Rationality of Mystic Insight
>Reading the book "Dying to Live" by Susan Blackmore has initiated me to the notion of drugs as enlightenment tool. I don't bar any ideology, means or tool from the subject, as long as they are rational or used rationally. A subject such as Rational Spirituality is bound to revise a lot of false perceptions, including the area of drugs.
>Yours in Reason,
The orthodox view is that:
o Mystic insight and enlightenment are nonrational.
o There is a moderate amount of free will.
o Entheogens are much less legitimate than meditation.
o The figures in the Bible are literal individuals.
The gnostic or fully mystic view is that:
o Mystic insight and enlightenment are rational.
o There is no free will; the idea is nonsensical so there can't be a moderate amount.
o Entheogens are much more legitimate than meditation.
o The figures in the Bible are purely, essentially mythic allegories for the intense mystic altered state.
Freke and Gandy, in books such as The Jesus Mysteries, tend toward the latter set of ideas, though not so centrally as I do. I haven't settled on the labels for those two sets of axioms -- such as orthodox/gnostic, conventional/superior, or exoteric/esoteric. It is important to put forth an entire set of different axioms together, as well as also establishing each "new" axiom independently.
At this point, there are enough books that assert these "new" axioms individually, but due to the lack of an orchestrated set, an integration of these, the current treatment of any one "new" axiom is limited. Only when an integrated systematization of the axioms is available can we find the best and strongest formulation of each individual axiom. I am deciding to make my trademark approach the framework-first approach, putting more emphasis on the whole set of axioms than on any one of them.
If I write an article focusing on one axiom, I want the other axioms to be clearly and explicitly present too. I won't suppress the other axioms when focusing on one; instead, I'll fully utilize the other axioms so that I focus on the axiom at hand but against a background consisting of the other axioms clearly expressed. Each article should be strongly holographic, clearly implying the whole set of axioms. I will be a package deal, because frameworks are more important than individual axioms.
Francois Tremblay wrote:
>I have read your site about ego death and found it to be very interesting.
>I have a Suite 101 column on Rational Spirituality and I thought you would be interested in checking it out. I have added a link to your site from there also.
High on my wish list is to convince Earl Doherty of the profundity of the Christian myth, now that it is becoming understood in terms of systematic theory, or science.
Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality
This book appears to be (hopefully) good, solid, realistic, skeptical, relevant, and grounded. I read his book The End of Science. He seems to put LSD pretty centrally in the spotlight, as should be, for the scope of this book.
Transcendent rational justification for returning to using the irrational ego after discovering its essentially illusory nature
>>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.
>There is much too much mind control suggested by those words. What brings one out of [the control-system breakdown that results upon attaining ordinary] perfect rationality, a perfect rationality which is better understood as truth, is not clear at all. There is no ability on the part of the mind to do any such thing; it happens all on its own, with the sense is that it is all regulated by motion. There is no choice in that process at all, and to hint at any type of control on the part of the mind is untruthful.
There is an unaccustomed leap of thinking involved when the mind moves from ego-shaped, ordinary perfect rationality (at the end of its rope, followed to the end of the road) to transcendent perfect rationality or perhaps "trans-rationality". The mind, though it is actively moving, experiences being passively lifted into the higher mode of thinking.
This transformation or central moment of regeneration is initiated by the frozen spacetime block or some hidden controller outside that block, rather than being attributed to the ego as prime director. This is the moment of feeling lifted up to receive a new worldmodel descending from on high. Passive language predominates here.
The mind changes from containing a worldmodel that is shaped as an ego actively perfecting its rationality (and thereby ultimately and metaphysically losing control of self-control), to being shaped as a relatively passive member of the Ground of Being through which a transcendent rationality is conveyed from a hidden source that is emphatically not the egoic agent.
This is the moment of the mind's conversion from thinking in terms of being an active ego to being a passive member of the Ground or the One, or the timeless block universe. There are mental actions all throughout this, but what changes is the attribution of action.
One moment I sense that I as ego am working on my near-perfect rationality, and I bring it to perfection, but thereupon, I die and lose the scepter of self-control, now seeing myself as only conventionally being an ego-agent that is driving and controlling the action.
