Is magazine Buddhism less satisfying and satisfactory than it should be?
Ken Wilber says some 90% of popular spirituality is merely sideways-translative, a kind of limiting holding pattern, rather than vertically transformative. This would have to include most Buddhism as it is reflected in the Buddhist meditation magazines that are evidently popular on the newsstand shelves.
What would Wilber commend and criticize in Buddhism as it is portrayed in these magazines?
What possible benefits are there in critiquing magazine Buddhism?
How does the diminishment and disparagement of entheogens in magazine Buddhism reflect the limitations of such Buddhism?
Is this kind of Buddhism a degraded form of the best and most true type of Buddhism? Is that too negative a way of putting it? Perhaps it is great but not entirely complete -- or perhaps it is fake, ersatz, bunk, and not really fulfilling, per Wilber's Atman project.
Is magazine Buddhism as fulfilling as Buddhism ought to be and can be?
Has Buddhism *ever* met or approached its true potential? I've always portrayed it as a complete failure in delivering its promise of enlightenment. Today I'm inclined to qualify that position: certainly it contains some components of enlightenment.
How does Buddhism as a system of enlightenment intertwined with life-improvement compare with Christianity as a system of spiritual transformation intertwined with life-improvement -- is this intertwining tighter in typical conceived Buddhism than in typically conceived Christianity?
Christianity has always been treated as life-improvement, conduct guidance, although it has a large gap theologically between spiritual transformation and conduct of life: the two are treated as more distinct compartments than in magazine Buddhism. Does the strong distinction between spiritual transformation and conduct of life in Christianity (or in Christian theology and gnostic history, at least) make it easier to consider spiritual transformation without complicating it with intertwined conduct-of-life concerns?
Does Buddhism inherently resist differentiating between the realm of mystic experiencing/insight and the realm of conduct-of-life?
Why does magazine Buddhism promote endless meditation and denigrate entheogens?
Does magazine Buddhism promote a different view of the goal of religion or meditation than it should?
Is Buddhism that lacks intense religious altered-state experiencing legitimate -- fully or partially? Is the common disparagement of intense religious altered-state experiencing illegitimate and dishonest because such experiencing is the true source of insight that Buddhists strive to apply to conduct-of-life?
Does the typical quality and efficacy of meditation fall far short of that of entheogen use, so that a grossly inferior and generally ineffective method is being pawned off as the best method?
Does magazine Buddhism prevent enlightenment more than it delivers the goods? If so, is this because of flawed methods, or flawed goals?
Does the focus on conduct-of-life restrict the spiritual enlightenment that Buddhists strive to apply to conduct of life?
Has such Buddhism been a success, or does it fail to reach its goals and stated promises?
Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics
Allan Hunt Badiner (Editor), Alex Grey (Editor), Stephen Batchelor, Huston Smith (Preface)
http://www.zigzagzen.com - excerpts, info, links
http://www.csp.org/chrestomathy/a_title.html#z -- look for Zig Zag Zen soon
http://www.henrymiller.org/Events/June.html -- "June 8, 3PM - Zig Zag Zen -- Author Allan Hunt Badiner booksigning and reading from the recently published book on Buddhism and Psychedelics. Buddhism and psychedelic experimentation share a common concern: the liberation of the mind. Zig Zag Zen launches the first serious inquiry into the moral, ethical and transcendental considerations created by the intersection of the two. With a foreword by Buddhist scholar Stephen Batchelor and a preface by historian Huston Smith, along with numerous essays and interviews, it is a provocative exploration of altered states of consciousness and the potential for transformation. Accompanying each essay is a work of visionary art selected by Alex Grey, such as a vividly graphic work by Robert Venosa. Packed with enlightening entries and art, it offers eye-opening insights into alternate methods of inner exploration. This will be an interesting afternoon."
Search Web for zig zag zen:
As I skimmed most excerpts, my eyes glazed over: "crap, crap, cliche, false dichotomy, false dichotomy, crap"... but where it got my full attention was exposing that Buddhism itself has entheogenic roots: *now* we're talking -- or in a position ready to *begin* talking and thinking and theorizing.
What must be done is fully rediscover and recognize the entheogenic roots of Buddhism (along with Greek myth, Christianity, Judaism, and all religion-myth), combine this with detailed knowledge of ritual and doctrine and esotericism in the various traditions, and forget all we think we know about these religions.
Existing books are all more or less off the mark. Even today's books about overlap of entheogens and myth don't really have a firm grasp of how entheogenic myth works. It's not enough to show that religion is myth, or that myth is entheogen allegory; what remains to be done to close the circle of understanding is to *explain* the allegorical meaning of entheogen myth, *including* an adequate treatment of entheogens, determinism, and self-control cybernetics.
These elements and understandings still need to be brought together much more clearly than ever before. Books still waste too much breath establishing that entheogens were present -- but we must forget the skeptics and leap ahead into the new ancient paradigm.
We must say:
o *Given* that all religion is myth,
o *Given* that all myth is entheogen allegory
o *Given* that Reason in the mythic state leads to the theory of timeless block-universe determinism
o *Given* the various religious doctrines and debates, with input from Philosophy and cognitive psychology
*then* what does such entheogen allegory really mean?
