>To establish some ground rules here, for the benefit of a "new person" on this list
Ground rules for discussion are indeed helpful to build up ideas and add value.
>Is there a consensus definition that the list holds as to the nature of the "ego" that dies? What are the parameters for defining the "ego" in terms of "The ego that dies"?
I have posted about this in another discussion group and could repost those here. Despite some debate, I think a range of concepts about the "ego" was settled upon. I really don't consider it to be that hard.
First of all, as in all such mental-model shifting, forget the simplistic kind of thinking that would dumbly ask, "Does ego exist, yes or no?" That will take care of 90% of the fruitless postings. Some people just want to revel in the artificial paradox of getting rid of that which doesn't exist. There is nothing vague about the ego and the nature of its cessation; it's very simple and concrete compared to a truly hard problem such as the nature consciousness. The first question, the key question, the only question, is: "What is the *nature of* the ego such that we can talk of it 'dying'?"
The ego is the core framework around which the egoic mental worldmodel is constructed. The ego exists as a structure and a structuring principle or organizing scheme. The mind can hold an egoic or a transcendent worldmodel. Egoic structures are present in both, but *organized differently*.
In the egoic worldmodel, the ego is considered to be a first cause, a sovereign control agent, and the simple, unproblematic center of identity, the main referent of the word "I". The ego is considered to be the initiator of action, the controller of one's will, and the creator of one's thoughts and actions. In the transcendent worldmodel, the ego in some sense remains, as a practical form of organizing cognition.
However, as in the Bible-as-literature theory of the New Testament, which frames early Jewish-Christianity as a major reinterpretation of what "victory", "messiah", and "kingdom" are really all about, the ego is *reinterpreted*, along with many other major components of the egoic worldmodel. Ego death is an apocalyptic, catestrophic global shift and reinterpretation of a huge *network* of mental constructs.
"Ego" can mean both the central component in the egoic worldmodel, and the entire worldmodel (the egoic-structured mental model of the world, time, and control) -- we can simply call these "the core ego" and "the overall egoic worldmodel". What dies is the firm assumption that ego is substantial and wields power in the way the egoic worldmodel proposes. That way of thinking still remains after ego death, but only as a practical conventional illusion.
>I recommend the following:
That was written years ago, but looks relevant.
>I have read the egodeath.com site and some of the previous discussions here.
>When you say that "the ego is the controller", what are the terms of reference for the controller?
>1. Unconscious personality archetypes at the root of reaction?
Animal minds and uninitiated human minds have egoic cognitive structures, which can be called archetypes. These are useful for animal sorts of actions and reactions.
>2. The logical reasoning of the thinking mind?
The core-ego construct and the egoic worldmodel built around it are only semi-logical. When this logic is examined freely during loose cognition, as though put on trial, the logic is condemned or even self-convicting. Is the animal's sense of self as a self-moving agent "logical"? Logic is not very relevant; the animal motion works more in a Zen way marked by practical immediate familiarity. Egoic thinking is thus an *instinct*, and can be represented by the willful goat or donkey. Ego as a motion initiator is more practical than logical.
>3. The conditioned belief structure imprinted into the linear brain?
Ego is a set of assumptions instinctively innate in the animal brain. It's deeper than "conditioned"; it's instinctive, although not fully developed at birth. Ken Wilber's early treatment of developmental levels, perhaps the book Up From Eden, is suitable here.
>4. The conditioned beliefs imprinted into the unconscious mind?
See above. I don't bother to distinguish here between mind and brain; my basis is experiential and cognitive, phenomenological. Egoic-shaped cognition is a stage-appropriate instinct built into the brain/mind.
>5. A matrix of all of these?
Add the above points 1-4.
>There is a "death" metaphor associated with the release of each and every one of these.
The most electrifying form of ego death as *experience* is the short-circuiting of the sense of self-control, of being in power to originate and control one's own thoughts. The ripe egoic mind is fully identified with ego as *controller*, firmly structured around the full assumption that the ego has the power to command its own free will. We can say that egoic logic, such as it is, reaches the end of its lifecycle as a convincing illusion.
