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#1707 - 11/10/07 07:37 PM Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism
Meq Offline
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Registered: 08/28/07
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Spirituality without Beliefs
Rational Mysticism versus Dogmatic Literalism



Mysticism is not Belief

Mention the term “mysticism” to many people, and the image conjured up may well be a deck of Tarot cards, fortune telling, together with a somewhat irrational faith in certain outlandish metaphysical beliefs – auras, UFOs, ad nauseam. Which are of course to be taken on faith, purely – the whole idea being to believe and suppress any sceptical doubts.

This is occultism, not mysticism. Mysticism, in the true sense, is far more rational than this – although this may be the impression one gets of mysticism from many New Age circles.

Neither is mysticism synonymous with “religion”, although there are certainly overlaps. Mystics are found in every religious tradition, and certainly religions such as Buddhism have a strong mystical aspect to them – such as a quest for direct personal enlightenment. But mysticism is ultimately nothing to do with “religion” at all – certainly not to do with religious “faith”, in the Catholic sense of unquestioning belief in metaphysical (and quasi-historical) propositions.

In fact, I would be willing to assert that a purely rational mysticism is actually opposed to both strong occult beliefs, and strong religious belief in the traditionally-understood sense. Certainly in the sense of the most dogmatic, fundamentalist religions. This kind of irrational faith in either occultism or religion, I will term “literalism”. (Although ‘secular’ beliefs, such as a dogmatic materialism, may also be literalist).

However, for many people who practice mysticism, it will be in the context of a metaphysical belief system, and may well incorporate beliefs which are not necessarily rational. Many people seem to need such a structure of belief. In one mystical tradition, there is the image used of a seeker climbing a ladder to enlightenment. The ladder represents the concepts of a spiritual belief system, helping to give ‘shape’ to one’s experiences.

However, this is followed by an image of the seeker higher up - but without a ladder. As Heraclitus famously said, “Human opinions [i.e. beliefs] are toys for little children”.

My claim is that such beliefs are totally optional to mysticism – and thus may easily be discarded by the more rationally-minded seeker - or re-interpreted as symbolic allegory. A total Atheist or agnostic is thus not only able to embrace mysticism, he or she may even be at an advantage. This is because many mystics claim that clinging too tightly to spiritual beliefs is detrimental to achieving enlightenment.


Enlightenment – Some Misconceptions

Traditions such as Buddhism may give the impression that enlightenment is some grand achievement to be achieved over many lifetimes (thus requiring a belief in reincarnation or rebirth), which involves going to some place called Nirvana – a kind of equivalent to Heaven which, again, must be ‘believed in’.

This is a crass misunderstanding of the meaning of the Buddha’s teachings – although Buddhism as a religion has indeed been ‘literalised’ to a great extent. The real teaching is that Nirvana – emptiness - is all that really exists. The apparent world – Samsara – is a dreamlike illusion. Why? Because it is based on the idea of selfhood. Our minds construct an illusion of personal identity, which we believe we are. A person with a permanent identity and free will. But - as has been confirmed by recent cognitive science - this sense of ‘self’ is merely a construct, to help us survive. This illusion of separate identity obscures us from getting a clearer view of the world.

This isn’t suggesting we totally throw away our ideas of personal identity or autonomy. We need them to live. We just need to recognise them for what they are – illusions – and both embrace the illusion and attempt to see beyond it. Transcend and include. Enlightenment in the true sense is seeing clearly without the hideously distorting lens of personal selfhood obscuring our view of the world. And to also enjoy the experience of being a person with a subjective experience of free will. It is being able to embrace both sides of this paradox.

Western mysticism has its equivalent to enlightenment – gnosis (from the Greek word for ‘knowledge’). ‘Enlightenment’ of course also means ‘knowledge’, although a better translation for both would be ‘knowing’. It is not conceptual ‘head’ knowledge. It is an intuitive non-conceptual sense of ‘knowing’. A state of mind.

Plato’s yearning to be able to see the Forms is his version of gnosis. His Theory of Forms, rather than being interpreted as literal metaphysics, may be seen as a precursor to Jung’s theory of archetypes. Christian mystics, likewise, saw their experiences in terms of communion with God. The difference for these Westerners is mainly the cultural context and background.

Going East again, in the Zen tradition, there is a teaching about spiritual concepts being like a finger pointing at the moon of enlightenment. To look at the moon, one has to stop looking at the finger – or taking it literally. Although mystics seem to be looking for direct experience of the ‘Divine’, ‘God’, ‘Being’ or simply ‘the Mystery of Existence’ (whatever concepts they resonate with), these words themselves are merely “fudge words”, which may get in the way. Real enlightenment or gnosis is an experience totally beyond words and concepts altogether.


