"Ground of all Being"?

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"Ground of all Being"?

#1  Postby Shuggy » Apr 02, 2010 3:31 am

Can someone give a clear explanation of what the God as "Ground of all Being" means (if anything). I flirted with this version of theism/deism in the late 1960s, and some good people who aren't fools (eg Bishop Spong) seem to follow it, but it's sort of slipped away from me. I guess it's what a lot of people who say things like "I have my own religion" believe in.

The trouble is that all of the GAGOABists seem to have reached it by whittling away the woo and preposterousness from conventional theism. It's a God without the creationist/revelation/anthropomorphism of the mainstream God, but what is left? Has anyone arrived at a concept of GAGOAB from the other end, by adding goddity to atheism, and does it make any coherent statements about the fundamental nature of the Universe?

Or is it like my Transitional Object (age 4), a Ronny Rabbit pull-toy that had lost his eccentric wheels and his tail and his head and most of his paint, and was in fact just a cylinder of wood with one piece of dowel sticking out of it, on the end of a piece of string? I can vaguely remember looking at him one day and realising that he was no longer the Ronny Rabbit I'd known and loved. I probably never pulled him again.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#2  Postby Goldenmane » Apr 02, 2010 3:35 am

Well, I can't say much about the "ground of all being" thing, but I will point out that when you realise that pulling your wood and calling it a bunny just ain't quite right, then you're getting somewhere.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#3  Postby Blurred » Apr 02, 2010 5:05 am

Well I think it's just a natural extension of the quite commonly held belief in the omnipresence of God, suitably refined and whittled by the obfuscatory sophism of modern theological language.

It seems to be quite a common belief among liberal theologians (like Spong, as you mentioned, as well as others like Crossan and Borg) and I suppose it's a way of retaining the power and grandeur of a universal God while stripping it of all its more mythical, less plausible metaphysical qualities. I can't speak for Spong, but Borg and Crossan identify this belief as "panentheism" (as distinct from pantheism) which might be a more practical term for the phenomenon than "GAGOABology". :smile:
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#4  Postby RichardPrins » Apr 02, 2010 5:24 am

It seems to come from the influential theologian Paul Tillich (who gets mentioned by people like Karen Armstrong)...

You end up with (lay) people saying they are not religious, but they still believe in something...
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#5  Postby Shuggy » Apr 03, 2010 9:01 am

RichardPrins wrote:It seems to come from the influential theologian Paul Tillich (who gets mentioned by people like Karen Armstrong)...

You end up with (lay) people saying they are not religious, but they still believe in something...
I remember long ago, a very common line of the student theists I used to argue with was, "You must believe in something!" But I could never see why I must.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#6  Postby Kafei » Oct 13, 2014 6:35 pm

"Ground of Being" is actually a metaphor for the Absolute. This, I believe, could be distilled through M-theory. Does anyone dabble in string theory?

Well, Rob Bryanton had a metaphor to describe the 11-dimensional hyperspace of M-theory. He said, "Think of it as a place where all possibilities are contained." So, our manifested universe is only a finite subset which draws from this infinite spectrum of possibilities that make up 11-dimensional hyperspace. It is a pure, unmanifest potentiality. Our perception of the universe is projected in 3-dimensional space, and it's often said in string theory that all energy or matter is simply strings vibrating in hyperspace. So, if you could imagine a horizontal slice through a three dimensional cone would cut out a two-dimensional circle. In that very same way, our perception is a slice of this hyperspatial manifold to give way to the appearance of this three-dimensional manifested universe, an on-going interrelationship between the relative interpenetrating the absolute.

This is precisely how Brahman is described in Hinduism. It is absolute, unmanifest, changeless, infinite, and timeless domain that is intuited through a phenomenon in consciousness which eastern mystics have referred to by various names, i.e. savikalpa samadhi, nirvana, satori, sunyata, moksha, etc.

