• Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    The ground rules (this is my phrase and may not describe what I am referring to very well), could be viewed as a set of preconditions before spiritual development may occur. Indeed you do agree with the only ground rule I provided in your post, which I have bolded.Punshhh

    So there's only one ground rule then, and this is respect for the divinity, what you called subduing the ego. That's what I described as a need, which manifests as the desire for spiritual development. Recognizing this need is what is required for such a spiritual development, and the consequent actions. The first step to the spiritual development would be the recognizing of this need. The spiritual development must always be consistent with the need, as a natural need, or else it is not a proper development. So for example, the desire for food, what we call hunger, is the conscious recognition of a need. We can pursue the desire for food in many different ways, but not every way will produce a healthy diet. We must maintain consistency between the underlying actual need, and the things we consciously desire, which we will eat, to fulfill this need properly. It is not necessary that we understand every different element of nutrition, and the exact amount required, we maintain consistency in our diets in other ways which are more mystical.

    This is the reason why I wanted to emphasize purpose, because needs are always relative to some end. The conscious desire for spiritual development must be made consistent with the natural need for spiritual development in order that it may result in true spiritual development. This is an adapting of the mind, which if the mind is not already so inclined, would involve a changing of one's attitude. But this changing of one's attitude is already an essential part of the spiritual development, so it's better not to call it a precondition. The only precondition is the natural need, which we are all endowed with. Then recognizing its existence and shaping one's conscious desire around it, is already a mystical practise. It's a mystical practise because those who do not recognize the natural need do not see the reason for the practise.

    Therefore in order to have true mystical practise, and not some behaviour dictated by mental illness, or some random ideas, we must have some understanding of that natural need, and its related purpose. I'll agree to calling this a ground rule, if you'll agree that the knowledge required is intellectual, and provided through some sort of academia. It is not necessary that we understand God's purpose, or anything like that, (just like it's not necessary for us to understand all of our nutritional requirements in order to eat healthily), but only that we understand a simple reasonable principle, like if there is a need there must be a reason for the need, some sort of deficiency. And of course different individual mystics can recognize different reasonable principles, like if there is an effect there must be a cause, and various other possible grounding principles, for one's own form of mysticism. There are many different possible mysticisms. But if one does not follow a reasonable grounding principle, then one's actions would be random or misguided, and likely the actions of psychosis or deception, rather than the actions of a mystic. We could call failing to subdue the ego a form of psychosis.
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    I agree with all of what you say here. I would tweak this though.
    So there's only one ground rule then, and this is respect for the divinity, what you called subduing the ego. That's what I described as a need, which manifests as the desire for spiritual development.

    What I was referring to when I said ground rules is as set of stages, or accepted conditions, undergone, or accepted by the aspirant. Prior to any real moving forward on the path. So if I put them as points.
    1:A natural spiritual need. The human propensity to look to a divine agency.

    2:A personal desire to get involved in some real way. The idea of some kind of spiritual service, or development.

    3:A calling, this can take many forms, either a revelation of divinity, or a concerted choice, or determination in the aspirant.

    I would make a seperation here between the preconditions above and the development of practice below. What the aspirant does next after satisfying the preconditions.

    4: The action of seeking out some guidance, some direction, or study and to become involved in this study.

    5: A recognition of one's frailty and the preparedness to address it as part of the study and practice.(there are subdivisions to this point which could be added later), but to simplify, a desire to tackle trauma and conditioning in the self, so as to become a reborn person free of these impediments.

    6: A preparedness to leave the social group and act independently, this would vary greatly depending on the circumstances. In the modern world, it might just be a preparedness to become independent of the general atheism, or creationism in the society, for example.

    I would make a seperation here between the first steps above and what is encountered along the path below.

    7: the test of devotion, or a tenacity to proceed even when in doubt of the truth of the divinity.

    8: the subjugation of the ego, the taming of the ego, it's control, its tying to the post of the will.

    9: the offering up of personal autonomy.

    10: the agreement not to deviate from the chosen course, not to use any gained freedoms for ill, evil, of personal gain in the world. This would be done on the acceptance that if the agreement were to be broken it would seriously jeopardise, or finish any prospect of proceeding on the path.

    The next points would be more advanced stages, so I will leave it at that for now.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    What I was referring to when I said ground rules is as set of stages, or accepted conditions, undergone, or accepted by the aspirant. Prior to any real moving forward on the path. So if I put them as points.Punshhh

    I see where you're going, but I don't quite agree. I think that the stages, or rules, points, or whatever you want to call your numbered items, cannot be accepted or agreed to beforehand as a precondition, because the precise nature of these stages is determined by the process, and what is revealed to the mystic through the process. So the mystical process is very individualized, and this is important to recognize because it accounts for all the differences between the various religions. Further, development in the earlier points is required for accepting later points, so one cannot be expected to accept more than the first point when entering, then build up the knowledge required for the next point, and so on. This is the same as any type of learning.

