Why Scientists, Unless They Are Einstein, Make Lousy Mystics: Being Able to Control and Predict Reality Is Hardly the Same as Understanding It

Trying to understand consciousness through science and physics, as in it is “light,” magnetism, fields … subparticles or dimensions … is like an ocean studying the composition of water to understand wetness.

The essence of reality is love, feeling, experience, awareness. These other things “out there” that we study are merely these direct experiences viewed indirectly … and incorrectly.

The horse that the aspirant has been searching everywhere to find … well, she has been riding it all along.

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The Uses of Normal Knowledge and A Better Way of Knowing: Transpersonal Perspective — Experience Is Divine, Cognition Is Illusion, Part Eight

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We are engaged in a completely different endeavor when we seek to understand Reality as opposed to merely controlling or predicting it. We are engaged in a completely different endeavor if we seek to understand people as opposed to merely controlling or predicting them as well…. We need to reverse the direction of abstractions and look directly into Experience, as it presents itself and not as it is interpreted. Even one tiny step of interpretation removed, one split-second of analysis later we are no longer in Reality, in Experience, we are in abstraction.

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The Uses of Normal Knowledge

Certainly there is theory based on scientific premises and research that is considered to be real and factual. And the replicatibility and verifiability of these pronouncements add further to their credibility. But we are always to remember that they are abstractions, generalizations, of experience. Further, the experiences that they are usually generalizations of are those of an observer of an event that may be happening to another person or thing (which for that person or thing might be a direct experience but for the observer is already one step removed); therefore it is usually an abstraction of an abstraction. These abstractions of abstractions are then combined and worked together to form higher order theories and laws which are then another level of abstraction removed.

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Not that these abstractions don’t have their uses and purposes. The point is that we make a grave mistake when we presume that these abstractions are the things that they describe and the events whose actions are outlined. They have their purposes, as maps do, in terms of guidance and direction on how to control and predict such events and Realities.

Yet we are engaged in a completely different endeavor when we seek to understand Reality as opposed to merely controlling or predicting it. We are engaged in a completely different endeavor if we seek to understand people as opposed to merely controlling or predicting them as well. To do that we need to reverse the direction of abstractions and look directly into Experience, as it presents itself and not as it is interpreted. Even one tiny step of interpretation removed, one split-second of analysis later we are no longer in Reality, in Experience, we are in abstraction.

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A Better Way of Knowing

But there is another way of knowing, another way of venturing after Truth. This methodology is radically different from the supposedly “empirical” one of the sciences. I say “supposedly” because this is in fact a more empirical approach—at least in the sense that Nietzsche meant when he used the term empirical, which became a foundation stone of modern science, but which modern scientists have apparently forgotten. These methods are the heuristic, the hermeneutical , and the interdisciplinary.

Hermeneutical

Truths that are rooted in raw Experience—ones that “hover” as close as possible to the actual Reality and are least removed of their vitality and least refined into abstraction must needs be largely speculative, based, as much of it is, on subjective reports. 02-morphic-3001So the ultimate relation between these experiences and other human cognitive, behavioral, and experiential structures—their degree and manner and direction of influence—will need to remain open.

Still, endeavors such as this are in the strongest traditions of the social sciences. This sort of hermeneutic approach is what has been called the “left-hand” of science, and it provides both the exploration of areas that cannot be served otherwise as well as it teases out implications and avenues for further research otherwise unseen.

Hermeneutics is the interpretive branch of science. It seeks to discover meanings inherent in events as perceived. SwansAnd while normally this endeavor is seen as an inferior route of understanding, within our dominant materialistic paradigm, and is only begrudgingly allowed on the basis that observers do apparently and irrefutably have some influence on events they perceive and are apparently needful of meaning, the preceding analysis should hopefully have made clear why I believe the hermeneutic route makes possible a superior understanding of an “object” of study.

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For one cannot go into an objective study of something that is not on a more fundamental level a going into an aspect of one’s own experience. It is by acknowledging, boldly and up front, that subjective and inherently interpretive base of any study that one can most likely turn it 547378_556968007665561_75698933_nto one’s advantage in discerning the deepest and most important understandings of what is within one’s experiential focus of study.

As an example of how this can be so, take the analogous technique of participant observation in anthropology. It is the time-honored and required approach that anthropologists use in studying other cultures. It is based on the acknowledgment that a purely “objective” observation and analysis of a culture is profoundly flawed and that the only way one can hope to have the smallest possibility of understanding another’s culture is to participate experientially, to the extent that one is able, in the events of that culture.

So just as one cannot imagine that a detached perspective of a culture could possibly be superior to a participant perspective, so also is this participation vitally necessary and superior to other techniques in various other types of study. I submit that, among other studies, the spiritual and philosophical aspects of pre- and perinatal experiences are one such. So also are any philosophical or metaphysical studies of the nature of Reality and the meaning of Life.

monkey-thinkingIn the pictures accompanying, a scientist could only acknowledge existing in them, top to bottom, a board made of wood, two swans, the reflection of the sky off a pond, and a flock of birds. However the poet and philosopher sees that but more: a smiling face, with perhaps a red beard and hair; love and a heart, a man with a pointed beard looking wistfully into the water, perhaps at his reflection; and a contemplative woman. Now, is the Reality only what the scientist sees? Is it what the poet sees? Is it both? Is it more? Is it all?

What is The Truth? What is Reality?

