The challenge is to enter the labyrinthine study of this new field of Western Esotericism without getting lost in dissipation like some Alexandria table of contents listings appear to. Fortunately, I emphasize the need for an ultra-simple model. Acharya S urged me to "keep it simple", but her idea of simple discards all the higher, mystic-experiencing dimension, together with the mapping from symbols to the mystic phenomena.
Her idea of "keep it simple" in revealing esoteric meaning is "Jesus means the sun, that's all. Christianity means astrology -- the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets. That's all." We must find the simplest possible explanation that fits.
Terminating symbology mapping with the mere literal sun and literal astrology fails to fit, because it omits the mystic-experiential dimension that according to *all* scholars of the esoteric is the definitive key characteristic of esotericism, instantly tossed into the wastebasket by the literalist "esotericism" of Acharya's Christ Conspiracy theory of the true meaning of Jesus and Christianity.
Christ Con contributes insight into the lack of a single individual historical Jesus, but replaces the Historical Jesus theory of the creation of Christianity by the literalist astrology (only) theory, which tosses right out all the real *religion* -- that is, the mystic experiencing -- that is the backbone of Hellenistic Jewish, Pagan, and Christian religions, world religions, and Western Esotericism.
It's a totally, stunningly reductionist alternative theory to the literalist Historical Jesus assumption, so that literalist Christianity is replaced by literalist astrology, resulting in no real conversion of thinking -- no more than converting from literalist Islam to literalist Christianity.
The irony is the short strong defense of entheogens in the book, as being vaguely useful for "initiation" -- while out of the other side of her mouth, she denies Jesus was allegory for mystic-altered state psychological experiential phenomena. Note that her chapter on sex and drugs is about 85% about sex, and only 15% about drugs, and consider that sex is literal and physical, while drugs gets into the cerebral nonordinary state of consciousness.
It is astounding how scholars can be so learned, while utterly missing the nature of their subject -- especially in such an extremely literalist fashion. I continue to feel that Christ Con is based on narrow reading: it cites only one kind of scholar; it lies entirely within a particular bounded school of scholarship.
Can it be excused by pointing out how clueless all scholars are? No: in the field of studying the esoteric meaning of Jesus, the vast majority of scholars correctly start with the axiom that the meaning of any sort of esoteric gnostic interpretation is centered on a nonordinary state of experiencing -- an axiom not accepted, not even addressed, in Christ Con, with the exception of the one paragraph that contradicts the rest of the book's theory of the esoteric meaning of Jesus, stating that -- contrary to the rest of the book -- the Jesus figure was drawn from multiple, numerous meaning-domains.
Consider modes of interpretation:
1. Literal interp., ignorant of entheogens, omit experiential-psychological allusions
2a. Symbolic interp, ignorant of enth., omit experiential-psychological allusions
2b. Symbolic interp, ignorant of enth., include experiential-psychological allusions
3. Symbolic interp., aware of enth., include experiential-psychological allusions
Level 2 is mid-level interpretation, which is the mainstream standard. What's disturbing is that the vast majority of mid-level theorists adhere to reading 2b: when they reject literalism of the surface symbols, they don't simply claim those symbols (Jesus) point to *physical* items (the sun); they are Jungian, claiming the symbols point to psychological experiences.
I don't know of anyone who will agree that the "esoteric" meaning of Jesus and Christianity are purely material rather than psychological experiences. It's hardly worth my defining a level "2a" because practically no scholar today, except one, holds that view of the meaning of myth-religion. Practically all mid-level theorists use reading 2b, reasoning that the alternative to standard literalism is psychological experiences per Jung.
As far as its model of the esoteric meaning of Jesus and Christianity, Christ Con is rooted in pre-Jungian, early 20th-century conceptions, and is in that respect, surprisingly outdated -- a relic -- while other old theories such as the Radical Critics (no Jesus, no Paul) can be considered far ahead of their time.
Do the Radical Critics postulate an "esoteric" origin of the Jesus figure, and if so, do they assume that such esoteric meaning points ultimately to psychological/cognitive phenomena? If so, those 1800s scholars are a century ahead of the concept of "esoteric meaning" that drives Christ Con.
Christ Con has a good theory of no-Jesus, a good model of certain aspects of mapping Christian concepts to astrology, but a really bad or nonexistent model of "esoteric", "initiation", and "astrotheology" in that the mystic experiencing core dimension is utterly missing -- and that, despite the presence of the pro-entheogen defense and the associated thesis-demolishing assertion that the Jesus figure was assembled from many meaning-domains.
Christ Con is grounded in pre-Jungian thinking, just as is Frazer's fertility model of the meaning of the sacrificial king. Christ Con often seems to rest on just a few books, such as Barbara Walker's women's reference -- therefore I wonder if Walker's book also has never heard of Jung or the theory that myth-religion is description of cognitive phenomena of the mystic state of consciousness.
The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
The preconceived goal of overthrowing Christianity at any cost leads Christ Con to put forth an unusually literalist (materialist rather than psychological) and amazingly narrow model of the esoteric meaning of Jesus and Christianity.
My quickly selected excerpts from the Web page are below. Ideally I would read the page and briefly summarize it. Not sure of the relevance to egodeath, but has some odd connections between 20th-Century religion, drugs, the PWOD (Phony War On Drugs), and magick that might provide insights on the connection between propaganda, religion, moralism, and drugs.
From: Chris Bennett
Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2003 2:00 PM
Subject: L. Ron Hubbard on Drugs
Fascinating Weirdness! Was the founder of Scientology and the drug rehab program Narconon a user of Drugs and a Practitioner of Black Magick? Was L. Ron Hubbard working for Naval Intelligence and involved in the drug induced mind control predecessors of MK Ultra? Are Scientologists planning to take over the world and make it Drug-Free? Watch this fascinating video from Detroit's Red-Eye Rising Productions for all the answers.
Although he liked to claim it was from a vision inspired from a near death expereince It may have been L. Ron's strange relationship with drugs that initiated his first Sci-fi fantasy, a book which he believes laid the ground for his later philosophical achievments....
"Hubbard had experienced a peculiar hallucination in 1938, while under nitrous oxide during a dental operation. He believed that he had died during the operation and while dead been shown a great wealth of knowledge."
- Tony McClelland, "The Total Freedom Trap"
"He told me it was going to revolutionize everything: the world, people's attitudes to one another. He thought it would have a greater impact upon people than the Bible."
- Art Burks
ron hubbard marijuana&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
Clip Forrest Ackerman and Gerry Armstrong about Nitrous Oxide expereince
Sometime after allegedley trying to bilk the navy out of permanent disability funds for ulcers he developed well in Naval Service, Hubbard met and befriended pioneering rocketeer and occultist Jack Parsons. Besides being one of the founders of Cal Tech, Jack Parsons has the dubious honor of being the only pot head with a crater on the moon named after him.
Hubbard and Parson's shared adventerous and creative spirits, the two apparently shared another facination, that being a taste for the occult works of Aliester Crowley ... when well visiting the library of congress in washington DC, he discovered Crowley's infamous Book of the Law, a tiny booklet that Crowley claimed was channeled from discarnate Egyptian deities and promised a new era for humanity.
We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit; let them die in their misery. Compassion is the vice of Kings; stamp down the wretched and the weak; this is the law of the strong; this is our law and the joy of the world.
I am of the snake that giveth Knowledge and Delight, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs.... They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self.... Be strong, Oh man! Lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture ... the kings of the earth shall be kings forever; the slaves shall serve.
Them that seek to entrap thee, to overthrow thee, them attack without pity or quarter, and destroy them utterly. I am unique and conqueror. I am not of the slaves that perish. Be they damned and dead! Amen.
The use of both sex and drugs in Crowley’s form of magick cannot be understated. In an interview with Penthouse magazine in 1983 it was at this point his father began his use of drugs
Penthouse: Did your father take a lot of drugs?
Hubbard: Yes. Since he was sixteen. You see, drugs are very important in the application of heavy black magic. The personal use of drugs expands one's conscious ability to break open the doors to the realm of the deep.
Penthouse: What kind of drugs did he generally use?
Hubbard: At various times, just about everything, because he was quite a hypocondriac. Cocaine, peyote, amphetamines, barbiturates. It would be shorter to list what he didn't take.
Elsewhere Hubbard Jr. states:
“I remember in 1952… while he was taking a needle in the arm, containing cocaine. He grinned at me, winked wryly and said “Shades of Sherlock Holmes!’
“Dad gave a lot of lectures on Cocaines or stimulants of one kind or another. He could really get brilliant on the stuff.” (Corydon)
... He instead headed directly for a house in Pasadena, California, where an eclectic assortment of people lived including forementioned rocketeer Jack Parsons. At that time Parsons was the head of a California Branch of the Order templar Orientis, or OTO, a Masonic brotherhood that was headed by Crowley. ...
That Parsons was seen as a person of interest at the time is quite obvious. Rumours of cannabis smoke and erotic rites taking place on parsons' estate, where he had a number of bohemians and occultist living with him, had his 1940's neighbors quite concerned and both the FBI and local police had investigated him
Parson's wrote in the 1943 edition of the OTO's Oriflamme:
…I live on peyote,
marijuana, morphine and cocaine,
I never know sadness but only a madness
that burns at the heart and the brain.
Interestingly, it was this same year that researchers working for the OSS, the predecessor for the CIA, began ultra-secret work titled Bluebird and Artichoke began the quest to find the ultimate "truth-serum" starting with a cannabis-indica solution and later ciggarettes laced with the potent liquid, said to be a predecessor of the famous "honey-oil". Harry Anslinger, the father of Reefer Madness, was working with the OSS on this project.
By 1947, the U.S. Navy had also launched Project Chatter, which included experiments with mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug derived from the peyote cactus (with effects similar to LSD). Mescaline was studied as a possible speech-inducing agent after the Navy learned that Nazi doctors at the Dachau concentration camp had used it in mind-control experiments.
Concievabley it could have been due to a OSS & Naval Intelligence interest in the potentials of cannabis and mescaline as truth serums that Hubbard began spying on the sex drug cult headed by Parsons and crowley. According to Scientologist sources Hubbard had infiltrated the OTO on behalf of Naval Intelligence who became concerned when a number of their top physicists began getting involved and this was creating a national security situation.
Despite these high admirations, and testing Parson’s adherence to Crowley’s law of “Do As Thou Will”, which condones the total free will of every individual, Hubbard ended up charming away Parson’s girlfriend Sara Northrup, eventually marrying her himself before divorcing his first wife and the mother of his children.
"Hubbard insisted that he had been working undercover for Naval Intelligence to break up black magic in America and to investigate links between the occultists and prominent scientists at the Parsons' mansion.
The Excluded Middle
ron hubbard marijuana&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
According to L. Ron Jr., Hubbard Sr. continued with his own use of drugs and even used them in conjunction with the e-meter continually jotting down the results.
“He started me out by mixing phenobarbital into my bubble gum, when I was ten years old. This was to induce deeper trances in order to practice the black magic and to get an avenue to power.”
One of scientology’s most influential texts was said to have been created by these ve ry means with Ron Jr. acting as the Drug channel.
