James wrote the following posting:
----- start of James' posting ------
Subject: No-separate-self as key enlightenment experience for some (rather than no-free-will)
As has been discussed in recent posts, there are unenlightened people for whom the idea of no free will is entirely plausible, and who are very scientific-minded and skeptical of any religious, mystical, or "spiritual" beliefs or teachings.
A person who subscribed to a reductionist causal determinism philosophy or who believed in B. F. Skinner's behavioral theories, would likely still take it for granted that he existed as an individual separate self. Such a person may not be shocked when experiencing a different form of determinism (block universe rather than causal chain) in the mystic state. However, the experience of the individual's ego dying and "its" self-identity or consciousness being revealed as a reflection of a universal shared consciousness that encompasses, transcends, and actually creates everything that he previously thought of as the universe can be enormously powerful. Logically, if there is no separate self there can be no free will for what is now recognized as the illusory individual. But it's the no-separate-self insight that is primary in this scenario.
The newly enlightened person, agnostic or atheistic only hours earlier, now understands what those Hindus meant by Brahman and Atman. He knows not only that something exists that can be called "God", he knows what it is and that he is a part of it and it a part of him. If this person's suspicion of or belief in no-free-will gets revised a bit, but basically confirmed by the mystic experience, that's icing on the cake.
Interestingly, the peak experience that you describe in the "no-free-will-as-key-insight" scenario (a control-seizure crisis followed by breakthrough) can be experienced as an "identity crisis" followed by breakthrough in the "no-separate-self-as-key-insight" scenario. Rather than a "who's in charge" issue, it can present as a "who am I" issue. To where/what does one attribute one's identity-ownership of one's "self"? This is the question rather than to where/what does one attribute controllership of one's thoughts/actions. These are two sides of the same coin of course, but I believe some individuals (and religions) find more significance in the no separate self side than the no free will side.
I do not dispute that religions are fundamentally entheogenic, or even that the core of some of them including Christianity may be about no free will, but I do not agree that a shattering revelation of no free will during the intense mystic altered state is the only path to enlightenment or fountainhead of religion. A shattering revelation of no separate self can be as enlightening. Hopefully, everyone gets to the same place in the end (enlightenment), but the path one takes to get there depends on the place from which one starts.
----- end of James' posting ------
One can believe in no-free-will yet be unenlightened, by some definition and criteria of 'enlightenment'. Similarly, a Calvinist might still use heavily free-will thinking conventions that conflict with Calvinist doctrine, resulting in egoic freewill thinking with a thin veneer of no-free-will "regenerated thinking" layered on top.
Such a philosophical-mode determinist would be a little surprised in discovering the better form of determinism, tenseless-time block-universe determinism instead of temporal causal chain determinism. Some such determinists like Bohm/Einstein anti-Copenhagenist physics that emphasizes cosmic unity, and equate the philosophy of physics unity with a philosophical (default-state of cognition) 'spirituality'.
And these philosophy-based thinkers are to some degree familiar with the popular idea of no-separate-self, so that idea is unlikely to be a total surprise. Given that today everyone has heard of no-separate-self as a venerable revelation, but that few have heard of no-free-will in a spirituality/revelation context, the experience of no-free-will is more likely to be surprising -- to a philosophical no-free-willist or to a freewillist -- than the experience of no-separate-self.
We're used to the idea of experiencing no-separate-self in a spirituality context, and we're used to no-free-will in a (default-state) philosophy context, but we are not used to the idea of experiencing no-free-will in a spirituality context -- the latter is something relatively novel in this theory of ego death.
All the inventories of mystic-state phenomena always include the experience of "no-separate-self" -- but never that of "no-free-will"; instead, all the related aspects are listed, such as "feeling of being controlled by a hidden source", "feeling of physical unity with others and the world", and "feeling of timelessness and time stoppage".
The listed items all logically imply the key, omitted "sum" experience of no-free-will. Given the current state of knowledge, the missing insight or missing revealed point is no-free-will -- it is missing because people don't want to face up to it.
No-separate-self and no-free-will are experienced together, along with idealist meta-perception (perceiving the mind's isolation in a cave of cartoon-like mental constructs). Hellenistic religion, including Jewish and Christian religions, emphasize no-free-will more than no-separate-self. Eastern religions emphasize no-separate-self more than no-free-will.
The magazine "What Is Enlightenment?" adheres to beastly non-logic: they officially proclaim a religion that embraces no-separate-self while rejecting no-free-will. "I'm not a separate self, and I wield the power of metaphysically free will, and I'm a genuine primary moral agent and prime mover." That tries to blend the high and low realms, blending truth and illusion without differentiating.
Separate-self is a convention that stands or falls with the convention of free-will moral agency. If separate-self is qualified as illusory, then in the same way and at the same time, free-will must also be qualified as illusory, but the magazine "What Is Enlightenment?" refuses to let go of taking conventional moral agency as literally real, which is exactly why it's suitable for the lobby of Hell. A good characteristic of the magazine is willingness to print controversial and varying ideas.
Full basic enlightenment, revelation, illumination, gnosis, and so on mainly involves:
o The conceptual comprehension of no-separate-self and no-free-will, and related ideas such as perceptual idealism and tenseless time
o The experience of no-separate-self and no-free-will, and related experiences such as perceptual idealism and tenseless time
The mind experiences many related phenomena intensely, with a whole set of conceptual discoveries. Which experience and insight is key? No-separate-self and no-free-will, because these are about oneself as an agent. Timelessness or perceptual idealism are just supporting items for these more central pillars.
The key experience and insight is no-separate-self and no-free-will, but the latter is the most surprising to today's thought-world. A philosophical no-free-willist would be less surprised by religious altered-state experiencing than a freewillist.
Ego is first of all, an illusion of separate self that is above all, a control agent -- seemingly a primary control agent, but actually a secondary control agent (if we follow reason and altered-state experience). Separate self is first of all a separate controller. Ego is virtual separate-control-agency -- secondary control agency mistaken as primary control agency.
The shattering revelation of no-free-will in conjunction with no-separate-self, as both experience and concept during the intense mystic altered state, is the path to enlightenment and is the fountainhead of religion. Enlightenment is the shattering revelation of no-separate-self together with no-free-will.
I thought I was a literally separate, primary control agent; now I know I'm a virtually separate, secondary control agent.
In some specific ways, each person is separate (from the world and other persons). In some specific ways, each person is united (with the world and other persons). It takes a page or a few pages to reasonably specify these ways, and ideally, the explanations are supplemented by experiencing the mystic-state perspective (including feeling or sense of self) in addition to the default-state perspective.
As part of understanding the importance of worldviews, interpretive frameworks, mental worldmodels, or reality tunnels, the word "believe" needs more discussion. People do have and ought to have beliefs, and need to have them. Beliefs can be held firmly and yet also held loosely. I firmly believe that X, and will continue to do so unless Y. Justified belief doesn't require a massive foundation of certainty.
Most scholars of mysticism sweep no-free-will under the carpet as a sort of dirty secret; one safe approach is to avoid discussing the issue. Avoiding the issue can be a sign of lack of insight (a sign of ignorance) or as a sign of wanting to be popular and sell books. This does leave some "niche market" opportunity for some spiritual teachers such as Ramesh Balsekar to make no-free-will their counter-strategy to gain popularity.
