Home (theory of the ego death and rebirth experience)

Models, Interpretive Frameworks


Importance of context in interpretive analysis. 1

Religion is our innate capacity to experience truth. 2

Flexible term usage breaks old framework into new.. 3

Argument over points, covert argument about paradigms. 4

If no Jesus, ask how extensive the conspiracy. 4

Does full enlightenment require a permanent altered state?. 6

Choosing a definition/paradigm of enlightenment 9

In enlightenment one becomes X?  Whole worldmodel shift 10

The truth about knowledge of the Truth. 11

Status quo irrational paradigms supported by fragmentation. 12

Attitude, interp. frameworks, underlying motives. 13

Analytic and linguistic philosophy. 13

Psych. projecting is of one's own mode of thinking onto others. 15

Atheist counter-distortion motives.  Faith-dependence of theories. 15

Circular convention shuts out entheogen hypothesis. 16

Ken Wilber's new website. 16


Importance of context in interpretive analysis

I should introduce the lyric analysis of "I Think I'm Going Bald", from the Acid Rock Mysticism album Caress of Steel, as follows.

Interpretive techniques include the idea of "paradigm" as an interpretive framework into which the entire world is read and reconciled.  These techniques are useful in finding the mystic reading of acid-rock mysticism lyrics, and of finding the esoteric meaning in religious myth.

This song is a leading example of the importance of context, in interpretive frameworks.   Considered in isolation, this song has no unambiguous allusions to acid mysticism.  But considered in the context of an album full of songs that heavily allude to acid mysticism, a soundtrack for a tripping session, it wouldn't make sense to have 9 songs with heavy acid-mysticism allusions, and 1 song without such allusions. 

A main idea in album-oriented rock is the idea of a tripping soundtrack.  Rush violates this rule by including the jarringly un-mystic (and dreary) song "Losing It", about the fading of the Muse, in the album Signals, which is otherwise consistently a tripping soundtrack, in terms of lyrical allusions to the cognitive phenomena of the mystic intense altered state. 

"Losing It", in the album Signals, lacks phrases that can be significantly read as mystic allusions by the altered mind.  In contrast, "I Think I'm Going Bald", though the least mystic song in the album Caress of Steel, is relatively rich in phrases that can be significantly read as mystic allusions by the altered mind.

The "searching for encoded allusions" mode often arises in the mystic state of cognition.

First, consider the song in context of the overall album as an acid mysticism tripping soundtrack.  Then consider the phrases in the song which the altered mind, in "search/decode" mode, will be read as meaningful and allusive.  This enables a song's reading to be leveraged into the acid-mystic interpretation, by relying on context of other songs and the leading internal phrases.

Mystic decoding happens mostly bottom-up, as well as moving from the overall context inward to the detail.  The whole album must be considered as a tripping soundtrack, and from the other direction in the hierarchy, each word and phrase must also be considered in isolation as an encoded allusion to the altered state of loose cognitive association.

The following lyric lines contain the phrases with the strongest allusions to acid mysticism in this song, given the context of the full album, artist, and cultural backdrop:

We would sit and talk of dreams all night, [trip all night]

Dreams of ... simple truths {new comment: "simple truth" can allude to comprehending the mystic worldmodel}

I walk down vanity fair, [allusion to dominance of ego-consciousness]

Memory lane ev'rywhere [all mental constructs and memory retrieval seen as alike]

Wall Street shuffles there, [perceptual waviness in altered state - walls and streets shuffle]

Once we would take water, But now it must be wine.  [wine = lsd, as in "Cask of '43"]  {new comment: in late antiquity, "wine" meant generally a psychoactive mixture, which typically had to be diluted with several parts of water to avoid overdose}

Now we've been and now we've seen [our ego been transcended, seen Truth]

What price peace of mind. [search "peace" [as a theme in Rush lyrics]] {new comment: mental stability is the most valuable thing during self-control seizure; how to get it?}

Take a piece of my mind. [allusion to psychotomimetic, and concretization/fragmentation of mental construct processing]

My life is slipping away. [allusion to ego death]

Religion is our innate capacity to experience truth

A strategy of silence will have the same effect as no strategy, no action.  A strategy of active revision has a good chance of setting religion straight and right-side-up again.  Making a move of "taking no action" is tantamount to actively voting in favor of the status quo.  One must actively engage and revise religion.  There is no chance of it withering away.  That is a tried and failed approach.  Deep revision of religion has not been effectively attempted.  Ignoring religion has been attempted, and that strategy has failed.

True religion is the experience of truth.  Atheists attempt to eliminate all religion, but then they lose the experience of truth, by eliminating authentic and valid religion along with ersatz religion.  Religion, authentic and real religion, is truth -- religion is the experience of philosophical and metaphysical truth.  You cannot eliminate religion any more than you can eliminate philosophical and metaphysical truth. 

The notion that it is possible to eliminate religion is founded on the lack of significant religious experiencing, and there is really just one significant reason for the lack of religious experiencing: alienation from visionary plants.  Visionary plants are by far the main trigger for religious experiencing, and religious experiencing is by far the main wellspring for religion.  One can no more eliminate authentic religion than one could eliminate sexual climax; we are in fact well equipped to experience and discover religion.

Book: The Innate Capacity: Mysticism, Psychology, and Philosophy

Robert Forman (ed.)



Flexible term usage breaks old framework into new

I include in the category 'visionary plants' LSD, refined concentrates, opium, THC, psilocybin, and others.  By this model's definition, 'visionary plants' includes LSD, just as Ken Wilber's phrase "methods such as meditation, drumming, etc." is a code-phrase specifically meant to include entheogens.  Ott and Dan Russell are so enlightened, they are somewhat hard to outdo, but not very hard.

Medicine is poison if the dosage is such, and opiates are entheogenic visionary plants if the usage context is such.  People are superstitious about names.  Which usage context do I want to emphasize?  A turn of phrase, le mot juste, is worth the entire cosmos. 

I will display the usage of several phrasings, with a statistical spread -- not flipping confusingly and randomly among synonyms, but not adhering dogmatically and superstitiously to a single phrase, either.  Instead I will rely on my overall language system, my overall framework of usage, to flexibly display the usage of all terms. 

