Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness by Robert K. C. Forman


5159b23512eddbf-261x361.jpg Author Robert K. C. Forman
Isbn 9780791441695
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Year 1999
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Mysticism Mind Consciousness Robert K. C. Forman STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK PRESS Materials found in chapters 1, 3, and 4 are from "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," in Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis by Steven Katz. Copyright © 1978 by Steven Katz. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc. Material found in chapter 4 are from "Mysticism, Mediation and the Non-Linguistic" by Larry Short in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 113, No. 4 (Winter 1995), pp. 659-676. Reprinted by permission of Journal of the American Academy of Religion. Material found in chapter 5 are from Philosophy of Mind in Sixth Century China: Paramartha's Esolution. of Consciousness. Copyright © 1984 by Stanford University Press. Reprinted by permission. Production by Ruth Fisher Marketing by Fran Keneston Published by State University of New York Press, Albany © 1999 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For information, address State University of New York Press, 194 Washington Avenue, Suite 305, Albany, NY 12210-2384 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Forman, Robert K C. Mysticism, mind, consciousness / Robert K. C. Forman. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7914-4169-5 (alk. paper). — ISBN 0-7914-4170-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Mysticism. I. Title. BL625.F64 1999 291.4'22--dc21 98-47983 CIP 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OF WELLINGTON For Rosha Nicole Kraus Forman and Avram Michael Kraus Forman Contents Preface • ix 1. Mystics and Constructivists • 1 Part I: The Pure Consciousness Event 2. Reports of Pure Consciousness Events • 11 3. Of Horses and Horse Carts • 31 4. Non-Linguistic Mediation • 55 5. Buddhists and Constructivism • 81 Part A New Model for Pure Consciousness 6. Of Horse Carts and Space Capsules Constructive Language and Spiritual Techniques • 95 7. Knowledge by Identity 109 Part III: The Dualistic Mystical State 8. Silence, Thinking, and Cutting Carrots Characterizing an Advanced Mystical State • 131 9. The Janus-Faced Soul An Epistemology of the Dualistic Mystical State • 153 10. Concluding Remarks • 169 Notes • 173 Bibliography • 201 Index • 211 vii p reface This book is the product of a lifetime. I have been thinking about the issues discussed herein since my early twenties, when I took up the practice of meditation and began having some of the experiences we students of mysticism like to investigate. I have been puzzling over the philosophical problems that such experiences bring up since my very first semester of graduate school at Columbia University's Department of Religion, where I first was confronted with them in a class conducted by my esteemed professor and challenge-mentor, Wayne Proudfoot. I have been exploring them through my years of thinking about Hinduism, mystical Christianity, Buddhism, and the riot of spiritual programs alive in the modern West. Thus what you have in your hands is the product of an adult life of thinking, writing, pondering, and wondering about the nature of conscious experience and especially mystical experience; and that life's halting attempts at making sense of them. Those of you that know my work will find here some that is familiar and some that is entirely new. Some of these paragraphs have been published before, many have not. This book is more than a collection of my essays, for it makes its own points more coherently than that might imply. Think of it as a collection of the last two decades of my thoughts on a particular subject. I like to think that the arguments herein are fleshed out to their fullest and strengthened by force of proximity. But to the reader who is already familiar with my work, portions of chapters 1, 3, and 6 are amplifications of work published in The Problem of Pure Consciousness, and portions of chapter 7 were previously published in The Journal of the American Academy of Religion. The present work is more than a mere recapitulation of those essays however. It both fleshes out the thoughts of those essays and adds to them in significant ways. It is my hope that this book will serve to finally close the door on the possibility that one can assume without further justification ix Preface that mysticism is constructed, and will open the door to much broader and more far-reaching debates on both the deeper character of mysticism, and on what mysticism has to show us about the nature of human consciousness and life. There are countless people to whom I would like to express my thanks. In the two decade development of this work, I have learned from my graduate school professors, especially Wayne Proudfoot, Ewert Cousins, Joel Brereton, Peter Awn, Norvin Hein, and Robert Somerville. Because they set the issues and clearly articulated the conundrums I've pondered, I owe an enormous amount to my professional colleagues and sparring partners, Steven Katz, Jerry Gill, and Robert Gimello. Much of my insight has been gleaned from my co-authors in earlier volumes and colleagues in various venues, notably Anthony Perovich, R. L. Franklin, Paul Griffiths, Donald Rothberg, Scott Lowe, Jeff Kripal, Sally Katz, and G. William Barnard. Finally, or perhaps firstly, I learned more at the feet of three teachers than from anyone else: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ram Dass, and Meister Eckhart. To all these people I cannot express my gratitude deeply enough, for together they have given my life meaning, direction, and value. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my students at Vassar and Hunter Colleges. They have taught me where my thoughts are muddy, clear, or occasionally inspiring. They have helped show me the real value of this query. My mysticism students especially have been sources of a great deal, and a great deal of joy. Finally my thanks are unending to my beloved and everpatient wife, Yvonne, whose tireless support, sane council, and thoughtful feedback have made both me and this book unquestionably stronger. She also kept me from selling Earth Shoes. Finally, I thank my wonderful children Rosha and Avi, for the love we share, and for putting up with their often preoccupied dad. C hapter One M y stics and Construchvisis i ntroduction hat, or who (or perhaps Who), causes mysticism? What does it signify? From whence does it come? Is it an authentic experience of something real, or a revered selfdelusion? Some of each perhaps? Are mystics the fools of God, or merely fools? Over the last quarter of a century, scholars—who are rarely mystics—have come to generally agree that it's not a Who but a what that plays the key formative role in mystical experiences. The "what" is the mystic's background: his or her beliefs, expectations, hopes, wishes, needs, questions, etc. In academic shorthand these are commonly referred to as the mystic's conceptual "framework" or background "set." This approach to religious experience, along with a range of relatively minor variations and shadings with which it is taught, is called "constructivism." Constructivism is the view that in significant ways the mystic's conceptual and linguistic scheme determines, shapes, and/or constructs his or her mystical experiences. Constructivism has come to dominate an astonishing array of recent books and articles about not only mysticism, but about religious experience, spirituality, and indeed much of religion as well. It is the engine that drives most historical, theological, and contextual studies of religious individuals: scholars of particular religious people commonly trace how that person's experiences were influenced by his or her tradition or background. But this is to maintain—however unconsciously—that that individual's religious tradition shaped and/ or constructed his or her religious' experiences. In the literature concerning Meister Eckhart's mysticism, for example, with which I am somewhat familiar, scholars have shown W 1 2 cop Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness how Eckhart's thought and experiences were influenced by NeoPlatonism,' Augustine,' Thomism, 