For example, vibraphone and banjo are so out of style in Rock, that bands have taken advantage to make them a trademark sound. You can make a name for yourself in a field by, instead of sweeping a controversial point under the carpet, instead emphasizing that point, so that its controversial and outre status rockets you into prominence, perhaps cult (limited-audience) prominence.
Balsekar has discovered that in New Age religio-philosophy, the most taboo point is no-free-will, and thus he can use its outre status as sort of a backboard to gain a limited-audience, cult recognition as bringing something absolutely vital -- perhaps like the early 20th Century sexual psychology researcher whose work was burned and banned by the government as offending decency.
We can't know no-free-will for certain; all knowledge and models can be modified in the future, and it's risky to get into an argument over whether no-free-will is or isn't true. More important than getting into an endless unresolvable argument over whether no-free-will is or isn't true, we should stay clear about deciding what matters most. We should make a conscious decision about what aspect of the no-free-will hypothesis is important.
The main point about which we can have a relevant kind of certainty is that when the mind grasps how simple, coherent, elegant, reasonable, and excellent the no-free-will hypothesis is -- so that the mind recognizes that we either have to believe in something exceedingly improbable (free will) or else something far more reasonable (no-free-will) -- an amazing experience of ego death results, and this experience resides in all intelligent minds as a fascinating potential mental dynamic to discover, fully comparable to discovering the potential for sexual orgasm.
Asking "is no-free-will true?" is sort of like asking "is orgasm true?" Instead of debating how the world is, with respect to metaphysical freedom, we should focus more narrowly on something more certain: that when the mind constructs a worldmodel that involves no-free-will, and the sense of egoic freewill is suspended during loose cognition, an utterly simple worldmodel suddenly falls into place, with awesome, dreadful, transcendent experiential and phenomenological results: the experience of mystic revelation and the insight about the superb reasonableness of no-free-will.
Then hot on the heels of that experience is the birth of the transcendent aspect of religion; the mind has to learn, taught from above, a sort of "miraculous" ability to assume freewill thinking even though the mind no longer takes it for granted or believes or assumes it.
Freewill thinking can then be seen as a gift of virtual (apparent, merely conventional) sovereignty of the individual -- the illusion that I am a prime mover, creator and controller of all my thoughts and actions, is a preciously valuable illusion: per Luther's theology, I am "still a sinner" falsely pretending to be an egoic metaphysically free moral agent, but I am now "clothed with the righteousness that is Christ's, legally attributed to me". Per Alan Watts, the enlightened person has become "a genuine fake".
I worry often about the merits of including a strong emphasis on no-free-will in articles about entheogens. Certainly the subject of the extremely problematic nature of freewill is very common in acid-oriented Rock lyrics and is also at dead center of philosophy and mysticism and theology. There is no subject more central and common than the extremely problematic nature of the freewill assumption.
It is a sacred taboo subject, in certain respects, as though it is so central to all our discussions, it is off-limits for discussion. It is both unthinkable to publically assert no-free-will in discussions of mystic experiencing and insight, and it is also unthinkable to omit the problem of freewill -- you can't win, either way; a model that omits the subject feels unsatisfactory, and a model that includes the subject has to advocate no-free-will in a confused and halting way like Reformed theology, or try to touch on it and quickly push it under the carpet.
What you mustn't do is put no-free-will on display in the middle of the town square like an elevated Cross -- if discussing religion in a business environment is taboo, discussing no-free-will in a religio-spiritual environment or entheogen-research environment is even more taboo.
But my current thinking is "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead", per the Balsekar approach, and per my reading of "Upon hearing this teaching of Jesus, many people were disappointed and stopped following him." Sometimes to break through current limiting conventions, one must harden one's heart toward the audience's reaction, and almost deliberately seek out and highlight those topics that are most offensive.
>Julian Palmer wrote about entheogens. His treatment of entheogens was clear regarding their action, but other articles from this author are unclear. I find it puzzling that he neglects the subject of no-free-will, or free will.
I am proposing to make the bold move of highlighting no-free-will within a theory that also highlights entheogens.
>I'm certain that the topic of no-free-will, as experience and insight, is key for mystic spirituality. Why isn't this made clear by those who presumably have had a lot of mystic experiencing? Is it denial on their part, or misinterpretation of the mystic mental dynamics through an in-time perceptual framework?
Mystic or spiritual writers might neglect to grapple with the no-free-will possibility due to lack of experience and lack of philosophical development. I began thinking (in the area of philosophy of self-control) in October 1985, and had two years of hellish grappling with the subject of theoretical and practical self-control and enlightenment.
I used the mystic contemplative state while reading Alan Watts' book The Way of Zen repeatedly, until I finally considered, for the first time, no-free-will as a solution in December 1987, and then the frozen block-universe in January 1988. The Way of Zen didn't mention no-free-will but did implicitly contain the notion in its discussion of the infinite regress of egoic control agency.
When I finally managed to break through to making sense of the book, I solved the book as a puzzle; I experienced the idea of no-free-will as a sudden "solution" to the "puzzle" of making rational sense out of Way of Zen.
I had two full years of heavy mystic thinking before even considering the idea of no-free-will. So I see how people with a milder approach -- milder mysticism and milder rational analysis -- could go on for years without the thought of no-free-will ever crossing their mind as an important theoretical solution or central, key topic.
>This discussion group provides a greater amount of learning than others.
I don't promise to post anything and can't promise to make further progress. Half of me always works for regularly gaining further essential breakthroughs and major insights; the other half of me is always trying to claim that at last I have conquered the last of the major insights.
For example, in the past two months, I assess that I have made one major breakthrough, a few medium essential insights, and various minor essential insights -- insights without which no decent, relevant theory of mystic experiencing can be constructed. That's good and that's bad -- it's good that I now possess these insights, but it's bad because it shows that once again, I had hoped to be finished defining the main theoretical framework, but was wrong; it was still fundamentally incomplete.
Kurt recommends a book on the core technical theory of 1988 and a later book on applying that theory to Christianity and other religions -- but I feel that a greater, more concentrated impact is needed, or the theory will just be ignored. It must be theory and applied, it must be as controversial and surprising as possible; it must not fit into current thinking and current arrangements of topics at all, and yet to everyone's surprise, perfectly fit in and solve fifteen major problems at once.
That's always been my instinct, from the first drafts in 1988. Assuming that Christianity is somehow profoundly religiously insightful, if my core theory fails to make sense of Christianity, then the theory doesn't matter and is irrelevant, no matter how right it is. I very much see the task at hand as one of fully revealing what the previous systems have only darkly revealed.
To deliver on the promise of revelation, by definition means blowing wide open, explicitly and systematically, the full, highest potential of the Christian system of mythic meaning.
If I'm unable to map my core theory of enlightenment fully to the enlightenment potential of the Christian myth-system, then that core theory is lame and irrelevant, and half-baked, just as Ken Wilber's treatment of Hellenistic mystery-religion isn't really a treatment of the subject at all, but just a Wilberian description of a brief, Wilberized vague cartoon caricature of the subject.
