1.What makes a mystic? It is as simple as calling oneself a mystic. It is that easy. No one else can confirm nor corroborate their mystical claims, for every claim hinges on the promise that a certain type of subjective mystical experience has indeed been had, and the only one who can verify or interpret this experience is the one person who has had them – the mystic. We only know he is a mystic because he calls himself a mystic. Self-proclaimed. Self-appointed. Others can only take their word for it.
originally posted by: Aphorism
What makes a mystic? It is as simple as calling oneself a mystic. It is that easy. No one else can confirm nor corroborate their mystical claims, for every claim hinges on the promise that a certain type of subjective mystical experience has indeed been had, and the only one who can verify or interpret this experience is the one person who has had them – the mystic. We only know he is a mystic because he calls himself a mystic. Self-proclaimed. Self-appointed. Others can only take their word for it.
Meditation Gives Brain a Charge, Study Finds
Brain research is beginning to produce concrete evidence for something that Buddhist practitioners of meditation have maintained for centuries: Mental discipline and meditative practice can change the workings of the brain and allow people to achieve different levels of awareness.
Those transformed states have traditionally been understood in transcendent terms, as something outside the world of physical measurement and objective evaluation. But over the past few years, researchers at the University of Wisconsin working with Tibetan monks have been able to translate those mental experiences into the scientific language of high-frequency gamma waves and brain synchrony, or coordination. And they have pinpointed the left prefrontal cortex, an area just behind the left forehead, as the place where brain activity associated with meditation is especially intense.
"What we found is that the longtime practitioners showed brain activation on a scale we have never seen before," said Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the university's new $10 million W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior.
originally posted by: Aphorism
Mystics see the senses, reason, the body, and the objects within the world as hurdles to spiritual truth, and in so doing, rhetorically denounce these heuristic principles as unnecessary or evil.
If a cross-legged mystic were to assert that while he meditated, he was actually in a supernatural, supersensual, immaterial realm, we could only ever take his word for it.
What is supernatural is the mystic himself, insofar as he attempts to go against nature. The way he contorts his body in unnatural ways; the way he unnaturally relies on entheogens, exhaustion, dizziness, disease, near-death, injury, mortification of the flesh, and prayer for his mystical experience ; the way he manipulates his sleeping hours and circadian rhythms—these sorts of ways to experience life are seemingly beyond nature and unnatural, or at least operating at a limited capacity both bodily and spiritually, and likely the result of pathology, the typical behaviour of disease. Most mystics are found in the hospital.
A couple hundred-thousand years ago—sometime after our hominid ancestors had controlled fire, but long before they were telling ghost stories—early humans huddled around campfires to meditate and partake in shamanistic rituals. Today, when we slow down for a yellow light, recognize a dollar sign or do anything, really, that involves working memory, we have these ancient brainstorming sessions to thank.
That's the somewhat controversial connection psychologist Matt J. Rossano is making. Ritualistic gatherings sharpened mental focus, he argues. Over time, this focus strengthened the mind's ability to connect symbols and meanings, eventually causing gene mutations that favored the enhanced memory we now possess.
"We have decent evidence that shamanistic rituals may go very deep into history, and that these rituals might have had positive psychological effects," says Rossano of Southeastern Louisiana University, whose theory appears in the February Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
Why then do the mystics even bother coming out of their caves? Why do they return to the false reality? And why do they attempt to convince us by using everything they have alleged is false? What he truly wants is to become the godhead of his own religion. He seeks lucrative employment as a guru. He seeks fame. He seeks spiritual authority, for that’s how he sees himself – above others, and others, beneath him. They seek to be atop a caste system – them pure, others un-pure. But, as we can see by conversing with them, looking at them, reasoning with their claims, they are simply someone with an slightly interesting story, but about as mediocre as every other religious narrative. They cannot be judged by their actions because they refuse to act, and when they do, its because they have to and have no other choice, proving their “transcendence” is useless outside their own imagination, and a chance at a meaningful life is squandered. Take my word for it.