    So as we climb your numbers, the lowest numbers outline the most general requirements, so they are the most accurate at describing what is common to all mystics. And, it is common to all people, as we could consider any person as a potential mystic. But the majority of people in our society are trained to suppress these inclinations. By the time we get to #6 you have already acknowledge a great variance depending on circumstances. So I believe that in this second stage, which you call development of practise, we need to include something concerning learning the capacity to adapt to the circumstances. This is what reveals one's frailty (#5), recognizing the difference between what is possible and impossible, and it also helps to relieve one from a variety of emotional difficulties like frustration, anxiety, and the related stresses. It is important in relation to the question of the op, as a benefit of mysticism, because it helps a person who might otherwise be a lost soul, to find one's place in a rapidly changing environment. This relief from the stresses of the environment (social and natural) which this early stage brings, is probably important in encouraging the person to continue on.

    Furthermore, this is what gives the mystic a unique and individualized perspective, understanding oneself as a unique and individual person, with unique and individual strengths and weaknesses, positioned in a unique situation. We might call this accepting yourself for what you are, because you cannot change the person which you are, in the position you are in, but this in no way precludes the possibility of change absolutely, because it is only a recognition of a real, environmentally imposed distinction between possible and impossible. Working toward developing a strong aptitude for distinguishing possible from impossible in a rapidly changing environment (quick-witted), which in practise often becomes the distinction between probable and improbable, is beneficial, allowing the unique and individual person to make the most of one's special position in the environment, to be a special person.

    The next step for the mystic, I think, the third stage would be to determine the difference between better and worse, so that the person could act on possibilities associated with a change for the better. But by this time, the mystic's path has already become so individualized that I think it would be very difficult to list particular points.

    At #7 you cite a devotion to the divinity, but you have not clearly outlined the mystic's recognition of the divinity. At #1 you refer to a natural tendency to look toward the divinity, but I interpret this more as a looking for the divinity. Now at #7 one must have devotion toward the divinity. So I think we need to posit something between #1 and #7 to support such devotion. Therefore I would move this whole section (7-10) further up the ladder, making it a fourth section, and insert a new third section which involves distinguishing bad from good.

    This whole notion of #1, spiritual need, and divine agency is aroused by, and directly related to the need for distinguishing and choosing the appropriate course of action. This is deciding right and wrong, good and bad. Devotion to the divinity requires the belief that such a distinction can be made. so this belief must be somehow supported, and I believe that this is a very important and critical support section, required as a foundation for 7-10. Those items mentioned in that section involve a strong will, determination, and this must be cultivated. Such a will power only proceeds if one recognizes not only that a particular option is possible, but also that it is good. This is why purpose and the nature of the divinity itself, must be brought into the recognition. The divinity, as some unknowable, untouchable, ineffable Being cannot support such a devotion, and the will power required at this stage of development. So we need some ideas of natural good and purpose to support this will power. Not only does the person need to develop a strong sense of what is possible, but also an equally strong sense of what is good. Believing in what is good, and adhering to it is what defines devotion. We touched on grounding the hierarchy of good in the divinity earlier in the thread.
  • jgill
    664
    1:A natural spiritual need. The human propensity to look to a divine agency.Punshhh

    IMO wrong from the outset. The divine is not required.

    Forgive me for being blunt, but this conversation is like two guys throwing frisbees in a meadow discussing how to pilot an SR-71 Blackbird. Are either of you serious mystics? If so, I will humbly retreat. :worry:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    Are either of you serious mystics?jgill

    You should tell us what constitutes a serious mystic, in order that we can properly answer your question. Otherwise we'd just be making meaningless assertions.
  • jgill
    664
    From SEP:In the wide sense, let us say that a ‘mystical experience,’ is: A (purportedly) super sense-perceptual or sub sense-perceptual experience granting acquaintance of realities or states of affairs that are of a kind not accessible by way of sense perception, somatosensory modalities, or standard introspection.

    This definition is more inclusive than one positing some aspect of the divine. Have either of you had such a "mystical experience"? If so, please describe them. How did you enter into the mental states that led to revelations beyond normal sensory or introspective means? Did you meditate? Was there an epiphany at some point, an astounding and memorable moment?

    Philosophizing about such internal adventures seems so remote from actually having them. Like discussing Citizen Kane without having seen the film.

    I don't mean to be rude, but this is an area of which I have had some limited first hand knowledge, and so I see the disparity between participation and external ruminations. If all you wish is to speculate and discuss the analytic parameters of mysticism, then I beg your pardon, please continue.
  • I like sushi
    2.4k
    Are you saying having experienced an altered state of consciousness automatically makes someone a ‘mystic’?
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    Interesting, I don't have time today to reply, I will tomorrow.
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    I have had numerous mystical experiences, but we are trying to find a way of talking about mysticism with philosophers in this thread. I too am a little frustrated at how little ground has been covered, but it does seem to be making progress, so I will continue until an impasse is reached.