The conditioned and innate egoic belief structures are competitively tested for coherence against the transcendent worldmodel, and fail the test; even if the mind in some sense controls the thoughts, when seen in the light of the frozen-time perspective, the mind is no longer seen as the ultimate origin of its own thoughts -- the time axis stabs the will.
It is challenging, but not at all impossible, to use words to accurately describe these two different networks of meanings. The transcendent mind can say "I walk, I create, I originate my thoughts" but all the meanings are reorganized.
>Whatever the thinking mind is aware of, it is a retrospect view of a perception of an event through preconditioned belief filters.
I express the "belief filters" idea as "mental models" or "worldmodels", or dynamic mental construct association matrixes. A worldmodel, such as the egoic or transcendent worldmodel about time, self, and control, is a large-scale dynamic mental construct association matrix. The glue holding a large-scale or small-scale dynamic mental construct association matrix together, I call "indexing". Metanoia, mental transformation, is "reindexing" -- or reorganizing one's conceptual system.
>I have often wondered on the nature of Ego-Death on this list, especially as Michael defines it.
>In my definitions of Ego-Death, and what I am accustomed to in discussions, it would be similar to the death of "the conditioned belief structure imprinted into the linear brain" of your definitions (No. 3).
#1, 3, and 4 seem fine. I emphasize ego transcendence as a tremendous increase in rationality, so I downplay the logicalness of ego implied in option #2. Egoic thinking is horribly illogical, a demonic abomination: an unreasoning animal discovered to be lurking in the mind. When I discovered it, I was aghast and was ready to disprove it to the death -- I rushed to sacrifice it in order to permanently and fully get rid of it, at least as a deluded way of thinking. I wanted an unforgettable disproof of the inner animal logic of egoic freewillist moral agency.
This does not seem to be the focus of this forum though.
To see the full intended focus of the forum, refer to the scope definition at the home page of the discussion group, not my actual postings.
>Have any of you experienced the destruction of the conditioned self?...I have experienced small deaths of components, but not a complete destruction of self...yet...
I advocate learning the worldmodel of frozen-future block-universe determinism as opposed to freewillist assumptions, in conjunction with studying entheogens. Nothing contradicts the power of egoic control as well as the assumption of frozen-future block-universe determinism. Whether true or not, embracing such a worldmodel during vision-logic packs an apocalyptic wallop.
>And if this was accomplished, how would you test to see if this occurred...aka, how do you make sure you haven't deluded yourself with a blending of minor component death, leading to a new resultant of self?
I'd say if you still think you have the power to change your future (as opposed to just playing it out or arriving at it), the deluded animal mind still reigns -- or, putting aside truth and falsity, I'd say you haven't experienced the potential experience we have of deterministic ego death.
>I don't know if the stuff this group talks about relates to Buddhism
>in any= way but www.google.com comes up with lots to read if you
>enter egolessness = and either anatta or sunyata (synonyms I think)
I take it for granted that a good theory of ego death that fully connects with Christianity and also with Zen has enormous potential for fully rationally explaining other religions in contemporary terms as well, including Buddhism. I haven't written much about Buddhism because I am deliberately setting a boundary, to concentrate on Christianity first. It is fairly easy to connect the core theory and its treatment of Christianity to some varieties or aspects of Buddhism. It's also all-systems-go, ready for takeoff as far as connecting the theory of ego death I've gathered with esoteric Islam. The esoteric forms of religion (and high philosophy) essentially agree; the differences between religions are most pronounced when considering the popular, Literalist, devotional, exoteric forms of religion.