We have no more time to waste with silly pointless wrestling with mere superficial labels.  Who gives a hoot if I choose the superficial label 'spirituality' or 'religion', 'psychedelics' or 'entheogens' or 'visionary plants' -- as long as the enlightening conceptual framework is present overall.  Some amount of stretching the usages can actually help break away from the habitual conceptual framework to the new framework.

Within the conceptual framework I'm pulling together, various terms are potentially synonymous.

The following are potentially synonymous:

cognitive loosening agents








pot, acid, and shrooms




visionary plants

The following are potentially synonymous:

ego transcendence





transcendent knowledge

The following are potentially synonymous:

ego death

ego transcendence








transcendent knowledge

Argument over points, covert argument about paradigms

Debate about a point is usually a contest in disguise between two paradigms. 

I criticize drug policy reformers for arguing within the dominant paradigm, trying to win within a no-win paradigm.

Is entheogen-triggered mystic experiencing better than drug-free meditation?  The question is the tip of the hidden iceberg, a huge battle between two entire paradigms, interpretive frameworks, schemes of ordering all data.  What's the relation between brain states, enlightenment, and love?  It is futile and clueless to debate one point in isolation; the actual contest is between two entire different arrangements of these elements. 

The entheogen-diminishing advocates of enlightenment through meditation or through spontaneous mystic experiences are evading the real argument until they start beginning with the right assumption, that the advocates of the entheogen theory of religion of course have relatively good and appropriate solutions for all supposed "problems" or "difficulties" the entheogen diminishers can dream up. 

Drag out a "difficulty", any difficulty, and I can assure you that there is no real difficulty whatsoever.  This is how paradigms work.  One cannot really adopt or dismiss one side of a minor argument; what is at issue is getting the other person to adopt an entire different framework.  It is a waste of time to argue over points unless one explicitly acknowledges that the real, main debate is a beauty contest between two entire frameworks.

>>Every thing has its place in the world, and there is no one thing that can change that.  Any thing placed in a frame becomes bound.  Turn a key into religion and see the door it opens become a trap.  A paradigm for thought models thinking and nothing more.

Thinking affects experience and action.  Just as a debated point is only the tip of the iceberg of a whole integrated paradigm, so is any particular thinking the tip of the iceberg of a whole integrated paradigm including perception, experience, and action.  So it is empty in practice to say that picking a paradigm affects only thinking.  A paradigm models perception, thinking, and action.

If no Jesus, ask how extensive the conspiracy

Michael wrote:

>>The earliest Christian testimony is the writings attributed to the Paul character by the Gnostics, who invented that character to express and legitimate their views.  These letters were probably written around 150 and were cast in the 50s to legitimize the Paul author-character.

I don't know what decade the Gnostics may have invented the Paul character in, or what decade the orthodox began co-opting that character.  I suggest that the Gnostics created the Paul character a decade or two before the orthodox switched their strategy from using the apostle characters for condemning the Paul character, to co-opting the Paul character.  These two periods can be quite close, but there are at least 3 stages:

1. The Gnostics invent Paul.

2. The orthodox condemn the Gnostics via making the apostles condemn Paul.

3. The orthodox co-opt the Gnostics (the popular Gnostic churches/communities) by co-opting Paul.

The two versions of Paul weren't *created* simultaneously; though there was a period of developing side by side.  There were two Paul creations, one following the other, contending and co-existing for a time until the later, orthodox version came to dominate.  Be sure to read Michael Conley's articles at http://thecosmiccontext.de.  Acharya S' very popular book The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0932813747) proposes that Paul's travels and exploits are based on those of Apollonius of Tyana.

The anti-Gnostic version of the Paul character was created for a good, relevant, and successful purpose: to co-opt the popular Gnostic churches/communities, to bolster the project of constructing a parallel subversive power hierarchy within the Roman empire and displace the existing power hierarchy.

Writers in that era regularly fabricated founding figurehead authorities.  It wasn't exactly a secret that these were literalized personifications of a community's view.  Don't only think like a modern/orthodox, if you want to understand the thinking and mode of operation of the first couple centuries.  The orthodox' *own* authority figures were just as much literalized/fabricated inventions subject to being "exposed" -- Peter, James, and John. 

Each figure is a power token, a control-handle, a key to opening or barring the door of heaven.  The orthodox gained more in terms of power, wealth, and authority by co-opting Paul -- like eating the enemy warrior's heart to gain his bravery and power -- than they would have by destroying that figure.

The existence of two opposing literalized/fabricated Pauls makes sense without the existence of a historical Paul.  The Gnostics, or Marcionites, call them whatever you like, invented Paul based on similar mythic-romance wandering religious authorities of the day, as a founding authority figure back-projected into the previous century near the time into which the Jesus character was back-projected. 

Burton Mack explains the dynamics of such founding-figure figurehead authorities, used to represent the view and tradition of each community. 

For a time, the power-mongering officials in Rome attempted to use their apostle figures (Peter, James, and John) to condemn the Paul figure and through him the Gnostic leaders, in order to take over the popular Gnostic communities and incorporate those communities into their own power and authority hierarchy.  Then, the strategizing officials changed tactics and took over the Paul figure, realizing correctly that this was the way to effectively subvert and take over the Gnostic communities.

If Jesus didn't exist, then orthodox Christianity is by far the biggest conspiracy in history.  It's likely that such a massive conspiracy could involve more than one fabrication, or more precisely, literalization of religious founding-figures.  Christ-myth researchers often fail to learn. 

Once we show that it's possible to fabricate/literalize one major religious founding figure, it logically follows in short order that the literal existence of all major religious founding figures should be questioned, particularly those closest to the figure (Jesus) who is already most highly suspected. 

The current situation is that Christ-myth researchers negate the existence of Jesus, yet retain uncritically the overall orthodox paradigm of Christian origins, without it even occurring to them to ask whether Paul existed.  It's *much* too early to draw any conclusions about whether Paul and Ignatius existed. 

But clearly, if we have the audacity to question whether Jesus existed, it immediately follows that we must also begin questioning whether or not Paul literally existed, along with the apostles, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary, and Ignatius. 

Once we have shown it reasonable to call into question the existence of the central founding figure, Jesus, it immediately follows that we should seek to expand the boundary of fictionality, asking which related elements of the orthodox story of the origin of Christianity are co-fabrications, co-literalizations.  Most importantly, we need to test and consider different *ways* of thinking, different paradigms. 