3 etc., etc. Hidden in all these accounts is the claim that the mystical experiences to which Eckhart avers must themselves have been influenced by his background. Typically, such articles do not argue for the purported connection between background set and mystical experience. They don't have to argue for it: given the general scholarly agreement on this approach, they can assume it. Those that are alert enough to recognize that they need to justify this connection, do so by merely referring the reader to the recent theoretical literature (purportedly) establishing this link. Among Eckhart scholars, for example, both Bernard McGinn and Kenneth Clark refer to Steven Katz's well-known article for an articulation of this connection! Hence, to understand the linkage between background and mystical experience the reader must turn to the philosophical literature that defends this claim, the so-called "constructivist" claim William Wainwright, 5 Ninian Smart, 6 John Hick,' Terence Penehelum,8 Jerry Gill," Wayne Proudfoot,w Peter Moore," and others have all offered excellent defenses of constructivism. Steven Katz, with his two articles, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism" and "The 'Conservative' Character of Mystical Experience," is perhaps the most outspoken and renowned defender of the constructivist claim.'" So frequently glossed are these articles, especially those of Katz, that this view became virtually the received view in the 1970s and '80s on mysticism.'" Because it has been so central to the recent discussions, I will focus much of my thought and attention on this viewpoint. I will explore constructivism by both addressing the key articulating articles of this position, especially those of Katz, as well as the theories of the construction of experience in general. For mystical constructivist philosophers are writing squarely from within the great constructivist traditions of British and American analytical philosophy. Proudfoot, Katz, and Gill are the grandsons of philosophers like G. E. Moore, Gilbert Ryle, and Ludwig Wittgenstein; and the great-grandsons of Immanuel Kant. In his Critique of Pure -Reason, Kant maintained that we cannot experience reality in itself (which he called the "noumenon") directly. Rather, we can only encounter the world through a limited number of categories—space and time, the concept of unity, etc. We humans supply these categories, he said. We can see only in their terms. These concepts MyStics and Constructivists 3 and categories "mediate" any possible experience. If some experience came to us in other terms, we simply could not entertain it— we would have no category for it. Wittgenstein, in his suggestive and evocative way, dispensed with the notion that our concepts mediate, for any human being, some unidentifiable noumenon "out there." Rather, his dominant model is that we "construct" our world in and through our language, concepts, beliefs, and actions. The world does not come "at" us, he said, with our concepts passively filtering certain things out. Rather, we more actively "construct" our experience. The world is as we build it. And having built it, we live in what we have ourselves built. In living and understanding it in certain ways—which we learn from language, culture, behavior patterns, etc.—we construct our sense of the real. This insight, that we construct our own reality, has had enormous impact on modern Western humanities and social sciences. I cannot begin to demonstrate the full ramifications of this constructivist model, but here are a few of its more obvious ones: the sociology of knowledge and anthropology have both detailed how a culture's world view structures and controls perception and beliefs. 14 Psychologists since Freud (and perhaps before) have argued that childhood concepts and experiences control, shape, and determine adult emotions and perceptions 16 Historians of culture and of ideas, and, of course, of religion all write explicitly out of this model. Even fields like Modern Ards and Art Criticisms' may be viewed as grappling with the notion that we see only what we are conditioned to see. Writers work with it: Iris Murdoch, for example, said, "man is a creature who makes pictures of himself and then comes to resemble the picture." 18 Thus, when we explore the thesis that all experiences (including mystical ones) are constructed, we are in effect exploring a room whose corners are inhabited by the full panoply of humanists and social scientists. Because this model is shared by so many, a challenge to such a widely accepted way of looking at things is likely to be either ignored, scoffed at, or seen as a threat.' 9 Be that as it may, challenge it I will. For I am, in effect, asking in this book, is there a limit to the constructivist model of human experience? Are there 1 anyexprics,tofenrphmatun being may consciously undergo, which may plausibly be said to be not determined or constructed by the subject's set? Can anyone, Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness i.e., a mystic or anyone else, escape the self-constructed world, even for a moment? If the answers to my questions are affirmative, as I believe they are, then we will be faced with another question: if the mystic does not construct her own experience, then what does cause and/ or shape the experience(s)? This means we must offer our own theory of mysticism, one that is more adequate to the task. And, given the deep acceptance of the constructivist thesis in general, our answer may turn out to have ramifications that reach far beyond the narrow confines of mysticism studies. A Mystics and Constructivists encephalogram (EEG) patterns differ sharply. Given such different signatures, these two scales are unlikely to have identical psychological characteristics, mental features, and, most interesting, causes. One should not explain feelings of love as if they were just like the feelings we have in a foot race, at least not without further rationale.21 We must be careful, for models developed to explain phenomena on the ergotrophic scale may very well not explain trophotropic phenomena. I propose reserving the term mysticism for trophotropic states. I will call ergotrophic phenomena such as hallucinations, visions, auditions, etc. "visionary experiences." Thus, the following vision record of the thirteenth-century Christian, Mechthild of Hackeborn, however fascinating, is ergotrophic: Definition of Mysticism Before analyzing the constructivist model in detail, I want to define mysticism as I will use the term. The word mysticism, like religion, truth, and modernity, is pivotal but murky. It can denote the unintelligible statements of an illogical speaker, a schizophrenic's vision, someone's hallucinations, a drug-induced vision, the spiritual "showings" of a Julian of Norwich or a Mechthilde of Magdeburg, the unspoken, silent experience of God that Meister Eckhart called the 'Divine Desert," or the Buddhist Nagarjuna's empty shunyata. Clearly, before we can progress we must be more precise about our field of inquiry. Roland Fischer has put forward a "cartography" of states of conscious arousal which includes all of these so called "mystical" states. 2° Hallucinations, acute schizophrenic states, and the visions and auditions of a Julian of Norwich fall on the ergotropic side of the chart. These are states of hyperarousal: cognitive and physiological activity are at relatively high levels. On the trophotrophic side are hypoaroused states, marked by low levels of cognitive and physiological activity: here we find Hindu samadhi, mushinjo in zazen, the restful states associated with The Cloud of Unknowing's "cloud of forgetting," or Eckhart's gezucket. Levels of metabolic excitation, emotional arousal, mental activity, etc. indicated on the trophotropic and ergotrophic scale move in opposite directions. Physiological parameters such as heart rate, skin temperature, spontaneous galvanic skin responses, etc. increase on one side of the chart, and decrease on the other. Electro- The King of glory once appeared in indescribable splendor in the fullness of his joy, wearing a golden robe embroidered with doves and covered by a red mantle. This garment was open on two sides to indicate that the soul has free access to God.22 The Beguines, St. Teresa when she speaks of her visions and auditions, Mohammed, Isaiah, Nichiren, etc. are all known for being visionaries. I will reserve the term mysticism only for those people who write about experiences on the trophotropic side of our chart. Such authors as Eckhart, Dogen, al-Hallaj, Bernadette Roberts, and Shankara are all, in my usage, "mystics" rightly so called. A passage like the following, from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, then is "mystical" as I will use the term: But with desire-and-loathing-severed Senses acting on the objects of sense, with (senses) self-controlled, he, governing his self, Goes unto tranquillity. In tranquillity, of all griefs Riddance is engendered for him; For of the tranquil minded quickly The mentality becomes stable. 