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  1. #1
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Default Mystical Experience

    I have had mystical experiences. I believe in mystical experiences.

    Many, if not most, people have had mystical experiences. If you haven't, you can. Meditation, yoga, etc. can provide them, but it is not guaranteed and could take years even if it happens. Psychedelic drugs put an absolute guarantee on mystical experience, although I do not recommend taking them. The experience is fundamentally unpredictable at this point in our knowledge of them, and your experience may indeed be mystical, but of the "evil" sort. After all, hell is just as spiritual a place as heaven, is it not?

    So obviously mystical experiences exist, but what can we really say about them? They are by their nature tempting to read in to, but are they really any different from something like dreaming? Dreaming is not quite the same thing as a mystical experience, but it would be hard to say it is not equally mysterious. We know little about it, and can say little about what our dreams truly mean and why we dream what we dream. That doesn't stop some of the more dishonest or non-rigorous among us to go about trying to attribute significance to their dreams they cannot prove.

    In the same vein, people have always and continue to do the same thing with mystical experience. I myself was once visited by Jesus when I was on a drug (and believe me, this is one of many visits by deities), and I had a full blown experience of being full of sin but redeemed by this savior, and it was so powerful I was left on my knees sobbing in pure awe and humility. Weird stuff, right? That left me bewildered for years to come, but ultimately, I never took that experience and made a doctrine out of it.

    What I have retained is something that I think anyone can appreciate. I still have this curiosity, this sense of excitement about that experience and what questions it raises. I think it is an interesting facet of the mind to contain these things within it, and it points a promising path toward things we will learn in humanity's future. We will surely, in a sense, unlock these experiences and educate ourselves in them, harness them. Perhaps we will be able to summon them at will and share them with each other as a way to commune and know each other in the deepest ways imaginable. Anything I say at this point, and much more could be said, is pure speculation, but I can safely say that I don't believe spiritual experience is an idea that should simply be flushed down the toilet because we can't say much about it yet.

    I do, however, firmly believe that we can't have these sorts of experiences at this point and use them as a way of gleaning truth about the universe--which it is admittedly very tempting to do. Many a time on mushrooms and other drugs have I had the most Earth-shaking epiphanies about how one should live in this world, or what may be the truth about the cosmos. When I sober up, I am truly back to normal. I remember those epiphanies, but they don't have the same impact anymore. I can't remember how I got to them.... and I certainly can do nothing to prove them.

    The world we live in right now is not a particularly spiritual one, not compared to what it could be. If you've never had this sort of experience, if you've never taken a big dose of this sort of drug, you can simply have no concept of what I'm talking about, but suffice it to say, experience can be far more spiritual than it commonly feels to a sober person, as we are in today's world. Not saying things won't change, and I'm not saying things are entirely unspiritual now. We get a very, very faint glimpse of the depth of those mystical experiences from time to time, when we see a beautiful scene, when we are moved by a song, when we feel deep love of another person or animal, when we laugh until our sides hurt, when we look out into the stars and wonder about all the possibilities.

    The future is promising, if we continue to value peaceful exploration and scientific growth. We will use our expanding knowledge to cure the inherent Darwinian maladies and tragedies of our minds. We will grow in our abilities of psychoanalysis, nutrition, and chemical states, and we will increase our general health to levels it's never been before. All I have to point out here is the trend that we can already clearly see. Someone born in America today, and indeed much of the world, has an expected health-span and life-span never before existent on this planet. We've brought that about with unprecedented understanding of the mind and body, and of nature around us. We can only expect this increase of wellbeing to continue into more and more blissful states, far into the future.

    As a final comment, I do want to emphasize that this is not a given. We need to retain this open state of mind. We need to stop short of turning our speculations into unprovable dogma. There are those out there who have seen these sorts of experiences and become fanatical and rigid in their beliefs about them, and these are dangerous people indeed.

    What I so desperately wish to tell them is that the joy and promise of these experiences still remains, even if we admit to what we don't truly know. No one can deny the existence of mystical experience itself, and our future ability to continue to unlock it and find out more. If anything, to ossify it into a doctrine at this point is to destroy it in yourself, to shut off all possibilities and cut yourself off from this excitement by narrowing it all down. What we can truly say is that literally all cultures have their own unique versions of spiritual experience with a few broad commonalities - and this, to me, seems like a great feast waiting to be explored and loved, should I not limit myself to one particular understanding.