It's a better strategy for me to pick one religion and do a thorough, good job of connecting the core theory to it, rather than making weak connections from the core to many religions. I would like some thinkers to publish the explanation of how the core theory connects with Buddhism. I see no great reason why I, as the exponent of the core theory, need to take responsibility for connecting the core theory to Buddhism. I can probably contribute more by focusing on Christianity, which I know is a complex and challenging religion to make sense of. Christianity is a higher priority and I feel that a successful explanation of Christianity will make it easy to connect the theory to Buddhism, which has less of a baffling "secret mystery" aspect. Like Ramesh Balsekar's advaita vedanta, Buddhism is openly explainable. The mystery religions, and Christianity in relation to them, are baffling, impenetrable, hidden, veiled.
Alan Watts' book Beyond Theology is a startlingly insightful comparative theology book relating Christianity to Hinduism. "An approach to comparative theology which is mutually enriching in the fullest way must therefore deal with religions on the mythic level as well as the metaphysical and philosophical. ... He must be a poet ... a master of images -- a parabolist, allegorist, analogist, and imaginator."
I am overcoming my distrust of his son, who is putting all of Alan Watts' books out of print and publishing a bewildering and arbitrary flood of random compilations instead. I'm very glad I bought the Watts library before his son started messing with it. I suspect he should have kept the original books in print and added a few anthologies. The Watts library is overwhelming, though I have managed to make a lot of progress reading the books I've bought so far. My work is more of an extension of Watts than of Wilber.
http://www.alanwatts.com/library1.html -- "Alan Watts was born on January 6, 1915 in Kent, England. During his formative years Alan's mother taught children of Christian missionaries in China, and as a result he became fascinated with Oriental art. In training to become an Anglican priest, he attended King's School next door to Canterbury Cathedral. There he learned to write skillfully, and was trained in public speaking in preparation for a lifetime on the pulpit. During this period he discovered an esoteric Bookstores in London, where he found books on the Far East. He also discovered The Buddhist Lodge, where he met Christmas Humphries and D.T. Suzuki. Alan Watts became editor of the Buddhist Lodge quarterly, The Middle Way. In 1941, Watts decided to reconcile his interest in Eastern mysticism with his Christian training, and enrolled in the Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. In 1944 he was ordained as an Episcopalian priest. In 1950, Alan Watts left the Church and his first wife to begin a new life in Millbrook, new York with Dorothy Dewitt. After a memorable New Year's Eve dinner at their small farmhouse with Joseph Campbell, Jean Erdman, and Luisa Coomaraswami, Alan Watts left for California in early 1941 with his new wife to accept a teaching position at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco."
Some books I want to read, for a mythic reading of Christianity:
o Easter: Its Story and Meaning. Abelard-Schuman, New York, 1950.
o Myth and Ritual in Christianity. Thames and Hudson, London, and Vanguard, New York, 1950.
o Myth and Religion. Ed. Mark Watts, Tuttle, Boston, 1996
>One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, "Your
>Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?" The master's face turned
>red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back,
>"What kind of stupid question is that!?"
>This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen
>and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, "THIS, Your Excellency, is
When people say things with "attitude", for some reason I know this is communication filled with ego. I need to theoretically reflect on why this is so. I talk straight and consider such straight talking to be egoless, even if I am saying "I am good at X". But when people talk in a strangled tone of voice, implying things not directly said, I consider that to be manipulative, egoic communication.
Ego death has nothing to do with conducting oneself in a humble, self-deprecating way as ordinarily conceived. You can act self-deprecating and humble until you turn blue, but enlightenment does not result. Stomping on the ego delusion only reinforces it. Only when you see the way in which the ego doesn't exist, can you truly be humble and self deprecating. If a man says he is low, I say he is full of himself, filled with prideful delusion. If a man says he doesn't even exist at all as an egoic agent, so there is no one who could be low and humble, that is enlightenment.
>>Can you comment on the existential view of ego?
Metaphysical freedom is false, practical existential conventional freedom is true, and socio-political freedom is good. So far, I didn't find it valuable to read further on the existential view of ego, because it seems wholly restricted to the ordinary state of consciousness, and generally uninspired floundering in the dark, like so much of 20th Century psychology-philosophy. I will consider reviewing and commenting on that topic/perspective.
>>Can you comment on the nondualistic concept of ego?