An important part of what makes a mystic a mystic is a lifestyle of mystical practices, such as meditation. Long term meditation leads to drastic changes in the human brain that science can detect:
Neuroplasticity is a term that is used to describe the brain changes that occur in response to experience. There are many different mechanisms of neuroplasticity ranging from the growth of new connections to the creation of new neurons. When the framework of neuroplasticity is applied to meditation, we suggest that the mental training of meditation is fundamentally no different than other forms of skill acquisition that can induce plastic changes in the brain
There is something about the state of consciousness that Buddhists call Buddha-nature that leaves its mark in a mystic. Enlightenment unfolds in a psychological pattern that can be detected in the biographies of mystics. That's another important part of being a mystic.
So, to summarize, it is NOT as simple as calling oneself a mystic. Their brains are different, and the psychological pattern of mystical development is the same the world over throughout history. That's why the minds of mystics are off the charts.
Again, the mystics of many centuries, independently, yet in perfect harmony with each other (somewhat like the particles in an ideal gas) have described, each of them, the unique experience of his or her life in terms that can be condensed in the phrase: DEUS FACTUS SUM (I have become God).
Could you provide us with an example of a mystic who believes all that? I certainly don't. The body and the world are vital for spiritual progress. I love them very much. I don't damn anything in the world or anyone. I am not ashamed or afraid of any truth.
You think mysticism is unnatural. You are entitled to your opinion. But without it, you wouldn't be here.
Meditate on It: Could ancient campfire rituals have separated us from Neanderthals?
Rossano's theory might not hold well in some scientific circles. For starters, most researchers doubt that a genetic mutation separated humans from Neanderthals. They think humans simply became better at expressing the cognitive abilities they had always possessed.
Evolutionary biologist Richard Klein of Stanford University does believe that a genetic mutation caused the human-Neanderthal rift about 50,000 years ago. But Klein thinks that this mutation occurred rapidly and randomly—not gradually and as a result of the environment, as Rossano suggests.
"There was a radical change in behavior," he says. "It's not true that it built up gradually."
Klein also doubts that meditation is the cause of the mutation. Rossano's argument is based on a flawed notion of evolution called the Baldwin effect, says Klein, which strays from the traditional Darwinian theory that mutations are basically random.
Other scientists are more open to the idea that an environmental factor such as meditation could have caused a genetic mutation, says cognitive archaeologist Frederick Coolidge of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
But even if the Baldwin effect did play a role, early humans likely harbored a greater cognitive potential than Neanderthals to begin with, he says.
"I don't think sitting in groups staring into a fire would have enhanced everyone," says Coolidge. "There was a background of mutations [in humans] that the environment had not yet selected for, and they became selected for because of these rituals."
Mysticism in the widest sense is every guidance to the immediate consciousness of that to which neither perception nor conception, thus in general no knowledge extends. The mystic is thus opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, while the philosopher begins from without. The mystic starts from his inner, positive, individual experience, in which he finds himself to be the eternal and only being, &c. But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions which one has to accept upon his word; consequently he cannot convince. The philosopher, on the other hand, starts from what is common to all, from the objective phenomenon which lies before all, and from the facts of consciousness as they are present in all.
The damnation of this earth as a realm where nothing is possible to man but pain, disaster and defeat, a realm inferior to another, “higher,” reality; the damnation of all values, enjoyment, achievement and success on earth as a proof of depravity; the damnation of man’s mind as a source of pride, and the damnation of reason as a “limited,” deceptive, unreliable, impotent faculty, incapable of perceiving the “real” reality and the “true” truth; the split of man in two, setting his consciousness (his soul) against his body, and his moral values against his own interest; the damnation of man’s nature, body and self as evil; the commandment of self-sacrifice, renunciation, suffering, obedience, humility and faith, as the good; the damnation of life and the worship of death, with the promise of rewards beyond the grave—these are the necessary tenets of the mystic’s view of existence, as they have been in every variant of mystical philosophy throughout the course of mankind’s history.