Hubbard not only drugged his son to act as his scribe but apparently also used himself in such experiments, typing out frantically the drug induced revelations as they came through. As Ron Jr. describes “He’d sit at his typewriter late at night and boost up on drugs and hit way at the top, and write like crazy. He could type 97 words a minute with four fingers. That was the maximum the old IBM electric typewriter would go. When he got into one of these drug trips he’d write until the body just collapsed.
That’s the way he worked. Usually what he had written in a burst would then be allowed to trickle out to the public, the classes he taught. It would then be allowed to trickle out to the public, the classes he taught. It wouldn’t just show up right away. But it was an uneven thing. Sometimes he wouldn’t write for a week, then he’d strap on the heavy duty rockets and up he’d go again.”
The first American “Clear”, meaning one who had successfully removed enegrams, or mental complexes they had developed through the e-meter and dianetics was one John Star Cooke. Besides being a Crowley disciple and owning Crowley’s own hand inscribed tarot deck, Cooke had heavy CIA connections and was also instrurmental in the spread of LSD and in initiating the first Human Be-in in 1967, the famous LSD inspired “Summer of Love”. As MK-Ultra developed out of the earlier OSS cannabis experiments Bluebird and Artichoke, it is interesting to note that Hubbard is credited with being the first to expose MK Ultra
According to researcher Jon Attack, Hubbard had himself used LSD himself prior to its illegality and Scientologists have dosed their unsuspecting enemies with the drug. Interestingly Hubbard himself later complained to the FBI that a number of Scientologists had suffered "psychotic episodes" which he claimed were the result of psychiatrists surreptitiously giving them LSD:
“1951 Hubbard authored a second book on Dianetics, Science of Survival which set out to delineat the human emotional range. Science of Survival is also notable on another count - as the first public disclosure of psychiatric-intelligence mind control techniques (later confirmed by Central Intelligence Agency testimony regarding the MK Ultra projects and the Navy's Project Chatter)..” (www.scientology.org)
"Mr. Hubbard's statement was found to be true in the 1970s, when the CIA's program became public knowledge after the freedom of Information Act enabled investigators to document the agency's inhumane and grotesque experiments on human subjects. The ensuing outcry over the use of mind-bending drugs, which combined with electric shock caused the deaths or maiming of untold numbers of people, drew comparisons between the CIA and the infamous Nazi doctors and led to Congressional hearings into the intelligence agency."
- an40286~at~anon.penet.fi (probably from the Scientology Guardians Organization)
L: Who else told you Hubbard was pretty far gone and couldn't hold a train
J: Rick Aznaran.
L: How would he know that?
J: Because he was there, and the hired farm hands that they had said that -- Rick Aznaran related this story to me -- that often they would hear L. Ron Hubbard screaming at BTs late in the night. He was heavily medicated with drugs from Dr. Dink like valium, the this the that, and the other thing.
J: Tranquilizers, and then he's experimenting with drugs, he's getting any kind of drug he wants to from Dink.
L: Any possibility of anti-psychotics?
J: Yeah, I do believe he had some of those too. Rick said there was a cabinet full of all kind of prescription medicine that you could ever imagine when they went to where he was an opened his medicine drawer. He said that amazed him because it's a strict policy of Scientology not to take any drugs whatsoever, any kind of medical drugs whatsoever. You just don't take them. And here he had a zillion of them. I've also since talked to Dennis Erlich who told me about a person who used to deliver cocaine and marijuana to L. Ron Hubbard, as well as LSD and other things, and knew him just in passing because Dennis was having an association with him or something. They were at some concert together, because Dennis does concerts. They got to talking, Dennis mentioned that he'd been in Scientology, and this person said to him, "Oh, I know L. Ron Hubbard, I used to bring him his drugs up there in Preston where he was."
Hubbard was STRONGLY AGAINST drugs [for OTHER people, in later policy], although he himself consumed huge amounts of drugs and alcohol during most of his life. We also know that in the early days there is plenty of evidence that he experimented with auditing under the influence of drugs [speed, for instance], and used drugs to make his own children pliant and controllable [phenobarbital laced chewing gum, for instance]. Later, he was MOST STRONGLY AGAINST psychedelic drugs like marijuana and LSD, [perhaps because they have very strong anti-hypnotic tendencies, and have the potential to bounce people *OUT* of consensus trance
Despite Ron’s love of both illicit drugs and potent pharmaceuticals, Scientologists are avowedly anti-drug, that is except for the ciggaretes they smoke in imitation of the Great Ron, and they use of booze and coffee. They even have a drug-rehab branch, Narconon, which critics accuse them of using as a front group for collecting new and unsuspecting membership through.
“Narconon was started by convict and drug addict William Benitez, in the mid-1960s. It claims to be a rehabilitation programme for alcoholics and other drug addicts, and at different times and in different places has gained state support . Hubbard’s interest in the group may have been inspired in part by Crowley's first published novel in 1922, The Diary of A drug Fiend. A detailed account of drug addiction and the drug experience. It tells the story of a man and a woman who fall madly in love, and travel throughout Europe in a frienzied haze of herion and cocaine usage. When their drug supply is cut off, they face despair, and they turn to the guidance of King Lamus, a master Adept, to free themselves from their addiction through the application of practical Magick. An interesting story that addresses the psychology of drug addiction and its cure through the use of true will.”
No connection clip
In a 1970 letter Hubbard gave clear indications that Narconon was a good way to get new recruits for Scientology.
Currently, Narconon works alongside Scientology's "Say No to Drugs Campaign", their youth groups “The Drug Free Marshalls and Drug-Free Ambassadors. Narconon is advocated by Scientologist and former cocaine addict, Kirstie Alley.
It is probably Narconon and Scientologies image as a "drug-Free" religion that accounts for the Church's penetration into more mainstream culture. Currently the Church claims over 8 million members world wide.... The Drug Rehab element of Scientology has been what has attracted a number of stars to the organization
One of the ways the Scientology has become so popular is the extensive work it has put into the Church's Public Relations campaign. ... Being faced with so many critics Hubbardites have sometimes resorted to what has been deemed Black PR
These comments are particularly interesting in relation to comments made by former Scientologists Garry Armstrong :
By far the best, safest, cheapest, holiest protection against $cientology, which virtually anyone with lips and a lung can obtain, is to smoke pot every week.
….A clear message to $cientology, a net oxygen producer, and an aesthetically pleasing addition to any home, is to grow a pot plant...
Gerry Armstrongs point of view seems to be reinforced by the Scientology funded piece of Drug war propaganda “The Truth About Joints” sites related to scientology which focus on cannabis, such as www.marijuanadetox.com , the Vancouver Narconon site that has a picture of Marc Emery and a Cannabis day add with the following comments
The Promotion and Marketing of Marijuana is taking the same avenues as legitimately marketable products in BC. You'll see promotion of pot in magazines, newspaper, given political support, health officers endorsing or failing to denounce it, Judges failing to convict, Newspapers report smoking it, and 'compassion' clubs selling it. Marijuana has been positioned below or 'not as bad as' alcohol and cigarettes for only one reason: To gain acceptance with an unfamiliar public market, i.e. those who aren't pot heads or haven't smoked pot. These positioning efforts are NOT an effort to show how safe marijuana is. If that were true why would the promoters have chosen the two most deadly substances in the world? … Marijuana promoters and pushers would like marijuana to take ranking against the big two of alcohol and tobacco. But who is cashing in on this huge marketing and promotional effort and who is paying for it?
Whether or not you are worried about the Scientologist, they are certainly worried about you. And the cult’s past history of infiltrating government agency and hiding its identity with the use of front groups cannot be ignore, particularly when it comes to the war on Drugs, for the Scientologist’s ultimate plan for a “clear” planet, means ultimately a Drug-Free planet.
The evil ruler in Revelation can be anyone, at any time, who rules the world at the top of an evil oppressive hierarchy.
A more interesting interpretation, equally valid, is that anyone at the top of a Literalist corrupted pseudo-religious power-hierarchy is the anti-Christ.
The book Lost Goddess makes the point plain and undeniable: all mystics of all religions basically agree, and strongly tend to get along with everyone. All Literalist religionists tend to not get along with other people.
All typical religions have a higher, esoteric level (with a transcendent kind of morality) and a lower, Literalist, exoteric, mundane-morality level. Freke & Gandy have a great innovation: instead of focusing on "Judaism vs. Christianity vs. Paganism vs. Islam vs. Buddhism", they focus on "Gnosticism vs. Literalism" and define "Gnosticism" to be the esoteric higher level of each typical religion.
"Literalism" is the lower level of each typical religion. Wilber calls Gnostic "esoteric", and Literalist "exoteric". Wilber's terminology is a little more abstract. Freke & Gandy are great, clear, popular writers -- their terms have an immediate connotation that only needs a little clarification as I provide above.
The standard fate of a religion, per Freke & Gandy, is that it's started by Gnostics, and is good and healthy, and is then corrupted by power-mongers, who degrade it into Literalist religion.
The relationship of mapping between Christian mythic elements, the core model of initiation/enlightenment, and astrotheology: Christian mythic elements are not explained finally as meaning astrotheology. Rather, astrotheology finally points to the core model and Christian mythic elements point to the core model. Astrotheology is not the final destination of meaning and the core model, but is just one more metaphorical expression that must be resolved by mapping to the non-metaphorical core model.
Christianity is not really astrotheology in the end; Christianity *uses* astrotheology and, as Christ Conspiracy points out, every other metaphorical system as well. Neither are visionary plants (per the book Mushrooms & Mankind) the final meaning or what is finally revealed; visionary plants are only one part of the non-metaphorical core model that is secretly intended.
What is revealed is the entire non-metaphorical core model of enlightenment, including the transcendent mental worldmodel, not just the visionary plants themselves, and not just the mapping of Christian mythic symbols to astrotheology elements. Recognizing the incorporation of astrotheology or visionary plants in Christian myth is not itself an understanding of the *ultimate* meaning of Christian myth.
Thus Christ Conspiracy and Mushrooms & Mankind are essential milestones but don't contain or lock onto the bulk of the final framework.
Christ Conspiracy achieves more than disproof of the historicity of Jesus. Moving from falsity to truth is not a matter of revising one element (Jesus' historicity) but rather, a switch from one whole worldmodel or interpretive framework to another. Christ Conspiracy helps in many ways to establish many elements of the necessary alternative framework, especially by considering Christianity as a mystery-religion among many other mystery-religion versions.
Many topics (subheadings) in Christ Conspiracy miss the bulk of the alternative, mystical reading of the Christian mythic system -- for example, to an ancient audience, it was explicitly obvious that the titles of Jesus were a rebuttal to Ruler Cult: this should be emphasized more.
As another example, the Jonah section in Christ Conspiracy didn't attempt to explain the story in terms of mystic-state experiencing, though this story was one of the very most important, popular mythemes, portrayed in catacombs together with the sacred banquet. Take all the alternative books (Bennett, Thorne, Acharya, Arthur, Heinrich) and merge their outlines of alternative readings of the elements of the Christian mythic system, and then we would have some real ammunition.