People should be considering whole paradigms, not just the isolated existence of Jesus while failing to develop their mastery of putting together ways of thinking.  The question of Jesus' existence cannot be raised and explored without concomitantly looking for alternative paradigms or ways of thinking, to replace the orthodox Literalist way of thinking about how the Christian religion was created and what kind of activity was involved. 

What kind of activity was involved in creating orthodox literalist Christianity?  Literalization, fabrication, distortion, manipulations, and power-plays.  The orthodox power-mongers lived within one paradigm (amoral power manipulations propped up by deceit and force), while forcing a different paradigm (the orthodox story of the origin of Christianity) upon the world over which they successfully ruled. 

If Jesus' existence can be called into question, then naturally we must ask *how much* more extensive the worldview con-game was.  We need to *ask* where we draw the line at who existed, but many Christ-myth researchers fail to ask that necessary question; they use the uncritical heuristic principle "Assume the orthodox story elements are true, unless a reason to doubt arises, regarding that element considered in isolation". 

They should instead use the heuristic principle "If you're calling the core belief into question -- Jesus' existence -- then also assume the orthodox story elements have all been systematically distorted, often to the extreme."

If we become accustomed to the reasonableness of questioning Jesus' existence, we shouldn't act surprised and dismissive when the existence of the surrounding figures is called into question.  It's not hard at all to imagine a reasonable scenario involving not just one literalization/fabrication of one religious founding figure, but multiple, because the same dynamics that successfully hoaxed one figure can logically and naturally, of course, hoax multiple such figures. 

It would be more remarkable if Jesus didn't exist but the apostles and Paul and the Marys and Ignatius did exist, together with all the rest of the leading cast.  A weak, complicated proposed worldview is that the Bible is 50% myth.  A very strong, simple, viable worldview is that it's essentially 100% myth. 

It's simpler to assume that Paul didn't exist than that he did, and that it was standard and utterly common to literalize/fabricate founding figure authorities to represent religious systems held by particular communities.

The investigation of the existence of Paul, Ignatius, Peter, James, and John is essential for investigating the existence of Jesus.  Since most respected scholars agree that Paul is very much a Gnostic, or is not at all a Gnostic, and Gnosticism may or may not be considered a mystery-religion, the existence of Paul is particularly relevant for a discussion of the Jesus Mysteries thesis, or isn't relevant at all. 

Pick your paradigm, plug in the facts, and see which paradigm has the more beautiful flight.  How can we decide what ought to be questioned, and what is relevant for discussion?  Such decisions are inherently circular.  What is reasonable questioning, and what is outside the scope of relevant and reasonable investigation?  What is reasonable and what is radical and too radical?  Where does the historical investigation of political strategizing stop and the fevered conspiratorial fabrication begin? 

We can't decide what's reasonable to question before we have raised the question.  Since Jesus, the foundation of Western reality, is called into question by reasoning people, it is meaningless to assert that calling any additional Jesus cohorts into question is feverish conspiracy thinking.  We are already asking the question that is a much bigger conspiracy than anything else can possibly be: the very existence of Jesus. 

The existence of Paul, Ignatius, Peter, James, John, Mary, Mary, and Lazarus can only be minor footnotes to investigate.  If Jesus can be questioned, then of course we should also question the existence of a hundred other Christian founding figures and ask not whether, but how extensively literalization/fabrication was used to construct literalist, official, orthodox Christianity and its false history, false story, false worldview and paradigm.

Does full enlightenment require a permanent altered state?

Does enlightenment entail a permanent altered state, or just a permanently altered worldmodel, or a permanently altered "ineffable and indefinable spiritual consciousness vibration"?

Is a series of ego death experiences, in a series of altered state sessions, enlightenment?  Or is enlightenment instead a matter of attaining "abiding nondual awareness"?

Does it make more sense to define enlightenment as a series of ego death experiences leading to a changed mental worldmodel with the normal state of awareness remaining as the default state of awareness, or as additionally involving a permanent altered state of awareness, called a state of nondual awareness?

To answer that, we must ask whether attaining a permanent altered state (of nondual awareness) is desirable and justified in a definition of enlightenment.  What the hell does attaining a permanent altered state have to do with enlightenment?  Nothing at all!  Or perhaps it's the entire whole point and purpose, and the most metaphysically enlightened person in the world has no enlightenment unless he has a permanent altered state. 

How are we to conceive of the character of this distantly rumored "permanent altered state"?  What's it like?  Is it like being on LSD all the time, or not?  You can't pin down these slippery eels, these wishful meditationists, on this subject.  It is and isn't! they say.  Half of them say that the goal of meditation is a permanent altered state, and half of them deny that. 

The common view of meditation is a single view that is of many minds; it can't make up its mind.  So tell me, you meditation proponents: is the goal of meditation a permanent altered state, in the normal sense of "altered state"?  And if so, how many attain it, and with what difficulty, and why should we define enlightenment as entailing that? 

Why not just stop as I do at defining enlightenment as a permanent altered mental worldmodel, following upon a series of altered state sessions?  On what basis can we justify requiring people to have a permanent altered state before they qualify as enlightened?  If very few people attain *that* goal -- works-based salvation -- I tell you, today's bunk meditation conception is Protestant moralist Buddhism. 

They can't stand the easy Gospel; they insist on salvation through laborious works and endless devotions.  Meditationists hate my definition of enlightenment because it is too easy.  They wish for a hard, difficult, never-ending path -- and so never even attain the basic milestone of ego-death enlightenment such as I define it, chasing dreams instead *because* dreams are so hard to attain. 

Still, the puzzling state of things is that half of the meditation proponents define the qualification for enlightenment as requiring a permanent altered state, and half don't.  What *is* their story, their position, anyway?  Do they really even have one?  Please enlighten me, if there is any coherent answer.  "Our position is better!" they say -- but they don't define what their position is, but in hazy ways. 

The contest as it stands is between enlightenment defined as difficult and unattainable fog, versus enlightenment defined as easy and attainable specific results.