Heuristic

In a similar way, the importance of the observer is emphasized in the tradition of heuristic research in humanistic psychology, as described by Clark Moustakas (1990). As he explains it, heuristic

refers to a process of internal search through which one discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops methods and procedures for further investigation and analysis. The self of the researcher is present throughout the process and, while understanding the phenomenon with increasing depth, the researcher also experiences growing self-awareness and self-knowledge. (p. 9)

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Further:

[H]euristic research involves self-search, self-dialogue, and self-discovery; the research question and the methodology flow out of inner awareness, meaning, and inspiration. When I consider an issue, problem, or question, I enter into it fully. I focus on it with unwavering attention and interest. I search introspectively, meditatively, and reflectively into its nature and meaning. My primary task is to recognize whatever exists in my consciousness as a fundamental awareness, to receive and accept it, and then to dwell on its nature and possible meanings. With full and unqualified interest, I am determined to extend my understanding and knowledge of an experience. I begin the heuristic investigation with my own self-awareness and explicate that awareness with reference to a question or problem until an essential insight is achieved, one that will throw a beginning light onto a critical human experience. (p. 11)

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The Best Possible Map: Both Kinds of Knowledge Combined

dreamtime_sisters_110_photo_s1I will be describing a model based on such inquiry as I’ve described above, hovering as close as possible to the experiential reality I am modeling. Yet it will be aided by other ways of knowing, more traditional, more scientific ones. However, in that it will have been essentially informed by the participant observer himself, i.e. , me, as well as the experiential reports of others who have journeyed into the same general domain, it will seek to go beyond the interpretations that are possible from solely the traditional sources.

That is, that to say Experience is Divine is not to say that it is perfectly true in the way that it is immediately interpreted. Interpretations are one step removed to be sure, and so immediately introduce the element of error in that abstraction. In addition, Experience being Divine does not mean that all experiences are equally valuable in providing us with fertile and useful interpretations or understandings.

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It is my belief that all experience is perfect in itself and can not be otherwise. That is a belief based upon my experience. It is not a necessary assumption for this work, but is something I share for the purpose of explaining how it is possible that Experience can be Divine in the sense of that word perfection.

delusional-unshared-worldsStill, we are aware that experience is sometimes called delusional or hallucinatory. This means essentially that it does not fit very well with the experiences of others who report experiences of that variety. But it is possible to think of these experiences as being perfect for the individual experiencer and yet not compatible with others of a similar variety. Then when we say that they are not real, we can be meaning that they simply do not conform to a general map for a particular group of beings (although they are Real for the person to whom they occur) and thus cannot be used usefully or to any good purpose by that group . . . by any other outside of the individual involved. So we distinguish between Reality as What Is and Reality as what is useful to another.

map-closely-upon-experienceSince I am basing my model on What Is—i.e. , direct experience, as closely mapped upon that as possible—but I am seeking to create a low-hovering abstraction that might be useful to others, I do not simply leave off with the descriptions of experience by myself and others but I measure them against the other kind of abstractions available in the Now—those that are associated with science and with the generalizations of the experiences of others. It is the combination of these—much as one needs both particle and waves in understanding light—that I feel comes closest to providing what is helpful, interesting, and yes, useful, in terms of our understanding of our Reality.

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Continue with Our Daily “En-lighten-ments” Which Reveal Our True Nature as Bliss and the Nature of Creation as Play: Experience Is Divinity, Part One—The Cosmic Giggle

Return to Why We Say One Should “Look Within” … The Highest Reality Is Also the Most Immediate One: Transpersonal Perspective, Part Seven — Experience Is Divine, Cognition Is Illusion

Footnotes

1. I prefer to use the term psyche with which to oppose matter, rather than mind, or “the mental,” as is traditionally done in philosophy. For I find that Mind means much less than what is intended here and leads to many misinterpretations in philosophy in general. Despite its long tradition of use, Mind is still confused with mind, in the common sense of the term, meaning intellect, thoughts, ideas, concepts, and so on; and hence is considered to be ultimately rooted in language. Such a train of thought which excludes the feeling or “bodily” component of the psychic (cf., Gendlin, 1992) or the experiential part of existence (cf., all existentialists) bespeaks a reality compatible to rationalists who appear to know of no experience outside of their thoughts. But there are others of us whose experience is constituted of much more than what is thought of, commonly, as “mind.” Hence, in the tradition of Carl Jung, it seems psyche is the appropriate term. For it is a term that points to the possible inclusion, in subjective reality, of “feelings,” “passions,” archetypal and transpersonal noncognitive/nonverbal experience, and the psychic.

The best term of all for what is meant here by the Absolute Idealistic Reality is probably Experience. But that is a term that is also, on its surface, heavily loaded with connotations and the baggage of a traditional philosophic heritage. So it is a position I will lead up to gradually and attempt to demonstrate in the analysis following. For now, Jung’s use of psyche—as more inclusive than mind—will suffice to point us in the right direction.

2. This is a description, according to Toms (1992, p. 89), that has been originally attributed to C. E. M. Joad.

Continue with Our Daily “En-lighten-ments” Which Reveal Our True Nature as Bliss and the Nature of Creation as Play: Experience Is Divinity, Part One—The Cosmic Giggle

Return to Why We Say One Should “Look Within” … The Highest Reality Is Also the Most Immediate One: Transpersonal Perspective, Part Seven — Experience Is Divine, Cognition Is Illusion

To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Experience Is Divinity

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About sillymickel

Activist, psychotherapist, pre- and perinatal psychologist, author, and environmentalist. I seek to inspire others to our deeper, more natural consciousness, to a primal, more delightful spirituality, and to taking up the cause of saving life on this planet, as motivated by love.

Posted on January 2, 2013, in Anthropology, authenticity, Consciousness, Environmentalism, Evolution, God, individualism, life, meaning, Metaphysics, Mystical, nonconform, Philosophy, Primal Spirit, Primal Spirituality, Psychology, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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