This would amount to a fully bulked-up "commentary" volume or a "mythic dictionary" showing a whole array of legitimate, justified readings of each Christian mythic element. For any element, we need to list many readings or mappings, and then discuss which readings point most directly to the core non-metaphorical meaning (universal mystic or transcendent truth as encountered in initiation).
The mistake, which Acharya is somewhat aware of, would be to stop as soon as one finds the first nonliteral reading. We instead need to persevere to find *many* readings and judge their importance.
Wittoba wrote (summary):
>Chapter 17 of Acharya S' book Christ Conspiracy covers the meaning of Revelation, explaining that the book of Revelation has much to do with the events of the great year of the astrological cycle. For more in-depth explication of the astrotheological implications of Revelation, what works provide greater detail about this, useful in refuting literalist interpretations of Christianity and the book of Revelation?
The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold
First, check the footnotes or endnotes and bibliography in that book.
There are different degrees and types of "literal" and "allegorical" Christian thinking. All Christians have some combination of literal and allegorical thinking. Merely showing the presence of astrotheology in Revelation won't convince literalist Christians that Revelation is strictly allegorical.
Standard Christian thinking assumes that Christianity is fully coherent allegorically at the same time that it is fully coherent literally; ordinary Christians credit Jesus and Christianity with all the best that mythic allegory and mysticism has to offer, *and* with literal truth as well.
For example, they'd say that Christianity is superior to paganism because pagan astrotheology was *only* allegorical, while Christianity has not only the full allegorical truth of astrotheology, but at the same time, also has literally incarnated these great astrotheological truths. The challenge for anti-literalists is to demonstrate that Christianity is *entirely* and *only* mythical, which is why I don't just say "mythic Christ", but more exclusively and explicitly, "mythic-*only* Christ".
You have to show that Christianity is *only* allegorical, strictly and exclusively allegorical -- that's much harder than showing that astrotheological allegory is fully present. After reading Allegro's Sacred Mushroom & The Cross, I liked his coverage of psychoactive mushrooms in early Christianity, but I instantly dismissed his no-historical-Jesus claim as unworthy of serious consideration.
I continued to assume that Christianity made complete sense mythically, mystically, allegorically -- *at the same time* as making complete sense literally. So I know first-hand the problem at hand. Only during later mystic-state reflection about how knowledge of Jesus provides mystic salvation, did I realize on my own the great theoretical benefits and soundness of abandoning the complicating assumption of simultaneous literal and mythic/mystic truth of Christianity.
Only at that point was I inspired to reconsider Allegro and read a stack of mythic-only-Jesus books, which then simply confirmed in some details the conclusion I had reached on my own while the Holy Spirit was upon me.
One lesson here for anti-literalists is that the intense mystic altered state can provide one method of convincing people that the literal Jesus assumption is not only superfluous next to the mythic/mystic Jesus, such an assumption is an immensely complicating and improbable hypothesis that prevents forming a clear and simple and elegant theory of the nature of early Christianity and early Christian religious experiencing of salvation through the psychoactive effects of standard, common Hellenistic sacred meals of visionary plants.
The enemy to battle is the standard Christian postulate of "simultaneous parallel sense", the assumption that Christianity *both* contains full mythic-mystic allegorical truth *and simultaneously* contains full literal truth, uniting mythic allegory with incarnate instantiation of the allegory in the historical Jesus.
The following books might cover astrotheology in the book of Revelation.
Jesus is a Myth: A Handbook To Reclaim Your Celestial Inheritance
Postmodern Revelation: Signs of Astrology & the Apocalypse
Jacques Chevalier, 1997
Reviewer: Zosimos. Review title: Astrology and Eschatology. "This book attempts an exegesis of The Book of Revelation from the perspective of postmodernity. The book considers the three interpretive modes of anagogy, teleology, and geneaology, which have been used by exegetes of the Book of Revelations. Anagogy views the text as a work expressing timeless propositions of the Christian spirit. Teleology views the text as a genuine prophecy of things to come. And, the geneaological perspective traces the lines of descent in the text from their original sources. The author examines the history of each of these interpretive modes, and then turns to the Book of Revelations itself to provide his own exegesis. The author uncovers the hidden astrological underpinning of the Book of Revelations, and shows how John wrote the book as a reply to astrology from the Christian perspective. The book concludes with a discussion of Revelation in light of Jung's "Answer to Job". Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the Book of Revelation, and its interpreters."
J M Robertson
I don't know if this covers astrotheology:
Christianity Before Christ
John Jackson, 1985
For general studies of eschatology, apocalyptic, and Revelation, see my book list:
The kingdom of God is at hand
>>There are different degrees and types of "literal" and "allegorical" Christian thinking. All Christians have some combination of literal and allegorical thinking. Merely showing the presence of astrotheology in Revelation won't convince literalist Christians that Revelation is strictly allegorical.
>Maybe neither the allegorical nor the literal interpretations are correct if the text is purely mythical, and does not correlate to any demonstrable "reality", whether material or spiritual.
It seems clear, but actually isn't clear, what you must mean by "purely mythical". What would be the purpose, point, or nature of Revelation if it is "purely mythical" in some sense other than correlating to supposed material or spiritual reality? Supposing that Revelation doesn't correlate with material or spiritual reality, what does it mean to say Revelation is "purely mythical"? What theory or understanding of "myth" would that be -- random meaningless entertainment?
Revelation certainly has some intended reference to something; it's not self-contained entertainment. There are several theories of myth (mine is that the main function of myth is to allegorize the experiences and insights of the entheogenic intense mystic altered state) and you really conflict with these theories if you use "purely mythical" to mean "arbitrary random self-contained constructions that don't refer or don't intend to refer to anything".
If you're going to bandy a term so purist or extreme as "purely mythical", in the face of the existence of several scholarly theories of myth, I can't make sense of what you mean, unless you define what you mean by "purely mythical" in contrast to "not correlating with 'reality', whether material or spiritual".
Could you clarify what is entailed in that scenario or hypothesis of Revelation being "purely mythical"? Are you saying that it Revelation would not refer to political goings-on around the turn of the era? I doubt you mean that -- that would be unthinkable, as Revelation explicitly allegorically refers to these. Then what would "purely mythical" mean, as a hypothesis-label? It just seems nonsensical, not even a determinate identifiable hypothesis.
>>The religious myths of various cultures are an archaic description of the actual psychological and physical events that occur in the death process.
That's too literalist -- myth is about mystic-state ego death, *not* about literal death. In myth, literal death is being used as a metaphor for altered-state death-of-the-controller-sense.
>>This process also occurs in the ego death process.
I'd say *first of all* in the ego death process, not "also" in it.
>>The descriptions of heavens,hells and deities are of the archetypical states of consciousness that we collectively share.
>>A clear and non culturally biased description of this process is being investigated by Ken Wilber's Integral Institute http://www.integralinstitute.org/home.htm
Ken Wilber is somewhat clear and nonbiased -- but he lacks what I pose as central: entheogens, and the experience of determinism, and serious study and comprehension of Hellenistic mystery-religion.
>>It isn't that religious teaching is ineffective in integrating the fragmented consciousness; it is just that the modern rational mind cannot interpret what is hidden in the myth.
Nasr, Wilber, and many other scholars/theorists claim that there is something amiss with the "modern rational mind". Against that, I maintain that the only thing wrong with the modern rational mind is the lack of systematic integrated use of visionary plants. Myth has been meaningful to modern minds that use the "mixed wine" -- that is, visionary plants -- used in Hellenistic mystery-religion initiations. There are hooks for this entheogen theory in the book The Christ Conspiracy, in the short section on entheogens.
>here is the answer as to what real Buddhism's "Goal" is ... collective enlightenment. ... strictly speaking, no real Buddha would declare a victory until that was accomplished.
By the standards of Buddhism, Buddhism is a dismal failure. That's based on the premise or tradition that almost no one has succeeded at attaining enlightenment using Buddhism. In that mid-level Buddhism tradition, Buddhism is treated as an effort or ideal rather than taken seriously as an intended achievement -- like one is supposed to revere Christian saints but not make sainthood easily attainable.
In that mid-level conception of Buddhism, you're supposed to strive for enlightenment but you're definitely not supposed to attain enlightenment.
I may agree with some Vajrayana-type lightning-path entheogenic Buddhism that promises the soon achievement of enlightenment, as opposed to a lifestyle of pursuing but never attaining enlightenment.
Between some conflicting Buddhist schools there are parallels to the debate between the fast-path entheogen proponents and the 30+ year meditation proponents, because different methods naturally pair with different goals or claims. Alan Watts in Way of Zen favorably contrasts short-path enlightenment with slow, ever-delayed enlightenment.
Dan Merkur's book Psychedelic Sacrament, and Pagels' book Gnostic Paul also cover this kind of contrast between mystic practice that is rational, finite-session, short-path, and entheogenic or using a sacrament of apolytrosis/redemption; and mystic practice that is anti-rational, endless-meditation, long-path, and non-entheogenic religion. Just as there are only two religions -- low religion and high religion -- so are there only two mysticism approaches:
o Rational, finite-session, short-path, entheogenic mysticism
o Anti-rational, endless-meditation, long-path, non-entheogenic mysticism
Together, the two pairs above can form my 3-level characterization of religion:
o High religion (has mysticism that is rational, finite-session, short-path, entheogenic)
o Mid-level religion (has mysticism that is anti-rational, endless-meditation, long-path, non-entheogenic)
o Low religion (lacks mysticism)
If we assume that Christianity is usually a worst-case conception of Christianity, while Buddhism is usually somewhat more elevated, then it would make sense to use a simple 2-level model when criticizing Christianity, but use a 3-level model when criticizing Buddhism:
In Christianity, we can say literalists (low religion) are bad, and gnostics/mystics (high religion) are good.
In Buddhism, we can say that official meditation is ok (mid-level religion), but entheogenic meditation (high religion) is better.
Consider both religions within a 2- and 3-level framework:
o High relig. -- enth'ic mystic alleg'l Xy -- enth'ic meditation Budd'm
o Low relig. -- lit'ist supernat. Christ'y -- superst. & medit. Budd'm
o High relig. -- enth'ic mystic alleg'l Xy -- enth'ic meditation Budd'm
o Mid-lev. relig. -- offic'l Xn myst'm -- off'l meditation Buddhism
o Low relig. -- lit'ist supernat. Christ'y -- superst. Budd'm
As far as Western Buddhism is concerned, the main kind of Buddhism to refute is mid-level Buddhism; low Buddhism isn't a present problem. The main kind of Christianity to refute is low-level Christianity; most Christians haven't even heard of semi-official mysticism, much less entheogenic mysticism. This makes it hard to generalize and critique both religions at once.
Charismatic Christianity would be mid-level Christianity -- it has some experiential emphasis, but not as much as the "original" paradigmatic Holy Spirit eucharistic experiential Christianity.
>Today though, I see more potential in the US for real entheogenic Buddhism in the future, then I see in the orient.
Western Buddhism at least grants entheogens 10% the efficacy, legitimacy, traditionality of meditation -- better than 0%. Some Eastern Buddhism uses entheogens:
Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas
Surendra Bahadur Shahi, Christian Rätsch, Claudia Müller-Ebeling
>Also of any of the religions on earth I see Buddhism as the most entheogenically inclined.