    Also with mysticism there is that thing you get with the enlightened, if someone says they are enlightened everyone assumes they aren't, or they wouldn't have said that. It's the same with mysticism. I have spent 40 years practicing something, I have concluded that it is mysticism, but it might not be, it might be spirituality, insecurities not dealt with, as some people have said. Who knows. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... it's probably a duck.

    Please have a little patience, I think we might be getting somewhere soon.

    P.s. Oh and I too didn't think that the divine is required for many years, but know it's more that is is largely irrelevant, rather than not required. But it becomes problematic to discuss on a forum like this if it is not referenced, initially at least.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    his definition is more inclusive than one positing some aspect of the divine. Have either of you had such a "mystical experience"? If so, please describe them. How did you enter into the mental states that led to revelations beyond normal sensory or introspective means? Did you meditate? Was there an epiphany at some point, an astounding and memorable moment?jgill

    Subjects mentioned in my last post, things like distinguishing between possible and impossible, right and wrong (good and bad), qualify as non-sensory, non-introspective features of knowledge. And, I believe we all experience these. But, as I've argued since the beginning of the thread, most of us are trained to overcome these mystical experiences, ignore them, and replace them with what is presented to us as the norms of society.

    I do not believe that recognition of the divine is necessary for mystical experiences. But I think it is required to make any personal progress in mysticism, as the principle of orientation in any hierarchy.
    This is a matter of understanding the mystical experience, which is what I think "mysticism" is, but Punshhh tried to dismiss as intellectualising. However, as I argued already, some degree of intellectualising is required to make any progress in mysticism, because the mystical experience is completely meaningless unless understood to some degree. So we use words to understand it, and as Punshhh says, "divine" is an apt word, and I use it as a principle which makes higher or lower on any scale of values intelligible.

    You are familiar with mathematics. By what principle would you say 10 is "higher", meaning a greater value, than 2?
  • jgill
    664
    Please have a little patience, I think we might be getting somewhere soon.Punshhh

    Of course. :cool:

    You are familiar with mathematics. By what principle would you say 10 is "higher", meaning a greater value, than 2?Metaphysician Undercover

    The "Looking at one's hands" principle. :smile:

    OK. Forgive the intrusion. I was curious about first-hand knowledge of the topic being discussed. In other philosophical areas, like panpsychism, this is not a consideration. For several years I belonged to a forum in which a lengthy thread dealt with various aspects of mind. One participant had practiced Zen for thirty years, and we had some interesting conversations about his epiphanies and how they might have related to brain activity.
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    I see where you're going, but I don't quite agree. I think that the stages, or rules, points, or whatever you want to call your numbered items, cannot be accepted or agreed to beforehand as a precondition, because the precise nature of these stages is determined by the process, and what is revealed to the mystic through the process.
    We are not talking about the practice, or the mystical experience, but how to talk about it, or at least I am. So the points are preconditions for a discussion of mysticism. Which was my point on joining the thread and also was the inspiration for the thread.

    So if we were to imagine a mystic, in our minds eye, who had passed through the 10 stages I have outlined and what would concern this person, what they would do next, what sort of experiences they would have. Then we would be discussing what is involved in mysticism, rather than continually going back to everyday human psychology, and/or getting bogged down in discussions about the first 6 points and not actually reach a point of discussing mysticism at all.

    This notional mystic would be at the level of your average guru, saint, or prophet.

    we need to include something concerning learning the capacity to adapt to the circumstances. This is what reveals one's frailty
    Yes, perhaps this would be between 3 and 4, with a corollary somewhere between 5 and 7, where it is acted upon and progress made.

    The next step for the mystic, I think, the third stage would be to determine the difference between better and worse,
    Yes,

    Therefore I would move this whole section (7-10) further up the ladder, making it a fourth section, and insert a new third section which involves distinguishing bad from good.
    Yes, perhaps you can make a suggestion for this section.

    I had not focussed in on these capacities, seeing them more as associated with the development of intuition and not so much a stage, but a capability developed throughout the process. But now I see it's relevance here.

    The divinity, as some unknowable, untouchable, ineffable Being cannot support such a devotion, and the will power required at this stage of development. So we need some ideas of natural good and purpose to support this will power. Not only does the person need to develop a strong sense of what is possible, but also an equally strong sense of what is good. Believing in what is good, and adhering to it is what defines devotion. We touched on grounding the hierarchy of good in the divinity earlier in the thread.
    I see what you are saying here, personally I posit an intermediary between the self and the divinity here, namely the soul, or an aspect of the self/being, which is very real, but which is not tarnished by incarnation in the way that the personality is, rather a higher self so to speak. This soul/higher self is what one is actually forging a connection with, rather than the divinity, the divinity being near absolute. So via the development of intuition the mystic develops a communion with their higherself, which bestows a grace upon the mystic. Or in other words, the purposes, desires, motivations of the mystic become aligned, reoriented in alignment with those of that higher self*.As this link becomes developed, the sense, of right from wrong, better from worse etc, improves. Until in a later stage becomes a revelation in action of good, grace and wisdom.