The most warranted and reasonable, relevant and practical definition of 'enlightenment' entails grasping a compact systematic set of concepts, together with experiencing a series of mystic altered state sessions of loose cognition, resulting in a permanently changed mental worldmodel but *not* a permanent altered state.  It is difficult and rare, and of questionable relevance and value, for anyone to be able to attain a permanent altered state. 

Many meditation proponents don't venture to define such a state as an essential goal or part of meditation.  I maintain that enlightenment is not, or definitely should not be defined as, a matter of attaining a permanent altered state. 

The essential concern of enlightenment, in the best conception of enlightenment, is *not* to attain a permanent altered state (as *some* meditation proponents assert), but to attain a changed mental worldmodel, which involves conceptually grasping a set of concepts, and which normally involves a series of altered state sessions.

Entheogens are often dismissed because they don't lead to a permanent altered state, while meditation is claimed (by some) to lead to a permanent altered state and thus is claimed to be a better kind of enlightenment than a mere change of mental worldmodel such as entheogens can produce.  The surest ground for defending entheogens against meditationists' claims is to defend a definition of enlightenment that rejects the relevance or importance of attaining a permanent altered state.

Entheogen-diminishing meditationists have only two strategies open to them: claim either:

A. Real enlightenment entails a permanent altered state.  Attaining this state is rare and difficult.  The fact that it's rare and difficult is acceptable.

B. Real enlightenment entails a permanent shift in indefinable spiritual consciousness vibration -- not meaning a permanent altered state or a permanent altered mental worldmodel, but something else.

C. (the position I advocate): Enlightenment is conceptually grasping a compact set of systematic concepts, combined with a series of altered state sessions, leading to a transformed mental worldmodel but not a permanently altered state.

Strategy B is the escape-into-fog strategy.

Strategy A is elitist glorification of the questionable goal of attaining a permanent altered state, which many have tried and few, if any, have attained -- and it's not clear why such a goal is desirable or inherent in a good definition of the essence of enlightenment.

I may have to debate both positions.  The definition of enlightenment which I advocate is more straightforward, attainable, relevant, historically evidenced, warranted, reasonable, and definable than the common definition of enlightenment held by popular meditationism, which holds that enlightenment is about attaining a permanent altered state or is about attaining a permanent altered ineffable and indefinable spiritual consciousness vibration.  The latter two are harmful, false goals that prevent people from attaining basic enlightenment.  Chasing after vague and irrelevant rainbows prevents people from attaining basic enlightenment.

Suppose someone fulfills my definition of enlightenment, and then goes on to maintain that that isn't enlightenment, because it does not yet include a permanent altered state.  I doubt people would hold that view, but if they did, I would argue that that additional requirement -- a permanent altered state in addition to basic enlightenment -- is of much less value and import and relevance than basic enlightenment.  I say that my definition of enlightenment is "normal, basic, standard, full" while their definition is "deluxe, extra, super, bonus".  They would say that my definition is really "minor, elementary, preliminary", while their definition is "full, complete, ultimate".

I agree with those meditation proponents who say enlightenment is not a matter of attaining a permanent altered state.  There is too little justification for such a definition.  There aren't clear claims about whether a perm. alt. state is important and essential to enlightenment, and there is no ground for such belief.  If you agree with me that basic enlightenment (as I define my model of enlightenment) is extremely profound and a definite major change in mental functioning (a changed worldmodel following upon a series of transient profound states), immediately there would be no reason to add the necessary requirement that also one must be permanently in an altered state to be considered enlightened.

I'm against defining enlightenment as entailing a permanent altered state.  I'm against definitions of enlightenment other than my basic ego death definition, because they in practice tend to block and prevent and distract from basic enlightenment; people go chasing after difficult speculative rainbows, thereby failing to meet the basic milestone.  I would not object if you labelled the additional requirement "enlightenment plus" or "super enlightenment", but I definitely maintain that my definition is the only definition that deserves to be called "full enlightenment".  No way does a definition of "full enlightenment" warrant the requirement of a permanent altered state.  I think this is an easy debate to win -- the one against position A.  Position B is the more muddled position and therefore the harder debate to win.

Because position A and C are definite and clear-cut positions, a winnable debate is possible.  The reasonable person can be persuaded that the badge "full enlightenment" deserves to be give to position C, not position A.  Position A takes basic enlightenment, which I defend as "full enlightenment", and adds a freak state of questionable value and relevance: a permanent altered state.  Again, don't pretend that all meditation advocates leap to the defense of position A -- many of them reject the importance or relevance of a permaent altered state; in that, they are my allies in the debate.

The harder, muddier debate is between position B and C:

B. Real enlightenment entails a permanent shift in indefinable spiritual consciousness vibration -- not meaning a permanent altered state or a permanent altered mental worldmodel, but something else.

C. Enlightenment is conceptually grasping a compact set of systematic concepts, combined with a series of altered state sessions, leading to a transformed mental worldmodel but not a permanently altered state.

To argue that C is a superior definition and conception of enlightenment than B, this requires a different mode of argument than used for C vs. A.  A and C are definite definitions, supporting clockwork logical argument.  They even tend to agree in the essence or bulk of what enlightenment is about (because there is good evidence for that bulk; it would be laborious to deviate from that classic core).  Position B is willing to abandon definiteness.

Interesting -- A and C aren't wholly different paradigms.  They disagree on a technicality about whether the qualified term "full enlightenment" must include the "extra" feature of a permanent altered state.  Other than that, they easily and naturally tend to fall into line with each other.  I feel much in common with the advocates of position A.

The real aliens, to me, are the advocates of position B.  We disagree on as much as we could possibly disagree on.  I see A and C as one paradigm, while B is the truly different, opposed paradigm, reminding me of magical literalist supernaturalist Protestantism in which Jesus is punished for our sins and the justification he earns is mysteriously applied to us through belief in him, which spiritually regenerates us in some completely indefinable way, making us fit to step into heaven after standing before God's judgement throne.  Position B similarly enters fogland, with everything unclear.

Choosing a definition/paradigm of enlightenment

What definition of enlightenment does one maintain?  What definition is warranted?  By some definitions, there is no such thing as enlightenment, because it is impossible, and unattainable, and hard, and beyond our grasp -- give up hope, despair is our closest approach to truth.  Most typically, people assume that it is rare and at any time there are, oh, a hundred enlightened people in the world (there is no agreement at all on this, nor any hope for such, about how many there are).

