Simplicity is a key principle in theory choice and defending a theory. Conventional theology is complicated, unclear, and evasive. For example, Reform theologians have to learn to distract with verbiage that avoids the natural, glaring, obvious questions such as, if there is no free will, then sin loses its sting and so does salvation. The entheogen theory of the origin of Christianity asserts that entheogens were used as the true central sacramental food and drink ingested before the main experiences of initiation and union with the dying/rising savior.
A mark against this entheogen theory is that we don't have much evidence for it. On the other hand, neither do the non-entheogen scholars have any convincing hypotheses to explain how intense religious experiencing was routinely and reliably produced. In the case of this issue, the choice is between a simple, clear theory (the sacred food and drink is entheogenic) and no theory at all unless you count the completely unconvincing idea that it was all an impressive drama, like a movie, so intense that it was a religious experience.
So this is a case of choosing a simple theory versus no theory (throwing one's arms up, saying scholars remain utterly baffled by the mystery-religions). In the case of the formation of Christianity, we now have simple theories or supernaturalist theories to pick from. People may criticize the entheogenic, deterministic, allegorical, self-control cybernetics theory I am putting together, because entheogens are supposedly far-fetched, or because determinism is not a dominant principle in today's world of thought, but the theory still remains by far the simplest explanation, much clearer and simpler (if you accept certain ideas of what clarity and simplicity is) than supernaturalism (Tim LaHaye) or the Christian theological Historical Jesus interpretation (Marcus Borg or N. T. Wright).
Those who seek the simplest possible model have options to choose from: start from supernaturalist axioms and start doing rational model-building on top of those axioms, or start from naturalist, modernist science and engineering perspective (David Bohm's holographic worldmodel) and continue building a rational worldmodel on top of that. The only sizable criticism you can make of the entheogen theory is that there is little explicit written evidence about specific plants as the sacred food, and that the idea is officially unfamiliar to religion scholars.
Against the official stance which claims that entheogens are radically unfamiliar and alien to scholars, in fact we have to conclude that the entheogen theory has become *familiar*. Back in 1950 we could honestly claim that the entheogen "3rd alternative" to supernaturalism and atheism was unknown in the scholarly world. But now, in the 21st century, any scholar of religion who professes that his field knows not of entheogens and excludes the subject, can only be considered a pretender speaking dishonestly.
The entheogen theory is no longer a novel proposal. Even Martin Marty is aware of that alternative; he took the opportunity to mock it and distort Allegro's theory (Sacred Mushroom & The Cross). In a blurb in the beginning of Crossan's new book Excavating the Bible, Marty welcomes the book as a sensible alternative to such theories as that "Jesus was a member of a mushroom cult".
If Marty is thinking of Allegro, he missed half the point: Jesus wasn't a *member* of the cult, but was, as the Jesus figure is made to say in the scriptures, the sacred food that saves and cancels sin, consumed by the cult members.
The book I have in mind is:
Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts, by John Dominic Crossan, Jonathan L. Reed, October 2001
It's a good book covering the socio-political background of the formation and origins of Christianity, supplemented but not dominated by archaeological details."
In the free will versus determinism debate, determinism has the advantage of clarity, simplicity, and specificity, compared to the freewillist position.
In the mystery about how the mystery religions reliably induced religious experience, the entheogen theory has the advantage of clarity, simplicity, and specificity, compared to the helpless non- theory of the scholars, who are completely baffled.
In the mystery about how early Christians had a vision of Christ, the entheogen theory has the advantage of clarity, simplicity, and specificity, compared to the mind-averse proposal that the Holy Spirit is a supernatural event, a "mystery" that is truly inexplicable, a miracle. The main reason scholars can reject the entheogen theory is that it is unfamiliar, but that defense is so impotent, it is already useless, because it is no longer unfamiliar.
Why don't they adopt the entheogen theory of the origin of Christian religious experience? Because of reasons that can only provide a foundation of sand: they are slow to change, they are politically prohibited from expressing such views, because Allegro embarrassed people with his tabloid, sensationalist presentation of the theory, because entheogens are (falsely) associated in our current culture with outcasts.
None of these kinds of reasons are worth anything to critical thinking. These are excuses, not reasons. I can forgive scholars for not understanding determinism, but not for their frequent assumption that the entheogen theory can be dismissed out of hand. It's not the entheogen theory that's weak or requires hand waving, it's the supernaturalist theory and the purely emotionalist explanation of mystery-religion experience that should be ridiculed, dismissed out of hand, and are weak and require hand waving.
Everything is upside-down, when supernaturalist explanations of the origins of Christian religious experience are held to be more sensible and better evidenced than entheogenic explanations.
Scholars have a truckload of shoddy pseudo-reasons and excuses to relegate the entheogen theory to the closet while pretending that their supernaturalist or emotionalism proposals about religious experiencing in mystery-religions and early Christianity should be taken seriously. The entheogen theory is a relatively exact and specific theory on a solid foundation of evidence, compared to the supernaturalist and devotional apologetics theory about how such religious experiencing came about.