    *In Hinduism this is described as the development of the sushumna between the 5th and 6th chakra.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadi_(yoga)
  • Nuke
    116
    Personally speaking, the promise of knowledge of ultimate reality by means other than the slogging through the tedium of comprehending endless pages of logical argumentation is quite appealing to my nature and perhaps many others. — themadfool

    Perhaps much of the confusion about mysticism can be resolved by changing "knowledge of ultimate reality" to "experience of ultimate reality"? However, the terms "ultimate reality" imply a kind of knowledge. So we could just dump those words if we wish. And we are left with experience.

    An example may help? Say I eat a carrot. There is nutrition in the carrot no matter what my knowledge of carrots might be. My opinions of carrots also have no impact upon the nutritional value. So we could perhaps describe mysticism as experience which has psychic nutritional value which is largely unrelated to one's knowledge or opinion of the experience.

    As I experience it, mysticism (or whatever term one prefers) is just a change of focus from the symbolic realm to the real world. It's thought itself that is the source of the illusion of division. To the degree we lower the volume of thought, the unity with reality which has always existed becomes easier to experience.

    The beauty of it, from my perspective, is that it can be a purely mechanical exploration, which thus makes it available to pretty much anyone. If we see immersion in the symbolic, (ie. thought), as the primary obstacle to experience of the real, and see thought as just another mechanical process of the body, what some call mysticism can be made very simple.

    Of course, being human we are likely to then want to explain the experience, which introduces philosophy and an infinite universe of endlessly complex abstractions etc. There's nothing wrong with that, so long as one doesn't take it too seriously. We're human, we think to survive, and so won't be living permanently in the mystic. Ok, price of doing business, no big deal.
  • Nuke
    116
    However, as I argued already, some degree of intellectualising is required to make any progress in mysticism, because the mystical experience is completely meaningless unless understood to some degree.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, mysticism (at least as I'm using the word) is meaningless. That's the whole point. If you can do completely meaningless, I applaud you! :-)
  • Nuke
    116
    I have had numerous mystical experiences, but we are trying to find a way of talking about mysticism with philosophers in this thread.Punshhh

    It could be argued that the most rational manner of talking about mysticism would be discuss how to do it. If a reader finds a useful method in the pile of suggestions, then they can have their own experiences and craft their own explanations. If they follow their own trail far enough they might some day find the experiences themselves are sufficient, and then no longer have a need for the explanations.

    It seems that philosophy and mysticism are in a sense opposites, in that the philosopher attempts to build an elaborate house of sophisticated ideas, whereas the mystic is more concerned with dismantling the house. The philosopher explores symbols which point to the real, the mystic explores the real.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    We are not talking about the practice, or the mystical experience, but how to talk about it, or at least I am. So the points are preconditions for a discussion of mysticism. Which was my point on joining the thread and also was the inspiration for the thread.

    So if we were to imagine a mystic, in our minds eye, who had passed through the 10 stages I have outlined and what would concern this person, what they would do next, what sort of experiences they would have. Then we would be discussing what is involved in mysticism, rather than continually going back to everyday human psychology, and/or getting bogged down in discussions about the first 6 points and not actually reach a point of discussing mysticism at all.
    Punshhh

    I must admit that I don't really understand what you're talking about here. Are you trying to make a distinction between discussing mysticism and discussing discussing mysticism? I don't see the point. Don't we have to first discuss mysticism before we can discuss the discussion. Or, are your ground rules personal conditions for such a discussion? Isn't this like saying I will only discuss mysticism under my terms, not under someone else's terms? What's the point in that, you'd only be disallowing the perspectives of others?

    I had not focussed in on these capacities, seeing them more as associated with the development of intuition and not so much a stage, but a capability developed throughout the process. But now I see it's relevance here.Punshhh

    I think intuition is very important in all aspects of decision making, but one's intuitive skills vary depending on the aspect of the judgement. So in relation to the two aspects I mentioned, distinguishing possible from impossible, and distinguishing better from worse, a person would need to develop one's intuition in both of these aspects.

    I see what you are saying here, personally I posit an intermediary between the self and the divinity here, namely the soul, or an aspect of the self/being, which is very real, but which is not tarnished by incarnation in the way that the personality is, rather a higher self so to speak.Punshhh

    All right, now I think I'm starting to understand. In the religious way, the religious practises, rites and ceremonies, even rules and laws, serve as the intermediary between the individual, and God. We are exposed to God through these services and we are expected to have faith. And until this point, this is how your description of mysticism appeared to me, as involving a religious practise, which served as an intermediary between the person and the divinity. But now you are saying that the true intermediary between the person and the divinity is the soul, and this makes much more sense to me.