One could define 'enlightenment' in such a cheap way that half of the people are enlightened.  I almost do that; I assert that in potential, enlightenment is simple: with the right systematic model of it, combined with a series of altered-state sessions, most people would pretty easily become enlightened; enlightenment is as natural as puberty, for rational beings.

Normal humans have the innate potential to become enlightened *easily* when properly equipped with a clear systematic written model of enlightenment combined with a series of altered states.  It is impossible to answer "how many enlightened people are there" and "is that person enlightened", without some debate and definition of what "enlightenment" is.

I have a much more definite and compact definition of enlightenment than other theorists.  If you know a particular small set of concepts and have experienced those concepts in the mystic altered state of loose cognition, then you are by my definition enlightened.  My definition is easy to defend because it's compact, it's definite, it's warranted by historical and scholarly evidence.

Different definitions of enlightenment have to be tested and defended or justified, and we can then judge between them, but how do we judge who is qualified to judge?   By my judgement, my definition of enlightenment is better than the others, as measured by the criteria which I advocate.  I judge my definition to be better, in many ways which I may enumerate, than the common dominant definition of enlightenment.

My definition has better evidence -- as I define the evidence.  Mine is more practical -- as I define "practical".  So you see the importance of the concept of "interpretive frameworks" or "competing worldmodels".

One cannot assess who is enlightened without a definition of enlightenment, and one cannot choose a definition of enlightenment without choosing an entire worldmodel or explanatory framework of what religion, high philosophy, myth, enlightenment, and advanced levels of psychology are really all about.

It's becoming clear that I have to write a whole chapter that describes the current dominant worldmodel regarding all these things, to specify and defend my own model of transcendent knowledge -- because you can't debate two definitions of enlightenment without debating two entire worldmodels that differ in many major areas.

I'm a huge advocate of the concept of "incommensurate paradigms".  That idea is the key idea.  It was used in Greek Attic Tragedy, which played on the flip-flop between two conflicting paradigms (per Vernant: myth & tragedy in ancient greece).  People haven't realized how massive my dispute with the meditation establishment is.

I'm saying not just that the mainstream view of meditation itself is bogus, but that the entire framework all around meditation is bogus: their definition of 'enlightenment' is bogus in certain key respects, their conception of enlightened conduct is bogus, that conception of the context for meditation is bogus and prevents enlightenment.  Some people think I am the only disputationist in the meditation world.

But Buddhism has millions of deep disputes.  In fact, the notion that only ten people -- or was it a hundred, or a thousand? -- are enlightened at any one time necessarily implies that all the rest, 100% of meditationists minus a few, are unenlightened.  If practically 100% of meditationists are unenlightened, then they have no authority on the topic of what enlightenment entails.

The first thing in choosing a teacher is to find one who claims that he knows what he is talking about.  Would you choose an enlightenment teacher who is not enlightened?  How can you pick an enlightened teacher -- if only 10, or was it 1000 -- walk the earth at any one time?  The common view is that enlightenment is so hard, basically no one can become enlightened.

I would sooner follow a teacher or theorist who maintained, against everyone, that enlightenment is potentially easy, and has definite content, and is summarizable, and is very different than what everyone assumes.  With the right tools, enlightenment is as easy as passing through puberty, or learning your society's language, or learning physics.

It's not particularly difficult at all -- according to my paradigm, which is incommensurate with the common, dominant, popular paradigm.  There are only two paradigms that matter:

The dominant paradigm of the meditation establishment: enlightenment is ineffable, difficult, unattainable, rare, mysterious, and laborious.

My paradigm (the rational ego death paradigm): enlightenment is essentially simple and straightforward, conceptually graspable, naturally attainable with the right tools, potentially utterly common, and fairly easy and fast.

Pick your paradigm.  How can the practical rational chooser decide between these incommensurable, irreconcilable paradigms?  Use your judgement.  Which worldview seems more useful?

In enlightenment one becomes X?  Whole worldmodel shift

It's too brittle or limited to say "Enlightenment is a change from think that one is an x to thinking that one is a Y."  It's a matter of the whole framework of thinking being systematically revised.  I like to swoop down starting from such a big-picture wholesale revision, rather than attempting to redefine one item (the conception of the construct 'ego') in isolation.

Enlightenment cannot be just a shift in what one thinks one is -- much more needs to be said and changed, all together.  Enlightenment is a shift from one full-featured mental model about oneself to another full-featured mental model about oneself.  The shift involves many subtle and major modifications of the presumed relationships among many constructs.

It's more a shift from one mode of conception to a different mode of conception.  Enlightenment can't be defined by changing one element of the puzzle in isolation ("oneself initially = X, but after enlightenment, oneself = Y").  My feeling is that enlightenment is not very usefully characterized as a shift in who one is from being ____ to being ____.

Enlightenment is more usefully characterized as a shift from one mental worldmodel regarding space, time, self, will, and control, to a different mental worldmodel about space, time, self, will, and control.  The idea that one becomes nothing or considers onself to be nothing is a venerable mainstream tradition, one of two competing ones: in enlightenment, does one become nothing, or does one become everything?

Pick one:

I thought I was a skin-encapsulated ego, but now I know that I am nothing.

I thought I was a skin-encapsulated ego, but now I know that I am the ground of being; all that is; the One.

I would sooner agree that enlightenment is a shift from thinking that one exists as an ego to thinking that one exists as an integrated part of the One.  Language is slightly tricky, because as soon as you utter "I am" or "one is" or "oneself is", that's plenty of a hook for the entire deluded worldmodel to come rushing back in through.

In practice, one ends up saying "The egoic worldview is true and ego exists and was mistaken as x but now is recognized as truly y."  It's impossible to revise the ego -- what "one" thinks "one" is -- without revising all the key parts of the interpretive paradigm together -- time, control, change, freedom, self, and world.

The systemic nature of this revision causes the lazy to throw up their arms.  The first step in a feasible, achievable solution is to talk in terms of mental worldmodels, or paradigms, or revision of conceptual frameworks. 

Before enlightenment, there is self and ego of sorts, including mental conceptions thereof. 

After enlightenment, there is a different self and ego of sorts, including mental conceptions thereof. 