Similarly, one of the best arguments in favor of the mythic-only Christ theory is its tremendous simplicity. The most complicated theory in the world is Christian orthodoxy. All simplicity is on the side of the Gnostics; this is reflected clearly in Pagels' books The Gnostic Gospels and The Gnostic Paul. Gnostics, we may easily assume and generalize, used entheogens, held determinism and rejected freewillism, and considered Jesus Christ to be a purely spiritual figure.
The orthodox view is as baffling and incomprehensible as the Copenhagenist interpretation of quantum physics: the religious experiences were miracles caused by the supernatural holy spirit; we have freewill such that we're held genuinely morally accountable and yet the Sovereign above has all power and knowledge of everything across time; and Jesus existed even though even the ancient *Christian* sources are jam-packed with silence about him.
It's bad that there are so many forces allied against the simple model of entheogenic block-universe determinism and mythic-only Christ, but at least the good news is that none of these forces are worth anything. There are excuses but not good intellectual reasons to reject this essentially Gnostic theory of religious experiencing and insight. The bottom line is that all simplicity is on the side of the Gnostics, while the orthodox have an endless uphill battle promoting their hopelessly complicated and ultimately incomprehensible proposed "explanation" or story about the origin of Christianity.
This battle between the all-simple Gnostic type of model of religion (the natural winner) and the orthodox literalist and supernaturalist model of religion (the natural loser) can be explained largely in terms of political and economic power. Assessing simplicity depends on what is being measured. Delusion is "simple" and easy in the sense that the mind is programmed to live in beastly delusion until awakened by entheogens.
But after a certain point of maturity, it becomes difficult, unnatural, and complicated to believe in confounding and incomprehensible models when a far simpler model is revealed. So what the orthodox literalists/supernaturalists had to do to win was to keep people from maturing into adult critical thinkers who were psychologically experienced.
For a mature adult, the entheogenic determinist mythic-only Christ theory -- which can be labeled "Gnosticism" in the best sense of the term -- is far simpler than retaining childish, beastly ways of thinking, ways that are simple for a child but not fit for an adult.
So I largely rest my case on the main strength of the entheogenic determinist mythic-only Christ theory: it provides a huge increase in simplicity. The existing way of thinking about Christianity and religious experience (and even Philosophy) may struggle to object and resist and dismiss it, but I have one point to penetrate the smug conventions that have reigned: utter simplicity.
What could be simpler than entheogens, as opposed to supernaturalism and superhumanly impressive ritual drama? What could be simpler than block-universe determinism, as opposed to various forms of oxymoronic, mind-annihilating Calvinist "genuine freewill-less guilt"? What could be simpler than a mythic-only Christ created by the socio-political & religious climate of that military Ruler Cult era, as opposed to a supernaturally resurrected or the superhumanly brilliant and inspiring teacher of ethics that remains after the Jesus Seminar has filtered away all the mythic elements that were added to the *completely* hidden underlying historical figure?
We have here a case of epicycles. The non-entheogenic, genuine-moral- agency, Historical Jesus worldmodel of Christian origins now is revealed as requiring so many layers of invented "epicycle"-like constructs and hand-waving, it falls over due to its own weight and instability. These epicycles are being added rapidly as essentially apologetics-driven Historical Jesus research continues.
Historical Jesus scholars are digging their own grave: by the time they fully explain the cultural context of Christ, they will find that keeping a carnal Jesus only can create more problems than it solves. Not only will the carnal Jesus hypothesis turn out to be unnecessary, it will clash too much with the cultural findings and will become a liability to those who are trying to build a clear, simple, rational model of the origins of Christianity.
What's the worst the dominant thinking can say about the entheogenic, block-universe determinism, mythic-only Christ theory of the origins of Christianity? It's unfamiliar and unconventional (even those are largely false claims), and it violates currently dominant conventional attitudes about psychoactives and moral culpability and Jesus. What's the best to say about the theory? It is simple. It has no "epicycles"; even a critique would admit it has fewer "epicycles" (difficulties) than the supernaturalist or natural Historical Jesus theory.
>>My goal is to find the simplest coherent world-model that explains the relation between time, will, personal control, and the experience of ego-death. Forking futures and multiple branching universes is unnecessarily complicated.
>>My approach is "first-things-first", and the first world-model we should define is the simplest one. Only after we acknowledge that most basic world-model should we go on to discuss more complex models.
>Be careful here, when you say "Only after we acknowledge that most basic world-model should we go on to discuss more complex models" you sound like a reductionist rather than an "Ancient Fatalist".
I am so accustomed to Wilber's all-level, all-quadrant thinking; I intellectually grew up with it and I take it for granted that other people are not reductionists. I never thought in a reductionist way; my natural assumption is that all levels coexist and are consistently synchronized -- it is not important how. Each level has its own kind of reality for all practical purposes.
The physical world might be purely an illusion but this doesn't alter the experience of ego death. I reject Copenhagenism because it is too mental and denies the actual position, in itself, of the particle -- in that sense, I am an advocate of the existence of the physical plane without the need for mind to be aware of it. But on the other hand, I am agnostic about the existence of the physical plane.
We live in a mental world, and experience ego-death in a mental world -- this suggests how far I am from reductionism. Conventional thinking has ruined all words. If I say "basic", the reductionists misinterpret me as one of them. If I say "deterministic", they assume I'm on board their "reductionistic predictionism" programme. "Fatalism" is also largely ruined by misguided popular connotations.
