mystical experience

From: Fairhaven (
Date: Fri Aug 17 2001 - 17:03:29 EDT

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    A new model of motivational behavior, described as a ten-level,
    meta-hierarchy of the major groupings of virtues, values, and ideals, serves
    as the foundation for a new holistic theory of ethics and morality, with
    applications to the mystical experience. This innovation arises as a direct
    outcome of the Systems Theory concept of the metaperspective (a higher-order
    perspective upon the viewpoint held by another). These traditional groupings
    of ethical terms are collectively arrayed as subsets within such a hierarchy
    of metaperspectives, each more abstract listing building in a direct fashion
    upon that which it supersedes. Take, for example, the cardinal virtues
    (prudence-justice-temperance-fortitude), the theological virtues
    (faith-hope-charity-decency), and the classical Greek values
    (beauty-truth-goodness-wisdom). Each of these groupings is split into a
    complex of four subordinate terms, allowing for precise, point-for-point
    stacking within the ethical hierarchy. When additional groupings of ethical
    terms are further added into the mix: namely, the personal ideals
    (glory-honor-dignity-integrity), the civil liberties
    (providence-liberty-civility-austerity), the humanistic values
    (peace-love-tranquility-equality), and the mystical values
    (ecstasy-bliss-joy-harmony), amongst others; the complete ten level
    hierarchy of metaperspectives emerges in full detail, partially reproduced
    in the table immediately below:


               FREE WILL-------TRUTH



          This cohesive hierarchy of virtues, values, and ideals proves
    exceedingly comprehensive in scope, accounting for many major ethical terms
    celebrated within the Western ethical tradition. Indeed, it is easy to gain
    a sense of the trend towards increasing abstraction when scanning each of
    the individually depicted columns from top to bottom. Furthermore, this
    cohesive ethical hierarchy mirrors the specialization of personal, group,
    spiritual, humanitarian, and transcendental realms within human society in
    general: which when further specialized into both authority and follower
    roles, accounts for the complete ten-level hierarchy of ethical terms.


        The highest level of the mystical values (ecstasy-bliss-joy-harmony)
    represents the most abstract (nameable) realm of the power hierarchy: any
    further extension of this hierarchial format necessarily specifying the
    existence of an even more abstract level of authority; namely, that
    transcending transcendental authority. Although such an unprecedented
    conceptual undertaking would certainly stretch the limits of abstract
    sensibility, any such upper limit to the power hierarchy must strictly be a
    practical one; e.g., when the level of abstraction finally exceeds the
    capacity of the intellect to distinguish the individual affective dimensions
    (precluding their incorporation into the collective language culture).
           The observed blending of meanings at the very highest levels of the
    hierarchy of values would seem to suggest precisely such an upper conceptual
    limit to the power hierarchy. Indeed, beginning with the transcendental
    level of authority, the respective listing of humanistic values
    (peace-love-tranquility-equality) all exhibit a fair degree of distinctness,
    even though some degree conceptual affinity was hinted at in their
    dictionary definitions. At the next higher, transcendental follower level,
    however, the mystical values (ecstasy-bliss-joy-harmony) all exhibit a much
    more dramatic degree of conceptual affinity, as evident in definitions that
    are similar (if not synonymous) in form and function.
          Taking this trend to the limit, however, specifies the complete and
    irrevocable blending of meaning at the anticipated meta-meta-order level of
    transcendence. At this almost inconceivable level of abstraction, the four
    predicted affective dimensions should ultimately merge into a unified
    conceptual continuum, entirely unnamable except in the broadest of
    supernatural terms; i.e., God, the Absolute, etc. One experiencing this
    extreme level of transcendence would certainly be impressed by the
    paradoxical blending of emotional states, in direct contrast to the more
    concrete range of experience at the lower levels. In ordinary consciousness
    the mind is typically restricted to entertaining only one power maneuver (or
    emotion) at any given time. In this supernatural dimension, however, the
    distinctions between the emotions would become so blurred as to merge into a
    unified state; i.e., the one becomes the many, as so many mystics have
    reported down through the ages.
    This paradoxical experience of all-knowing consciousness has universally
    been documented using a wide range of designations; i.e., the Universal
    Mind, the Oversoul, The Great Spirit, Cosmic Consciousness, etc. All appear
    to serve as a primordial prototype for the continuum of lower (more
    differentiated) states. Indeed, the unified nature of this supreme
    perspective (by definition) encompasses all of the lower levels as subsets;
    hence, accounting for the corresponding flooding of the emotions. Herein may
    lie the basis for the traditional Judeo-Christian belief that man is created
    in the image and likeness of God. Ordinary consciousness (with its
    sequential limitations) is theorized to differentiate out of such an
    all-encompassing, primordial state. Indeed, at this highest "supernatural"
    level we are all "gods" in a sense, tuning into the Universal Mind as the
    sum-potentiality of all that is emotional in nature.
          Perhaps it is really only a matter of convention (devised by the
    ordinary mind) to regard God as a wholly separate entity. William James
    appears to make a similar point in the following quotation from The
    Varieties of Religious Experience: "This overcoming of all the usual
    barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystical
    achievement. In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we
    become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical
    tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed."
          Along similar lines, the spiritually minded can rightfully view the
    hierarchy of virtues and values as rooted directly in this supernatural
    realm; all power emanating from the supreme Godhead, the Creator of all that
    is spiritual and material. According to this speculative scenario, all
    authority filters down from the supernatural realm, consistent with God's
    supreme role as the benevolent creative force behind all human endeavors.
    The individual traditions leading to enlightenment are not the crucial
    factor here, for as many a religious sage has noted: "many roads lead to
          Such a supernatural perspective underscores the supreme paradox of the
    power hierarchy; namely, its openness at both its upper and lower margins.
    The lower end blends with the mysterious (materialistic) realm of
    instinctualism, whereas the upper end enters into the mystical realm of the
    supernatural. Although the limited human intellect favors such a dualistic
    interpretation, such a simplistic perspective (on a grander scale) might
    actually amount to a grand illusion! Is it truly possible to distinguish the
    spiritual from the material, the mental from the physical? No matter how one
    focuses this inquiry, the two always appear to remain intimately connected.
    As long as this mind-body puzzle remains unresolved, such issues must
    continue to remain open to speculation.

    Excerpt reproduced from A Revolution in Family Values: Spirituality for a
    New Millennium (c. 2001)

    John E. LaMuth M.S.
    Private Practice Counselor

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