23 I can thus concur with Ninian Smart's definition of mysticism: "Mysticism describes a set of experiences or more precisely, conscious Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness events, which are not described in terms of sensory experience or mental images."24 In so restricting the term mysticism to experiences not described with sensory language, I believe I am in accord with the original meaning of "mystical," i.e., "to close," and to the overtones of the term as it was brought into the Christian lexicon by Pseudo-Dionysius, that is, separate from the sensory ("rapt out of himself'). 26 Let us focus the searchlight of our inquiries even narrower. W.T. Stace distinguishes between "introvertive mysticism" and "extrovertive mysticism." 26 In extrovertive mysticism one perceives a new relationship—one of unity, blessedness, and reality—between the external world and oneself. This Stace distinguishes from introvertive mysticism, the nonspatial experience of a void awareness or "pure consciousness." Although he does provide seven characteristics of each type, he overlooks what seems to me to be the central fact that distinguishes them. It can be seen most readily in a distinction made by twentieth-century Hindu mystic Ramana Maharshi between samadhi and sahaja samadhi.27 Samtidhi is a contemplative state, and is thus "introvertive" in Stace's sense of the term. Sahaja samadhi is a state in which a silent level within the subject is maintained along with (simultaneously with) the full use of the human faculties. It is, in other words, a state that is continuous—either permanent or lasting a long time—through activity. The distinction between a state maintained only during meditation and one maintained along with activity seems to be key here. Because it involves several aspects of life—that is, external activity and some sort of internal and quiet aspect—and the relationship(s) between them, sahaja samadhi seems inherently more complex than samadhi. And it seems to be a more advanced state in the sense of coming later in the developmental process. 28 Itsemohaucisndertgha bcuse people have looked at the more advanced, sophisticated, and perhaps more interesting form of experience—sahaja samadhi, extrovertive—prematurely, that is, without first understanding the simpler more rudimentary form(s) of mystical experience. In this book I will first look at this more rudimentary stage, and then, with our understanding of it firmly in hand, turn to a more advanced form. That is, I propose to begin at the beginning. In so doing I want to emphasize one point: while I will start by looking at the pure consciousness event (PCE)—one quite interest- Mystics and Constructivists 7 ing and relatively common form of introvertive mysticism 29—I do not claim that this form of mysticism is the only important mystical phenomena. There are many other interesting mystical phenomena, sahaja samadhi being one, and we will turn to that one toward the end of this inquiry. I will first focus on the pure consciousness event because: 1. it is relatively common; 2. it is rudimentary and hence may indicate key features of more advanced mystical phenomena; 3. most important, it seems an excellent philosophical case study of one of the peculiarities of mysticism, one that stands as a prima facie counterexample to the constructivist model. I want to emphasize that I do not claim, and I do not believe, that it is everywhere believed to be ultimate or salvific. Indeed, I do not regard it as salvific in and of itself, although it may play an important role in the more advanced forms of the mystical life." Structure of le Book In sum, my question is, how shall we best account for mysticism? By mysticism I mean "trophotrophic" mystical experiences. I will look at two common types of them, a transient experience called the pure consciousness event (PCE), and a permanent or semipermanent experience called the dualistic mystical state, (DMS). What is the best way to understand these experiences? The book is divided into three parts. In Part II will look primarily at the pure consciousness event, and ask whether constructivism adequately accounts for it. Here I will, of course, detail several reports of this sort of experience (chapter 2) and then explore constructivism and its philosophical underpinnings (chapters 3 and 4). The question here is, does constructivism adequately account for these events? I will argue that is does not. In chapter 5, I will show how a well-respected ninth-century Eastern thinker, Paramartha, tends to support my thesis that constructivism does not adequately account for these pure consciousness events. Paramartha offers an account of ordinary experience 8 Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness that is in profound accord with the current constructivist model, but goes on to say that it is not applicable to mysticism. The hypothesis of Part I then is that constructivism is ill suited to explain these "introvertive" mystical experiences. But that leaves us with the problem of offering a more adequate account. This I will offer in Part II. Because constructivism so focuses on language, in chapter 6 I will explore in some detail the role of language in bringing on the pure consciousness events. In chapter 7 I will turn to the place of consciousness in them. But this touches only on the pure consciousness event. In Part III I will turn to the dualistic mystical state. First, in chapter 8 I will present some data about its existence and precise phenomenological character. In chapter 9 I will explore this interesting experience by drawing a parallel between Sartre, Hui Neng, and the observations of several mystical thinkers. With that in hand I will offer what seems to me a more sensible account of human consciousness, which both makes sense of the insights of the mystics and also has a lot to say about the nature of ordinary human consciousness. And this may serve to call into question some of the academic orthodoxy about the constructed nature of all human awareness and experience. part The Pure Consciousness Event Chapter Two Peports of Pure Consciousness Events efore beginning our philosophical investigations, I want to put several reports of mystical phenomena on the table, so we know just what it is we are discussing. In Part III of this book we will look at a permanent experience, the DMS, the Dualistic Mystical State, which is something that lasts continuously. In this first part, we will look at something more short lived and hence, as William James' put it, transient: the Pure Consciousness Event (PCE). B An Upanishadic Description Let us begin by looking at several classical descriptions of pure consciousness events. The first is taken from a fairly late Upanishad, the Maitri 6:18-19. To the unity of the One goes he who knows this. (18) The precept for effecting this [unity] is this: restraint of the breath (prandyEnna), withdrawal of the senses (pratyahgtra), meditation (dhyana), concentration (dharan5), contemplation (tarka), and absorption (samAdhi). Such is said to be the sixfold Yoga. . . . (19) Now it has elsewhere been said, "Verily when a knower has restrained his mind from the external, and the breathing spirit (prana) has put to rest objects of sense, thereupon let him continue void of conceptions. Since the living individual (jiva) who is named "breathing spirit" has arisen here from what is not breathing spirit, therefore, verily, let the breathing spirit restrain his breathing spirit in what is called the fourth condition (turya). For thus it has been said: 11 12 The Pure Consciousness Event That which is non-thought, [yet] which stands in the midst of thought, The unthinkable, supreme mystery!