>In reality, the initiations from ancient gnostic schools had little to do with eating plants
That's a statement out of ignorance, easy to disprove.
>and reading philosophy.
I'd partly agree. It was an oral culture. Orpheus was more scripture-based.
>the sexual force ... is the only force that has the power to transform us.
I don't agree it's the only force, and I don't agree it's very effective.
Most ergonomic is reading + visionary plants.
>thinking analytically like a scientist
>the scientific method
These are cliches that don't hold up well when studied in the field of philosophy and history of science.
Feyerabend devoted books such as Against Method to making a case that science has often had to loosen up and break with such rigid notions as "the scientific method" in order to achieve its stated goals.
The same is true in historical research of religion: we've seen many books that strive to use sound, rigorous, and rigidly professional historical research to paint various pictures and tell various and contradictory stories about the origins of Christianity.
We should try to be rigorous, thinking analytically like a great scientist/historian and using the scientific/historian method, but any narrow and rigid method is a crippled caricature of what a great scientist or great historian does.
"Scientific" rigor alone is unlikely to be sufficient at discovering the origin of Christianity -- integration with rich imagination is needed to complement such rigor. Given the dominance of the supernaturalist and historical-Jesus worldviews, it takes that much more imagination to be able to even imagine a purely mythic allegorical reading of the scriptures.
We should invite imaginative hypotheses before clamping down on them with harsh criticism. Alternatives to the historical Jesus reigning paradigm are like delicate little plants: in practice, we need to water them and not only test their durability by stomping on them critically.
Does imaginative hypothesis-development occur in this discussion group, or is the group interested in debating only whatever hypotheses happen to be published in books already? If the latter, that gives the dominant, Historical Jesus hypothesis an advantage over the nascent Mythic-only Jesus hypotheses.
Ken wrote (paraphrased):
>>Peak experiences have a limited value in helping us live our daily lives. Few hours can be spent high compared to the years we live in our "normal" state. That's where we exist, that's what we need to work on. After the effects wear off, one is essentially back where one started. You've placed peak experience on a pedestal. Thoughtful, drug-free study, conversation and contemplation of reality is a much more solid platform to base our philosophy and actions on.
The winning formula for discovering and formulating an accurate worldmodel is to well integrate an excellent range of experiencing with an excellent range of study; integrate experience with theory. It is a fallacy to pose one against the other as though one must choose between. The mystic state perspective in its full intensity is transient, but so is sexual climax; it is a fallacy to assume that the temporal finitude of something reduces its value.
Many people have tried to use mystic experiencing without adequate study of philosophy, and many have tried to do philosophy but without adequate study of the mystic state. Theory and practice of this sort are both essential, and integrating them is essential, for a full grasp of determinism. Without the mystic state, one can never have a rich and full-bodied grasp of determinism, nor have the best philosophical model of determinism. The two are two necessary halves which multiply each other.
>>Your assertion that there is one true path, use of entheogens to experience determinism, is a falsehood which has gotten humanity into the most trouble throughout history; it's the definition of dangerous, destructive fundamentalist religion.
Any assertion can be used as an excuse for war, including the assertion of the radical entheogen theory of religion (that all religion is really about experiential insights from visionary-plants), and including the doctrine of determinism, which was put forth as a basis for the religious wars. If any doctrine is provably guilty of justifying actual wars, it is the doctrine of determinism fueling the Protestant/Catholic wars -- not the entheogen theory of religion, or my entheogen determinism theory of religion.
In myth-religion, 'war' must first be understood as a metaphorical description for the struggle of the mind to come to grips with determinism and disengage from its immature freewillist mental worldmodel while retaining self-control stability. When 'war' in religious scripture is fully understood to be metaphorical, this reduces the usefulness of religious scripture to support literal war.
Much of transcendent knowledge can be taught through theory, such as in a book with words and diagrams. The fullest intellectual comprehension and the fullest experience of mental-model transformation require the integrated use of theory in conjunction with experience -- and lately I add the mastery of allegory as another required element, at least if one wants to understand the particular religions of this particular world.