However, mysticism isn't just exclusive to eastern mysticism, but exists throughout all religion. In Christianity, it is referred to as the "Beatific vision," Perennialists believe that all the founders of the major religions perhaps undergone this phenomenon in consciousness which contemporarily has been referred to as "Cosmic consciousness" by Richard M. Bucke, "Mystical experience" by William James, "Peak Experience" by Abraham Maslow, "Oceanic feeling" by Romain Rolland, "Collective Unconscious" by Carl Jung, and most popularly as "ego death" amongst the psychonautics community. So that Jesus, Muhammad, Gautama, etc. were all mortal men who simply underwent this phenomenon in consciousness, and when they began to speak about their experiences, alas each one of them became the founder of a religion. In fact, in Christian mysticism, this experience is referred to as "Christ consciousness." Of course, mysticism is no longer practiced today in Christianity, and has been completely divorced from any practice in Christian churches nowadays. Eastern religion, on the other hand, does emphasize this phenomenon, and in fact, the entire emphasis of Hinduism or Buddhism is to induce this experience.

So, the reason I believe there's no consensus to this peculiar phrase is simply because no one in this thread has had this phenomenon in consciousness occur to them. This phrase is actually a metaphor drawn out of this phenomenon in consciousness. It is an experience that most people, theists and atheists alike, have not experienced, and in fact are intellectually set up to doubt. As William James once put it, "While the revelations of the mystic hold true, they hold true only for the mystic; for others, they are certainly ideas to be considered, but can hold no claim to truth without personal experience of such." In other words, you cannot be convinced that such a possibility in consciousness exists unless you were to have it for yourself.

If anyone's interested, I've written much more elaborately on this topic on a Reddit thread. Here's the link:
http://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAtheism/comments/2biur1/entheogens_and_perennial_philosophy/
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#7  Postby Kafei » Oct 13, 2014 6:38 pm

The "Ground of All Being" is a metaphor for the absolute. It is often used to describe "Brahman" of Hinduism in which mystics claim to encounter within the altered state of "savikalpa samadhi." It is an experience of the absolute, so hence it is given such attributes as unmanifest, unchanging, infinite, and timeless.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#8  Postby Will S » Oct 14, 2014 10:12 am

I'd have thought that 'the ground of all being' is 'whatever it is (or was) that makes (or made) things the way that they are'.

You can, then, if you want to, use the 3-letter word 'God' to denote this unknown entity (or entities).

But, of course, that leaves entirely open and unanswered the question: Does 'God', defined in this way, have anything to do with the 'God' which the adherents of Christianity, or of any other religion, talk about? If a religious person says, 'The God of my religion is the ground of all being', then the obvious response is, 'OK. Go on. I'm listening. Just for starters, can you please explain why you think that the God of your religion exists?'

In this way, you might get into a helpful discussion with the religious person, and he might be able to show you that he's got reasons for believing that it's the God of his religion who made things the way they are, and this God is therefore 'the ground of all being'. Or, of course, your discussion might go nowhere ....
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#9  Postby Kafei » Oct 15, 2014 10:40 am

What you're talking about is ignosticism, Will S. Ignosticism aims to define God before any discussion or debate takes place. Shuggy pointed out that this conception of the divine is divorced from the anthropomorphized God as entity. A lot of atheists couch their atheism against the notion of God as entity, the western religious conception of God that George Carlin made fun of. The so-called "invisible man in the sky" that watches everything you do, and punishes you after you die. That's not what "The Ground of All Being" is referring to.

It is a phrase primarily used by mystics to describe the "religious experience." However, to understand this conceptually, you'll have to remove this idea you have about God as an entity. In Buddhism, this experience is referred to as sunyata. This word literally means voidness, but it doesn't mean voidness in the sense of nothing, of just negative. It means voidness in the sense of "ultimate consciousness." You see, if you would consider what sort of impression would God have of himself? In the eastern view, God obviously wouldn't look at his hands, like we do, and see he's an old man with a beard sitting on a throne. It's instead God as the kind of ultimate, ultimate, then which there is no whicher, outside which there is nothing, which has no edges. He wouldn't therefore look like a ball, he wouldn't like a cube, he wouldn't look like a body, there would be no way at all of conceiving the final self of all Selves. So, that's why it's represented as voidness, as total transparency, as a kind of ultimate space in which everything can happen. This is the "ground of all being," and this is not the imagined anthropomorphized conception of God as entity, but rather a concept transduced from this religious experience where this colossal phenomenon is intuited within the experience itself.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#10  Postby Alan B » Oct 15, 2014 10:54 am

Thus atheists can experience 'The Ground of all Being' since atheism is a disbelief in the theist's idea of a deist entity. :think:

Edit.
Refer 'The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality' by Andre Comte-Sponville, page 155 'A Mystical Experience'.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#11  Postby Will S » Oct 15, 2014 11:40 am

Kafei - You give me a problem! How am I to say how I respond to your message without giving offence?