Metaphysics is Irrelevant

Metaphysics – theories about reality to be believed or disbelieved – is ultimately completely irrelevant to mysticism. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, in mysticism in the true sense, all metaphysical beliefs are to be questioned and doubted. Metaphysical speculation – Eastern or Western – may be interesting, and even enlightening. But at best, it can only be a finger, not the moon.

Mysticism is ultimately empiricist in its concern with experience – concepts which do not relate to one’s experience are useless. Being empiricist, it is naturally an ally of science – despite our cultural rift between science and spirituality, perpetuated by literalists in both camps.

The epistemology (theory of knowledge) of mysticism is complimentary with that of science, but runs in the opposite direction. Science is based on induction – generalising from observations of the world to come up with conceptual theories, which can be used to predict how the world will behave in the future, or how it has in the past. As Hume has shown, though, induction cannot achieve perfect knowledge. (Hume was, in fact, following in the footsteps of the ancient Sceptics - only they were mystics).

Mysticism is based on immediate experience of this present moment. Gnosis is a non-conceptual seeing, sense of knowing, and the most rational feeling. It is directly perceiving how the mind is too small to grasp the vastness of reality, yet feeling that to be the simple Truth. Ironically, gnosis turns out to be knowing that you don’t know.

But it is a joyful awakening of bliss – what the writer Timothy Freke calls ‘enlivenment’. He also calls it ‘Lucid Living’ – for although one’s life as a person is seen to ultimately be a dreamlike illusion, it is to be embraced and enjoyed with awareness – just like during a lucid dream at night.

Here lies the secret of real happiness.

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#15117 - 11/29/08 05:28 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism [Re: Meq]
Fabiano Offline
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Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
I'm (badly) surprised that this excellent post didn't get any reply yet.

I just changed yesterday my facebook profile, religion section, from "Mystic Agnostic" to "Satanist". But I still consider me as a mystic (about agnosticism, I must admit Diavolo shook me on this and I'm in the process of reviewing my position).

It's hard to explain but I find myself and my experiences in Mequa's post.

These extracts are particularly relevant to me
 Quote:
My claim is that such beliefs are totally optional to mysticism – and thus may easily be discarded by the more rationally-minded seeker - or re-interpreted as symbolic allegory. A total Atheist or agnostic is thus not only able to embrace mysticism, he or she may even be at an advantage. This is because many mystics claim that clinging too tightly to spiritual beliefs is detrimental to achieving enlightenment.


 Quote:
Because it is based on the idea of selfhood. Our minds construct an illusion of personal identity, which we believe we are. A person with a permanent identity and free will. But - as has been confirmed by recent cognitive science - this sense of ‘self’ is merely a construct, to help us survive. This illusion of separate identity obscures us from getting a clearer view of the world.

This isn’t suggesting we totally throw away our ideas of personal identity or autonomy. We need them to live. We just need to recognise them for what they are – illusions – and both embrace the illusion and attempt to see beyond it. Transcend and include. Enlightenment in the true sense is seeing clearly without the hideously distorting lens of personal selfhood obscuring our view of the world. And to also enjoy the experience of being a person with a subjective experience of free will. It is being able to embrace both sides of this paradox.


I'll try to explain however...

I started meditation at 15; I had mystical experiences when I was a Xian. Later, I practiced Zen and had similar experiences. I read a book from Daniel Goleman describing these experiences I lived and I realized that what I believed to be a contact with God (in the Xian sense) might be something else…

When you sit on zafu and start introspection (“looking” at your physical sensation, your feeling, your thoughts and the objects of your thoughts), you come to realize some things. I’ll quote Goleman which expressed this better than I’d do (translated from French version):

 Quote:
One realize thus, at first, during introspection that the phenomena contemplated are different from the mind which is contemplating : inside the mind, the faculty thanks to which it perceives its own mechanisms is different from the mechanisms which are observed. The meditator (the person who meditates) understands that his consciousness is different from the object it is contemplating, but it’s a knowledge which is not located at the verbal level as we’re expressing it here. The meditator comes on the contrary to this realisation and to all next realisations by a direct experience. He can very well not being able to express with words his own realisations; he understands but he not necessary able to explain what he understands.


These mediations looks to me as a training to perceive reality directly rather than via intellect. I give you an example :

One day I was with my sister, she was pregnant but did yet announce it. Nothing was visible as he was at the beginning of her pregnancy. All suddenly I had a “flash” and I knew she was pregnant. This knowledge is very different than the one you can have by intellectual reasoning. It was obvious, there were no place for any doubts. It was like all fibre of me knew this. I said nothing but a while later she announced the good new…

Science experiments show that we’re still able to perceive this (experience about how people sit close or far from a pregnant woman in a waiting room) but this is not (generally) consciously known. However, the subconscious have this information. I rationally explain my experience as the fact that this information popped out from my subconscious to my conscious. It really a direct global perception of the reality.

