless without enlightenment, and it's not as though enlightenment makes all interpersonal problems just evaporate.
>Supposing that 'daily life' cannot be experienced directly as divine, what does 'enlightenment' mean?
Ongoing daily life can only be experienced as divine a little bit; only like a shadow of full, intense mystic-state insight and experiencing of the way things are. Enlightenment is a series of modifications of the mental worldmodel and self-control operating system, in and out of the intense mystic altered state, that results in a specific, clearly specifiable systematic transformation from one specific mental worldmodel (egoic) to another (transcendent).
A mature enlightened mind has a certain quality of experience and insight when in the altered state of cognition and when in the daily, default state of cognition (tight cognitive association binding).
To be enlightened, according to my minimalist model of ego death and transcendence, is to understand the basic concepts and principles such as listed in the Overview page at the Egodeath.com site, or at the start of this discussion group. More classically, and quite reasonably, a more robust definition also includes the experience of no-separate-self and no-free-will, in conjunction with full conceptual understanding.
The full experiencing and full understanding mutually support and enable each other. These two components are easily justifiable -- but to drag in the idealistic applied requirement, that full enlightenment also requires ongoing daily ethical interpersonal enlightened conduct? That would be a move from metaphysical enlightenment into what I'd call mundane ethics, though I admit that metaphysical enlightenment has the potential to provide a greater range of conceptions, applicable to daily life.
But what is on top must stay on top, and not flip upside down; the transcendent provides its own justification independently of its possible applicability to daily life, and it is a grave insult (reductionism) to the transcendent to subject it to the measure of worth provided by ongoing daily life. What use is enlightenment to "real life"? It provides perspective and can be useful, but enlightenment cannot be reduced being measured solely by how useful of a tool it is for daily living.
Our argument lies near here: yes enlightenment can possibly help ongoing daily life, but ought we measure it solely in terms of improving daily life? That would be some sort of blasphemy, reductionism, or category error, falsely collapsing transcendent religion into mundane ethics.
And beware of forked tongues who try to cover for the ineffectiveness of meditation vis a vis entheogens by blaspheming the holy spirit (an unpardonable sin, according to some theology). This is the first hypothesis I've found to explain the meaning of "blaspheming the holy spirit": saying that it is not needed, that religion is centered on daily living rather than on transcendent experiencing.
Differentiate between states (default/altered) and stages (egoic/transcendent); there are really 4 combinations to consider: unenlightened/default, unenlightened/altered state, enlightened/default state, enlightened/altered state.
untransformed/default, untransformed/altered state, transformed/default state, transformed/altered state.
Metaphysical enlightenment is a domain that contains its own great value even aside from any combining of this domain with ongoing daily life. Like Wilber's Integral Theory, consider my "theory of domain dynamics" in general, at a higher level of abstraction.
A 'holon' is a bounded area or domain that interacts with other areas. Wilber pictures these mainly positioned into a nested hierarchy, but also in other, diverse architectures as well.
My "domain dynamics" model of the realms of knowledge or human concern is inherently more open than Wilber's hierarchical theory of holons, though his recent models with lines, threads, levels, quadrants, etc. have become almost unmanagably baroque. "Domain dynamics" is simple and general because fairly abstract: there are different domains of knowledge or concern, and they each interact in distinctive ways.
In this thread we are debating the value relationships between the two domains:
o Metaphysical enlightenment
o Ongoing daily life when informed by metaphysical enlightenment.
Consider domain A and domain B, such as metaphysical enlightenment and ongoing daily interpersonal ethics. Domain A (or "holon A") has its own value, and domain B has its own value, and the combination of domains A and B has yet another value. The various positions in the present debate can be permutated:
Does A (metaphysical enlightenment) have value, on its own? Does B (ongoing daily ethical interpersonal conduct/consciousness) have value on its own? Does the combination of A and B have some systemic combined value?
There are 8 combinations, forming 8 possible positions in the debate:
000 <- nihilist existentialist. Nothing has any intrinsic value. For any domain, take it or leave it. Metaphysical enlightenment simply exists, beyond value. Daily life is just daily life conduct and consciousness, not essentially good or bad, commendable or redeemable.
001 <- altered-state-disparaging meditationists who disparage unenlightened ethics; the only valuable thing is ongoing daily conduct/consciousness that is informed by metaphysical enlightenment; metaphysical enlightenment has no intrinsic value on its own
010 <- ignorant atheists; Ayn Rand/Earl Doherty - there is only good mundane ethics; no such thing as valuable metaphysical enlightenment, and no metaphysical enlightenment about moral agency to inform daily conduct/consciousness
011 <- altered-state-disparaging meditationists who respect unenlightened ethics and daily living. Metaphysical enlightenment has no value at all on its own, and is only valuable to the extent that it enhances the realm of all good, which is ongoing daily living. This is the dominant position lately in American Buddhism.
100 <- dualist world-haters: only metaphysical enlightenment is valuable; ongoing daily consciousness is thoroughly fallen and evil, and cannot be redeemed by enlightenment.
101 <- despisers of the unenlightened: metaphysical enlightenment is the source and home base of goodness, and the only kind of respectable daily consciousness is that which is informed by metaphysical enlightenment.
110 <- daily life has practically nothing to do with metaphysical enlightenment. Ongoing daily ethical consciousness is good, and metaphysical enlightenment is good, but the two remain separate realms.
111 <- integral theory (Wilber), domain dynamics (Hoffman). Unenlightened daily ethical consciousness is valuable even on its own; metaphysical enlightenment is good even on its own; ongoing daily consciousness informed by metaphysical enlightenment is also good in a distinct way.
1 means yes, very valuable. 0 means no, not very valuable.
Upon seeing these choice-combinations spelled out, many or most people would choose position 111: metaphysical enlightenment carries its own sphere of lofty value, and regular daily living is its own valuable sphere or realm, and there is some potential for metaphysical enlightenment to enhance and expand the value in ongoing daily life.
Then the main area of debate becomes the amount of relative value between domains A and B, and whether the combination A+B (daily life informed by enlightenment) is valuable mainly because it is informed by enlightenment, or mainly because it is concerned with ongoing daily living.
I lean toward some sort of 1+, 1-, 1- combination: I strongly uphold the value of enlightenment as its own sphere of ultimate value, and I damn daily living with faint praise whether or not it is informed by metaphysical enlightenment -- yes, daily living can be slightly enhanced by metaphysical enlightenment, but that capability of enlightenment is certainly not what makes enlightenment valuable.
Today's dominant Buddhist position would lean the opposite way, a sort of 1-, 1-, 1+ -- unenlightened daily living is to be disparaged as mundane, and metaphysical enlightenment by itself is almost wholly worthless because it is irrelevant to the center of all that is valuable, by which all value is measured -- ongoing daily living. The only really valuable thing, such meditationists maintain, is that daily living which is informed by metaphysical enlightenment.
Daily living by itself is fallen, worthless, dishonorable, undesirable; and metaphysical enlightenment by itself is fallen, worthless, dishonorable, and undesirable. The only way for enlightenment to have any real worth, they say, is to the degree that it enhances ongoing daily living, daily consciousness.
derinkle wrote that "the point of either entheogens or meditation is lost if the enlightening experience or revelation is not carried out into daily life" [paraphrased], implying that enlightenment has no value on its own, having value only insofar as it enhances daily life -- which is position 001: enlightenment itself isn't particularly valuable; daily living itself when unenlightened isn't particularly desirable or valuable; all value lies in daily living that is informed by enlightenment.
I myself began with that position. The only reason I pursued transcendent knowledge was because I assumed that it would resolve the cognitive dissonance that I thought was the only thing preventing me from possessing posi-control: complete, straightforward self-control over time. I wanted to be the complete, unproblematic complete captain of my mind and actions, and I thought there was no reason at all to not have this ideal, complete self-determination and full, natural integrity of personal self-control.
I thought enlightenment was valuable because it would give me full, unchallenged, unproblematic, harmonious and simple posi-control. I wasn't aware of enlightenment as an ultimately valuable domain in its own right, or a domain that would be far more valuable than daily conduct of life.
I merely wanted to improve my daily life by eliminating the problematic cognitive dissonance of self-control grappling; I worked against myself and simply wanted to figure out how to quit working against myself, to quit rebelling against my own self-control schemes. I was completely afflicted by the disease of controlaholism, like alcoholism where alcohol is replaced by generalized self-control struggle, independent of any particular action representing the control problem.
Not a problem of self-control regarding any one particular habit, but just a self-control struggle around self-control itself. The only, driving reason I desired enlightenment was to overcome my generalized self-control problem. My values started to invert after transformative insights: I then valued the self-control problem because it led to enlightenment.
The curse and affliction of my seemingly pointless and absurd self-control struggle turned out to be the path that led most quickly and directly to the heart of enlightenment, which turns out to be centrally about the metaphysics of self-control, including no-free-will and no-separate-self.
The resulting mental worldmodel may happen to broaden one's range of possible cognitive processing options in daily life, but enlightenment -- not harmonious daily living -- is the loftiest destination of the soul, loftier than enhanced daily living.
I picture an up-then-down trajectory: first one is merely unenlightened, then attains to the highest goal: enlightenment, and then continues in mere daily life, retaining enlightenment and somewhat applying it, almost incidentally. Today's meditationists picture an up-up trajectory: first there is mere unenlightened daily life, then some moderately valuable metaphysical enlightenment, and then the thing of greatest worth: daily life that is informed by enlightenment.
The latter upholds the value of daily life too much at the expense of the transcendent realm of metaphysical enlightenment. I don't want to overstate the value of transcendent metaphysical enlightenment. We should be cautious about putting *either* on an unrealistically high pedestal.
Should we glorify and worship the transcendent all by itself, aside from daily living? Such an attitude tends to prevent and push away enlightenment, respecting it so much that it is carried far out of reach, when in fact it's actually simple and routinely and quickly attainable.
Should we glorify and worship and idealize daily life which is informed by metaphysical enlightenment? No, that distorts and overinflates the task of daily life, and overcomplicates the finite simplicity and attainability of metaphysical enlightenment.
Enlightenment is the most lofty thing, but also, it's not infinitely grand and remote and out of reach -- it's actually rather simple, and easily and quickly attainable. Similarly, leading a daily life that is healthy and informed by metaphysical enlightenment is not such a huge and difficult task that we should conceive of it as alien and vastly difficult, a hard, never-ending uphill path.
