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Are you a mystic??

 
 
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 11:12 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Perhaps I'm just a cynic at heart, but when someone makes the claim to be a mystic, I make sure my wallet is secure before engaging them in conversation.

I think even the Buddha would encourage this precaution.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 May, 2010 11:47 pm
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;168409 wrote:
Perhaps I'm just a cynic at heart, but when someone makes the claim to be a mystic, I make sure my wallet is secure before engaging them in conversation.

I think even the Buddha would encourage this precaution.


I feel you, TickTock. Even though I have much respect for certain "spiritual" traditions, I have seen in my real life more falsies...

When I was a teenager, I spent a little time in a Pentecostal church. Now that's entertainment! Of course the music was pure. And some of the "brothers" were pure. I could tell they were striving after a life of love and purity. Hell, they gave me things, like suits that fit to tight. But the preacher had his hand out. And he looked like Norm off Cheers. He was quite a voice, though.

Some might say that this has nothing to do with mystics, but that's the comment of an insider. I know from my post-religious days that it's easy to see the whole shebang as a con. Of course I know now that certain spiritual traditions are not the least bit supernatural. Or am I reading the Tao wrong?Smile
TickTockMan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 12:46 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;168421 wrote:
Of course I know now that certain spiritual traditions are not the least bit supernatural. Or am I reading the Tao wrong?Smile


I haven't found anything supernatural in the Tao. That's about as natural as it gets, with a sprinkle of anarchy thrown in for good measure. Now Alchemical Taoism, that's a whole 'nother cauldron of elixers.

Sadly, even Taoism is not safe from Wayne Dyer, that bald-headed wannabe mystic hack of the New Age, speaking of "hands out."
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 01:04 am
@TickTockMan,
TickTockMan;168441 wrote:
I haven't found anything supernatural in the Tao. That's about as natural as it gets, with a sprinkle of anarchy thrown in for good measure. Now Alchemical Taoism, that's a whole 'nother cauldron of elixers.

Sadly, even Taoism is not safe from Wayne Dyer, that bald-headed wannabe mystic hack of the New Age, speaking of "hands out."


1. Great signature!
2. I agree about Tao. I'm re-reading the Stephen Mitchell translation lately, and yet again I'm thinking "this is good stuff."
3. I don't know Mr. Dyer, but I'm not surprised. I guess the only "Way" to deal with Mr. Dyer is maybe a laugh? or maybe just the expression of a baby that has not yet learned to smile?
4. I wonder what the Tao is like in the original language?
5. I haven't looked at Alchemical Taoism. I guess a person can take anything and run wild with it.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 02:00 am
@Reconstructo,
Twirlip;168382 wrote:
I think I reject this model of the situation, but it might be interesting to discuss the model and the situation in depth some time (in another thread)....

...If God is a kind of source of personality and consciousness, a kind of superconsciousness, then the Devil is a kind of sink of personality and consciousness, a kind of subconsciousness. So although both 'peak' and 'trough' experiences bring you closer to reality, in one sense, it is only in the former kind of experience that you fully retain your consciousness and self in doing so. A contact with reality in which you lose yourself (and not in the mystical sense of ego-loss) is not really a contact with reality!

(I know this is very vague and woolly; I also know that vagueness and woolliness are to a large extent to be expected in discussions of mystical matters, for reasons already expressed by Alan; however, I can never be satisfied with being vague and woolly, and do not mean to rest content with words such as these.)

P.P.S. I'm expecting kennethamy to pop up in a moment asking me to distinguish between "vagueness" and "woolliness". Smile


That's OK, my Bell Curve model is just an idea. Many of these kinds of ideas are like 'economic models'.

I don't think kennethamy is especially interested in this kind of subject matter. I think he would say, and I would agree, that this is out-of-scope for philosophy as such. It is a different subject area.

The only word of caution I would add is, read up on some of the genuine literature about this phenomenon. There is a lot of it. I still reckon it is hard to go past Evelyn Underhill as a starting point.

