My eye just caught hold of a snippet in Nightingale's omnibus thread:
>The issue I find is that many people who believe >they experience spiritual transcendence, including >many members of my family, refuse the notion that >such a phenomenon can originate inside their own >brains. What they experience is so extraordinary, >it simply doesn't FEEL as if their brain can >produce it, so they reject possible organic >explanations out of hand.
I'm all for "organic explanations" -- neurotransmitters, subliminal cognitive functions, states of consciousness and all that. It is where my thoughts often go, in order to try and make some sense of seemingly sincere but extraordinary claims and ideas.
Tom would not be the first author to offer up a rational critique of mysticism, if he cared to add a chapter on that topic to his upcoming second edition. There would be plenty of suitable citations from the scientific literature to throw into the critical apparatus of the book
But it would be very helpful to first of all decide upon a proper consensus definition of what we are talking about in this regard.
Is it Oliver Cowdery's burning bosom, or Moses' burning bush? Is it Gautama sitting under the bodhi tree, or is it Dr. Timothy Leary sitting beside his bong and magic mushrooms?
One description of mystical realization might be awareness without cognition. Obviously the brain does not disappear, there must be some synapse activity, some bodily functions control -- but the attempts at description all lead us away from the conscious mind.
Another attempted description is the experience of an unborn infant in the womb -- whose brain is still in a primitive state of development and whose interpretation of perceptions differs from that of our own mature state of consciousness and reaction. "Being one with all things" is a natural description for the pre-conscious unborn child, whose world is itself and a mysterious enveloping environment.
Another attempted description is ecstasy -- bliss -- the euphoria of a morphine drip magnified to infinity.
Another attempted description is annihilation -- the blowing out of a candle flame. In which the conscious self neither is, nor is not. Undefined. Inexplicable.
Mysticism will not conform to a rigid definition, but perhaps we can at least begin to differentiate it from the stories the town drunk has to tell about pink elephants.
Uncle Dale Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > > Is it Oliver Cowdery's burning bosom, or Moses' > burning bush? ...
From what I know of Mormonism, the vast majority of its believing members do not claim any divine encounter beyond the sphere of personal emotions, dreams, and what they term "the still small voice." So when the typical LDS member says "I know so-and-so is a true prophet," he is not claiming personal revelation via a full blown theophany or an angelic intrusion into the physical world. Such higher level claims appear to be dealt with (suppressed) by the Church authorities, who generally dismiss them as the products of a disordered mind or demonic influence.
Probably the individual deconstruction of Mormonism need not very often go beyond convincing the believer that his/her "knowing Mormonism to be true" is actually a belief set and not knowledge.
Setting aside classical mysticism, which LDS General Authorities like Apostle McConkie have condemned and prohibited within Mormonism, how is the Mormon's claim to plenary knowledge separated from beliefs? Or, in deconstruction, are the two factors dealt with as being a single thing -- beliefs sometimes masquerading as knowledge? Which pages in Riskas' book should I consult to gain a better understanding of this subject, and to better understand how the deconstructed former Mormon typically views his prior claims to such knowledge?