It's a mistake to have too low of a view of the intrinsic value of metaphysical enlightenment, and a mistake to have too high or too encompassing a view of it. Metaphysical enlightenment has its place in the whole of life, and the whole of life cannot be reduced to any one department of life, whether ongoing daily life or the transcendent realm of insight and peak experiencing.
A good model of the relation between the mundane and transcendent realms must have a nuanced, qualified balance and relation between the parts. "All value lies in the transcendent revelation realm" tends to distort that realm by overinflating it, and "all value is measured in terms of ongoing daily life" tends to distort that realm by overinflating it.
This avoidance of extremes may seem like the least simple position, but its simplicity is conveyed in the Integral Theory idea, or domain dynamics idea, that each domain is a holon (a bounded area that interacts with other areas) that has its own intrinsic value, as well as building up value through relations with other areas.
Greg wrote [paraphrased]:
>I read Alan Watts' The Book.
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
>Afterwards, an English teacher recommended the Ego Death site. After reading the sections on mystery religions, I became engrossed in the concept of ego death.
>You defined a position '111' regarding the value of enlightened experience and its application in daily life, characterizing this position as the Integral Theory position, in which all three are true:
>o Metaphysical enlightenment, including insight and experiencing in the mystic altered state, has its own intrinsic high value even without reference to ongoing daily life.
>o Daily life and mundane ethics has its own intrinsic value even without reference to metaphysical enlightenment.
>o There is some potential for metaphysical enlightenment to enhance and interact with ongoing daily life, grounding enlightenment in day-to-day thought and action, while elevating ongoing daily life.
>I am motivated by passionate desire to figure out the Truth, wherever that may lead me.
I advocate that attitude, which Richard Double characterizes as the science-driven rather than a-priori morality-driven motivation for investigating metaphysics and for holding a position about it. Legitimate metaphysics is something we discover and then apply, rather than something we construct and mold to fulfill some given need such as protecting conventional moral agency.
Our work as philosophers is to construct an accurate model of metaphysical reality that holds up to scrutiny and strives for accurate reflection of fully-observed reality first of all, and separately, strive to apply that model to practical life.
>If each "holon" or "domain of human concern" has its own value, as well as the value that is made when combined, that implies the following.
>If we understand everyday living as a static assortment of patterns, in which we are all puppeted through, daily life would be meaningless.
Daily life would continue to have some sort of meaning, but not meaning that depends on the assumption of metaphysical free agency, or metachange, or an open future. You are mixing two concepts or definitions: "everyday living" and "static patterns". This phrase usage is ambiguous and tangential to my usage, and therefore needs clarification before pursuing the discussion.
Your phrase "everyday living" corresponds to my expression "daily life", which is that day-to-day, ordinary living which the mystic altered state and its resulting metaphysical enlightenment may or may not be applicable to.
Your phrase "static patterns", on the surface, appears to correspond to my concept of "tight cognitive binding" (or rutted thinking), which is the normal, default state of cognition, as opposed to "loose cognitive binding", which is the main attribute of the intense mystic altered state, which stands emphatically in contrast to the default cognitive state.
The following elementary progression is isomorphic to mythic storylines of the Hellenistic and Jewish mythic rituals. We can't get anywhere without clearly differentiating between "states and stages" (per Ken Wilber) or "cognitive binding intensity" and "mental worldmodels" (per Theory of Ego Death).
This distinction between cognitive binding intensity and mental worldmodels is an elementary part of the core Theory.
The mind goes through the following stages:
1. Tight cognition, with the egoic mental worldmodel.
2. Loose cognition, with the egoic mental worldmodel.
3. Loose cognition, with the transcendent mental worldmodel.
4. Tight cognition, with the transcendent mental worldmodel.
Daily life in state 1 is particularly characterized by "static patterns". State 4 also is characterized by "static patterns", in that tight cognitive binding has returned. Even for the fully enlightened mind, ongoing, ordinary day-to-day life is relatively "static patterns", compared to the loose-cognition "fireworks" (as mysticism-disparaging Buddhists say) of the intense mystic altered state.
>We would all be subject to this block universe, like a giant clock.
The "clock" metaphor is risky, possibly leading to familiar misunderstanding.. Too many philosophers are ignorant of tenseless time and the frozen block universe idea, so the "clock" analogy is apt to play into too much of the accustomed conception of time, using egoic, in-time, moving-time assumptions about the metaphysics of time. I'd use a less time-centered metaphor, such as a reel of film on a shelf, or a deterministic train on fixed tracks.
>Transcendent experience is a stepping outside of the patterns of day-to-day life and the default state of cognition, gaining explicit recognition of the patterns, and then going back into the patterns but using the knowledge you received to produce a different product, value, reading, interpretation, perception, or experience of the patterns.
>Everyday life would be reconceived as being like a movie we are all starring in. The flashes on a movie screen are illusions and projected virtual images, which we mistake as literally real. Similarly, the unenlightened mind mistakes the static patterns of everyday life as literally real.
>A religious experience resulting in enlightenment is a stepping out of the movie, recognizing the "larger picture" and using that knowledge to create a different ending or a different way of watching the movie, upon returning to workaday life. Mind-altering drugs, or cognitive-association loosening agents, allow the mind to step out of the static matrix or arrangement of patterns, and receive union with the dynamic.
Rutted, tight cognitive associations are suspended, cognitive associations and mental contruct matrixes loosen and become highly dynamic, enabling the mind to experience and conceptually assemble a changed mental worldmodel. Upon the return of tight cognition, the mental worldmodel is changed, with a changed interpretive framework for reading the events of ordinary, relatively unmystical, ongoing daily life.
The extremely dynamic and loose cognitive association is replaced by the accustomed tight cognitive-association binding state, but the transcendent mental worldmodel remains. The transcendent worldmodel was able to be constructed because of dynamic, loose cognition, but the transcendent worldmodel is wholly distinct from the dynamic cognition which enabled it.
Enlightenment that is carried into day-to-day life isn't as "dynamic" as people wishfully envision. The term "dynamic" is particularly well-suited for the expression that *all* mental constructs are "dynamic mental construct association matrixes". Like language itself, egoic thinking is highly dynamic, within certain boundaries or ruts, or space. Egoic rutted thinking is dynamic, but has tight cognitive association binding, compared to the intense mystic altered state.
Possessing enlightenment while in day-to-day life may increase the range of interpretive and responses a mind has, and in that sense, the enlightened mind may be more "dynamic" than the unenlightened mind during day-to-day life. But I would not mainly characterize the possession of enlightenment as "dynamic".
When a mind possesses enlightenment in day-to-day life, that mind contains and can use a mental worldmodel that is different than the egoic worldmodel: in certain aspects, very different, but in many aspects, just a modification of parts of the egoic worldmodel. The transcendent worldmodel may be "radically" different than the egoic worldmodel in certain respects, but we should not exagerrate and portray them as wholly differrent, like "mostly static" vs. "mostly dynamic".
Both worldmodels are highly dynamic. Where we *can* starkly contrast two things as relatively very static and dynamic, is cognitive binding association intensity in the default state and the intense mystic altered state. Egoic thinking in the normal state is a combination of mental constructs (which are always quite dynamic) with static (relatively tight) cognitive associations.
Transcendent thinking in the normal, day-to-day state is a combination of slightly more dynamic mental constructs, with slightly more dynamic cognitive associations. Any thinking, whether egoic of transcendent, in the intense mystic altered state, is a combiation of mental constructs (which are always quite dynamic) which unusually dynamic cognitive association binding.
Mental constructs are essentially inherently quite dynamic, and we can separate out the tightness/looseness, or static/dynamic aspect, as a distinct, separate parameter: "cognitive association binding intensity". The word "dynamic" deserves to be used to characterize mental constructs in general, and the intense mystic altered state, but I wouldn't use it to contrast the egoic vs. enlightened mind in daily life.
The enlightened mind in daily life is only moderately more dynamic than the egoic mind in daily life, and only in certain respects. Less dynamic, in fewer and different ways, than the marketing copy asserts. To find somethign dynamic, study cognitive association in general, or study the intense mystic altered state -- because enlightened thinking in daily life isn't such a vivid and strong example of "dynamic".
>The dynamic, always existing, but on a completely different way than this space-time universe, is always "behind the scenes," available for our union.
The transcendent worldmodel is always close by as a potential model to be discovered, if the mind relaxes out of the accustomed egoic worldmodel and has the intellectual tools to conceptually construct (or reflect) and retain the transcendent worldmodel.
In a stereograph, the 3-D picture is always there as a potential way of seeing things, whether the mind sees it or not. Both relaxing out of the old focus and then refocusing are required to lock onto seeing the 3-D picture. This refocusing involves a dynamic move, but after locking onto the new worldmodel, the new way of seeing things, most of the dynamic phase is past.
Rebirth is not an ongoing thing. After Satori, there isn't a continuous Satori; one must put it down and fall into relatively static life, not a continuous nonstop breakthrough like a continuous climax. It's wishful thinking to think of enlightened daily life as a continual climax. Watts makes this point strongly in the book The Way of Zen. Wishing that enlightenment is continuous bliss or continuously highly "dynamic" risks leading to disappointment.
What do you want from life: continuous revelation, nonstop spiritual rebirth, walking through the gates of heaven in an incessantly repeated grand entrance?
>We just find the static patterns of the movie as more safe or entertaining than the unknown dynamic so we choose not to be in constant union with it. This is why anyone can have a moment of Satori. Satori would be classified as a break from the static, a recognition of the static, the an application of the Satori into the static.
Satori is not explicitly well-characterized as "a break from the static into the dynamic, or a breaking in of the dynamic reality into the static world". For a systematic explanation of mysticism, instead of loosely evocative poetry, avoid a description that is confusing when read as a specific, explicit model of what literally happens. Tighter precision is needed to form a clear and accurate explanation.
Satori is a shift from one worldmodel to another, and this shift involves a dynamic reconfiguration of many networks of conceptual connections and word-meanings. After this shift has been secured, after a series of satoris or initiations combined with appropriate sustained thinking and conceptual reflection, the mind returns to a relatively static state, with mental construct associations returning to a normal degree of dynamic processing.