Theories of mystic experiencing are a dime a dozen, though there are only a few good books that really treat that subject -- most books actually steer away from the central topic, becoming biographies of mystics, or mundane self-help with a superficial New Age styling, or devotional books with vague sayings and unsystematic expressions of piety.
>This discussion group seems like the only one with a portrayal of mystic insight that resonates with my experiences and insights; the other approaches seem bunk and contrived.
I am unimpressed by other discussion groups, though they do inadvertantly trigger valuable ideas.
Books usually provide higher insight-per-hour than discussion groups. Just as I think TV is inherently a less efficient medium than books, so are discussion groups, and the main thing to gain from reading discussion groups is the ocassional unusual idea that isn't reflected in books, which tend to be somewhat mainstream and conventional in their assumptions. Sometimes a tip in a group leads to a new area of insights, with serendipity.
I intend to be standing in the middle of the road when other scholars eventually inevitably reach the same conclusions as I have reached. My search for an overall framework is completed, though I'm still filling in some major components. At the moment, it is utterly beyond me what further insights could possibly await.
Enlightenment enables saying the same words as before but with a new matrix of meaning. We can't point to any words and say "only an egoic mind would say that", or other words and say "only an enlightened mind would say that".
However, certain constructions are hallmarks of egoic thinking, such as "my free will". The term "my" tends to be taken as pointing to a hyperreified ego that owns and controls and possesses the will.
Free will is ego's most treasured possession. What is the price of entering Heaven, or enlightenment, nirvana, the real world, the kingdom of God? If thy hand prevents thee from entering into heaven, cut it off. If that which prevents a would-be saint from entering into heaven is "my free will", then put it off."
What Is Enlightenment magazine retracted their apparent endorsement of Ramesh Balsekar's assertion that enlightenment is the affirmation of determinism.
The Great Bombay Tea Shop Debacle
WIE satirically doubted and mocked Balsekar's version of enlightenment, pooh-poohing determinism-as-enlightenment. Readers took their satire seriously, and a storm of controversy arose, with many claiming to have been enlightened.
Now, in their retraction, WIE has basically declared that determinism is *not* true and is not enlightenment.
I am against WIE magazine and against most religion; I side with Ramesh Balsekar and endorse enlightenment as determinism. I define enlightenment and determinism in distinctive ways, but I essentially agree with Balsekar, against WIE.
Most religion is lower religion which is freewill religion. Mystics define higher religion which is no-free-will religion and is associated with no-separate-self. Freewill religion is separate-self religion. Ego is the freewill assumption; ego is separate self. The separate, ego-self is the agent who supposedly has free will.
>I've had at least 15 years to thoroughly explore and read and experiment with "new age" thought, quantum mechanics, spirituality, mystic traditions, etc. I went the whole "new age"- "you create your own reality" route and experimented with that. I guess the fact that I'm suffering horrendously, have been bedridden for two years and often consider suicide, show that either that belief system is inherently false or else "I'm" not doing it right! (wry smile)
>I've had years of traditional psychotherapy, some transpersonal psychotherapy, and like I said, extensive reading of new age materials. I can say unequivocally, that at least for ME, these have proven to be an abysmal "failure". By failure, I guess I mean that I'm "unhappier" and "suffering" more than I did when all this started.
Look at Ken Wilber's book Grace & Grit about his wife dying of cancer. His writing is grounded with realism about suffering and death.
Big smiley face for you:
>I've found writings and materials which mirror my own experiences (fleeting though they may be) of "loss" of ego. Once again, I'm sure this is not new to anyone here but Advaita Vedanta speaks very clearly from this viewpoint. In those circles it has come to be known as the "there is no DOER" theory. Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and more recent "Advaita" teachers such as Ramesh Balsekar, Wayne Liquorman, Satyam Nadeen, etc. all use this as a very basic tenent of what they teach. This "theory" (and believe me, I'm aware that it is just that) "rings true" to me and seems to match my experiences.
I am looking for more articulate systematizations of Balsekar and Liquorman. Perhaps Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, or Satyam Nadeen.
Ramesh Balsekar has been discussed here a little. I applaud his central emphasis on salvation through determinism, which agrees with Luther Martin's book Hellenistic Religions. Wayne Liquorman's comic book amazed me -- he knows! Later I found Wayne was a student of Balsekar. Most New Agers assume freewill, thus they are lost in the delusion of ego and produce fake spirituality, which is egoic emotionalism and magic thinking.
>A Course In Miracles, although often lumped in with new age thought clearly mirrors this same understanding.
I recently banished Illusion of Time to my 3rd-tier book stacks and then realized, looking at the scanned pages online, why I bought it. It combines timelessness with a neo-Christian framework.
A Vast Illusion: Time According to a Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick
I recently created a list of timeless determinism books -- there are too few! All determinism books assume causal-chain determinism when they should consider timeless block-universe determinism.
>"COURSE" implies a futurity and a "path". And the fact that it is set up as a series of "lessons" is antithetical to the notion that it could be "useful" to "loosen" egoic structures. If one asks, "WHO is it that does these lessons and what do they hope to attain?" the whole thing kind of collapses under it's own weight. But I think it does a wonderful job of describing the "dynamics" of the ego and why "getting rid of it" is no easy task.
Getting rid of being limited to the egoic worldmodel is easy if you read a good summary of block-universe determinism and consider that spacetime worldmodel from within the mystic altered state. Ego is freewill controllership of one's future thoughts, which is an illusion. Our future thoughts are set in stone in frozen timeless spacetime.
Our effective control, and our delusion that we as egoic agent have power to change the future, is frozen into spacetime. Understanding the nature of spacetime, ego, and control requires a wholesale but simple shifting of the whole network of understanding, while retaining the words.
>But I see it as a good way of establishing a "foundation" so, when confronted by "ego death" the fear will be much less than it could be without the intellectual understanding. To paraphrase...... "Many of the later concepts rely too heavily on these basics for you to think that you could skip them. Otherwise your approach to God may be more terrifying than beautific."
Terror and control instability is inherent in ego death. Fear of God or insanity as you rise is reasonable and standard. If someone's not afraid, I doubt they have encountered authentic insight.
>I'd be interested to hear your view on the Course.
My father introduced it to me.
>Another interesting thing about the Course is that is makes it VERY clear that God did NOT create the world (and in fact doesn't even know it exists). It claims that it only exists in "our" ("we" as fictitious characters) dream and has no reality outside of that. So, not only DOESN'T he "micro manage" (to borrow your term) our lives in any sense, he is not concerned with what happens.
In the harrowing depths of the mystic state, we require and pray for a personal savior from the heartless cosmic machinery that controls us as puppets. We are puppets who can't know if the controller of our strings is good, bad, personal, or impersonal -- the controller is a hidden mystery. Terrifying.
We true children of Abraham have no alternative but faith despite any possible evidence, that the mysterious hidden controller of our will is compassionate and won't cause us harmful thoughts and movements of will; like Job we aknowledge that the hidden controller pulls our strings, but the question of Job is whether to positively honor, or merely to acknowledge, that unseen controller of our thoughts and actions.
