I came across a blog entry this evening that touches on a number of themes we've explored here over the past couple years: whether mystical experience constitutes metaphysical evidence, and the related issue of whether mystics cross-culturally are all experiencing the "same thing."


Here's the introduction to the blog, and the full piece can be read here:


Are mystical experiences metaphysical evidence?


"Here is an extraordinary spiritual teaching:

  • Mystics, across many different cultures and religions, all describe their insight experiences similarly.
  • This couldn’t happen unless their accounts were accurate.
  • So we must believe what they say.

What is extraordinary about this teaching is that it so widely accepted, and yet so obviously false. As I’ll explain:

  • If mystics all gave similar descriptions of their experiences, it could just mean that they are all mistaken in the same way.
  • But, in fact, mystics from different cultures give wildly different descriptions, which generally reflect their cultural background.

So what?

My motivation is not to dismiss non-ordinary experiences. I think they are important.

Instead, my next few posts will reject a particular metaphysical interpretation of such experiences. It is the theory that Buddhist enlightenment is the unification of the True Self with the Absolute Infinite, and that meditation is the way to do that.

I think this idea is wrong, harmful, and (incidentally) opposite to most traditional Buddhist teachings. Unfortunately, it is now common in modern Buddhism.

Advocates claim that mystics in all cultures teach the “unification” idea, so we should believe it. This post refutes that particular argument. Later posts will give other reasons to reject the unification theory..."

[Continue reading here.]

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It seems very preliminary. Perhaps the follow up will be more thorough.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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