But when looking at the Hellenistic origin of Christianity, it is child's play to recognize it as originally entheogen-based, and there are very clear traces of entheogens throughout -- the Eucharist liturgy and doctrine about it is obviously, clearly, recognizably, blatantly, and definitely based on and modelled after entheogens. For those who are equipped to recognize it, Christianity is clearly and virtually explicitly about entheogen consumption, experience, and insights, but officially lacks the entheogen itself.
In this respect, Christianity is blatantly entheogenic, while Buddhism isn't. In Christianity, there is the potential "Death Star vulnerability" ability to demonstrate that the Eucharist is enthoegenic, bringing the whole literalist view crashing down. Theologians agree that the very heart and core of Christianity is the Eucharist or Lord's Supper -- that is the peak of the liturgy, the center of ritual, and it is clearly entheogen-shaped.
To clearly point this out is to reveal to the world that Christianity rests on an entheogen-shaped basis. We'd have to also demonstrate that the seder and all the sacred meals of Hellenistic religion were entheogenic. Buddhism has no such vulnerable entheogen-shaped heart, no such entheogen-shaped pillar holding up the wobbly status quo.
>from the viewpoint of High enlightenment experience we are talking about more of hoping for a human mutation, then expecting these institutions to ever wise up.
As institutions, they are constitutionally designed not to ever wise up.
As freely usable mix-and-match symbol systems or languages, the major myth-religion systems are an immensely rich reservoir of valuable resources for ergonomic religionists to utilize, as the gnostics did, but better, using a contemporary striaghtforward systematic scientific system of explanation, engineered for ease of use and straightforward expression, offering a variety of user-interface skins or letting you go straight to the command line.
Most of the popular readership of Christ Conspiracy, Freethought ,and History of Religions has such limited views, they think that religion has no truth at all, that there is no higher knowledge. They are *traumatized* -- far too traumatized to think clearly; it's like trying to do science in a battlefield hospital. Most of the readers are like traumatized children.
They are wholly against understanding any possible transcendent content of religion -- like the "freethinker" tone of the History of Religions school, it is a scorched-earth, wholly negative reassessment of religion. That tone may have been necessary in the 1800s, but it is time to get over it and move ahead and develop a deeper, more sophisticated comprehension of religion as deriving from extraordinary (but by no means rare or difficult) experiencing.
Freethinkers are right about so much, but their entirely reactive attitude prevents them from latching onto the positive content of which religion is a distortion -- for them, the astrology explanation is worthwhile not because it in itself is worthwhile, but because it is an alternative to the worst form of religion.
They've been traumatized by the worst form of religion, and parade a neutral revision of religion, not because they give a damn about the content of the revised conception of religion -- they really couldn't care less about astrotheology, fertility religion, Jungian psychological archetypes, or suchlike, but purely "value" such a view of religion because it serves in utilitarian fashion to negate the version they so hate.
But a move from a total distorted version of religion to a neutrally bland, irrelevant, harmless, uninteresting, placebo version of religion, can only be a first step; it's still a failure to *comprehend* what's really legitimately pointed to by religion -- transcendent knowledge experientially encountered in the intense mystic altered state, normally induced by eating the flesh of God -- visionary plants.
Having studied Christ Con further, I'm considering at
moving Acharya from the category
Fully allegorical mysticism
Radical secular humanist debunking
In fact, my descriptions need updating now that I understand how Freethought proposed Fertility and Astrology as the "true core allegorical meaning" of Christianity as the proposed alternative to "mere exoteric superficial religion". What the Freethinkers proferred as "true esoteric initiatory core allegorical meaning", I disparage as merely -- like "magazine Buddhism" -- a more neutral and harmless missing-of-the-point.
The Freethought Astrology theory of the "real" meaning of religion is entirely exoteric and superficial; it can be seen as every bit as exoteric and superficial as supernaturalist literalism: it's what I hate and warn about so much in pop Buddhism; today's real threat for those who really want to know transcendent truth is *not* low, supernaturalist literalist religion, but rather, mid-level religion which *seems* to be high religion because it is higher than the lowest religion.
Freethinkers have made the move from low religion to something like mid-level religion ("it's all really just symbols for fertility/astrology"), a level of religion perhaps less harmful but in some ways even more clueless and farther from the transcendent truth than supernaturalist myth-religion. Low, mid-level, and high religion could be stacked either way:
High religion -- the truest
Mid-level religion -- clueless about experiential religion, harmless -- doesn't reflect truth and doesn't distort truth
Low religion -- harmful, but its myth-religion does reflect truth though also distorting truth
By some measure, mid-level religion is even farther from the truth than low-level (supernatural literalist) religion:
High religion -- the truest
Low religion -- harmful, but its myth-religion does reflect truth though also distorting truth
Mid-level religion -- clueless about experiential religion, harmless -- doesn't reflect truth and doesn't distort truth
In addition to my "high/mid/low" labels, I need descriptive labels:
Experiential allegorical religion
Ordinary-state non-literalist religion
Ordinary-state literalist religion
High religion -- Experiential allegorical religion
Mid-level religion -- Ordinary-state non-literalist religion
Low religion -- Ordinary-state literalist religion (supernatural literalism)
Pros and cons of the 3 types of religion:
Experiential allegorical religion ("high religion") - doesn't take symbols literally, comprehends the multiple meanings including the allusions to experiential phenomena such as no-free-will experience
Ordinary-state non-literalist religion ("mid-level religion") - doesn't take symbols literally, comprehends 1 or 2 meanings alluded to, ignorant of experiential phenomena and allusions to them
Ordinary-state literalist religion (supernatural literalism) ("low religion") - takes symbols literally, doesn't comprehend other meanings, ignorant of experiential phenomena and allusions to them
This is what Ayn Rand or Freethought and magazine Buddhism have in common. They are the same; they are essentially the mid-level view of religion. They don't take symbols literally, but neither do they comprehend the most important meaning of the symbols: experiential allegory alluding to the psychological phenomena of the mystic altered state.
A key strategy is to identify and name standard, common "fallacies". The Freethought/History of Religions school -- well reflected by Christ Conspiracy -- in practice commits two fallacies (even if they sometimes qualify their views): the single-allegory-domain fallacy, and the ordinary-state assumption fallacy.
The single-allegory-domain fallacy:
"Christian elements are not really about what official Christianity says; rather, they are about astrology." In fact, the Christian symbol-system drew from all possible sources -- a point Acharya states, yet a point that she ignores in practice in fully promoting the astrotheology view as the core "esoteric" meaning of religion.
The ordinary-state assumption fallacy:
"Religion is actually about some area of life [where the ordinary state of consciousness is always assumed] such as fertility, astrology, or sociopolitical relations."
So *this* is where I criticize Freethought and the History of Religions school: I reject their single-allegory-domain assumption (usually fertility or astrology) and I especially reject their assumption that myth-religion is concerned with life as experienced in the ordinary state of consciousness.
I maintain instead that myth-religion is normally a compound mix of multiple allegory-domains, with central pride of place given to the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state, normally induced by visionary plants. For example, one "allegory domain" that is the ultimate and not really allegorical in itself is self-control seizure.
The cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state include the experiential insights of timelessness, block-universe with frozen single preexistent future, no-separate-self, no-free-will, and fatally problematic loss of practical control agency, followed by receipt of stabilizing transcendent trust. The latter meaning-domain is the Final Stop in the play of signifiers, in the great allegory game of myth-religion.
It takes work for me to hammer home my commitments into my own thinking. I'm too apologetic, too tentative in my views. I must *commit* to the axioms that work -- I must steer by that spirit of paradigm stabilization. The waffling and self-humbling feeble attitude of equality of allegory domains won't fly. All allegory domains are not created equal. One of them drives the others, one of them stands high over the others: the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state.
I commit to mystic-state experiencing as the master domain which the others generally point to -- but it's necessary to clarify what I mean by so electing one meaning-domain as the central or ultimate one.
In myth-religion, you'd never say that [element from the domain of cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state] alludes to [element from the political or fertility or astrology domain] -- unless you live in the entheogen-soaked Greco-Roman culture, but even there, I'd maintain that one domain stands above all: the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state. All areas of the culture were keyed into this master key, this master domain.
As a result, you could allude to an idea in any domain by starting from the domain of [the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state]. That domain is key and master and is the most special domain, the most high domain, because it, and only it, serves as the common connector between all the domains of Greco-Roman culture.
I axiomatically maintain that "the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state" is the most central, most key, most essentially and important meaning-domain of myth-religion. Astrology, although popular and important to Greco-Roman culture, cannot effectively function as such a central, main, master, key meaning-domain. Astrology is especially interesting *because of* its involvement with the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state.
Without the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state, astrology is only somewhat interesting -- not interesting to a religious extent. Astrology only becomes interesting to the degree of being religious, when it is fully informed by the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state. Astrology without the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state cannot serve to start a religion; it is inherently mundane astrology, even if decorated by labels of "spiritual" astrology.
Mundane astrology, labelled as "spiritual", but lacking the cognitive phenomena of the intense mystic altered state, remains just mundane astrology.
>http://www.tombofjesus.com/Conclusion.htm#bavish - This may be a wild theory. I haven't seen exposes of this fraudulent theory. What's your opinion about this scenario? Is there known relevant literature about these traditions debunking this evidence as fraudulent? Could traditions in those parts of the world have some truth about the historical Jesus?
The India-death scenario is part of the "Turin Shoud shows a still-alive Jesus" scenario.
Mythically, there is a *lot* to be said for the idea that Jesus died only "in a way" but retained bodily life. Mystic death involves such a close call and a kind of death that preserves bodily life. Supposing that the Messiah king must be unblemished as a qualification for legitimacy, Jesus' wounds disqualify him as a worldly king so he "dies" as a candidate for kingship, yet he lives bodily and in spiritual righteousness.
I greatly enjoyed the book The Jesus Conspiracy, and I highly recommend that anyone who believes there was a historical Jesus consider this scenario. The Turin Shroud remains a great scientific enigma.
As a mythic-only Jesus theorist, I axiomatically reject the authenticity of the Shroud in this sense: there were a hundred genuine historical Jesuses, and if the Shoud is in fact from the year 33, this merely demonstrates the existence of one of these many Jesuses who in fact existed. It emphatically does *not* demonstrate that there was a single distinctively outstanding and unique Jesus.
Here's my Amazon review from before I heard of the mythic-only Jesus theory. I am an example of the Swoon/Shroud/India theory being a transitional stepping-stone to the mythic-only Christ theory. Most Literalist Christians aren't ready to leap all the way to the Gnostic, mythic-only view of Jesus; a suitable transition is through the Swoon/Shroud/India theory.
>>This is one of the very most important books I have read. It is intriguing how the Church is set atop a single slender pillar, so that such evidence as this threatens to bring the whole institution crashing down upon everyone's heads.
>>It seems that just as the novelty of Abraham is that he did *not* follow through with the custom of killing his firstborn son as in the ancient religions that God so strongly condemns, so does God indicate that he is *willing* to kill his son to allow *our* power of rulership -- but does not need to actually follow through by killing Jesus. From ancient human sacrifice, Christianity rises up to the level of purely gestural, symbolic, substitutive, *mock* sacrifices.