Consider these ideas, bracketed to indicate that I don't necessarily endorse them but am only putting them forward for critique and improvement:
>Enlightenment experience is partially valuable through integrating it with daily living, an integration that can be full and natural rather than artificially "stinking of Zen". Like music, metaphysical enlightenment attained in the emphatically non-ordinary mystic altered state can be applicable to many aspects of daily life. Enlightenment can enhance some aspects of "peace" in ongoing daily life (which is here differentiated from the "fireworks" of the temporary intense mystic altered state).
>Daily life can have a mood, sense, feeling, and emotion that is influenced by mystic-state revelation and enlightenment, or explicit and intense unity consciousness. Ordinary ups and downs of life continue, when enlightenment is added, but more often now, they are free to flow without interpretation by a mediator. [The latter phrase is too unclear; it's conventionally spiritual-sounding, but vague, arbitrary, and undebatable.-mh] The greatest potential of enlightenment requires highlighting the potential for integration of metaphysical enlightenment with peace and understanding.
>What transpires in daily life after metaphysical enlightenment depends on many factors, varying on an individual basis. A theory of enlightenment is harmed by venturing statements about the relationship of daily life and enlightenment. Leave this relationship open, to avoid shutting out those who experience enlightenment and its relationship with daily life differently.
>Interpretations of enlightenment after the intense mystic altered state (when loose cognition gives way once again to default, tight cognitive binding) are heavily dependent on one's individual outlook on life and other factors. The best theory of enlightenment is that which is the simplest viable theory. Such simplicity requires openness regarding the relationship of enlightenment with daily life.
There currently exists a serious problem regarding daily life and enlightenment.
American Buddhist meditationists are diminishing the importance of entheogens and are making excuses for the failure of meditation to produce loose cognition, based on the now-standard dogmatic assertion that the intense mystic altered state in and of itself is definitely unimportant and irrelevant and worthless, and that metaphysical enlightenment in and of itself is unimportant and irrelevant and worthless, and that the only possible value of the mystic altered state and of metaphysical enlightenment is strictly measured by the standard of enhancing ongoing day-to-day life.
The proponents of that dogmatic assertion of the worthlessness of metaphysical enlightenment and the mystic altered state in and of itself, don't bother to provide justification for their mysticism-disparaging position: they simply state it as an incontrovertible fact.
I really don't know what the range of views is within global and historical Buddhism, regarding whether metaphysical enlightenment and the mystic altered state are valuable in and of themselves, independently of their enhancement of ongoing, not-explicitly-mystical daily life. The view of Christian theology is that the supreme goal and purpose of human life is to worship transcendent God, not to enhance ongoing daily life. In Christianity, often it is in practice reduced to an enhancement of daily life, such as in socially activist liberal theology.
A theory should not be too driven by fear of contradicting the experience of individuals. There are always conflicting theories of religion and enlightenment. Heavy conflict is a given and no great guide to forming the simplest viable theory. There are advantages in committing to a narrow, specific, particular theory, rejecting others: it lightens the load of the theory in certain ways.
Rejecting many ideas greatly simplifies a theory. I reject ESP, the paranormal, spirit-creatures, metaphysical free will, the historicity of practically all the Bible figures, the irrationality of mystic insight, and the practical effectiveness of non-entheogenic meditation. I also so routinely reject the assumption that the value of metaphysical enlightenment ought to be measured by how much it enhances ongoing, not-explicitly-mystical, daily life.
And I axiomatically reject the complicating assumption or assertion that metaphysical enlightenment strongly tends to enhance and drastically transform daily life. I agree that it is possible that one may have a bad daily life and then gain metaphysical enlightenment and then thereby have a good daily life. I have no problem taking sides on issues.
A theorist who is afraid to take sides cannot contribute any usefully specific theory. There is an argument, and I am taking sides. Mainstream Buddhism currently takes sides in this argument, saying that there is no valuable enlightenment except that which is utilized to enhance daily life. I take the counter position in this argument, and defend the large separation and distinctness of the realms of enlightenment and daily life. Picture a vertical axis with three views:
A. Metaphysical enlightenment is all-important and is the top of the axis of value. Daily life is unimportant and the bottom of the axis. The two are wholly distinct and completely separate.
B. True metaphysical enlightenment joins with elevated daily life, so that all value lies in the middle of the axis. This is the dominant American Buddhist position now; such thinking finds it offensive to make any claim to distinguishing between enlightenment and daily life.
C. My position is in between, and fits with Integral Theory. Enlightenment is distinct from daily life, and is largely but not entirely separate from daily life. Enlightenment and daily life must be differentiated into distinct realms of human concern, and there is some *limited* potential for cross-influence between daily life and enlightenment.
It would be a huge fallacy to fail to distinguish between enlightenment and daily life, and it would also be incorrect to say that enlightenment and daily life are totally irrelevant to each other. The only argument I consider worth participating in is the argument about whether enlightenment and daily life are moderately farther apart or closer together. I won't bother talking to someone who thinks they are completely the same or completely separate.
The only profitable conversation is about whether they are somewhat closer or farther -- that is, the extent of the *certainly partial* overlap. If you maintain that enlightenment and daily life don't have a partial overlap -- either because they are the same thing, or because they have no connection at all, I won't waste time debating with you.
Today's pop Buddhists commit to the position that enlightenment is the same thing as desirable daily life; this is a kind of reductionism (the false conflation of two distinct domains of reality and human concern, collapsing one into the other) that Integral Theory is intent on avoiding. A common view of Gnostics is that they made the other error, portraying the world or daily life and entirely bad, with all good being reserved for the purely transcendent realm.
We must not elevate daily life too much, falsely glorifying it, nor condemn it as worthless.
Similarly, we must not drag down the transcendent heights to totally lose them in the mundane practical world, to the point where we disparage the mystic altered state like pop Buddhists now are dogmatically doing, and we must not falsely elevate mystic enlightenment like conservative scholars do, falsely pushing enlightenment far out of reach by putting it on an exaggeratedly high pedestal, dogmatically asserting that no ordinary person can attain it.
The simplest theory of enlightenment is informed by Integral Theory: when you falsely conflate two distinct areas, a more complicated system ensues. The simplest system is one that incorporates *partial overlap between distinct domains*. In a block diagram, there must be both separate boxes, and arrows connecting them.
If there is only one box, or if there is no arrow, that is like saying that enlightenment and daily life are the same thing or that they are totally unrelated -- and we end up with not with simplest viable system, but with no real "system" at all, just the current *lack* of a helpful, useful, specific theory of enlightenment that respects daily life on its own terms and respects the distinctiveness of mystic insight on its own terms and recognizes a significant but realistically limited potential effect of one on the other.
I highlight the abuse and bad motives pop Buddhists have for putting down the intense mystic altered state and for putting down metaphysical enlightenment as a realm with its own distinctive worth. Pop Buddhism has become a mundane, untransformative, moralistic, convention-driven system of overinflating what is actually unremarkable, social-driven, emotion-driven, superficially "spirituality"-styled lifestyle religion.
There is a huge difference between low, run-of-the-mill, superficial lifestyle religion, and genuine, high, transformative, remarkable, distinctive, intense mystic Satori, revelation, insight. There is a huge difference between high religion and low religion. Today's Buddhism is mostly uninformed by high religion; it falsely relabels as high religion what is really just low religion.
This false inflation of run-of-the-mill, non-mystical religion is directly a result of lacking the classic entheogenic insights and the entheogenic intense altered state. Why is it important for a theory of religious revelation to take a firm stand against today's equation of daily life and enlightenment? Because such equation ends up denying the existence of and the importance of genuine, intense, authentic and truly religious experiencing and insight.
It ends up relabelling ignorance as enlightenment, and freely invents a mundane moralistic lifestyle-oriented and uninspired religion, shutting out the existence and value of a truly transcendent or truly transformative religion. Such a conflationary position as is now based on diminishing and disparaging mystic experiencing itself, results in the loss of transformative religion, replaced by mere superficially "spirituality"-styled self-help.
Genuine religion and real mystic experiencing can have some positive effect on daily life, but there is a distinction between the two realms, and real mystic experiencing carries its own value apart from daily life, a value that is lost if the only thing one cares about is the enhancement of ongoing, nonmystical daily life.
The question at hand, to take positions on, is: does or does not mystic experiencing provide something of value on its own terms, even apart from the potential of enhancing not-explicitly-mystical ongoing daily life? I maintain that the simplest viable theory of enlightenment axiomatically assumes metaphysical enlightenment is a largely distinct value-realm from even the most enhanced type of ongoing, non-mystical daily life.
The alternative position, maintained by pop Buddhism today, ends up falsely putting down the mystic altered state and making it subservient to ongoing daily life. There are several motives for today's Buddhism putting down the mystic state: a main motive is ignorance, alienation, jealously, and social convention. Today's Buddhism knows full well that it fails to deliver on the promises which it has borrowed and finally stolen from the mystic state.
This lifestyle-Buddhism cannot deliver on the promised goods, promises that are co-opted from the entheogenic intense mystic altered state. Such Buddhism is forced to resort to coming up with excuses for its failure; forced to redefine the terms, forced to put down mysticism altogether and falsely elevate ordinary daily life, falsely relabelling ordinary self-help and ethics as nonordinary and enlightened.
Ultimately, enlightenment is lost, because not secured and informed by actual mystic enlightenment. Actual enlightenment is based on mystic experiencing, and when one so puts down mystic experiencing by subverting its worth relative to daily life, one can only lose enlightenment together with losing the altered state that is the source of enlightenment and must be respected as such or else will be essentially lost entirely, as has been done.
Enlightenment is largely suppressed and present today in popular Buddhism only as a shadow, just as in Christianity, because of the denial of the high value of the intense mystic altered state and its distinctive insights and experiences.
Lowering the mystic state to make it subservient to ongoing daily life is really just an excuse for getting rid of mystic insight entirely and falsely elevating ordinary life as enlightened: it is an attempt of the ordinary realm to steal the product of the mystic state and claim it as its own product. It is crucial that we attribute correctly the source of enlightenment to the mystic altered state, and differentiate between the realms of mysticism and daily life.
If we don't, we end up with today's situation, in which daily life tries ineffectively to steal the goods from the mystic state and jealously do away with the real source of enlightenment. Today's Buddhism smells like a lie, a false elevation of the ordinary into something it is not and cannot be. Enlightenment is not daily life.