    Can we use this as a feature which would help us to distinguish mysticism from religion. Religion wants us to accept the reality of God or some divinity through faith, and it cultivates that faith through ceremonies and various procedures. Mysticism on the other hand aims to have one accept the reality of one's own soul, so it cultivates this acceptance through a completely different type of practise. Instead of attempting to show you God, the mystical practise attempts to show you your soul.

    Now here's a question you might be able to help me with. From the perspective of a mystic, what is intuition, and where does it come from? Is it a property of the soul itself?
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    Don't we have to first discuss mysticism before we can discuss the discussion. Or, are your ground rules personal conditions for such a discussion?
    I'm not trying to impose something here, but rather refine the discussion to be about what actually concerns a mystic who has progressed past the initial stage of emerging from the conditioned personality. This is because prior to having reached this point the mystic can be accused of, or depicted as an ordinary person with some egotistical axe to grind, a fantasist, someone dogged by insecurities, the mentally ill, etc etc. You can be discussing some mystic process and before you know it your interlocutor draws the discussion down one of these paths, disrailing the discussion, or making it muddled to the point of being irretrievable.

    By working on the assumption that the subject, the mystic is past all that stuff, one can actually discuss something of value to the mystic, or the person who has a serious interest.

    I think intuition is very important in all aspects of decision making, but one's intuitive skills vary depending on the aspect of the judgement. So in relation to the two aspects I mentioned, distinguishing possible from impossible, and distinguishing better from worse, a person would need to develop one's intuition in both of these aspects.
    Yes, I see what you mean, however personally this is all either far in the past, or an irrelevance. Because in intuition, I don't make any judgement unless it is absolutely necessary, which very rarely happens. Rather, I witness the experience and any light shone on it intuitively. So I am baring witness, not determining an intellectual assessment of the experience. Also when it comes to what is possible and impossible, likewise, the question doesn't come up because I don't want in the course of my practice to do anything, other than the simple natural, or normal activities that a rounded person would do. Or to view it from another angle, I am not doing anything other than growing a communion between myself and another part of myself. So the question of the possible never comes up. As regarding the question of whether enlightenment, or nirvana or something like that is possible, again it doesn't come up, because I am of the opinion that the development of my being like that of a plant (lotus for example) determines what is going to happen. A lotus only flowers when the plant has grown to the point of developing a bud ready to open through entirely natural processes. Again, the mind in the human is not what brings the flower to bud, the fully awakened mind emerges from the bud.

    Now here's a question you might be able to help me with. From the perspective of a mystic, what is intuition, and where does it come from? Is it a property of the soul itself?

    I see it as a mental faculty which evolved prior to the development of the thinking mind of the modern human. Like an instinct, an unconscious means of determining the right course of action. Something that in animals increases the chances of survival significantly. Crucially, it is independent of the thinking, or rational mind.
  • Nuke
    116
    I would question a notion that what some call mysticism is an act of becoming, development, advancement, progressing from A to B, and so on. It seems more appropriate to describe mysticism as the experience of being. If one accepts this way of looking at mysticism that would seem to help distinguish mysticism from religion, which is typically goal oriented in some manner.

    It would seem to be in the spirit of mysticism to look at it as simply, and perhaps humbly, as possible. So for example, instead of seeing mysticism as a ladder one climbs to some higher position, it might be seen as an act of routine maintenance of one of the body's mechanical processes. We have to eat, sleep, eliminate, procreate etc on a routine basis to stay healthy. Such acts aren't a path to somewhere else, but just the price of doing business as a human being. Thought is just another one of the mechanical processes of the body. It requires maintenance to remain healthy just as all the other processes do.

    How one considers mysticism would seem to depend on how one defines the problem one is attempting to solve. If one sees the problem as arising from incorrect thoughts, then a philosophical approach seems warranted. If on the other hand one sees the problem as arising from the nature of thought itself, then building the pile of thoughts even higher may be an act of poring more fuel on the fire, a step in the wrong direction.
  • jgill
    664
    the mystical practise attempts to show you your soul.Metaphysician Undercover

    It seems more appropriate to describe mysticism as the experience of beingNuke

    Is being = soul? The conversation has turned philosophical. :chin:
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    It would seem to be in the spirit of mysticism to look at it as simply, and perhaps humbly, as possible. So for example, instead of seeing mysticism as a ladder one climbs to some higher position, it might be seen as an act of routine maintenance of one of the body's mechanical processes.
    I agree with this, humility and the realisation that you are in a sense already where you wish to be, if you could but see it. There is also the path of the mystic, which some may choose to tread, if one wishes to help in the enterprise of human development.
  • Nuke
    116
    Is being = soul? The conversation has turned philosophical.jgill

    That's an interesting question, thanks. While I generally don't have a lot to say about souls one way or another, your question has stirred my curiosity. Hmm...

    Being can be thought of as a form of death, as what we typically consider to be "me" is to some degree or another set aside. Our opinions, personality, memories, desires etc, put on hold to some degree. And once that very distracting pile of things is muted, there is more attention available for the real world.