What controls my strings may be mechanical or personal, hateful or compassionate; I know I am radically dependent on that controller and thus I have no choice but to acknowledge that and hope for the best, as a person acknowledging and submitting to a king who has the power of life or death hanging over the person.
>Just as if you were a "parent" and walked into your "child's" room and saw that they were having a nightmare, you would not try to JOIN them in the nightmare or try to CHANGE aspects of the nightmare, you would simply be interested in waking them so the nightmare would end. This perspective would also clearly cancel out the belief that "everything that happens is the will of God" or that God created the world as an experiment/game/test/form of amusement ("Lila" or "Leela"). The Course is very clear when it says... "THE WORLD DOES NOT EXIST."
>So things like "prayer" would be useless from this perspective.
The purpose of prayer is to acknowledge one's total metaphysical dependence, as a merely virtual controller, not as a true sovereign, on the hidden metaphysical origin of one's thoughts and acts of will in the near future. And prayer is useful to hope and plead that the controller is compassionate and won't destroy one by injecting harmful thoughts into one's mind. The mystic altered state puts oneself into a relation of son to hidden father.
>"God is no respector of persons"- Bernadette Roberts.
>As would any form of "self" improvement.
>But the Course says that the "Holy Spirit" acts as a connecting bridge between the sleeping "sons" and God. Without that connecting communication link, we would forever be lost in the dream.
Agreed, and the Holy Spirit is readily available in entheogens. It's potentially not the least bit rare or hard to come by, unless the imperial powers of darkness have dared to suppress and declare war on the body of the Holy Spirit.
>I think the dream analogy is particularly apt.
I prefer the new Virtual Reality and Virtual Autonomous Agents model of world-creation, delusion, and awakening.
>I think there is a reason that the vast majority of individuals who have "awoken" in any given "system" of religion/spirituality describe the world as a "dream". It would explain why things are so chaotic in life (like our night-time dreams), why we don't have any control over our life (like MOST of the time in our night-time dreams, although "lucid" dreams are certainly a sticking point in this theory), and why when we wake up in the morning we just let go of what we were dreaming, in the same way that those who have experienced ego death, "let go" and realize that the CONTENT of the dream (life) is meaningless.
Just cheer up!"
The new Spring/Summer 2002 issue of What Is Enlightenment? has reactions to the re-publishing of the article ( http://www.wie.org/j14/balse.asp ) about Ramesh Balsekar's Advaita Vedanta.
>... extraordinary first-hand evidence of how absurd the modern day Neo-Advaita community has become. ... BS ... misleading ... dastardly ... Lord Buddha never taught that we have neither the opportunity nor the responsibility to act properly. ... "God's Will" is not a fatalistic predetermined destiny that He heartlessly cast into some type of cosmic reinforced concrete. ... The Bhagavad Gita confirms... that we do have the free will to act either harmoniously with the laws of nature or contrary to them.
>His lesson ... has led to a profound peace and acceptance of all that exists in life. I get very clearly that there is no individual doer and therefore there is no reason for pride, envy, hatred or greed. I can also see how many people would be reluctant to bid farewell to planet freewill.
People who cling to free will have a naive, cartoonishly absurd and ridiculous, pre-philosophical conception of what the no-free-will position entails. Such thinkers, or rather holders of a certain stance, utterly lack subtlety to even grasp the proposal of no-free-will. They collapse and conflate the metaphysical level of reality with the practical level, resulting in the confused idea that metaphysical frozenness means practical inability to act or choose.
No determinist has ever asserted that no-free-will means we can't choose. What is actually at issue is the details of how we conceive of the act of choosing. But freewillists, who are as a rule naive and prephilosophical, are unable to raise the level of debate above whether or not we are able to make choices.
A freewillist assumes that accepting determinism would render me unable to pick up a pencil, or choose whether to wear a red or blue shirt for the day. The determinist affirms those abilities and never takes issue with them, but is only concerned about the details of how we conceive of those abilities.
As far as what the teachings are that have been attributed to the Buddha figure, according to my general theory of religion, we can assume that Buddha and the Bhagavad Gita are, like Christianity, a two-level system that with one, lower hand, attributes to us freewill moral power, and with the other, higher hand, reveals that freewill moral power is against the coherent laws of nature.
When we are like Christ we shall do all his miracles and more. The greatest miracle, God's greatest creation, is the devil, who is free will. Jesus represents the god of moral truth and enlightenment, so Jesus must represent both of God's hands: the lower hand that assigns freewill moral power to us, and the higher hand that takes back freewill moral power from us, revealing that such power is impossible, or only possible as a miracle that breaks the law.
Freewill is an abomination, a demonic beast, a logical monstrosity, an insane delusional chimera that is set against the world of coherence. When I saw it in my own mind I grasped for ways to reject and deny and terminate it, some way to crucify it, yet I saw that it is a wonderful miracle too, a useful delusion and convention that is needed for practical life, so I retained it after negating its reality.
Ken Wilber's book Up From Eden is compatible with this two-layer view. It takes heroic evolution of consciousness to develop the semi-rational ego structure, and it takes heroic evolution of consciousness to surpass and transcend that structure while yet preserving it as a useful conventional illusion.
Page 142: it was necessary to die to the separate-self sense. The separate self had to be sacrificed prior to the resurrection of Oneness; it had to be crucified prior to the Ascent in Eternity ... This central insight, which is really the core of esoteric religion, went all the way back ... to the shamanistic trance ... crude ... however ... the overall growth of consciousness has given this death-demanding transformation a higher and more articulate expression. ... the sacrifice of self discloses the Eternal -- was the esoteric insight empowering the mythology of self-sacrifice to the Great Goddess.
Wilber goes on to describe the bloody, literalist Great Mother religion as the crude misconstrual of all this.
See also page 257 about esoteric egodeath crucifixion versus the lower Christian equivalent conception.
Page 186: In short, the characteristic core of the newly emergent hero myths and philosophies of this period was simply the personal, "freely" willing ego. ... this movement was absolutely desirable, for one has to move from the impersonal to the personal on the way to the trans-personal.
(See also pages 275, 130, 185-6, 183, 197.)
The quotes around 'freely' are Wilber's.
Watts, Wilber, and Calvin all reject the muddled notion of free will, but they fail to seriously grapple with the issue -- they act like they want to avoid and downplay and hide that embarrassing fact. Balsekar is a hero for dragging that key principle out in the open at last, but unfortunately he isn't a systematic expositor. It's time for scholars of religion to stop protecting the freewill delusion -- it has grown strong enough to die, and has had its reign of mayhem and glory.
Is my Christ myth theory-component novel? No; Herbert Cutner's 1950 book Jesus-God, Man or Myth: An Examination of the Evidence summarizes the long ongoing debate between mythicists and historicizers/carnalizers and shows that the mythic-only position is a continuous tradition, not novel. We're in at least the second generation of modern Christ-myth theory. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1585090727
Is my entheogen theory of religious sacraments novel? No; by now, scholars who treat the entheogen theory as novel only show that they are slow and behind the times. Huston Smith's recent collection of essays is already outdated, in its backwards attitude of portraying entheogens as an alternative method of simulating traditional religious experiencing. We're in at least the second generation of modern entheogen theory.
