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Mysticism and Knowing and the Absolute
Published 02/04/20 by jwayne [0 Comments]

Mysticism and Knowing and the Absolute

Morality is often described in terms of being a method of social control but that's the surface analysis. The deeper aspect is that all meaning in life is ultimately derived from man's relation to the Absolute. And that necessarily entails forms of aestheticism, disciplines and practices. The meaning of which is to orient the human towards higher Knowledge.

Morality is criticized because blindly following commandments means you are living without utilizing your full gifts - intelligence, critical thinking, doubt. Even if you follow correctly, the significance is less than for the person who follows with sincerity. Also, you may utilize your full gifts and reject the commandments (what is forbidden, required, the ways of practicing, etc.)- this is atheism which dominates academic thought. This atheism is a limiting imposition upon human consciousness - it holds that reasoning, i.e. science and mathematics, is the only form of knowing.

Maybe prayer results in scientifically inconclusive results compared to placebo. Or the brain activity of an enlightened sage is measurable so we can de-mystify the meaning of his practice. As you can see, atheistic knowing must alter its own objects of study to even observe them - prayer and meditation become translated to a language science understands – therapy. This is built-in to the knowledge accessible to each form of knowing; the reasoning parts of the mind and the mystical parts of mind have access to different knowledge. It is not about the worldly power of prayer or meditation, but the misunderstanding inherent to the Western Enlightenment Humanist man's approach to mysticism in the very beginning.

This is an important point to elucidate. Science does not deny that that which it cannot explain doesn't or cannot exist but it does deny methods of explaining reality outside its own methods as illegitimate. The consequence is the limiting of potential knowables, so to speak, to those knowable by science - all based on the scientific reduction of all that exists to quantifiable measurements.

Due to globalization (Westernization) even modern religious people in the East will look for verification of their own religion in the corroboration of Western scientific findings. All this to say that science has become the global yardstick of Truth.

And this leads to coincidentally agreeing with the Vedanta notions of Maya and Brahman in an inverted way - 100% of human experiences are non?quantifiable by science and therefore illusion (immaterial states and perceptions induced by chemicals in the brain). In Vedanta, the world is illusion and only Brahman is reality. In Physicalist / Materialist reality, "Brahman" is particle physics and "Maya" is human consciousness.

The preceding conclusion of science is also Buddhist in a funny way because it holds that there is no self or soul (e.g. even the karmic self that is reborn is an illusion). Buddhism will disclaimer - at least, not a self "cognizable" or knowable. And if its not knowable, then logically, what's the point? So the question returns to what forms of knowing accessible to human consciousness actually are there? - and which are fictional or illusory. And how are you going to find out? And how are you going to decide how to find out?

The mystic answer, say Buddhism, puts limits on philosophy (i.e. discussing knowing) at precisely the points where conjecture can go no further and only being can know. That is, you must actuallly reach nirvana to know it, prior to which point, all conjecture was tossed away in preparation and a state of unknowing emptiness is present that is free of all defilements (i.e. the past / entire history of human thought). What transpires is by definition unspeakable and outside of time. "The Tao which can be spoken is not the true Tao". There are other examples of mystical union with truth, with equally elaborated logical sequences. But as you can see, they are on a different plane than rationality operates at and thus, can never be captured by it at all.

Recap: Rationality involves the past (Known), accumulation, testing hypothesis, and so on.

Mysticism involves practice (meditation, worship, study, etc.), Insight and the Unknown (i.e. free from past).

The mystical understanding is that Insight (can be interpreted as revelation in the universal sense) comes from outside the Known. Practically speaking, to receive insight, you must close your mind to the past - logically, that implies you cannot use language, memories or even walk. So there is a difference, the mechanical movements of the mind remain, but with the imaginative movements of the mind suspended then a different movement can begin. This is the movement of the unknown. Again, it is unspeakable and timeless and cannot be conjectured but only known by being. What's the point of saying what's unspeakable - it is to point to the way of that ultimate threshold where knowing happens, even if one cannot communicate beyond it.

It can be mentioned here, that unspeakable does not mean untransmittable or untransferrable. Truth or Insight is always communicated in silence by presence. At a level of understanding subtler than thought, Knowledge (not information but understanding) is transmitted by mystics to students and one another in silent communion. Of course, language has always been used as well but higher knowledge always comes from the Unknown via Insight as a result of some kind of preceding aesthetic discipline and contemplation/study.

Look at an example of how the mystic vs humanist/ rationalist view the cycle of growing old.

For mystical man:
Age is both an ascent and descent from another world. For the young are newly arrived and the old are soon ascending.

For the ultra-civilized, old age is about trying to stay young at all costs. Of course there are layers of accrued social status, wealth and family lineage - but between birth and death is all that exists.

Both come with physical degeneration, but one is empty and the other is full of meaning - why? Because it has a relationship to the Absolute.

Take away the Absolute, but it doesn't go away, something else comes to fill its place, something secular, contingent and provincial. Then it gets pedestalized. We can call it a relative absolute. But if you have not got an intellectual axis to view the absolute Absolute, you will always be trading one pedestal for another one and not mentally grasping the logic of what your mind has done.

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