— Thereon let one concentrate his attention And the subtle body (linga), too, without support.' This is a passage that touches upon many of the themes commonly seen in mysticism. It is obviously concerned with some experience. It mentions meditation, something ineffable ("the unthinkable, supreme mystery"), an experience of unity ("the unity of the One"), etc. Our passage first tells us what it takes to bring on the experience its author has in mind. Clearly, it takes place while sitting quietly in something like meditation, dhydna. One undergoes pratyahara, withdrawal of the attention from the senses. One focuses one's attention, dharanet, until one gains full absorption. Another way of saying the same thing is that one has "put to rest objects of sense" (6:19). One is thus not seeing anything, noticing some tactile sensations, hearing sounds, etc. One is also not thinking during this event: one "continues void of conceptions." Not thinking, restraining the mind from the external and sensory, one is left fully focused but devoid of any sensory or imagined object for the mind Thus one becomes fully "absorbed," gaining the state known as turya. Turya means "fourth," and in the Upanishads denotes the state gained in meditation that later came to be more commonly known as samadhi. By "fourth" is meant the fourth "condition." The first three mentioned in the Upanishads are the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep "conditions," (what we might call "states of consciousness"). It is sometimes also called caturtha, which is the ordinal numeral adjectival form of four, but it is more commonly named turya. Later philosophical treatises more typically use the form turiya, which came to be the accepted technical term. Turiya, then, is the fourth state of consciousness, after waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Unlike any of them, it involves neither sensing nor thinking. Indeed, it signifies being entirely "void of conceptions," by which I understand that there one one does not encounter images, imagined sounds, verbalized thoughts, emotions, etc. In short, in turiya one encounters no content for consciousness. Now, one might think that one has some sort of mental object herein, for it says, "To the unity of the One goes he who knows Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 13 this." Is one aware of some One, as one might be aware of a vision of God or of the number one? This, I believe, would be a mistake. "To the unity of the One" needn't necessarily mean one becomes consciously aware of some thing. Rather, I believe that our passage is saying something analytically (that one moves into a state of unity with the One), not descriptively (that one thinks or feels some One). If one was thinking or feeling some one thing, then we would not read that one has "put to rest objects of sense" or remains "void of conceptions." Rather, it would say one experiences the one, or thinks the one, or some such. But here one is said to move to that which is "non-thought, yet which is in the midst of thought." Thus, one is not perceiving or thinking about some thing, even a one, but rather is coming to be that one thing which one inherently is, if you will, without any additional mental content. In other words, as I understand this passage, it is suggesting that one moves to a condition of being entirely without any sensory or mental content, or without any intentional content for the awareness. One simply persists "without support." Eckhart on Gezucken Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–c. 1328) was a Dominican friar, prior, abbot, lecturer, and preacher. 2 Although in his earlier university days he wrote several Latin works in scholastic style—the Parisian Disputations and Prologue to his Opus Tripartitum 3—he is most renowned for his later German Sermons and Tractates. While it is not his focus, in them he not infrequently alludes to an experience he calls "gezucken," or rapture. One of the clearest characterizations of gezucken is found in the sermon Dum Medium Silentium, a sermon on which we will focus.4 Eckhart there introduces the medieval notion of the powers of the soul. Whatever the soul effects, she effects with her powers. What she understands, she understands with the intellect. What she remembers, she does with the memory; if she would love, she does that with the will, and thus she works with her powers and not with her essence. Every external act is linked with some means. The power of sight works only through the 14 The Pure Consciousness Event eyes; otherwise it can neither employ nor bestow vision, and so it is with all the other senses. The soul's every external act is effected by some means. 5 In addition to the five senses there are six powers: three lower (lower intellect, desire, and anger) and three higher (memory, higher intellect, and will). It is by their activity that the soul enters into and interacts with the external world.° We look at objects with our eyes, hear sounds with our ears, etc.' The activity of the six higher powers generates thought and desire, that is, willing and cognitive or mental activity. Eckhart is here using fairly standard scholastic psychology. Having introduced the powers and alluding thereby to the normal phenomenon of the mind's attending to some thought or sensory object, Eckhart goes on to describe the gezucken of St. Paul, his archetype of someone having the mystical experience he wishes to describe. [The more completely you are able to draw in your powers to a unity and forget all those things and their images which you have absorbed, and the further you can get from creatures and their images, the nearer you are to this and the readier to receive it. If only you could suddenly be unaware of all things, then you could pass into an oblivion of your own body as St Paul did, . . . In this case . . . memory no longer functioned, nor understanding, nor the senses, nor the powers that should function so as to govern and grace the body... . In this way a man should flee his senses, turn his powers inward and sink into an oblivion of all things and himself. 5 As we saw in the Upanishadic passage, Eckhart specifically asserts the absence of sensory content ("nor the senses") in this experience, as well as mental objects ("devoid of memory, understanding, senses, etc.). One has become oblivious of one's "own body" and "all things." One even loses the awareness of oneself. In short, in this phenomenon of gezucken one is "unaware of all things," i.e., devoid of all mental and sensory content. In another passage Eckhart specifically notes that the contemplative "withdrawal" from cognitive activity includes both "internal" and "external" powers. "If a person wanted to withdraw into himself with all his powers internal and external . . ." The "external" powers are the senses, the lower intellect (common sense), Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 15 anger, and desire—the powers by which we notice and respond in rudimentary ways to the external world. The "internal" powers are intellect, will, and desire, the "higher" powers with which we generate thought and desire. Hence, withdrawal of both implies that neither the powers of thought nor of sensation "flow out" into their usual activities. In other words, both the sensing and the thinking aspects of the mind are inactive. Responding to his conditional, Eckhart continues, " . then he will find himself in a state in which there are no images and no desires in him and he will therefore stand without any activity, internal or external." 