    Good day.

  2. #2
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Night shift bump -_-

  3. #3
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    This is supposedly coming out soon. Sam Harris is a great thinker and writer, now one of my favorites (although I didn't like him for years). Sounds like it's going to be the same thing I'm thinking about here.


  4. #4
    WhoCares
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    While I dont doubt mysticism has a place, I'm not sure it realy needs to be proven. Placebo is a powerful drug in and of itself. Belief alone can work miracles on someone's sense of wellbeing and future experiences. I'm not sold on the idea that things need to be proven before we can believe in them. Sure people believe in whacked out shit that has tragic consequences, but is it really humanity's job to prevent each and every single lemming from jumping off a cliff if they are so inclined?

    A lot of the magic of belief and mysticism is that it cant be proven, and therefore requires a certain frame of mind to hold onto consistently. It requires no effort for me to believe in electricity for example. But the expending of effort in the pursuit of a goal, even a mystical one, brings its own reward and satsifaction.

  5. #5
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    While I dont doubt mysticism has a place, I'm not sure it realy needs to be proven. Placebo is a powerful drug in and of itself. Belief alone can work miracles on someone's sense of wellbeing and future experiences. I'm not sold on the idea that things need to be proven before we can believe in them. Sure people believe in whacked out shit that has tragic consequences, but is it really humanity's job to prevent each and every single lemming from jumping off a cliff if they are so inclined?
    I'm not saying it needs to be proven. As far as I am concerned, like I said, mystical experiences are a fact, they exist. What I want is for us to learn more about what they are and how to access them and incorporate them.

    Belief alone can work miracles, kind of, but this is beyond that. This is the experience itself, without belief.

    The thing about these "lemmings" you speak of is that they aren't just harmful to themselves. So yes, I see it as at least my responsibility to educate people as best is possible.

    A lot of the magic of belief and mysticism is that it cant be proven, and therefore requires a certain frame of mind to hold onto consistently. It requires no effort for me to believe in electricity for example. But the expending of effort in the pursuit of a goal, even a mystical one, brings its own reward and satsifaction.
    Not so sure I agree with this. Have you ever taken psychedelics or had a mystical experience? It's about far more than just the fact that it can't be proven. Those experiences are extremely profound and ecstatic, yet we have done virtually nothing to integrate them into society. This is surely something that can, and I think will, be done.

    Then again I'm really not quite sure what you mean here.

  6. #6
    WhoCares
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    The basic difference I think here is that we are on totally different wavelengths. I often find your posts to have a logic I cant follow although on occassion the subject is interesting to me. I am a much more literal thinker than you imagine I feel. What you say is taken literally by me rather than a reading between the lines you intend. In that way, I'm quite unimaginative, so there is always the large possibility that I miss the drift entirely.

    Yes I have had a mystical experience (although it was a near death, rather than psychodelic one). I get what you mean about the lemmings, but then a lot of people are easily influenced by something as simple as charisma so I think trying to save people from themselves is a battle that cant be won. And I'm divided on the need to do so anyway.

    So I guess what I mean there is that if the pursuit of the mystical experience becomes effortless (as in readily accessible to anyone\anytime) would it not then become mundane rather than mystical? One of the great delineators of these hyper-realisitic moments is the fact they aren't everyday occurences. The human organ is an adaptogen, what seems mind blowing now could easily become ordinary with enough exposure. Or perhaps I misread your meaning in the original post entirely.

  7. #7
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Drugs only provide the illusion of mysticism.

    However there are very long traditions of mysticism in most religions.

    And what is interesting is that the mysticism in various religions is surprisingly similar.

    There is a whole literature on mysticism from The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous, a medieval text, to Waking Up by Sam Harris, a text of today.

    However in between Anonymous and Sam Harris there is a whole world of mysticism.

    If I may give you some advice, find a mystic whom you love.

