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Spirituality for the Skeptic




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THE MYSTIC WAY

PROFOUNDLY EXPERIENCED 

Stars and nebula
We originate from the very dust of the stars.

The unsophisticated
reaction to the terms,
"mystic" or "mystical"
brings images of anti-
scientific, occult kooks,
mediums, etc.  Quite the
contrary, we are here
addressing a specific
category of experience
having nothing to do
with psuedo-occult
phenomena.
 
Aside from
anthropomorphic idols and
personified images of deities,
there exists a rare but  ageless,
universal experience of the divine
that goes beyond all words or images. 
Because the core of this experience
exists in all human eras and cultures,
it cannot be said to be a conditioned
product of any one culture or  time. 
For once we penetrate the thin veneer
of cultural myths, common aspects of
this experience emerge in those who
had it:
 
* An experience of being enveloped
in radiant light.
 
*A timeless feeling of eternity, of
being removed from time and space.
 
*A feeling of harmony and unity with
nature and the cosmos.
 
* Experiencing oneness with the
Divine.
 
* A noetic certainty of cosmic purpose
that goes beyond all words and images.
 
*The feeling that mundane reality is
illusory compared to this true Reality now.
 
Though few have undergone this
extraordinary experience, it
can be triggered by being enrapt
in the beauty of nature, or an
ecstatic moment in music, or 
intensive religious rites, or 
fasting and acetic practices.  
However, optimal life-changing
beneficence can be attained only
through years of self discipline. 
 
 
PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS:
 
If the core of such experience is
not entirely a product of cultural
conditioning or of the particular
times, might we not still consider
it a rare form of species-specific
psychosis?  Agreed upon symptoms
of psychosis include: hallucinations,
delusions, loss of self control,
incomprehensible communication, and
behavior that is consistently
maladaptive, or self destructive.
 
Let us briefly examine the lives of some
known mystics to see if they had the
symptoms mentioned above.  The noted mystic,St. Teresa of Avila, a 16th
century nun, was said to be practical, industrious, humorous, and attractive.  She journeyed far to found many
convents.  She left five volumes of
books and letters standing high in
the literature of mysticism. 
 
Teresa's contemporary mystic, St. John of
the Cross, was also a prolific writer of
note.  He was of keen intellect and
considered among the greatest poets of
Spain.  Earlier on,the 13th century mystic, Meister Eckhart, was  another brilliant thinker who left voluminous writings significant to scholars
today. 
 
Eckhart's teachings are thought
coincidentally similar to the 9th century
Hindu mystic, Sankara.  Sankara was a
prodigy who left home at an early age, 
and  before his death at age 32 had spread
his now famous teachings throughout most
of India.
 
None of the sample mentioned
hallucinated or wrote of personified
deities.  And each exhibited
extraordinary self discipline and
control.  They were excellent
communicators, and their lifestyles 
were that of personal growth and
benevolence to others.  These are
in fact the opposites of the psychotic
behaviors mentioned above.  If there
are psychotic mystics, the
forementioned examples show you don't
have to be  psychotic to become one;
quite the contrary.
 
Then, aside from otherwise exemplary
behavior, perhaps just the ecstatic
experience in itself is a seizure-
like psychotic episode for the few
moments contact with reality is lost. 
This question brings up an even bigger
question:  Is true reality really lost
during the intensive mystical
experience?  Or is a more truthful
reality - a noumenon beyond our
unaided senses and reason - being
revealed?    Let's examine this
question more deeply.
 
 
 
THE NATURE OF REALITY:
 
Galileo was the first scientist to
reveal the illusion of such
"secondary qualities" as color, sound,
taste, smell, heat, and cold.  He
stated these sensations exist only
within our senses and not outside
ourselves.  Animals with other sensory
hookups will sense these qualities
differently - often more accurately. 
He also spoke of more stable "primary
qualities" - e. g. extension, solidity,
motion and number.
 
With today's scientific instruments to
extend and amplify our senses we know
color outside our eyes and brains
manifests only in different
electromagnetic wave frequencies; and
visible light itself covers only a
narrow spectrum of electromagnetism
per se.  We know sound outside our ears
is really different vibrations of air. 
Taste and smell are but the textures of
molecules.  And heat and cold are the
sensations of different molecular
frequencies.
 
In the light of today's science, what now 
is the status of Galileo's "primary
qualities?"  Solidity is relative to
temperature and can become liquid or
gaseous according to the object's melting
point.  And even the most "solid" object
is composed of charged particles floating
in electrostatic space.  Also, an object's
seemingly stable extension in Euclidian
geometry can be seen in Non-Euclidian 
terms as stretching or shrinking relative
to its speed and mass in the universe.  
 
Moreover, according to Godel even the
numbers of mathematics are not ultimately
accurate.  According to Einstein even time
and space are relative.  And quantum
theories reveal the very stuff of reality
as charges or ripples in multidimensional
space.
 
 
THE MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE REVISITED:
 
Now that we glimpsed the reality beyond our unaided senses and reason,  we find the mystical experience may not have lost touch with true reality after all.  The mystic often experiences light - the purest form of energy.  Unlike our mundane sense of reality the mystical experience exists outside relative space/time to perhaps glimpse eternity.  No wonder "normal " reality then seems illusory. 
 
So what now of the truths that go beyond
words and images?  Science has abandoned
three-dimensional models in explaining  
the ultimate realities of the micro and
macro-cosmos. Instead, extra dimensions
and invisible forces are described in
equations that cannot be put into words. 
So even objectively there are no ultimate
words or images.
 
And what of the feeling of harmony, oneness, and unity?  Physicists are now strongly on the trail of the grand unified theory of everything - the ultimate equation that will unite relativity and quantum theories and
cover all nature's forces as one unified
whole.  And we are part of that whole,
emerging from the same energy ground, made
of the same sub-particles and stardust. We
are genetically and ecologically tied to it all .
 
So the tie-in of the most profound
subjective experience with the most far
reaching objective knowledge may be more
than analogical.  It may be homological 
since we are an integral part of that whole.  There may be rare times when the human being can actually experience his or her source  of being.  Subject and object may, in their ultimacy, be but two sides to the same door....
 
Let me leave you with a final thought: 
After studying the way the universe
expands,  scientists state the center of
the cosmos is everywhere.  This means its
center exists also within you.....
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

INSPIRATION BEYOND SUPERSTITION

THE BOOK OF THOMAS THE DOUBTER

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