Complete enlightenment requires theory and experience, and if such enlightenment is to include comprehension of our religions, it also requires the integrated understanding of religious mythic allegory, integrated together with theory and experience. Comprehension won't get far if the mind is weak in any of these three realms: theory, experience, or allegory.
People have tried many times to gain comprehension and enlightenment while disparaging theory, or experience, or allegory, and they have failed. One must embrace, master, and integrate all three, to consciously and fully realize religious enlightenment. Wilber is right: the chronic sin of modern thinkers is to think that they can dismiss and disparage one requisite domain in favor of elevating another.
It's too strong of a natural tendency, the assumption that committing to one domain (such as theory or experience) entails rejecting the others. The Gnostics were committed to allegory and experience, but were inept at theory. Today we have:
o Allegorical mythicists who lack experience and lack theory (and even think they would benefit by disparaging them)
o Entheogenists who lack theory and lack a mastery of allegory (and even think they would benefit by disparaging them)
o Theorists who lack experience and lack a mastery of allegory (and even think they would benefit by disparaging them)
No wonder the dark ages have such trouble lifting, due to what Wilber might call "the zero-sum rejection fallacy" -- the notion that to commit to one approach, you must reject and disparage another, rather than harnessing the best of all approaches in an integrated, Integral way.
The only way to attain enlightenment is through a rejection of that fallacy and a commitment to the Integral approach, which entails the assumption that we need to utilize the power of all these fields together in an integrated way. Experience without theory adds up to little and runs out of fuel well short of the destination. People attempt to force the world to be simple, and to force success to be cheap -- but it's a cop-out.
Anyone who wants to be victorious over delusion must embrace each domain and wholeheartedly but not exclusively commit to utilizing it for all it is worth, including the domains of theory, experience, and allegory. To attempt to omit some of these is lazy, oversimplistic, immature, wishful thinking, and bound to fail, leading to make-believe spirituality, which can really only be merely translative -- shuffling around in one's accustomed worldmodel -- rather than truly transformative into a new worldmodel.
>>This question of the Me, Myself, of what I am, of that which thinks, feels and acts, is something we must explore within ourselves in order for us to gain profound knowledge.
That's a truism; the community of intellects has always agreed to that.
>>Everywhere there are lovely theories which attract and fascinate us. However, they are of no use at all if we do not know ourselves.
That tends toward a false dichotomy between "theories" and "knowing ourselves". Many theories are expressly intended for knowing ourselves.
>>It is fascinating to study astronomy or to amuse ourselves somewhat reading serious works. Nevertheless, it is ironic to become erudite and not know anything about the Me, Myself, about the "I," about the human personality we possess.
That tends to pose a false dichotomy between "astronomy, serious works, and erudition" on the one hand and "knowledge of the self" on the other. Much serious study is intended for knowledge of the self. The challenge is to bring them together effectively, to make erudition actually provide knowledge of the self.
>>Everyone is very free to think whatever they please and the subjective reasoning of the "Intellectual Animal" can manage to do anything. Just as it can make a mountain out of a molehill, it can make a molehill out of a mountain. There are many intellectuals who constantly toy with rationalism, but in the end, what good does it do?
Nasr has a good conceptual vocabulary along those lines in the book Knowledge and the Sacred. He praises Intellect against mere rationalism, with certain definitions and usage of the terms.
Knowledge and the Sacred
>>To be scholarly does not mean to be wise. Learned ignoramuses are as abundant as weeds. Not only do they not know, but they are not even aware they do not know. Learned ignoramuses are those know-it-alls who believe they know everything and who indeed do not even know themselves.
One ironic combination today is those who study mysticism in a rationalistic modern distanced way, and are proud to never have had a mystic experiencing even though it's common knowledge that visionary plants provide religious experiences -- these antiintellectual rationalists even casually claim that modern students of mysticism have no way to have mystic experiences.
>>We need to know ourselves directly as we are, without involving a depressing process of "options".
That usage of 'options', the latter phrase, needs clarification.