>>There is rich material here for a drastic revision of theology, though this book concentrates on proving that Jesus was alive when taken down from the Cross. It is interesting how the authors are not able to propose why Jesus willingly gave himself into the hands of the worldly government.
>>After reading this book I concluded that Jesus' mission was to prop up belief in and commitment to moral agency and personal human responsibility, despite God's omnipotence; to prop up the illusion of moral agency, Jesus supported popular belief in resurrection, while also giving clues for others that our resurrection and moral punishment or reward is a psychological need (part of our personal self-control system) rather than a warranted hypothesis.
>>-- Michael Hoffman, at Amazon.com
These are the leading scenarios:
o Literalist supernaturalist Christianity -- Jesus died bodily and was miraculously resurrected, and ascended into Heaven
o Liberal Christianity -- Jesus died bodily on the cross, and didn't resurrect or ascend into heaven.
o Swoon/Shroud/India theory -- Jesus was resuscitated from near bodily death (proven by Shroud) and went to India and died bodily there
o Gnostic Christianity -- Jesus is mythic-only, and only allegorically represents what happens to each initiate in the mystic state
The Swoon/Shroud/India theory of Jesus' death
Literalist thinkers who don't have a rich understanding of mythic allegory of mystic-state experiences can naturally take to the physically reductionist Swoon/Shroud/India theory, which reduces the Cross to a Fakir bodily stunt with a strong emphasis on the bodily realm rather than the mythic and mystic-experiencing realm.
The theory uses physiological science to prove that Jesus didn't die bodily on the Cross, but was rescuscitated, and the Shoud is analyzed with physical science to reveal that it shows a still-living man, and then Jesus bodily travelled to India, and taught the Kundalini physical-spiritual science of spiritual energies, which he learned while in India before his temple visit at age 12, and then he lived many years in India, and died an ordinary bodily death there, and his body is buried there.
This is spirituality in the most physical, bodily aspect possible -- within the domain of spirituality, this physical version of spirituality is the opposite of the mythic, esoteric, mystic, Gnostic way of thinking. Being so physical, and almost entirely lacking any sense of the mythic allegorical mode of thinking, it is easy for Literalist Christians to grasp.
>If one of the contributers to the Jesus myth is a genuine teacher, the legends of his having trained in India are quite feasible.
I have no problem with the possibility that a Jesus, one of the Jesus-like men on whom the Jesus myth was partly based, went to India. The mistake comes in when that Jesus-like or Jesus-type man is thought of as *the* Jesus. Given that there were 100 genuine historical Jesuses, it's likely that at least one of them went to India. Perhaps several of them went to India; that would help explain why so many know of a Jesus that visited and lived there.
Those who maintain that there was a Jesus in India have the hardest task of showing that there was only one Jesus, and that there was only one, distinctive and unique Jesus in India.
If you want to do more research on this subject, the books are reviewed here -- a good starting point.
Jesus in India: A Review of the World Literature (1899-1999)
Dr. Tahir Ijaz and Qamar Ijaz Ph.D.
The only reason I would help out with such research is to account for this scenario as one of the top 3 that should be considered, and to inform people who are discovering this solution that there is yet another, even better solution: the allegorical-only scenario of Jesus' life.
I was enthralled by this paradigm during a transitional period. Relative to the official story of the origin of Christianity, it is a step toward the direction of Reason, but I found the mystic-esoteric-allegorical-only paradigm of understanding Jesus to be richer and more likely and plausible, and more relevant to my interests. I'm interested in redirecting Swoon/India researchers to the Jesus Mysteries Thesis (defined by Freke & Gandy), rather than bolstering the Swoon/India Jesus theory.
Historical Jesus researchers should be aware of the Swoon/India Jesus theory and the mystic-allegorical-only Jesus theory.
>>The only reason I would help out with [swoon/India Jesus] research is to account for this scenario as one of the top 3 that should be considered, and to inform people who are discovering this solution that there is yet another, even better solution: the allegorical-only scenario of Jesus' life.
I propose that the Jesus figure was assembled from multiple pieces of multiple types:
o Actual men that were rescued from the cross and survived.
o Actual rebel leaders.
o Actual religious teachers who went to India.
o Various mythic godmen figures and mythic heroes.
o Personified aspects of mystic experiencing.
When all those actual men are artificially focused into one, the historical Jesus results. Leaving out mythic figures as a basis, in sheer human historical terms, what's mistaken is to think of Jesus as a *single* person rather than a composite based on multiple people.
The formation of the Jesus composite figure is based on scenarios including the fully possible swoon/India thesis, and the mythic-only Jesus thesis is compatible with the swoon/India thesis on the principle of the "hundred genuine historical Jesuses" thesis. Even if one of the actual men upon whom the Jesus figure was based was a man who was rescued from the cross and went to India, Paul and Ignatius are still basically literalized/fabricated.
The same problems arise when splitting hairs about what we mean when saying Paul "existed" or "didn't exist" as when we toss out as meaningless the assertion that "Jesus existed" or "Jesus didn't exist". What is *really* at issue is not something so simple as whether some man existed, but rather: What really happened, and how was involved, and what were these people like?" It's much more a debate about which whole story is true than simply yes-or-no question of some man wholly existed or wholly didn't exist.
When arguing about whether Paul existed, all these same semantic, connotation, and paradigm issues arise that we worked through with Jesus' oversimplistic yes-or-no existence. The same solution I define for talking about the true nature of Jesus' existence applies to Paul. It's meaninglessly oversimplistic to talk of whether Paul existed. The Paul figure is based on multiple actual people and multiple mythic and literary figures, artificially focused down into a single persona.
Paul isn't a person; he *represents* people and literary/wisdom figures. Jesus isn't a person; he *represents* people and mythic/heroic figures. Did Paul exist? I can only agree that *multiple* Pauls existed. Similarly, Ignatius isn't a person; he *represents* people, orthodox officials. Where do we draw the line between actual individual people and mere figureheads representing multiple people? It's a judgement call and requires us to at least begin investigating.
This is how the ancients thought and wrote, and if we want to understand the sense in which Jesus and his leading cast existed and didn't exist, we must understand how representative figureheads, collective personification, and mythic anthropomorphization work.
Is the man in the shroud dead or alive? Followers of official Christianity say "dead". Others such as Holger Kersten and Elmar Gruber say "alive". I hold Jesus to be a composite figure based on no single historical man, and I say that the Shroud is scientific proof that "Jesus lives!" -- that is, in the best mystic reading of the Gospel stories, Jesus was still alive when removed from the cross, which is why "Pilate didn't believe that Jesus was already dead."
This question is distinct from whether the Shroud shows a man we may fairly identify as the Jesus of the Bible. Suppose the Shroud is genuine (by the conventional standard which needs no definition) and shows a living man? The issue of the Shroud's genuineness should not continue to shut out the question of the theological ramifications of the Shroud showing a living man, a still-alive Jesus.
Given that Jesus is a composite figure, not a single historical individual, the Shroud may be genuinely from the year 30 yet still be completely incapable of supporting the proposal of a single, distinct, literal Historical Jesus. There may be ten such Shrouds, some of them showing dead Jesus-like men and some showing still-alive Jesus-like men.
There remain two separate paradigms or interpretive frameworks that are fully capable of incorporating any and all such evidential data: the literal Historical Jesus paradigm and the composite mythic-only Jesus paradigm. Ultimately the question for each person is which paradigm or intepretive framework seems to ring most true: *this* whole integrated set of axioms and interpretations, or *that* one.
The Jesus Conspiracy: The Turin Shroud and the Truth About Resurrection
Holger Kersten, Elmar R. Gruber
I am deeply impressed by the Shroud, so much that the easiest thing to do is accept that it was made by a man in a coma, as described in great detail in the book The Jesus Conspiracy. I then dedicate myself to asking: supposing the shroud really reflects a man in a coma recovering from the cross -- what are the possible interpretations of this scenario?
It would be an uphill battle against the evidence to assert that the Shroud was painted. I prefer the easiest non-supernatural explanation, and it's much easier to assume the Shroud was made via the process described in The Jesus Conspiracy than by painting. However, it is *not* necessary to assume that the Shroud shows a dead man, or that the Shroud was made early or late, or that the man of the Shroud is the purported historical Jesus.
There are multiple interpretive options, not just one or two. People need to systematically brainstorm on various scenarios more -- there are many ways to fit the puzzle pieces together. I accept the Shroud as a serious, major enigma -- but I have designed a "mythic-only, mystic/political composite Jesus" interpretive framework that can accomodate any of these alternative scenarios without changing:
o The Shroud shows a dead man or a still-alive man
o The Shroud was made in the medieval era or the early Christian era
o Other scenario-aspects that have alternatives
Under none of these scenarios is it necessary to assume that there was a single historical Jesus.
Asserting that the Shroud was painted seems desperate and wrongly seems to imply that the non-painted Shroud scenario forces us to assume a single historical Jesus. A stronger mythic-only Jesus position is one that can welcome any such scenario. It would be really cool if the Shroud was made by coma-imprint, early or late.
Jesus remains inexorably a composite figure, not a single historical person; the hundred historical Jesus-like men and the hundred mythic Jesus-like godmen cannot possibly be fused into a single distinctive historical man; that's the robust, easily defensible axiom I'm committed to in my interpretive framework.
You're welcome to postulate that the Shroud is painted or similarly faked -- having seen the evidence, I'm relieved I don't feel obliged to defend that position, which is an uphill battle. The Shroud is well done and utterly different than any known piece of art. It's like rummaging through an ancient buried ruin and finding a single life-sized photographic negative, on cloth, among all the ordinary paintings. The Shroud poses a major problem that the mythic-only Jesus theorists can't avoid.
There are degrees of genuineness in religion. The simple idea of low and high religion can be usefully extended to contrasting low, medium, and high religion. Literalist, orthodox Islam, Christianity, or Judaism are the epitome of low religion. Quasi-official mystic Islam (Sufism), Christian mysticism, Kabbalah, and mainstream American Buddhist meditation are definitive of medium-level religion. The Buddhism that packs the magazine stands is medium-level religion.
High religion is entheogenic religion and is essentially entheogenic even if a small percentage of people have the rare ability and aptitude to cast away the training wheels of entheogens and think themselves into an intense altered state. More typically, meditation is a method of augmenting entheogens. Medium-level religion is a pale shadow of high religion, and low religion an even paler shadow.
Low religion is a pale shadow of high religion, and discarding the supernaturalist literalism of low religion for a slight increase to medium psychologized religion is only a slight correction of the pale shadow. Real, definitive, original religion isn't about supernatural or psychological religion as in ordinary-state Jungian psychology; it's about the specific archetypal experiences of the intense altered state.
The worst problem and greatest enemy now of real religion isn't supernaturalism, it's psychologized ordinary-state religion and mainstream meditation practices. We must firmly reject identifying real, original religion with Jungian archetypal psychologism and with meditation that isn't used as an augmentation for entheogen experiences.