So the problem of misleading connotations is worse than you warn of -- it's a veritable minefield of preconceived notions, and *all* of them must be meaning-shifted together to arrive at the model I'm systematizing.
>I see no reason why fatalism need be simple.
Strategically, a theory has much to be gained through radical simplicity. To build clear thinking, one should start with the simplest system first and build on that. I have found that correctly conceived Fatalism provides are far simpler world-model than the conjectures of determinism (prediction, reductionism) or the vaguely free will (metaphysical freedom).
Postulating a closed and already-existing future provides a far simpler system than assuming a future that is not yet settled. If one *can* start off with a far simpler system, one *should*, for clarity of thinking. This is just a principle of good thinking: don't start off with complex, excessive, overly numerous axioms and assumptions. If the opportunity presents itself to begin with simplicity, do so -- begin with a "first-order approximation". This is essential for the character of my theorizing.
I do not define the best goal as a perfect and true model. The best goal to begin with is to formulate a simpler first-order world-model of time, self, control, and will, much simpler than anyone has formulated before.
Compared to determinism and free will, as they are defined by seemingly every philosopher and physicist, correctly conceived Fatalism is dirt simple and has the fewest and clearest postulations. A metaphysics with an open future is complicated and unclear. A block universe with a single preexistent future is far easier to visualize and is usefully bounded in scope, as a model and concept. Much activity in constructing the theory of the ego-death experience is the activity of removing unneeded principles and assumptions, such as forking universes.
Selecting a streamlined goal that is sufficiently simple to survive in competition is essential. Overly elaborate systems cannot propagate themselves. The mind is bound to discover the ego-death theory very early on in the loose-cognition state exactly because the theory or world-model is so incredibly *simple*.
If the future already exists, as the altered state forcefully suggests, the current time-slice of ego is impotent to change the future -- as the altered state actively suggests, since it removes the very *sense* of the ability to exert force upon one's future. There is a good reason why the mystery religions have themes of eternity, fatedness, and metaphysical death and disempowerment of the self: entheogens naturally lead the mind to stumble across these perspectives and ideas.
These are books that might provide fuel for Ego Death. As I create a hyperlinked research page, I'll know more about these books. I will upload a Web page with links later. This survey was inspired by the Spirituality 'dummies' books and the noteworthy 2nd half of the Near-Death Experiences book. The one thing you have to really search hard for is any trace of entheogens. These series have tried to write and whitewash entheogens out of history. Best bets to find entheogens in these series: Near Death, Beatles, Shamanism, Paganism.
"For Dummies" Series:
Improving Your Memory
"Complete Idiot's Guide" Series:
Awakening Your Spirituality
Breaking Bad Habits (1st ed.)
Breaking Bad Habits (2nd ed.)
Gardening, 2nd ed.
Improving Your IQ
Improving Your Memory
Jewish History and Culture
Life of Christ
Lives of the Saints
Managing Your Time (2nd ed.)
Philosophy (2nd ed.)
Popes and Papacy
Reaching Your Goals
Spirituality for Teens
The Bible (1st ed)
The Bible (2nd Edition)
Wicca & Witchcraft
World Religions (2nd ed.)
World's Religions (1st ed.)
It would be nice to put the two series side-by-side and clean up the links.
The intention is not to read these, necessarily, but rather, to evaluate the worldmodel presented by introductory book series and see how clearly the theory of ego death and transcendent knowledge, as I conceive it, is present there -- to assess the gap between these fairly good books which represent mainstream knowledge, and the theory of cybernetic transcendence as I see it.
I have always been interested in introductory books, and I detested conventional "spirituality" but couldn't figure out why, couldn't put my finger on it, and was glad to see introductions to spirituality in these series. I'm surprised the Complete Idiot's series has twice the span of the Dummies series.
Entheogens are at least given a *mention* in these series. For example:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Awakening Your Spirituality
lists the contents, including the chapter "Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll":
Tantra: The Spirituality of Ecstasy.
From Acid to Zinc. <--
The Muse in Music.
The Romance of Dance.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near Death Experiences
has a chapter
Transformations of Consciousness
Somewhere near this chapter is a dismissive warning against entheogens.
Besides entheogens, another key topic is no-free-will, and another is the no-Historical Jesus theory. It might be interesting looking for coverage of these topics in these introductory series.
A review of the World Religions book described it as "Hallmark Cards" style: these type of books seem to care most of all about not risking offending anyone. This is just the sort of thing the independent booksellers predict will happen because of the WalMartification of bookstores. The only store left will be Barnes & Noble, with nothing on the shelf any loftier than the "surprisingly good, up to a point" Dummies-type books.
There is a time for dogmatism, in my case because of the need for clarity. I need to err on the side of simplicity and therefore dogmatism. Reality is more subtle and complicated, but before attempting to address the full complexity of reality, the first order of approximation model of how things really are involves simplification, which is assisted sometimes by deliberate dogmatism.
The most rational model of religious experiencing is also the simplest model; look for the ideas that are most simple and most potent.