>>This is not a matter of seeing ourselves through theories or by simple intellectual speculation.
Knowing ourselves is a matter of maximizing both theories/speculation and multi-state experincing.
>>We are interested in seeing ourselves directly as we are; this is the only way we will be able to gain true knowledge of ourselves.
It's a false dichotomy to pose seeing ourselves as against theories and speculation. We can't fully see ourselves if theoretical speculation and intellectual training are omitted and disparage. As transpersonal psychology maintains, the only people really able to see themselves are those who positively love both intellectual knowledge and direct experiencing in multiple states of consciousness.
>>What kind of historical accounts exist to help describe the transition from general widespread cheap as dirt mystic enlightenment to loss of enlightenment to literalism?
What percentage of Hellenistic-era, Medieval/Renaissance era, and Modern era thinking was metaphysically enlightened, and what percentage literalist instead, missing what the pre-moderns comprehended, grasped, and understood? It's early for that question, since modern researchers have been too clueless and literalist to ask until recently.
When we stop being clueless and recognize 2-layer meaning-flipping in myth, with myth as metaphor for mystic-state phenomena, it is clear that pre-modern thinking was characteristically based in the entheogenic mystic state, whereas modernity is characteristically restricted to the non-entheogenic, ordinary state of consciousness, mystified by the former availability of the Holy Spirit routinely on tap. One hypothesis is that women were the plant experts but became oppressed.
Another speculation is that in modernity, people moved away from the land and cows, losing their entheogenic keys. Dan Russell, like most entheogenists, doesn't understand myth, but has written about the suppression and loss of knowledge about entheogens (_Drug War_, _Shamanism & Propaganda_); same with Jonathan Ott (_The Entheogenic Reformation_). From the loss of entheogen knowledge directly results the loss of understanding myth as mystic-state metaphor.
>>Since metaphysical enlightenment is distinct from ethical application of mystical enlightenment, could it be that "trickster-gamesters-of-the-race" played the game for the games' sake, choosing to allow literalists to play a literalist game, with no consideration of ethical implications?
I don't know why pre-moderns and assorted tricksters were secretive about entheogens and about the actual meaning encoded by myth. There is some merit to feeding the literalists their own literalist thinking in such a way as to convey two opposed specific systems of meaning at once to divide thinking asunder into two.
The hallmark of a truly modern scientific approach to theorizing mystic gnosis is to explain myth without limiting oneself to the mythic mode: make instead the nonmythic mode of analysis primary, doing a better more explicit job than the writings we have of the Neoplatonists. A common mistake today is to try to use the nonmythic mode of analysis while remaining weak and clueless on the two other key legs: utilizing the mystic state, and comprehending the "flippable 2-layered meaning" nature of mythic metaphor.
>>In the effort to formulate an effective ergonomic egodeath model, are you *choosing* to apply your metaphysical enlightenment to the realm of social and ethical issues? Or is this a trickster action for the sake of the game itself, and only for the game?
I am all focused on formulating an effective ergonomic egodeath model; applying this metaphysical enlightenment model to the realm of social and ethical issues is specifically a non-goal of this project in its initial phase I'm dedicated to. This is a point of contention against the stance of popular spirituality, which insists on conceptualizing egodeath theory construction as simultaneously theoretical and socio-politically practical.
All recent books on spirituality begin by saying "We should become mystically enlightened in order to improve the practical world." I reject that strategy, which has delivered neither on the promise of improving the world nor of metaphysical enlightenment. I've always adhered to a one-at-a-time approach, or compartmentalizing and strongly differentiating metaphysical enlightenment from improving the world.
This is partly just a practical necessity for me as a leading-edge theorist; Einstein *first* thought of his Physics systems, and *then* set out to improve the world: today's spiritualists would condemn him for not doing both in one, at the same time -- but that is idealistic and impractical for the individual involved; it's easy and simplistic for the critiques to idealistically demand the world of each theorist.