As I recall, I have never put much emphasis on the concept of "nonduality" even though I'm very familiar with it from Watts and Wilber. This is partly because everyone knows so well the idea of spatial no-separate-self, that I have instead found more unresolved problems in the related area of no-free-will, which Watts only implicitly covered and Wilber didn't cover at all. My explanation and view of nonduality would be very similar to what all the books say, though I suppose my portrayal of the idea would be uniquely flavored by my style of description and my vocabulary set. Watts tried hard to describe this, so he has it covered fairly well already.
I mention "no-separate-self" in passing all the time as something everyone knows, and I instead worked to define the "virtual ego" concept.
http://www.egodeath.com/intro.htm - The Virtual Ego and the Illusory Aspect of its Control Power
For a cybernetic self-control paradigm of ego death and transcendent knowledge, I didn't find the word "nonduality" helpful, even though it fully accords with my conceptual system. Surprisingly, the word seems both relevant and irrelevant. I have no problem with it, and people ought to know it, but I don't natively use it.
The Primal Polarity principle of dualism in religious metaphor is that every twofold contrast, typically the most shocking, crazy and misleading metaphor of good guys and bad guys, is actually a metaphor for the egoic-thinking vs. transcendent-thinking contrast.
I would like to know when I first thought of this absolute dualist thinking. The present posting is key, but is an echo of 11/14/01 ("kingdom of God" deciphering, no-free-will angels breakthrough). On that day, I realized that all two-fold distinctions pivoted on freewill, or on the egoic/transcendent distinction; I finally *recognized* the mapping between all scriptural key dichotomies and my *own* late-80s radical dichotomy I called "egoic thinking vs. transcendent thinking".
My own biographical experience is an essential data point for assessing the validity of dualist thinking. I am "pure" in a certain way because I rediscovered religious principles essentially in isolation from religious thinking. I approached and discovered enlightenment and mystery-religion "salvation" from a purely technical, engineering-oriented, personal self-control cybernetics perspective.
If you look at my notebooks of 1986-1987, you will not see religious thinking, but rather, analysis of personal self-control. I had no interest in understanding Christianity or even knowing what it is; my whole obsessive focus was on securing personal self-control and self mastery, self-determination -- driven *not* by injunctions from religious teachers, but instead, by self-help seminars like EST -- what Maslow calls "self-realization" or the human potential movement.
*That*, not religion, was what prodded me to get my head together and get a grip on myself: encounter groups and goal-setting self-realization seminars that adults sent me to. They taught me "you are responsible for your enjoyment of life and your achievements", yet I had no self-control and sympathize with the Pauline problem (or poor driven-to-despair Zen student problem, when he is told "take full control over your mind and thoughts"). However, there *is* some religion prior to my late 87/ early 88 breakthrough-pair. I intently studied and wrestled with Alan Watts' book The Way of Zen, particularly his section on the problem of cybernetic self-control.
This is why my real origin of my theory is not Christianity, but Zen as presented by Alan Watts: cyberzen, cyber-Zen, cyberZen, or cybernetic Zen, which is actually, in agreement with Watts, an oxymoron. Zen is correctly understood as cybernetics, and Way of Zen also gave me key ideas about meta-perception and the self timeslices arrayed along the time dimension. Thus I discovered the core theory of cybernetic self-control enlightenment or cybernetic enlightenment on the basis of Zen as provided by Alan Watts' book The Way of Zen (that's the only Watts book I was even aware of).
I could not have recognized that mapping before because I didn't know anything about Christianity until my visions of Christ as self-control savior prompted me to explain Christianity in terms of my core philosophy theory of timeless block-universe determinism, transcendent worldmodel, and loose cognitive binding of mental constructs.
In other words, I did *not* begin as a Christian scholar -- I did not read any books about Christianity, or care about understanding Christianity, until after my core theory was essentially finished as a closed system. The closest I got to reading anything about Christianity by the time I closed my core theory at the start of 1988 was incidental yet profound reading of religious theory, including Christianity, by Ken Wilber.