Is my block-universe determinism novel? Finding such a view of determinism is a needle-in-haystack proposition these days, since everyone assumes causal-chain determinism, but I expect that my timeless frozen future idea is found in some recent and ancient books. The concept of timeless block-universe determinism as distinct from causal-chain determinism constitutes the second generation of modern determinism theory.
Then what is my complaint about these authors, that propels me to put forth a book as a new revelation, a new theory? Wilber's integral theory is an example showing that a new theory is a new, more organized presentation and arrangement of existing components. Wilber does not put forth incorrect views about free will, and what he says is free of error. However, he fails to recognize the potency and importance of the subject.
Balsekar, on the other hand, presents determinism as the core of a worldview, inadequately developed or connected to other ideas. No good theory of transcendent knowledge and ego death exists, because no existing published framework includes all the major ideas and connects them to the related minor ideas. The scope is not right, and the perspective or arrangement is not yet right.
Consider it as an engineering design problem: the goal is to create a system of ego death and transcendent knowledge that works effectively. Such a system must include the necessary components, in a coherent and effective configuration, or else the airplane won't fly. For all Wilber's faultlessness -- he is not wrong about free will or about entheogens -- he does not provide a system of transcendent knowledge and ego death and ego transcendence, that flies, that gets off the ground.
Wilber provides a steering system or fuel system or map of the airports, but when it comes to bringing it together to make a plane that lifts off, all he has is sitting meditation. He has a pile of wheels and wings and parts, and a map of airports, but no working, flying airplane. It's not enough for a systematizer to say "my theory contains a rejection of free will, so I've got that covered" or "my theory respects entheogens, so I've got that covered".
What counts is bringing it all together in a compact, useful form. Wilber credits shamanism with attaining the core esoteric insight of death-demanding transformation, and dying to the separate-self sense and sacrificing it prior to the resurrection of Oneness, but he criticizes shamanism as crude and lacking a higher and more articulate expression.
In like manner, I criticize Wilber's coverage of no-free-will as crude and insufficiently articulate. He just barely touches on this central issue. People are surprised that I put such strong emphasis on no-free-will. My innovation is to put strong, rather than slight, emphasis on it. What's wrong with Balsekar, or the Calvinists -- don't they have it covered? No; their coverage of no-free-will is woefully inadequate.
Balsekar doesn't develop the idea in a refined philosophical way and link it to other areas. Calvinists hold no-free-will while utterly failing to understand it, so that in practice they mix it together with the guilt that is derived from free will moral agency. They say we had free will before the fall, and now we no longer have free will, because we are fallen down into total depraved moral guilt.
Calvinists thus sneak free will back into their thinking, up through the gutter. They don't say that the idea of free will is monstrous; they say it is glorious but the scriptures deny we have it in this life. It is noteworthy that when the radicals took the ideas of the Reformation far past where the conservative Reformers wanted, the result was Spinoza's denial of free will along with reward in Heaven and punishment in Hell.
The politics of Western religion is largely the politics of determinism. Regarding the no-free-will proposal and the worldmodel associated with it, the Power Establishment of the time -- Europe, 1650 -- was most panicked over the idea because the commoners would no longer be manipulatable by the threat of punishment in Hell. See Israel's book Radical Enlightenment ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0198206089 ), 2001.
Calvinists may officially assert no-free-will, but they do so within a particular paradigm that was designed for the purpose of transferring power from the Power Establishment in Rome to the Power Establishment in northern Europe while continuing to prop up the threat of punishment in Hell, a threat that was considered necessary to prop up the ancient-regime, the domination-hierarchy of monarchs and priests over the commoners.
Politically, to break away from Rome, the Calvinists formally denied free will to largely undermine the Catholic system (which was a blend of determinism with some official freewill guilt) -- but slamming on the brakes lest things go too far, the Calvinist officials for political reasons of maintaining their domination over the commoners, still felt they had to retain a blended system.
Today's Calvinists paint an exagerratedly simplified system that hides the fact of the tradition of blended freewill/determinism; they say the Catholic theology is salvation through freewill conduct but Reformed (Calvinist) theology is salvation through no-free-will faith-and-grace. In truth, both Catholic and Reformed theologies are god-forsaken witches' brews that insist on having it both ways: God is sovereign, there is no free will, we are helpless in sin, *and*, people are responsible, will be punished in Hell, and are culpable as freewill agents.
Both of these supposedly opposed theological traditions (Catholic and Reformed) are ungodly mixtures of God's ways with man's ways, impossible attempts to blend determinism and freewill. The only legitimate way to "combine" these oil-and-water incompatible elements is as two distinct layers, like "milk" Christianity for children versus "meat" Christianity for adults.
It is perhaps proper to teach children oversimplistic notions: "this is right and good action; that is wrong and bad action", but it is proper to teach the grown child to recognize and acknowledge the illusory aspects of responsible freewill moral agency. This two-phase way of combining free will and determinism is the only proper, coherent way to "blend" the two logically incompatible systems.
Only the adult thinker (old enough for abstract philosophical thinking) has the mental and conceptual sophistication to differentiate between asserting that the metaphysical plane is determined and frozen and that the practical plane of experience is apparently and effectively free and open.
On the one hand, the power establishment asserted determinism, in such a way that people felt helpless and fearful about their salvation, while on the other hand, the power establishment preached guilt and punishment in hell... in such a way that people felt condemned and fearful. After the American War of Independence, wildly independent but uneducated iternerant preachers rejected Calvinistic determinism, in order to confute the overthrown ecclisiastical power establishment and preach a simple gospel. See The Democratization of American Christianity, by Nathan O. Hatch ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300050607 ), 1989.
But naturally, these simple, emotionalist preachers retained the doctrines of guilt and punishment in Hell, which were never truly compatible with determinism in the first place and should have been thrown away with other Roman Catholic elements back in the Reformation, and which were in fact thrown off by the Radical Reformers (from 1525 on) and the early, Radical Enlightenment of 1650-1750."
>>Experiences are diverse. One particular type of experience isn't essential to true understanding or enlightenment.
Actually there is a remarkably strong concensus among mystics -- a definite universal standard esoteric view. Block-universe determinism and the hope of transcending it in some sense is a central part of the perennial philosophy. Advocates of determinism must not be oblivious to this important widespread view, theory, experiential observation, and speculation.
The one true path is the classic universal esoteric path of religious-philosophical initiation. The essence, paradigm, origin, and fountainhead of religion is the use of the ecstatic state to produce loose cognitive association binding, which then produces an experience of frozen block-universe determinism with a single, pre-existing, ever-existing future.
The return of the ordinary state of consciousness is allegorized as a transcendence of Necessity or cosmic determinism. Myth describes this mystic-state experience. Initiation is classically a series of some 8 ecstatic sessions, interspersed with study of perennial philosophy. Most religion is a distortion, corruption, literalization, and cooptation of this standard initiation system.