My motive was originally personal increase of self-management and self-control power; nirvana through increased mental and cognitive integrity as a self-controller agent. Inherent frustrations with that project led to discovering ego death and enlightenment, as the Paul figure in the New Testament describes in recounting his former struggle to adhere to "the law" (an egoic semi-formalized system of conduct one gives to oneself prior to maturity of initiation) and do what he ought to do.
The main activism I promote to improve the world, an area of activism that is interrelated with improving higher knowledge, is drug policy reform. http://www.reformnav.org
By a justified definition, full transcendent knowledge requires intense transcendent experiencing, normally by using visionary plants.
My goal in discussing the definition of 'sexual maturity' here is to justify the requirement for having visionary-plant experience before one can be considered enlightened or 'spiritually mature'. Some complain that a theory requiring plant experience as a qualification for being enlightened is irrelevant to them because they are not going to use visionary plants.
I continue to theoretically require plant experience according to the theory's definition of 'being enlightened', even though that requirement makes the theory in some sense irrelevant to some people in today's context. A model of enlightenment that considers visionary plant experience an essential part of enlightenment will be more relevant to everyone, even if people don't use visionary plants, than a model which omits the plant requirement.
If visionary plants are prohibited, no one can be fully enlightened: we can only have the conceptual half of enlightenment, not the experiential half.
Transcendent experiencing can be had through meditation or visionary plants, also called cognitive loosening agents. It is possible to have transcendent knowledge without having had transcendent experiencing, but full and simplest and ideal definitive transcendent knowledge, in the broad sense, naturally would include transcendent experience.
'Transcendent knowledge' in the narrow sense refers to just having a firm grasp of the set of concepts. 'Transcendent knowledge' in the broad sense refers to knowing the concepts and having the experiences.
This discussion group is not marked as "adults only", so this topic must be discussed tactfully. I promote more abstract, indirect, less personal discussion -- more theoretical, general, impersonal.
My definition of 'spiritual maturity' by comparison to 'sexual maturity' is not about any particular person's experience. This hasn't been an official rule of the discussion group, but I tend to be against postings that explicitly state that one has particular personal experience in the spiritual or other realms. This is partly due to the prohibition on visionary plants, partly due to the goal of general theorizing. There are other forums to discuss personal experiences with visionary plants or other personal experience.
There are several useful parallels between sex and altered state experiencing. Sexual climax is discovered as a potential by the adolescent. Mystic climax is discovered as a potential -- our rightful inheritance and potential -- by the young adult. Most trip reports in the scholarly books are near worthless because they report on the subject's first experience -- this can be called the "naive first-timer fallacy": researchers ought to study experienced explorers more.
That would be like writing a literary work on sexuality based on interviewing young adolescents who had just discovered the climax potential. Many trip reports are wandering, with no real sense of climax: a series of lows and highs without a particular climax -- but there is a definite climax in potential, that of ego death: the moment of conversion, transformation, grace, repentance, enlightenment.
In forming a simple useful model of this, I would portray a series of visionary sessions, perhaps a traditional number around 7, where there is a proto- or quasi-climax in the early sessions, with the 7th session containing the major, key climax of full ego death experience, leading to permanent conceptual ego death (full mental worldmodel retainment).
The equivalent in the sexual climax comparison would be a fumbling adolescent who is on their way to discovering the climax potential but hasn't found it yet -- stimulation and excitement but no climax discovery yet. Acid rock uses the sex metaphor as one of the most standard metaphors for the visionary state: "I want to turn you on" (Beatles); "Are you experienced?" (Hendrix).
We can only award half a wreath to the person who fully comprehends transcendent knowledge intellectually but hasn't experienced something akin to an intense mystic-state ego death experience. This requirement for experience is partly justified by the rule of simplicity of model-construction.
Prohibition mitigates against visionary plant experience, but for forming the simplest model, prohibition must be treated as an odd, exceptional, deviant condition that stands outside the core model; I must theorize as though visionary plants are not covered in the law. Similarly, if publishing a theory of mysticism were illegal as in the early printing press days, I would still maintain that a written theory is essential for a simple, rational model and communication thereof.