Enlightenment is limited in its ability to enhance daily life, because they are distinct realms and must be considered as only partly overlapping, or else we will lose enlightenment just as today's entheogen-disparaging and mystic-state-disparaging meditationism has lost enlightenment and cannot be the source of enlightenment in any strong, genuine, effective sense.
This subject is important because the inflation of daily life and enlightenment is a key basis for today's standard anti-entheogen meditation position. What is more important now is to systematically list the arguments of anti-entheogen meditationists and refute them systematically, from a position that real Buddhism is entheogenic Buddhism and real religion is entheogenic religion, and that meditation is a minor adjunct to entheogens, rather than the reverse.
Today's meditation establishment asserts that entheogens are only about 10% as effective as meditation, at accomplishing the real goal of meditation and religion, which is the elevation and enhancement of not-explicitly-mystical ongoing daily life.
Against that firm majority position, I advocate the firm minority position that the real measure of mystic technique is entheogens, not meditation, and that meditation is less than *1%* as effective as entheogens, at accomplishing the real goal of religion, which is metaphysical enlightenment and a more enduring, stable, robust mental worldmodel, one that remains standing when the chips are down during the storm of the intense mystic altered state without which there is nothing worthy of being called "religion", but merely over-glorified ethics and superficially "spirituality"-styled self-help -- not enlightenment or ego transcendence.
I do everyone a favor by holding a particular, definite, definable, specifiable, specific, exclusive position on various points. The challenge that one must not shrink from is that challenge of formulating a simple model that accounts for the variety in the world while also identifying certain "constant dynamics".
The alternative to defining a particular and specific theory of enlightenment, is just what dominates today: a vague and unhelpful haze that politely affirms anything at all, and rejects any system of evaluating whether to accept or reject ideas; the only thing such a vague and infinitely malleable system can do is affirm people as they already are and affirm every idea, while only rejecting the proposal that some ideas are more valid and useful than others.
Unstructured non-theories of religion that don't dare put forward any specific principles of evaluation offend no one in particular, and neither do they contribute or accomplish anything; they are as unaccountable as they are ineffective. For every definite assertion a theorist makes, 3/4 of the audience goes away -- that's normal. Paradigm shifts are based on being willing to scare away everyone, and then attract a later generation. One even must be fully willing to alienate those who currently agree with the model so far.
Model construction requires a full commitment to the principle of "only for those who have ears to hear, even if no one", not a commitment to maximizing one's audience by the "systematic haze" and strategic vagueness that are the hallmark of today's non-theories of enlightenment.
Ken Wilber has done much to break ground here and lay the way for defining *specific* models of enlightenment that are measurable, definite, and constructively debatable -- rather than the alternative, dominant approach of scented fog, anti-systematic *and* anti-mystic-state superficial pretend-spirituality, make-it-up-as-you-go spirituality, that fills the Buddhism magazines on the newsstand shelves.
Such spirituality would collapse like a house of cards under the stresses and strains of actual mystic experiencing. It is to a large extent, perishable spirituality, uninformed by the broader data-set provided by the intense mystic altered state. In this sense, it is a half-baked spirituality, that is useful for daily life, but that is liable to fail when put to the test of the mystic state. What use is a system of spirituality that cannot serve one well during the storm of the *non*-ordinary state of loose cognition?
Expand the model of "low vs. high" religion, in terms of whether loose cognition is or has been present.
Low religion is that religion which is uninformed by loose cognition, mystic experiencing, or the intense mystic altered state.
High religion is that religion which is informed by intense mystic experiencing, the nonordinary mystic altered state.
It's a hallmark of low religion to falsely claim to be informed by mystic experiencing, while denying the very existence of or importance of actual, intense, emphatically non-ordinary mystic-state experiencing. Low religion inherently is inclined to steal the claims of high religion for itself, in cargo-cult or monkey-copy or parrot fashion.
It is this lie, this pretense, this falsity, that surely characterizes and gives away today's bunk Buddhism, which really takes the ordinary and falsely elevates and glorifies it as something it's not, the supra-ordinary. Such Buddhism denies and puts down the mystic state, while claiming that all the good and all the insight of the mystic state is present in the ordinary state, when really, the ordinary state has lost any grip it may have had on the results and benefits of the mystic state.
The same thing is easy to see in Christianity around the debate over whether there is a second, higher baptism, or whether the placebo baptism that obviously does nothing is to be considered "the baptism of the Holy Spirit". All sorts of excuses are made for the manifest *lack* of the Holy Spirit, and in the end, one is forced to *redefine* the Holy Spirit in some low way, and redefine the ordinary as the transcendent, and redefine the barely religious as fully religious.
Enlightenment is only weakly and derivatively present in entheogen-disparaging meditation or mystic-state-disparaging meditation. Such ordinary-state meditation is false advertising, offering a weak and inferior product and claiming it to be the real thing and the genuine article, the best that can be produced.
This is just like taking a guitar amp simulator -- the Line 6 POD -- and claiming that it produces a more authentic sound than an actual cranked tube amp: a claim that is false, dishonest, and the opposite of the truth. The intense (and entheogenic) mystic altered state is the source of enlightenment, and being the source, carries its own value, distinct from daily life which it might or might not happen to enhance, and to which it cannot legitimately be considered subservient.
People ask "What use is enlightenment to daily life?", but a more legitimate and justified question may be "What use is daily life to enlightenment and the mystic state?" The mystic realm and daily life are two distinct realms of value that are only partially overlapping -- this is hardly the world's most extreme or controversial assertion; it's actually a moderate, reasonable, and a robust, specific, defensible position.
Do people want an example of a position that is extremist and hard to defend in light of the full range of human experiencing? "The mystic realm is completely without value in itself. Its value is less than that of the realm of daily living, and the only value the mystic realm has is the degree to which it can elevate not-explicitly-mystical day-to-day life."
I'm glad *I'm* not burdened with defending that shaky, extreme, indefensible position, which is the position that results from Buddhism that is alienated from the bona fide knock-your-socks-off full-on mystic altered state. If someone is stepping up to the plate to defend that position, if I bother to even take notice with such an over-the-top, extreme, and untenable position, I can only wish them luck in keeping such an unseaworthy position afloat for more than five minutes in the storm of disciplined debate.
It is so much simpler and robust and defensible of a position, that the mystic and daily realms are just partially overlapping realms of value and relevance. All the profitable debate, with a longer-term future, concerns the exact extent of the partial overlap -- not the fact of partial overlap.
The price of making progress toward a simple viable model of enlightenment and changing the paradigm of what religion ultimately is about is that one must drive off pretty much all of one's audience, by virtue of providing an alternative to today's reigning, entrenched assumptions.
There may be an incidental few who are amenable to the position defined by the proposed new systematic model. Ken Wilber has gained a large audience by declaring bankrupt and worthless some 90% of today's spirituality.
That is really a pretty undeniable assertion, as surely as pointing out that today's Buddhism spectacularly fails to deliver on its promises and only succeeds to the extent that it redefines its purpose as being nothing more than what really amounts to just ordinary self-help and a specifically spiritual lifestyle.
If *that* is all that Buddhism is -- the enhancement and elevation of day-to-day life as asserted by the entheogen-diminishing, mystic-state-disparaging American pop Buddhists -- then Buddhism is no more than low religion and has abandoned and denied its source, high religion, which is entheogenic and mystic-state religion and stands distinct from day-to-day life.
In no way does my taking a specific position, that there is partial overlap of mystic and daily realms, imply that enlightenment can only have one particular effect on daily living. Enlightenment can have a variety of effects on daily life. The only question is the extent of these effects and the degree of overlap or identity of the mystic and daily realms.
Denying some degree of independence of the mystic realm results inevitably in losing the mystic realm, distorting it right out of existence by collapsing it into the false form of practical superficial spirituality-styled self-help. A mysticism that has no existence apart from daily life is a stunted, shrunken, and ultimately lost mysticism.
Today's popular Buddhism puts down entheogens, which has resulted necessarily in putting down the mystic state itself, and thereby, today's Buddhism is a religion that has lost a grip on its mysticism, even if it retains doctrines of no-self.
Official Christianity retains doctrines such as that conventional baptism is that of the Holy spirit, but abstract doctrine is a far cry from the full experience which is the actual source and fountainhead of that doctrine and rightfully deserves to be credited and acknowledged as such.
Today's purely practical Buddhist enlightenment is only a minor, derivative, fractional enlightenment, alienated from mystic comprehension nearly as much as it is alienated from mystic experiencing, just as official conceptual Christian theology is but a weak, pale shadow of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We cannot rightly point to the feeble shadow of mysticism and assert that it is the genuine product.
Cheap, fake, plastic flowers are not the original, valuable, real thing, even if they do give the impression of flowers. Derivative, cardboard Buddhism, the kind that is based on making the intense mystic altered state subservient to the utilitarian enhancing of day-to-day life, is no more than a shadow of that authentic, high Buddhism which can hold up under the pressure of the full range of experiencing as encountered in the mystic state.
Lifestyle Buddhism is just derivative, secondary, knock-off religion, and it disparages entheogens and the mystic state out of envy and jealousy, because it secretly knows that it is a thief and delivers only an ersatz product, a product that holds up only as long as no serious and ultimate demands are made of it.
If we accept the claim of the entheogen-disparaging meditationists that the value of mysticism is only a function of its enhancement of day-to-day living, then we necessarily lose the mystical realm overall, and in practice, end up with essentially false, fake religion that claims to be full, complete, and significant. We lose a direct familiarity with the very state of experiencing and insight that is the source of those very ideas and insights which we claim to be effectively utilizing to enhance day-to-day life.
The sure outcome of this position is that not only will direct familiarity with the source of mystic insight be lost, and falsely disparaged, but any significant ability that full and actual mysticism may in fact have for enhancing daily life will also be lost. We end up with what we have: broken traces and distorted fragments of enlightenment that were inherited from a now alienated and lost mystic realm.
Enlightenment without the mystic altered state and without even the respect for the mystic altered state, does not deserve to be considered enlightenment.
Enlightenment can be simply and easily rationally systematized and communicated, but the full, classic, and definitive system of enlightenment includes competent familiarity with the intense mystic altered state as well, and there is no real good reason not to have this intense mystic altered state just as easily as we can teach the systematic principles of metaphysical enlightenment.