The books that I learned about mysticism from were all pretty standard - Evelyn Underhill, William James, R. M. Bucke, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, to name a few.

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 06:06 PM ----------

The opening para of the Evelyn Underhill book is magnificent

Quote:
The most highly developed branches of the human family have in common one peculiar characteristic. They tend to produce-sporadically it is true, and often in the teeth of adverse external circumstances-a curious and definite type of personality; a type which refuses to be satisfied with that which other men call experience, and is inclined, in the words of its enemies, to "deny the world in order that it may find reality." We meet these persons in the east and the west; in the ancient, mediaeval, and modern worlds. Their one passion appears to be the prosecution of a certain spiritual and intangible quest: the finding of a "way out" or a "way back" to some desirable state in which alone they can satisfy their craving for absolute truth. This quest, for them, has constituted the whole meaning of life. They have made for it without effort sacrifices which have appeared enormous to other men: and it is an indirect testimony to its objective actuality, that whatever the place or period in which they have arisen, their aims, doctrines and methods have been substantially the same. Their experience, therefore, forms a body of evidence, curiously self-consistent and often mutually explanatory, which must be taken into account before we can add up the sum of the energies and potentialities of the human spirit, or reasonably speculate on its relations to the unknown world which lies outside the boundaries of sense.
0 Replies
 
sometime sun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 02:31 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;168406 wrote:
I think of the "Satanic" state of mind to be something like the maximum absorption in the self-abstraction. Saddam Hussein said that he didn't care about what people thought of him now. He was thinking of those 500 years in the future who would read about him in history books. He was that absorbed in his personal glory. Talk about a lack of presence in the here and now.....

Let's not deny the pleasure of the ego-absorption. It's even a form of love. But it's a rigid state that is merciless toward any threats to the little prince's status. To what degree was Hitler absorbed in a grandiose fantasy of himself which also included the greatness of Germany. He probably thought of himself as the Ultimate German. And this is how the self-fetish can relate to the world. Everything is a tentacle of ye old great self, that old dragon the devil.

The opposite of this would be an openness, an utter lack of fixity, a recognition of the self as nothing but a construct, an abstraction, a boring biography. Not boring in itself, but boring as an abstraction. When two good friends get together, they talk about something that neither of them can claim. They talk of a shared beauty. Well, I think that a focus on unclaimed shared beauty is related to the mystical. But maybe I shouldn't suggest this, because I don't personally want to adopt the term. Forgive my noisy intrusion!

All examples of mysticism?

I know I can be guilty of at least all of these at some point in my existence.

And hope I am objective enough now to take if I had to the last one.
Hope springs eternal,
and all mystics are self involved.
The involved self.
0 Replies
 
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 04:16 am
@Reconstructo,
As I was getting to sleep, after rather a late night, I pictured the situation in terms of what might look like one of Reconstructo's beloved triangles: an isosceles triangle, with its base forming an axis between a vertex labelled + (for God) and a vertex labelled - (for the Devil), and its altitude forming a vertical axis stretching from reality (the base of the triangle) to unreality, a vertex labelled with 0 for total social conformity and automatism. Human possibility lies within the triangle. Conformity pushes you up into the apex, where you are as far away from reality as possible, but at least the impossibility of any sideways movement parallel to the base of the triangle frees you from the risk of drifting towards the - vertex. jeeprs's 'bell curve' picture of the distribution of human possibilities is an orthogonal projection of this two-dimensional distribution onto the one-dimensional base of the triangle, and therefore ignores the vertical component of movement within the triangle, and might even suggest that you can only move between - and + by passing through 0. I don't mean this image too seriously, but it is perhaps helpful (and perhaps not).

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 11:19 AM ----------

Reconstructo;168421 wrote:
When I was a teenager, I spent a little time in a Pentecostal church. Now that's entertainment! Of course the music was pure. And some of the "brothers" were pure. I could tell they were striving after a life of love and purity. Hell, they gave me things, like suits that fit to tight. But the preacher had his hand out. And he looked like Norm off Cheers. He was quite a voice, though.