Don't worry about certainty and proof directly, but assume instead that what matters most is the ideas that are simplest and rationally comprehensible and easy to understand and visualize, and which cause the most intense experience of ego transcendence and the strongest sense of grasping specific insights -- it's a kind of phenomenological-reporting approach; when I thought of the ideas A, B, and C, I experienced a climactic experience and a specific paradigm-shifting insight, changing suddenly from one worldmodel to a much clearer, simpler, and quite different worldmodel.
Is the worldmodel certainly true? Nothing is certainly true, but what matters here is the specific experience that goes together with a specific shift to a new worldmodel that has a different set of assumptions about space, time, self, and control.
>Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality
>This book appears to be (hopefully) good, solid, realistic, skeptical, relevant, and grounded. I read his book The End of Science. He seems to put LSD pretty centrally in the spotlight, as should be, for the scope of this book.
I read the book. It's a great survey of the current state of thinking about mysticism. It's remarkable to find that my finite, simple, and specific theory or model of enlightenment differs on main points from each very different system presented here -- a difference in historical assumptions, goals, approach, combination of methods. It would be a key exercise to go through the book chapter by chapter and explain how my theory of enlightenment differs from each of these contemporary theories.
A shortcut to that analysis is to point out the great missing link in all of today's thinking about mysticism: all of the theorists nearly overlook the entheogenic hypothesis of the Hellenistic Mystery-Religions. Instead of really thinking about that, they make a quick mention of the hypothesis of entheogens at Eleusis, and a disconnected mention of the gnostics, and a separate mention of the St. Paul figure as an epileptic, and that's the end of that line of coverage in most studies.
Ken Wilber is a great example of this; he spends too much time focusing on Buddhism and Hinduism, and much too little on the Hellenistic Mystery-Religions and their connection with entheogens.
How is it that I am so different? Am I on my own, unique? Not at all. I focus on providing the missing link, which at this point concerns entheogens and their historical foundational role in the Hellenistic Mystery-Religions. My approach to Christianity is essentially not mystic or gnostic, but rather, an entheogenic Hellenistic Mystery-Religion approach to Christianity.
I have one foot in Silicon Valley of the late 20th Century, and the other foot in the Hellenistic Mystery Religion culture including the equivalent Jewish, Christian, and Pagan brands. Reading this book, I worry that maybe the world *does* depend on me, maybe if I don't cover this area, no one will. No one else has the constitution and style of approach I do -- why is this so? Why aren't a hundred people coming to the same simple conclusion I am?
I'm surprised my thinking is so far from today's popular theorists. It's funny how it seems bad that I'm so different, and yet the only way to contribute is by bringing something different. Difference is both a liability and a benefit.
For example, I'm coming to appreciate the value of standing out as the lone rejecter of the paranormal -- I'm moving away from a lenient attitude toward saying that my theory is essentially anti-paranormal, just as it is anti-Historical Jesus: not in a dependent way, but in some essential, characteristic way. It is characteristic of this theory to posit no Historical Jesus, and to posit no paranormal.
[Note: I wrote the above just before my late-2003 study of esotericism in which I recognized High Myth/High Magic as entheogen transdeterminism metaphor.]
The theory won't collapse if there is a single Historical Jesus or an instance of ESP, so the theory isn't dependent on rejecting these, but emphasis and character *are* important, and if your style of thinking permits too many complicating factors of unlikely assumptions, the whole thing goes soft. Rigidity and a definite stance on such semi-peripheral matters helps, not hurts.
It helps for practical reasons: clarity of thought, and just to stand apart from the crowd of theorists. So what are the most characteristic axioms of this theory? What are the heresies I commit that define my system's dogmatic principles, or principle dogmas/axioms?
o Religions come from entheogens primarily, and only secondarily from other methods of triggering the mystic altered state.
o The paranormal is false.
o The key insight in enlightenment/salvation is no-free-will. There is so much confusion and unrefined thinking about this. The subject of free will *always* comes up in philosophy-religion, but it just doesn't occur to many theorists to consider no-free-will as being at least as central as the boringly familiar emphasis on no-separate-self.
o The basic and main kind of enlightenment, such as in the Hellenistic world, is the temporary altered state combined with a lasting changed mental model. The "lasting outcome" is *not* a matter of improved behavior, but rather, a retained alternative mental model. Surprisingly, theorists are really hazy on this: they all say that enlightenment isn't a flashy temporary altered state, but something lasting.
However, instead of the simple and obvious idea that people come away with a specific alternative mental model of world and self, the other theorists assume in lower-religion fashion that the alternative to the transient altered state must either be a permanent altered state (Wilber does this, surprisingly) or becoming a super-nice person in the mundane world (which is actually lower religion, pretty well irrelevant or tangential to higher religion's metaphysical insight).
I'm relatively unique in today's climate, in saying that the basic simplest model is that of a series of altered states leading to a switch from one specific mental model to another specific mental model. The first-order approximation model of this is a single entheogenic initiation bringing a mind from the childish egoic mental model to the fully mature transcendent mental model -- such a quick change actually is possible, with a well-written book in one hand and an effective entheogen in the other hand.
o The transcendent mental model is simple, straightforward, specific, rational, and easily comprehensible. Ramesh Balsekar would likely concur that his no-free-will model of enlightenment is fully rational graspable. By the way, I disparage him as right but not clear and rigorous enough, so I'd say he has merely a rough and not fully formed model, while I have a clear, fully developed theory and a clear, specific model.