Straightforward, ergonomic, classic and time-tested reliable methods are available in visionary plants. If we try to retain the systematic understanding of metaphysical enlightenment while quitting, disowning, and disparaging the mystic state, like today's anti-entheogen meditationists, it's doubtful that we'll retain the understanding significantly, and we'll lose the bulk of the value that the mystic realm has to contribute, just as the transcendent realm has been lost in official Christianity.
Buddhism without the use of or intrinsic respect for the intense mystic altered state, is by definition "low religion", which inherently falsely claims to be the only and most real religion. Such Buddhism thus effectively denies the existence of real religion, which is high religion, which is mystic altered state religion. Such Buddhism is fit only for demons, and saints ought to refute it as the outrageous lie, falsehood, and anti-enlightenment anti-religion that it is: shadow claiming to be light.
>>I have lost interest in mind expansion. The greatest relief now comes with being able to stand up within the essence that requires no theory or postulation for support -- only breath, flesh and bones.
The ordinary state of consciousness and the intense mystic altered state of consciousness in some sense need a theory or postulation to support their fullness of experiencing. A systematic theory of anything contributes depth and fullness of experiencing to that subject matter. If the ordinary state of consciousness needs no theory or postulation, then neither does it need any poetry, commentary, investigation, text, or consideration.
If one finds relief, breath, flesh, and bones of greatest interest, and considers theory and postulation and systematic reflection only a detriment to such focus, then one should avoid all such thinking. If one wants more perspectives on consciousness, then one should intellectually investigate and construct theories.
What do people want and expect from life, from enlightenment, from existence? What are one's values? What gives satisfaction? Do theory construction and proposals for methods of remarkable experiences provide what one wants and expects? Do they give the greatest relief or pleasure? This depends on what one expects and how one construes pleasure; and such feelings of interest and relevance can vary.
What do we demand from Nirvana and from the common bottom-line givens of breath, flesh, and bones, and what can they provide? Most views are unbalanced; I advocate a balanced view on the ordinary state of consciousness, the experience of enlightenment, and the retained mental model of enlightenment.
Should we make an all-consuming religion and a universe of meaning and see the purpose of existence as being mind expansion -- or as being the ever-given incontrovertible realities of breath, flesh, and bones?
I propose making an all-consuming religion out of the *whole* of the psyche's potential, as opposed to reducing our purpose and cares to one fraction of the life of the psyche; my proposed conception of a well-rounded life-concern divides the life of the psyche into two main halves: the ordinary and the nonordinary states of consciousness, with the two shining light on each other.
Spiritual writings talk about reaching wholeness; I concur but conceive of wholeness as a matter of experiencing the worldview of the ordinary state of consciousness and the altered state, with the two perspectives illuminating each other. We should not reject climax and the nonordinary on the argument that they are not ever-present. We should put them in their rightful place and neither worship them nor reject them for failing to be a panacea and ongoing unbroken bliss.
The ordinary state of existence is important because it is present most of the time; the nonordinary state is important because it is relatively rare (a few hours a week, at most). Ultimately, the mind needs to be comfortable with daily life (illuminated and inflected by higher thinking and higher experiencing) and constant experiences of reality, and, the mind needs to be comfortable with the nonordinary realm of experiencing as well. Both have their place and they reach a symbiotic coherent relationship.
I am against putting enlightenment on a pedestal; that elevates it too much, demanding too much from it, demanding the wrong types of things from it, and makes it unavailable. By reducing the scope and expectations for enlightenment, it becomes attainable and realistic, and amenable to integration into a balanced psyche and mental worldmodel.
I aim to take enlightenment down off of its pedestal and make it easily available for everyone in compact, ergonomic form that is well suited for adding to one's busy life with practical needs, more convenient and effective than attending Church or many long days of meditation.
For those who are committed to focusing on the continuing given realities, this model of transcendent experiencing and transcendent insights and the conceived potential packaging of this model provide the most ergonomic, potent, and practical model, superior to other models in being more specific, more focused, and more experiential. The phony war on some drugs is a distinct issue, although even now there are some effective non-tabooed psychoactive sacraments.
I've determined what mystic enlightenment is essentially about, at its best. The question remains of what potential mystic enlightenment has for enhancing all of life, where "all of life" is not conceived of as a winner-takes-all war between the day-to-day given realities against the mystic altered state and its metaphysical insights, but rather, a coherent and integrated combination of both, just as life is not conceived of as a winner-takes-all war between sex adventures and the rest of life, but rather, an integrated marriage of both halves, leading to maturity -- not a rejection and denial of the importance of the higher or the lower, the ordinary or nonordinary, but rather, a coherent integration of them.
This does not require endlessly reading models of wholeness such as I have dedicated my decades to writing and studying; my goal is to provide writings that convey the most sound basics of mind expansion through reading a single introductory-level article; any reading beyond that hour is considered repetitive coverage of the same ground, to add details.
My model of mind expansion is so utterly simple, and so successful and explaining the history of mystic religion, myth, and philosophy, there is not much to be gained in basic knowledge after reading my introductory works or a handful of postings for an hour or two.
My job is to give you essentially the entire theory in a single page, an entire model of the classic mind expansion arena, so that contacting my writings instantly gives you essentially all that I have of basic value -- with further reading being just a peripheral layer of details around the core model.
A project distinct from conveying efficiently a useful model of mind expansion, is the project of applying enlightenment to increasing personal management and personal control, for greater amounts of accomplishment in life and for greater pleasure and less cognitive dissonance in life.
Many people want self-help, for increase of their power of personal management, rather than wanting mind expansion. Many who stumble across mind expansion were only looking for an increase in their power of personal management.
Metaphysical enlightenment versus improving/elevating daily life; transcendent good versus mundane good
The magazine What Is Enlightenment is only barely worth reading, but the new issue "Can God Handle the 21st Century?" has quite a few passages discussing the main topic of debate in this discussion group recently: is enlightenment an area that is essentially distinct from improving daily life?
I think the current issue of Tricycle, a Buddhism magazine, has an interview with Karen Armstrong, that has what is by now a standard insistence -- one could say a flimsy dogma -- that enlightenment without compassion is entirely worthless. In this WIE issue, Ken Wilber basically refutes that assertion, and I applaud his defending a (penetrable) wall around enlightenment. Wilber seems to persuade Cohen not to make the mistake of Armstrong.
By the end of the issue, page 168, Cohen is repeating Wilber's warning that elevating good works over enlightenment risks losing enlightenment:
>>our enlightenment may be stunted by the very broadness of our view [save the planet, be compassionate to other people, elevate daily life, etc.] It may be that our perspective has become so inclusive that we have unknowingly negated the awesome, transformative power of the very thing that we were so attracted to in the first place -- enlightenment itself. Why? Because the always overwhelming and infinitely challenging truth of enlightenment is the mind-shattering and ego-destroying recognition that the many [interpersonal relations, political reformation, ecological activism, etc.] must be replaced by the ONE. So we are in a difficult predicament. How do we retain the broadness of our view [such as ecological activism and social reform] without sacrificing the radical simplicity of the enlightened mind? How do we transcend the ego [metaphysical enlightenment] while simultaneously and wholeheartedly embracing the complexity of our unsettled world [for example, ecological activism]?
>>We may have to let go in a deeper way ... to continue to move forward, our attachment to the broadness of our hard-won perspective [that includes social reform and ecological activism as the "point" of spirituality] may need to be given up. ... we have to be willing to go beyond ... the very knowing mind and inclusive worldview that has become our cherished "new paradigm." ... be able to see the many through the eyes of the One. It was this irreducible mind-transcending vision that was unknowingly sacrificed when our broad perspective [social reform, lovingkindness, elevation of daily life, environmental consciousness...] became more important to us than the height of our spiritual attainment. We began to see the One through the eyes of the many, without even knowing it.
Page 84-88 -- Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen discuss the tendency to sacrifice transcendent enlightenment in the pursuit of applied spirituality. It starts with the question of what "an integral spirituality" would be like.
Wilber lists various definitions or conceptions of spirituality, warning about partial definitions. "Spirituality, integral spirituality, certainly has to include a profound realization of the unborn, the unmanifest, the timeless, the spaceless, combined with a reverence for the world of form -- all of it, ecological, personal, global, and so on. My experience is that people tend to err on one side or the other. Either they get into this transcendental purity that doesn't care about the earth and Gaia, or they merely identify with Gaia and the forget the unborn. What we want to try to do, of course, is include both.
Page 87, Cohen makes an eloquent assertion of the familiar idea that enlightenment is obliged to totally transform the world. "... we may also need to redefine what the meaning of enlightenment itself is for the time we're living in. We may need ... a more "relevant" definition. Traditionally, the emphasis has been on transcendence or the discovery of and abidance on the empty ground of being beyond the world and beyond time. ... I question whether this kind of orientation is really relevant or appropriate. ... I feel that the whole purpose of enlightenment or going beyond ego, in our own time is to enable us to finally be truly available to participate in the transformation of the manifest world from a position of higher consciousness or development. ... as long as there remains in the seeker of enlightenment any clinging to a posture of transcendence, ... one will still be divided. And that division will inhibit one's ability to act because one will still be holding on. [So we should] give the evolutionary [mundane applied spirituality] context more and more precedence in the way the path to enlightenment is presented.
[Note: Wilber has a more natural command of expression than Cohen.]
Wilber replies that both "worlds", "of form" and "of the formless", and then their union, are needed. He then refers to them as I do, as "domains".
"There is always a pitfall if one emphasizes only one of them. ... And you're describing beautifully the pitfall of continuing to get into merely the transcendental component, which, in fact, is the subtlest block to nondual realization."
Cohen eventually states "So the whole point is to be able to embrace manifestation [improving the mundane world] with an ever-widening reach while ever remaining rooted in the unborn, unmanifest ground [metaphysical enlightenment] that always is and always was.
