This page will focus on the most intriguing aspect of noetics- touching on the spectrum of psychic episodes involving OOBs and NDEs but focusing on the more transcendent forms of consciousness identified in metaphysical tradition as samadhi, satori, moksha, or nirvana. Transcendent insight has given birth not only to recognized religions as in the revelations pronounced by Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Mohammad and the Vedanta but is an ongoing "free-for-all" adaptive process whereby "experiencers" extrapolate and integrate their "revelations" with selected aspects of metaphysics and/or science to invent new spiritual paradigms.
It would help to identify what criteria there are to establish credibility regarding the "reality" of such episodes.
The most famous Revelations in the West were written by John the Baptist, 60 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. They provide the last book of the New Testament in the Bible but their apocalyptic scenario is so utterly unique that it is impossible to subject it to any epistemological process to judge its credibility any more than any of the other unassailable doctrines in the other major prophetic religions- Judaism and Islam.
Fanciful myths from many cultures have persisted over millennia so the fact that a noetic feature has an enduring legacy is not a valid factor in determining believability. However in the East, the nondual traditions of Daoism in China and in India where Vedanta and Buddhism has created what E. R. Wilson calls "a museum of the human mind" whose evolutionary core is derived from innumerable transcendent insights which were reinterpreted by a succession of "knowers" has created what is our best example of a "intuitive scientific paradigm" of human consciousness and for a collective profile of the samadhic aspect of the numinous realm that has been evolving for thousands of years.
New science is evolving an enlightened approach to a strictly materialist reality paradigm and suggests that the theoretics explaining quantum particle physics and cosmology are applicable not only to the mysteries of consciousness but to the realm of noetics. In addition- there are some scientific studies of numinous properties such as ESP and veridical information contained in NDEs and other paranormal events that strongly suggest a reality to some aspects of such accounts.
For a topic with such rarified numinous qualities as Nirvikalpa Samadhi, beyond monitoring alpha waves during a transcendent episode during meditation, etc. the empirical data is virtually useless for comparative analysis and forget any chance of applying the scientific principle of falsifiability. In our post-modern era there is an ongoing effort to conduct 'controlled studies' of pure consciousness experience using empirical methods but have so far not advanced our understanding beyond its enigmatic state when it was first recognized over two millennia ago. This leaves the archive of samadhi accounts in Vedic and Buddhist literature as our best chance to subject accounts of transcendent insight to some criteria for credibility. After thousands of years the experience of true samadhi has been defined by the transformation of consciousness into a state of non-duality in a medium of light, bliss and love. There is a substantial number of contemporary religious and secular experiencers whose accounts are expressed in characteristicly numinous terms absent any artifacts or entities.
In contrast is the poor evidence for the specific scenarios prescribed in the bardo in Vedic and Buddhist doctrines such as the Bardo Thodol. The bardo state of conscious duality bears a strong resemblance to the utterly novel accounts of transcendent NDE episodes claimed by Eckankar's Paul Twitchell, Edgar Cayce, Ron Howard's Scientology, Theosophy's Madame Blavatsky. Many of these "seers" such as Mellen-Thomas Benedict and a host of contemporary experiencers authoring books promoting their revelations find acceptance not only by New Age devotees but by many "experts" in the fields of transpersonal psychology, and noetic science. Perhaps the most blatant example of recent claims of transcendent revelation is in the "documentary" film What the Bleep- widely endorsed by the noetic science community- "in which they [state] as a fact, that one of the people you have been listening to for the previous 90 minutes, a main authority for the information being presented, is a 35,000 year old warrior spirit from Atlantis, being channeled by this Tacoma housewife turned cult leader. The woman pictured is JZ Knight, but you are not listening to JZ Knight. You are literally listening to Ramtha. There were people who saw this film and didn't say, "That's just a woman putting on a funny accent" - quoted source See also: Pigasus Awards Category #3, to the media outlet that reported as factual the most outrageous supernatural, paranormal or occult claims: The prize goes to the film "What the Bleep Do We Know?," a fantasy docudrama cult hit supposedly about the "nature of reality." More than a dozen scientists, theologians and mystics appear. However, the product placement reveals that among the physicists, neurologists and academics who expound the film's thesis is "new age" icon J.Z. Knight, who claims to be channeling a 35,000-year-old god/warrior from Atlantis named Ramtha. The films' producers, writers, directors, and some of the stars are members of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Washington State. Several of the scientists are affiliated with Knight's school, and the film was largely financed by one of Knight's students.
The revelation of Mellen-Thomas Benedict has been endorsed by a number of high-profile personalities including Lee Pulos, PhD, Dr. Kennith Ring, P.M.H. Atwater and others in the field of noetic science and enthusiastically embraced by the entire New Age community. Although it appears to involve a genuinely dramatic near-death episode and spontaneous remission of what had been diagnosed as a case of terminal cancer and appears to be presented with authentic sincerity, I know of no attempts to documents any of the physical details or testimony of other persons involved in the account or question the extravagant inconsistencies of all the unique qualities and features Benedict reports compared to any Nirvikalpa Samadhi transcendence described in the metaphysical literature over the past thousand years. In fact all the realms and entities Benedict encounters are described from the vantage of a dual state of consciousness which is ipso facto evidence that he had not entered a state of true Nirvikalpa Samadhi where non-duality is a classical attribute and consistently described as ineffable.