Heh! I married one of those. Pentecostals, I mean. That's Hell enough for anybody. You're right, about both the music and the money.

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 11:22 AM ----------

TickTockMan;168441 wrote:
Sadly, even Taoism is not safe from Wayne Dyer, that bald-headed wannabe mystic hack of the New Age, speaking of "hands out."

That's "Tao", pronounced "D'oh!", or "Dough!"

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 11:53 AM ----------

jeeprs;168451 wrote:
I don't think kennethamy is especially interested in this kind of subject matter. I think he would say, and I would agree, that this is out-of-scope for philosophy as such. It is a different subject area.

I sort of both agree and disagree with that - how's that for vagueness and woolliness! - just as I did with your "bell curve" model.

The higher reaches of mystical experience, being so inaccessible to most of us, probably do form a specialist subject.

But its lower reaches, as well as the even lower depths of [so-called] 'mental illness' - which are all too easily, if involuntarily, accessible to all of us - relate immediately to ethics and [what is so dismissively referred to as] folk psychology, both of which belong to philosophy proper, or at least, overlap substantially with it. In particular, I think that the philosophical problem [I take it that there is a philosophical problem] of individual personal identity opens a way to what are, in an elementary way, 'mystical' approaches.
jeeprs;168451 wrote:
The only word of caution I would add is, read up on some of the genuine literature about this phenomenon. There is a lot of it. I still reckon it is hard to go past Evelyn Underhill as a starting point.

That looks interesting. However, I get the impression that you are identifying mysticism in general with the quest for the higher reaches of experience (and so presumably is Alan, therefore it is presumably I who am veering somewhat off-topic), whereas when I use the term, it includes much more humdrum questions about personal identity, as well as including the negative, spiritually draining side of human experience. It seems to me that both the ordinary and the negative need to be included to get the full picture of what mystics are talking about. (I'm not sure if I'm making sense. I know exactly what I am trying to say, I just don't know exactly how to say it. As Reconstructo said, "Forgive my noisy intrusion!")
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 04:59 am
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;168488 wrote:
However, I get the impression that you are identifying mysticism in general with the quest for the higher reaches of experience (and so presumably is Alan, therefore it is presumably I who am veering somewhat off-topic)


Indeed. That is the nature of the topic. I also happen to believe that the article was copied from here, written by a Rhonda LaRue, who is a mystic from Ojai, which is a very mystical place, indeed. (It would have been nice to credit it but never mind.)

Twirlip;168488 wrote:
"Forgive my noisy intrusion!"


Not at all. It is an interesting diversion.
0 Replies
 
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 05:16 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;168366 wrote:
I would suggest that one reading of the mystical is that it is to 'see through' this whole structure of 'me and mine'. When you state it baldly like that, it does not sound like much, so it should not be taken literally (or lightly).

My point (which I apologise again for labouring so much) is that the need to "'see through' this whole structure of 'me and mine'" is not something relevant only to the highest/deepest levels of human experience, but is felt, more or less obscurely, in all human experience, most poignantly in our ethical awareness.

That is, I believe it is both possible and desirable to experience what you referred to as "the world" in a less egoistic way than is regarded as 'normal' in Western society, without necessarily attempting to scale the Himalayas of the mind.

I should probably have started another thread, as I'm diverting this one too much, but I never feel ready to start writing about this topic properly, and it is temptingly easier to steal a ride on somebody else's coat-tails. [Damn, is that an actual English phrase?] :perplexed:
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 05:19 am
@Alan McDougall,
That is quite true. Couldn't disagree with that for one minute. So I suppose it is one consequence of the mystical awareness - the sense of one-ness with all - but 'self-transcendence' is not by any means the exclusive property of mystics and is as you say, central to ethics.