All these pieces work together: only if enlightenment is a simple rational system, can I propose that enlightenment is about a series of altered state sessions that switches the mind from one mental model to another. And if I try to blend into that complicated confusions and improbably scenarios like Historical Jesus and the paranormal, the strength of simplicity would be lost.
Most theories vastly overshoot, making enlightenment something vast, hazy, ungraspable, difficult. Much of my labored theorizing is only necessary to refute the tons of confusion that reigns in this field.
It only took from Oct. 1985 to Jan. 1988 to create my core theory, but much longer than that to recognize that theory disguised within the religions and account for why the theory is so distorted in those religions, and to finally discover that philosophers basically agree with my core theory, in principles such as no-free-will and "mental constructs are primary rather than the material realm".
My core theory is dirt simple, trivial, obvious. My complicated theory is complicated because it must explain all the existing confusion of other thinkers. My thinking is simple, theirs is confused and garbled, so I must "rise to their level of confusion" to unconfuse the world.
To innovate, you must be ruthless at picking and choosing and rejecting, without being a conformist. Some aspects of my system are conformist or rather the same as other thinkers, but many aspects of my system run rough-trod over intellectual taboos. *Everyone* says enlightenment is ineffable? Well then I say that everyone is wrong.
One must have no hesitation in declaring all other thinkers to be wrong -- they are not one's concern; reality or coherence is one's only care. If I see the sun go up, and everyone else says it went down, shall I conform? No; they are irrelevant. They all say enlightenment is nonrational and ineffable, but what's that to me? They are irrelevant unless I'm trying to create just another system of confusion.
I've read an unusually high percentage of the books cited in Rational Mysticism, about half, indicating that my scope of interests and approaches is very similar to Horgan's. But like Wilber and the majority of thinkers or "mystical experts", he is hopelessly weak when it comes to the history of religions and their eternal connection with entheogens.
It's not enough to say, as he does, that entheogens have been used for millennia in spiritual practices or at Eleusis. We have to go far more overboard and take that revisionism all the way, to the point of making his view look like a minimization of entheogens' role in the history of religion.
To identify more of the characteristic differences that make my theory so distinctive and unique against the existing theories, an efficient approach would be to comment chapter-by-chapter on the book Rational Mysticism, which presents an accurate and concise summary of the state of today's mainstream thinking about mysticism, enlightenment, and science.
What's missing is coverage such as Dan Merkur's entheogenic history of Judaism, Ruck's entheogenic history of Hellenistic Mystery Religions, and the books that emphasize the main meaning of Christianity as allegory-metaphor and myth expressing esoteric experiencing, rather than conventional Literalism as epitomized by conventional liberal Christians and New Age Christians who conceive of Jesus as an enlightened, ethical historical figure.
In the end, this book flounders, like today's theories, lacking a viable, simple, achievable definition of enlightenment.
If only theorists would remember that it was routine in the Hellenistic Mystery Religions to fast, have sacred eating and drinking, then have an experience that made one an initiate -- not that gave one a permanent altered state of consciousness like Wilber is idealizing these days (permanent fireworks), but the dirt-simple model of entering as a child, having a series of temporary altered states, and then coming away with an adult way of thinking, as in a changed mental model that's changed in a specific, definite, specifiable and limited way.
Wilber flies off the deep end defining enlightenment as a permanent altered state (he doesn't formally define it this way but this is what comes across in this book), combined with a nonstop "path" of ever-increasing spiritual wisdom. That view is too extreme and complicated. The best conception of enlightenment is in the model of Hellenistic initiation -- administer the sacred potion a few times, to have a temporary altered state session of loose cognition a few times, leading from one mental model to another.
The altered state is temporary, and is distinct from the Before or After mental-model. Why do so few theorists adhere to this obvious, simple model? One problem is that they assume enlightenment is something vague, hazy, a-rational, complicated, and ineffable rather than a specific, simple, rational mental model. Then they mix in false histories of religion that downplay the use of entheogens, and they read mystic-state metaphors literally (like "rebirth" and "reincarnation"), and they mix in the paranormal.
Given all these defining characteristics of my theory, how to sum up what's most unique? The straightforward simplicity. I agree with Zen in some respects: enlightenment is potentially quite simple and a matter of abandoning a great deal of confusion. I want to present a theory that is vastly simpler and more concise than any other -- but also with a full explanation of why there is so much confusion and error.
Wilber is a definite thinker, and in some ways his theory has this quality of being far simpler than anyone thought possible, yet also elaborately detailed. His Integral Theory is definitely summarizable, and is also extensively detailed, elaborating and commenting on many fields and other approaches.
Reading this survey of many contemporary theories of mystic experiencing, what is the first thing or greatest impression of what makes my theory so starkly different? It's so much smaller, more restricted, more compact. I seem to have developed a technique of simplifying by stripping away, sort of like the negating in the apophatic via negativa.