For there are two options. Either you are saying contains important truths which are, for the present anyway, utterly beyond my comprehension -- just as my cat can't comprehend calculus. Or you are simply stringing fine-sounding words together, but not actually saying anything.

The bottom line is that I simply cannot make any sense at all of your message. If the fault is mine, then is there anything else you can say which might bring me (and others too, I suspect) a glimmering of understanding? :angel:

Indeed, you made me think of an excellent little book, 'Straight and Crooked Thinking' by Robert Thouless. (It's available as a .pdf at http://neglectedbooks.com/Straight_and_ ... inking.pdf ) If you read, in particular, chapter 9, which starts on page 64, you'll find on page 68, a few paragraphs which may show you where I'm coming from.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#12  Postby Akhmet » Oct 15, 2014 12:16 pm

Don't think of the ground of all being as a thing -- that causes confusion (because there is no spoon :) ). The two ways to try to conceptualize it would be pantheism -- God is everything -- or panentheism -- God is the wellspring that makes existence possible in the first place -- which is not, in and of itself, an easy concept and I'm not entirely certain makes complete sense.

Bottom line, though, is that the term 'ground of all being' really doesn't denote a god as 'thing' or person, but is a kind of place-holder word for a relationship. The term actually tells you more about the person using it than it does about the nature of the universe. It denotes a particular relationship one feels with the universe. In that sense all are welcome to it -- atheist and theist alike.

But I'm still not entirely certain that a theist can make full sense out of the term and hold on to any 'real' conception of a Western god by using it. But that may tell us more about ourselves than we want to know -- that there simply are concepts that we cannot grasp in our limitations. If that is the case, then we'd be left only with the feeling that such a god might be with no possibility of argument in favor of it.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#13  Postby Kafei » Oct 16, 2014 4:24 am

Will S wrote:Kafei - You give me a problem! How am I to say how I respond to your message without giving offence?
For there are two options. Either you are saying contains important truths which are, for the present anyway, utterly beyond my comprehension -- just as my cat can't comprehend calculus. Or you are simply stringing fine-sounding words together, but not actually saying anything.

The bottom line is that I simply cannot make any sense at all of your message. If the fault is mine, then is there anything else you can say which might bring me (and others too, I suspect) a glimmering of understanding? :angel:


No offense taken. I admit that a lot of this mystical rhetoric can sound a bit amphigoric, but the reason for that is because if you've not had a religious experience, then you haven't shared that point-of-view, and therefore cannot intuitively derive the meaning from rhetoric at first glance. This is because you've nowhere in your background to relate to the experience, and so the words can often fly past you. That's why it's somewhat of a challenge of those who've had this experience to attempt to transduce it into words or concepts for others, who've not had this experience, to try and grasp it intellectually. However, I'm in agreement with William James, he said while the revelations of the mystic hold true, they're nevertheless only going to be something for others to consider, but not truly be beheld by others unless they were to have the experience for themselves.

What should be made clear and usually isn't is that a "mystical experience" is truly a phenomenon in consciousness. I don't believe you have to believe in any religion to get it, it can happen to potentially anyone. However, most people, atheists and theists alike, because they've never had such an experience really don't know how to think about it. I spoke about it at Atheist-Nexus.com, to give you an example, and a woman commented on mystical experience, and now I believe I can safely assume that she's not had such an experience, and so assumes it's something else. Here's what she said:

The mystical experience is very much a feature of Homo sapiens. There exists a sense of wonder, just seeing water turn into ice or gas, or watching sunrises and sunsets, or the different features of the sky! Then, when one observes birth and death, a more mystical event does not exist as far as I am concerned. None of these involves a god/s. Nature, with all its diversity, presents wonder upon wonder.