What is the nature of this change?  No simple fragmentary explanation can suffice -- but neither is at all that difficult of a linguistic/conceptual puzzle.  It is essentially an easy, rational puzzle.  My first, main point to head out on the right path is that the best strategy is to begin by talking in terms of wholesale or systematic shift from one mental worldmodel to another.

It's a major step forward just to recognize the practical futility of a simple isolated answer like "one changes from thinking one is x to thinking one is y".  The solution is simple, but first of all, the solution is *systemic revision*, not revision of the ego-concept in isolation.  It's a change in how the mind conceives of the *relation* between whole and part.

The word 'is' is tricky, but then, all words are tricky; all words exist and have their meaning by constituting a framework, a word-network.  Consider the statement:

Enlightenment is a shift in who one _is_ from being an ego to being nothing-in-particular.

The first step in solving the puzzle of what enlightenment is is to consider each word as a node in a shiftable meaning-network:

'Enlightenment' 'is' 'a' 'shift' 'in' 'who' 'one' 'is' 'from' 'being' 'an' 'ego' 'to' 'being' 'nothing'-'in'-'particular'.

There are different ways of conceiving each word in relation to the others and to the implicit greater framework.  Enlightenment requires a transcendent mastery of language, and requires learning to flip among ten definitions of 'is' in conjunction with flipping among ten definitions of 'me'.  A decent systematic summary of enlightenment, combined intelligently with a series of altered state sessions, leads to enlightenment.

The truth about knowledge of the Truth

java_fusion wrote:

>>Truth is the unknowable from instant to instant, from moment to moment.

Truth is known intensely when the sense of passing time is lifted, in the mystic state of cognition.  Truth is largely concerned with exerting personal power across time; knowing Truth is a matter of reconceiving time, will, causality, and control.

>>Truth is found at the center of the pendulum, not at the extreme right, nor at the extreme left.

That statement is meaninglessly ambiguous.

>>When Jesus was asked, "What is truth?" he kept a profound silence. And when Buddha was asked the same question he turned away and departed.

The truth is, there is no literal, single historical Jesus or Buddha, just mystical fiction about founder figures personifying divine wisdom.  The notion of silence about Truth is one of the poorer, least helpful traits attributed to the mystic-fictional Jesus and Buddha figures or personifications of transcendent knowledge.

>>The Truth is not a question of opinions, of theories, or prejudices of the extreme right or extreme left.

The Truth is a matter of simple, comprehensible, most-plausible theories, which are always subject to revision, including experience from the mystic state of cognition, which is characterized largely by loose cognition (loose cognitive association binding).

>>An idea about the Truth that the mind can form is never the Truth.  The idea which our understanding might have of the Truth is never the Truth.

An idea about Truth is an idea.  Ideas can be built up into theories which are developed in light of experience, increasingly approximating the Truth.

>>Truth is something that must be experienced directly, like getting burned when sticking our finger into a fire, or when we choke while gulping down water.

Truth can only be experienced most fully when it is also intellectually understood most fully; similarly, Truth can only be intellectually understood most fully when it is experienced most fully.  Experiencing and intellectual understanding multiply each other, rather than standing opposed to each other.

>>The center of the pendulum is found within ourselves, and it is there that we must directly discover and experience what is real, what is the Truth.

The Truth is found most ergonomically, reliably, routinely, and quickly by integrating and including all sources: experiencing within, first-hand intellectual speculation, learning about others' experiencing, and studying others' intellectual speculation.  Eliminating any of these results in severely lowered ergonomic pursuit of Truth; we cannot gain in ability to comprehend Truth by getting rid of potential sources and facets of enlightenment and intellectual education.

Status quo irrational paradigms supported by fragmentation

A recurring key strategy or pattern in backwards views is an obsessive fixated focus on detailed questions in isolation, thereby resulting in a diversion of attention away from the systemic framework around these isolated elements, and also, importantly, an avoidance of taking full stock of the complete set of isolated points.  Points A through Z are each taken up, considered, and then put back down, without ever treating them all as a group or possible group.

The assumption of a historical Jesus, the belittling and diminishment of entheogens, the refusal to seriously consider Rush as an LSD-based band, freewillist mentality -- these interpretive frameworks are never defended as interpretive frameworks in which all issues are inventoried; these frameworks are protected by refusing to do such an inventory, instead getting people to think reductionistically of each point of debate in complete isolation. 

Similarly, scholars of an alternative paradigm are defeated by treating each scholar as though they are a lone voice, rather than one of a group. 

Reviews of a book such as Acharya's book against the historicity of Jesus, or of Heinrich's theory of Amanita as the basis for religion and alchemy (and by extension, Western Esotericism in general), typically are worded as though this was the world's only book, by a lone scholar, challenging the status quo, when in reality, the alternative views represent a large and venerable school of thought.

The character of focus in the exaggeratedly scholarly Jesus Mysteries discussion group has that character of debating supposedly foundational points, on which and by which whole histories are presumably built and affected. 

I balance that by emphasizing the whole-system view; descending downward with an integrative vision, bringing the vision first, so it seems, and then asking what operations are needed to fit the "evidence" into that.  Really, I picture a network all-levels affect, where low-level evidence affects the high-level interpretive framework and vice versa.

To those who advocate the status quo interpretive framework, they think it seems *reasonable* to focus on isolated questions -- they keep the massive edifice of the received interpretive framework in place, while "vigorously debating" supposedly isolated points within that framework.  My approach instead has long been to ask what happens when you shift entire widespread *sets* of assumptions all together -- putting the emphasis on interconnected systemic shifts amounting to a framework shift. 

The status-quo approach that overisolates each point at issue tries to make lots of minor corrections -- epicyclic corrections -- resulting in a gross distortion rather than a better framework of interpretation.  The result is a colossal category error.  No matter how many corrections you add onto the concept of the historical Jesus, the result is inherently a huge category error, failure to grasp the gist of what the Jesus figure was about. 

The same missing-the-point happens in assessing the role of hallucinatory psychotomimetic drugs in Heavy Rock: instead of seeing these drugs at one point and separately at other points in Rock, grasping the essence requires a more framework-oriented general approach that recognizes the common standard role of psychedelic inebriation throughout Rock Culture, as a perpetual basic presence of the divine experiential gnosis. 