    On some occasions an interesting thing happens. If the pile of stuff we call "me" is set aside to a sufficient degree, there is sometimes the experience of attention, but not an experience of someone attending. Attention just is, or so it can feel.

    And so being might be described as being dead, in the real world. We're here, and yet we're not. It doesn't seem unreasonable to compare this to the soul, which is generally assumed to be ever present and eternal, and yet unseen.

    Perhaps this is sloppy, and I wouldn't argue over any of it, but it seems you're raised an interesting subject.
  • Nuke
    116
    I agree with this, humility and the realisation that you are in a sense already where you wish to be, if you could but see it.Punshhh

    Yes.

    To translate this in to religious lingo, it could be said that we don't need to get back to God, we just need to realize, or perhaps experience, that there is no where else we ever have been or ever could be.

    In secular lingo mysticism might be described as an act of transcending the division distortions generated by the nature of thought. Once we are not looking through a lens whose purpose is to create divisions, the unity of all things is easier to see and experience.

    There is also the path of the mystic, which some may choose to tread, if one wishes to help in the enterprise of human development.Punshhh

    If you'd like to expand on this further I would read with interest. How does the mystic facilitate human development in your view?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k

    You seem to describe an experience of observation, "baring witness", and an experience of growth, "the fully awakened mind emerges from the bud", without anything to reconcile the difference between these two, or unite the two. One is to be passive, the other to be active.

    If I take the active perspective, you say that what you are doing is culturing a relationship between two parts of yourself. Since you actually say between yourself and another part of yourself, I would say that the other part is the passive intuitive part, and yourself, being active in growing the relation, is the active part. What I was hoping you would recognize is how much intuition enters into the active part, by influencing decision making. So I don't believe we can separate the passive "baring witness" from the activity of growing the mind in such a straight forward way.

    And, since the active and passive seem to be thoroughly blended throughout all the aspect of living beings, while you are describing them as separate, I think that what you are really doing is culturing a separation between these two rather than a relation between them. If you are not dividing the other part of yourself from yourself, for the purpose of analysis, or some other philosophical goal, then what is the purpose of this?

    When I mentioned the intuition required to accurately distinguish what is impossible, or improbable, from what is possible, or likely, what I meant is how do we recognize the former, what is impossible. We very easily recognize what is possible, and this is fundamental to any activity. We proceed with any activity, because we apprehend the proceedings and outcome as possible, so we proceed. The issue though is to recognize when one ought not proceed because the desired action or outcome is impossible, or at least improbable. This is where good intuition serves us well in decision making, telling us not to proceed on a chosen path, even if one has already gone so far, because the desired outcome is starting to appear impossible. It is important to be able to turn back, because failing to, in this type of situation may lead to severe emotional stress, frustration etc..

    So I wonder about your activity of "growing a communion between myself and another part of myself" Isn't it the case that this communion already exist within the most fundamental aspects of your being? If so, then surely you're not trying to establish a separation between these two parts of yourself, because that would be something impossible and extremely frustrating. So what are you doing other than trying to understand the communion between these two parts? And if this is the case, doesn't that put you back into the category of passive observer? You're not growing the relationship, nor dividing it, simply observing and trying to understand it. Then I might ask you, for what purpose are you doing this? And your answer would put you back into the active category.

    Crucially, it is independent of the thinking, or rational mind.Punshhh

    As intuition clearly influences conscious decisions, how can you say that it is independent of thinking?
  • jgill
    664
    Attention just is, or so it can feel.Nuke

    That's exactly how my old friend, a thirty year Zen devotee, described it. Empty awareness. We can all have this sensation from time to time when completely relaxed, unfocused, and awake.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    In secular lingo mysticism might be described as an act of transcending the division distortions generated by the nature of thought. Once we are not looking through a lens whose purpose is to create divisions, the unity of all things is easier to see and experience.Nuke

    If we apprehend "a person" as a being, we perceive a unity. But if we see that a person has a soul, and that the soul is a part of the person, then we apprehend a division. So the question is, how can the conscious mind commune with the soul itself, without utilizing such a division. Any way that we understand "soul" necessitates such a division. This is why philosophers are led to dualism.

    It's not at all difficult to see the unity of things, that is the natural perspective. We apprehend things, objects, as unities. What is difficult is to apprehend the meaning, and fundamental nature, of unity, and this requires that we recognize the parts which make up a unity.
  • Nuke
    116
    So the question is, how can the conscious mind commune with the soul itself, without utilizing such a division.Metaphysician Undercover

    By turning down the volume of that which is generating the division. Thought.

    If you're talking with a friend and you can't stay focused on what they're saying because the TV is blaring in the background, you turn the TV down or off.

    Philosophers, new age gurus, spiritual pundits, wannabe babas, theologians and others with a bias for complexity are often skilled at making such things sound very exotic and esoteric etc. Maybe such issues are exotic, or maybe this is a simple mechanical problem which can be addressed by simple mechanical means.