I drive my life with my intellect most of the time, but sometimes I have intuitions which tells me what to do, which decision to take without any intellectual reasoning. The choice is in front of me and I know what to choose. I just know, I’m sure of it. When I was a Xian I was saying “God tell me to do this or that, I have to trust God”. Now I changed the explanation, but the experience is still the same…

Finally, a note on the last sentence “Here lies the secret of real happiness.”

Currently, I’m injured (and stucked at home that’s why I’m more present here) and it’s really painful. However, as I’m out of the illusion of the selfhood, I’m able to observe my physical pain as just yet another feeling. I’m not suffering, I’m just observing a feeling and it enables me to avoid adding the emotional pain of wanting it to cease.
Like my Zen master told me one time, “when I’m sitting on the zafu and it’s painful, it’s amusing me”. You take distance from yourself, you’re not suffering, you’re just observing yet another feeling. The fact you consider it as painful or not is a question of point of view….


Edited by Fabiano (11/29/08 05:30 PM)

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#15118 - 11/29/08 06:05 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism [Re: Fabiano]
blsk Offline
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Posts: 298
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I have had and still have experiences similar to that of yours. At the time I don't think much of it until looking back and find it incredibly odd. It is a very "mystifying" experience when you are just a child. You don't quite know what to make of it, and really I still don't when it happens today. It is hard to explain how you just "know" something. Especially when it has impacted your well-being or safety. I have been "told" things that have potentially saved my life. Call it instinct or whatever. The subconscious is a world we do not know, nor will we anytime soon. What is it that we tap into that makes us so sure of decisions and actions without knowingly giving thought or reason to the matter? Are there chemicals in the air that have a reaction with a part of the brain? A disruption of electrical impulses or wave disruption? It would be nice to finally understand and harness this "higher power."
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#16211 - 12/15/08 01:24 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism [Re: Meq]
Mike Offline
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Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 253
Loc: Farmingdale, NY
 Originally Posted By: Mequa
Traditions such as Buddhism may give the impression that enlightenment is some grand achievement to be achieved over many lifetimes (thus requiring a belief in reincarnation or rebirth), which involves going to some place called Nirvana – a kind of equivalent to Heaven which, again, must be ‘believed in’.


Great post, but there is a few mistakes that I picked up in this short paragraph you wrote..

Enlightenment and Nirvana are the same in a Buddhist perspective. It is a state of being free from suffering, achieved by cleansing yourself from all emotion, thus not being able to experience suffering.

Also, Buddhists believe that you can reach Nirvana in only one life time. This was based on the traditional Hindu idea of "maksha", the Hindu form of enlightenment. It is the Hindus that believe you must be reborn into higher levels of society by having good karma until you finally reach enlightenment.

Since the Buddha was originally a Hindu himself, his ideas were based upon this idea, however he rejected the point that you must be reborn many times to reach enlightenment. He also believed that you can reach enlightenment in any form in society (rejecting the "caste system" of Hinduism).

And again, it is still unsure by Buddhists where they stand on the afterlife. They do believe in reincarnation until you finally reach Nirvana, but where the soul goes after you reach enlightenment is still being debated by separate sects of Buddhists today.

Well, that's about all I have to say. Great post other than that.
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#16212 - 12/15/08 01:35 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism [Re: Fabiano]
Mike Offline
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I myself have had expiriences very similar to what you mentioned. Having studied Buddhism, spiritualism, theistic Satanism and so on, I would try all different types of meditation and mind exercises. I don't remember exactly what book it was that I read this in, but supposedly people have proved the existence of telepathy, and it was explained that the way it works is through brain waves. The brain acts as a radio transmitter that sends and receives certain brain waves. The whole purpose (I believe) of the meditating and mind exercises is to strengthen that extra sense that we have (if that's what you want to call it), or to make our minds stronger to be able to do things such as telepathy and be able to allow yourself to have mind over matter. If you program your subconscious by repeatedly meditating on a certain goal or by concentrating on one thing, eventually your subconscious will automatically do what you program it to by sending or not sending nerve signals from your brain (you can have no sense of fear, feel no pain, ect.).

This is just my take on it, and I am basing it upon what I have read.
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#16217 - 12/15/08 03:03 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Mike]
The Zebu Offline
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I'm afraid I'm going to have to shit all over a few things here.

Buddhism, Gnosticism, and other such mystical religions have been the direct antithesis of Satanism (even moreso than Christianity) in my view. This is because they teach man to disregard his emotions and rid himself of physical gratification in favor of the ultimate realization that it is cosmically insignificant.

For me, at least, Satanism represents the exaltation of the mundane- that emotions and material possession are not to be shunned, but celebrated.