Also covert fragmentation is used to diminish entheogens in religion and in modern spirituality: by treating it as deviant and normally ineffective, by ignoring the great thinkers and their endorsements and utilization, by treating only one advocate at a time, we can preserve the illusion that drugs are scattered and deviant, with isolated odd exceptions -- avoid taking in the whole as a sweeping trend that's wide and deep, and only treat it as scattered shallow puddles -- completely isolate all the instances and portray each of them as deviant, to preserve the status quo interpretive framework.

Attitude, interp. frameworks, underlying motives

One of the major approaches I often use in studying various subjects is to analyze and list out various *attitudes*, such as the many attitudes about the Historical Jesus, the typical two attitudes at cross purposes propelling the free will debate, or the off-base attitudes of entheogen disparagers, or attitudes of Jesus debunkers toward religion, and attitudes of atheists toward religion (such as blindness and consistent total silence regarding mystic states). 

I also am naturally inclined to study online arguments in terms of *attitudes* and *purposes* and unconscious motives, and I damn the prohibitionists and some of the reformers based on analyzing their "misguided attitudes" or their "pretence", and study their "real motives" (prohibition for profit, and racism -- partly reducible to financial profit).  I'm always asking, "What is *really* behind this *attitude* and outlook?" 

I guess a hypersensitivity to motives and attitudes goes hand-in-hand with thinking in terms of interpretive frameworks.  I'm very largely a cataloger of attitudes -- probably more generally I'm a cataloger of interpretive frameworks: "If you think this, then you likely think that and the other thing, too."  This fits with the puzzle or search-space approach involved in theory construction: list out systematically the permutations of solution-components, and evaluate the merits of each combination. 

It's an effective way to navigate through a collection of many different camps, such as the many views among American scholars regarding Christianity: these tend to fall into camps; I suppose much scholarly activity in Christianity amounts to such categorization, which is essentially cataloging interpretive frameworks.  I strive to outdo others in teh art of systematically cataloging interpretive frameworks.

Related books:

Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

Robert Anton Wilson ("reality tunnels") springs to mind

Reality Isn't What It Used to Be (Walter Truett Anderson)

The book on worldviews by a Christian

Cornelius Van Til's theological theory of basic premise-frameworks (atheist vs. Christian)

The world's worst book -- "The New 'Evidence That Demands a Verdict': Fully Updated To Answer The Questions Challenging Christians Today", by Josh McDowell), that demonstrates that if you are hell-bent enough, *any* worldview can be "coherently" defended, on its own terms, even the world's lamest version of Christianity.

Analytic and linguistic philosophy

Refined linguistic precision is required, to securely grasp transcendent knowledge such as:

o  The sense in which ego exists and doesn't

o  The sense in which the mind has free will and doesn't

o  The sense in which people are and aren't separate

o  The sense in which enlightenment is and isn't elitist

10-25% of linguistic philosophy is relevant to creating and retaining a theory of transcendent knowledge that can be reliably and ergonomically propagated.  Most people are very simplistic thinkers stuck at too low a level of linguistic skill to move past 1st-order approximation thinking, saying "We're all one.  Separation doesn't exist.  Ego is illusory." 

Given that there are many pieces of legitimate transcendent insight in circulation, the problem at hand is how to elevate general knowledge from such limited 1st-order thinking about transcendent knowledge to refined 2nd-order thinking.  This could be called a move from poetry to science, but more usefully, it's a move from 1st-order poetry and science to 2nd-order poetry and science.

Intellectual laziness, immaturity, and incompetence result in oversimplistic, limited platitudes, rather than deep insight and nuanced understanding.  Rather than moving the world from ignorance to knowledge -- a valid but limited 1st-order contrast -- the task at hand is, more exactly, moving the world from a 1st- to 2nd-order grasp of transcendent knowledge. 

This attitude is both *generous* to the "ignorant masses" and *critical and judgmental*.  Every sophomore knows that "we're all one, separation is nonexistent, and ego is illusion", but that knowledge is only grasped with a 1st-order level of precision and accuracy.

Amazon might have some books on analytic philosophy and linguistic philosophy.


Linguistic Philosophy


A school of philosophy that emphasizes the analysis of concepts as they are used in everyday natural (as opposed to artificial) languages, such as English. Suggested by the work of Wittgenstein, it is part of the tradition of analytic philosophy and prominent in British philosophy in the 1950s and 1960s, when its leading figures were Gilbert Ryle and J(ohn) L(angshaw) Austin. Linguistic philosophers believe that many philosophical problems arise because of the lack of clarity that results from the way in which we use language; in particular, from our lack of attention to the differences between words and phrases that are used in superficially similar ways. For example, Austin approached the problem of free will by contrasting the use of if’ in he could have done so if he had chosen’ with the uses of if’ in straightforward indicative conditionals such as if it is raining you will get wet’.  Oxford Paperback Encyclopedia, © Oxford University Press 1998

From a longer article, in the Oxford Companion to Philosophy - http://www.xrefer.com/entry/552633 -- There are, indeed, common elements in the thinking of the earlier and the later Wittgenstein. Both are centrally concerned with language, both insist that philosophy is not only quite distinct from science, but that it is an activity rather than a theory of any kind whatever. But what was formerly seen as 'the logical clarification of thoughts', the revelation by analysis of the formal structure which is hidden by ordinary language, is explicitly rejected by the later Wittgenstein and replaced by an absolutely opposed conception of the matter. ... Language, on this new view, has no logical essence. It is an accumulation of a great number of different 'language-games', of which the reporting or description of facts is just one. Each of these has its own way of working and they are no more identical in essential form than ordinary games, being related to one another, as ordinary games are, only by 'family resemblance', an idea on which Wittgenstein laid much stress. Just as it is not the universal function of sentences to describe, so it is not the universal task of the words making up those sentences to name or refer to objects, concrete or abstract, or to ideas or images in the minds of their users. The meaning of a word or sentence lies in the rules for its actual use in real life, not philosophical reflection; these rules are best discerned in the activity of learning how to use the expressions involved; they are the result of decisions which can be altered; but these conventions must be public and shared ... Austin's acute sensitivity to nuances of meaning led him to stress that the language we actually use is the evolutionary by-product of its long and various application. Philosophers, he held, persistently over-simplify, running together words which, although similar, are by no means identical in meaning: 'look' with 'appear' and 'seem', 'inadvertently' with 'accidentally' and 'unintentionally'. Admiration for the refinement and, indeed, correctness of these distinctions is compatible with doubt about whether they cut any philosophical ice. - The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, © Oxford University Press 1995