Wilber replies "Yes, that's true. Because ... the other pitfall ... much more common in today's culture, is the mere immersion in the manifest realm [applied spirituality of improving daily life], the merely pagan [non-spiritual, non-transcendent] orientation. The pitfall there, of course, is that you have no transcendence. You have no freedom from the finite realm. ... And then that's celebrated as if it's integral spirituality! And all of the transcendental impulses are condemned. But unfortunately, you can't really embrace Gaia until you transcend Gaia. Otherwise, you have a mere addiction to the finite realm. You're not embracing it with love; you're embracing it with basically the same addiction you would ... any sort of sensory indulgence. ... as a spiritual teacher ... the pitfall you [Cohen] would run into most often is people still clinging to that transcendental escapism. ... but .... in the world at large, most people are addicted to the manifest finite domain."
My solution is to package metaphysical enlightenment as a neutral pluggable module that is separate from any comprehensive lifestyle system of applied spirituality. I push away ethics and improvement of the world, and then welcome it back to shake its hand and make it a potential ally that is essentially separate.
If core or theoretical metaphysical enlightenment is a separate, distinct domain from the domain of ethics or "spiritual lovingkindness" or what-have-you, and the two domains can contribute to each other where they overlap, I emphasize the *distinctness* and resist emphasizing the overlap. Metaphysical enlightenment must be protected from becoming absorbed by and distorted into daily applied spirituality.
This view fits with Alan Watts, and conflicts with popular spirituality.
In Way of Zen, Watts talks of Confucianism similar to the way I keep daily applied spirituality at bay -- when daily applied spirituality is completely fused with metaphysical enlightenment and one treats metaphysical enlightenment as a mere means to the goal of daily applied spirituality, the resulting form of spirituality is fake, complicated, arbitrary, and misrepresents mundane ethics as a lofty religion, ending up with distorted, fake, smug ethics -- I sincerely characterize it as a self-righteous ethics -- and ending up with a stunted and retarded version of metaphysical enlightenment.
In Christian theology, transcendent knowledge is treated as the main goal, and mundane ethics is treated as a mere secondary echo. In popular Western Buddhism, mundane ethics is treated as the main goal, with transcendent knowledge as a mere utilitarian means to that end. My solution is to get rid of mundane ethics and put it in its place by tearing it apart from metaphysical enlightenment and separately elevating both domains, on separate terms.
Then, *as* separate domains, they have some *limited* influence on each other. Only by separating metaphysical enlightenment from the improvement of daily life can we effectively and honestly maximize both domains -- this distinction and interrelation, differentiating and integrating, has the most potential, and is the most modular approach.
Five groups might have different views on what the improvement of daily life ought to be like, and I am committed to making the same modular technology of metaphysical enlightenment theory available to be pluggable into any lifestyle system or comprehensive system of conduct. I used to be working mainly on a system of conduct, a personal operating system -- gradually I separated out my particular life goals (applied transcendent knowledge) from the core theory (metaphysical enlightenment).
Others can plug my core theory into their own preferred system of conduct or applied spirituality. I refuse to marry any particular system of applied spirituality; thus I keep the core theory available for integration into multiple different systems. There is no single conception of daily applied spirituality that is inherent in the core model of transcendent knowledge I've pulled together, except perhaps a Zen-like minimalist, natural, straightforward system of conduct, as opposed to stinking of spirituality.
I'm very no-nonsense and to-the-point, basically, not introducing fake nonsense. We should not mistake decent, kind treatment of others for the peak of metaphysical insight. Does possessing the core transcendent knowledge cause one to be compassionate in daily life and applied spirituality? What style of daily applied spirituality is implied by this core transcendent knowledge?
The short answer is none -- core transcendent knowledge is essentially a separate realm that can be applied to various systems of daily applied spirituality, but only negatively implies any particular system. When you have the core transcendent knowledge, you would not seriously think of other people as freewill moral agents, for example.
How *would* you treat them? As virtual freewill moral agents -- and that applies very little about the details of your manifest conduct and actions. I preserve existential and virtual moral freedom for everyone by rejecting the attempt to fuse transcendent knowledge with some particular ethical system or specific system or style of daily interpersonal conduct. How does the enlightened person act? Any way the person damn well pleases.
How does that person think of other people? Any way, except for taking them seriously as literal egoic agents. The transcendent mind treats other people as virtual egoic agents -- what does that mean in particular? Nothing much. If you say it means always smiling, then you fall straight to the depths of delusion. Enlightenment is gnosis, not conduct in any usual sense. It's a switch from one operating system to a revised, more stable and comprehensive operating system.
What program styles run on the new operating system? Any program styles, except for the style of taking the egoic convention for an absolute reality. In the end, conduct is nearly useless in determining who is metaphysically enlightened. I'm determined to keep enlightenment defined as compactly as possible, so that any broad system of daily conduct that incorporates it includes a strong distinction between the core and the applied periphery.
That's one way of putting it: I draw a clear boundary between core enlightenment and the peripheral layers. Many say core enlightenment has no worth on its own, and only has a derivative worth; enlightenment's worth is to be measured only by the resulting worth in the degree of improvement of daily life it brings. In contrast, I have a certain respect for the lowlifes that enter the kingdom of god: they may be bad people in daily life, but they are in the kingdom of god.
This idea is deeply offensive to people who want to make enlightenment subservient to improving daily life. The best solution is to assert that a very bad person can very well be enlightened, and uphold two distinct value spheres: it is good to be enlightened, and it is *separately* good to improve daily life. This is similar to the law of loving God and neighbor: loving metaphysical enlightenment and improving the daily world, both, distinctly.
It is possible to do one without doing the other, but morally we ought to do both. A good religious leader must bring both but separately: transcendent knowledge, and mundane morality. No matter how elevated daily life is, it must not be conflated with enlightenment proper. To do so is to stunt and fail to obtain enlightenment. Now, I can theorize well about one half, which is certain and clear: metaphysical enlightenment; that's a report of how things are.
The other half is a different kind of area: ethics; how things ought to be; how one ought to act. Is and ought are two separate domains and ought to be packaged and put forth as distinct modular domains. A system of enlightenment, narrowly speaking, shouldn't be also a system of conduct -- modular separation of a system of enlightenment from systems of conduct enables freedom to existentially choose your own system of conduct, but what cannot be chosen is the system of enlightenment.
A comprehensive system of spirituality includes *the* transcendent knowledge module together with *a* system of conduct or ethics. The moment we falsely assert that transcendent knowledge can only be paired with one system of ethics, we prove we lack transcendent knowledge. Transcendent knowledge is absolutely not a particular system of ethics. Possessing the system of transcendent knowledge is valuable on its own, distinct from the value of any particular system of ethics.
The most transcendent good is possession of the system of transcendent knowledge -- "loving God". Improving daily life is not the most transcendent good, but is only immanent good. If one claims to absorb the transcendent good into the immanent good, saying that transcendent knowledge has no value if it doesn't cause immanent good (improvement of daily life), one proves one's lack of the transcendent good.
I advocate possessing the transcendent good (possessing transcendent knowledge), and separately, striving for immanent good. Yes, it is possible to apply transcendent knowledge to improving daily life, but it's evil and delusion to measure transcendent knowledge strictly in terms of its contribution to improving daily life. That would be evil because the attempt to do so can only appear to succeed when transcendent knowledge is absent.
Transcendent knowledge is only possible if transcendent knowledge is protected as a distinct realm of value from any particular system of conduct and improvement of daily life. The heart of transcendent knowledge is "is", not "ought". The only "ought" recognized within the core of transcendent knowledge is "you *ought* to gain metaphysical enlightenment and stop assuming you are a freewill sovereign moral agent and prime mover".
That is the sacred "ought", the set-apart "ought". The other "oughts" must be kept separately amassed as the mere ordinary "oughts" -- you ought to improve daily life. Another possible sacred "ought" is "you ought to spread metaphysical enlightenment". Part of spreading metaphysical enlightenment is defending transcendent knowledge as a separate, sacred value realm, different in kind than mundane ethics.
There are two wholly different types of evil, or axes of good-to-evil: the transcendent axis of good-to-evil is that it is good to be metaphysically enlightened, and it is evil to be deluded and believe in egoic agency as a literal reality. The mundane (like the egoic) axis of good-to-evil is that it is good to have good moral conduct, and evil to have bad moral conduct.
The godman plans an entheogenic banquet, and invites those who are unenlightened but who strive to be morally good. They find that the godman's kingdom is centered on enlightenment rather than good mundane moral conduct, so they don't come to the banquet. Instead, the people of random mundane moral goodness are invited in, and accept the invitation, finding that the kingdom is about metaphysical enlightenment rather than the improvement of daily life.
This allegory reflects the essential standoff and distinction between transcendent good (metaphysical enlightenment about the illusory nature of moral agency) and mundane good (systems of ethical conduct for daily life). If you say that transcendent good is only good insofar as it increases mundane good, you have had to decapitate and wreck transcendent good in order to attempt in vain to force it into the mold of mundane good.
There is a huge distinction between the value-realm of metaphysical enlightenment, and the value-realm of mundane good. They can no more than influence each other, and it's highly conjectural and speculative to suppose that possessing transcendent good (enlightenment) necessarily tends to increase one's mundane good. It is *possible* to apply metaphysical enlightenment to improving daily life, but it is impossible to measure a person's metaphysical enlightenment by their conduct of daily life.
Mundane systems of ethics are speculative and conjectural; the ideal style of conduct is fully debatable and highly culture-relative. What is not speculative, conjectural, and debatable is the core transcendent knowledge. The two realms are highly distinct, even if highly cross-applicable.
To deny they are highly distinct is to distort and reduce the transcendent realm, losing the core of enlightenment, retaining merely "human", preconceived, "man-made" mundane ethical systems not matter how elegant and superficially spirituality-styled. Eight coats of spirituality paint cannot compensate for the absence of core enlightenment that must result from trying to say that enlightenment necessarily is paired with some particular system of mundane ethics and improving daily life.
Enlightenment must be protected from ethics, in order to make it available for multiple systems of ethics, and to protect its own transcendent sphere of value, a sphere of value that cannot legitimately bow and be subservient to any other.
Neither would I falsely distort and diminish the glorious realm of daily mundane ethics by saying, like an inverse of Karen Armstrong, that "without metaphysical enlightenment, daily ethics and improvement of daily life has no value whatsoever... the only possible worth of daily life is to lead to and support metaphysical enlightenment". They must be kept as distinct value realms, or you lose one of them through a kind of reductionist distortion (per Wilber) when falsely absorbed into the other realm.