I would have to research my notes and photographs of my book collections. If people photograph what is of concern to them, instead of people I mostly photographed my book collections in approximately 4-month periods during that era, 1986-1995. So I happen to have documentation showing when I first read books about Christianity.
I have adhered to this kind of radical dualist distinction from the moment (Dec. 12, 1987) I realized that Alan Watts' book Way of Zen finally made sense if you assume no-free-will. That was my first breakthrough, my first insight. I would have to look through my notes to see when I first cast this as a twofold dichotomy.
I distinctly recall differentiating between "practical rationality" and "pure rationality" -- I strongly suspect I coined those expressions after 12/12/87 (no-free-will breakthrough) and 1/11/88 (timeless block-universe determinism breakthrough), when I was still grappling with personal self-management.
Here is my formula, the history I went through. The main point I am tracking, the reason I wrote this tonight, is to trace hard dualism through my own history of theorizing, to determine how I was able to crack the puzzle and discover the mystery-religion principle of "The Primal Polarity" or "The Master Dualism", or "The Master Polarity".
The following is the history of my development of the cybernetic theory of ego transcendence, with special attention to the eventual discovery of The Primal Polarity principle of dualism in religious metaphor.
1976: drug education (accurate, nonjudgmental, informative, substantial, and actually pretty enlightened). First albums: Beatles, Rush, Hendrix.
1981: attended a full seminar about goal setting and personal achievement -- essentially, taught me material on the level Abraham Maslow calls "self-realization" (as opposed to "self-transcendence")
Fall 1983: short seminar about studying techniques
Spring 1985: participated in encounter group, human potential movement, self-realization training, self-help
October 1985: first visitation of the Holy Spirit -- experienced as a tremendous sense of awakening. Completely vague vision of Christ -- incidental, without emphasis, content or focus. Just a tremendous sense of discovering a *huge* realm of profundity to explore. Especially came away exclaiming "Whoa! Why didn't anyone *tell* me about this!" Immediately started a working diary to increase my self-control and personal management.
Immediately started reading the only religious/philosophy book I had, The Way of Zen by Alan Watts, given to me in the past Spring by my father involved in the human-potential movement -- I had such total lack of interest in philosophy and religion prior to October 1985, that I literally tried to give the book back to my father, saying I'm not interested in such things (same attitude as many people have toward reading New Age books: I don't need that stupid silly philosophical musing crap; I have *practical* needs.
Spring 1986: severe depression as control completely eluded me, in direct contradiction of human-potential teachings.
1986-1987: wrestled with all my intellectual might to understand and attain personal posi-control of my actions and self-management. Focused on my self-management techniques. Viewed the use of loose cognition and the attainment of enlightenment as portrayed in Way of Zen as practical tools to give me what I passionately desired more than gold: posi-control, full self-management as promised by Human Potential and Self-Help philosophy.
Here is where I picked up the key idea, so unusually emphasized by Watts in this book, of a sharp, sudden, radical, *dualist* dichotomy and divide between some inferior and superior way of thinking. Watts called the goal "enlightenment", which implies a state of unenlightenment as well. This was two solid years of torment, manic depression, frustration, and hard work of studying and trying to make sense of Way of Zen.
As part of Atomic Physics, studied 4-dimensional spacetime diagrams (time as a spacelike dimension).
I was being a theorist in this period, ever since late 86-early 87 I hoped to bring a new theory of self-management and personal self-control into the world. Yet I was a hypocrite because all my efforts were failures. However, I did feel, and it's largely true, that I was doing novel research. I was sure, though almost unread, that the problem I was working on had not been solved or even really addressed, the problem of securing personal posi-control and self-management.
I figured that if such a theory had been found, it would have been taught in the encounter groups and Human Potential movement, and I still believe I essentially figured correctly. I *was* essentially working on a newly defined problem with respect to the contemporary state of knowledge, working in a new paradigm defining new problems and new methods.