There is a huge difference between treating non-augmented meditation as an advanced alternative to the real, entheogenic religious trigger, and the current dominant notion of treating non-augmented meditation as the real thing while entheogens are held to be a nearly-as-good simulation or way of augmenting meditation.
Entheogens must be firmly held as original and central, while meditation can only be correctly conceived as a later, derivative, alternative variant of the original, entheogenic trigger of the mystic altered state.
Today's mainstream meditation magazines are wrong. They are good in acknowledging or grudgingly admitting that entheogens were by far the main factor in awakening the Baby Boomer generation to meditation and Buddhism, and they are good when they occasionally mention as an aside, in a footnote, that entheogens aren't absent from pre-American Buddhism. What really sucks hard about these dominant magazines is their distortion of priorities of emphasis.
They put meditation on a pedestal as original, core, real, essential religion, often including archetypal symbolism applied to the mundane or slightly altered state of consciousness, while denigrating entheogens and relegating them to a controversial adjunct. When you put the cart before the horse, you don't understand the main thing about the cart and horse. Medium-level religion is better than low-level religion, but it's a threat to real religion because it threatens to hide the existence of an even higher religion.
Just because medium-level religion is higher than low-level religion doesn't mean that medium-level religion is the high-level religion; it's not. Medium-level religion is just medium-level religion, even if some of its elements can appear in high-level religion, such as the rarely effective technique of meditation without entheogens, and psychological allegory per Jung, Campbell, and the pre-1960s Alan Watts.
Most non-entheogenic meditation and most psychological allegorized religion suffers from Boomeritis, a useful idea described by Ken Wilber -- it claims to be high religion, when it's not, and it claims to be intense and effective and transformative, when it's not. It's one degree of improvement claiming to be full improvement, denying that there is yet another, higher baptism to be had.
This debate between the existence of two versus three levels of religion is found clearly in the Christian tradition as a major debate in theology and heresy. It's a heresy to hold that there are two baptisms and three levels of religious status: those who are not catechized and water-baptized are the lowest, those who are superficially catechized and water-baptized are medium-level Christians, and those who are also baptized by the fire of the Holy Spirit, with ideally the sacrament of apolytrosis, are high-level Christians.
Charismatics, Pentecostals, or per the book title "Gnostic Protestants", hold that there are two baptisms (lower and higher) and two levels of Christians, forming three levels of religion -- however, mainstream Charismatics appear to be unaware of entheogens.
From the Christian orthodox point of view, there are two degrees of heresy: claiming like the mainstream mystics that Christianity is essentially about contemplation and psychological archetypes (medium-level religion), and worse, claiming that Christianity is essentially about entheogenic intense mystic experiencing, reflected by mystic metaphor. Look with dismay upon medium-level religion that dominates the newsstand, with its deep fallacy of labelling mere medium-level religion as high-level religion.
A sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit and genuine, authentic high-level religion is an entheogenic plant -- any entheogenic plant. Any one magical plant species is a symbol for entheogenic plants in general, so clues indicating Amanita mushroom don't indicate the predominant use of Amanita, but rather, the inspiring presence of the use of various entheogens, such as the deliriants like Datura. An Amanita halo or archangel Gabriel's lily indicates the complete open pharmacotheon of magical plants -- one meaning of the image of the vast assembly of angels.
Psychological meditation religion is lukewarm religion -- it's a better form of religion, but only better than the worst form of religion. Medium-level religion may not support wars, but neither does it provide full religious experiencing or enlightenment. Boomeritis isn't a matter of labelling low religion as high religion, but of labeling medium religion as high religion.
In Wilber's theory of transpersonal developmental psychology, a main idea is that the mind must in some way reject its existing dominant level of development in order to move beyond it to a higher level that in some way incorporates the previous level. So must we reject or negate today's predominant medium-level religion in favor of high-level religion.
Today's magazine stand shows the great extent to which medium-level religion has recently become predominant over low-level religion: there are ten Buddhism magazines, and only two Christian magazines, one of those being a humor magazine (The Door) that serves to discredit low, mundane Christianity and the other a skeptical archaeology magazine (Biblical Archaeology Review) that serves to disprove low, literalist Christianity -- sometimes near its sister magazine Bible Review, which serves to use literary study to disprove literalist Christianity.
It has become rare to find believing (low) Christian magazines such as Christianity Today in mainstream urban bookstores or newsstands. The available religion magazines at the newsstand clearly indicate the direction the mainstream has recently been moving: away from believing (low) Christianity, through skeptical disproof of low Christianity, to psychological mythic Christianity and mainstream meditation-oriented Buddhism.
In the popular mind, Christianity is identified with low religion, while Buddhism is identified with better religion or high religion. For all practical purposes, the magazines that should be identified with high religion are found in the psychoactive drug magazine section: Heads, Trip, MAPS, Cannabis Culture, and High Times. Even better and closer to original, high religion would be the journals Entheos and Eleusis, which emphasize not psychedelics, but entheogens in religion.
So congratulate today's Buddhist magazines on fully attaining the medium level of religion, but refute them if they make the Boomeritis move of labelling themselves as high religion and thus obscuring the existence of actual high religion. High religion can very well be identified as entheogenic religion, although the goal is not the use of entheogens, but rather, integrating the state and insights and fullness that are most effectively and reliably and originally triggered by entheogens.
A rare few may be able to attain this state without entheogens, but there is good, sound reason to name the high mystic state the entheogenic state. High religion is essentially entheogenic religion, even if a few have the rare aptitude of simulating the authentic entheogen state without entheogens.
Cannabis Culture http://www.cannabisculture.com
High Times http://www.hightimes.com
Biblical Archaeology Review, and Bible Review http://www.bib-arch.org
The Door http://www.thedoormagazine.com
Wilber characterizes Boomeritis as some sort of narcissism. I think of Boomeritis as ordinary egoic deluded thinking, with ordinary clueless religiosity, mistaken as transcendent thinking, ego transcendence, and high religiosity. What he characterizes as "narcissism" of the would-be progressives, I think of as egoic thinking that is mistaken for transcendent thinking -- simply the age-old idea of people thinking they are being religiously advanced or enlightened, when they aren't particularly religiously advanced or enlightened at all, just religious-styled. Boomeritis is the condition of unenlightened, untransformed, uninitiated people who consider and style themselves as enlightened, transformed, and initiated.
The idolatrous, arbitrary, and self-fabricated religion that is invented by literalist, self-labelled "Christians"
>Of course the Bible record is true and trustworthy. Therefore anything else must be considered rebellious speculation and highly disrespectful at that.
The Bible record is true and trustworthy when read in a certain way, with certain meanings taken literally and other meanings interpreted allegorically. Holding to anything other than the Bible's correct meaning is rebellious and disrespectful speculation. It is sinful to wrongly divide the scriptures, misreading the Bible according to one's own interpretation rather than that given by the Holy Spirit and the tradition of the true Church.
Christians who make an idolatrous religion of literalism don't even believe their own, hypocritical words, their declarations of pure literalist belief. They *pretend* to be a believer in the Bible, and claim to read all the historical aspects in a pure and faithfully literal way. This illusion can only be sustained by avoiding engaging with the text and by staying in the realm of vagueness -- such a religion is a religion of fearful vagueness and fog, despite its effort at committing to concretistic thinking.
It is a way of approaching scripture that is accepts some vague imagined "pure literalist" reading and attributes that reading to the surrounding crowds and imagined authority figures, but the fact that such a stance is incapable of debating specific points regarding the historical versus metaphorical aspects of scripture indicates such religionists are full of self-doubt and unable to debate rationally.
Self-labelled "Christians" who preach the gospel of salvation-through-pure-literalism are only capable of making empty, vague faith statements, which amount to nothing and communicate nothing.
The supposedly pure literalists preach a Gospel of meaningless adherence to some supposedly concrete, but actually wispy and unspecified literalism -- do they even *know* what they believe, and why? They claim to believe in a gospel of literalism, but are they able to be more specific than that, or would that strain the content of their weak-on-content "faith" past the breaking point? "I believe... in blind acceptance of literalist orthodoxy."
It would be better to believe in the truth about the savior, whatever that truth actually is, without building one's house of faith on a sandy foundation of vague, unspecified "pure, faithful" literalism.
Christianity based on a refusal to consider the possible anti-literalist meaning of the history aspects of scripture is a religion of responsibility-evading literalist assumption, a hastily fabricated preconception pulled out of one's own mind, that is no Christian faith at all, but just an arbitrary fabrication of one's own version of what one labels "Christian faith".
Contentless, unspecified, committed literalism is idolatry, worshipping a savior made with one's own hands. That false, man-made Gospel is filled with groundless a-priori assumptions about what the right way is to read the holy scriptures. These false and content-averse Christians pull the assumption out of thin air that literalism is the righteous way to read the history aspects of the scriptures.
They think they are safely with the crowd they can trust in. On the contrary, many claim to follow Jesus but are not recognized by him as his elect sheep. How can they be sure that a literalist reading of the history aspects of the scriptures is wise instead of foolish? Their blind, arbitrary, overly self-trusting assumption of literalism, pulled out of thin air by their own sinful preconception about what the scriptures ought to be about, is a rebellious speculation.
Christians who place their salvation on a foundation of supposedly pure literalism should call into question their prideful assumptions and consider that they may be completely mistaken. Who are these investigation-fearing beginner Christians, that they presume to judge what is a respectful reading of holy writ, and what is not? The humble followers of Christ should worship the truth however it is found in the canonical scriptures.
Those who are quick to worship the idol of a historical literalist interpretation of the scriptures fancy that they "respect" the scriptures by reducing them down to their own sinful, idolatrous, hazy and unspecified literalist revision of them, and then shy away from admitting that they are sitting in judgement over the scriptures, picking and choosing which passages to read as literal history and which to read as allegorical.
Those self-labelled "Christians" who imagine and assume that they can be pure by uncritical adoption of a consistent literalist reading of the history aspects of scripture ought to come clean and admit that we are all burdened with the responsibility for interpreting the historical aspects of the scriptures; there is no escape, not even by trying to deceive oneself and pretending not to interpret.
The unspecified "purely literal" interpretation of the history aspects of scripture is still one's own personal interpretation; there is no escape. You will be cast into the fire or admitted into heaven based on whether you read the scriptures with your eyes opened by the Holy Spirit or with your eyes clouded by the animal thinking of the deceiving demons. Salvation depends on our stance toward the scriptures.
Is a "pure, literalist, respectful" stance toward the scriptures righteous, or is it an incoherent abomination -- how can we know, without the regeneration provided by the Holy Spirit? Is a pure, literalist stance toward the scriptures even possible at all, or a monstrous self-contradiction that is the worst insult possible toward the divine Word? Is it actually good to erect a religion of commitment to a pure literalist interpretation of the scriptures?
If so, how can we do so, when the literalist readings contradict each other, and when scripture so often warns us to carefully interpret it? On what grounds can we base our religion on the *assumption* that a literalist reading is the surest foundation?
How can anyone know that the most "respectful" reading of scripture is some "pure", extreme literalism -- when such "purity" remains vague and unspecified, through an evasive cop-out? Do the self-proclaimed "purely faithful literalist" interpreters of scripture really believe their invented fantasy that the crowd of authorities around them confidently asserts a literalist reading of the history aspects of the canonical scriptures?