Man is one with the physical world, yet he continues to delude himself that there is something more than what he sees, and so his body becomes a prison in which he can never truly be satisfied. To me, enlightenment is the unification of man with the physical (not mystic) universe. Gnosis is mundane, not abstract.

I therefore propose an alternative definition of Satanism- that of "Maraism", named after the hindu demon Mara, who is not branded as an all-evil scapegoat like Satan, but recognized for what he is- the personification of "worldly distractions" and temptation and the death of spirituality- a purely material existence.

I also maintain that the "mind as a 2-way radio" metaphor is complete bullshit. The brain is a mass of tissue that depends on bodily hormones and nerves for communication- there is no "odic force" or "psychic power" or "unseen psi waves" that can somehow send sensory information. Cite all the parapsychology junk science you want, there is absolutely no plausible evidence that can explain any possible mechanism for ESP and the like.

"Spiritual Experiences" are purely the result of internal psychological processes- in other words, it's all in your head. You're communicating with your subconscious, not some extradimensional astral plane or anything like that.


Edited by The Zebu (12/15/08 03:06 PM)
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#16223 - 12/15/08 04:09 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: The Zebu]
Mike Offline
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Registered: 09/11/07
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Loc: Farmingdale, NY
Where should I start...

First of all, what Satanism means to one doesn't necessarily mean it should mean that to others. I follow a completely different form of Satanism than most on this forum.

 Quote:
I also maintain that the "mind as a 2-way radio" metaphor is complete bullshit. The brain is a mass of tissue that depends on bodily hormones and nerves for communication- there is no "odic force" or "psychic power" or "unseen psi waves" that can somehow send sensory information. Cite all the parapsychology junk science you want, there is absolutely no plausible evidence that can explain any possible mechanism for ESP and the like.


Well, depending on whether or not you believe in spirits or whether or not living things have "souls" may can form your opinion on things like telepathy, magic, ESP, ect..And there is still room for debate on the topic as well, for experts in the field and sceptics.

Before gravity was discovered (or realized) what were people to think was happening when they would drop things? Or if they threw something in the air, what was it that made it eventually fall to the ground? Just because something cannot be explained doesn't mean it's bullshit.

 Quote:

"Spiritual Experiences" are purely the result of internal psychological processes- in other words, it's all in your head. You're communicating with your subconscious, not some extradimensional astral plane or anything like that.


Some may beg to differ, but I see your point. When it comes to this kind of stuff, I have a phrase that seems to sum it all up. Perceived reality. What one person sees as "real", others may not, but who is right? Maybe everything is in my head...But what's the difference?

If I believe in demons to be external forces when they are truely internal, and I'm mearly conversing with my subconscious or it's simply my imagination, the effect will be no different. If I happen to learn something from whatever force I am speaking with, even if it is my subconscious, I am still benefiting from it either way. Or if I perform a ritual to have good luck, does it matter if it is actually a work of Satan? If I then have good luck, is it a coincidence? If I believe in spirits that don't actually exist and that are just my imagination but I benefit from the experiences I have, does it matter whether they are real or not? I choose to believe in spirits due to my experiences, may they be real or not, it is a reality to me and everything that becomes a reality I see as coming from that. In my opinion, speaking with spirits brings knowledge. If it is just my imagination, I'll be benefiting from it either way.

Until the day I can be totally convinced that the existence of spirits is pure bullshit, I will believe in them due to the fact that it is a reality to me. And by that, it IS in my head, it is my minds perception of reality.
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#16224 - 12/15/08 04:19 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Mike]
Diavolo Offline
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Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 4997
So if a christian/muslim/whateverist believes in god/allah/whatever and that praying triggers god's grace on him or others, is it open to doubt too? Is by the same school of thought, in everything and I mean absolutely everything room for debate, room for value and room for truth?

If reality true to one person should be accepted and respected as valid or reasonable or potential-to-be-true, it should be done for every reality of every person and satan the opposer would *poof* disappear and magically have to change in satan the embracer.

Perception is everything but the explanation doesn't have to be.

D.

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#16229 - 12/15/08 06:39 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism [Re: Mike]
Fabiano Offline
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Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
Well,

About Nirvana, yes on acceptation of it similar to enlightment in the sense of being a state you reach through meditation (alike staori in zen). However, it has also an other acceptation in the sense of a place where the mind goes after death once enlightment is reached. This is better viewed in the bodhisattva concept about which wiki says:
 Quote:
The various divisions of Buddhism understand the word bodhisattva in different ways, but especially in Mahayana Buddhism, it mainly refers to a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others.
The bodhisattva doesn't refrain from entering enlightment but rather refuses to enter in the peaceful nirvana for coming back on earth in order to save more people. (see also concept of bardo)

That's being said about budhism views on nirvana & life after death.

But this thread is about "Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mysticism".