One might complain that growing from an infant to child to adult to old person is a developmental path that is unnecessarily narrow. The classic initiation path is something *discovered* as a potential in the mind; it's a matter of something like Ken Wilber's model of psychospiritual development, which is a systematic synthesis of all the existing models of psychospiritual development.
According to the perennial philosophy, all religions originate from a mystic esoteric core and have a different stylization of essentially the same thing, the same path. There are opposing camps about this.
Some theorists of mysticism strive to elevate their own religion, and this entails denying the equivalence or essential sameness of mystic experiencing across religions -- their own religion has a superior type of mystic experiencing, they insinuate (Stephen Katz represents this position). But I think most theorists of mysticism, and certainly the best theorists of mysticism, emphasize the essential sameness or equivalence of mystic experiencing across religions.
For example, I've identified the exact equivalence between the goal of cessation of reincarnation after a series of lifetimes, with the goal of purification after some time in purgatory in Christianity. The same underlying concept is found in "dissolve and coagulate to refine", in the Alchemical style of spirituality. Official Protestantism is odd because it has no clear reflection of this idea of a series of mystic sessions leading to purification, but I haven't studied Protestantism mysticism; I'm starting by reading Versluis' books about Boehme's Protestant mysticism, and will look for the idea of a series of mystic sessions leading to a final state of full transformation.
Everything I've asserted is debatable, and I'm not actually driven by defending and debating, so much as by clarifying my proposed model. Writing as clearly and emphatically as possible has proven highly productive in online discussion, and meeting with dismissals often proves more productive than meeting with concord.
Hate my wording and disagree, but understand clearly what my proposed position is -- most disagreement is actually lack of understanding, lack of clarity; therefore, resolve disagreement by maximizing clarity, *not* by blurring and smoothing and softening one's position; the path to greater understanding is through sharpening one's position.
There is a single narrow path of psychospiritual development, though that path has been superficially stylized in many ways. People think they can get away from religion, while still developing the mind. That is impossible, because the higher development of the mind is innately and inherently religious.
Or people desire to study the endless increase of personal self-control and self-determinism and avoid religion, but that's impossible, because lying ahead inevitably on the path of ever-increasing study of self-control lies the very essence and origin of religion: the hidden level of control, which is not causal-chain control, but hierarchical control with the highest level of control disappearing like a mysterious black box in the clouds.
The personal mind, as a control agent, experiences full vertical dependence on an utterly mysterious puppetmaster, about which nothing is known except one's dependence -- this is a *description* of standard *experiencing* in the mystic state, and that experiencing is not optional or invented, but rather, inevitable and innate.
Per Robert Forman, against Katz, mystic experiencing and unity consciousness is an innate potential, discovered in the standard structure of the mind, rather than invented through arbitrary cultural and linguistic constructs. The potential for such experiencing is a given, which is discovered and then dressed in semi-arbitrary stylized description that can vary.
Spontaneous experiences of mysticism don't fit the perennial or "Traditional" (Guenon, Nasr) "religious-philosophical initiation" model, because such mysticism is only poor, weak, halting mysticism; one has barely crossed the threshold. Intense and repeated mystic experiences fit the "religious-philosophical initiation" model.
My contribution to the perennial philosophy, a revelation that comes as an unpleasant shock to the theorists of mysticism who have no experiential knowledge of mysticism, is that, just as surely as universal mysticism is an experiential revelation of no-separate-self (as familiarly asserted in theories of mysticism), universal mysticism is also is an experiential revelation of no-free-will; in fact the two are so related, I speak of the experiential revelation of "no-free-will/no-separate-self".
I can say this after the Ramesh Balsekar debacle in the magazine What Is Enlightenment?: New Agers wish to have their beloved "no-separate-self" but the last thing in the world they want is "no-free-will" -- New Agers (popular spirituality followers) hate and loathe and are completely alienated from no-free-will, even though it is practically the same thing as no-separate-self; practically two names for the same thing. They want to enter heaven or nirvana of no-separate-self, while carrying their own individual free-will power with them. However, that individual free-will power is the Satan, evil twin, and possessing demon which is bound to falls from heaven to hell during the mystic ascent.
Hell and reincarnation (held as undesirable) is the delusion of free will. Heaven and Nirvana is the full and multi-state proven awareness of the illusory nature of free will. A survey of religious and mystical thought across ages and eras clearly points in this direction, and attempts to back away from that direction are done after-the-fact in reactionary style.
The given is the mystic experiential insight of no-free-will; the later reaction is often to back away from no-free-will and try to prop up conventional moral-agency thinking by reactionarily denying no-free-will, as Catholic theology eventually backed away from the Hellenistic no-free-will emphasis in Augustine, trying to keep its distance from the financially unprofitable doctrine of pure no-free-will.
The goal of mystic enlightenment, Nirvana, refinement, purification, and purgatory is commonly called "freedom", but this is emphatically contrasted to mere naive freewillist thinking. The One True Path is a movement from naive childish belief in freewill, through adult experiential initiation into no-free-will, through to the transcendent type of "freedom" which has its ground in the invisible higher level of control (in the uncontrollable transcendent hidden controller).
The perfected initiate has transcended cosmic determinism, but the nature of this transcendence of determinism is certainly not a denial of cosmic determinism. In Mithraism, this is shown as the godman being born out of the cosmic rock, being pulled out -- not exiting cosmic determinism by his own individual power of self-will. Whatever the freedom of the perfected mystic is -- the fully-developed human -- it is not the naive freewill thinking of the child.
See Ken Wilber on the Pre/Trans Fallacy, but wherever he writes "no-separate-self", replace that by "no-free-will/no-separate-self". There is a regressive and a healthy way to move away from the intense mystic-state experience of no-free-will. To deny the reality of no-free-will (cosmic determinism) is like denying the reality of no-separate-self: a kind of insane regression, failure, backsliding, irrationality, and collapse into chaos.
To affirm the reality of no-free-will and construct an airy, spiritual basis for a transcendent mysterious kind of divine freedom is healthy, normal, and successful: one makes one's peace treaty with the way things are and with the way things can be rationally made sense of. Don't mistake the divine transcendent freedom of the perfected, fully-developed mystic for naive freewill thinking; the post-initiated human with the pre-initiated human.
Why the death penalty for revealing the mysteries? To prevent the use of religion as an instrument of mass subjection to aristocratic rule. To protect political or practical-realm freedom by hiding away as sacred/dangerous metaphysical-realm unfreedom. Protect practical- realm freedom by hiding and cordoning off metaphysical-realm unfreedom. As above, *not* so as below. We allow determinism above, in the realm of gods and their high law, but it is illegal by our law here. In our manmade legal system, we needed to declare determinism illegal.
For the early Christians, why not worship Caesar as God's appointed ruler? Why resist sacrificing to him, like the Jews resisted? Because Caesar uses determinism to oppress. As a political counterstrategy, worship determinism in Jesus instead, reserving high religious leadership role for him only, to prevent some Caesar from using determinism to oppress the downtrodden. So, the Jesus figure provided an effective political/spiritual alternative to determinism of earthly rulers -- we downtrodden need a safe, heavenly only-ruler, to prevent any earthly ruler from claiming that role. Early Christian could then say "You want to oppress us and justify it by claiming to be god's appointed ruler? But that role is already taken by harmless Jesus, who still lives and is about to return any moment - - sorry!"