Pike's book _Mystic Union_ theorizes accessibly about the feeling of Christian mystic metaphorically sexual union or embrace -- body mysticism -- my interpretation of "subtle body". In the mystic state, the mind retains a body feeling but clearly in the form of mental constructs.
Mystic Union: An Essay in the Phenomenology of Mysticism
Simplicity of the model is a topmost priority, goal, and constraint. I don't hesitate to sacrifice accuracy to simplicity -- I compensate by explicitly stating that this model is designed to be a first-approximation model. Nuances and exceptions should be dragged in only later.
It is valuable to try to express the most dogmatic formulations such as these, like an elementary catechism. Like hand grenades, embedded in a context of gentle, reasonable, qualified, nuanced descriptions of ideas, suddenly everyone gets blown away at point blank.
I've never asserted that meditation is completely bunk -- yet I can assert "meditation doesn't work". The overall context establishes that this means that non-drug-augmented meditation works so poorly, statistically, for specifically religious goals, that it serves to prevent rather than bring enlightenment; its main functional role becomes a decoy and placebo, a way of very temporarily seeming to satisfy the mind's innate religious drive.
Meditation is more fit for enhancing mundane life, and is valuable by the measures of daily life, including daily spiritual life -- not to be confused with high and classic enlightenment. Meditation is great for the daily and ordinary sort of spirituality, enlightenment, value, and meaning -- not of the high classic sort of spirituality, enlightenment, value, and meaning. The sacred realm can interpenetrate the daily realm only to a limited extent.
>I am a university student who is currently undertaking a double degree in law and psychology (an interesting combination).
>I am currently writing an essay on altered states of consiousness and LSD. I found your website and must say it is a wonderfully detailed and academically beneficial site. I am hoping to use it as a resource and will reference it.
Most writings on LSD and altered states are merely first-generation gropings in the dark. I take for granted all the books at promind.com and start theorizing from there, while adding serious philosophy studies including time models, metaphysics, the quantum mechanics controversy, personal agency, and freewill/determinism. I include broad readings in Christian theology and history, including the mystery-religions.
In psychology, I have kept pace with Ken Wilber's books as they have been published, and have collected Watts' psychology and Hinduism books, and love Louis Sass' book Madness and Modernism on schizophrenia and modern art. I'm reading a little Jung including Christian Writings. Wilber is focusing increasingly on entheogens and especially "altered states of consciousness".
Freudian theory is worthless junk from an age of dysfunctional repressed sexuality; his contributions to knowledge are negative and he is only valuable as a transitional theorizer who came up with only a few ideas that will have lasting use. He has not even contributed valuable ideas in the area he's fixated and obsessed with, human sexuality (an area he tries to stretch to cover wholly distinct realms). James established a sensible framework. Freud is a regressive setback for the field of psychology. Jung at least found the ballpark.
What is the biggest gap now preventing revelation and enlightenment? The connection between determinism (more exactly, frozen-future fatedness) and entheogenic religious experience. A search of the web reveals little but my own work on this combination of ideas.
Mahan Atma wrote of insights related to timelessness, ego transcendence, free will, and determinism:
>Tripping for Grownups. 4-Acetoxy-DiPT.
>I am still at a loss for words to describe the experience accurately, even more so then with other entheogens. Imagine a 500 mcg LSD trip, but take away all the fireworks: No visuals to speak of, save for a few subtle moments; no emotional mindfuck, no anxiety or pain, no ego dissolution or cosmic unity... What's left, you might say? Nothing but realization. Just pure, naked profundity and amazingly gentle awe.
>It is a very zen thing; everything seems so simple and just so. The beautiful, illusory nature of ego consciousness was just so obvious, so plain to see and easy to understand. In the absence of time, the paradox of free will and determinism vanishes. Life is a wonderful game, a grand, extraordinary drama and although we tend to get overly caught up in our roles, that's exactly what it's all about. The forgetting and the remembering, the getting lost and the coming home, over and over again. I remembered so many of the lost moments of long ago, mind-blowing LSD trips from my youth, in which the mystery was revealed and subsequently forgotten. Each time I come back, I remember another piece, and integrate it into my daily life, only now consciously realizing what I've known subconsciously for years. I knew it all before, and have known it all along....
