Mt, regarding your last comment on different experience than enlightenment: I read an article a long time ago at innerexplorations website that made me wonder whether enlightenment is the direct experience of creation per se (especially one's own innermost being or the self) while Christian contemplation is the direct experience of God himself. The two mystics seem to be seeing through the same eye (spirit) but what they are looking at, or the direction of their gaze is totally different. For example, Christian contemplation is given as a gift, it is not attained as a guaranteed result of following correctly certain techniques, like enlightenment. I think this is because the object of Christian contemplation is a free agent, whose being cannot just be "taken" without permission so to speak, whereas that of enlightenment is not, it is nature. Both are improvements on normal experience but cannot be on a par.
Right, St. Rubia. That's how I understand ecstatic experiences as well. Even in "ordinary prayer," we ought to be focused more on God than ourselves. But these kinds of experiences are short-lived, and no Christian mystic has implied from them that self or individuality is an illusion and obstacle to oneness. They would certainly all contend that self-concern or self-focus is inappropriate during prayer, however.
Re. I read an article a long time ago at innerexplorations website that made me wonder whether enlightenment is the direct experience of creation per se (especially one's own innermost being or the self) while Christian contemplation is the direct experience of God himself. . .
Jim Arraj was a close friend, and he did consider Buddhist enlightenment to be a natural or metaphysical kind of mysticism. He contrasted it with infused contemplation in many of his writings, most notably God, Zen and the Intuition of Being, and also Mysticism, Metaphysics and Maritain.
Good point, Mt. Human beings can be loving and holy without being mystics or enlightened. I know many such in my life, some of whom are almost completely Kataphatic in their manner of prayer. It is love that gives evidence of the Spirit, and there are many loving people who are not mystics.
By the way, in God and I I do write of the True Self (as opposed to simply Self) as follows:
It might seem confusing to speak of Self as simply "I" and then "True Self" as "I-awake-in-God," but there is a difference, the former being a "natural" experience, the latter mystical.
I have a question. Hindus speak of our true nature as being happiness or bliss. That if we transcend the ego, the happiness we feel is the natural state of our nature. Is this true? What kind of happiness is this?
I call it "narcissistic elation," a term I borrowed from Béla Grunberger, though not having read Grunberger's essays, I don't know if I'm using the term in precisely the same way as he did.
Well then. Mind elaborating a bit more on YOUR own meaning? I really do want to know what this is...have you experienced it?
Narcissistic elation sounds like something spiritually dangerous.
I wouldn't say it's spiritually dangerous. "Narcissistic elation" is just one of those psychoanalytic terms that sounds like a sophisticated put-down, even if it wasn't intended as such! And to me, these states can all be explained in terms of ordinary human psychology. There's absolutely no need to resort to supernatural or quasi-mystical explanations.
What I mean by the "narcissistic elation" is the blissful, euphoric state when all the archaic desires of the past disappear, and the world is experienced without them. The Wikipedia article on narcissistic elation suggests to me that Grunberger has it partially right, partially wrong (assuming Wikipedia is accurately reporting Grunberger's views):
I would agree that it is a state "devoid of needs or desires". However, it is not a memory, and it has nothing to do with megalomania or withdrawal or omnipotence or pride. It is more like a cleansing of our way of seeing: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite" (William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell).
Yes, I did experience this, in March 2011. In fact the aftermath of it (April 2011) is recorded somewhere on this message board, in an old thread.
Derek, the link to the account of your experience is http://shalomplace.org/eve/for...3110765/m/3004041828
I think there are a variety of non-conceptual, non-reflective states of awareness -- some of which are mystical, others natural, as you have described (and which seems to resonate with many descriptions of enlightenment).
Re. the Hindu Atman (True Self) and their idea of Ego-transcendence, they usually mean something different by "Ego" than Western psychology does. But Atman is beyond even the Western Ego, an identification with God that eclipses all sense of individuality, prompting one to say, "I Am That." A quote from Wikipedia notes:
That descriptor certainly resonates with a Christian understanding of God. Perhaps it is a type of union with God that opens one to a kind of metaphysical awareness of God's omnipresence.
No, it was the original thread from April 2011 that I was thinking of. I've found it, here:
Ah, yes, I remember that exchange now, and interesting responses as well.
I read Grunberger and been interested in his ideas for some time. For him the narcissistic state is something natural, since he believes it is one of the mental structures, as ego, id and superego. But it should grow and mature in life and become balanced with respect to other mental functions. But if narcissism becomes too dominant, we have a narcissistic pathology which is very severe.
With regard to what Derek says, I'd not use the psychoanalytic term to describe spiritual state, because psychoanalysis deals only with the level of psyche, not with the spirit itself. Grunberger describes primary narcissism as a state without any relationship with external reality, with any objects (i.d. people), with a sense of omnipotence, and without any drive, desire, need or emotion. But it is an emotional state, not a spiritual one, even though Grunberger did reduce religious experiences to that, as most analysts did. In fact, I think that narcissistic elation in that sense is spiritually dangerous. Even though it is not spiritual in nature, it can be encouraged by spiritual experiences, if someone is prone to that kind of pathology. In my experience, many people driven to New Age spirituality and to Eastern forms of meditations, who dogmatically cling to the idea that there is no duality, no "outside", no "above" human spirit, may often display this sort of narcissistic inclinations. But I had some Christian patients, really focused on their religious life, who were pathological narcissists and were able to distort narcissistically their Christian spirituality in a very profound way.