    Some mystics you may instinctively love and some you may not. I love the mystic, Simone Weil (pronounced Vey), the first female graduate of the Sorbonne.

  8. #8
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    The basic difference I think here is that we are on totally different wavelengths. I often find your posts to have a logic I cant follow although on occassion the subject is interesting to me. I am a much more literal thinker than you imagine I feel. What you say is taken literally by me rather than a reading between the lines you intend. In that way, I'm quite unimaginative, so there is always the large possibility that I miss the drift entirely.

    Yes I have had a mystical experience (although it was a near death, rather than psychodelic one). I get what you mean about the lemmings, but then a lot of people are easily influenced by something as simple as charisma so I think trying to save people from themselves is a battle that cant be won. And I'm divided on the need to do so anyway.

    So I guess what I mean there is that if the pursuit of the mystical experience becomes effortless (as in readily accessible to anyone\anytime) would it not then become mundane rather than mystical? One of the great delineators of these hyper-realisitic moments is the fact they aren't everyday occurences. The human organ is an adaptogen, what seems mind blowing now could easily become ordinary with enough exposure. Or perhaps I misread your meaning in the original post entirely.
    I think we do have a sort of equilibrium happiness - we do get used to things to a degree, whether good or bad - but like in chemistry, I don't think that equilibrium is ever absolute, I think it can and does shift. It would be a bit ridiculous to assume, for instance, that after a few months or years I would be as happy living in a Siberian prison as I do in my nice apartment in an American city.

    Ultimately, though, the human is not truly an "adaptogen" as you say. The biochemical pathway for pleasure, for instance, can be stimulated such that a state of intensely pure bliss is achieved and maintained without dulling. Now, with the drugs, like say LSD, I don't think that you could take it every day and not get a little bit used to it, never mind the problems you would have functioning in society at this point. But I don't think the future door to the spiritual experience will be LSD. I think it will be something better than that, whether it be a drug, genetic, or what-have-you. Society itself will be structured quite differently, and not as far in the future as you may think. Change is happening faster than it ever has... which is to say, these kinds of states might become common, if not functional.

    I think they will lead to a deeper experience of life in the same way that life has already been deepened, IMO. I enjoy not having to work in a field all day long. I have quite a lot of leisure time, which I can spend on the finer things in life. I assume most people take this kind of living for granted, as they never lived in the times when they would have literally had to spend all day every day in the fields working (if they were like most people). And that's just the way things are. It bugs me a little, but I guess it's not so bad. If you ask me, superintelligence itself is already here. Check out this excerpt from this article:

    People Everywhere Are Getting Smarter

    About half of Americans two generations ago would have been diagnosed as mentally retarded based on today’s IQ tests.

    In 1980, the New Zealand political scientist James Flynn discovered that average IQs in many countries have been drifting upward at about 3 points per decade over the past couple of generations. In fact, the average has risen by an astonishing 15 points in the last 50 years in the United States. In other words, a person with an average IQ of 100 today would score 115 on a 1950s IQ test, and a person of average IQ today would have been in approximately the top 15 percent of same-age scorers 50 years ago. If the average American kid were to take the first Stanford-Binet IQ test from 1932, she would score about 124 points today.

    “This means that on an IQ test made in 1930 the average score of the entire population would give an IQ between 120 and 130 according to the original standardization,” the Hungarian technologist Kristóf Kovács explains. So “instead of 2 percent, 35–50 percent of the population would have an IQ above 130. And vice versa; if the current standard was applied to people living in 1930, average IQ would be between 70 and 80, and instead of 2 percent, 35–50 percent would be diagnosed with mental retardation.”

    What accounts for this massive increase in IQ scores? Researchers have suggested a panoply of causes, including better nutrition, exposure to more mentally challenging media, and more formal schooling, but my favorite is the reduced load of infectious childhood diseases.