>This is tripping for grownups. It's for philosophers, not partiers. I can easily see a teenager taking a large dose of this drug and saying, 'I don't feel much of anything at all'. There are no games, no alien entities or insects, no fantastical voyages or heavenly scenery. It just takes you by the hand and gently leads you to the Truth like a cool drink of water from a clear, still pond in the middle of a silent forest. Can recommend highly for those of you who appreciate such things.
>law and psychology
Greek Attic Tragedy focused on mocking the new idea no one believed in -- treating the citizen legally as a responsible agent. Everyone (who is initiated) knows that personal autonomy is just a naive illusion -- the Fates/gods create all actions and thoughts. It was forbidden to explicitly publically mock the new invention of legal pseudo autonomy, however. Reference: the first chapters of Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece.
Entheogens are the secret origin of the Catholic scheme's Sacrament of Reconciliation. The naive freewillist considers himself a moral agent, morally culpable. Entheogens reveal determinism as an overwhelmingly coherent and compelling view, and thus cancel out the notion of freewill and thus also logically cancel out one's sense of moral culpability.
In the entheogenic state we experience first-hand the Jesus story: we are initially freewillist/moralists, which is carrying oneself as a false sovereign who doesn't yet realize he is a false sovereign. In the entheogenic state, the delusory aspect of egoic sovereignty is revealed and the sense of ego suspended. Acknowledging the higher logic of non-moral determinism, the would-be King Ego willingly sets down his scepter.
There are 3 key themes I combine: entheogens, determinism, and the Crucifixion allegory. A culture that is entirely initiated is uninteresting and morally flat, lacking dynamics. Christianity is entirely about the dynamics of *switching* from the naive freewillist way of thinking to the determinist way of thinking.
All the interesting action and contrast is defined by the *switch* from the one way of thinking to the other. This switch happens in the entheogenic mystery state, in which the truth (or highly likely because coherent worldmodel) about our nature *as pseudo-sovereign controllers* is uncovered and revealed.
Christianity's full profundity can only come forth by considering it as a system that -- like Attic Tragedy -- contains two conflicting networks of meaning. You miss the point if you just promote one and criticise the other. The point of the game is the play and tension and battle between the two competing networks of meaning. Those who understand the higher interpretation must also *appreciate* the lower, naive-moralist interpretation.
Christianity is not simply "about determinism"; it's about the play between two realms: the natural lower interpretation of the moralist/sinner/ pseudo-sovereign noninitiate, and the mature higher interpretation of the determinist/sinless/ non-sovereign initiate. Psychologically the first is immature, so can fittingly be called "child" whose religion is "milk", and the latter is mature so can be called "adult" whose religion is "meat".
This is entirely my original theory -- I am the first to raise these three points as the centrally important aspects of enlightenment, revelation, and religion:
o Determinism (experienced)
o Jesus story as first-hand allegory of initiates
I am the first to bring these known ideas *together* into a very compact, focused system. I can support any two of these ideas with scholarly references, but no scholar has combined entheogens, determinism, and mystery-religion allegory -- the three key ingredients for a modern effective theory of religious revelation.
In a culture that held determinism to be the case, such as one filled with stoics and Calvinists and hidden-variable determinists, there would be no occasion for revealing anything hidden. But in a Christian muddled culture, in which entheogens are suppressed and tabooed, determinism is hidden and thus we have the opportunity to reveal it; revelation becomes possible.
Suppression of entheogens occurred in later Jewish religion (see Chris Bennett et al: Sex, Drugs, and Violence in the Bible) and occurred in the State Church of Christianity, say around 500. Suppression of entheogens is essential if the beloved egoic delusion of moral autonomy and free will is to thrive. The only way ego can thrive in a thinking culture is to suppress entheogens.