As far as Hindu "bliss" is concerned, I remember Phil wrote about this in his books on kundalini. In my case, I certainly experienced states of natural bliss and delight, but they were transient. Actually, it's hard for me to imagine how this bliss could be experienced to such a degree all the time. But some Hindu gurus claimed they experience this bliss all the time in an intense manner (Ramana Maharshi, Muktananda). Possible. Philosophically, I'd say it is a natural state of the soul, sort of natural joy of being, perhaps a shadow of what Adam and Eve could experience in Eden.
I have yet another question.
How would you gentlemen categorize wilfulness in this context? It seems to me that being free of wilfulness and full of its opposite(abandonment to a higher will) is holiness. Jesus, the obedient, Mary, the obedient, the martyrs, all the saints...this seems to be the bottom-line wisdom of our mystic traditions and of others too, like Hinduism and Buddhism: We must rid ourselves of wilfulness and surrender our wills to God (I don't know what Buddhists think they are surrendering to but they are definitely surrendering their will to what they see as higher or at least what has "pride of place" over their own agenda). "Presence" seems to be a way to do just that, abandon our personal agenda for life/external environment or at least our attachment to this subjective agenda and accept life as it comes to us independently of our will.
I am wondering: is this wilfulness what they call ego or the false self? Is it therefore the same thing as what we call the primary sin/fault of pride as the root of all evil in christian thought? So the devil is very willful but the saints are not. I ask because I remember st. Teresa said something like to overcome self-will is what progress is, or something like that.
In this case, the false self is not a problem of the intellect per se, but something close to an orientation of the will, inward towards itself as opposed to outside towards "other". Which is the main consequence of original sin.
Another thing, Buddhist theory pretty much acknowledges our "natural" condition of wilfulness both as fact and as a problem that it tries to solve by teaching detachment. Does any one know what explanation they give for WHY this natural condition exists? Their "original sin" equivalent? I find it funny how so many are opposed to the concept (of the catholic original sin) yet they EACH seem to take it for granted in some way.
There certainly are Christian writers who emphasize abandoning willfulness. You may already know the two classics: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade and Holy Abandonment by Vitalis Lehodey.
The basic human problem, as I see it, is that archaic strivings -- the agendas of infancy and childhood -- get imposed on the present. You could call that willfulness, or false self, or ego, depending on how you look at it. One is trying to satisfy in adult life the needs that were not met in childhood.
The Buddhist explanation of the human problem is a circular chain called paticca-samuppada (Pali) or pratitya-samutpada (Sanskrit). It's often referred to in early Buddhist texts. There is one place, though, where the Buddhist texts explain how humanity got into this whole mess. This is the text that Westerners once called "the Buddhist Genesis," though its real title is the "Aggañña Sutta."
I've now put the whole thing up on the Internet, which explains what was happening immediately prior to my post on Shalom Place of March 31, 2011: http://internetconnect.co.uk
Derek, is this still how you experience the world? Or is this describing your experience right after? Interesting indeed. I can relate to feeling at home with the universe/nature but not to feeling like I was looking at me in the universe. Is this enlightenment?
The period I'm writing about there (March 2011) was one of bliss and unity. Earlier in this thread, I suggested using the term "narcissistic elation" to describe that phase, but I now see that's not such a good fit. So let's just call it "bliss and unity." What has remained, though, is the knowingness that the word "I" doesn't really refer to anything. Our self-construct is just that -- a construct of the mind.
The short answer is "no." I will see if I can write something expanding on that "no" over the next few days or weeks, as it will take some explaining.
I am a little confused. What do you mean about the self-concept being a construct?
Are you referring to the self-mage, which I agree is a construct,only? Or do you believe that there is no real individual---the one that is realizing that the self-image is just a concept?
I think we don't really "see" our true selves in the mind,since we are the seer/mind itself, at least not naturally. But we do exist in reality. Only God can see us in the same way we"see" the self-concept but there is a real self here that is you that is the subject of all these experiences. Do you agree?
I've sent you a PM.
I think your observations are sound, St. Rubia. But there are states of consciousness where the experience of "I" seems non-existent. Deep sleep is an obvious example, as are ecstatic experiences. Any kind of non-reflecting consciousness is "I-less," to some degree. This doesn't mean that there is no individual person, for that would make no sense. Non-reflecting experiences are happening to some-one, and are in many instances accessible via the memory.
In reflecting consciousness, we are more attentionally present both to ourselves and to whatever it is we are aware of. This is what I call Egoic consciousness in my book, and I do not consider it to be inherently delusional until it latches onto and defends a particular self-concept. But prior to its attachment to self-concept/image, one is present to oneself, and thought is simply the naming of that reality, not its creation.
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