Simplify by rejecting all forms of religious Literalism -- all religion is purely allegorical and not at all literal historical reports. That *immensely* simplifies one's thinking about the meaning of religion. Each distinctive axiom in my theory has this simplifying, stripping-down aspect. Assume that there is only a single, specific, primary trigger for mystic experiencing: entheogens.
However true or false that assumption is, one thing that certainly results is a great simplification that is ergonomic for technique and for theory-construction and for comprehension. Assume a form of the perennial philosophy: there is one archetypal body of insight, enlightenment, that is portrayed many different ways, with various degrees of distortion and encoding. That simplifies everything tremendously, making the problem of modelling enlightenment simple and tractable.
Assume that these insights are a system of simple insights that fit together. Assume that religion-myth is a simple clever game of allegorical meaning, just a little puzzle or riddle involving shifting the meaning of several terms together; assume the riddle is potentially quite simple.
Assume that enlightenment is not a laborious change of mental state as in permanent altered-state fireworks, but rather, a specific shift in the assumptions undergirding one's mental model -- I used the Newtonian vs. Einsteinian spacetime model as my main model for how straightforward and determinate a mental-model shift can be.
This brings out a crucial point about 20th-Century theorizing: the terrible overdominance of the flighty, flakey Bohr Copenhagenist interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which may be to blame for today's thoroughly muddled assumptions about spirituality; no wonder Wilber was forced to spill so much ink refuting the supposed similarity of Quantum Mechanics and enlightenment.
While I was looking to physics to provide a great example of moving from one mental model to another by comparing Newton and Einstein, which was the best move in 20th Century physics, other theorists of religion looked to the worst move -- Bohr's Copenhagenism view of QM, reveling in non-visualizability, incomprehension, and the supposed quasi-paranormal influence of mind on matter.
What is my character, as a theorist? Form a network of simplifying assumptions. Which is simpler? Choose that option. Hidden Variables (Bohm/Einstein) is a simpler interpretation than Copenhagenism (Bohr), so pick Hidden Variables. Determinism is simpler than free will, so pick determinism. Timeless frozen block-universe determinism is simpler than conventional, through-time, causal-chain determinism, so pick block universe determinism.
Viewing mystic insight as rational rather than ineffable is simpler, so assume it's rational. What's simpler: to assume that the Mysteries and other religions commonly used entheogens, or that they just had such impressive rituals and (that hackneyed cop-out) "other techniques we haven't determined" that people imagined a divine encounter?
Assuming entheogens would be far simpler, so I adopt that assumption. You are free to adopt the more complicated position on each of these items, but a simple theory couldn't result from heading in that direction. If religion-myth is largely literal, a theory of mysticism suddenly becomes far more complicated. If there is free will, if there is the paranormal, if we assume Copenhagenism, if we assume that mystic insight is non-rational and ineffable, a theory of mysticism becomes both complicated and vague.
Much of my accomplishment then can be portrayed as: discovering a workable set of simplifying assumptions that together enable for the first time a truly simple theory of mystic experiencing. So simple, that reading most any of my recent postings is sufficient to convey the character and main principles of the whole theory.
Any such posting carries at least implicitly a distinctive conception of the goal of mysticism, limitations of enlightenment, and main principles, such as frozen block-universe determinism. A few named principles, presented together, should go a long way to clue a reader into the whole way of thinking.
Some discussion group participants proved that they were quickly able to grasp my entire core theory -- I was very relieved and gratified upon seeing that proof that a coherent simple theory of enlightenment really is possible, including efficient communicability with meme-like propagation speed.
Horgan's book was fascinating in pointing out that those who reject the perennial philosophy are typically exclusivist promoters of a particular religion at the expense of other religions. Those who hold all religions in the same reverence, as partially darkened portals viewing the same transcendent insights, are not committed to elevating their own religion at the expense of another.
Those who strive to portray mysticism as complicated often have bad, vested interests. Similarly, those who disparage entheogens often have vested interests. Vested interests may explain much of the confusion and error in religions and in theories of mystic experiencing. I don't want to lead a cult, or elevate my shared religion over others, or protect my academic research funding.
All I want is to formulate a simple model that makes sense, and make it available to anyone who is interested and inclined to it. I'm an amateur, not a professional. The professionals can't be trusted, due to conflict of interest. Rational Mysticism also showed a correlation between hiding one's personal mystic experiencing and being an academic professional.
You can't trust what academics write, because they self-censor their theories too much -- they are too busy posturing to publically put forth a clear theory that makes sense. Talking around issues and using double-speak is professionally safer. This leaves some publishing opportunities for those who can be more forthright, like Horgan.
I bring an innovative *definition* of enlightenment, as something rational and simple and definite and easily brought about. We could do like Wilber and define it as a practically unattainable end state, but remember again the Hellenistic Mystery-Religion model: change from a child way of thinking to an adult way of thinking, after a few entheogen sessions.
Wilber's conception of mystic practice and goal is in stark contradiction with such a model; he assumes that enlightenment is full enlightenment which amounts to a permanent altered state and lasting altered traits (good mundane conduct) and unending development of mental content.
Such a conception of enlightenment is an impossible, unattainable, irrelevant, and unreal ideal and directly contradicts the one religion that Wilber is almost wholly ignorant of, the Hellenistic Mystery-Religion as portrayed by Carl Ruck and by Luther Martin taken together.