From my own experiences, I now had to see the meditation ust as a technique which I find usefull. Owever, it lived the same experiements in Xianity, Zen meditation (Zazen) and still now without any particular belief around it.

About the intuition, I'm not aware of proofs on "brain to brain communication". I explained my own experience with my sister quite rationally as :
1°) the subcounscious records the pheromone and is aware of my sister pregnancy
2°) this knowledge pop-up suddenly to the consciousness and we feel "a big intuition" .

Meditation to me is a technique I use for "being closer to my own god" \:\) Make a break in this struggling race and just "be".

As meditation opens the gate to subcousciousness, if it's done in a religious context, the mind will be "coloured", with compasion in buddhist, "love" for Xian,...

Meditation can strenght your will, your self-coontrol, the control of your body...

There are lots of things I learned for it and I find usefull for my "magic". And yes it's about droping ideas in the subconcious, "programing it". I call this auto-manipulation. \:\)

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#16232 - 12/15/08 07:03 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: The Zebu]
Fabiano Offline
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Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
 Quote:
Buddhism, Gnosticism, and other such mystical religions have been the direct antithesis of Satanism (even moreso than Christianity) in my view. This is because they teach man to disregard his emotions and rid himself of physical gratification in favor of the ultimate realization that it is cosmically insignificant.


This is to me the main difference between RHP & LHP. But meditation is just a technique. Being able to temporarly refrain some emotion of physical gratification can be useful on a longer term view.

The technic works, you do it what you want with it, fusionning with you Love God in some extase or focussing on your own goals. Zazen was part of the Samourai training...


 Quote:
To me, enlightenment is the unification of man with the physical (not mystic) universe. Gnosis is mundane, not abstract.
To me as well. I see meditation as being closer to reality. You see better Mara coming and how it has effect on you, on your emotions, etc. So yes it a training to resist to them. But after, if you're on the RHP, you'll try to use this, with compassion and altruism. But if you're able to resist to your desire, how stronger are you in front of an ennemy trying to manipulate you, to tempt you.

 Quote:
I also maintain that the "mind as a 2-way radio" metaphor is complete bullshit. The brain is a mass of tissue that depends on bodily hormones and nerves for communication- there is no "odic force" or "psychic power" or "unseen psi waves" that can somehow send sensory information. Cite all the parapsychology junk science you want, there is absolutely no plausible evidence that can explain any possible mechanism for ESP and the like.

"Spiritual Experiences" are purely the result of internal psychological processes- in other words, it's all in your head. You're communicating with your subconscious, not some extradim ensional astral plane or anything like that.

Agreed!

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#16234 - 12/15/08 07:27 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Diavolo]
Fabiano Offline
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Registered: 09/06/08
Posts: 374
I think there are two levels involved. The rational one, where we can share some truth. There are things that are proven and some other not. And where we must keep our "critical thinking" and not forget the Ocam Razor pricinple. It's our duty to be as honest and integre as we can with ourself, rational side included! Here we have all our relative perceptions, but they can be confronted to reality.

But on the "magical side" it'about the uproven world. For the rational side, it's not real because it's not proven. But we have an imagination and we can guide our subconscious. But here, all is permitted provided it works. If it's more efficient for you to "invoke Satan" or whatever. If it's your tricks for accessing your subconscious, then well. Well for you (and only for you). But unlike in other religions, in Satanism you KNOW it's a trick, as you know you play a role during a ritual.

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#16239 - 12/15/08 08:42 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Mike]
The Zebu Offline
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Registered: 08/08/08
Posts: 1647
Loc: Orlando, FL
I don't want to dwell too much in the parapsychology issue, but I must state that unlike legitimate science, it has not produced any reproducible/consistent results, so it has every right to be questioned. And we could go back and forth all day about the nature of "truth" and how everything we perceive could actually be the Evil Genius fooling us, and all that stuff. But somewhere along the line we must assert some kind of objective reality, even if all we know is that we cannot know anything.

I cannot prove to you that spirits do not exist, because such things are unfalsifiable. At the very least I can convince you that believing in spirits is useless because they can be adequately explained through natural means, as the simplest solution is to be preferred. In any case it's not something I want to pursue.


Edited by The Zebu (12/15/08 08:44 PM)
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#16254 - 12/15/08 10:29 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Mike]
Dan_Dread Offline
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Registered: 10/08/08
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 Quote:

If I believe in spirits that don't actually exist and that are just my imagination but I benefit from the experiences I have, does it matter whether they are real or not?

Only if you value intellectual self honesty.

Self deceit is never the road to reality. Do you value reality? True bottom line undefiled wisdom?
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#16286 - 12/16/08 11:50 AM A [Re: The Zebu]
Diavolo Offline
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Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 4997
What is strange in this is that people tend to discard some ideas and embrace others while there essentially is no difference.