This is often a frightening unstable mental state, this postulation of frozen future and no individual self-control, during which the hidden higher controller could inject any idea into the loose and flexible mind, and all the mind's egoic control efforts are recognized as being futile -- it doesn't make any logical sense to try to stop the thought-injection, any more than a puppet could act against its controller.
The mind may thrash about, grasping at its donkey of rationality to try to save and restore the mind's stability, but no egoic rational action can fix the instability problem that was created by following rationality to its logical end point. That kind of action-oriented perfected egoic rationality concludes that there is no way for it to save itself.
Something higher is needed, and then, that higher thinking cannot be considered to be the property of the ego: higher, transcendent, restabilizing and "saving" rationality appears in the mind but the mind doesn't attribute that move, that discovery of the transcendent potential, to the ego. The transcendent potential is experienced as descending like a crown or new operating system from above, from outside the ego/world system.
The mind is given control again; not that the egoic mind *takes* control again. The mind receives the higher worldmodel. Speaking exactly, the mind does create the higher worldmodel -- but during this creative act, the mind is not ego-shaped, so the mind does not give the active ego agent, now seen as essentially illusory, credit for discovering the higher worldmodel.
The lower mind brings itself to an end as an actor taken for real, and the higher mode of the mind lies waiting in the timeless future, waiting for the donkey to arrive or arise to the requisite high state. This can be pictured as a sinner climbing up, then the demons falling out of him while he is lifted up and crowned by the savior. It's not hard to find parallels in other religions, concerning activeness becoming passiveness while grappling with demons and compassionate deities.
This issue of the order of salvation is central to theological debate. In what sense does the sinner actively "accept" the faith and grace to be passively saved? An action of transformation or turning occurs in the moment of salvific regeneration, and it has something to do with the will of the regenerate sinner, but Reform theology doesn't want to give any credit to the ego as an active agent causing its own salvation.
Action happens in the mind. Thoughts move in the mind during the moment of satori, enlightenment, or salvation, or mentally reentering the holy land. The contested key issue is whether those thoughts are to be credited to an ego-agent or to something that transcends the ego agent and is somehow over or underlying or prior to the ego agent.
One way to express this is to say that the egoic mind is the lower mind and is accustomed to crediting the mind's movements to the ego, but during transformation, the lower mind's work of reason disproves the logical integrity and viability of the model of control that defines the lower mind. At that point, the higher mind kicks in or drops in or is manifested.
How active is this higher mind that the mind discovers in itself? The first thing and main thing to be said about the activeness of the higher mind is that it is *not* the kind of egoic independent prime-mover, self-mover action that characterizes and defines the lower mind. Can we say that there is no action the mind can do to attain higher rationality and regain control? That way of talking doesn't work and can't explain the dynamics.
The better way of talking that can explain the dynamics is to break the individual mind into lower mind and higher mind. There *is* a choice that the individual higher mind can make, and there *are* actions that the higher mind can make, but it is most important to remember that the mode and origin of this kind of choice and action are specifically not imagined to be that of the freewilling, self-driving ego-agent.
This higher mind possesses control of a sort, but remember that all relevant mental constructs regarding space, time, self, and control are redefined and reconfigured in the transcendent mental worldmodel, compared to the egoic mental worldmodel. Transcendent control exerted by the higher mind is most emphatically not the kind of control imagined in the egoic mind, so the word "control" has a less correct and more correctly conceived meaning.
The egoic mind has an inferior notion of what its control involves. In reality, there is no control of that kind. But in the resurrecting mind, that's being lifted up, control is happening there and choice is happening there -- it's just no longer credited to the essentially illusory ego-agent. The concept of control and choice is deeply revised.
I take all this for granted, having essentially explained it before. The point I was elucidating in my original posting was that the salvific moment of regenerative transformation of thinking (centered around the will), involves moving from one kind of perfect rationality to a more transcendent kind of perfect rationality. Ordinary, lower perfect rationality, when brought to completion, kills the ego that was the donkey the mind rode in on. "The law kills."
I was focused on comparing the two kinds of "perfect rationality", not the two states of control or seeming control. Transcendent, higher perfect rationality takes into account something fatally important that lower perfection failed to account for: the need for imperfection and illusion and convention; the practical need for the ego illusion.