Yes, entheogen allegory has always been applied to the mundane realm, but what is its native meaning in its home turf? Live completely in the land of mythic-state cognition, also fully informed by religious doctrines, history, philosophy, and world mthology, and *then* ask the meaning of the myths -- you come up with a very different kind of answer than the portrayal of religion and meaning than is put forth by supposedly well-informed books like Zig Zag Zen or The World of Classical Myth, or Doherty's Jesus Puzzle.
James Arthur and Freke & Gandy are much closer to comprehending what high religion is about, but the notions of the collapse of personal kingship in terms of self-control cybernetics and altered-state experiencing still need much closer inspection and sustained attempts to explain what is being allegorized.
Zig Zag Zen and conventional studies of Buddhism and Psychedelics are beginner books that don't really scratch the surface of the high *meaning* of figures such as a deity of compassion, time, cosmic order, or death. The scholars may lift up one correct topic into the light, and then another topic in turn, and another, but it's still all epicyclic band-aids on a bascially Bad Paradigm. We need a new paradigm and even books like Zig Zag Zen are mere baby steps *toward* such a truly new paradigm.
Such mediocre treatments are like the "determinism" of Reformed theology:
o Despite all the veneer of talk of determinism, Reformed theology is still essentially operating within the paradigm of freewill moralism;
o Despite the talk of Jesus being about mythic experiencing, such thinkers are clueless literalists (operating within the Literalist paradigm) that miss the mythic meaning and allusion to the particular phenomena of the intense mystic state;
o Despite allowing entheogens in Buddhism, the "new" research really just puts forth the same old modernist clueless exoteric Buddhism (operating within a conventional, translative-not-transformative paradigm per Wilber), not enlightenment, not recognition and comprehension of the particular insights and experiences the mythic tall-tale allegories point to.
Authors publish many new theories of epicycles, when a new paradigm of the cosmos is what's really needed. So I can dub these books that make progress toward my area as "epicycle books" -- here comes yet another theory of epicycles, here comes yet another book explaining what Jesus really said and did.
This supposedly new entheogen-permitting Buddhism is like starting with shallow New Age Buddhism and then adding shallow New Age entheogens, all the while failing to *understand* the allegory involved. So easily, infinitely too easily, do such "new theorists" carelessly assume and talk about the purported historical man, Mr. Buddha. It's like Campbell saying that myths are just allegorical and the allegory portrays initiation into puberty.
It's like the pre-Strauss "skeptics" saying that the Bible is not supernatural reports, but just misinterpretations of natural phenomena so that Jesus *appeared* to walk on water but was really walking on submerged rocks and the apostles were just mistaken in the dark. My deepest criticism is that such entheogenists and mythicists *don't understand what allegory is really about*. They don't understand allegory and how it alludes to the specific mystic state experiences such as ego death.
Ruck & Staples have read Freudian psychology, and pollute their generally insightful psyche-oriented explanations of "what the myths mean" by misplaced early 20th-century phallic theory.
These studies are so right, in so many aspects, and yet so far from understanding their subject matter. The puzzling question I often face is, how can the scholars be so right, while yet being so wrong -- sort of close, but sort of far from understanding. Even if a book does bring together myth, religion, entheogens, determinism, and self as control agent, so much more is required to pull a truly new (ancient) paradigm for understanding into place.
>http://www.csp.org/chrestomathy/a_title.html#z -- look for Zig Zag Zen soon
Here it is - substantial. Read this page if you are interested in the relation of visionary plants and Buddhism or meditation.
>Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics
>Allan Hunt Badiner (Editor), Alex Grey (Editor), Stephen Batchelor, Huston
>http://www.zigzagzen.com - excerpts, info, links
>http://www.henrymiller.org/Events/June.html -- "June 8, 3PM - Zig Zag Zen --
>Author Allan Hunt Badiner booksigning and reading from the recently published
>book on Buddhism and Psychedelics. ...
>Search Web for zig zag zen:
The success of a domain must first of all be measured in terms of its value system and its own set of goals. A distinction must also be made between its potential achievements and actual achievements so far, and obstacles to the domain must be considered as well.
Zen has been a failure so far, because it has failed to attain its own goals and meet its own values. Zen says we can attain enlightenment and that enlightenment is unsurpassed in value. But Zen doesn't enlighten many people; it's more frustrating than successful. Its actual achievements at providing transcendent knowledge and enlightenment have been miniscule, perhaps with an even lower success rate than Christian mysticism.
It would be misguided to assess Zen's success primarily or exclusively in terms of its contributions to sustainability or increasing the world's carrying capacity. Its potential achievements are limited because (as Zen is ordinarily defined) it attempts to make do without the benefit of intellectual model-building, and without the benefit of entheogens. Its actual achievements have been so small and rare as to only prove and demonstrate the inefficacy of the overall approach altogether.
We have proven that that approach it a failure on its own terms, by its own goals, because it only achieves a success rate of one person out of many thousands. Some Buddhists say that there are only a few people at any point in time who have attained enlightenment. Buddhism also proposes that we are now in the darkest age, where enlightenment is nowhere to be found.
Thus on its own terms, by its own measures, Zen can only be considered a failure, a doomed approach that cannot attain its goals or fulfill its stated values. We do not measure Zen primarily in terms of its ability to increase the carrying capacity of the planet, but on its ability to provide the enlightenment which it claims to be able to deliver. Zen has not failed due to obstacles put in its path, but due to its own innate limitations.