Analytic Philosophy


A broad movement in 20th-century philosophy, influential chiefly in Austria, the UK, and the USA, which regards central philosophical problems as primarily demanding clarification or analysis of such notions as meaning, truth, and necessity. Although analytical philosophy is a loosely unified tradition, rather than a specific doctrine, there has been broad agreement on some specific matters. First, philosophy is a distinctive kind of enquiry, which employs methods different from those of the natural or social sciences; additionally, unlike, for instance, biology or economics, it is not addressed to any distinctive realm of facts. Philosophy does not seek to construct theories which build upon or add to our knowledge of the world, but to clarify the knowledge and beliefs we already have. Secondly, this clarification is to be achieved by analysis of the language in which our non-philosoical, common-sense, or scientific knowledge is expressed. This framework leaves ample room for internal divisions. There is, for instance, disagreement between Russell's view that this kind of clarification will yield answers to the traditional questions of metaphysics and epistemology, and Wittgenstein's contention that such questions are the products of confusions which the careful analysis of language will enable us to avoid. A related dispute concerns whether philosophical analysis can itself be conducted in a systematic way, using the tools and techniques of mathematical logic, as the logical positivists held, or whether resolution of philosophical problems demands piecemeal attention to specific areas of ordinary language (See linguistic philosophy).  Oxford Paperback Encyclopedia, © Oxford University Press 1998

Psych. projecting is of one's own mode of thinking onto others

Ought we determinists feel pity for freewillists?  Ought we feel grateful for being among those who are destined for embracing the correct and coherent mental worldmodel, determinism?

>That would be measuring worth by the size of genitals, a reminder of highschool days.

What one writes usually indicates something about their own thinking, and often indicates more about their own thinking than that of the one they presumably are talking about.  I don't believe in psychoanalysis but I do believe that psychological projection is real and common, especially projection not of isolated assertions but rather, projection of one's own mode of thinking onto others, producing the assumption that other people must be using the same mode of thinking as oneself.

Atheist counter-distortion motives.  Faith-dependence of theories

Some Atheist books opportunistically cash in on people's trauma from official Christianity, driven by vengeful motives rather than being driven and motivated by pure desire for maximum knowledge.  Atheist scorched-earth debunkers of "Christianity" are selling a punching bag for ex-Christians and anti-Christians to take out their frustrations against official Christian culture. 

Such scholars are obviously intelligent, and are able to understand that 'esoteric' must mean psychological, rather than halting at the literalist (non-esoteric) alternative explanations of Christian origins. They semi-consciously chose to ignore the standard definition of 'esoteric' all scholars hold after Jung, the hypothesis that 'esoteric' means "mental experiential gnosis allegory". 

The driving goal of such scholarship is not to comprehend, discover, reveal, and convey positive spiritual insights or transcendent truth, but rather, just ground-clearing: to demolish and eliminate "Christianity" (viewed as strictly the official version of Christianity, as if that's the only version that has existed over the centuries and areas).  Just as typical Christian apologists do anything possible to distort what they purport to study, so do such Atheist apologists compromise their objectivity, single-mindedly distorting, by the attitude of "the end justifies the means", research into Christian origins. 

Such scholarship is Atheist polemic, apologetics, dogma, driven not by following the clues wherever they lead, but by a pre-set socio-political agenda at the gut level of revenge; get back at the worst version of Christianity.  It is agenda-driven research, where the agenda is "smash Christianity/religion with vengeance" rather than the true scholarly agenda of "discover truth and Truth".

Doing scholarship while traumatized can result in distortion and obscuring of the subject being researched.  The result can be a kind of Atheist fundamentalism. 

Such risk is inherent in forming a theory, because all theories float in the air on arbitrary axioms, in certain ways.  Anyone who asserts any theory is somewhat dogmatic, faith-based, or fundamentalist; Kuhn's theory forces everyone to confront this existential fact.  I admire people who strive to hold a view, accepting their existential responsibility or situation, rather than those who cop out and opt out, saying that because there can be no certain foundation, no worldview is at all justified. 


Arthur Versluis, theorist of Western Esotericism, would criticize me for bringing a "dogmatic, preconceived theory" to the study of esoteric knowledge -- yet he waffles; he also would respect me as an "emic" (inside practitioner/advocate/apologist) of esotericism or of an esoteric school such as my being seen as a founder of a "new religious sect" of cybernetic self-control oriented entheogenic transcendence.

We don't see completely eye to eye on what he calls "methodology".  I advocate the "preconceived" theory that the backbone of religion and esotericism is entheogenic loosening of cognition, in conjunction with study of perennial principles, to encounter the experiential insight of no-free-will/no-separate-self, followed by the resumption of practical self-control.

Circular convention shuts out entheogen hypothesis

Because mainstream religion is alienated from genuine esoteric experiencing, there is little evidence for entheogen use in traditional religion.

Because there is little evidence for entheogen use in traditional religion, mainstream religion is alienated from genuine esoteric experiencing.

The question arises, if entheogens were prominently re-introduced into traditional religion, would they become forgotten and suppressed again?  That seems to have happened repeatedly, the pattern of the plant Teacher of Righteousness arising and then being taken over and then suppressed by the Evil Priests.

The following kind of material, although actually quite a strong contender for part of a new explanation, is actively rejected by communities that *claim* they are dedicated to determining the true origins of Christianity:

> The Son of God is living on earth now.  He has come in the form of sinful, phallic flesh.  Truly he is the son of God.  Eat his flesh and discover the hidden secret of Christ in you.

> Why didn't the Teacher of Righteousness leave scriptural commentaries?

> Photos of the Teacher of Righteousness:

> http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=agaric

> http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=amanita

> http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=muscaria

Ken Wilber's new website


Material from Ken's new book: Volume 2 of the Kosmos Trilogy is now online at the Shambhala KW site.



Home (theory of the ego death and rebirth experience)