The *truly* perfected rational mind must willingly re-embrace a lie, the lie or convention of egoic agency, to regain the practical sense of being a stable control-agent. "Love, mercy, and forgiveness saves." We have sacrificed the illusory lower self, but we have forgiven its error and we continue to use it, with that lie of ego being now redeemed, cleansed, made righteous and fully rationally and morally justified.
I was unable to catch Horgan's presentation and prepare questions.
James O'Meara wrote:
>Horgan said that he was not interested in putting his drug experiences into some new framework, but more interested in using drugs to destroy existing concepts. (Loose cognition?)
Loose cognition, brought most easily and reliably by entheogens, enables a certain kind of dismantling of existing concepts, and enables discovering a set of classic concepts, such as loss of sense of self and gaining sense of unity; loss of sense of flow of time, and gaining a sense of timelessness.
>Wilber, for someone who talks about no-ego and being enlightened, struck him, during their meeting, as about the most egotistical control freak he had ever met.
I don't know what it means to seem like an egotistical control freak, and I don't know if I would judge Wilber this way if I interviewed or interacted with him. What is your notion of acting like an egotistical control freak? The phrase seems like a completely vague put-down. Certain people like to put others down as "egotistical" -- it is some type of projection.
I suspect that the idea of "being egotistical" is somehow noxious itself, putting forth a polar value system that, any way you spin it, sets up everyone to lose. I suspect the main function of accusing someone of being egotistical is to boost one's own egoic righteousness points. I think it's harmful to equate a style of humility and self-deprecation with spiritual evolvedness.
Conducting oneself with a style of humility or a style of egotism are both almost entirely irrelevant to the core of ego transcendence. I promote a conception of "ego" and "ego transcendence" that is in conflict with the popular notions of egolessness and egotism. The kind of humility that is relevant is metaphysical humility, and self-control humility, not interpersonal, social humility.
The whole realm in which the accusation of egotism exists is the mere realm of social interaction, which is only somewhat related to metaphysical ego death and mystic insights. Mystic revelation should be held above the realm of social interaction -- at any rate, they are distinct and shouldn't be just conflated as though the main point of mystic insight is that one ought to act in a style of humility.
>He's not interested in "enlightenment" as continual fireworks, but just living a better life.
Few people seriously think of enlightenment as being about continual fireworks. Most people assume that enlightenment helps live a better life. So there's nothing distinctive about the above characterization. My position is that enlightenment classically entails a series of entheogenic fireworks sessions, leading from a switch from one standard mental worldmodel to another specific standard worldmodel, without necessarily bringing about all sorts of improvements in one's typical day.
Enlightenment can be a moderate help in the project of living a better life, but many aspects of living a better life are only shallowly or dimly spiritual.
>He has no use for ESP and other "psychic" phenomena
Psychic phenomena would lead to a more complicated worldmodel or explanatory framework of esoteric knowledge, so I formally reject them in my core model of mystic insight.
The characterization of Pinchbeck reminds me of why I have stopped reading such books. There is a developing split among entheogenists regarding all things dippy: it is hard to protect the entheogen theory of religion as the most rational explanation of religion, requiring the entheogenist to affirm the best part of religion while rejecting the most parts of religion and supernatural and the psychic realm.
Even Wilber accepts psychic phenomena. I don't -- because they tend to complicate a model of mystic knowledge, as Wilber's theory is in some ways hazy and complicated. I'm *eager* to reject unnecessary hypotheses, glad to disappoint people, ready to be at odds with what so many people want to be the case. I'm not eager to accomodate people; it's essential to my strategy to draw the wagons closer and boldly hold some *specific* set of ideas: I know what I believe and what I don't believe.
Other people are willing to fudge and hedge their bets, but their worldview becomes to fuzzy edged to evaluate, like so many spirituality books that just ramble and blow smoke without letting themselves be pinned down. My theory can perfectly be pinned down, or so I strive for. Wilber's actually has much of that quality to: he is summarizable. I dislike spirituality which is evasive and not summarizable.
Horgan's book was good to read once, and would be interesting to reread to characterize it, but really probably isn't quite worth the trouble.