Entheogens have been a tremendous, record-breaking success at their stated goals and endorsed value-system. They are extremely reliable. It is typical and commonplace for entheogens to produce primary religious experience. They have a tremendous potential, and insofar as they have been tried, have had tremendous achievements.
Entheogens immediately present the timeless block-universe conception of determinism even in an age overtaken completely by causal-chain determinism as the only known alternative to metaphysical free will. Entheogens led to ego death becoming familiar and popular in the 1960s (Stephen Gaskin, Timothy Leary, Grateful Dead), and re-formed a modern-day initiatory mystery-religion that proved flexible in style (Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock, Heavy Rock, Metal, Electronica), and led to what people thought was impossible: a systematic rational explanation of the ego death and rebirth experience.
Entheogens were popular in the personal computer revolution and are a major factor in computer science culture since the very beginning of the 1960s entheogen movement. Entheogens accomplished all this despite the heaviest taboos and attempts at suppression. Entheogens have been strongly praised by many leading thinkers, artists, scientists, writers, and religionists and have been credited with fundamental breakthroughs in various fields. Entheogens were immediately influential: they were essential in the social consciousness revolution of the 1960s and are often associated with awakening people to environmental consciousness.
By its own goals and values, Zen is a dismal failure, and admits it although no obstacle has blocked it.
By its own goals and values, entheogens are a huge success, and the field claims much more is possible if the suppression of them is lifted."
>In Buddhism they called the preparatory ego death or Nirvana, what we translate as "extinction." But then that in itself is not really the goal of Buddhism, just a step
Who is to say what "the goal of Buddhism" is? Can they justify their definition of Buddhism's goal, and I mean justify in an accountable, clear, comprehensible way that is meaningful in some common way to practitioners in general? If all they can say is "the real goal of Buddhism is lasting realization of ineffable nothingness", I'd describe that goal statement as worthless for real people in real life -- an essentially and practically irrelevant goal, a goal that is really as minor and incidental as it is "ultimate".
It's a mistake to define the goal of religion as something so vastly lofty and unattainable that it wanders off into irrelevance. For all relevant purposes, the goal of religion -- the relevant and attainable and meaningful goal -- is ego transcendence, which is easy to gain through entheogenic loose cognition in conjunction with a clear, systematic model of the transcendent mental worldmodel.
I include in attainable "ego transcendence" the experience of white-light perceptual feedback and the experience of cessation of experience. Beyond that definite, publically agreeable achievement, and those easily reproducible experiences and insights, we enter the realm of the doubtfully relevant, the realm of claims and assertions of the few.
The first and main order of business will always be the basic achievement of standard, uncontroversial ego transcendence, which is well within the domain of shared science and knowledge. Beyond that is great wilderness and soft ground. The glorification of hyperspeculative "ultimate" religion in fact causes people to fail to attain the rudimentary enlightenment of simple, classic ego transcendence.
For my purposes, per the principle of axiom-selection that's based on *seek the simplest explanation*, I deny the importance and relevance of religion beyond the universally achievable basic transformation from an easily definable egoic mental worldmodel to an easily definable transcendent mental worldmodel. This particular transformation is profitable, standard, common, attainable, certain -- it merely needs to be systematized.
In contrast, Ken Wilber's impenetrable theory, characterization, or model of "ultimate consciousness", I find to be useless, meaningless, speculative, incomprehensible, debatable, soft, hearsay, and deservedly controversial. Buddha refused metaphysical speculation when the patient was shot through with arrows -- in practice, in the real, shared world of actual people, the basic problem of ego transcendence towers far above the proposed further goals of religion.
Conventional scientists won't have any problem evaluating, understanding, and accepting the theory I put forward, with its characterization of the nature of transcendent knowledge. The distinguishing features of this model are the following axioms:
o Enlightenment is essentially rational and easily explicable; rational insight works together with what's sensed in altered state experiencing
o Entheogens rather than meditation is the best model of mystic-state trigger;
o Religion in its best and truest aspect is purely mythic metaphor for intense mystic experiencing;
o No-free-will/no-separate-self; timeless frozen block-universe determinism with a single, atemporally preexisting future.
I don't claim that this *simple, rational* model of ego transcendence and transcendent knowledge is all-encompassing or certain: I claim that this model is the most basic, most sure, most common and practical model of transcendent knowledge that any mystic explorer is bound to quickly come across and have to work out. This model is certainly where the vast bulk of the importance lies; this model -- not some further speculations -- is the true and best essence of religion.
An interesting comparison would be to align this model and the "vastly abstruse ultimate" model against Newtonian spacetime theory, Einsteinian spacetime theory, and perhaps quantum mechanics. In a way, I'd be glad to compare this model of transcendent knowledge to Newton's spacetime theory, and disparage the "vastly abstruse ultimate" model as being of little unimportance, merely a minor adjustment of the main, Newtonian model.
Or, this theory could be aligned with Einsteinian spacetime, comparing the "vastly abstruse ultimate" model with the highly garbled and controversial and shaky theories and interpretations of quantum mechanics. But I have mixed feelings about this way of lining up the comparison, because what theory of religion would then be "like" Newton's theory of spacetime? Reformed theology and conventional Buddhist thought and practice?