Person A believes x while person B believes y. I'm talking about believing so there is no evidence supporting and all arguments are based upon personal perception. The strange thing is that person B will call A a total fool for believing something so ridiculous and will provide evidence disproving it. At the same time this person B is subject to the same patterns of thinking as A and due to that accepts belief y as true. To defend that, he'll totally ignore the same sources he uses to disprove x, consider them not having enough value and will hunt down anything substantial or close to substantial to verify his claim of y.

Why can person B have such a contradictory position on essentially identical things? It has to say something fundamental about that person. What I think there is, is a will to believe and we can roughly categorize people in two groups; those with a will to believe and the ones with a will to disbelieve.

My little niche of Satanism is fundamentally based upon this will to disbelieve.

D.

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#16289 - 12/16/08 12:32 PM Re: A [Re: Diavolo]
Jake999 Offline
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Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
I tend to disbelieve too, when the first reaction of someone is to ascribe anything unusual as "metaphysical" or in the province of spirits or other outworldly things. We've all seen weird things happen. There are always things we can't explain, but while I might find them fascinating, they always fall into the "things I can't explain" category, rather than "things that prove there's something out there."

True story... happened when I was 21, stationed at Cannon AFB in New Mexico, and living in an old house in Portales. I wasn't alone, as you'll see, and the other person witnessed the happening as well.

It was 1970. My ladyfriend and I were in bed, awake, at about 1AM. The lights in the bedroom were out. Without a sound, the wall directly across from us was on fire. I'm talking raging inferno looking fire. Orange and yellow flames that moved and flickered, just like a fire in a fireplace, but there was no heat. It was strange in that it just appeared... stranger still that it was behind the furniture against the wall... it was as if someone had painted a picture of flames and placed the furniture in front of it. Also, the doorway to the next room was open, and there were no flames... it was as if a hole was cut into the flames that you could walk through. This lasted for about 30 seconds.

When it was over, I got out of bed and went to the wall. I felt it and it was cool to the touch. There were no burns. There was no sign of residue. It was a normal wall in an old lath and plaster constructed house.

Now, again, this was 1970 in the middle of sleepy little Portales, New Mexico at 1AM. Projection equipment capable of such feats were not in existence at that time. This was cinamatic quality imaging of some sort... and certainly not available in Portales, New Mexico. Looking out the windows, it was DARK and no one was on the streets... no cop cars or fire engines with flashing lights, which as we all know don't reflect like flames. It only happened once, and while I would have liked to have been able to explain it, I never have been able to. Drugs and alcohol were not a factor.

Now, if it was just ME seeing this phenomenon, I could write it off as a Malarial hallucination, except my partner (very shaken by it) saw it as well, AND I hadn't contracted Malaria yet. That was an adventure I would have to wait another two years for.

People I've talked to have rushed to tell me that it HAD to be an omen or a communicationg from beyond. It had to be the spirit world, or Anton LaVey calling out to me (that one made me spit my soda out while laughing). I dunno what it was. It was interesting. It was unexplainable. I believe in the phenomenon because I witnessed it and another person with me witnessed it as well. Am I willing to ascribe it to some "metaphysical" or "spiritual" connection... or is there a scientific explanation? Give me PROOF either way... let it be replicable and let it be believable, and it'll get my attention. But until that proof somehow comes, I choose to just regard it as interesting.
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#16291 - 12/16/08 12:57 PM Re: A [Re: Jake999]
The Zebu Offline
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Well it was 1970. You crazy old drug-nuts were always dropping acid and snorting any substance with an acronym.

I'm joking of course. I really can't speak for something like that, though...
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#16294 - 12/16/08 02:18 PM Re: A [Re: Jake999]
Diavolo Offline
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I do agree that interesting things do happen and if you can't repeat it and provide at least some serious evidence, it will never be more than interesting.

I can trigger some state of mind when/before sleeping that makes me experience pretty interesting things.
When I was young, there was this book out from a dude called Monroe or something, on astral travel. Down here it was one of those books that were popular for as long as people did buy into it. Anyways, traveling around at night seemed like a pretty interesting thing for a kid of that age and I sure knew some bedrooms I'd pass on my nightly tour of the universe. Needless to say I didn't travel far, astral travel is bullshit for people that can't afford a plane-ticket.

But this exercise to get into the mood, something hypnotic, boat-water-waves stuff, did trigger something in me. I get into some sort of state of mind which is a combination of lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis but like with all things in my life, slightly different. So, I am in reality, lucid, limited at some aspects and experiencing pretty weird phenomena. It's been some years since my last visit and although I'm not going to say I have a 100% garantee to trigger it, in at least 70% of the cases, I get into that state.

