darker side to mystical experience

From: Fairhaven (legacypr@lucernevalley.net)
Date: Sat Aug 18 2001 - 00:19:22 EDT

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    The profoundly abstract nature of the transcendental authority perspective
    finally suggests that the upper conceptual limit (for the vices) has finally
    been reached. In particular, it is difficult to imagine a set of vices more
    abstract than the already extreme listing of
    anger-hatred-prejudice-belligerence. In direct analogy to the previous
    description of the mystical values, however, there must further exist a
    parallel complement of mystical vices; contrasting point-for-point with the
    respective virtuous mode.
         Although positive mysticism takes Almighty God as its supreme focus,
    the darker version (by definition) enters into the occult realm of sorcery
    and witchcraft. Although the Christian Bible is slanted mostly from a
    positive perspective, it also deals with diabolical themes, with the express
    purpose of condemning them.
         This darker slant to mysticism is particularly expressed within the
    prophetic sections of the Bible, a circumstance entirely consistent with the
    transcendental nature of mystical foresight. A comprehensive reading of
    prophetic scripture clearly reveals the enduring focus of the mystical
    vices; namely, iniquity-turpitude-abomination-perdition. These four basic
    "mystical" vices effectively contrast point-for-point with the virtuous
    prerequisites of the mystical values (ecstasy-bliss-joy-harmony) whereby
    representing the supreme limit of the master ten-level hierarchy of the
    vices listed below:

    Laziness/Treach. Negligence/Vindict. Apathy/Spite Indiffer./Malice
    Infamy/Insurgency Dishonor/Vengeance Foolish/Gluttony Caprice/Cowardice
    Prodigal/Betrayal Slavery/Despair Vulgarity/Avarice Cruelty/Antagonism
    Wrath/Ugliness Tyranny/Hypocrisy Oppression/Evil Persecution/Cunning
    Anger/Abomin. Prejudice/Perdition Hatred/Iniquity Belliger./Turpitude

    This cursory description of the mystical vices invites consideration of one
    further issue; namely, what level of experience is predicted to extend
    beyond this final nameable region of the power hierarchy? In keeping with
    the earlier chapter on religious mysticism (which ended Part I), this
    context necessarily entails a predicted blending of the individual affective
    dimensions, resulting in a mystical experience of virtually supernatural
    proportions. From a purely positive perspective, this supernatural realm was
    judged to be entirely unnamable, except in the broadest of terms; namely,
    God, Cosmic Consciousness, etc. With respect to the darker realm of the
    vices, however, this supernatural realm (by definition) transcends the more
    fearsome complement of mystical vices (namely,
    iniquity-turpitude-abomination-perdition). Such a terrifying experience can
    only be imagined using the broadest of demonic brushstrokes, in keeping with
    the diabolical archetypes specific to demon possession. German psychologist
    Carl Jung suggests a similar aspect with respect to his concept of the
    shadow, an archetypal experience consistent with such disturbing themes. In
    this latter respect, is it truly reasonable to postulate the existence of a
    sentient being (such as the Devil) to counteract the positive aspects of the
    mystical experience?
         The longstanding tradition of demons and devils is a universal theme
    for religious systems from around the world. In the Judeo-Christian
    tradition, Lucifer was celebrated as the most powerful angel in the service
    of the Lord, until his vain sin of pride led to banishment from heaven
    (along with the other angels that followed in his fall from Grace). As one
    of the Archangels, Lucifer (by definition) was a creation of God, and
    therefore never His equal. Interestingly enough, the Devil did not always
    figure so prominently in Old Testament scripture. Indeed, many biblical
    scholars conclude that this all-powerful Devil of Wickedness traces its
    origins to the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews; when they were exposed to
    Zoroastrianism, along with its enduring focus on the battle between Good and
    Evil. This relatively late innovation was subsequently incorporated into the
    budding Christian movement, as witnessed in the stirring scriptural accounts
    describing Christ's temptation by the Devil. This emergent tradition of the
    Devil (as the chief antagonist of the Lord) reaches its supreme fulfillment
    in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation, which describes the final dramatic
    showdown between the forces of Light and Darkness.
         It might further be asked if Christianity is truly justified in
    promoting this belief in an all-powerful Devil, along with the affiliated
    themes of demon possession and exorcism? Evil certainly requires goodness as
    its rightful contrast, for there can be no dark without light. Indeed,
    "darkness" is effectively an all-or-none phenomenon, whereas light is
    invested with virtually an infinite range of meanings. A similar picture
    further holds true with respect to the dual listings of mystical terms. In
    particular, the traditional listing of mystical values is expressly vital in
    their descriptions, as witnessed in the many stirring accounts of saints and
    sages throughout the ages. In contrast, the respective mystical vices
    (iniquity-turpitude-abomination-perdition) scarcely amount to more than
    hollow scriptural technicalities, definitely lacking in the personal
    vitality characterizing their virtuous counterparts. In truth, this darker
    slant to mysticism could just as easily be explained through recourse to the
    righteous and wrathful attributes of the traditional God of the Old
    Testament, a divinity that was not adverse to punishing the transgressions
    of His Chosen People. In fact, according to the highly respected Book of
    Isaiah (45:7) the Lord is quoted: "I form the Light and create the Darkness.
    I make Peace and create Evil. I, the Lord, do all these things."
          Regardless of the preferred mechanism of explanation, this potential
    for a darker side to the mystical experience is undoubtedly a formidable
    influence in the lives of those thusly afflicted. Fortunately documented
    cases of demon possession are typically somewhat rare, although scarcely
    more so than the similarly elusive "positive" experience. Indeed, whether it
    is attributed to some sentient form of evil entity, a righteous outcome of
    God's wrath, or some impersonal style of shadow archetype; this darker slant
    to the mystical experience must fittingly remain an issue open to further
    investigation. Hopefully a clearer understanding will ultimately be achieved
    through further research into the principles governing all such aspects of
    the mystical experience.

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

    John E. LaMuth M.S.

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