December 12, 1987 -- breakthrough. Given a primary interest of attaining self-control, Way of Zen entirely makes full rational sense if you simply assume no-free-will. This insight -- no-free-will and collapse of the naive assumption of the possibility of securing firm self-control -- always towered far above the related mystic-state ideas of chain-of-experiencing timeslices (illusory nature of movement through time), metaperception of mental constructs, and no-separate-self or cosmic unity. So here I made primary the dualistic distinction between free will and determinism -- or rather, at this time, between "freewill" and "no-free-will".
My thinking if anything, on determinism, was causal-chain determinism, but especially the idea of an unstoppable or forcefully injected sequence of mental constructs with respect to the time axis. Started thinking about movement through time, with respect to no-free-will, using perhaps a "movie-frames in a reel on shelf" model. (Still a very in-time, temporal model of time.)
January 11, 1988 -- breakthrough. No-free-will implies timeless block-universe determinism. Fortunately, I was not indoctrinated with the standard poor, dead-end model of determinism as "causal-chain determinism". Weeks before, I rejected freewill; now I conceptualized determinism not in a vague way or as causal-chain determinism, but as block-universe determinism, not causal-chain determinism though only recently have I nailed down the latter distinction between my concept of determinism and the standard one).
1988: immediately started summarizing my theory, still largely considered as a theory of attaining personal posi-control, including "transcendent self-control" but I still didn't realize the kind of impotence and failure that wish for posi-control would conclude.
Coined key, radical dualistic distinctions such as "practical rationality vs. pure rationality" and "egoic mental construct processing vs. transcendent mental construct processing".
This is the time I started working on explaining Christianity and started studying what Christianity is. I took uninformed, liberal Christianity for granted, as I had been taught in the Human Potential movement. I was completely confident that Jesus knew the theory about self-control and no-free-will and block-universe determinism I was coming up with, and that entheogens were present at the start of Christianity.
I still had read only a few serious books at this time -- Watts and some Wilber books -- so I started reading voraciously, such as all Ken Wilber books and all philosophy, psychology, and religion and quantum mechanics books, then postmodernism and social studies, in order to communicate my theory of transcendent knowledge to the intellectual world. I have notebooks, printouts, and photos of notebooks and books from this era.
August 1988: my first serious draft of the theory of transcendent knowledge. I have this still. Tries to explain Christianity in terms of block-universe determinism and loose cognition and entheogens. I treated this explanation as I still do: as a domain that the core principles of transcendent knowledge can explain. I proposed that what Jesus knew was this transcendent knowledge as explained by these principles as I explain them. For example, the devil is a metaphor for egoic deluded thinking.
Mid 90s: Holy Spirit teaches that Ought can only come from a transcendent source; that is, there is no possible worldly basis for morality or even more generally and existentially, for any answer to "what shall I do and what shall I not do". Some full-on existentialist manic depression here.
Read lots of fundamentalist Christianity books here -- dubious -- ignorant. Main goal was still to discover the presence of my cybernetic theory of transcendent knowledge hidden in the scriptures, amongst all the strangeness. It was only at this point that I started studying Christianity in any kind of deliberate way. I only had Human Potential philosophy and Zen under my belt, along with my core philosophy model of enlightenment, first summarized and uploaded around 1996 at Principia Cybernetica website.
Still knew only very shallow, pop Christianity; therefore my application of my core principles of enlightenment to explain Christianity was weak and unsatisfying. "The devil is egoic thinking" just seemed limited. The mapping between my (by now closed, complete) core technical theory of enlightenment and Christianity was only a very partial mapping.
Discovered and fully systematized mystic-state double-entendre encoding/decoding in acid rock lyrics, including Rush, Metallica, Beatles, and Queen. This whole theory of acid rock lyrics took place seemingly instantly; the moment I recognized the allusions in the first song -- probably on the Ride the Lightning album or Caress of Steel... oh, which I now recognize as the guillotine of ego death per the song Bastille Day!
Various religious experiences. Forced to pray, trembling; insight into savior as substitute, or sacrificing conventional moral thinking -- transcendence of morality and egoic moral agency.