I think of this theory of transcendent knowledge as switching from near chaos (unsystematic explanations) to sudden order, to the same degree that Newton was the first major systematizer in the field of spacetime physics. I can only be satisfied with being compared to Newton and Einstein munged together into one:
Pre-Newtonian physics is like
Lack of good systematic model of high religion
Newtonian/Einsteinian spacetime model is like
Theory of ego transcendence
Quantum mechanics dubious interpretation is like
The "vastly abstruse ultimate" model of goal of Buddhism
It is reasonable to ask what more there is to do and explore in religion after attaining the easy, full enlightenment that is delivered by the theory of ego transcendence. There may be some things beyond this Theory, but none will ever be as important, because this theory is about the basic transformation. Wilber speculates on some 12 transformations that happen during psychospiritual development of the individual and the collective.
His model isn't incorrect in content, but it is incorrect in *balance*; he makes it seem as though each level of development involves an equally significant transformation. In contrast, it's easy to make a strong case that there is one transformation that is far more important than all the rest: the switch from the egoic worldmodel to the transcendent worldmodel.
Any further transformation or religious experience or insight can only be a fraction as earth-shattering and important. The most important religious transformation by far is that from the egoic to the transcendent worldmodel. It is *this* transformation that is the main transformation represented by all religious art and myth. The other transformations are faint echoes and metaphors for this comparatively all-important transformation.
Part of the great importance of this particular psychospiritual transformation is its widespread relevance, due to its ease: anyone with a reasonably developed rational mind and the use of visionary plants can attain this transformation. The majority of the best religion is about *this* transformation, not some earlier or later, more mundane or yet more profound transformation.
This sense of proportion and balance is important. This transformation is not one of many equals, and is not less important than some yet higher transformation. Any transformation beyond this basic one is comparatively incidental, of much lesser import. I don't deny there is insight and profundity beyond this model -- I deny that such a further development is as important and significant for people in general.
Chasing after such long-shots before we have even systematized this undergraduate level of basic enlightenment actually gets things backwards and prevents attaining basic enlightenment, and prevents any presumed further-advanced insight as well. For the most part, the proposition that there is further insight beyond basic ego transcendence tends to complicate the pursuit of ego transcendence so as to prevent basic success.
From the point of view of my goal and method, which is "choose the simplest system and reject the more complicated alternatives", my model *formally* rejects the idea of a highly significant enlightenment beyond basic ego transcendence, just as this theory formally rejects ESP. This theory's goal isn't absolute certainty; it aims to define a set of postulates that is as simple as possible to explain the bulk of religious experiencing and insight.
It's more important to formulate a simple, closed model, than a perfect and tentative open model. Newton's spacetime model isn't perfect, but it is very usefully closed or bounded; same with Einstein's with respect to the later, speculative and controversial quantum physics.
Even within Einstein's spacetime physics, without venturing into quantum physics, he defined two distinct systems: special relativity and general relativity -- this suggests the great value of simplifying assumptions and first-order approximations. According to my theory, which is intended as an immensely useful and relevant first-order model, the transformation from basic egoic to basic transcendent thinking towers above all further insights and is the real essence of religion.
The goal of this model is to present the most simple, the most basic, and the main theory of religious experiencing and insight.
>The goal [of Buddhism] is not Entheos either unless we stretch the meaning [of Buddhism? of 'entheos'?]
What is the goal of Buddhism, if not ego transcendence or Entheos (as intended above)?
>> For another thing, who is to say that "lasting results" are what really matters, and how should we define "results"?
>I think that this question about results was defined in Buddhism in the general way..."To remove suffering from all beings." That is the "results." The only direction to head towards that kind of result, would be with ubiquitous enlightenment, allowing research and experimentation and underlying that would need be social and legal acceptance.
It's impossible to hold Buddhism responsible for delivering on its promise of removing suffering from all beings. If "removing suffering" is taken literally and extremely, Buddhism is an utter, dismal, and total failure. Assessing whether Buddhism delivers its claimed results then hinges on the meaning of "removing suffering from all beings".
I should study popular American Buddhism more to determine what result it promises, what result people expect from it, and evaluate the degree to which such Buddhism delivers on its promise. I look at the magazine stand packed with Buddhism magazines and I just don't get it: what is motivating all this interest?
Is American Buddhism actually nothing but a backlash, a rebellious middle finger of the Baby Boom generation to their parents' worldview, or is this kind of Buddhism truly seen as offering some positive value in its own terms? Is American popular Buddhism really nothing but anti-Christianity, an active refusal of Christianity, just a cultural rebellion? Probably my books like Cimono's Shopping for Faith contain the answer.
My own religious interest arises from and developed from, in chronological order:
1. The hope of attaining and formulating transcendent knowledge which would eliminate my cognitive dissonance regarding self-control struggle -- this was the kind of "suffering and hope" that motivated me from the start of investigation (10/85) to the discovery of my core theory (1/88) and the year beyond that.
Early in my research, I read more Buddhist than Christian writings, and used the notion of "suffering", though what I had in mind was cognitive dissonance due to lack of control over one's thoughts and actions, hoping that such control would end the dissonance. Largely true -- but "suffering" is a label of debatable usefulness and relevance.