The end time for ego in this culture has arrived: entheogens are popping up into public knowledge like mushrooms and the egoic delusion is dying again, as the ego-riddled mind re-discovers how fragile the broken logic of free will and moral responsibility is, once more, and the rational mind is forced to willingly lay down the egoic scepter and sacrifice the freewill-ego on the frozen spacetime cross.
The metaphysics of time is key. The ego is killed by the time god, and is metaphysically dead and depends on the controller of time to raise it up to a semblance of power again.
Ramesh Balsekar is a contemporary proponent of Advaita Vedanta -- mental peace through understanding determinism. But this psychological/philosophical scheme and teaching, as he portrays it, has none of the richness of the Jesus allegory, which concretizes and embodies what it is like to go from carrying yourself as a moral agent with freewill to a non-moral predetermined vein in frozen spacetime.
Calvinism or Reformed theology, like some Catholic theology, has traces of the entheogenic revelation of the illusory nature of culpability for sin. But Calvinism has only a dim, shadowy mimicry of what it's like to repent and believe in and become one with a spiritual savior. The Catholic scheme took such mental revelations of sin-cancellation and salvation from ego death, but then withheld the essential key: entheogenically revealed determinism.
>Is the concept of "altered states" modern usage? Do cultures use the classification "altered state"? Does the conceptual framework of the "altered state" have a specific foundation? What is the "altered state"? How is it essential to understanding spirituality?
The named *concept* "altered state" is modern and explains the *use* of altered states in cultures in any era.
The essence of the mystic altered state is loose cognition. The loosening of cognitive associations enables re-indexing mental constructs to shift worldmodels, include reconceptualizing self, time, will, and control. There are various techniques for bringing about loose cognition.
>Is the altered state in the realm of spirit, or body?
The Holy Spirit is the mystical state of cognition in contrast with the default state. A theory of Gnosticism relevant to Christianity requires a theory of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost.
>Does the altered state arise from the body? Is it centrally about the mind?
The Holy Spirit acts mainly in the mind, raising it up to the realm of spirit. In the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit descends to engender the second birth in the psyche, residing in the body.
>Does Buddhism rely on "altered states"? Are "altered states" levels of awareness called Samadhi? Is this an altered sensorium? Is it the focused and clear concentration of the mind?
Buddhist mental techniques are diverse, including Tibetan Vajrayana inner-circle traditions based on Bon shamanism. http://www.jamesarthur.yage.net/mushroom3.html -- search on "vaj".
>>Does Buddhism rely on "altered states"? Are "altered states" levels of awareness called Samadhi? Is this an altered sensorium? Is it the focused and clear concentration of the mind?
>Buddhist mental techniques are diverse, including Tibetan Vajrayana inner-circle traditions based on Bon shamanism.
>http://www.jamesarthur.yage.net/mushroom3.html -- search on "vaj".
Research has hardly begun on this; we've hardly started to consider whether Buddhism uses entheogens. It's much too early to be sure what the *extent* and influence of entheogen use is in Buddhism. Research here lags decades behind looking for entheogen influence in Christianity, Vedic religion, and shamanism. It's surprising that the 1960s chasing after the Other religions didn't connect the origin and inspiration of Buddhism with entheogens.
Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics
Allan Hunt Badiner (Editor), Alex Grey (Editor), Stephen Batchelor, Huston Smith (Preface)
June 2002, rank 2K (*very* popular)
Some articles about entheogenic roots of Buddhism.
Persephone's Quest: Entheogens and the Origins of Religion
R. Gordon Wasson, Stella Kramrisch, Jonathan Ott, Carl A. P. Ruck (Contributor), Jonathon Ott (Contributor)
1992, rank 85K
Buddha's mushroom death
Traditional world religion has a simple 2-level system, which I am a major advocate of, as a theorist. Ken Wilber is somewhat flexible in the number of levels he assumes, and by now, his system is so rich with constructs ('quadrants', 'lines of development', 'states') in addition to 'levels' or 'stages' that he can no longer be thought of as simply a theorist of levels (of "psychospiritual development").