You see, she defined it as an intense sense of awe, the sort of awe one might receive when standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, and looking out towards the landscape, etc. That's not what people are talking about when they talk about "mystical experience," that's what the person who's never had a mystical experience assumes it might be, you see.

I used an example in an earlier post in this thread in attempt to somewhat explain this phenomenon, and I also left a link to a Reddit post where I elaborate on it much more extensively, but I'll try and see if I could summarize something here, but I do recommend you read the first post I left on this thread, and if you can check out the Reddit link whenever you've the leisure time to do so. This experience is a colossal altered state of consciousness that if it were to happen to you, you'd have no doubt that what you were experiencing is vastly different from your ordinary state of consciousness. It is not a "personal experience" per se, but is rather described as impersonal or transpersonal in that there are motifs within the experience that cannot be reduced to the individual. The experience is, nevertheless, filtered through the unique personality of the individual. And most people tend to reach for profound metaphors, they tend to reach for the most profound concepts they know in order to describe this experience. So, for instance, if you're religious, you may believe you met God at the height of this experience; if you're a UFO nut, you may inclined to believe that you've fused consciousness with the extraterrestrial; if you're an atheist, you might reach for a mathematical diction as in, "I glimpsed a higher dimension." In either case, something transcendental, extremely profound, and interconnected is intuited by the individual.

Alan Watts, of whom I quoted verbatim in the previous post, the soup of words that you thought to be meaningless, and I'll link the source here. This idea of God not as entity, but as a plenum. You have to listen out for the "final Self." He had this idea that was an extension of Aldous Huxley's (of which he was good friends with) of a Perennial Philosophy. That Jesus, Muhammad, Gautama, etc. were all mortal men who sometime in their lifetime, by whatever means, had this phenomenon in consciousness occur. Then, when they began to speak about their experiences, alas each one of them became the founder of a religion. He points out that because of the geographical area Jesus may have traveled about, there could have been no way for him to be influenced by eastern religion or philosophy. He may knew a bit about Egyptian and Greek mythology, Hebraism, but most likely was not familiar with Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. And because of this, his experience would be filtered through his cultural, religious, and social influences whereas if he were born in India, and had this experience, and announced, "I and the father are one," then a Hindu would have simply replied, "Congratulations! At last, you've found out!" Because Hindus know that this experience is a potential in us all, they knew, more or less, that it has to do with engaging in these altered states of consciousness. This is what "samadhi" is, this is what "moksha" is, "nirvana" in Buddhism, etc. Well, I'll post the link where Watts speaks on this topic below.

Alan Watts - The Perennial Philosophy
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#14  Postby Fenrir » Oct 16, 2014 4:49 am

Still fluffy word salad*.

*With added fallacy dressing. If only I'd had a magikal yet nonspecific experience then I could understand it all.
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Re:

#15  Postby Kafei » Oct 16, 2014 5:45 am

Fenrir wrote:Still fluffy word salad*.

*With added fallacy dressing. If only I'd had a magikal yet nonspecific experience then I could understand it all.


Well, as I mentioned, I get very specific about the experience within the links. I just didn't feel the need to re-type a lot of what I've already explained and linked to. It's only a word salad to the person who's not had this type of experience. So, if you had this type of experience, these metaphors and analogies would no longer appear as a word salad to you, and that's the point I'm trying to get at. I'm going to assume that you probably didn't investigate any of the links I left. The issue with trying to describe this someone is that words like "divine," "God," "spirituality," etc. have so much baggage attached to them. In order for me to really get at what these metaphors born out of the mystical experience are trying to convey, you have to first rid yourself of this baggage, of all the preconceived notions you might have when you hear the word "God." That's one thing, because I assure you, when you finally, without short of having the experience for yourself, try to understand what is being said in an intellectual sense, you'll find that this is not an array of word salad at all. Like I pointed out, the reason I agree with William James that one cannot truly understand it unless they've had the experience for themselves, because they can only ever mull over the "mystical experience" conceptually. This is quite obviously due to the fact that the thing in which they are trying to grasp intellectually is, in and of itself, an experience. The point is not a series of concepts, but the experience itself. It's something you must go through to truly grasp it, otherwise, you're like a person trying to explain an orgasm to someone who's never experienced one. What would you say? "Oh, it feels like your genitals are sneezing." Well, this pays no justice to the splendor of the experience, you see.