2. Making sense of intense mystic-state experiences which were originally motivated by the hope of eliminating self-control dissonance, and then connecting this understanding to Christianity, for several years with the distorted guiding axiom that the historical Jesus expressed and understood the same principles of transcendent knowledge.
3. Lately, my motivation for studying religion has been the pleasure of intellectual discovery, and the drive to closure in formulating a core theory of transcendent knowledge and firmly connecting it to religion, to show that religion is essentially a more or less distorted expression of transcendent knowledge.
It's existentially arbitrary what motivates the interest for involvement with any subject. What do people hope to gain from reading music or guitar magazines? What do people hope to get from life? Those questions are off-base. Life is just life; music is just life -- it's something people do, not really a matter of gaining or achieving something specific, but more of a matter of existentially baseless values.
People "do" popular American Buddhism because it is a framework, just as other people "do" music as their framework, or "do" technology as their framework that gives some shape to their lives. What is the "promised goal" of this Buddhism? It's not so much a promised goal, as a framework for living. Considering that such Buddhism is valued as a framework of living, it certainly *does* achieve its goal of being a framework for living.
However, if people value American popular Buddhism because of its claim to be a system that provides deep transformation, I, with Ken Wilber, would have to strongly object and claim that Buddhism on those terms is a failure. This Buddhism succeeds at being a framework of living, but it fails at being a system of deep transformation. This Buddhism in practice provides only a holding pattern, a framework of sideways translation rather than vertical transformation.
All indications are that this Buddhism is nontransformative Buddhism. Popular American Buddhism is nontransformative Buddhism, just as all low religion/psychology/philosophy is essentially nontransformative. Although ultimately, all values are existentially baseless and arbitrary, and I emphatically do not put forth transcendent knowledge as a way of improving the world, my value system can be detected.
Clearly I treat the prohibition and diminishment of psychoactives as bad, and assert that psychoactives combined with rationality are the best path to good, truth, knowledge, enlightenment, or spiritual salvation. Ignorance is bad, knowledge is good. A coherent mental worldmodel is good. Knowing the truth about Jesus and Buddha is good (I'm too ignorant to venture any statements about the Mohammed figure).
Falsity is bad. Improving the world is good, but I don't automatically equate transcendent knowledge or enlightenment with the mundane general improvement of the world. Giving full amnesty to all the Drug War prisoners and firmly ending prohibition would be good -- that project is closely related to the entheogenic truth about religion and to transcendent knowledge, but is a distinct project.
At this point, the main thing that motivates me is the intellectual satisfaction of reaching closure in formulating a coherent theory of transcendent knowledge, closure in both the core theory and in showing that the ultimate referent of religion and myth is this same core theory or mental worldmodel -- to define the perennial philosophy better, more insightfully and powerfully and relevantly than has been done before.
What did the early Christian Jews hope to get from religion? Some combination of improvement of the world, and religious knowledge of God, religious experiencing and transcendent insight.
What do people hope to get from entheogens and psychoactives? Adventure, insight, enlightenment, inspiration. The same could be said for something I hold in such disdain as American popular Buddhism: do its proponents merely see it as a framework for ordinary mundane living? No, they see it as both a framework for all-around living, and a framework that to be worthwhile, they see it as a framework that includes, as part of it, a transcendent level.
The same could be said for Rock music: it provides a framework of living including both a mundane lifestyle and a transcendent level, particularly if you conceive of acid mysticism as the house religion of Rock.
By this measure, the deficiency of the cybernetic theory of transcendent knowledge is that it doesn't attempt to provide a framework for mundane living, only a theory of the high level of all fields and of all religions and philosophies. I tend to see it as an insult to religion to conceive of religion as a framework for mere mundane life -- like an apocalyptic prophet, I center everything on the near experience of salvation and revelation.
But even the prophets promised not just high knowledge, but mundane peace and goodness too. I try to solve the problem of meaningfully and successfully systematizing transcendent knowledge by eliminating the complexity of mixing mundane ethics and conduct with high theory. You can't solve the problem of systematizing high theory if you also demand, a-priori, that mundane ethics and conduct must be integrated at the same time.
My strategy is to forget about mundane ethics: transcendent knowledge is a distinct hard problem that must be roped off, to solve it. The whole reason that transcendent knowledge so eludes the world is that the world insists on jumbling the mundane concerns with the transcendent concerns.
Here's where I adhere to modern scientific thinking: to solve the problem of rationally systematizing transcendent knowledge, it must be cut off and fully differentiated from all other fields -- only after solving the problem can we then integrate the solution with mundane concerns. Enlightenment can only be initially gained when it is separated from the concerns of the world.
However, all this view I'm espousing really only applies to a narrow period; if enlightenment really is as easy and rational and communicable as I uniquely claim it to be, we can now take systematized enlightenment for granted, and focus on mundane improvement of the world, with enlightenment in hand as one of many tools.
The Hellenistic world largely did this; their system of enlightenment and salvation and transcendence was fairly systematized and effective, through their mastery of the science of myth in conjunction with intense mystic-state experiencing via visionary plants, integrated into myth and ritual. Enlightenment was dirt cheap, common as dirt (though I think my systematization or core theory is clearer than any of the Hellenistic age); what was harder to accomplish was mundane goodness, peace, and justice.