9 With both internal and external powers withdrawn, one experiences neither thought, affective feeling, sensation, nor vision. In gezucken, then, one is aware of, according to Eckhart, neither thought, word, speech, or even vague daydreams. Even oblivious of "himself;" such a man becomes completely silent and at rest, without cognitive content: he is contentless yet open and alert. Restated, according to this passage in gezucken the subject is merely awake, simply present, but devoid of a manifold for awareness, either sensory or mental. Once again, we have a description of a state in which there are no thoughts, no sensations, no cognitive content: a nonintentional, yet wakeful moment. Being without Thoughts in Zen Buddhism Zen, as is well known, teaches a disciplined technique of sitting in a prescribed, erect fashion and concentrating the mind on an object assigned by the Roshi. While koans are in the West the most famous of these meditative tools, these are used principally by the Rinzai tradition. Soto Zen, the other main school, frequently teaches its novices to focus the attention on the breath. The aim of such a technique has nothing to do with some knowledge of respiratory physiology. Rather, it is designed, in part, to help one temporarily cease having any objects for consciousness. This process and its meditative experiences are described in one of the earliest and most renowned Soto texts, the Fukan Zazengi, by Dogen, the abbot who is traditionally credited with bringing Soto Zen from China to Japan. It was written in 1277, soon after its twenty-eight-year-old author had returned from China. Needing a brief work in which his teachings about zazen were codified and The Pure Consciousness Event stated simply, he set down this relatively short work. He must have considered it important since toward the end of his life he undertook to reedit it.° It introduced Zen so clearly and successfully that it has become quasi-canonical: "the Soto sect's single most cherished writing, being recited at the regular night sitting in Soto Zen temples and at other appropriate occasions."" When the Fukan Zazen-gi was written, Rinzai, which emphasized koan use, was the dominant Zen school. By laying such a stress on the differences between those who had "answered" the koan and those who had not, Dogen believed that this school's teachings could lead to "word attachment"—i.e., differentiating between enlightenment and the ordinary samsaric world.° Dogen taught a more straightforward 'just sitting" (shikan taza) or "wall gazing" technique which was intended to help eliminate the disjunction between samsara (the world) and Nirvana (enlightenment). Dogen did not consider dhytina (meditation) to be a means to Nirvana, but rather considered it to be fundamentally one with Nirvana. According to Dogen, the problem that prevents one from realizing this is the tendency to discriminate, especially between what one thinks is "good" and "bad." One must simply stop discriminating. "Do not judge things as good or evil, and cease such distinctions as 'is' and 'is not.' Halt the flow of the mind, and cease conceptualizing, thinking, and observing."" Dogen advocated being rid of all "dualistic (relational) thinking."" "Zazen is a practice beyond the subjective and objective worlds, beyond discriminating thinking."'5 Rather than discriminating and thinking, according to the Fukan, Zazen-gi, in Zazen one should simply allow all thoughts to subside. After having given instructions about posture, breathing, etc., Dogen states, "When your body posture is correct, breathe in and out [once deeply]. Sway left and right [several times] and then sit firmly and resolutely. Think about the unthinkable. How do you think about the unthinkable? Do not think. These are the essentials of Zazen." 16 In a gloss to this important but aphoristic passage, Waddell and Masao state, These words derive from the following dialogue, which is the central subject of [Dogen's] Shobogenzo Zazenshin: A monk asked Yueh-shan, 'What does one think of when sitting immobilely in zazen?" Yueh-sban replied, "One thinks of not thinking." Reports of Pure Consciousness Events cis 17 "How do you think of not-thinking" asked the monk. "Non-thinking," answered Yueh-shan. 17 The key element in both these passages is that the Zen practitioner is to gain a state in which no thinking occurs. At that time the mind is simply present; one "just sits," if you will, without any mental cogitations or perceptions. Being simply present is a sign that one is no longer making any discriminations, not attentive to any of the "ten thousand things." As things one does not think in Zazen, Dogen expressly includes all thoughts of Nirvana, becoming a Buddha, and any of the other Buddhist notions. "Give up even the idea of becoming a Buddha. This holds true not only for zazen but for all your daily actions." 1° This emphasis will become important in the next section. In this claim, Dogen is neither idiosyncratic nor even atypical. Such experiences are described and thought to be significant in both earlier scriptures and later Zen writings. 19 Indeed, according to Conze, reports of non-thinking can be found in the full range of Indian Buddhist Scriptures. 20 An Autokographical Account Modern academic studies of mysticism have focused virtually exclusively on textual reports and analysis of traditions of them. Some have even gone so far as to argue that texts are our only source of data about mysticism. [T]he only evidence we have ... is the account given by mystics of their experience. These are the data for study and analysis. No scholar can get behind the autobiographical fragment to the putative "pure experience"—whatever one holds that to be. Whatever the truth of the nature of the commingling of theory, experience and interpretation that goes into the mystics' "report," the only evidence one has to call upon to support one's analysis of this material, and hence one's description of this relationship [between set and experience], is the given recording of the mystic—the already "experienced" and "interpreted" first person recording. 2' (Emphasis mine) 18 The Pure Consciousness Event Professor Katz is here arguing that the only evidence we have about mystical experiences are post hoc reports and descriptions. Inevitably, interpretation is involved in such reports. Katz amplified this thought at a recent conference, where he added that there are only a limited number of subjects, the "great mystics," whom he regards as the legitimate subjects of inquiry." While I would not like to lay too much stress on what may have been an ill-advised comment, I do believe it fairly represented both his personal attitude (as shown in his articles) and those of his colleagues. For texts by "classical mystics" are certainly the primary if not the exclusive focus of both of Katz's edited volumes as well as most scholarly literature on mysticism. But whether this is intentional or not, this approach does mean that the constructivists' study of mysticism is a study of highly interpreted, generally famous texts, whose authors (the great mystics) have typically long since died. Whether intended or not, this selection process may be skewing our understanding of mysticism. First, while the so-called great mystics—the St. Teresas, Meister Eckharts, Nagarjunas, and Dogens—may be among the most articulate and therefore most historically significant mystics, they are certainly not the only mystics. For every highly revered St. Teresa, there have been many many colleagues and disciples, some of whom have no doubt had some mystical experiences. Even the constructivists will agree that there have likely been non-renowned people who have had extraordinary mystical experiences. A mystical experience does not guarantee fame. Nor does a mystic's fame guarantee that his or her experiences have been either unusual even particularly interesting. A mystic's fame derives from the quality of their writings, and perhaps the influence of their followers. Writings and followers make a "great" mystics great, not the depth or idiosyncrasy of their experience. An unnoticed side effect of this particular focus is that our information about and understanding of mysticism may be skewed toward the writing, educated elite. Great writers may not be the greatest mystics. Secondly, texts are, by their nature, complex. A religious text is written within a particular intellectual, historical, and faith context. A mystical author writes to a particular audience, and is, in part, generally trying to persuade that audience of the truth of a particular position or to explain something. If mystical authors Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 19 describe their experiences, they may do so in the service of their rhetorical goal(s). Thus, their primary agenda may or may not be— indeed, rarely is—to describe their experiences accurately or clearly. In the service of an author's agenda, descriptions may be nuanced, shaped, or even misleading. Furthermore, even as descriptions texts are often unclear. Their authors may not have a talent for description, they may have been edited or transcribed by another (as were St. Teresa and Meister Eckhart), etc. Thus, as sources for philosophical analyses, classical texts may be themselves flawed." Since their authors have long since passed away, it is impossible to verify the accuracy of the descriptions we have. Mystical texts may make interesting reading, but unreliable phenomenology. Third, modern scholars who claim that texts are influenced by their faith context may be unconsciously or perhaps consciously limiting their sources to textual ones as a way to protect their thesis. Complex texts certainly are, at least in part, shaped by their context. If we recognize no other descriptive sources than these, then it is easy to argue that these descriptions are clearly shaped by their context, and thus that the experiences also must have been so shaped. 