Steiner has written a bit that's worth reading, but so much is flakey, rather than simple and useful for a simple theory of mystic transformation.
>In general, it was not til near the end that I realized that Horgan looks and sounds exactly like Timothy Leary, circa jailtime. Maybe it was the blue workshirt.
>Pinchbeck, on the other hand, is very Woody Allenesque, with that "I can afford to be self-deprecating since I know so much more than you" air.
>In fact, however, he seems VERY interested in squeezing his experiences into some kind of framework, provided it is as foreign and irrational as possible. He thinks of himself as a shaman, these days, and is "terrified" by Mayan prophecies, and those of some prophetess he talks with these days. He finds Moslem anti-modernity types to be "crazy but profound," as opposed to rationalists.
>In general, he seems to have no concept of scientific method or rationality at all, as show by his inability to handle questions from the audience about, well, if there was any REASON be believe what might be hallucinations or bias. For example, he knows that poltergeists are real, because one day a mirror fell off his wall. (I'm not making this up). If an old woman tells him the world is ending, he's scared. In general, if he experiences it, it's real, and you just have to deal with it.
>For what it's worth, then, he now claims to be very "into" Rudolph Steiner.
Calling Cthulhu: H.P. Lovecraft's Magick Realism. How H.P. Lovecraft, reclusive New England skeptic, gave birth to the hippest of today's postmodern pantheons. A study of the magick in the master. "For Lovecraft, it is not the sleep of reason that breeds monsters, but reason with its eyes agog."
http://www.techgnosis.com/lovecraft.html -- I read the article in Gnosis. This online version has additional text. I hold that the most direct and efficient path to enlightenment is through reason in combination with entheogens, seeking the mysterium tremendum of the self-control breakdown vortex. This article portrays Lovecraft's writing with the same kind of emphasis.
Too-elementary/common questions, refusal of critical thinking:
>Analysis and debate about enlightenment is a continuation of hierarchical and historical religious and political systems of domination.
Ken Wilber has written much lately criticizing the irrational and extremist fear of making hierarchical distinctions. When people try to avoid hierarchy, terrible and oppressive results are inevitable. Hierarchical distinctions are good and are an unavoidable given; the only possible task is the work of constructing the right kind of hierarchy. People are irrationally terrified of all debate, all dispute, all judgments and evaluations, all assertions that one thing is better than another.
Beware of the extremes, such as killing people for having the wrong belief and the opposite extreme of hating all rankings and fearing all debate and disputes. These two extremes can even meet -- killing someone for having the audacity to judge one idea or one person as better (more legit, more correct, more insightful) than another.
>It is contradictory to assert that there is no-free-will/no-separate-self while also asserting that some people are enlightened and others are not.
That's a bald assertion, without any justification attempted; it cannot persuade. I can only guess the train of argumentation - but I can't guess; people ought to communicate explicitly.
There is no free will, and there is no separate self. Some people (or minds) are enlightened (after maturing), and other people (or minds) are not enlightened. Most people go through adulthood without ever maturing into enlightenment. If you say that everyone is enlightened, or that no one is enlightened, I totally disagree and can't see how we could even converse.
Enlightenment is a simple, specific, bounded set of principles, normally encountered during a series of altered-state experiences. A mind is enlightened if it contains clear knowledge of this small set of simple, rational principles, and has deepened that knowledge through altered-state experience, and has deepened that experience through knowing the rational principles.
Any mind that lacks a firm grasp of that small set of rational principles is unenlightened. The knowledge that is enlightenment is a systematic understanding and mental worldmodel that postulates no individual free will and no separate self (as elaborated elsewhere). No-free-will/no-separate-self is both a matter of rational comprehension of a specific coherent worldmodel, and something that can be experienced in the intense mystic altered state.
There is no good reason to lack either leg -- rational comprehension of the set of principles, or experience of the sense of no-free-will/no-separate-self. They are both easy and shouldn't be thought of as rare or hard to attain. It appears that they were more or less routinized during the Hellenistic era, so that they were familiar givens in the common conceptual vocabulary, though I think my modern systematization is clearer, more compact, and more explicit -- more systematic.
>How can consciousness, that from which all things come, not be enlightened, or be only partly enlightened?