>How can you separate transcendent knowledge/experiencing from daily living and mundane life & ethics? When the transcendent butterfly moves out from the more mundane cocoon, nature continues to need caterpillars. High religion and transcendent knowledge in some sense comes up from the lower level of life. After one has transcended, one cannot ignore the ordinary world, which is as much a part of its life as high knowledge and vertical, transformative experience.
I don't say that after one has transcended, one should completely ignore all else. The word "separate" is ambiguous. You confirm the legitimacy of differentiating between mundane (caterpillar) and transcendent (cocoon). I don't extremely and completely separate the transcendent (with goal of attaining systematic theory of transcendent knowledge) from the mundane in all ways; it's a more skilled and strategic and dynamic separation.
The modern era tends to think that two areas are either totally separate with no relevance whatsoever, or totally intertwined into one. The transcendent realm and the mundane realms -- such as Buddhism as a daily lifestyle versus as a technique of deep and intense transformation -- are distinct, though related. Differentiate and then integrate; that is the way to successfully solve the puzzle of what transcendent knowledge is.
Differentiate transcendent knowledge from daily-lifestyle religio-philosophy (such as ethics), solve the problem of transcendent knowledge as a completely bounded and circumscribed problem, and only then, ask how it can relate to mundane life and ethics -- being sure to keep clear that transcendent knowledge is distinct from mundane life & ethics.
If mundane life & ethics is always jumbled up and undifferentiated from high transcendent knowledge and insight, transcendent insight could never arise; there would be too much confusion. After high insight is attained, then the insight may be used to shed some light on mundane life, but high insight still remains a field that is distinct from mundane life.
Against the "Spiritual Enlightenment" paradigm. Also discussed: posting techniques, transcendent knowledge, and social harmony.
The mainstream view holds that developing authentic compassion has tremendous benefits. That view asserts that wisdom and compassion, or metaphysical enlightenment and interpersonal social harmony, are inherently and deeply, inseparably related. I disagree. The mainstream view is harmful and prevents enlightenment, and leads to a plague of inauthentic and superficial conduct, a plague of niceness posing as enlightenment while blocking actual enlightenment.
An enlightened person should not apologize for or compromise on their views. My conception of enlightenment is straight-dealing, not niceness. Niceness is artifice; enlightenment is about reality and truth. One should be decent, more than nice, and one should deal straight in online postings and in positions or views maintained. I am perfectly decent, and straight-dealing, but not particularly nice.
It's bad for an enlightened person to be nice, because then people assume that enlightenment is about niceness, which is actually artifice. There is some wisdom to trickster-gurus, who constitutionally thrive on demolishing nonsense wherever they find it, and where better to demolish nonsense than in popping the balloons that people bring regarding the nature of what enlightenment is really about? If you think enlightenment is really about niceness, pop goes that balloon.
Enlightenment is really about truth, which has merely a tendency toward niceness and must not be assumed to be rigidly associated with niceness. The most enlightened manner is a manner of truth, of no-nonsense dealing -- polite, perhaps; pleasant perhaps -- but you don't have to be enlightened to be nice and polite and pleasant, and that proves that enlightenment is distinct from social conduct.
If you like compassion and pleasant interaction style, than develop compassion and pleasant interaction style, but don't conflate it with religion or enlightenment; don't drag down and distort enlightenment by equating it with nice interpersonal interaction style. If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him. If people equate transcendent truth with pleasant interaction style, deny that equation. There is nothing wrong with pleasant interaction style, but it has only a minor connection with transcendent enlightenment.
Social enlightenment is not very close to metaphysical enlightenment. You can be socially enlightened, while metaphysically not particularly enlightened. *Ought* one be both socially enlightened and metaphysically enlightened? Sure, as ought's go, who could reject this? One should be socially enlightened and metaphysically enlightened, but they are two distinct areas with only a limited, minority overlap. They are essentially different realms or domains.
The popular paradigm of "spiritual enlightenment" defines enlightenment as necessarily entailing both social enlightenment and metaphysical enlightenment. I have solved the puzzle of systematizing metaphysical enlightenment by isolating it from the project of social enlightenment. I'm against too-close identification of metaphysical enlightenment with social enlightenment.
What is the relation between social interaction style and metaphysical enlightenment? Social interaction style is not a subject I'm interested in, but it must be covered, because today's conception of what enlightenment is about is prevented from attaining enlightenment by holding incorrect assumptions about ideal social interpersonal style of conduct, and the incorrect assumption that enlightenment is very closely related to social interaction style, particularly the stereotypical "spiritual" style of interpersonal conduct.
Enlightenment is not in fact predominantly concerned with social interaction style or manner of interpersonal conduct, and the popular ideal of a spiritually enlightened style of interpersonal conduct is not in fact the best ideal for a social interaction style.
The religious theorist's life inherently is a life of resistance to many current views. The theorist has to be fully ready to drive away the majority, because the majority's view is the view to be refuted. My theory is set to battle against all existing views about what religion is all about. In many respects, I'm against Christianity, against Buddhism, against spirituality, against existing models of enlightenment.
Of course, in many respects I'm in harmony. I get along chummily with any traditions that agree with me. I don't get along with the majority, but my theory gets along fine with the parts of the theories that agree with my theory.