My core theory of enlightenment is designed as a compact pluggable technology, useful for various fully comprehensive systems of conduct and systems of spirituality or ethics -- useful for all, and servant to none.
Enlightenment is not a style of conduct, and per Watts, the enlightened man may very well ride off with the farmer's ox; enlightenment exists in the sphere of transcendent ethics (one ought to be coherent in one's self-concept as a control-agent, and is subject to eventual mystic death/crash if not yet so coherent) and does not reside (is not rooted or grounded primarily) in the sphere of mundane ethics, applied spirituality, or improvement of daily life.
The purpose of enlightenment is not daily ethics, and the purpose of daily life is not enlightenment; they are mainly their own purpose. A full life includes metaphysical enlightenment as a value in itself, and daily ethics as a value in itself, and the two can shine light on each other, but remain distinct and not answerable to the other. The worth of one cannot legitimately be reduced to the worth of the other.
Against a complicated comprehensive system that strives to mix the two, I'm focused on providing the most compact and simple model of metaphysical enlightenment possible. As a very minor separate goal, I only suggest a very simple minimalist system of ethics.
Some items that come to mind: help each other become metaphysically enlightened, legalize psychoactives, release the prisoners, stop the fake prohibition-for-profit, stop dumping poison on psychoactive crops, be decent to other people, be real, don't make conduct artificially spiritual, and don't confuse shallow spiritual style of mannerisms and feelings with metaphysical enlightenment.
Someone could adopt a different system of mundane, immanent, daily ethics, and yet remain enlightened (with full basic enlightenment), if they possess the core transcendent knowledge. This view protects the core for everyone, by keeping it bounded and distinct from any particular system of conduct. How does the enlightened person behave? Any way they want. How can you tell if someone is enlightened based on their daily life?
In principle, you can't, in general. To say we could tell would be to handcuff the Buddha and tell him what he can and cannot do, denying his existential practical freedom.
>...a Taoist butcher should be as cognitively dissonant as a Nazi mystic. And yet, Joscelyn Godwin, in Arktos, raised the possibility of "Nazi Spirituality," as sort of over-development of the sterotypical Gnostic or Manichean world hatred,
Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival
Julius Evola (what book?)
Miguel Serrano -- Adolph Hitler, the Last Avatar
No such book.
Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity
The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology: The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany, 1890-1935
>or "spirituality of the heights," to account for such figures as Julius Evola, or Miguel Serrano (author of "Adolph Hitler, the Last Avatar") to say nothing of Himmler's SS grail knights and Rudolph Hess's crystals and ley lines. [Take a look at Goodrick- Clarke's book; the "esoteric library series" that German publishers were putting out in the 1910s could put out by Shambhala or Inner Traditions today]
>This is also what would be predicted if "core transcendent knowledge is essentially a separate realm" from ethics ...
I don't call it a "separate realm", but rather a "distinct realm". In either case, I emphasize that transcendent knowledge may shine light on mundane ethics and the two realms may be said to "overlap", but they remain distinct and are not one and the same realm. The realm of enlightenment is not one and the same as the realm of mundane ethics -- that's one way, a favorable way, of putting my main point.
It is possible to have enlightenment without ethical conduct, and ethical conduct without enlightenment. This distinction and this tearing apart high religion from the clutches of low religion (ethics) is necessary to form a clear, stable, solidly founded model of enlightenment. The moment we jumble ethical conduct into that model, it contaminates the higher like trying to mix confusion with clarity.
The realm of mundane ethics is, in a way, the realm of confusion and unenlightenment. Mystery religions put the emphasis on metaphysical enlightenment rather than mundane ethics. Then Christianity ended up putting more emphasis on mundane ethics -- losing metaphysical enlightenment. It's ok with me to talk of a balanced system of spirituality, balancing mundane ethics and metaphysical enlightenment, because that implies differentiation between the two realms.
A related topic is the problem of evil. There's a big stink in the magazine What Is Enlightenment?: much of the readership is shocked and horrified at Ramesh Balsekar's "enligthenment is realization of no-free-will" Advaita Vedanta -- yes, it is *still* echoing, several issues later -- in fact I'd say it is much of what lies behind the current discussion between Wilber and Cohen about "fix-the-world" spirituality vs. metaphysical enlightenment.
Wilber in some ways must be as shocking to those readers as Balsekar -- but Wilber strives to promote all realms together, though distinctly. Balsekar is accused of *only* advocating metaphysical enlightenment, without also advocating a "fix-the-world" mentality -- perhaps a true reflection of his words that were printed in the magazine. Like Wilber, I advocate a "fix-the-world" mentality but that proceeds from me as an advocate of moral action, not as a theorist of metaphysical enlightenment.
*Many* things share this property of being able to be used by the bad guys. The bomb, metaphysical enlightenment, and LSD are all neutral technologies that themselves are distinct from ethics of conduct. The good guys don't "own" metaphysical enlightenment; it is a free agent and answers to no one.
Enlightenment is about moral agency, but involves a leap away from the conventional axis of good-evil to the axis of enlightened-unenlightened, which is then metaphorically called "good-evil" but of course the latter usage is ironic. An important meaning of Eden is that "the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened and they knew good and evil" means that they saw through the illusion of freewill moral agency.
What if we could bring enlightenment within easy reach of all humanity, but the moralists (or conventional moral thinking) hate certain aspects of it? I'd say if you want moralism, then promote moralism, but don't confuse it with enlightenment, which transcends moralism. Enlightenment is centrally *about* moralism, but doesn't make one's conduct morally good. This is an old tension between lower, moralistic religion and higher, transcendent religion.
Evil people may very well be metaphysically enlightened, and it is sheer wishful thinking or arbitrary definition to hold that being enlightened must necessary entail good conduct in the mundane realm.
Low religion objects to high religion and wants to jumble conventional ethics/morality -- the kind we teach children -- with the high things, but there is good reason to keep them theoretically distinct, though doing so is immensely painful to conventional moral sensibilities, which want to attach themselves to metaphysical enlightenment. High religion profoundly transcends conventional moral sensibilities; that's one message of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac.
It's frustrating to conventional morality, but enlightenment elusively remains a distinct realm -- similarly, it is frustrating to literalist Christians that esoteric religion isn't owned by Christianity. You can be the most moral person and be almost completely unenlightened, taking freewill moral agency as literally real. And there's technically no reason why a conventionally morally evil person can't be metaphysically enlightened.
Many people will choose to remain in hell, outside the kingdom of heaven such as I and others define it, when they find that entering heaven means not taking freewill moral agency as literally real. I fully advocate being nice to people, but I fully reject identifying any such system of conduct with the core of enlightenment. Sure, I suppose that being metaphysically enlightened might positively influence behavior, but that's speculation, usually mixed with wishful thinking.
Being metaphysically good (enlightened, high good) *ought* to include being mundanely good (low good, religion as ethics), we think, but that is our wish and opinion and assumption, without a very solid, clear connection.
How exactly does having metaphysical enlightenment necessarily imply being mundanely good? We could speculate and conjecture, but it's a matter of attempting to convert 'is' into 'ought'. Forcing these two into a shotgun wedding risks distorting both, most likely losing enlightenment and falsely labelling worldly ethics as that which transcends worldly ethics.
>The Older Buddhism of Gautama, had the stated goal to achieve personal "extinction/nirvana," and thereby "remove suffering of all beings."
>Mahayana also states it's goal to be to "remove suffering," yet using Gautama as a metaphorical figurehead and central in the sutras they composed, it states that the use of "extinction/nirvana" was actually a "secret and skillful (expedient) means of the Buddha." Like wise the idea of the "Arhat" who was the person who was supposed to have achieved "enlightenment," by accomplishing the attainment of extinction, was just a expedient stage of attainment.
Extinction of the assumed-literal ego is pretty straightforwardly achievable with the right tools. This removes certain aspects of suffering from the individual mind, but doesn't remove all types of suffering from the individual or from the collective.
The inflated promise that enlightenment will remove all suffering from oneself or from the world is like the inflated promise that entering the kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven will lead to literal peace and harmony forever everywhere. The latter promise was partly made as a counter to the praises of Ruler Cult, which hoped for "peace" (of a sort) throughout the Roman Empire thanks to the emperor.
>...these 3 Vehicles are used expediently, but then refuted in High Buddhism and the "Great White Oxen Cart" symbolizing Buddhahood, is explained to be distinct from the three vehicles, which are said to be "provisional teachings"
The promise of enlightenment as a permanent floating blissed-out state that forever makes all your whites whiter and brights brighter and is a panacea to solve all problems and remove all conflict and cognitive dissonance is an overinflated claim that distorts the actual scope, nature, and effect of metaphysical enlightenment.
Can metaphysical enlightenment be combined with a sustained programme of life enhancement? Yes, to some degree, but it is arbitrary to combine metaphysical enlightenment with life enhancement (self-improvement and world-improvement) to assemble a comprehensive system of spirituality.
A main motive of my developing these ideas is to undermine the supposed basis for claiming that meditation is ten times as relevant, legitimate, and effective as entheogens. It's axiomatic for me that entheogens are a hundred times more effective than meditation for achieving the properly *religious* goals that are based in the realm of high religion.
Low religion has its place: self- and world-improvement in the mundane sense, including a spiritual quality of life that requires only some limited degree of enlightenment or regeneration. After the mind is trained to take seriously the freewill moral-agency illusion, the initiate is ready to move past that phase and experience the transcendence of moral agency, having the moral agency delusion close at hand to fall back upon.
>The Three Vehicles represent, the life states of:
>o Intellectual learning meaning "Arhat," or "Voice Hearer"
>o The realm of Absorption and Self-Realization (skt. Pratyekabuddha)
>o The Bodhisattava life state of comapssion.
>These three vehicles are removed and replaced by the "Sole Vehicle," of Buddhahood/Enlightenment.
So in lower religion, the individual mind develops intellect, learning, self-realization, and ethics/compassion. Only then is the mind trained and equipped to move on to the potentially dangerous realm of transcendence of the egoic control system. Most development of compassion is done prior to metaphysical enlightenment. On the whole, overall, I place ethics/compassion in the realm of lower religion, preparatory training for higher religion.
Sure, after enlightenment, one's compassion may still be developed further, but the original basis and root of compassion remains primarily in lower religion. Ethics/compassion that is informed by enlightenment is just a special-case, not the bulk of ethics/compassion. The lack of enlightenment is never an acceptable excuse to lack ethics/compassion; ethics/compassion is fully binding on the unenlightened as well as the enlightened.
