Exploring “Rational Mysticism,” Part 3

So, in Rational Mysticism, Horgan brings up a few interesting terms. Here’s a random, notebook compilation of  what I’ve come across…

Emanationism- clear light of void, which fractures into increasingly fragmented realms of reality (such as ours). This is a common experience mystics have; blinding, radiant love which fractals into thousands of dimensions. I’ve even had a good friend of mine have such an experience. Seeing this written here put it in a broader perspective (and much to my surprise).

Gnosticism- the world is somehow… broken. Something is wrong with reality, as it is inherently illusory and thus (evil) must be shunned in order to become closer to God. This is ironically a stance Horgan takes throughout the book. He finds himself experiencing cosmic paranoia.

Cosmic paranoia- a fear of unity, or illusion. Being terrified that everything is ultimately “unreal” and any unitary experience (oneness with other) is seen as terrifying, revolting even (Horgan had to look away from people during a psychoactive experience, because he felt himself as one with them and found it scary).

Holy Madness - after becoming enlightened, and seeing all is “illusory,” a madness may follow. 

Amnesis- God creating the universe, for one reason or another (Loneliness, boredom, creativity, a mix of all three and then some…), and the act of God forgetting himself in order to create the universe. This can be analogous to someone stuck in a void, and, becoming bored, falls asleep in order to create worlds and people to meet in his mind. This can be seen as the other end of the spectrum of enlightenment- there is waking up, and there is falling asleep, amnesis. 

Instrumentality and automatization- two basic cognitive tendencies that impede mystical awareness. Instrumentality is our compulsion to view the world through selfish interests, while automatization is to learn tasks thoroughly enough that we can use them without conscious thought. 

Deautomatization- the goal of Zen, according to Austin, is to this, a disruption of “our routine ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. Instead of seeing the world as objects we can use towards personal gain, we simply see them as they are.

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7 thoughts on “Exploring “Rational Mysticism,” Part 3

  1. Hey Echo, thanks for stopping by. Your blog has some great material, I’ll be sure to be browsing it today.

  2. 93,

    Some comments on these terms…

    * “Emanationism” – this is the theory of Neoplatonists as well as Qabalists (the Qabalistic Tree of Life is a series of emanations from the One which comes from None… etc.)

    * “Gnosticism” – the characteristic is dualism. The ‘spiritual’ is real and good, the ‘mundane’ is unreal and bad. It is similar to the Samkhya philosophies of Yoga where purusha/spirit is real/eternal and matter is unreal/transitory.

    * “Cosmic paranoia” – this feeling is called “derealization.” Check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derealization … a common associated effect is anxiety…

    * “Holy Madness” – there is a difference between the ‘holy madness’ or ‘crazy wisdom’ of an enlightened person (which is like ‘mania’) and the fear, anxiety, and paranoia of someone who reacts negatively to the perception of the world as unreal (which is more like… fear, anxiety, and paranoia).

    * “Instrumentality and automatization” – I have to say, it is these abilities which allow us to function in the world. Yes, there is ‘bad instrumentality’ but we need to see the world through a personal lens… we need to understand our own needs and our own particular circumstance to be adaptive. Also, there is bad automatization (‘bad habits’) but also good automatization. Think of the musician – the piano player – who has become so good at a piece that thinking about it would cause an error… Think of the athlete who is so ‘in the zone’ that thinking – worrying or wondering or anything – would be a distraction… One might even say it is the automatization of the concentration process in yoga that allows for samyama (dharana, dhyana, samadhi).

    * “Deautomatization” – a change in perception doesnt necessarily change all automatic behaviors. One can switch perceptions yet still instinctively pick up a glass of water to drink. From one standpoint, a glass is a glass and is perfect in itself, yet from the standpoint of one’s mind & body (which arent annihilated…. before satori, chop wood carry water; after satori, chop wood carry water) one still has to satisfy one’s needs (for food, water, shelter, avoidance of harm, homeostasis, esteem, social relationships, etc.)


  3. Thanks for elaborating on these terms! It seems that Horgan became very focused on the “Holy madness” (related to Cosmic paranoia) aspect of enlightenment, after his own experience with psychoactives. He kept raising that term throughout the book, again and again. I don’t believe Austin meant to totally remove the ability for automatization, or instrumentality, but as you described, transcend them, and allow them to simply be (Chop wood, carry water). They seemed both like fancier words for mindfulness to me. Anyways, thanks again!

  4. A’hoy! IAO131

    To make a comment on… “One might even say it is the automatization of the concentration process in yoga that allows for samyama (dharana, dhyana, samadhi).”

    I have trouble with the word concentration. When a person is “meditating” and they are trying to concentrate on their breath or whatever it may be that doesn’t seem like meditation to me at all.

    For a “meditator” to concentrate on anything to me seems to deny true meditation. The reason I say this is to concentrate on something… anything implies that you are denying, excluding or NOT paying attention to something.

    For myself meditation is the ability to be aware of everything around me, totally and not exclude anything by concentrating on one thing or the other.

    The idea of sitting and meditating or going of to some silent retreat also seems silly to me. To practice true meditation can you be mindful, aware and fully there when someone cuts you off on the highway? Can you be fully and totally there when someone calls yells at you or smacks you in the face?

    Sitting on a cushion in a room somewhere by myself to me anyways denies true, lively and deep meditation.


    ~ Echo

  5. Pingback: Exploring “Rational mysticism” « shaman sun

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