Near-Death Experiences in Catholic Perspective By David Toolan,S.J. (alt surviving link to D. Toolan) Examining NDEs referencing high profile accounts of Betty J. Eadie's Embraced By The Light (1974); The phenomenology of NDEs presented by Raymond A. Moody Jr., M.D. in Life After Life (1975); NDE episodes in the autobiographies of Carl Jung and the 19th century Lakota Sioux Indian (and Catholic catechist) Black Elk; Book of Revelation and from St. Paul's allusion "caught up to the third heaven"; Mellen-Thomas Benedict; the negative experience of Dannion Brinkley, a former Marine and Vietnam war veteran and others - as well as Carol Zaleski's interesting interpretation of NDEs who adopts a Kantian epistemology and a broader sense of rationality borrowed from William James. Do these NDE visions provide "immediate luminousness, philosophic reasonableness, and moral helpfulness"? or are NDErs still locked up within their skins, within their brain circuits, just as cut off as the rest of us seeing only light reflected off the surfaces of things --in Kant's terms, "phenomena" - so why should we privilege their insight above our own?
I realize that I was aware of details of specific features in my own samadhi journey that go beyond those described in historical accounts of real samadhi but my episode certainly follows a classical outline with virtually all the features in the transcendent tradition easily recognized. It is evident that my consciousness manifested two distinct states during the journey. While traveling to and from the light I was distinctly in a state of Dvaita Atman duality- able to recognize numinous features, directly experience an infinite body of knowledge and correspond with an omniscient God consciousness. But once merged with light, bliss and love- that Advaita Atman state could only be described as the supreme reality of non-duality.
In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda, a reputed modern-day spiritual saint of India and teacher of Kriya Yoga, offers a version of a nirvikalpa samadhi that upon first reading appears to depart from the classical anatomy of real samadhi although not close to the extreme as the one described by Mellen-Thomas Benedict. Wikipedia characterizes this atypical account as
"this stirring description of Samadhi consciousness" and includes the passage: "A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being. The sharply etched global outlines faded somewhat at the farthest edges; there I could see a mellow radiance, ever undiminished. It was indescribably subtle; the planetary pictures were formed of a grosser light."
With all due respect to Paramahansa Yogananda it would not be the first time a venerable sage may have used dramatic, tangible metaphors in describing a surreal spiritual vision. Actually what at first may suggest a literal landscape of artifacts of towns and solar systems may be nothing more than metaphors for a shifting quality and configuration of experienced light as consciousness is transformed from duality to the non duality of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. This illustrates the tendency for the media (Wikipedia) to stereotype noetic topics with features that appeal to the popular imagination rather than deal with the ephemeral, Zen-like realities of more representative accounts. As in my experience- that part of an extended journey to and from the light of a genuine Nirvikalpa Samadhi which begins in a state of astral duality by which we may experience the perennial scenario of transport in a tunnel with light at the end. It is here where the ghosts of loved ones or entities may be encountered or all the supra realms created by our psychic projections may manifest. It is in this state of dual consciousness that all the diverse features, effects, entities, heavens and hells described in the compendium of accounts of NDEs including Benedict's dramatic landscape may appear. In contrast to the NDE- once entered into the light, bliss and love of non-duality- there is no equivocation in declaring that this alone is the defining, supreme and ineffable: "That Thou Art" of nirvikalpa samadhi.
Apparently it is sufficient for the noetic science community- that the purported numinous insight display a sufficient degree of intelligence and wisdom or be exceptionally inspirational to be deemed credible regardless of how bizarre, convoluted and unverifiable the architecture of the spiritual journey. There appears to be no plausible reason for most of these "revelations" to receive anything close to the credibility that is granted to the stream of highly inventive, quantum particle and cosmological theories-of-everything that appear at regular intervals in the scientific journals- hypotheses that at least emerge from a logical continuum and are subject to peer review. It would seem that "spiritual" revelations that radically depart from the classical metaphysical continuum would be subjected to some degree of skepticism but so far the noetic science consortia seems unwilling to even consider raising the issue of credibility regarding the spectrum of scenarios, from heavens to hells, purportedly manifested in the spiritual landscape of NDE accounts.
At New Age Credibility I examine the pros and cons of the open-ended, open-minded credulity that characterizes mainstream New Age mentality.
Samadhi Anecdotal Accounts presents speculations of why contemporary anecdotes of samadhi contain such a wide variety of scenarios leading up to the alleged non dual transformations.