24 But analyzing such complex, apologetic texts is not the only available methodology to identify the phenomena of mysticism. For today, in both America and Europe, we are not limited to such texts. There are thousands upon thousands of people practicing meditation of one variety or another, and again thousands have had mystical experiences. 25 Since many of these people are alive, it is possible to ask them questions about their experiences per se, and to pursue something when it is unclear, as many textual descriptions are. In a personal interview, one can ask certain obvious questions that would confirm or deny the constructivists' thesis: "Did you take this 'as' Brahman while it was going on, or was that a later naming?" Another is, "Did you know about thus and such before you underwent this?" Negative answers to either question would prima facie call the constructivist hypothesis into question. Interviews with people who changed traditions might also be instructive: "Have you changed how you think about this experience?" "Do two different words adequately describe that phenomenon?" If someone said that they did not know of, e.g., Brahman before undergoing samadhi, or if someone only regarded it "as" 20 The Pure Consciousness Event Brahman after some experience, this too would call the constructivist hypothesis into question. Finally, I also believe that it is appropriate to include autobiographical descriptions. While the normal academic posture is to remain aloof from one's own personal experience, I feel that in a discussion about mysticism, this may be counterproductive. In my case, I know that the way I read first person accounts, theoretical accounts, and philosophical analyses of mysticism is colored in ways great and small by my own experience. Thus, to help clarify the source of some of my thinking, I believe it is incumbent upon me to include an autobiographical account, and I will begin with that. I have been practicing a Neo-Advaitan form of meditation twice daily since November 1969. The technique involves the use of a bija mantra, a short verbal sound, which is not said aloud but repeated mentally with minimal effort. Often when I meditate, the mantra seems to drift away from my attention, and I find myself lost in thoughts and dream-like imagery. Sometimes when the mantra fades away, my thoughts and perceptions also quiet down. Things seem to get very settled and vague, as if even my own thoughts and perceptions are vague and dim. Occasionally my thoughts drift away entirely, and I gain a state I would describe as simply being awake. At those times I'm not thinking about anything. I'm not particularly aware of any sensations. I'm not aware of being absorbed in anything in particular. Yet I know (after the fact) that I haven't been asleep. I am simply awake, simply present. It is odd to describe such an event as being awake or being present, for those terms generally connote an awareness of something or other. Yet in this experience there is no particular or identifiable object of which I am aware. I am driven to say I am awake for two reasons. First, I emerge with a quiet, intuited certainty that I was continually present, that there was an unbroken continuity of experience or of consciousness throughout the meditation period, even if there were periods from which I had no particular memories. I just know that I was awake without a break, that there was a continuity of myself (however we define that) throughout. The second reason I am driven to say I am awake therein is that there is a difference in how I feel after a meditation in which this occurs and after a meditation in which I fall asleep. After a sleep in meditation I wake up groggy, and it takes a good while for my mind Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 21 to clear to full alertness. On the other hand, after one of these experiences I am clearheaded, and indeed my perceptions have more clarity and vibrancy than usual. I also feel especially calm. I tend to undergo this phenomenon more often when I have been getting enough sleep. Other than that, I have not been able to correlate this phenomenon with any other process: for example, it does not happen more often when I have eaten certain foods, wear certain clothes, or sit in a particular chair (though, since I have a bad back, being very uncomfortable tends to preoccupy me with pain, and thus discourage letting go of sensations). I may undergo this PCE as often as several times a meditation or only once every few months. As the years have progressed it is my impression that it has happened with increasing frequency, though I have never kept careful count. A Zen Abbots Account I interviewed John Daido Sensei Loori, the abbot at Zen Mountain. Monastery in Mt. Tremper, N.Y. 26 A charming, lanky, fiftyish man, he was a scientist, an engineer, and a nature photographer before he became a Zen Roshi. Daido Sensei Loori trucks no pretense: he met me in jeans and a blue denim shirt with huge embroidered eagles. For one with so lofty a title, he was refreshingly frank, thoughtful, and open about both his own and his students' mystical experiences. Daido Sensei Loori distinguished two types of (what I would call) pure consciousness events he and his students have undergone: absolute samadhi, a contentless state in which there is absolutely no possibility of a response to the world, and working samadhi, in which one can respond if necessary. His first experience of absolute samadhi came during a photography workshop with Minor White, before he had looked into Zen. He had been out on assignment, photographing this and that when he came on a tree, which was basically just a tree, just a plain old tree like a hundred thousand other ones. But this one was very special for some reason. And Minor used to say, sit in the presence of your subject until you have been acknowledged.... So I set up my camera and I sat with this tree, and it was in the middle 22 The Pure Consciousness Event of the afternoon, and that's all I remember until it was dusk, the sun had gone down and it was cold. And I was feeling just totally elated, just wonderful. From the fact that he had started in the early afternoon and came out after dusk, when it was cold, he deduced that he had been in front of that tree for roughly four hours. Yet he had no recollection of anything from that entire period. 27 He states that when he first came out, he hadn't thought anything odd had happened. I understood by this remark that he did not come out with the sense that he had blacked out or lost awareness. He was certain, he told me, that he had not slept. His second experience of absolute samddhi came several years later, after he had been practicing Zen for some while. He was on a week-long meditation course, a sessin, and had been feeling excruciating physical pain. His teacher had told him, in typical Zen fashion, to "be the pain." D. I was desperately trying to figure out what he meant by "be the pain." It didn't make sense to me. And at one point he walked through the zendo, and his sleeve brushed against me as he went by. I realized that the pain was gone. And the second I realized it, it was back. And then shortly after that was the last thing I remember until the noon meal. Q. So it was probably how [long]? D. About six hours. Q. Can you describe the experience during that six hours? D. All I know is that I was in terrible pain one minute and the next minute I was carrying my bowl into the dining hall and the sun was up and everything was very, very vivid. The food which I normally hated tasted wonderful. . . . At first I didn't think that anything unusual had happened. But . . . after the meal I began to put two and two together, that there was a big part of that morning that I had no recollection of. I didn't get verification on these things until after the sessin. I found out that I had actually sat through [the entire work time] without moving. Q. Its not like you had [blacked out or] gone anywhere. . . . It was a simply being present. . . Is that fair? D. I think so. It was [only] because somebody ... told me that I had sat for that time [that I knew anything unusual had happened]. Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 23 Had he been asleep, he told me, he probably would have emerged with a sense that he had been asleep. But here he was certain that he had not. Hence, he enjoyed a "continuity" of being awake. He also associated a very good feeling—"just totally elated" — with this absolute samecdhi. So I asked him, Q. I want to be real exact here. [Did] you become aware of how good you felt [during the event? or after it?] During [it] would you say there was any particular awareness? D. No. No awareness at all. No reflection on it at all. He was not aware of any feelings of elation until he came out. Again, rather than any particular content, the distinguishing feature was the absence of content and the loss of time. All seemed normal enough, except that he "lost" some six hours. Daido Sensei Loori also described a second type of samddhi, "active samddhi," in which the mind can respond to the world if needed. It has come to be quite regular for him as well as many of his students. I had earlier described my own experiences of pure consciousness to him (much as I described them above), and he described this active samddhi by saying, D. I do this thing that you do, I do it almost every period. . . . Now when I sit, and I sit for a long enough period of time, my mind is not moving. I know, when I finally become aware of the room and I'm getting up to move, I know that I was present during that whole period of time, and confident that I didn't miss anything. Yet I have no awareness of what went on. . . Sometimes that happens right before I give a talk. Usually right before a talk happens we sit for just two or three minutes. After [the microphones and lectern] have been taken care of and the cup of coffee is there . . . I usually close my eyes and drop everything. During that two minutes or three minutes there is nothing. I know that if something had happened I would be aware of it. But nothing is moving, there is no feedback that is happening to me. In sum, Daido's absolute samtidhi experiences were of a passage of time—four or six hours—in which he utterly lost all conscious awareness of the sensory and thinking world. He came out thinking all had been perfectly normal; that is, there had been no gap 24 ca Reports of Pure Consciousness Events The Pure Consciousness Event in awareness. He had not passed out, he knew, nor asleep. But more than that he couldn't say. This he distinguishes from a more regular "working samadhi," which is something that he gained from regular Zen practice and which happens "almost every period." In this phenomenon, he "drops everything," i.e., is without awareness of anything in particular. Yet he can emerge, he knows, if the need arises. I have never undergone something like his absolute samadhi, but this latter experience sounded quite familiar to me. We discussed this similarity. I stated, n. 25 ences, like seeing cosmic lights or anything. . . I didn't even realize I was there for that long.... Time just passed. Time just didn't exist. I thought only ten minutes, maybe fifteen minutes [had passed].... Q. Would you say [during this experience that] you were thinking? D. No. I mean, I was completely out. I didn't, well, no. Q. Can you describe anything about that experience . . . during the four hours? Q. From what I can tell, and one can never get in the body of another, we are describing an identical experience here. D. No. The only thing I know is just that I was sitting there. I was very very comfortable but I didn't know I was sitting there. It was like I wasn't even there. ... D. It could be. Q. Were you asleep? By this "could," I understood him to mean that he sensed that we were describing an identical experience, but we could never be absolutely certain of identity in such private matters. Later he said: D. I think when we talk about samadhi, that we are talking about . . . that we're probably very close to saying the same thing. D. No. Q. How do you know? D. 'Cause I know when I'm asleep. My head falls and I start dreaming or whatever. But, it was still up and I [just know I] wasn't. She was quite adamant that she was not asleep. She reiterated it several times. So I wondered: A Sicilia 2 A Yoga Novices /Account The second interview on which I would like to report was with Danielle, a twenty-one-year-old female practitioner of Siddha Yoga. 28 A somewhat nervous, energetic, and earnest student of mine at Hunter College, Danielle mentioned in a Hinduism class that she had had an experience much like those described in the Upanishads. I asked her to come to my office, and asked her if I could record her description of her experience, to which she agreed. Unlike Daido Sensei Loori, Danielle's first experience of this sort happened while she was meditating. She had been feeling particularly anxious about something one afternoon, she said, so D. I went into [the room we] called "the cave." It's black, you can't see anything. . . . I was sitting there and I was only going to stay for like ten minutes. But I was out for four hours and I didn't even realize it. I didn't have any incredible experi- Q. [Did] you have the sense that you had been awake? D. I don't know if I was awake. I wasn't sleeping. It wasn't like a lot of times during meditation[. When] I do fall asleep, my head falls and I know when I've been asleep. I know I wasn't sleeping but I don't know what I would call it. Q. So, you weren't awake in the usual way. D. No, not really. Q. How would you distinguish it from being awake in the usual way? D. Well, when I'm awake I'm thinking and I know what's going on. I wasn't thinking and not because I chose to. It just happened. It wasn't like I told my mind "okay, don't think. . . ." Q. So you know you weren't awake and you know you weren't asleep. Well, that's funny ... 26 The Pure Consciousness Event D. No. I was in some other world; I don't know. Q. Did you have an experience like being in another world? D. I didn't have any experiences. I didn't feel anything.... Q. When you came out, did you have any particular thoughts like, "oh, boy that was nice," or something? D. Yeah. I loved it. I mean, I couldn't believe I was there for four hours in that spot. I didn't move once and I didn't want to get up. I Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 27 still working. You can see it: you can look down [and see it]. The tendency is, when that first begins to happen, an involuntary thing like [a twitch] will happen. A person will just kind of jump. . . That's the first thing that precedes samddhi. And then, usually, the mind stops reflecting. I too have sometimes experienced something like a twitch, a sort of quiet "off sensation" that occasionally comes upon me before mental operations settle down. It seems to have, we might say, a will of its own. As Danielle described, it also feels to me somewhat autonomous. Q. So, for once in your life you were doing nothing else, just sitting. D. Yeah, I guess so. Similarities and Conclusions Q. Would you describe it as like that? Just sitting? D. Just sitting but not as if I just sat down on the floor right now and closed my eyes. I didn't hear anything. I didn't see anything. I didn't feel anything. I didn't think anything. I was struck with how Danielle stated that she had no thoughts during the period: "I wasn't thinking," she said, "and not because I chose to. It just happened. It wasn't like I told my mind 'okay, don't think ... ' " With this she communicates a sense of effortlessness, almost as if someone or something other than herself had turned a switch off. Rather than her actively trying to not think, she just found herself without thoughts. It seems clear that had she actively been trying not to think, that effort alone would have been enough to pull herself