They cannot fool themselves convincingly, and so project their doubt onto other people around them, harboring pride in the "purity" of their "faith", while seeing doubt all around them -- their own secret doubt about their own arbitrary, idolatrous assumption that a "pure" literalist interpretation is possible and holy.
The self-proclaimed "pure" worshippers of literalism enjoy the righteous mood of their own invented religion of "pure, faithful" literalism, even though it feels shallow and spiritually unfulfilling and ultimately disappointing. But pure and perfect literalism is impossible as well as unsatisfying, and is only viable as long as one refrains from serious engagement with the text, seeking to rightly divide the scriptures.
"Pure" historical literalist reading of the scriptures an imaginary position imagined by the shallow lifestyle-only Christians. When one actually investigates the scriptures and critically thinks about the history aspect in them, "pure" historical literalism disintegrates into a meaningless position that isn't held by any theologians or Christian scholars.
It's a shallow, willful delusion to think that one can rest confidently in a religion of "principled faithful literalism", a religion not of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit but instead a religion of historical literalism which insults the word of God by reducing it to a mundane history book.
"I doubt my faith. How can I know I'm among God's elect? I know -- instead of being faithful about God, instead I will be faithful to a perfect and pure literalist reading of the history aspects of the holy scriptures." Is Christianity essentially a religion of reporting literal history? On what grounds can one assume such an interpretation? And what does religion really have to do with history reporting?
Can Christian faith and a righteous stance toward scripture be conceived as belief in a purely literalist reading of Christian scripture as history? Can one even coherently read Christian scripture as literalist history, or does an attempt at this form of faith immediately collapse when prodded and examined critically? Isn't the historical literalism reading of the scriptures exactly what Paul disparages as childish things that the adult needs to put away, mere beginner's Christianity?
Christianity today has been degraded to imbecilic historical literalism combined with irrational emotionalism and magical superstition -- there is no salvation in that way of reading the scriptures, or perhaps refusing to read the scriptures. In that stance is no regeneration, no wisdom, just the religion of fools, founded on sand. Many say they follow Jesus, but he does not know them; they are of the devil, the prince of pride, the self-willed goat-man.
Literalists try to let other people tell them what the righteous way is of reading the Bible. They are apprehensive of what they call "speculation", yet they speculate and arbitrarily assume that their soul is saved by following the *interpretation* given to them by the crowds who are walking through the wide and apparently easy gate. They deny that they are speculating and pulling assumptions about the scriptures out of thin air.
What do *they* know about reading and interpreting the Bible? Have they ever even *heard* of mysticism? Do they know what allegory is? Does their Christian bookstore sell Christian-styled self-help books for devils in Sunday dress, or books that contain the wisdom of the saints and the saved, the true sheep of Jesus?
Did it occur to the worshippers of dogmatic literalism that there are many ways of reading "the Bible record" and that how one reads scripture is a choice that the sinner must make in fear and trembling?
The literalist strive to commit their souls to a literalist faith and demonize the critical mind. They must work hard to avoid allowing into consciousness the realization that few or no Christian scholars and theologians assert that every historical aspect in the "Bible record" is true. It takes a will of iron to avoid admitting to oneself that the entire problem is a matter of *which* Bible records are true.
How do the vague and evasive, supposedly "pure and consistent" literalists propose that we determine which Bible records are literally historically true, and which aren't? On what foundation do they assert that we have to choose one or the other: that one must accept some vague "the Bible record is true" belief (whatever that is supposed to mean) or else, as the only other possible option, be "disrespectful"?
Is their invented form of religion so delicate, their faith so weak and phantasmal, that they insist that the scriptures must not be interpreted, but only literally believed as vulgar and mundane historical records -- despite what the scriptures themselves say about requiring interpretation?
Why should one assume that critical reading of the "Bible record" is inherently disrespectful? The mystics have greater respect for the Bible than anyone. To not read critically and interpretively is truly disrespecting the scriptures, and dishonoring them by reading them in accordance to how the mind-averse crowds decide, in mob-like fashion.
The true gospel is a metaphorical expression of the following core philosophy, which accords with much of Reformed dogmatics.
The most common-sense plausible model of the world and of transcendent knowledge is that all religion is essentially mythic, not literalist, and that the main purpose, origin, and nature of myth is to allegorically and metaphorically express the transcendent insights and experiences of the intense mystic altered state. The mystic state is the state of loose cognition enabling revising mental-construct matrixes.
The main, ultimate experience and insight of the loose-cognition state is the experience (sense, feeling) of no-free-will and no-separate-self, combined with an easy and natural mental perception of a worldmodel that is plainly coherent, involving re-conceiving time as frozen, with all of the mind's future thoughts already preexisting in a single fixed track.
This mental perception of this worldmodel is natural, coherent, plausible, and plain to see; once constructed by the exploring mind, that mental worldmodel would require more mental work to doubt than to accept.
The transcendent move of the mind also involves not only seeing that worldmodel, but also requires an unfamiliar act of *deliberately* choosing to believe or pretend to believe, what the mind no longer can easily believe, that the ego is in control of its future thoughts and wields the power of free will, as a sovereign, prime-mover control-agent.
The irony of transcendent rationality is that after overthrowing the delusion of individual free will and separate self, for purely practical reasons, the mind must now, God-like, deliberately pretend and retain and embrace what you use to uncritically take for granted but can no longer rationally accept: conceiving of a worldmodel built around the notion of self-controlling, free-willing egoic agency.
The mind must learn to do consciously and insincerely what it previously did naturally in its former animal/child state: engage a worldmodel based around the separate-self, open-future assumption.
A hundred aspects of this model intensely contradict today's accustomed ways of thinking and regarding models as "plausible". But this model and explanation is remarkably unassailable, and when researched, turns out to have massive evidential and traditional support from many philosophers, theologians, and mystics, and scholars. The very *heart* of myth and religion is the mystic altered state and no-free-will, and emphatically *not* literalist religion.
By far the most sober and common-sense plausible model of transcendent mystic insight is that religion is firmly centered around intense mystic altered-state experiencing, firmly centered around no-free-will as experience and irresistibly coherent and natural worldmodel, and not at all centered around literalist thinking, hazy spiritualism, and mundane ethics.
This theory is dirt-simple, easy to express, easy to experience and mentally perceive in the state of loose cognition, and we ought to have very good reason before rejecting its plausibility in favor of the alternative, which is no religion at all (mundane ethics), or complete haze and fog (New Age-style vague spirituality and tranquil meditationism), or vulgar magic-thinking and supernatural superstition (literalist religion).
>There are some aspects of the psyche that are secret and hidden, so the psyche itself suggests a kind of secret hidden knowledge. Some hidden aspects of the psyche can be discovered, but some aspects remain inherently hidden, like the origin of thoughts. You can watch thoughts arise from a hidden source you can't control, but you can't see the source itself, only "God's back".
>Why isn't the word 'unconscious' used -- is it too psychological for purposes here?
I rarely find the term 'unconscious', especially 'the unconscious', useful. That term is part of a network of concepts that is central to the lens, perspective, or framework of Psychology. The field of Psychology does have much to contribute to a theory of transcendent knowledge, but I find cognitive psychology a more natural fit.
The concept of the unconscious is overused in Psychology, while Psychology needs to be more informed by entheogens and the loose cognitive state -- there was some fruitful overlap until LSD was made illegal in the U.S. in 1966. I most dislike Freudian Psychology, though that did contribute some valuable perspectives -- it was just vastly overrated and overextended.
Freud has lost his authority, so that the king of Psychology is now Jung. Jung wrote before LSD became mainstream. It's time to forget half of the Psychology perspective and retain half. Mythic archetypes are worth retaining. The concept or construct of "the unconscious" is conventionally filled with connotations I don't find helpful, useful, or valuable, and it is tainted and corrupted by Freudian sex obsession.
Freud isn't so much wrong, as overextended and reductionistic, saying that *everything* in the psyche is really sexuality in disguise.
>What can a person to do to deal with the deep disappointment that comes after an experience of conscious will?
The term 'experience of conscious will' is not familiar enough to me to address your question confidently. A mourning period is common in the Hellenistic and ancient mystery-religion-myths -- "mourning for one's dead and lost child who has gone to the land of the dead". Such "deep disappointment" is common and standard in life; it's part of life and maturing. What can we do to deal with it? Revise our worldmodel, including its values.
The mature person is one who has chosen to adhere to transcendent thinking despite the sacrificial price, sacrificing one's childself or lower framework of thinking and valuing.
>I am more interested in the psychological ramifications of all this, rather than delving into the religious problems of it. The experience of conscious does bring with it a feeling of freedom from religion. It took me 13 years to break free of the chains that religion held on my uppermost subconsciousness and I don't want anything to do with it now - at least for awhile.
Psychology and Religion are distinct but interpenetrating -- thus the term and concept "psychospiritual development". The Jungian perspective on religion and Ralph Metzner's study of standard mythic-religious themes point the way. I began theorizing from a perspective that is as far beyond Psychology as Psychology is beyond Religion.
For one generation, Religion was the problem and Psychology was the progressive solution. For a later generation, Psychology was the problem, the established but unsatisfying menu proffered, and Cognitive Science (including Cognitive Psychology and Altered States) was the progressive solution.
After I worked out a finished theory thoroughly based in the Cognitive Altered States framework, I didn't strive hard to connect this core theory to established Psychology, but rather, Religion -- to excavate the Cognitive Altered States core of authentic Christianity. William James forever remains on my reading list, and I grew up reading almost everything written by Ken Wilber and Alan Watts, who are not theorists of Psychology, but of the combination of Psychology and Religion.
I have read a little Jung and he remains on my reading list, but what I've read so far has not impressed me enough to elevate him on my reading list; he's just another typical author to me. It's uselessly general to ask whether I feel Psychology is applicable for constructing a contemporary, effective, ergonomic theory of transcendent knowledge. It's ambiguous what someone has in mind by the terms 'Psychology' and 'unconscious'. It would be better to talk about particular subfields and authors.
Psychology is overextended and reductionistic if it seeks to be the modern upgrade that replaces Religion and provides that which Religion promises but fails to deliver. But my assertion depends on the meaning of "Religion" and "Psychology".
I have to imagine and guess what people mean by "Religion" and "Psychology" -- probably "Religion in general, and Psychology in general, as conceived in Europe and the U.S. in the mid-to-late 20th Century -- such as, dominated by official Christianity and Freudian-into-Jungian approaches". This amounts to the commonplace conceptions of Religion and Psychology that were dominant in the U.S. of the 20th Century.
What's better, for constructing a theory of transcendent knowledge:
o The commonplace conception of Religion that was dominant in the U.S. of the 20th Century
o The commonplace conception of Psychology that was dominant in the U.S. of the 20th Century
Neither of them alone did anything satisfying for Watts, Wilber, or me. An even more overarching problem during 20th Century modernity was the overisolation among all fields of knowledge, which was good at differentiating fields but poor at integrating them.