I agree that metaphysical enlightenment and interpersonal harmony have some degree of relationship, but the extent of that relationship has been greatly exaggerated, tending to falsely restrict enlightenment to the merely or solely social realm. And I oppose the popular conception of what interpersonal social harmony amounts to, and what the ideal manner of conducting oneself socially is.
I'm against the popular ideal of the spiritually enlightened style of social conduct, and I'm against the popular assumption that enlightenment and social conduct are two very closely related parts of one thing.
The ideal style of social conduct is different than the popular picture of spiritually enlightened social conduct, and the whole realm of social conduct is much less closely related to the realm of religious or metaphysical or spiritual enlightenment than assumed by the popular view. I'm against the popular conception of what "spiritual enlightenment" is all about; I'm against the paradigm that we might label "the spiritual enlightenment paradigm".
My theory of transcendent knowledge is a refutation of the popular spiritual enlightenment paradigm, which holds that a certain spirituality-styled interpersonal conduct is ideal, and that such conduct is intimately related and fused with metaphysical enlightenment. I try to break apart popular spiritual enlightenment and refute and revise and improve both halves.
Separate the social aspect of popular spiritual enlightenment from the intellectual aspect of popular spiritual enlightenment, and then thoroughly revise the implicit social conduct theory, and thoroughly revise the implicit intellectual metaphysics theory. I would ideally put forth a better social conduct theory than is packed into the popular paradigm of spiritual enlightenment, and I do put forth a better intellectual metaphysics theory than is packed into the popular paradigm of spiritual enlightenment.
The only messages I've deleted are blatant repeated spam like weekly reposts of "join my spirituality discussion group", and the only person I've banned was the same -- a man with an automatic spam gun aimed at the group. The archives, I remind everyone, are visible to the public -- for better or worse. I have considered making this a literally moderated group, but that would require too much time commitment, so it is a virtually moderated group, with the intended scope of postings spelled out.
A moderator is a designer-god of their group, and there is *much* to be said for the potential and value of tightly moderated discussion groups.
Despite my support for better interpersonal harmony, I don't agree that the conventional assumptions about what a spiritually enlightened style of interpersonal conduct would amount to.
A half-baked superficially spiritual style of conduct has become a noxious, false substitute for actual enlightenment, so I'm firmly against such a view of spirituality. The assumption that spirituality amounts to a warm and fuzzy style of interpersonal conduct is a noxious, false, obstacle toward attaining the goal. So I have a sort of negative neutrality toward that mindset about "spiritual enlightenment".
Against Concern with Social Harmony in the Conduct of Theoretical Discussion about Transcendent Knowledge
This is a place to theorize, not to socialize or to worry about social harmony in the discussions. I almost reject social harmony in discussions, but actually I'm wholly unconcerned with it as irrelevant. Are people offended by some postulate or idea or assertion? That is generally irrelevant. If you have ideas, put them out on the table. The ideas are the thing, *not* getting along socially. I am not interested in reassuring people, nor abusing them, though my unconcern with harmony will be felt as abuse.
If you feel warm and fuzzy because of what I write, that is irrelevant; if you feel personally hurt by what I write, that is irrelevant. Personal feelings are irrelevant in this discussion group, which is strictly for theorizing. If you don't like that, I recommend following the droves of other people who leave all the time and have always done so since the start.
Go to the other spirituality groups or online spiritual love-fests of warm and fuzzy feelings. This is one of the few groups that are idea-driven, in a sea of feeling-driven, social-oriented and emotion-driven discussion areas. I bow down to those moderators who have banned me. A moderator is a god of his realm. I have high honors for those who know what they want in shaping the scope of discussion and writing style. Yet I don't literally moderate this group, except to strongly define what kind of postings and what kind of membership self-selection I want.
Against Close Identification of Interpersonal Harmony with Enlightenment
What is the relation between ego transcendence and social conformity and social harmony? It's weaker than people assume. Ego transcendence does *not* revolve around mundane social harmony. If you want social harmony, go to a social harmony discussion group. Ego transcendence is a distinct field from the field of social harmony. Conflating the two is one factor that has prevented widespread ego transcendence.
It's an artificial preconceived notion of religion or transcendent knowledge, the very popular assumption that transcendent knowledge amounts to social harmony. They are distinct areas that can uplift each other best when treated as distinct areas. It may be bad to offend others socially, but that's an issue essentially separate from transcendent knowledge proper
I'm not against social harmony, but neither am I centrally concerned with it. Social harmony is a minor topic, one of many possible applications of transcendent knowledge, or, per what I call "domain dynamics", it is a distinct domain; the domains of social harmony and transcendent knowledge are distinct domains that have a degree of overlap and cross-influence.
Similarly, the domain of entheogens and the domain of social harmony are distinct domains; same with the domain of meditation and social harmony. They can have a conversation and relationship, but meditation or enlightenment does not automatically, necessarily correlate with social harmony. The best way to improve social harmony, entheogens, and meditation is to "differentiate and integrate" -- develop each domain as an independent and interdependent domain.
It would be on-topic in this discussion group to discuss social harmony *if* that distinct topic were explicitly related in the discussion to the topic of ego transcendence. I'm in sync with Ken Wilber on these views. People want to tangle together all sorts of concerns, integrating without differentiating these areas of concern. Wilber has written much of value about the tone of writing and criticism.