So, "Jesus is Lord" meant to original Christian, "Today's Caesar/king/ruler is *not* lord -- is *not* the divinely appointed spiritual king." This effected a separation of religion and state, so religion can't be used so directly to prop up the State. The downtrodden needed a dummy safe God-appointed earthly ruler (Jesus) to permanently fill that role that Caesar tried to fill. So early Christianity *was* revolutionary against Caesar, given that Caesar tried to use the Christ role for himself, saying "I am appointed by God/fate/necessity to rule over you."
Why was Christianity created at first? For largely political reasons for the oppressed to strategically take religion away from the rulers. Why be martyred to be a Christian and refuse to sacrifice to Caesar? To prevent the emperors from claiming to rule over you by the will of god. Harmless, never-to-return, fictional/mythic *Jesus* is the proper earthly ruler appointed over us spiritually by God/fate/necessity, *not* "Caesar is appointed lord over us by God/fate/necessity".
Compared to Dionysus, Jesus offered more *political protection* because he was specifically a *political-style* dying/rising savior godman.
The Jesus figure was specifically a *political-style* dying/rising savior godman, thus he was able to offer more *political protection*. If you believe in Jesus as the lasting spiritual king appointed by God, this benefits you politically, because it shuts out some Caesar claiming to be appointed by God to rule over you. If you pretend to keep waiting for Jesus as higher king above any earthly Caesar, this will prevent any ruler claiming to be the spiritual king appointed by God.
The ploy worked for a few years, until the state struck back by suppressing the political understanding and claiming to be the intermediate rulers, and putting away Jesus as remote as possible. Still, the Jesus religion did succeed at preventing kings from directly claiming to being God appointed by Necessity to rule over their subjects. Jesus' threatened return did slightly limit the power-claims of rulers, as intended.
I previously wrote a summary of the history of determinism. What is needed in a book on the history of determinism is the history of the *politics of* determinism. When a society believes in determinism, there is a great risk of politics and religion coming together to prevent individual freedom in the practical realm, justifying the lack of political freedom by the lack of metaphysical freedom.
Metaphysical freedom is false, practical freedom is true, political freedom is good.
Late antiquity wrestled with the problem of how to have a viable society with individual freedom, social order rather than untenable chaos, metaphysical truth about determinism. In the effort to put determinism safely out of reach as a weapon used by rulers against subjects, determinism was lost and eventually, with Catholic orthodoxy in the middle ages, the rulers enforced a freewillist worldmodel that was used by the rulers against the subjects -- showing that both a religion of determinism and a religion of freewillism can be used to oppress rather than elevate people.
There are psychological rather than scientific motivations for the Copenhagen rather than Hidden Variables interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Likewise, there are moralist rather than metaphysical- theory motivations for the freewillist position in the free will vs. determinism debate. The metaphysical theory of determinism is controversial for several non-metaphysical reasons, including conventional moralism and political liberation.
People commonly assume that we must believe in a lie, that of freewill, to "protect" conventional morality and to protect political liberty for the individual. If we really must do so, we need a way to justify believing in a lie -- a way to virtually "believe in" freewillism in a way that is secreted admitted to be an illusory convention done in the name of compassion. We need a way to marry the lower point of view *taken seriously* though a delusion (freewill), with the higher point of view (determinism). We need a healthy, effective, uplifting way to *integrate* the freewill delusion (with its individually empowering moral and political ramifications) with the metaphysical higher truth of fate/necessity/determinism.
An emancipating and enlightening religion should provide for and build up both compassionate delusion (freewillism) and for ego- killing metaphysical truth (determinism). Christianity -- the Gospel including the Holy Spirit -- seems designed to potentially do just that. I expect other religions have this potential and have potential weaknesses as well. Religions in general have esoteric and exoteric dimensions, and are involved in the political realm for good and ill.
Being a theorist, I do not apologetically advocate Christianity, but intend to explain it because it is interesting and relevant to my culture, the dominant, Western culture. In my family, I grew up with Judaism, fundamentalist Protestantism, evangelical Christianity, Anglican Church, and New Age, including some Zen.
As far as I know, Christianity is the most intellectually interesting -- a 2-level, political-styled, pseudo-history allegory, Greek mystery-religion that is morality-oriented and yet ultimately transcends convnetional morality altogether, and shows Amanita halos and plants that teach and transform thinking.
Epicurus' introduction of the "swerve" of the atom... in morality it liberated mankind from subjection to an infinite and inescapable chain of physical causation and made freedom of choice possible.
The reasons for this innovation were not solely of a theoretical character but were rooted in the changed historical situation. Both necessity and chance ... became objects of worship in cults. The question arose: which was supreme and ruled the world? These two sides of the same situation, or opposite poles of the same conception, are found together. The one or the other was regarded as predominant in obedience to the specific social circumstances and class needs which were most coercive upon the given philosopher.
... the new Alexandrian world empire was superseding the city states and creating new types of relationships between individuals and society around them. The atomism of the Epicureans sought to take these new conditions into account and find a rational basis for the new social conditions. Their natural philosophy was closely akin to their ethics. They sought to liberate men from domination by the gods and fear of them and fought to eliminate the arbitrary interference of supernatural forces in nature and society. They aimed to rid men's minds of superstition and to strike a blow at the use of religion as an instrument of mass subjection to aristocratic rule. This earned them the hatred of the idealist upholders of oligarchy and the traditional defenders of the religious associations.
Whereas, idealists like Plato advocated the self-sufficiency of the city-state, the Epicureans preached above all the self-sufficiency of the individual. ... deliberate choice in defiance of compulsion from without.
This prescription provided a general model for their conception of the atom, the gods, and the good life. ... [In opposition to the dominant previous assumptions, Epicurians maintained that] The gods were ... idle and unconcerned with one another or with mankind. They lived in spaces between the worlds and had no responsibility for what happened on earth. ... There was no divine government of the universe, no divine providence for men, no prophecy. The self- sufficiency of the atoms and the deviation in their motion, the imperturbability of the gods and their cultivation of eternal bliss for themselves alone form a symmetrical complement to the self- sufficiency of the individual and the ideals of life recommended by Epicurus.
Epicurus scorned the Platonic conception that the universe was a work of art made by the gods to serve the needs of mankind. The universe was the outcome of a material development proceeding from the movement of atoms in empty space with which the gods had nothing to do and which in fact created the gods themselves. There was no teleology in the Epicurean view of the cosmic process. The heavenly bodies had been created without any purpose in view and so had the organs of mankind. They were the result of haphazard adaption, not divine foresight.
A mistake some no-free-will religionists make is to accuse pagans of believing in free will. This shows how ignorant and colloquial and wildly slander-happy Christians can be. If anything, pagans were fixated on determinism, cosmic fatedness, and necessity. Determinism was a red-hot topic of debate throughout the mystery- religion era.
There was also political contention for using and abusing the principle of no-free-will. Given the fact that the domination hierarchy used no-free-will (in forms such as Necessity and Fate) to oppress people, so did the oppressed use secrecy (in classical Athens) and then the King Jesus figure to try to use no-free-will in their own favor, against Caesar and his priestly accomplices.