For centuries, the mystics of spirit had existed by running a protection racket—by making life on earth unbearable, then charging you for consolation and relief, by forbidding all the virtues that make existence possible, then riding on the shoulders of your guilt, by declaring production and joy to be sins, then collecting blackmail from the sinners.
Neuroplasticity has been around for quite some time. Any activity can lead to drastic changes in the human brain, not just meditation.
In other words, neuroplasticity applied to meditation is fundamentally no different than neuroplasticity applied to skateboarding.
I agree that an important part of the “mystical lifestyle” is “mystical practices” and rituals. But these rituals are not practiced for the sake of performing rituals. For the mystic, these meditative methods and bodily deprivations are performed to achieve a mystical experience.
For the soccer-mom, they are performed for relaxation. This is why a soccer mom doesn’t claim herself a mystic, despite the use of “mystical practices”. If these mystical practices are performed in a way to achieve mystical experiences, then a hallucinogenic drug-addict might be a better mystic in terms of sheer volume of said experiences.
Anything can be detected in a story and within lore. It might be easy to find similarities in the stories of mystics because all mystics claim the same things and in the same manner, namely, that they are a mystic and have had mystical experiences. Of course, the differences are conveniently left out. We can only take their word for it.
What’s worse is that others might call someone else a mystic, for instance Joseph Campbell, who had mentioned he was not a mystic. This amounts to slander.
They have had a mystical experience and made allegations. What they say however, is contradicted by the fact that they have not become God. We can confirm this by observation and experiment. This is the theme of my argument. This renders their assertions quite meaningless, if not dishonest. It would seem that this contradictory mentality and dishonesty is rampant within the mystic archetype.
"First of all, carefully excite in yourself an habitual affectionate will in all things to imitate Jesus Christ. If anything agreeable offers itself to your senses, yet does not at the same time tend purely to the honor and glory of God, renounce it and separate yourself from it for the love of Christ, who all his life long had no other taste or wish than to do the will of his Father whom he called his meat and nourishment. For example, you take satisfaction in HEARING of things in which the glory of God bears no part. Deny yourself this satisfaction, mortify your wish to listen. You take pleasure in SEEING objects which do not raise your mind to God: refuse yourself this pleasure, and turn away your eyes. The same with conversations and all other things. Act similarly, so far as you are able, with all the operations of the senses, striving to make yourself free from their yokes."To enjoy the taste of all things, have no taste for anything."
"To know all things, learn to know nothing.
"To possess all things, resolve to possess nothing.
"To be all things, be willing to be nothing.
"To get to where you have no taste for anything, go through whatever experiences you have no taste for.
"To learn to know nothing, go whither you are ignorant.
"To reach what you possess not, go whithersoever you own nothing.
"To be what you are not, experience what you are not."
Saint John of the Cross – The Complete Works
"Authentic spirituality, then, can no longer be mythic, imaginal, mythological, or mythopoetic: it must be based on falsifiable evidence. In other words, it must be, at its core, a series of direct mystical, transcendental, meditative, contemplative, or yogic experiences—not sensory and not mental, but transsensual, transmental, transpersonal, transcendental consciousness—data seen not merely with the eye of flesh or with the eye of mind, but with the eye of contemplation."
Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul
“In the orison of union, the soul is fully awake as regards God, but wholly asleep as regards things of this world and in respect of herself. During the short time the union lasts, she is as it were deprived of every feeling, and even if she would, she could not think of any single thing. Thus she needs to employ no artifice in order to arrest the use of her understanding: it remains so stricken with inactivity that she neither knows what she loves, nor in what manner she loves, nor what she wills. In short, she is utterly dead to the things of the world and lives solely in God”
“But how, you will repeat, CAN one have such certainty in respect to what one does not see? This question, I am powerless to answer. These are secrets of God's omnipotence which it does not appertain to me to penetrate. All that I know is that I tell the truth; and I shall never believe that any soul who does not possess this certainty has ever been really united to God.”
Teresa of Ávila – The Complete Works