That's an elementary question that indicates abandonment of the basic ability to distinguish between large-scale all-encompassing consciousness and individual, local, personal consciousness.
This kind of completely muddled and careless use of concepts is like the worst aspects of Alan Watts' use of language that conflates different meanings into one undifferentiated term, with such confusing and jumbled results as "the enlightened person realizes that everyone is enlightened, as the universal consciousness penetrates all".
It's exactly that type of thinking that I have come to replace, that sloppy type of thinking, which flagrantly and willfully throws overboard all sense of linguistic precision and care, "abusing" language in the most malevolent and sabotaging sense, with a delight at abusing language and making it look inept.
Language has been unjustly framed. There is no way can anyone successfully mentally construct enlightenment in their mind when they are totally sloppy and inept at making such elementary linguistic distinctions as between the universal consciousness and the individual personal consciousness.
God is enlightened, but that when he forgets himself in apparent multiplicity, some virtual separate selves are unenlightened, while others are enlightened (after blossoming into maturity). Ken Wilber makes this same elementary mistake as Watts in some places. The greatest crime, folly, sin, error in the pursuit of enlightenment is sloppy use of language and failure to differentiate between meanings of a term.
The real condition of attaining rational and simple enlightenment is that we must learn to always ask "in what sense is everyone enlightened, and in what sense are only some people -- at a later phase in their life -- enlightened?" One of the absolute top mistakes that blocks the clear and simple thinking that leads to coherent transcendent knowledge is willfully sloppy use of language.
People ought to try much harder to use linguistic and conceptual precision. That entrenched "poetic paradoxical" mode that has become attached to mystic theorizing has got to be put in its place, superceded by a wholehearted commitment to trying very hard for transcendent precision, transcendently mastering language and concepts.
I'm especially concerned about the bad attitude toward language: authors despise language and willfully abuse it, when the only way to ever think clearly is to greatly honor and respect language (and concepts) and commit to mastering it with the utmost precision and skill.
I don't plan to spend much time responding to elementary questions, especially ones that are based on a refusal of making elementary conceptual distinctions, such as the distinction between one individual person's mind and another's, or between the universal mind and individual minds.
Why do the great thinkers about mystic theory and transcendent knowledge seem to delight in falling all the way back down to willful seeming inability to make the most trivial, elementary distinctions, reveling in getting lost in poetic confusion and then claiming that the confusion is outside of them?
Some subjects warrant repeated analysis, but it would be a waste of time for everyone if I needlessly go over the most obvious and elementary points of distinction. I suspect that my time is being deliberately wasted; people are throwing absurd, ridiculous questions at me insincerely just to get attention, when they already know the answers or know that they could reason them out for themselves instead of reveling in being deliberately dense.
It's not rocket science to define some reasonable specific sense in which we can rightly say that some people are enlightened and some people are unenlightened.
Anyone reading this discussion group surely could define the solution, *if they wanted to make the attempt*. I'm not going to spoonfeed people the totally obvious and elementary, just to give them attention.
I am going to ignore the inferior postings and questions. It's competitive. The most competent postings and questions will get more attention; the low-grade questions and postings will be ignored. If you have seriously and sincerely grappled with a question, then you should post it, and state that you tried, but were unable to formulate a reasonable answer to your own question. I'm not going to do people's elementary thinking, communication, and idea-elaboration for them.
Please try harder to communicate clearly, state your train of reasoning, and try to reasonably formulate possible solutions to your own questions. Be mentally sharp; transcendently *master* conceptual language and precision. If you aren't willing to commit to that effort, you can't construct a robust systematic understanding of transcendent knowledge in your own mind.
The work is up to you; if you commit to the hard (or not-so-hard) work of making distinctions, judging which ideas fit together best, and strive to build a simple systematic model of transcendent knowledge in your own mind, it can be done -- though everyone says it's impossible, that's just a gleefully defeatist attitude; it's actually easy.
It's either impossible, in which case defeatist abandonment of the work of critical rationality is warranted, or it's easy, in which case those who want to succeed must make up their mind to use and refine critical rationality for all it is worth, and reach a not-so-difficult state of mastering transcendent rationality.