Early Christian determinists condemned paganist determinists because pagan determinists cooperated with the claims of the authorities that their oppressive, hierarchical system of rule was divinely ordained. Early Christians insisted that only the rule of King Jesus in heaven is divinely ordained; all other worldly rules are *not* divinely ordained, even though everything is mandated by Necessity.
Divine Necessity rules all the cosmos, but like the Jews who sought to emphasize that kings are *not* approved and favored by God, the early Christians emphasized that much of what Divine Necessity has brought about (Caesar's rule) is *not* approved, favored, or smiled upon by God, the controller of Divine Necessity.
>http://www.wie.org/j22/Debold.asp -- "The seeker infected with boomeritis
>feels good about him- or herself, and superior to others, because of having a
>spiritual identity and being such a spiritual person. As Wilber writes, "The
>essential feature...is the process of relabeling. That is, you take your
>present egoic state and learn to constantly relabel it as spiritual, divine,
>and sacred, relabel your ego as the Goddess, relabel it as the sacred Self,
>relabel it as the divine Web of Life....One ends up relabeling the subtlest
>reaches of the ego as Divine, and that is the new spiritual paradigm." In
>other words, the Web of Life becomes a web of lies. This process of
>relabeling, and the emphasis on feeling, within boomeritis spirituality tries
>to turn the sacred into something that we can have and claim for our own
>narcissistic desires. And Wilber's point holds for far more than what we call
>the New Age. This relabeling of the ego and its motives as spiritual can
>corrupt all forms of spiritual pursuit."
This possibility makes egoic minds worry about whether they are or aren't egoic. There is one model of enlightenment in which this problem is completely solved and closed with the finality that is akin to Perseverance of the Saints in Calvinism but that is actually measurable or determinable. It's a matter of picking the right definition of what constitutes being enlightened and not being egoic.
The model that has this closed definition of "being non-egoic" is the no-free-will theory.
If a mind has repeatedly experienced and conceptually grasped the mental worldmodel of "no-free-will", and if we define that experiencing and specific comprehension as "enlightenment" and "the essence of ego death or rejection of egoic thinking", then by this principled and specific definition, that mind is enlightened and not egoic; that mind's ego has by definition been transcended -- even if that mind sometimes acts selfish, rude, or whatever.
The principle of no-free-will, by this definition, directly and necessarily implies the absence of the ego-delusion. How the mind, or "one", then acts, is a completely distinct issue; style of conduct is distinct from enlightenment status. It's mostly a baseless conventional assumption that being egoless and enlightened is necessarily reflected in a particular style of conduct.
Thus by extremely narrowing and specifying what egolessness means, it's possible to evaluate whether a particular mind, or "person", is operating from an egoic framework. Has that mind repeatedly experienced no-free-will and firmly conceptually grasped and retained that mental worldmodel? If so, then by this system's definition, that mind is egoless.
This of course means that the mind retains the ego structure, the egoic mental worldmodel, but no longer ultimately takes it as reality -- only a practical convention. The mind that treats its egoic structures as merely a practical convention of illusion is by definition egoless, or has transcended the ego.
Then in principle the worry of whether one is egoically deluded about their spirituality is finished and closed: either the mind takes freewill for granted, and hasn't had that assumption experientially shaken, or a mind has learned to call it fully into question, comprehending the weakness of its grounding, and has had the assumption repeatedly problematized in experience. The former is by definition egoic, and the latter by definition, ego-transcendent.
Another interesting construct is to contrast "the religiosity of demons" against that of angels or saints: "egoic spirituality" versus "transcendent spirituality". We can even oxymoronically contrast "the egoic version of ego transcendence" with "the transcendent version of ego transcendence". By my definition, the egoic version of ego transcendence is that which attempts to carry individual free will into heaven (of the kingdom of God, or Nirvana).
The faithful donkey that carries the mind's thinking only to the threshold of enlightenment, is freewill thinking. That donkey can never enter into heaven, not as something taken seriously. The only way to bring freewill thinking into heaven is by labelling it "useful convention of illusion, only".
If a mind has partially comprehended the clarity and reasonableness of no-free-will (including frozen future and so on) and has had a little experience of the no-free-will point of view, that mind is metaphorically in purgatory, being stuck into the fireplace by Isis every night having its mortality burned away, or undergoing a series of rebirths (held to be undesirable).
>>To ensure that we are talking the same subject I am using the following definition:
>>hallucinogens: ... [Medical Dictionary, © 1997-98 Academic Medical Publishing]
Definition selection is a "political" act, so to speak. That definition is poor and I reject it.
>>our culture's use of such substances and the various justification for that use. ... the need to view our environment in some way other ... hallucinogens are required to perceive reality. ... doesn't such an approach reject the basic concepts of determinism?
Why do you see or assume a connection between hallu. and rejecting determinism? Determinism (particularly timeless vertical determinism) is common as dirt in mysticism, and entheogens commonly induce the mystic state, which is why it would be easy to list examples of entheogens producing an experience of determinism.
Entheogens are misunderstood and underestimated due to prohibition. Factor out prohibition, and a different paradigm arises, the original paradigm of religio-philosophy and sacred science.
Determinism is more important, more of the heart of revelation, than entheogens or no-historical-Jesus. Most entheogen scholars pose "religion is about entheogens" as the revelation and core religious insight; against them, I stand apart, and pose entheogens as merely the means to the end, where the end is not what we expect from spirituality, but instead, is determinism. Entheogens are not the message: determinism is the message. Entheogens are the messenger-angel, delivering the message, which is determinism.
Determinism is the revelation of the victory and transcendent kingdom/kingship. Determinism washes away 'sin' as error/delusion about moral agency, including washing away the accustomed sense of moral culpability. Apprehended rebel-king Jesus on the cross is nothing but a symbol of sacrificing the freewill agency delusion to gain mental integrity and know our subjection to determinism.
Such knowing is metaphorized as ascension into the divinely governed kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, which is consciousness of determinism, along with the 'chosen race' of the 'elect': all who are predestined to experience and become fully aware of determinism, or no-free-will/no-separate-self.
>During the peak, I asked my friend what we were going to do once another friend of ours showed up (we were gonna meet up with him later). His response was something like: "I don't know, we'll see what happens when it happens." And that simple point got me thinking about how time is like a book, in that it's all already happened, but you just haven't read that far yet. When you buy the book, the whole sequence of events -- from start to finish -- is already written, but you, the reader, must experience it linearly -- one word after another. It's one of those things that seems so profound when you first think of it, and it seems so world shaking (like I've figured out the fabric of time), but then when you sober up, you realise that it's no big deal; like "what's so special about that?" If you got this far, thanks for reading this senseless rant.
Actually, your altered self was correct in seeing this as profound. The insights in that direction lead toward the full experience of ego-death. If your future thoughts are set, this implies a single future that effectively already exists, in which case the present you lacks a certain kind of control over your own future thoughts. Instead of you controlling time (or your future mental actions), time controls you.
For more information, see the Block Universe section of this Introduction
or this detailed material: