That, for me, is the bottom line -- the total depravity of the human condition. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:10). Not a popular doctrine these days. When did you last hear a guru -- or, for that matter, a celebrity preacher -- admit to their flawed nature? Only after they've been publicly exposed.
To me, the idea that we can "fix" ourselves ends with John the Baptist. His call to μετάνοια (Mark 1:4) presumes both inner awareness and the ability to change our thoughts and behaviors through our own efforts. You could call it self-help, or self-administered cognitive-behavioral therapy, in modern terms. Clearly, inner awareness (the deconstruction of Ego solidity) is necessary -- and blind spots create problems -- but I do not see awareness alone as sufficient. Only grace can take us further.
I've been rereading your book, since we're discussing it :-) On p.32 you say that in deep sleep the Self is not present. But
1.Nondual mystics claim they retain some form of simple nonreflecting "I am" even in the deep sleep. Wilber among others. There is a whole dream yoga in the Tibetan tradition.
2. Plotinus also claims that our intellect (which for him is the non discursive, true self) is a "sleepless light" and that it is the sensible and rational soul that falls asleep in us. So the neoplatonic tradition also mentions such a possibility.
3. If the self-awareness is a fundamental property of the rational soul in the sense that our esse is as it were self-transparent as such, it shouldn't be affected by a basically physiological phenomenon. O
4. You rightly quite Helminiak that the presence of the Self gives us continuity. And we precisely retain that continuity through the night. We have a sense that we were asleep. If there was no Self in this apparently blank deep sleep period we would not know that we "weren't there". The same for ecstatic states. I'm not speaking here from experience but philosophically it seems that the Self never disappears, the fluctuation is of our Ego.
I don't know about that one, Mt. We can certainly affirm that Self as spiritual presence is always there in some manner, but there are these huge chunks of time when we aren't present to our experiences. That has less to do with Self than with brain function, which mediates our experiences. Maybe Wilber and the yogis are present to their deep sleep periods, but, otoh, what would there be to report on? And how could one ever really test this?
So your point #3 needs to be considered in light of the multi-level interactions on pp. 25-26 (of the 2016 v. of the book), where #4 reads: Damage to a lower level impedes the expression of a higher through it. The brain is not "damaged" during deep sleep, but it seems to shut down our embodied sense of awareness, as noted in this article:
I suppose something similar happens when one blacks out, is anesthetized, or is comatose. The soul is certainly still "there," since the person is alive, but the brain is not allowing for a conscious experience of what's going on. Nevertheless, those who've awakened from anesthetic and comatose states have sometimes reported with great accuracy conversations that have gone on around them.
Actually in a deep sleep state, awareness of self is not present. It is in a dream state though. Actually very much so. Now about yogis and mystics, I spent a lot of years meditating in the lower theta and upper delta vibration frequencies of the mind. It takes a bit of practice, but you can take self awareness into those lower vibration frequencies and be conscious through out the experience. What doesn't come is "Ego". "Ego" does not function at those lower mind vibration frequencies. But for some reason will does, which is why voo doo masters and Australian witch doctors and other folks like them can work some of the stuff that they can do. Phil is right that normally self is not present in deep sleep, but it can be present with mystics and other folks that learn to play in those mind frequencies.
"And how could one ever really test this?"
One that can do this can take you with them Phil and you will be sitting in your chair not being able to move but completely aware of what is going on. When you look into the eyes of a person who is in these/this lower vibration state you will say, "There is nobody at home in that person." But there is, it is just that you have never been where they at at.
This is a picture of Joy permeated Ma a Hindu saint when she is meditating in the low mind vibration frequencies:
You can see that there doesn't look to much like there is anybody at home. But there is .
Tucker, Christianity knows this type of absorption and calls it the prayer of ecstatic union. I don't think it correlates with deep sleep, but maybe the brain is doing something similar. There are reports of saints and mystics in this state being unaware of what's going on around them -- being pinched, yelled at, etc., with no response. Certainly, this is non-Egoic, or perhaps trans-Egoic would be a better way to say it.
See http://www.christianperfection.info/tta102.php for some discussion of St. Teresa of Avila's writings on this topic.
It's also noteworthy that Thomas Keating considered ecstatic absorption to be transitional, as did Teresa of Avila. In some of his teachings, Keating attributes this to a psyche and body that are still being acclimated to full union -- that for a short period of time, the circuits are overwhelmed.
This rings true to my experience as well. There was a time in the 1980s when I would be literally pulled into deep silence for hours at a time. Amazingly, I would still be in my kneeling or sitting posture when I came out of it -- I hadn't fallen asleep! I could remember nothing about what went on during that deep silence except that I was somehow "there," and that I felt a deepened sense of peace and integration. After awhile, those "blackouts," as I called them, became shorter and shorter, and eventually went away.
I'm sure someone, somewhere has related these stages of Christian prayer to the various types of samadhi described in the yogic literature. The correlations are bound to be imprecise, in some cases, as Christianity proceeds via the Ego-God relationship to the deeper levels of human experience, while some yogic approaches aim at deconstructing the Ego from the start.
Patanjali, to whom the Yoga Sutras are attributed, defines yoga like this: “Yoga is the cessation of the turnings in the mind” (Yoga Sutras 1.2).
So by that definition, any kind of inner silence or stillness constitutes “yoga” in the broadest sense.
Note also that “yoga” literally means “union,” a term used by St. Teresa of Avila to describe the higher reaches of contemplative prayer.
Derek I think it says that Yoga (union) "begins" with niradha(cessation of the turnings in the mind. Or a quiet mind.) Yoga is the union and a quiet mind is where it all begins. And the word Samadhi just means to be in some degree of union with something with the ultimate union being the Ultimate Being at the highest level of samadhi. And the concept of samadhi actually comes from the Sidha Yoga tradition and yoga traditions that sprang off from it, for the most part. The other yoga traditions not so much. Phil's yoga folks are the Sidha yogis and they are just one Tradition and they approach things differently than the other Traditions.
I have been there and have done it for days at a time for months back in the days when I use to meditate fourteen or more hours a day. And ecstatic union is different than meditating in the lower mind vibration frequencies. And folks that are in ecstatic union glow and are lit. They are beautiful to look at.
And meditating in the lower mind vibration frequency levels without falling into a deep unconscious sleep takes a lot of practice. The alpha level is where you dream and even hanging out there is tricky without falling asleep. Phil you are trying to experience and understand what the Christian mystics and saints are experiencing and the yogi stuff also by talking to the Sidha yogis, by mostly reading about it, and doing some meditating. It can't be done that way. It is a short cut that doesn't true work. And the long way nobody has enough time because life keeps them busy. My life was meditation, I had no other life. For years. And now that I have a life my life is still meditation. There is a short cut that does work. You find a living saint and sit quietly with them and they will just take you there. You won't for the most part be able to write about what you experience though because you will for the most part be in the realms of no words.
People don't have the time Phil and when they do they soon reach the world without words and no longer have anything to say.
I don't know where that came from, but . . . false.
I've read about various yogas, not just the Sidha approach, and, at any rate, don't read much about these issues any more. I'm not at all trying to experience what the yogis have given witness to. At best, my book is laying out a very general roadmap that enables us to account for a wide variety of experiences. There are undoubtedly many kinds in the Self-God zone, as my book notes, and I do wonder if some are better for us than others.
That is what happens when one sits quietly before the Blessed Sacrament, which is Jesus present to us in the consecrated Bread. After awhile, one is drawn into deep, silent communion with Him, and, as you note, there's nothing to say about that except that one is more alive in him because of this experience.
So what is the point of doing that? I'm serious, here. It does seem an "accomplishment" from the perspective of disciplined awareness, but what has this to do with God?
I guess one could make that connection, though we know there are all kinds of ways that the mind can be silenced, and they aren't all about prayer. Mantras can silence the thinking, for example, but I don't think the ensuing consciousness is similar to Teresa's Prayer of Quiet, Ecstatic Union, or Prayer of Union.
My friend who is a Sanskrit scholar told me that the meaning of Patanjali's "yoga is a cessation of the movements of the mind" is debated among scholars. It can mean a complete cessation of any particular act, so a "blackout". Or it can mean that your mind is not moved by whatever goes on in it, which is a fairly frequent state among long-term meditators.
This "non-movement" was also achieved by the Quietists, and might simply be a consequence of an ascetical practice. Christian spirituality has been careful to distinguish contemplation from thought-less-ness, and even affirms kataphatic union with God. Thought per se is not considered an obstacle to union except in spiritualities that are radically apophatic (and these are sometimes condemned -- see links below).
Also, it seems that current definitions of yoga (Webster, etc.) are in reference to disciplines and approaches (i.e., karma yoga, bhakti yoga, etc.). These could be understood as "ways" to union in addition to union itself.
I'm thinking that a couple of Vatican documents on meditation have relevance to this discussion of the Self-God zone or ground.
The condemnation of some of de Mello's writings.
The document on Christian Meditation (Section VI, in particular)
Phil I am not talking about your book. Your book is awesome! As far as I am concerned your book is Spirit inspired and a must read that is absolutely real. And I will go to deep discussion with anybody who says it isn't, and I will win because I have experienced first hand what your book says as a Christian mystic and yogi. And you are right about sitting quietly before the Blessed Sacrament and that is one thing that I have always loved about the Catholic Church. You step into a Catholic Church and you can feel the presence of God the Father, at least I can. To me that is awesome, you do not get that in many protestant Churches. I am not a Catholic, but I sure do love the Church.
"To answer this question, one must first of all consider, even if only in a general way, in what does the intimate nature of Christian prayer consist. Then one can see if and how it might be enriched by meditation methods which have been developed in other religions and cultures. However, in order to achieve this, one needs to start with a certain clear premise. Christian prayer is always determined by the structure of the Christian faith, in which the very truth of God and creature shines forth. For this reason, it is defined, properly speaking, as a personal, intimate and profound dialogue between man and God. It expresses therefore the communion of redeemed creatures with the intimate life of the Persons of the Trinity. This communion, based on Baptism and the Eucharist, source and summit of the life of the Church, implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from "self" to the "You" of God. Thus Christian prayer is at the same time always authentically personal and communitarian. It flees from impersonal techniques or from concentrating on oneself, which can create a kind of rut, imprisoning the person praying in a spiritual privatism which is incapable of a free openness to the transcendental God. Within the Church, in the legitimate search for new methods of meditation it must always be borne in mind that the essential element of authentic Christian prayer is the meeting of two freedoms, the infinite freedom of God with the finite freedom of man."
The above is awesome Phil and explains a lot of things to me! The only reason that I became a yogi was back in my early twenties the Eastern Religion people as yogis where drawing Christians away from the Christianity by promising them things that the Christianity could not deliver. And you can't be a yogi without a Master and Yoganada said in his book that Lord Jesus knew about this yogi stuff so because I had known Him since I was five years old I asked Him to be my Master and He said yes. The first thing that He had me do was to meditate on a candle flame for two to four hours a day to train my mind to focus and hold that focus. I did that for two years until He told that it was time to start the next part. To make a long story short what He taught me over time was the science that all yogi traditions are based on. And we also had a look at some to the yogi traditions to have a look at the why of them. And ultimately the yogis that were promising things to Christians were lying. You can understand how upset I was when after years of study I found out that Hatha Yoga was beginning Raja Yoga and that one of the things that Raja Yoga taught was the raising of the Golden Snake that they called the male kundalini. And that Yoganada's yoga also taught it. Phil I was really upset about it as a Christian . They lied Phil and I do not think that one needs any of their stuff or what they teach to share an intimate relationship with The Father that are in Heaven and His Son.
A knowledge of Yoga Science, which actually isn't taught by the Hindu religious folk or the major traditions, is handy information to have if one wishes to understand the relationship between their mind and their body in an up close and personal way. I am finding that being able to control my autonomic nervous system to the extent that I can to be coming in very handy , at least when it comes to my immune system and my general physical and mental well being.
I take it that long quote is from Phil’s book? By coincidence, I had just read the exact same sentiment in a book by Derek Prince:
“When we come to God in this way — with praise and thanksgiving — our vision becomes focused on God. This is essential for worship, because the great enemy of worship is self-centeredness.”
— Derek Prince, Entering the Presence of God
You just like Prince because his first name is Derek, right?
Good quote by him, and the quote shared by Tucker is from the Vatican document on meditation that I linked to above.
Thanks for your sharing, Tucker, and your continuing affirmation of the book. What's curious is that there's basically no evidence of Jesus teaching anything like the yogic disciplines you describe, nor of them being practiced in the early Church. Your experience is quite unique!
Why do you want to "control" your autonomic nervous system? It seems that would be fraught with all kinds of dangers -- that the safest way is through diet, exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle approaches.
My experience is unique, isn't it . Which is why I have no validity as a Christian or a yogi. Nobody has ever done what I have done. Which is ok because it is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. If I had been a Catholic I would have been a priest and probably ended up a saint because of my closeness to Lord Jesus at such an early age. But I am not so I am not.
"Why do you want to control your autonomic nervous system? It seems to be fraught with all kinds of dangers -- that the safest way is through diet, exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle approaches," Phil, explain to me the "dangers" that you are talking about? And just for the record I did change those lifestyle approaches and I agree that they are very important. Phil you are a professional, why would you say, "It seems that would be fraught with all kinds of dangers," It makes no sense to me. How can consciously stimulating your "heart" energy center and "immune system" and the other energy systems in your body so that your personality programming is not slowly shutting them down and over time they begin to quit working so that the medical and pharmaceutical people have to get involved? "Fraught with dangers"? What dangers are we talking about Phil? I do not promote anything that has to do with the Kundalini and that is a way of stimulating the autonomic nervous system that can be fraught with dangers.
If I had been a Catholic I would have been a priest and probably ended up a saint because of my closeness to Lord Jesus at such an early age. But I am not so I am not.
I understand that's a joke :-) From one perspective, a saint is someone blessed with the beatific vision, so we have to wait until we die :-) From another, a saint is someone like that put as a model by the Church, because of heroic virtues, not closeness to Jesus in an early age. Not being Catholic makes the latter option extremely improbable :-)
Mt you do not know me and you do not now how close to the Holy Spirit and our Lord Jesus that I am or how close I was as a child. What I said was no joke and it was ment for Phil. A saint is a Catholic Christian person that unexplainable miracles happens around them as gifts to others and who gives their life to the Catholic Church. And when they die the Church Fathers study their life and if they have at least three documented miracles they are then made a saint. If my parents had been Catholic I would have become a priest and I would have served Lord Jesus by dedicating my live to the Church. I was a fanatic when it came to Lord Jesus in my younger days because I had met Him personally when I was five and my mother spent most of my childhood debriefing me when it came to the Christian religion or any religion for that matter. If I had been born a Catholic she couldn't have done that. I have had miracles happen around me my whole life. I just ask and things happen.
Yes Mt I do write and I know you because we have visited and I am an empath. You are just a mean person at times and you have no love for the Father or the Son, which is perfectly ok, it is just that you can not truly understand one who does. Love, tucker
"Yes Mt I do write and I know you because we have visited and I am an empath. You are just a mean person at times and you have no love for the Father or the Son, which is perfectly ok, it is just that you can not truly understand one who does."
English is not my first language, so I'm not sure what you can mean by "we have visited". We certainly have never met. And you don't know me, apart from what I share in this forum as I don't know you apart from what you share here. I'm confused and sad because of your comment, I'm not sure where it came from... What I understand is that you feel offended by my post about saints, which was not my intention.
As I'm rereading my post, it does come across as a little mean. It could be taken as mockery. So I'm sorry for that, I didn't want to offend you, Tucker.
I have a few responses that address some of the posts above:
Tucker, you wrote: My experience is unique, isn't it . Which is why I have no validity as a Christian or a yogi. Nobody has ever done what I have done. Which is ok because it is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. If I had been a Catholic I would have been a priest and probably ended up a saint because of my closeness to Lord Jesus at such an early age. But I am not so I am not.
"Validity" as a Christian is not something any human confers. Generally, a Christian is considered a "follower of Christ," and most belong to some kind of Christian community as that is a mode of his presence and the desirable context for ongoing growth and support. I don't think anyone here has questioned your Christian commmitment, and it would be wrong if they did. There's no doubt, however, that your approach to encountering and following Jesus is unique. No one else I've ever heard of claims personal instruction from Jesus regarding yogic disciplines, so that is unique. I neither believe nor disbelieve such claims. They are part of how you've experienced your spiritual journey, and I take that part seriously.
On getting involved with the autonomic nervous system, I stated that I thought that was potentially dangerous, which elicited the reply: It makes no sense to me. How can consciously stimulating your "heart" energy center and "immune system" and the other energy systems in your body so that your personality programming is not slowly shutting them down and over time they begin to quit working so that the medical and pharmaceutical people have to get involved?
We probably have a different understanding of what is meant by "autonomic nervous system." I wouldn't include the examples given as part of that. Working with the chakras to deal with personality programming is more psycho-spiritual work, imo; strengthening the immune system is something we do in a variety of ways. Given my biology background, I understand the ANS as described on this web page.
Re. the question of who is a saint (and all jokes aside ), the term can either mean a person canonized by the Church for heroic qualities, or it can also simply mean a Christian. That's the usage we find in the New Testament.
- See https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/saints/
Re. making judgments about people on the basis of empathic knowledge -- I'm against that happening on this forum. If we have hurt feelings to share, we do so directly, without judging others' hearts or character. Misunderstandings are bound to happen when our communication is limited to the written word, so we need to cut each other a bit of slack and ask more questions if we're not sure what they intended.
Now, back to my book?
Ok I apologize to everybody, I was out of line. Sorry and I will see that it does not happen again. And I will tone down being open about stuff and it will be back to my kundalini corner forum if I have anything to say.
Not sure what you mean about toning down on stuff, Tucker, but there's no need to do so if it can help to shed light on the discussion.
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