    A fascinating study published in the June 2010 Proceedings of the Royal Society by the University of New Mexico biologist Christopher Eppig and his colleagues finds an intriguing correlation between the average IQ of a country’s citizens and the intensity with which they suffer from parasites and infectious diseases. The authors note that the brains of newborns burn up 87 percent of infants’ metabolic energy; 5-year-old brains use 44 percent; and adult brains consume 25 percent of the body’s energy. Mobilizing the immune system to fight off diseases and parasites is very metabolically expensive, diverting nutrients and energy that would otherwise be used to fuel the building and maintenance of the human brain. If this analysis is substantially correct, then promoting public health also promotes higher IQs.

    The new study reports, “Infectious disease remains the most powerful predictor of average national IQ when temperature, distance from Africa, gross domestic product per capita and several measures of education are controlled for. These findings suggest that the Flynn effect may be caused in part by the decrease in the intensity of infectious diseases as nations develop.”

    The converse of this research should find a correlation between higher average IQs and increasing allergy and asthma rates. Allergy and asthma rates are hypothesized to be on the rise because children’s immune systems, no longer challenged by infections, have become oversensitive, attacking the bodies they are supposed to protect. Myopia also correlates with higher IQ scores; U.S. myopia rates in people ages 12 to 54 increased from 25 percent in 1971–72 to 41.6 percent in 1999–2004. But higher IQ correlates with better health and longer lives, less propensity to commit crimes, and higher income (although not greater than average personal wealth).
    Some pretty weird stuff there. And that's not even counting the external intelligence we effectively have because of our magical answer-machine pocket computers that are only getting faster and smarter. Again, no one appreciates this. They just always assume "we're never there yet."

    Another interesting thing about that article was the mention of the spread of porn and the simultaneous drop in rape. Btw.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    Drugs only provide the illusion of mysticism.

    However there are very long traditions of mysticism in most religions.

    And what is interesting is that the mysticism in various religions is surprisingly similar.

    There is a whole literature on mysticism from The Cloud of Unknowing by Anonymous, a medieval text, to Waking Up by Sam Harris, a text of today.

    However in between Anonymous and Sam Harris there is a whole world of mysticism.

    If I may give you some advice, find a mystic whom you love.

    Some mystics you may instinctively love and some you may not. I love the mystic, Simone Weil (pronounced Vey), the first female graduate of the Sorbonne.
    I've already been down the mysticism path. It actually strikes me as... less mystical than the science and rationality path. It seems outdated, confused. And I think Sam Harris does a perfectly good job of illustrating that. He obviously spent a great deal of time, like I did also, on the zen path, and has since moved on to talk about the end of religion and other topics of rationality. To me, the zen path is about destroying itself. Others would agree (kill the Buddha, anyone?).

    Drugs do not just provide an illusion of mysticism. Many, many cultures have used drugs as central to their mysticism, such as DMT and iboga and many more. These states aren't any more or less real than whatever other kinds of mysticism are out there. They simply are what they are. What you see on DMT, for example, doesn't need justification. The experience is spiritual whether synthetic or not. And in the end, what is the difference?

    Interesting video here: Bruce Perry takes tribal Iboga sacrament:



    And part 2 & 3, which is the main parts (this is where it gets really fun):


    What an amazing experience. I have always felt that our culture was missing something like this. These people truly respect those plants and their product chemicals, and for good reason. The experiences they bring about are one of the most awe-inspiring things this planet has to offer, without a doubt. Anyone who hasn't done this at least once in their life is, IMO, missing out on part of the human experience. It's something of a luxury that in these cultures, however primitive they may be, you can have this kind of experience and not have to be an outcast - rather, it is deeply woven into their sense of community. Our culture, by contrast, may have all of the physical and material comfort the world has to offer, but our drug of choice is alcohol, which is a very stupefying one indeed.

    Just thoughts, though. All speculation. My overarching point is that I am excited about future discoveries.

  9. #9
    WhoCares
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    Interesting article about intelligence. I'm not disputing we are getting more intellectual but are really any smarter? Yes we have access to more information than ever before and yes we sre educated to a higher degree than ever before but an IQ test measures only a specific kind of functional intelligence. What it doesnt measure is how effective we are at using the resources available to us. Now I realise my personal experience is very subjective and certainly not representative if society worldwide. But what I have noticed is younger people lack both resilience and resourcefulness.