But generally, Wilber uses around 9 levels, often simplifying to 3 at minimum -- whereas I hit Wilber's theoretical weak spot, the entheogen-using Hellenistic religions, which use a 2-level system, like Alan Watts' conception of Zen Satori: first the mind is deluded, then it is enlightened.
The most simple, basic, clear model of *religious* psychospiritual development is a 2-level system. And the simplest scheme of social development is the puberty initiation, and given that Greek religion used the beard as indicator of initiation and the child/adult distinction as a metaphor for becoming initiation.
Therefore, the simplest, best starting point for a theory of initiation and enlightenment is to administer the sacrament at puberty. This is pretty much a given starting point, and we can debate from there whether we ought to accept this "natural" tradition of the sequence:
2. Puberty, mixed wine
Some may feel this is pushing people at an extreme rate of psychospiritual development, but that's entirely debatable. Age 40 is *way* too late -- many people don't even live that long; that's like pushing it up to age 65; what's the point of so long delaying initiation and enlightenment? The Greeks, considered to be the founders of democracy and Western culture, didn't seem to wait to 40, so why should we?
It would be valuable to have a distribution curve showing the age of initiation in Hellenistic religion, including symposium. My offhand guess is that the median age is around 30, ranging from 15 to 45, but it could well have a minor peak at the younger end of the spectrum.
I have previously proposed an age near our age of drinking, driving, marrying, and military service: a few years after puberty. Certainly not more than age 21. If you are considered a full adult at age 21, able to drink, drive, marry, and serve in the military, then certainly you're ready for full initiation. So a conservative view would say that one must be 21 to be initiated, and a liberal view would say that one must be the age of puberty, around 13.
So the serious range to consider and debate is positions from age 13 to 21, with 17 in the middle. Too few people, upon a few minutes of reflection, would advocate initiation much younger or older: initiation of 8-year olds? making everyone wait to age 30, 40, 65? Age 30 is *well* into adulthood, and would be super-conservative. So, pending more detailed research and debate, I'd advocate age 21 or whatever age a society establishes for "full adulthood" including drinking, driving, military service, and marrying.
If we delay initiation to age 30 or 40, then it is nonsensical to call age 21 the "age of full adulthood", because "adulthood" by definition would include initiation. Delaying initiation would be political restriction of initiation, restricting enlightenment just for the hell of it -- amounting to nothing more than a deliberate *suppression* and artificial scarcity.
So the oldest we can possibly defend is age 21, and the youngest is 13. Then a key point on the spectrum would be around age 17. These are the 3 age points that are most profitable for extended debate: by social and/or legal convention, should people be typically initiated at age 13, or 17, or 21?
>>>Initiation into the mystic altered state experience
>>as distinct from initiation into metaphorical understanding
>>>is classically a series of some 8 visionary-plant sessions, interspersed with initiation into the study of perennial philosophy.
>>Is the study of perennial philosophy also described as initiation?
Authentic initiation *systems* comprise two halves: providing the intellectual training, and providing the experiential training. Limited intellectual training would limit the depth of experiential training, and limited experiential training would limit the depth of intellectual training. Intellectual training and experiential training are distinct but mutually supportive; to construct an accurate model or system of initiation, the two types of training need to be both differentiated and integrated.
Part of intellectual training is metaphorical training; ideally, one would be a master of both direct, nonmetaphorical intellectual principles, and of metaphor. Consider three expressions as possible components of initiation:
A. Initiation into the study of perennial philosophy
B. Initiation into metaphorical understanding
C. Initiation into the mystic altered state experience
B is a bridge connecting the abstract intellectual study of metaphysical enlightenment with the altered-state experience itself. There are overlaps and interpenetrations between these distinct areas.
Study metaphor of experience.
Metaphorically describe experience.
Use metaphor to deepen experience.
Use experience to provide data for intellectual study.
Use experience to provide phenomena to be metaphorically described.
Initiation doesn't require in-person training by a teacher. Self-initiation can be highly ergonomic. For the most ergonomic self-initiation, one would need to obtain an effective intellectual model of perennial knowledge, whether through great writings or great personal teachers, and partake of the series of transcendent psychoactive meals.