Around 2000 -- the Great Branching experience. Holy Spirit presented with two great alternatives. This was a major insight and is related to discovering The Primal Polarity. The scriptures present you with two distinct sets of notions. *Either* you believe in magic, miracles, supernatural, spirits, heaven and hell, *and free will*, or, you believe in no magic, no supernatural, no spirits, no heaven and hell, *and no-free-will* -- because freewill moral thinking is of the same type as supernaturalist thinking which really is the common character of spirits, heaven and hell, and so on.
Nov. 14, 2001 -- Finally, complete breakthrough of mapping my core theory of enlightenment to Christian myth. Pivotal concept: "kingdom of Heaven" as "kingdom of Determinism/no-free-will." Included the fully dualistic-polarity idea "angels = no-free-will, devils = free-will". Around this time I started asserting more and more forcefully that the ego, and egoic thinking, *is* the free will delusion, and that transcendent thinking is the rejection of the freewill assumption, and that the mind always moves, in normal psychospiritual development, from the initial default state of naive freewill assumption to the cultivated, reflective, abstract, analytical rejection of the freewill way of thinking.
I read Schopenhauer's book Prize Essay on the Freedom of the Will somewhere in this period, with a scathing description of how the defenders of freewill haven't even figured out that there is a distinction that can be made between our ability to make decisions, versus the metaphysical *free-ness* of our ability to will something. They say "I can will; this proves freewill" but should ask "I can will something, but when I do so, do I do so *freely*?"
He portrayed freewillists as childishly ignorant and unreflective, like Richard Double who portrayed them as being fully and exclusively obsessed with defending conventional morality rather than frankly, objectively, "scientifically" assessing whether such moral thinking is in fact metaphysically logical or not. These philosophers helped me make these hard-dualism distinctions: child/unreflective/freewill, adult/abstract-reflection/no-free-will.
April 20, 2002 -- substantial insights or even breakthroughs in learning mystery-religion metaphor as a game that was taken to deliberately ridiculous extremes in Christian miracle metaphors for primary religious experiencing -- ended that day with some insight on reading offensive-sounding distinctions (true Israel, the saved/damned) as clever metaphors for The Great Divide of egoic thinking vs. transcendent thinking.
April 21, 2002 -- discovered full formalized principle of The Primal Polarity, able to explain the most shocking Essene condemnations of a disparaged group and brazen glorification of one's own group. Wondered why my own thinking was always so absolutely dualist/polar (egoic/transcendent), and traced this back to Alan Watts' book The Way of Zen, which portrays a sudden essentially complete satori, instant and full enlightenment (implying a polar opposite, "unenlightenment"), in a sudden homeostatic catastrophic state-shift.
Jesus-Freaks aka Jesus People
Shroomers aka Entheogenists
Each approach or framework of enlightenment has some political dimension, some exoteric ritual dross dimension, and some mystic esoteric dimension. We should be aware of the politics-of-power dimension of each of the above approaches. The gravest mistake is reductionism, reducing religion to nothing but the politics of power or the strategic blinding of people to the politics of power. Transcendent knowledge exists independently from the politics of power.
The right way to frame transcendent knowledge is to explicitly treat the politics of power, but keep it differentiated from transendent knowledge proper. In some Jewish-Christian and Persian apocalyptic writing, there is a deliberate play where politics allegorically expresses mystic state insight and mysticism allegorically expresses mysticism. The mystic and political domains thus are used to comment upon each other, but they remain distinct, though interpentrating.
Objectivism is functionally a religion, though it denies any validity to any mystic, transcendent, or transpersonal insight. It's understandable how Ayn Rand was so inclined. I disparage religion-as-we-know-it as much as she. It's an understandable misunderstanding, but an unwarranted extremist assumption that all religion is nothing but a malformation that is part of the politics of power, and has no potential to be anything more.
Let's hear what Ayn Rand has to say about religion *after* she has had the mixed wine of the ancients. She is merely ignorant and inexperienced, like most religionists themselves.