---------- Post added 05-25-2010 at 09:22 PM ----------

actually Theravada Buddhism, which very much emphasizes this seeing-through of self, is not necessarily mystical.
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 05:24 am
@jeeprs,
Sorry about the late editing of my article. I can't quite leave this thread alone!
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 05:30 am
@Twirlip,
Twirlip;168512 wrote:
My point (which I apologise again for labouring so much) is that the need to "'see through' this whole structure of 'me and mine'" is not something relevant only to the highest/deepest levels of human experience, but is felt, more or less obscurely, in all human experience, most poignantly in our ethical awareness.

That is, I believe it is both possible and desirable to experience what you referred to as "the world" in a less egoistic way than is regarded as 'normal' in Western society, without necessarily attempting to scale the Himalayas of the mind.


Quite agree. I am interested in mysticism because I was born with the gene for it. I have always been interested in it.


But there are many paths, as they say. A couple of really good existentialist philosopher-psychologists are Viktor Frankl, whose Mankind's Search for Meaning is a well-known classic, and Erich Fromm. I have only read essays of the latter, but I believe his Man For Himself is a great book. Actually what used to be 'transpersonal psychology' had many great writers in it; I actually edited their Australian newsletter for a few years back in the 80's.

Twirlip;168512 wrote:
I should probably have started another thread, as I'm diverting this one too much, but I never feel ready to start writing about this topic properly, and it is temptingly easier to steal a ride on somebody else's coat-tails. [Damn, is that an actual English phrase?] :perplexed:


Don't worry about that! There is no shortage of electrons.
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 05:54 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;168518 wrote:
A couple of really good existentialist philosopher-psychologists are Viktor Frankl, whose Mankind's Search for Meaning is a well-known classic, and Erich Fromm. I have only read essays of the latter, but I believe his Man For Himself is a great book.

I read Fromm's The Art of Loving when young, and liked it a lot; I recently read his The Fear of Freedom, and found it interesting, but I was almost tortured, oddly enough, by what seemed to me to be its lack of an internal religious dimension (even though its discussion of Calvin and Luther was insightful). I haven't read Frankl's Mankind's Search for Meaning (although I've got a copy), because I was so disappointed with the same author's The Unconscious God.
jeeprs;168518 wrote:
Actually what used to be 'transpersonal psychology' had many great writers in it; I actually edited their Australian newsletter for a few years back in the 80's.

It seems to be still going (strong, I hope), and I quite recently added this book to my "must see" list:
Shadow, Self, Spirit: Essays in Transpersonal Psychology: Amazon.co.uk: Michael Daniels: Books
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 May, 2010 10:15 am
@Twirlip,
Every thread about mysticism has two general complaints One has been they have both been discusses in this one. 1) Human tendency to co-opt mysticism for pretige or money. 2) The ihability of a mystic to show tanglible results.

I have always seen the mystic and the burgeoning mystic as a master apprentice relationship, even when the master comes in liturature form. The real stigma against mysticism and the irony is that the process and culmination of becoming one is a singularly personal event.
0 Replies
 
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 May, 2010 01:26 am
@richard mcnair,
richard_mcnair;168341 wrote:


Materialism is the view that all that exists is matter. Scientific materialism would be I suppose someone with this view that also believes that all knowledge can be understood by the scientific method.

Apparently mystical experience can be explained by such things, however no-one has done so to anything like a convincing degree. If mystical experiences are what they appear to be to the subject of them, then this refutes materialism, because they are experiences of higher realities.

Idealism is the contrary monistic position to materialism which says that 'mind' or 'consciousness' or 'spirit' is the absolute thing that exists, not matter, and the external world as we experience it doesn't exist wholly independently of our minds. And this would be the position of the mystic, the opposite one to materialism, and science would just be a study of the patterns of the shadows on the wall of platos cave.


Ok.. It seems if idealism is true, then there are some "mind-stuff" out there that seems to have the property of being dependent on some particular mind.
Why should external reality be mind-dependent because of it? Why should it be true that external reality is mind-dependent at all? If the tree has a mind of itself, then it is independent of me in the same way that your mind is independent of my mind. explain to me why you think idealism implies mind-dependent reality.
0 Replies
 
 

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