Another thing I pointed out, but I'm not sure if you caught it, is that all of us, theists and atheists alike, are set-up in a way to intellectually doubt that such a possibility in consciousness exists in the first place. I know that if I hadn't had it for myself, I probably would share your criticism, and probably would also accuse others of partaking in "word salad," but I know that's not the case, and that's only because I've had this experience for myself. Romain Rolland in a letter to Sigmund Freud tried to make Freud aware of this phenomenon, but because Freud could not find this experience within himself, he disregarded it, and it only ended up as a footnote in two of his books. Jung, late in his life, was slowly catching on, and in fact, this was the basis of his concept of the "collective unconscious," and did plan to meet with Sri Ramana Maharshi, but died before having the opportunity to do so. If Freud or Jung would have spent their effort investigating the "mystical experience," I guarantee it wouldn't be this obscure thing in our culture that sits at the back burner, that is only peripheral, that many people are, in fact, completely unaware of, it's like this missing puzzle piece that would make sense of how the major religions came to be. If Freud or Jung had been directed to it, then maybe it would be taken a little bit more seriously in our institutions today. William James believed that religious experience should be the primary study of religion. Of course, today, in a western context it has been completely squeezed out of the equation.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#16  Postby Fenrir » Oct 16, 2014 5:58 am

Dostoyevski had em all the time. It was epilepsy.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#17  Postby Kafei » Oct 16, 2014 6:31 am

Fenrir wrote:Dostoyevski had em all the time. It was epilepsy.


Well, this is precisely what I mean that because this is not a very understood phenomenon, the nature of it has never been properly studied by neuroscience. There's many ways to induce this phenomenon, a near-death experience can cause mystical experience, in some cases a stroke can cause this to happen as in the case of Jill Bolte Taylor, disciplines such as meditation is also capable of inducing it, fasting for long periods of time as in the various forms of asceticism, the ingestion of shamanic entheogens, etc. When you say that Dostoyevsky "had 'em all the time," I get the impression that just by calling it an "epileptic seizure," you feel as though this somehow denounces it. It's like the people who like to say, "Oh, that's just a hallucination," when they themselves have never experienced a hallucination, and act as though they know what a hallucination is. Sure, a hallucination isn't something projected into three-dimensional space that is "real," but that's missing the point.

Have you ever had a seizure before? It can be quite an insightful experience. In fact, when things like this do occur, neuroscience sees it as an opportunity for psychological insight.

If you think about what a seizure is, it's heightened neuronal activity, even more so than that of the ordinary state of consciousness. While from the outside it can appear quite scary, the inner experience of the person undergoing the seizure is astonishing. While they may be related to mystical experience, I'm not sure if I'd entirely put them in the same category. I say that because I've experienced both, a mystical experience and a seizure. There are neuroscientists that believe that the capacity for the mystical experience may be agitation in the temporal lobes. So, perhaps they are related. However, my experience was far more profound than that of the seizure I had, but the seizure was, nevertheless, quite an interesting experience, too. I had the so-called "mystical experience" prior to the seizure, but the seizure was without a doubt token and trivial when I compare these side by side.

Consciousness itself is still something that neuroscience is still trying to map and explain. If you Wiki consciousness, you'll find a line that reads, "Nothing worth reading has been written about consciousness." It's still somewhat of a terra incognita relative to the neurosciences. I don't deny that these experiences may be just our own minds, but our own minds lit up to such a degree that the informational content of the experience becomes seemingly incomprehensible, and it's this seemingly incomprehensibility that has been interpreted throughout the ages as "God," "Allah," Brahman," "soul," "Shekhinah," "Beatific vision," "Cosmic consciousness," "Nonduality," "ego death," etc. Well, at least that's what Perennial Philosophy is proposing.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#18  Postby Fenrir » Oct 16, 2014 7:42 am

When I think of seizures I think "explainable by material cause".