    Is it true that thought operates by dividing reality in to conceptual objects? For example, the noun.

    If that is true, then the experience of division would seem to arise not from some particular philosophy, not from the content of thought, but from thought itself. Evidence: every ideology ever invented seems to inevitably sub-divide in to competing internal factions, suggesting that division arises from a factor which all ideologies have in common, what they're all made of, thought.

    If thought is the source of the experience of division, and thought is just another mechanical process of the body, then we have opened the door to mechanical solutions.

    Mechanical solutions are not so appealing to philosophers perhaps, but they would seem to have the advantage of being far more accessible to far more people.
  • Punshhh
    1.9k

    You seem to describe an experience of observation, "baring witness", and an experience of growth, "the fully awakened mind emerges from the bud", without anything to reconcile the difference between these two, or unite the two. One is to be passive, the other to be active.[/quote]

    It is the being who bares witness, the thinking mind is only a faculty of the being, exercised when reasoning is carried out. It is the being which grows and its expression, the body adjusts accordingly inline with the growth.
    If I take the active perspective, you say that what you are doing is culturing a relationship between two parts of yourself. Since you actually say between yourself and another part of yourself, I would say that the other part is the passive intuitive part, and yourself, being active in growing the relation, is the active part.
    It is not that simple, the inactive part is and never was inactive in my description. But that it was merely inactive in respect of the mystical process itself, which is an endeavour of the active part, or self. But really to try and analyse such things in this way is overly reductive and I can see leading to confusion. I am happy to try, but I find myself trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
    What I was hoping you would recognize is how much intuition enters into the active part, by influencing decision making. So I don't believe we can separate the passive "baring witness" from the activity of growing the mind in such a straight forward way.

    By baring witness, I mean observing an experience as a direct result of having it, while not engaging the mind in its interpretation, or developing narratives. At that time of the experience. My cat bears witness of my drawing of a Jabberwoky, she does not use her mind to interpret what she sees. But she has most certainly experienced a drawing of a jabberwoky. Likewise I might have experienced my being outside conventional, or normal time and not used my mind to interpret it, at the time. This does not preclude me from thinking about it later, but I focus on the act of witness of a real event.

    And, since the active and passive seem to be thoroughly blended throughout all the aspect of living beings, while you are describing them as separate, I think that what you are really doing is culturing a separation between these two rather than a relation between them. If you are not dividing the other part of yourself from yourself, for the purpose of analysis, or some other philosophical goal, then what is the purpose of this?
    I view myself as having seven parts, like layers on an onion, so I am seven beings in a sense, cooperating as a unity, but with some barriers of some kind between them.

    As for intuition and communion, I am working on an assumption that my personality and parts of my mind are separated from my higher being (soul) due to evolutionary conditions and that the intuition and practice of communion are employed in bridging this divide. As I said, I am only concerned with this internal bridging in my practice, not anything else in my life. I do contemplate these other things etc, but I separate the activities.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.2k
    By turning down the volume of that which is generating the division. Thought.

    If you're talking with a friend and you can't stay focused on what they're saying because the TV is blaring in the background, you turn the TV down or off.
    Nuke

    I can't see the point in you analogy. If your being is composed of a multitude of parts, you cannot turn one part down to concentrate on the other part, because the thing doing the concentrating is itself composed of parts. So in doing this you would incapacitate your ability to concentrate.

    Is it true that thought operates by dividing reality in to conceptual objects? For example, the noun.Nuke

    No, I don't think this is the case. I think that sensation perceives boundaries, and it is the perception of these boundaries which makes us think of things as distinct objects. Conception doesn't naturally create objects, it create subjects, which are categories for classifying objects. The categories overlap and there is not really distinct boundaries between them unless we assume something like a dichotomy.

    There's a form of realism though, Platonic realism, which for simplicity sake, assumes that concepts are just another form of object. But this is just a simplification which does provide a good representation of what a conception is.

    By baring witness, I mean observing an experience as a direct result of having it, while not engaging the mind in its interpretation, or developing narratives.Punshhh

    I think of myself as actively creating my experience. Of course most of the creating is done at the unconscious level, but nevertheless the direct causes of what I consciously experience are all within my being, and I really cannot say that any of the external stuff which I sense is a cause of my experience. So the subject of observing my own experience is a very difficult one. I might say that as the creator of my experience, I am a biased observer. This is where intention and attention would mix. I would be trying to pay attention to my experience, to be a good observer, but at the same time, unconscious (instinctual and intuitive) forms of intention would be active in the creation of the experience, creating that experience for some purpose. Since I really don't know the purpose involved here (as described earlier), I don't know how this underlying intention is shaping my experience, and also shaping the way I observe it (the observation being part of the experience). So I assume that my capacity to observe my own experience is very limited.