Can meditation enhance daily life far better than entheogens, such that meditation is more effective and relevant than entheogens for enhancing daily life? I can accept that, by demoting such meditation into the mundane level of life, or more neutrally, by placing such meditation within the sphere of daily life and refusing to place that kind of meditation within the sphere of classic religious enlightenment and transformation.
Using Wilber's terms, such meditation is basically *translative* and not *transformative*. We all ought to do such translation (non-transformative development and refinement); refining daily conduct and non-peak existence is great, but it isn't classic religious insight and experiencing. Here we arrive at a standoff regarding arbitrary values.
Sellout Buddhism is that which rejects the importance of metaphysical enlightenment together with peak states, and "blasphemes the holy spirit" by saying that mundane compassion is all-important and metaphysical enlightenment and the peak state are unimportant -- that direct, primary, intense, classic religious experiencing is much less important than improving the world.
The closest I can come to agreeing is that the realm of classic intense religious experiencing and the realm of improving the daily shared world are two distinct value realms -- ethics is good, and enlightenment is good, but they are not the same thing. Buddhism which overemphasizes improving the world more than peak experiencing and metaphysical enlightenment is a fallen Buddhism, mere ethics falsely posing as religion or transcendence.
There's some kind of transcendence in improving the world, but it's not classic, religious, sacred, peak-state set-apart transcendence.
Some meditation proponents too easily disparage all the latter in order to put down entheogens and inflate the worth of a kind of religion that lacks anything clearly religious but is just ethics and world-improvement put on a pedestal -- and this move is largely done as an excuse to cover for the fact that such mundane religion -- like the superficially decked-out but hollow, cargo-cult, placebo-based Eucharistic liturgy -- fails to deliver its original, classic, promise.
That kind of improve-the-world "religion" or "spirituality" tries to steal and claim all the great achievements of high mystic-experiencing religion, such as metaphysical enlightenment, without the ability to deliver the goods. At best, improve-the-world "religion" (or "quality-of-life spirituality") can mouth the doctrines of metaphysical enlightenment, but cannot efficiently and reliably deliver the intense mystic altered-state experience of loose cognition and nondual awareness, for typical minds, in practice.
With these perspectives, distinctions, and ideas in place, now we are in a strong position to refute the entheogen-diminishing meditation proponents such as in the book Zig Zag Zen. To do so is largely a matter of defining ultimate goals and ultimate values -- not just methods usable toward goals and values.
Those who say meditation is better than entheogens necessarily advocate a vision of spirituality that has a weak and highly debatable foundation, and the result is comparable to debased Christianity, in which sentimentality, supernaturalism, activism, and ethics of personal conduct are conjoined to replace and substitute for peak experiencing and profound transformation or actual deep spiritual regeneration.
A kind of insipid, evil sterling mediocrity has become a threat to deep religion, so that something claiming to be deeply transformative (like the official placebo Eucharist) trumpets and loudly advertises the promises it can't deliver on, promises stolen from their real source and realm -- peak primary religious experiencing.
The most evil thing in the world is the common Western Buddhist assertion, such as found in Zig Zag Zen, that meditation isn't valuable because of peak states and metaphysical enlightenment on their own terms, but is only valuable insofar as it enables improving the world and enhancing daily life.
That position is the height of evil, in practice, because it ends up presenting enhanced daily life as high religion, thereby acting as a substitute that shuts out actual transformation, actual classic religious experiencing.
Meditation barely works at all, for what is classically claimed for it, so meditation proponents use several strategies: claiming it *is* efficient, redefining the goal of religious experiencing, lowering (disparaging) the value of religious experiencing, and elevating the value of the non-religious realm of daily experiencing.
The origin and classic realm of religious experiencing is then lost, shut away, while people work their hardest to say that silver is really gold (or more neutrally, that red is really blue, or that one realm (applied religion) is really two full realms (primary religion and applied religion)) -- it's a con; we're told we're getting full religion, when such meditation really can only deliver half of a religion -- the half that is arguably the lower and less religious half.
We end up with denatured enlightenment, denatured religion, and we lose our rightful full inheritance. The diminishment of entheogens threatens the fullness of religion; entheogen-disparaging religion is a grossly reduced religion, a grossly reduced spirituality. The most enhanced and glittering daily life in the world, fully spiritually enhanced and decked-out like an ornate liturgy, with intense improve-the-world activism, still is only half spiritual, half a religion, stunted, retarded, woefully incomplete.
The current situation is that meditation doesn't typically provide the classic higher half of religion; it *doesn't* provide clear mystic insight or metaphysical enlightenment, and doesn't have the potential to, unlike entheogens -- and the current elevation of enhancing daily life is bogus, a cheap and flimsy excuse for the failure of meditation to deliver the classic promises.
Meditation claims but fails to provide religious experiencing, and then when entheogens point out this dismal failure, meditationists use rear-guard action to falsely elevate the lower into the higher and put forth a gleaming daily conduct system, claiming that system is classic religious enlightenment and is also better than classic religious enlightenment.
Zig Zag Zen and suchlike writings are evil, bogus, bunk, insincere, fake, substitute religion that's just about as bad as liberal Christianity -- a painted woman (no offense to sex workers). Popular Buddhism or meditationism is tricked-out lower religion that, in practice, blocks access to religion proper -- original, core, source religion that is the very thing that gave rise to meditation in the first place.
Meditationism is the lower and derivative claiming to be the higher and original, the glorified translative (Wilber) posing as the actual transformative. Woe to you moralists, who block the way for others, and refuse to enter heaven yourselves.
>the amount of pressure placed upon the 'innocent child', who does not divide life into enlightenment and non-enlightenment, mundane and mystic realm. Only the mind sees the separation.
An individual mind is enlightened or unenlightened. The distinction is real and significant. The mundane and mystic realms are distinct, even if they provide perspective or shine light on each other, or contribute to each other. These distinctions can be mentally grasped and understood. If there is no distinction, that would be a denial of the possibility of enlightenment. A mind can be enlightened; a concomitant assertion is that initially, each mind is not enlightened.
Before initiation, a mind is unenlightened and only knows the mundane realm -- including egoic preconceptions about ego transcendence or the egoic version of transcendent knowledge, and the deluded conception of non-delusion. In the simplest theory, the mind begins in a purely egoic mode, knowing nothing of religious metaphysical principles or the mystic state.
Then the mind undergoes a single initiation, including learning transcendent concepts and experiencing transcendent states and insights. ("Experiencing mystic insights.") Immediately after this initiation session, the mind is completely transformed, now using entirely and exclusively the transcendent mental worldmodel.
In a more realistic view, the mind begins with some spiritual knowledge, undergoes a choppy series of mystic-state sessions mixed with increasing conceptual knowledge, and a series of partial transformations, resulting in a mix of egoic and transcendent thinking. The mundane and mystic realms overlap, intertwine, and interpenetrate to some extent.
The mind has to abstract out much of the messy detail in order to say so simplistically "I was deluded, then I was transformed, now I am enlightened." You can zoom into different levels of detail -- a strategy of simplicity requires starting with just two; simple polarities are powerful abstractions: enlightenment vs. nonenlightenment, mundane vs. mystic, lower vs. higher. There are problems with simple polarities such as "lower, deluded religion vs. higher, enlightened religion", but the gains outweigh the cost.
I am addressing various points, and variations of points, raised in various magazines, books, and postings. I am not refuting or addressing a single person, a single posting, or a single position, but a nexus of attitudes, particularly centered around the common move of disparaging entheogens while advocating meditation. There are plenty of charades.
>>A story that holds up the mystical content, flavored with personifications, and other matter formed, which does not include the revolutions of life, the rising and passing of daily life, is a story of unacceptance or [lopsided and unbalanced] like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
>>Take the butterfly, who dons its caterpillar stature for wings: it does not become separate from nature, nature being everything. The sun does not barter with the moon to keep the tides in one place. It is in the change and exchange, which allows the breath of words to have life.
Because the pre-moderns had entheogens on tap, thus the intense mystic altered state on tap, they had no great need to set up a strong opposition between daily life and mystic experiencing. Complaints about my belittling of daily life just indicate lack of access to intense mystic experiencing on tap. When one *has* such access readily available, there is no great need to have a winner-takes-all battle between two distant alienated combatants, daily life way over here and the mystic state way over there.
The point for one who has the mystic state routinely on tap is to think of life as a whole, consisting of two levels (daily life, mystic state) and (equivalently) two phases (pre-initiate; initiated). Life is not complete and full until it includes the classic series of mystic-state initiations, in addition to the given default which is daily life. This is just the old debate of how one should relate to the non-mystic dimension of life. Should one consider it as elevated by the other, mystic state? Or should one consider the non-mystic dimension to be bad, low, degraded, loathesome, highly inferior?
When debating the potential of spirituality centered on daily life (ordinary state of consciousness rather than intense mystic altered state), we should emphasize that the mystic state is, in fact, readily available, routinely, on-tap, on-demand; despite all modern orthodoxy, the mystic state of consciousness is not at all rare or hard to trigger -- it's easy, it's readily available, as always, through visionary plants. So we must ask the real question which is:
*Given* that the intense mystic altered state is readily available on-tap to everyone without delay, ergonomically, what then is the point and potential of a kind of spirituality which is grounded in daily life and the ordinary state of consciousness (as opposed to the other state as readily available as dreaming: the intense mystic altered state)? Daily-life spirituality has some relation to the ready-to-hand full-on mystic state: what exactly is this relationship?
Today's spiritual Establishment attempts to pose these two versions of spirituality as irreconcilably opposed; only one of them can be legitimate.
If I accept such an opposition, I certainly advocate the intense mystic state as being the lone wellspring of religion/spirituality, and reject daily-life spirituality as being in any way legitimate as far as being a source and origin of religion/spirituality. Ordinary-state spirituality is entirely parasitical upon or derivative from the mystic state type of spirituality/religion.
If I accept that the two modes of spirituality work together, I can form a reasonable explanation of that scenario, that fitting-together; in the 1960 book On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, Gershom Scholem discusses the complex -- rather than simple -- relationship between mystic-state religion and ordinary-state religion.