Why? Well because every instance which has been explained has turned out to be caused by humdrum ordinary material causes. Treatments which moderate epilepsy and reduce the incidence of seizure are humdrum material interventions.

Full stop. End of story. No amount of fluffy nebulous claims will move me. What you need to gain my interest is actual credible evidence that these events are people actually experiencing an actual, falsifiable, independently repeatable reality.
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Re: "Ground of all Being"?

#19  Postby Will S » Oct 16, 2014 10:00 am

Suppose, just for the sake of argument that there were some people who, from time to time, went into an altered state of consciousness for a few minutes, during which time they were able to see through solid objects.

Surely, there would build up over the years a mass of evidence that these people really did have the power to see through solid objects on these occasions, and the rest of us would be driven, willy nilly, to accept that they did.

I'm sure that many people do indeed have what they call mystical experiences. The question is: do they simply happen inside the head of the person experiencing them, or do they provide information about the external world?

If it's the latter, then, surely, we would expect there to be evidence of this, which all of us could examine, whether or not we had had such experiences ourselves. Of course there is the usual problem of proving a negative, but there doesn't seem to any such evidence. Witness the fact that the James Randi million dollar prize remains unclaimed.

To try to put it in a few words: if mystical experiences were experiences of something, then isn't it reasonable to expect the experiencers to be able to bring us solid, verifiable information about the 'something' which they are experiencing?
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#20  Postby Kafei » Oct 16, 2014 3:48 pm

Fenrir wrote:When I think of seizures I think "explainable by material cause".

Why? Well because every instance which has been explained has turned out to be caused by humdrum ordinary material causes. Treatments which moderate epilepsy and reduce the incidence of seizure are humdrum material interventions.

Full stop. End of story. No amount of fluffy nebulous claims will move me. What you need to gain my interest is actual credible evidence that these events are people actually experiencing an actual, falsifiable, independently repeatable reality.


I'm not denying that it may be ultimately material, however I'm not sure that's the "End of story." I mean, like I mentioned before, consciousness isn't a fully explained phenomenon. There are some physicists, in fact, that believe that consciousness cannot be explained solely through materialism. After all, string theorists or M-theorists believe that in order to even explain the universe/multiverse, you have to posit not only our three-dimensional universe, but several spatial dimensions higher. Hence, you have the concept of 11-dimensional hyperspace in M-theory. So, physicsts like David Bohm believed that consciousness may be intertwined with the claims of string theory. Full stop? End of story? Not quite yet. However, even if it were the case that it's ultimately explained off by materialism, that still doesn't detract what I've been trying to say here.

Will S wrote:To try to put it in a few words: if mystical experiences were experiences of something, then isn't it reasonable to expect the experiencers to be able to bring us solid, verifiable information about the 'something' which they are experiencing


I'm supposing that you haven't checked that Reddit post there, yet. Well, yes, I believe that the experiencers are bringing back "information" from this experience. In other words, it is an experience of "something." I mention the work of Dr. Rick Strassman. He believes that what the mystical experience may ultimately be is a natural induction of N,N-DMT which our own body makes. There's heavily grounded speculation that this neurotransmitter may be produced in the pineal gland. So, what he did was intravenously dose dozens of volunteers with pharmalogically pure N,N-Dimethyltryptamine. Lo and behold, when these volunteers had the threshold dose, they all came back with not a personal projection of their subconscious, a "personal story," but it was almost as though they shared a universal experience. They came back with overlapping metaphors. The phrases "fourth dimensional" and "beyond dimensionality" were common amongst the volunteers in describing the experience. Now, maybe it's more that it's something natural within the substrate, the brain itself, rather than the personal detritus of their subconscious and personal memories. Fractal hallucinations were also common, and the surface of the brain itself is fractal, and so perhaps that has something to do with it. Again, these things haven't been properly studied to the point where we could verify any of this. However, the substances reliably induce this, they induce this universal phenomena that the similarities in each individual's experience are such that you could say, metaphorically, "they all go to the same place." It is credible evidence that these events are people actually experiencing an actual, falsifiable, independently repeatable reality.