No existing field, framework, paradigm, perspective, or approach provided what I knew was certainly missing after being exposed to conventional Judaism, Christianity, Psychology, New Age, Self-Help, Human Potential, Course in Miracles, and the other prominent perspectives commonly available in the late 20th Century. Even before I began systematic multidisciplinary studies, I already knew that there was no prominent, effective theory of transcendent knowledge.
I knew I'd have to systematize the right framework myself, coming from a Cognitive Science and Altered States perspective, more from a Douglas Hofstadter Cognitive Patterning mindset than a Ken Wilber Spiritual-Technical mindset. When I looked at conventional Psychology, it looked wretched -- far from the William James perspective; after some time I found the Cognitive Psychology perspective as being potentially useful, and most recently, mythic archetypes -- the best of Jung and Ralph Metzner.
The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience
1998, rank 75K
Psychology is weak in the area of intense transformative experience. My main feeling about religion and myth is enthusiastic suspicion that there is something there regarding intense transformative experience, whereas my main feeling about Psychology is disappointed potential. Conventional religion is excitement in degraded form, while conventional Psychology is the mundane in uplifted form.
The solution isn't simply Religion or Psychology, but rather, High Experiential Religion and High Experiential Psychology. In practice, this means thorough integration of the mystic intense altered state. Without being informed by that state, no field or theory of psychospiritual development goes far enough to be interesting -- as proof of this, consider the unsatisfying nature of Ken Wilber's framework, which is unsurpassed and sets the standard which other theorists of transcendent knowledge must respond to.
Wilber is inadequately familiar with intense mystic-state experiencing -- despite his ability to attain certain measurable cognitive states associated with meditation. Wilber's theory of collective psychospiritual development leaves a lot to be desired -- witness his gross misconstrual and selling short of Hellenistic Mystery Religion. I created a core Cognitive Altered States theory of transcendent knowledge. Lately I am using this core theory to explain how world myth-religion works.
My central exemplary religion could be either "earliest Christianity" or "Hellenistic Mystery Religions including Jewish Esoteric Initiation" -- that is, "Greco-Roman initiation religion" including esoteric Judaism. I'm considering the construct, "Ancient Initiation Religion". When I consider "religion", that's what is most worthwhile to bring to mind -- not Christianity as officially and commonly conceived of in the U.S. in the mid 20th Century.
There is so much that is right with William James' conception of the field of Psychology and his conception of Religious Experience. It would've been interesting to see his investigation of entheogens in addition to Nitrous Oxide, especially if he were informed of the entheogenic theory of the origin of religions.
Earl Doherty (JesusPuzzle.com) and the other scientific rational atheist skeptics have done so much to show that literalist Christianity is incorrect. But that kind of rationality is mistaken, incorrect, and illogical, in that it fails to comprehend and understand the genuinely valid rationality in high myth-religion. That middle-level science fails to understand the symbolic encoding or language and correct, rational meaning of myth-religion-mysticism.
To make the problem worse, most mystics and even theorists of myth don't understand the rational meaning of myth-religion-mysticism either. So we bounce between camps: Indeed, the scientists are correct that the literalist religionists are wrong. Should the scientists then concede that the typical mystics and myth-theorists are correct? No.
It requires balancing and modifying notions about science and myth-mysticism; today's scientific rationalists misunderstand, and the mystics and theorists of myth also misunderstand. No existing camp is very close to the truth about myth-religion.
Scientific rationalists think that if there is any valid insight in myth, science knows that insight better. This is partly correct. The best science fully understands the meaning of myth, and the best of mythic thinking is fully rational and scientific.
Mediocre scientific rationality fails to comprehend mythic meaning, and mediocre mythic thinking fails to attain to rationality. Excellent scientific thinking is fully in accord with excellent mythic thinking -- at the top, they embrace and the mind can make rational scientific sense out of myth and enjoy it as a kind of mathematical art.
It's sad to see great researchers such as Earl fall so short of full rational comprehension of myth-religion. They assume that because literalist Christianity is irrational, myth-religion can't be explained easily and rationally -- but it can. The situation is very much like two intelligent people arguing about a series of signals, or a stereogram.
The one thinker manages to decode the signals and lock focus on the encoded stereogram image, and the other doesn't, and therefore maintains that the signal is meaningless noise and that the stereogram is just a flat picture with no hidden picture.
As much as I want rationalists to recognize that myth may make perfect sense when understood correctly, I immediately warn that today's researchers of myth and religion fully misunderstand their subject, not recognizing that myth expresses the transcendent but very definitely comprehensible and specific insights and experiences of the intense mystic altered state, characteristic of entheogens.
Ultimately, fully developed scientific, rational thinking is able to enjoy theology and myth as clever artistic plays and commentary on the logical insights of the loose cognitive state. Today's rational scientists are every bit as dull, uncomprehending, unintelligent and irrational, as today's middle-level religionists.
They are all unsatisfying in practically the same way: they reject low myth-religion and frank irrationality, while failing to attain to comprehending and understanding high myth-religion and the ultimate end-state of rationality, a cognitive state that gives rise to a worldmodel so perfectly rational, the mind's accustomed background assumptions of free will and self-control become non-viable, leading to a system crash and reboot that desperately requires a mental move that escapes, a la Hofstadter and Godel, any particular, determinate system of rationality.
How does that crashed ego-controller, who crashed by attaining perfect rationality, rationally regain practical control? Only by stepping up the sense of what it means for rationality to be perfected. Regular perfect rationality is what caused the dire problem of ego death and loss of control in the first place; the only type of perfection of rationality that could work to reboot the system is a qualitatively different, more transcendent type of perfection of rationality.
Simple perfect rationality is not a viable operating system for a responsible control-agent; an element of transcendence must be added, for practical reason of seeming to be a control agent. The lie of egoic control and free will must be reintroduced into the mind's worldmodel even after the mind's rationality has developed to the point of showing egoic free-will self-control to be logically incoherent and no more than a practical convention of illusion.
The simple perfection of reason that shows freewill to be as nonsensical and unlikely as literalist religion, combined with the experience of no-free-will, is not an absolute proof of no-free-will. However, the ego-death experience is a real phenomenon to be explained -- it is the king of the mythic archetypes.
The ego-death experience doesn't depend on attaining perfect certainty, but rather, just an intensely strong confidence and feeling, such as can result from a few years of intense grappling with the difficulty of personal self-management while using entheogens to provide the loose-cognition state that contributes insight into the problem.
Ego death is an intense experience that happens when the reflective mind realizes how all the self-control problems it has been wrestling with would be cleanly and simply solved by the worldmodel of the timeless block universe with no individual free will.
When a mind intellectually appreciates and feels what an elegant solution this is, or amounts to, or would be, then the practical problem of self-control arises, and ego death occurs, and rationality concludes that ordinary perfect rationality must leap into transcendent perfect rationality to regain, and to discover a rational justification for, the illusion once again of being a free-willing egoic control agent with an open future.
Myth coherently expresses and points toward this mental dynamic, in a perfectly intelligible and rational way, never requiring religious literalism or superstitious magic or psychic abilities. Everything about the mental dynamic is a move from lesser to ordinary to higher to ultimate rationality. It is easy to mistake high myth and ultimate rationality for low myth and irrationality.
Free will is seen as being as nonsensical as a literalist reading of the supernatural aspects of the Bible. A rational mystic experience is that of seeing two paths suddenly open up before your eye: either miracles and all kinds of Bible nonsense are admitted as possible and freewill is admitted as possible, or, every last miracle and bit of Bible supernaturalism is purely allegorical and there is no free will. The possibilities cleanly split into these two exclusive groups.
What I'm particularly set against is reductionism: theories that "explain" religion in terms that are not really religious, that is, esoteric mystic-state experiential. The real primary *religious* meaning of myth-religion is not based in the realm of sociopolitical reformation or resistance or manipulation as conceived by the sociologists; it is first of all, metaphysical esoteric mystic-state experiential.
That esoteric experiencing definitely shines new perspective on the sociopolitical realm, but the basis is in the mystic state of consciousness. Various theories of religion are suggested other than the really religious (esoteric state of consciousness) theory, such as fertility, sociopolitical resistance, mundane morality, existentialism, practical utilitarian astrology (for navigation, prediction, and control), and "individuation" per Jungian psychology, or a sociopolitical pacifier (opiate of the masses).
All the theories are right, but one is much more correct than the others: the esoteric state of consciousness theory. This is not an arbitrary value judgement, but is a discovery and report of the mind's higher potential for nonordinary, truly religious-state experiencing.
Even if *most* religion is reductionist semi-religion (such as mundane morality-systems), the *best* aspect of religion -- the most venerable and lofty, classic, important, profound, impressive, original, deep -- is the esoteric mystic-state dimension of religion; that is the real fountainhead of religion as such -- the other aspects of religion are mere side-effects or applications of religion, rather than pure religion as such.
To treat some aspect of religion other than esoteric mystic-state phenomena as the core or basis of religion is reductionism, a pseudo-explanation of religion by explaining religion as something other than religion proper. The bulk of religion may indeed be not really religion as such, but merely sociopolitical manipulations; however, the best of religion, the core and fountainhead, remains pure religion as such, which is esoteric mystic-state experiential religion.
I am not presently putting forth a full defense of elevating this one aspect as the single true, nonreductionist aspect of religion; I am here merely setting up and defining what the task is.
The task at hand amounts to setting forth an argument of why explaining religion on any basis other than esoteric mystic-state experiencing is reductionist, and the only non-reductionist and adequate explanation of religion must be centered around esoteric mystic-state experiencing; must argue why esoteric mystic-state experiencing is the only truly, *purely religious* aspect of religion.
Such an argument might rest on arbitrary axioms -- but a good compelling argument can be made and portrayed as the best, simplest, most reasonable and most plausible and convincing argument, that any explanation of religion not centered on esoteric mystic-state experiencing is reductionist and fails to explain religion proper, but only seems to explain religion, by falsely reducing or narrowing religion to some relatively incidental or non-primary aspect of religion.
The only way to avoid falsely narrowing the topic of religion while explaining it is by including all aspects, including esoteric mystic-state experiencing, but even more essential, the only way to avoid falsely "centering" one's explanation of religion is by picking esoteric mystic-state experiencing as the true center, the pure fountainhead of authentic religion, and the original source for even the degraded, cargo-cult, lower forms of religion.
I'm deeply set against the new doctrine/dogma that the purpose of meditation is not mystic experiencing but is primarily or strictly to elevate daily life. I'm against it because it is a kind of reductionism. Authentic, actual religious experiencing as such, such as satori, can elevate daily life, but the center of religion *as such* remains in the realm of satori, not in the realm of daily life.
The concept of 'religion proper' should be kept, and the meaning should be constrained and not allowed to dissipate into meaninglessness as 'religion' is so broadened that it comes to mean merely the optimalization of day to day life. Sacred means set apart, or distinct, or distinguished. Authentic religion as such is grounded in the mystic state of consciousness; it is centered or initially located there.
Perhaps later it can be somehow merged into daily life, but the most classic model is that esoteric mystic-state experiencing is differentiated from and contrasted to daily life and the ordinary state of consciousness.