I side with Hellenism in defining a meaningful, relevant, simple, attainable, definite enlightenment through using a series of entheogen sessions to switch from the familiar mental model of will, self, time, and world to a new, adult, mature model, pivoting on the most central issue of philosophy: free will, with the shift being from the freewill assumption held by children and animals to the no-free-will axiom held by initiates -- adults.
This is a vastly simpler system, technique, and goal of enlightenment than all today's theorists have come up with in their ignorance of the mystery-religions and purely esoteric Christianity. Rational Mysticism doesn't mention the most scandalous "mystic expert" to appear in the magazine What Is Enlightenment, Balsekar, who is the only religionist I know of that has a core theory that is comparably simple, compact, and bounded.
Like it, hate it, accept or reject it, but you must admit that a core theory of mysticism could hardly be simpler and smaller than this. Mystic enlightenment is when you take entheogens a few times and the mental model in your mind thereby changes from a freewill separate-self based set of assumptions to a no-free-will, no-separate-self based set of assumptions.
At core, that's all my theory is, and that's why almost all my writing is voluminous commentary refuting and connecting to existing thinking, rather than on my core theory, because my core theory is so simple, there's little to say.
Some people proudly "refute my position", they think, saying "No, taking drugs doesn't cause enlightenment."
People "disprove" me they think, but are just proving the very position I'm advocating and which I have always clarified in every posting, if anyone would read what the f*ck I write.
Damn it, people, they should quit projecting *their* pop confusions onto what *I* have worked so hard to clarify.
Why don't they *read* what I write, and quit *imagining* and *guessing* what I'm writing? Am I doing all this labor for nothing? Is it too much to ask that they bother to hold up their end of the bargain and *read* what I actually write?
This time-wasting ineptness is why I'm on strike from these idiotic discussion groups, cancelling the discussion group, and switching to serious online publishing instead.
People take drugs and don't get enlightened. So what? What does that have to do with my theory? Nothing. Such people don't have a clue what my theory is. They wreck it by oversimplifying it and distorting and breaking it, and then complain that "it" is broken. Their attention to the set of ideas, clearly and explicitly spelled out repeatedly here, is what's broken.
They make up stupid ideas, then project and attribute them onto me, then shoot them down, when I never advocated those ideas for a moment.
They have to raise their own caliber and quality of thought. Junk thinking will never cut it. This isn't some trashy newsgroup.
Read this, and *then* consider what to write. Must I put this link in the footer of every posting to the group?
Re: Misrepresentations of my position on plants and enlight.
>>Too many people oversimplify my position. They incorrectly say that I propose the following:
>>o "Meditation is purely a placebo."
>>o "Visionary plants are the only possible way to become enlightened."
>>o "Enlightenment results from taking visionary plants."
>>A more accurate summary of my position is:
>>o Meditation is only 1% as effective as visionary plants.
>>o Visionary plants are the only reasonably efficient, ergonomic way to become enlightened.
>>o Enlightenment results most effectively from a series of visionary plant sessions in conjunction with studying the perennial principles of transcendent knowledge.
>Didn't you say you started an ego death list? If so, could you please give us its name and site address?
The Ego Death discussion group at Yahoo Groups
I am grateful for the wonderful, flexible discussion framework provided by Yahoo Groups.
I have many additional previous postings from the past year that I might might clean up and forward to the discussion group. The group works much better for me than updating my site. The group is zero-overhead -- I just hit Send instead of having to format and upload a page, and I can share my latest ideas, marked with a definite date and arranged in an unfolding sequence, from any Web terminal.
Though many of my previous limited-distribution postings are not available at the site or group archives yet, they are not really needed. There is a great deal of overlap and repetition of ideas through various permutations in these postings, giving a holographic effect. If you read twenty of my recent postings, you pretty much know the whole of my thinking, in its latest form.
I need to emphasize more that I consider transcendent or mystic knowledge to be very simple and truly straightforward, unlike all the mysterians. There really isn't much to it at all; that's part of what makes this set of ego-death insights remarkable and powerfully (sometimes frightfully) compelling: it's a much *simpler* view of the relation between self, control agency, time, will, and power over one's personal future.
I think the ancients considered these ego-death insights to be horribly obvious -- a major looming problem -- and considered an escape from that soul-killing knowledge to be the real challenge. The kind of posting I hold as an ideal is one that encapsulates the full set of mystic insights along these lines, in a single, simple posting.
I suppose I'll continue thinking about the origins of Christianity along with the nature of the mystery-religions. Every time I think my view is sufficiently complete, new books such as Hyam Maccoby's penetrating Jewish assessment of what is historically plausible come along and offers deeper insight. However, I'm at the point now where that deeper insight is just optional additional details.
I've gotten to the point where I'm not terribly concerned about details and who came up with what mystic allegories and why -- the overall gist of mystic ego-death allegories is clear enough. Still, I am finding books that feel like mandatory reading before I can proceed -- books that show how little we really understand the origins of Christianity.