    My coworkers for example constantly turn to me for solutions to the simplest of problems rather then attempting to resolve them, themselves. Their automatic response seems to be...ask someone else to fix it. These are not brainbusters, simple things like such and such doesnt want to sit there what do I do? The answeris obvious, give them the choice of where they can sit or the option to stay put. Why this question even needs to be passed by me is beyond my reckoning.

    So while we have an information explosion and an education explosion (thats obvious) are we better problem solvers? Does more energy for the brain really create superhumans or does it only create the potential for such. Potential that we could be wasting at this present time? I ask this not to dampen enthusiasm for where humanity is headed, because I sincerely hope it is headed for super intelligence and amazing technology, but to ask, has our system of society, education and socialisation maximised the potential, or is it holding it back?

  10. #10
    Senior Member zago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    Interesting article about intelligence. I'm not disputing we are getting more intellectual but are really any smarter? Yes we have access to more information than ever before and yes we sre educated to a higher degree than ever before but an IQ test measures only a specific kind of functional intelligence. What it doesnt measure is how effective we are at using the resources available to us. Now I realise my personal experience is very subjective and certainly not representative if society worldwide. But what I have noticed is younger people lack both resilience and resourcefulness.
    It is hard for older people not to see younger people that way. I myself have to struggle not to see them as whiny, immature, and incompetent. But we are incompetent in what they find important, which is indeed the future, as has always been the case. Whatever kids these days are using and into, that's what will be the operating system of the future, so to speak. I remember I was big on computers and such as a kid, and to this day my mom (and not as much, but to some extent my dad too) is basically computer illiterate, and she finds herself in a world that is moving on without her.

    To an extent, we have to ride the wave. We don't like change, but it tends to be good.

    It's hard to say, though, that we are not functional in our intelligence. People today seem more capable and functional than ever. Look at all we've built. Look at everything we can do. We've getting ready to enter the age of biotechnology, nanotechnology, AI. We're seeing this explosion of creativity and do-it-yourself independence, and the internet is like a window that opens up allowing every one of us to see every bit of the diversity that is out there that never could have existed before.

    Here's something I saw today:



    I mean, I dunno. There's a lot of stuff like this out there, a lot of equally mindblowing stuff. It's so ubiquitous these days that it hardly even gets credit. Look what we can do:



    This is just two 20-something joe-schmoes in their backyards with a badass camera, and it's like the coolest thing in history. It allows us to see nature herself on a resolution no one ever could have dreamed. Our world is fast becoming a dream!

    My coworkers for example constantly turn to me for solutions to the simplest of problems rather then attempting to resolve them, themselves. Their automatic response seems to be...ask someone else to fix it. These are not brainbusters, simple things like such and such doesnt want to sit there what do I do? The answeris obvious, give them the choice of where they can sit or the option to stay put. Why this question even needs to be passed by me is beyond my reckoning.
    I understand, I used to be a teacher. People don't take their jobs (or school) very seriously and they generally slack as much as possible. Whatever they do in their free time is what is important, I think. If you've got an open enough mind, people do some pretty awesome things.

    So while we have an information explosion and an education explosion (thats obvious) are we better problem solvers? Does more energy for the brain really create superhumans or does it only create the potential for such. Potential that we could be wasting at this present time? I ask this not to dampen enthusiasm for where humanity is headed, because I sincerely hope it is headed for super intelligence and amazing technology, but to ask, has our system of society, education and socialisation maximised the potential, or is it holding it back?
    I want to give a better answer than this, but I almost think you're being too hypothetical. What alternatives are you talking about? Those realities don't exist. Look at what's given, and it could amaze you.

    Are we better problem solvers, though, truly? Apparently. We recently discovered this Higgs particle, and we just got a spacecraft into intergalactic space. Those were big achievements, and there are many more like them that we are currently working on. Hell, we have plans to establish a colony on Mars in the 2020s, which hopefully will succeed. We're curing cancer at a fast rate, and many other diseases too. Malaria is on its way out, and polio is breathing its dying breath. Poverty has gone down greatly, pollution is down in the western world... but not yet China, but I hope they're not far behind.

    And so much more.

    What problems are you referring to that need solving that we won't be able to solve?

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