I could create a whole belief system because of it, different plane, entities, consciousness-body detachment. I could even go that far and use demons, ghosts and hellish explanations but although it freaked me out the first times, I do prefer to think it is my brain playing with me. I prefer to disbelieve. And it is indeed, nothing more but interesting. If I wanted to believe this, I could not do else but believing all the rest too; the arguments are identical pro and contra.

D.

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#16314 - 12/16/08 05:22 PM Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Diavolo]
Fabiano Offline
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Interresting, as it seems that many of us finaly have such "unusaul/unexplainable" experiences.

More and more I'm convince that they're just modified states of cousciousness. It seems to fit Diavolo's experience and some of mines. But in the case of Jake, no rational explanation.

And of course it's wise not basing one'w whole life on 30sec of it.

But just two remarks :

1°) When such very troubling experience happens when your life seems pointless and you're reading the bible, or in any other religious context, it's very hard to not associate it with some "God contact".

2°)It's part of the rational process to "imagine" some explanations to unexplained things. Just a matter of putting some hypothesis on the table... to be verified. How two people can see the same unreal thing at the same time?
Brain-to-brain communication could explain it, as it could also explain the extract of TSB indicating it's possible to implement idea in some distant mind.
If one wants to dig in this hypothesis, rationally, he must belief in it at least a little bit. How could he find the desire to make the researches? What motivates him if not the desire to prove he' right?

Or one can unbelief and limit himself in destroying others hypothesis. It's also very useful !





Edited by Fabiano (12/16/08 05:34 PM)
Edit Reason: Put the subject back

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#16316 - 12/16/08 05:36 PM Re: A [Re: Fabiano]
Diavolo Offline
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Jake's experience is somewhat difficult to find a theory for; two people seeing the exact same thing while not being drunk or drugged. The only thing I can come up with, and admitting it's just something to make it rational to me, is play of light. Light and shadow can do crazy things with our brain. Still I got no clue how real the fire was, so it's an explanation of something I think went on, not necessarily what went on in reality.

I don't know if others experienced it, but if you take enough XTC (probably not for all kinds), think in figures like swallowing at least five, you get mild hallucinations, fata morgana stuff. I'm not sure if it works during the daytime too, my drugs-experiments were mostly at night but I've seen weird stuff when walking home, caused by a brain getting chemically fucked up and starting to compose unreal pictures but they seemed so real that it was fascinating. Still, like a good old fata morgana, the moment I was too close or wanted to touch, poof, it was gone. Knowing it was the drugs sure helps recognize the wonders the mind is capable of.
I'm 100% sure in many non-drug cases it is doing the same without a person knowing.

D.

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#16321 - 12/16/08 06:12 PM Re: A [Re: Diavolo]
Fabiano Offline
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Our own brain produces narcotics. I think you can have some control on them by "playing with your mind", entering in some modified state of consciousness.

It's a very personal experience to learn to play with one's own brain. To me the magical systems of beliefs, by the mean of symbols, images, etc worked for transmitting some knowledge about these "magical" things, about how to play with your mind and your brain. Some kind of empirical guide which works but explain nothing...

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#16325 - 12/16/08 06:59 PM Re: A [Re: Diavolo]
Jake999 Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Diavolo
Still I got no clue how real the fire was, so it's an explanation of something I think went on, not necessarily what went on in reality..


How "real" was the fire? Well... there was no heat. Other than that, it was just as if the wall was on fire. A curtain of fire. If you have a hearth, stoke it up to a roaring blaze and look into its center. That will give you and idea of what the whole wall looked like.

I also want to stress that I am not given to having visions... never have been. This was a once in a lifetime occurence.
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#16378 - 12/17/08 02:58 PM Re: A [Re: Jake999]
Diavolo Offline
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The brain dislikes formlessness and tries to make sense out of it by transforming the info it gets, or parts of it, into understandable images. It's what happens when you look at clouds; shapes, animals and about everything imaginable starts to appear. Smoke some weed and watch the clouds to even improve that experience.

The same thing happens with some ghost spottings, shadow and light suddenly start to look like people. Remember the devil in the Twin Towers? The shipload of Mary spottings.
I experimented with it when painting, using only gradients of a certain color (dark red to light red as an example) and then randomly putting it on canvas. I never painted anything I, afterwards, didn't see stuff into.

It's fairly possible (hypothesising again) that a certain source of light, combined with something affecting it, like rain on the window allowing it in, created a certain effect on the wall that your (both) brains interpreted as something similar or the closests known to your brains, fire in this case.

It's why I have this theory that if ever anything totally unknown would appear to us, we'd not even see it as it is.

D.

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#16384 - 12/17/08 04:57 PM Re: A [Re: Diavolo]
Dan_Dread Offline
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 Quote:

The same thing happens with some ghost spottings, shadow and light suddenly start to look like people.