    My cat bears witness of my drawing of a Jabberwoky, she does not use her mind to interpret what she sees.Punshhh

    Observation requires taking note of what occurs, that's what observation is. So you might attempt to remove observation from the simple experience, but this would remove remembering it, and memory is a fundamental aspect of experience. Remembering is actually an interpretation because the thing remembered is the memory, not the experience itself.. If you remove memory from experience, in an absolute way, I would insist that you are not longer talking about experience.

    Likewise I might have experienced my being outside conventional, or normal time and not used my mind to interpret it, at the time. This does not preclude me from thinking about it later, but I focus on the act of witness of a real event.Punshhh

    I think you are fooling yourself if you think that you can remember what happened at a past time without interpreting what was happening at that time when it was happening. This is because what is remembered is the mind's interpretation of what happened, not the real happening. But I will admit that some of this interpretation could be happening at a subconscious level. And I think it's a vague grey area of the mind where the unconscious is supposedly separated from the conscious. We might say that some actions are clearly conscious, and others clearly unconscious, but the majority are a mixing of the two.

    I view myself as having seven parts, like layers on an onion, so I am seven beings in a sense, cooperating as a unity, but with some barriers of some kind between them.Punshhh

    Can you briefly describe for me, the seven parts?

    As for intuition and communion, I am working on an assumption that my personality and parts of my mind are separated from my higher being (soul) due to evolutionary conditions and that the intuition and practice of communion are employed in bridging this divide. As I said, I am only concerned with this internal bridging in my practice, not anything else in my life. I do contemplate these other things etc, but I separate the activities.Punshhh

    Do the divisions between all the seven parts get bridged by the same principles, or does each division have a unique bridge? In other words, if intuition and communion bridge the divide between mind and soul, do different forms of the same thing, intuition and communion, bridge the other divisions?
  • Punshhh
    1.9k
    It is probably going to be quite complicated to interpret different parts of the self into a more philosophical interpretation. I can categorise these more formally later, but to refer to them briefly if you imagine a human as layered like an onion (not literally) with the more refined layers towards the middle. So the physical body is the outer layer, the emotional body next, with the mental body next which is divided into two ( lower and higher) inside that. Then three more subtle bodies inside that, the soul (for want of a better word), a spiritual body, culminating in the Atman as I said earlier as number seven. Each layer is separated in a unique way from the others due to the nature of the evolution we have become expressed in and mystical practice in one way or another breaks down or bridges these seperations.

    Going back to the mind, I have been referring to the thinking mind, by which I mean the sentient thinking being, I think, therefore I am. As distinct to the subconscious levels of the mind, or intuitive levels. These other levels are largely unconscious, or at least not deliberated on and directed by the thinking mind (ego/personality).
  • Wayfarer
    9.8k
    Perhaps much of the confusion about mysticism can be resolved by changing "knowledge of ultimate reality" to "experience of ultimate reality"? However, the terms "ultimate reality" imply a kind of knowledge. So we could just dump those words if we wish. And we are left with experience.Nuke

    actually a distinction needs to be made between 'experience' and 'realisation'. Why? Because experience is a transitive verb. Experience implies a subject who experiences something, whereas 'realisation' encompasses a domain which transcends experience. It comprises insight into the nature and limitations of experience.

    Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk who lived and taught in New York and Melbourne, had this to say:

    In Buddhism, we distinguish between spiritual experiences and spiritual realizations. Spiritual experiences are usually more vivid and intense than realizations because they are generally accompanied by physiological and psychological changes. Realizations, on the other hand, may be felt, but the experience is less pronounced. Realization is about acquiring insight. Therefore, while realizations arise out of our spiritual experiences, they are not identical to them. Spiritual realizations are considered vastly more important because they cannot fluctuate.

    The distinction between spiritual experiences and realizations is continually emphasized in Buddhist thought. If we avoid excessively fixating on our experiences, we will be under less stress in our practice. Without that stress, we will be better able to cope with whatever arises, the possibility of suffering from psychic disturbances will be greatly reduced, and we will notice a significant shift in the fundamental texture of our experience.

    I don't think there is a counterpart to the term 'spiritual realisation' in current philosophical lexicon, whereas it is at least implicitly present in much pre-modern philosophy. Since medieval times, Western thinking has progressively divested itself of the sapiential dimension of philosophy. And as it has gone, so has the capacity to understand what it referred to. Part of the implicit condition of modernity is the sense of oneself as an intelligent, separate subject in a domain of objects (and other subjects), whereas in the pre-modern world, the world was experienced as, or realised as, an intrinsically alive presence with which one had a relationship beyond the merely adaptive. Having fallen out of that, it is impossible to recall or imagine what has been lost or forgotten.

    In some vital sense, the 'unio mystica' is the breaking down of the sense of otherness or separateness. That is why it naturally gives rise to compassion, insofar as 'the sage' sees others as him or herself, which naturally gives rise to a sense of empathy for others.
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