It is so easy to shock the brittle spiritual bourgeoisie, because they have certain assumptions or commitments about what spirituality is about. Transcendent knowledge is not a style of talking or a style of social harmony.
Does "developing authentic compassion" have a very close relationship with enlightenment, spirituality, or religion? Is enlightenment a matter of mundane social ethics? I am an enemy of the dominant conflation of enlightenment with social, interpersonal ethics. Metaphysical enlightenment is a good project, and social interpersonal ethics is a good project, but to develop both projects, they must be differentiated as well as integrated.
Metaphysical enlightenment and mystic enlightenment is distinct and differentiated from social, interpersonal ethics. If we jumble them together and say that enlightenment is nearly the same thing as social interpersonal ethics, it becomes impossible to gain enlightenment, because we start off with false assumptions about the scope of the realm of enlightenment.
There is only a minor, topical, partial overlap between the domain of enlightenment and interpersonal ethics. Stop conflating enlightenment with interpersonal ethics -- they are not the same thing, and are not rigidly and simply connected as though two parts of one thing. Enlightenment and interpersonal ethics are two out of many distinct, interacting domains.
Mystic insight and metaphysical revelation and enlightenment and transcendent knowledge cannot, should not, and must not be reduced or distorted into interpersonal relations. Transcendent knowledge sheds light on interpersonal relations, but doesn't have a direct, necessary effect.
You cannot measure one's enlightenment by one's conduct of interpersonal relations. Also, spiritualists assume that one particular emotional, warm and fuzzy style of interpersonal relations is "the enlightened style", but that assumption has no real foundation. I idealize a very straightforward manner of interpersonal relations; I think the "spiritual, compassionate" superficial style of interpersonal relations is harmful and prone to backfire.
People ought to be decent and straight with each other -- who can argue with that limited, reasonable view? But the spiritualists go beyond that; they synthesize an artificial notion of "enlightened interpersonal style" which is fake and unreal. Enlightenment is not a style of interpersonal relations. Enlightenment is mainly about grasping a set of concepts and experiencing a set of experiential insights.
Spiritual seekers are suckers for any guru who conducts themselves in a superficially enlightened manner of warm and fuzzy and emotion-centric way.
I agree that both an intellectual grasp of enlightenment and a decent style of interpersonal conduct are good, but this discussion group is wholly oriented to the intellectual grasp of enlightenment, which hasn't been developed enough elsewhere, because most other forums are dominated to death by practicing interpersonal conduct in a sappy spiritual style, at the expense of intellectual content.
One group, for example, was named "Mindspace", but I rechristened it "Heartspace". Experiential enlightenment does have an element of interpersonal unity consciousness and harmony, but that aspect often becomes a vicious weed that insists on taking over the entirety of the subject, so that enlightenment becomes retarded and stunted.
What is the ideal enlightened style of interpersonal conduct in general life?
What is the ideal enlightened style of interpersonal conduct in postings in spiritual online discussion groups?
What is the ideal enlightened style of interpersonal conduct in postings in a technical theory development group such as this one?
>with all the non entheognenic religious practices and in the world, the world is still a mess. This is because in truth, people are not capable of accomplishing the most profound experiences without the use of entheogens. If this were possible, then the result would already be obvious in the state of the world.
I caution about making the old claim that entheogens will save the world or improve the world. It may well be just a preconception and wishful thinking to assume that the nature of mystic insight is such that mystic insight will save or improve the world. Many people with no outstanding mystic insight seem to take it as an axiomatic given that enlightenment will bring about all sorts of improvements. It is a matter of speculation, however, the extent of these potential improvements.
I don't maintain that entheogens are likely to improve the mundane world. I only maintain that entheogens are more likely than meditation to deliver on a particular, limited, bounded promise: the experience of unity and timelessness, and a particular shift from one mental worldmodel to a different, more nuanced worldmodel regarding space, time, will, control, and self.
My attitude is that of an Xer skeptic: maybe the mundane world would improve, maybe it wouldn't. I'm skeptical of overly optimistic hopes; better to be stoically restrained than go chasing after rainbows and then fall down to the hard earth.
It would be a liability, a burden, and a complication to my basic framework were I to add the promise that entheogens will also improve daily life for the individual and the collective. By reigning in the scope of promises, we can gain a surer grasp of the basics of what we *can* know and assert about entheogens and religion (or mystic philosophy or meditation or whatever you feel like labelling it).
I guarantee a method of easy enlightenment, by restricting the definition of enlightenment and refraining from claiming that it will bring about some tangible heaven on earth. Entheogens do bring certain definite benefits and *might* bring other benefits, but the latter is speculation, while the former is systematic and warranted by the evidence.
Mystic insight certainly brings on a mystical type of heaven on earth, but there's no evidence that if many have mystic insight, the world will be a better place by mundane, non-mystical measures. The world has problems -- is mystic insight the solution to the world's problems? There we enter a realm of hypothetical speculation other than the speculation I'm forced to do in my basic theory of mysticism.
I want to minimize speculation, though I'm forced to do a lot of it. I differ on what speculation is most justified and valuable. It's a proven fact, not speculation, that entheogens are widely present throughout religious history. What's speculative is the exact extent of this presence. Firming up this particular speculation about extent seems to be the current state of entheogen scholarship. We're finding that the extent is greater than thought, but we can only wildly guess, at this point, how much greater.