out of this state. The state seems to assume a total absence of effort. She also communicates that, rather than her being able to bring on this state at will, it just happened to her. Her mind seemed to just stop on its own, autonomously. Daido Sensei Loori described the onset of sameidhi as often coming with an "off sensation," as if some switch within the mind or body clicks off: One of the things that happens is—and this is particularly true during sessin—is an "off sensation" usually sets in first.... If you sit for long periods of time, especially during sessin, you [sometimes] lose sensation of your body. . . . [W]hen you are not moving any more you lose [the tactile awareness of your body]. Yet you know your body is there. Your mind is Several commonalties within these reports strike one. I. For everyone involved, these events seem to be beneficial. After both of my interviewees' samadhis, the problems that had been plaguing them had lifted, and remained absent for many months after their experiences. Daido felt remarkably good for many months after both his experiences, he told me. After the experience in front of the tree, he said, "I was feeling just totally elated, just wonderful. All my questions and my problems had dissolved. All my problems I tried to bring them up and they just weren't there any more." After that experience, he continued, [T]he only thing that remained with me was my surprise at how good I felt, for months thereafter. All my questions had gone away. All these things that seemed like these impossible problems were no longer there. I mean like nothing had changed. All the things that were bugging me before were still present, but they somehow weren't bugging me. That was the astonishing thing. The feeling of well-being stayed with him after his second experience for some six months. After his second samadhi, he told me, I felt terrific and I was experiencing things very intensely like the food—[this was] right after—and the smells and I remember it was a beautiful sunny day. The sunlight was coming right into the dining room. Everything, all the colors, seemed very vivid and warm and comfortable. I had incredible loving 28 co The Pure Consciousness Event feelings for all the people there. . . I just felt an incredible presence of all these people. Everything felt good. Although this feeling of well-being gradually became less intense, it stayed with him for six months. Danielle reported a similar sense of well-being: I just felt lighter. Like I went in heavy and depressed and nervous. I had all these bad feelings, anxiety, and that just all left. I walked out and I felt completely fine and better and peaceful. Her problems had lifted. Although she did not mention how long her sense of well-being persisted, the day after her experience in the "cave" she left the ashram on a trip and resolved some longstanding family troubles. In my own case, while I often feel particularly calm and clearheaded after pure consciousness events, I have never resolved any specific deep-seated problems immediately after one of these experiences. I am convinced that meditation as a whole has done me a world of good, but I cannot say that any single meditation experience has ever radically changed the way I felt. Perhaps this can be related to the fact that I have never had a multi-hour event like theirs. I should emphasize, however, that none of us holds that it is these unusual quiet events which transform one permanently. Truly significant changes, I believe, result from a life of regular meditative practice. The emphasis I am placing on these events may suggest that they are the key transformative moments on a path, but I do not believe that they are. Far from it! The paths on which we have each embarked are long and complex meditative, conceptual, therapeutic, devotional, and existential paths which, hopefully, have and will continue to profoundly change each of us. The goal of such a path is not a flash that lasts for a few moments or even hours, such as those I am discussing, but rather a permanent life change. I see the samticlhi events, as it were, as mile markers on a road, not goal posts. They have some effect, but only within the context of ,a path as whole. 2. A second feature of these reports is that while we all were certain that these experiences were not experiences of being asleep, Reports of Pure Consciousness Events 0 29 each of us had trouble categorizing these experiences. We all had trouble saying that we were awake in anything like the normal way. Yet we all emphatically denied that we were asleep. Asked how she would distinguish it from being awake in the usual way, Danielle said, D. Well, when I'm awake I'm thinking and I know what's going on. I wasn't thinking, and not because I chose to. It just happened. It wasn't like I told my mind "okay, don't think . . ." Q. Okay, so you know you weren't awake and you know you weren't asleep, well that's funny D. No. I was in some other world; I don't know. Q. Did you have an experience like being in another world? D. No. I didn't have any experiences. I didn't feel anything. . . . Like many of us, by "awake" she understands some activity of perceiving or thinking this or that. She "knows what is going on." Yet in this event, since she was not thinking or perceiving, she did not "know what was going on." She was entirely without perception. Nor did she know whether or not any auditory stimuli had been present. Thus she expressed perplexity in that she could say neither that in her pure consciousness event she was asleep nor that she was awake. Daido Sensei Loori also had trouble categorizing his samficlhi experiences. They were not sleeping: Q. [W]ould you distinguish it from being dead asleep? D. Yeah! Q. How? D. First of all, (little chuckle) you know that you weren't asleep. I mean, you know after the fact that you weren't asleep. If I've fallen asleep on the cushion; I know when I've fallen asleep. When you wake up from sleep, your mind is kind of groggy. When you wake up out of samadhi you mind is so sharp and focused, everything is so vivid and alive. Your body even feels that way. So it's different in that way. But nor is it waking, if by waking we understand the process of perceiving, thinking, speaking, acting, etc. As the Heart Stara

Author Robert K. C. Forman Isbn 9780791441695 File size 4.50MB Year 1999 Pages 224 Language English File format PDF Category Philosophy Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare In an exploration of mystical texts from ancient India and China to medieval Europe and modern day America, Robert K. C. Forman, one of the leading voices in the study of mystical experiences, argues that the various levels of mysticism may not be shaped by culture, language, and background knowledge, but rather are a direct encounter with our very conscious core itself. Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness focuses on first-hand accounts of two distinct types of mystical experiences. Through examination of texts, recorded interviews, and courageous autobiographical experiences, the author describes not only the well-known “pure consciousness event” but also a new, hitherto uncharted “dualistic mystical state.” He provides a thorough and readable depiction of just what mysticism feels like. These accounts, and the experiences to which they give voice, arise from the heart of living practices and have substance and detail far beyond virtually any others in the literature. The book also reexamines the philosophical issues that swirl around mysticism. In addition to examining modern day constructivist views, Forman argues that the doctrines of Kant, Husserl, and Brentano cannot be applied to mysticism. Instead he offers new philosophical insights, based on the work of Chinese philosopher of mind Paramartha. The book concludes with an examination of mind and consciousness, which shows that mysticism has a great deal to tell us about human experience and the nature of human knowledge far beyond mysticism itself.     Download (4.50MB) The Theory Of The Sublime From Longinus To Kant Being No One: The Self-model Theory of Subjectivity The Analects Of Confucius Encounters Of Mind: Luminosity And Personhood In Indian And Chinese Thought Autonomy After Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity Load more posts

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