It is for such I agitate my heart...

'The first signs of psychic opening are love and joy – a joy that may be extremely intense and powerful, but without any exaltation and without object, as calm and deep as the sea. Psychic joy does not need anything in order to be; it just is; even in a prison it cannot help being, for it is not a feeling but a state, like a river sparkling wherever it flows, whether over mud or rocks, across plains or mountains. It is a love that is not the opposite of hate, and it needs nothing to sustain itself; it simply is, burning steadily regardless of what it encounters, in all it sees and all it touches, simply because it cannot help loving, for that is its nature. Nothing is low for it, or high, or pure, or impure; neither its flame nor its joy can be tarnished. Other signs may also reveal its presence: It is light, nothing is a burden to it, as if the whole world were its playground; it is invulnerable, nothing can touch it, as if it were forever beyond all tragedies, already saved from all accidents; it is a seer, it sees; it is calm, so calm, a tiny breath in the depths of the being; and vast, as vast as the eternal sea itself. Indeed, it is eternal. And it is free; nothing can entrap it, neither life nor men, nor ideas, nor doctrines, nor countries – it is beyond, forever beyond, and yet innumerably present in the heart of everything, as if it were one with all, for it is God within us.'

Satprem, Sri Aurobindo, or The Adventure of Consciousness

Comments

tehzib said…
And your heart will get what it seeks...
ahish said…
Ref: Your previous post on mysticism
I have come across many people who have reported mystical experiences by using such drugs as LSD. Do u plan to perform such experiments?
Awais Aftab said…
@ ahish

One difficulty that I can immediately identify is the wide range of 'mystic experiences' that have been reported, from random, passive and transient to active, sustained and enduring experiences. Some people may even describe sensations associated with an intense emotional states as being 'mystical'. So, there is definitely a confusion going on regarding what should qualify as mystical. William James, for example, when describing the criteria of mystic experiences says that mystic experiences are 'passive' as well as 'transient'. But this is not true of the mystic experiences of my friends, as well as those described in Integral Yoga, as they are both active and sustained. So, the sort of mystic experiences that I would defend are the ones that I am studying, i.e. those of Integral Yoga, as I don't have enough knowledge and understanding to comment on the less well-developed experiences.

Ok, now coming to LSD and drugs. Well, the first argument that we can make without even going into the analysis of the experiences is the plainly obvious fact that mystics when they have experiences are not under the influence of any drugs. The experiences they have are the result of their meditation. The MOST that we can deduce from the observation that using LSD may produce sensations that may be somewhat similar to a very limited degree (we'll come to that) to mystic experiences is that mystic experiences may be associated with physiological changes in the brain that are mimicked by LSD. But merely showing that some experience has a neurophysiological correlate does nothing to prove the non-reality of the experience, because ALL states of consciousness have neurophysiological correlates. When you look at the computer screen in front of you, there is a whole neurophysiobiochemical process going on in your brain. If I put you in a fMRI scanner as you look at the computer screen, I can identify areas of activity in the brain. Can I then point at the scan and claim that it is "all in your head"? Nope, I can't. So the fact that LSD can mimic to a very limited degree a certain process doesn't in itself falsify the mystic experience because that isn't the result of an artificial induction. [cont]
Awais Aftab said…
Secondly, most of the effects produced by LSD are not such that they may called 'mystical'. They are certainly fancy and intriguing, but hardly the mystical experiences that bring with them a sense of reality, sacredness, ineffability and noetic quality of having insight and knowledge.

Since i have never had the opportunity to use LSD, i'll rely on the descriptions that are available: Colors, smells, sounds, and other sensations seem highly intensified. Synesthesia, in which a person seems to hear or feel colors and see sounds. Hallucinations distort or transform shapes and movements, and they may give rise to a perception that time is moving very slowly or that the user's body is changing shape. These are all hardly mystic experiences, they don't even fulfill the limited criteria described by William James.

The experience after LSD that does come closest is: a sense of dissolution between themselves and the "outside world". This, indeed, mimics a certain type of mystic experience, but i think it also lacks the authority, sacredness, sense of reality and noetic quality of typical mystic experiences. The sense of dissolution is itself also a very limited aspect. In contrast, compare it to the description given below in Satprem's book:

"Once we have opened the doors of the psychic, a first phase of cosmic consciousness is unveiled. But the growing psychic, the consciousness-force growing increasingly alive and compact and strong inside, is no longer satisfied with a narrow individual form. Feeling itself one with That, it wants to be as vast as That, as universal as That, and to rediscover its innate Totality. To be and to be fully is Nature's aim in us... and to be fully is to be all that is.

...

This is our cosmic center, as the psychic was our individual center. But this central being is not located in a particular point; it is in all points, inconceivably at the heart of each thing and embracing all things at the same time. It is supremely within, as it is supremely above and below and everywhere – it is a giant point.150 When we have found it, all is found, and all is there. The adult soul recovers its origin, the Son recovers the Father or, rather, the Father, who became the Son, becomes Himself again: There is a pushing back and rending or a rushing down of the walls that imprisoned our conscious being; there is a loss of all sense of individuality and personality, of all placement in Space or Time or action or law of Nature; there is no longer an ego, a person definite and definable, but only consciousness, only existence, only peace and bliss; one becomes immortality, becomes eternity, becomes infinity. All that is left of the personal soul is a hymn of peace and freedom and bliss vibrating somewhere in the Eternal."

Contrast this experience of Totality, which is thereafter sustained and easily re-experienced and leaves tangible effects, with the pale, vapid sensation that we are dissolving. Not a very fair contrast, I believe.
Bea said…
that was beautifully written and intelligently concluded...

but *sigh* there are black holes too, trapping the light..