Although this is quite true, and I too prefer to rationalize everything I can, I don't think the primitive monkeys that we still are have the means to explain everything that happens just yet. Hell I doubt we can even detect much of what happens. All we have are 5 randomly evolved senses.

 Quote:

It's why I have this theory that if ever anything totally unknown would appear to us, we'd not even see it as it is.

They say the indians could not make heads or tails of the first tallmast sailing ships they saw. They just could not wrap their minds around something so alien, and could not tell where the boundaries of the ship ended and the surrounding landscape began. Although this may be more true or less true than reported, (some say they just didn't know they were man made, others say they couldn't see them whatsoever) there is certainly at least a grain of truth to this.

I also apply this idea to the possibility of alien life. We could probably walk right past a UFO and not realize it. It would probably be just so alien that the mind would not be able to place the boundaries/labels necessary to categorize/objectify the data.
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#16387 - 12/17/08 05:14 PM Re: A [Re: Dan_Dread]
Diavolo Offline
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But if we can't perceive it (including technological perception) it is just the same as it not being there. There could be an alien sitting next to me now but if I can't see, feel, smell or hear it, it simply is not. We could argue that planet X was there before we perceived it but another way of looking at it is stating that perception creates reality. So, our consciousness might not perceive the world that is, but create the world that is. Darn, now that sounds godly.

I don't know if you ever read Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott. At some levels we are this square and can only percieve stuff affected by our limitations. If anything multidimensional pops up here, we'll perceive only the 3-dimensional parts. We got brain/senses that are constructed to work in a 3-dimensional reality and they can never surpass those limitations, except maybe at an abstract level.

D.

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#16389 - 12/17/08 05:21 PM Re: A [Re: Diavolo]
Dan_Dread Offline
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 Quote:

But if we can't perceive it (including technological perception) it is just the same as it not being there.

Absolutely, for all intents and purposes.

 Quote:

So, our consciousness might not perceive the world that is, but create the world that is.

There will always be variance between subjective reality and objective reality. I don't know if just totally ignoring the latter is such a good idea, though.
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#16391 - 12/17/08 05:27 PM Re: A [Re: Diavolo]
Jake999 Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Diavolo
The brain dislikes formlessness and tries to make sense out of it by transforming the info it gets, or parts of it, into understandable images.


LOL! Ok... but at 1 AM in a sleepy country village in New Mexico in 1970, in TWO people in the same bed, who have never used any form of illegal drug, had no alcohol, we quietly talking after having sex, there's very little the mind has to make sense of when the wall across from you looks like:



Decades out, it's still a fresh memory, and to today's mind, we try rationalizing it in today's terms. That's natural. I'll probably never know what caused it, and like I said, I draw no message from the event. It was just an interesting event that someone else might have the tendency to ascribe some supernatural meaning to.
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#16392 - 12/17/08 05:28 PM Re: A [Re: Dan_Dread]
Diavolo Offline
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It isn't a good idea to just totally ignore one but perception = reality. Now the real question would be; what is reality? Although we don't even know if reality is understandable to us, we do need a consensus on what reality is to us humans. We just need that to be able to function.

And this consensus is the consciousness that I said creates the world as is. Of course anyone is allowed to view their subjective reality as supreme compared to the consensus reality. To a degree it might lead to new discoveries expanding the consensus reality we know. But the majority of those subjective realities are simply wrong.

D.

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#16393 - 12/17/08 05:33 PM Re: A [Re: Jake999]
Diavolo Offline
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After having sex Jake, now it all makes sense. Your neurons were still firing. ;\)

Seriously, I can't find make any good explanation for it, it's interesting.

D.

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#16397 - 12/17/08 06:01 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Dan_Dread]
Mike Offline
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Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 253
Loc: Farmingdale, NY
So what you mean is I am fooling myself? And that by believing what I do I am lying to myself? How can we value reality when nobody knows what "real" is? Is reality different for everyone? Or if there is one overall truth, how can we tell what it may be?

Your insults are taken lightly, but by saying what you are, you're referring to the idea that what I believe is false. Period. You've said yourself you cannot dis-prove my beliefs, yet you still say I'm full of "self deceit" and that it doesn't lead to reality, when you can't know that what I believe is in fact a false reality.

So do I value reality? As far as I know what reality is, yes, I do.
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#16399 - 12/17/08 06:19 PM Re: Spirituality without Beliefs - Rational Mystic [Re: Mike]
Dan_Dread Offline
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What I said to you in my reply, post #16254, was a bit of friendly advice. A rhetorical question designed to make you think.

Obviously it failed.

Let me offer one more thing for you to think about, and try not to let your feelings get hurt this time;

That someone can not disprove something means absolutely nothing. If you are more interested in your truth than what is actually true, then fine. Have at it. Just don't expect anyone else to care, or give you the time of day.
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