We need to forget everything we think we know about the religion and start reading the recent scholarship -- to become unfamiliar with Christianity and gain an alien view of it, such as the views provided by the Christ Myth authors and this Jewish Historical-Jesus scholar. The popular range of conceptions of Christianity is incredibly narrow and limited, compared to the potential range of interpretations.
Science correctly explains enlightenment by a strategy of deflation of the egoically overinflated wishes for enlightenment.
The goal here is not to improve the world, but to define a model of transcendent knowledge and establish that the entheogens are the most effective way to fully grasp and experience that model of transcendent insight. A key part of the strategy that makes the strategy so effective is to define a model of enlightenment that is attainable and can be easily secured, by reducing the stature of enlightenment and reducing the promises of what benefits it can bring.
The good news is that enlightenment is vastly easier and simpler and a smaller body of knowledge to attain than people assumed (and wished it to be). The bad news is that it's far smaller, plainer, and less world-changing. The intellectual problem of transcendent knowledge and a rational model of enlightenment is easily solvable, by reducing the problem.
Enlightenment has been now fully explained by science: it is really just nothing more than using cognitive association loosening agents to temporarily suspend the sense of free will and egoic control-power and individual egoic separateness and thus switch the mental worldmodel from an egoic trime-voyaging controller agent centered way of thinking, to a timeless, frozen block-universe way of thinking.
Science has now explained also that all religion is essentially myth, not literal history, and that all myth-religion reflects the aforementioned process of using the loose cognition state to switch from the specific egoic worldmodel to the specific transcendent worldmodel, requiring reindexing all mental constructs regarding personal separateness, time, personal control, and self.
Moral culpability shifts from being mentally attributed to the ego, to being mentally attributed to the ground of being or a hypothetical responsible controller of the ground of being. All theology easily maps to this model, and all religious writings are more or less muddled expressions and metaphors for these dynamics.
The Copenhagenist interpreters of Quantum Mechanics aren't scientists, insofar as they are busy interpreting; they are driven not by scientific goals but by the popular project of defending egoic freewill at any cost, even of selling out science's reputation for striving for comprehensible models.
Einstein and Bohm were real scientists, promoting a hidden-variables approach, compatible with determinism, and fairly visualizable, in which consciousness doesn't collapse the wave, but just the measuring instrument collapses the wave, and the uncertainty is only uncertainty in the realm of knowledge, not in the realm of the particles themselves.
The wave's collapse is a collapse and resolution within the realm of knowledge, not within the realm of actuality. That's just a postulation, but it is a superior postulation because it is comprehensible, unlike Copenhagenism, which glories in, revels in, embraces, defends, loves, advocates, and actively promotes incomprehensibility -- a perfect perversion of the spirit of science, positively delighting in undermining the entire rational and reasonable character of science.
At the same time as the attainment at last of a rational and comprehensible theory should be credited to the venerable name of Science (actually perhaps the Engineering and Cognitive Science way of thinking), we must differentiate between true and false science, between Bohm and Bohr. A single character, the letter 'i' in a key word, split early theology into warring camps. Even less separates true science from corrupt science: half a character -- 'm' vs. 'r' in Bohm and Bohr, representing the Hidden Variables versus the Copenhagenist positions.
Have your free will if you want it -- but you must accept ESP, miracles, and worst of all, Copenhagenism along with it, and also the endless complexification of enlightenment.
There are miracles
There was a historical Jesus and Buddha
God's kingdom refers to literal Jerusalem
Consciousness causes the quantum wave collapse
Individual personal free will is plausible and coherent
Enlightenment is complicated, difficult, and slow
Meditation is more effective than entheogens
There is no ESP
There are no miracles
There was no single Jesus or Buddha
God's kingdom refers to the enlightened state
The quantum wave collapse is only a resolution in knowledge-space, not in the particle itself
There is no individual personal free will
Enlightenment is simple, easy, and fast
Entheogens are more effective than meditation
Which set of axioms seems more plausible? Which one feels more satisfying and comfortable? There are two mental personalities: those who love to embrace the first set of suppositions, and those who seek the second set of suppositions.
Many people positively cherish ESP, miracles, historical superhero religious founder-figures, literalist exclusivist religion, magic thinking of mind-over-matter taking over the mantle of Physics, and personal free will, and have a love affair with the endlessly-receding romantic inflation of enlightenment so that it is all the more sexy and appealing for being felt to be out of reach, and are romanced as well by exotic and showfully *ascetic* meditation.
People of that character feel too chilled by the prospect that there is no ESP, that miracles are not to be held as maybe possible, that the devotional figure of Jesus and Buddha simply aren't there at all. It is disappointing to them that there will be no conflagration and destruction of the world with magic events happening in a wonderland of the Heavenly City, but that God's kingdom is nothing more than, well, the worst possible news in the world: total defeat of the free will.
It is terrible, most unwelcome news to that type of mentality, that enlightenment can be basically wholly attained, early in life, and that there isn't much to it at all, and it doesn't change things much. It is devastating to conclude that entheogens provide, relatively instantly and effortlessly, what meditation manages to keep enticingly out of reach even after thirty years of ascetic lifestyle.
This gospel is devastatingly disappointing, and tremendous great news. To the egoic mind, enlightenment is the ultimate disappointment, the absolute and total failure of their god, their religion, their spiritual worldview.