There's also the work done at John Hopkins University done with psilocybin, a near relative of N,N-DMT, psilocybin is O-phosphoryl-4-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine or 4-PO-DMT, that has shown also at the threshold dose, is perfectly capable of inducing a classical mystical experience as described in various religion.

So, what I mean by experience of "something," and I want to quote Terence McKenna, because I believe his analogy may shed some light on what I'm at pains to express here:

I mean, think about… and I don’t think you could discover consciousness if you didn’t perturb it, because as Marshall McLuhan said, “Whoever discovered water, it certainly wasn’t a fish.” Well, we are fish swimming in consciousness; and yet we know it’s there. Well, the reason we know it’s there is because if you perturb it, then you see it; and you perturb it by perturbing the engine which generates it, which is the mind/brain system resting behind your eyebrows. If you swap out the ordinary chemicals that are running that system in an invisible fashion, then you see: it’s like dropping ink into a bowl of clear water – suddenly the convection currents operating in the clear water become visible, because you see the particles of ink tracing out the previously invisible dynamics of the standing water. The mind is precisely like that, and the psychedelic is like a dye-marker being dropped into this aqueous system. And then you say, “Oh, I see – it works like this… and like this.”


You see, DMT is a neurotransmitter which attaches itself to serotonergic receptor sites throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. If you were to excite the neuronal activity throughout these areas of the brains, it could very easily, experientially, give you an impression of a panesthesia. In other words, it's possible to have the impression that you're experiencing all experience to be experienced at once. I believe people often describe this experience as "being one with everything." It's colossal and and titanic altered state. It's sometimes accompanied by what I could only call agapé, this is a Christian word that means "the love Christ felt," which is supposed to be spiritual in nature and not sexual, or if you don't like the word spiritual, then maternal. It's that so-called "Bible love," infinite, unconditional, without judgement, etc. There are moments when this massive love and bliss is experienced, and you can have the impression that the entire world is emotionally asleep. It's not something I ever exhibited in an ordinary state of consciousness. Now, I'm not trying to tie this in with Christianity, I'm simply borrowing the term because there is no word in common English that I believe that could describe a love so profound. I mean, in this state, it's quite easily to be moved to tears, you could probably murder someone dear to me, and I'd still forgive you. I mean, I say this to try and give you an idea of how profound this love is. Perhaps this is what truly Jesus felt, perhaps he had a physiological configuration that allowed to always act from this state of mind, while most people only glimpse it temporarily in a brief mystical experience.

Sam Harris thought that maybe because DMT is a serotonergic compound, meaning that it has an affinity to the serotonergic receptors and competes with serotonin for the serotonergic receptor site, and serotonin being the neurotransmitter neuroscientists most associate with our emotions that perhaps what DMT is doing is a kind of overhaul of the receptor site that causes these profound feelings of love and bliss. However, like I said, these things especially concerning psilocybin or N,N-DMT haven't been properly studied by neuroscience, so their effects on the brain are still somewhat of a mystery.

What I'm essentially saying here is obviously these areas of the brain are being filled with "information." So, instead of a neurological chaos, what I think may be happening, to connect this to Perennial Philosophy and if Strassman is right that DMT is behind this phenomenon, then it's as though we're given a glimpse into a state of mind in which the connectivity of neural pathways are being lit up to such a degree that the experiential content becomes seemingly incomprehensible. In other words, it may be our own minds, but our own minds lit up to such a degree that the informational content of the experience becomes seemingly incomprehensible, and it's this seemingly incomprehensibility that has been interpreted throughout the ages as "God," "Allah," Brahman," "soul," "Shekhinah," "Beatific vision," "Cosmic consciousness," "Non-duality," "ego death," etc. Well, at least that's what Perennial Philosophy is proposing.

I would not underestimate this experience. Shamans have been using "ayahuasca" for thousands of years, it's a brew which contains DMT. Joe Rogan put this way once, the impression of seeing something divine within the experience, even if you were to call it a "hallucination," there is no way to distinguish between the two experiences. This is because people, usually people who've not had this experience, tend to reduce it to materialism and hallucination. This is the common criticism of those who so obviously have never had this experience.
Last edited by Kafei on Oct 16, 2014 4:40 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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