Distinguishing Numinous Vs Psychic Classifying transpersonal events either as transnuminous- part of the numinous transcendent continuum culminating in Nirvikalpa Samadhi or as intrapsychic or psychic projections- a diverse body of inexplicable epiphenomena the occult has codified in mythic maths based on pure fantasy.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead or "Bardo Thodol", is a Buddhist guide for the dead during the state that intervenes death and the next rebirth- believed to be the work of the legendary Padma Sambhava in the 8th century A.D. It starts out correctly teaching that once awareness is freed from the body, it creates its own reality as one would experience in a dream- but then prescribes specifically how this dream occurs in various phases (bardos) in ways both wonderful and terrifying. Although it vaguely follows an outline in the Vedic scenario for the passage of the soul from death to reincarnation it is filled with proprietary demands for working out karma with judgments and interactions with entities that it confronts- details that can reasonably be attributed to the derivative imagination of a long line of sages interpreting revelations from archaic NDE accounts. The book's event-filled scenario resembles that of the busy landscape purported in the growing archive of contemporary accounts of NDEs where dreamlike events unfold within a vague format commonly manifesting synchronous features such as a tunnel of light and encounters with entities- all experienced in a state of duality. Perhaps the most rational appraisal of our conscious duality in NDEs is that virtually unlimited dreamlike scenarios may transpire in accordance with our expectations, dispositions (or karma).
I suspect that the constructivist arguments promulgated by Steven T. Katz that ALL mystical experiences are expressions of religious preconceptions are actually exclusive to accounts of experiences of conscious duality such as NDEs that I would classify as a intrapsychic state in the Immanent Tier I of the 200 Percent Model of Reality- rather than the non dual transnuminous state. Katz appears oblivious to the fundamental distinction between dual and non dual mystical states.
For a refutation of Katz's constructivism see:
The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy Edited by Robert K. C. Forman Reviewed by Puligandla Ramakrishna The driving force behind this book is the desire on the part of the contributors to examine carefully and refute Steven Katz' Constructivism, which has gained considerable support among Western philosophers. For this reason, it is essential that the reader clearly bear in mind Katz' own characterization of Constructivism: Simply put, Katz' Constructivism is the claim that there can be no experience, whether ordinary or mystical, untouched by the culture and belief -- formative and shaping concepts, percepts, and expectations -- of the subject. Hence there cannot, in principle, be any non-intentional (mystical) experience transcending language, culture, belief, and expectations. It is to be emphasized that the claims of mystics contradict Constructivism. The Constructivist does not deny mystical experience and is eager to affirm the Pluralism Thesis, which, according to the Constructivist, does full justice to the variety and diversity of mystical traditions: Thus, for example, the nature of the Christian mystic's pre-mystical consciousness informs the mystical consciousness such that he experiences the mystic reality in those terms.
See also more refutation of Steven Katz constructivist arguments and here
Numinous Experience and Religious Language by Leon Schlamm- Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury. An examination of Rudolf Otto: The Idea of the Holy and his positions regarding extravertive mystical experiences and the mysterium tremendum and fascinans moments of the numinous. Otto holds that religious experience is primarily a feeling, moreover, he argues that this feeling offers a distinctively religious form of knowledge, which eludes all attempts to express it conceptually and is actually opposed to our ordinary rational understanding. His major critics include Steven Katz whose constructivist approach is based on the epistemological assumption that all mystical experiences are mediated by their cultural religious contexts and that their ineffibility renders the effort to understand them outside those contexts, futile. P. van Buren and Renford Bambrough argue against what they mistakingly claim is Otto's absolute claim about the ineffability of feelings and other issues regarding language and conceptual understanding versus knowing. (mg: Although NDEs manifest aspects of the numinous they are experienced in a state of duality and are distinct from the at-one mystical, non dual experience (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) under discussion here.)
There are opposing views within transpersonal psychology as to what W.T. Stace's extrovertive and introvertive actually define in regards to the character of mystical experience with further distinctions from their meaning in clinical psychology. Shadow, Self, Spirit: essays in transpersonal psychology by Michael Daniels. Presents opposing views over a broad range of topics. Citing Contexts and Modes of Mystical Experience according to Walter Stace (1960). Stace makes a fundamental distinction between extrovertive and introvertive mysticism. Extrovertive mysticism looks outward and perceives the Unity of the World. Introvertive mysticism looks inward and finds the One at the centre of the self, in the Heart, or in the experience of oneness with God.
(mg: My view would be that nirvikalpa samadhi engenders a 200% modeling of reality that synthesizes both of Stace's extrovertive and introvertive mystical states. My Nirvikalpa Samadhi can also be compared to the mystical experience described in Mystical Encounters with the Natural World - Experiences and Explanations by Paul Marshall, Independent scholar, Oxford Scholarship Online, 2006 Abstract: The present study is devoted to mystical experiences of the natural world and the disparate ways in which they have been explained. Typically, these so-called "extrovertive mystical experiences" are characterized by some combination of unity, deepened knowledge, sense of contact with reality, self-transcendence, altered time-experience, light, bliss, and love.
See also mg's discussion with Ronald A. Havens author of Self Hypnosis for Cosmic Consciousness featuring our opposite views on the source of the Cosmic Consciousness (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) experience- wherein I describe Haven's perception of the state as intrapsychic - in the sense that the mystical episode is exclusively a product of the brain and mg's perception of the state as transnuminous - a transcendent experience of our consciousmess orchestrated by its continuum with an infinite cosmic conscious matrix- Brahman.) (Note: I have adopted those terms to avoid confusing their qualities with the uses of the terms introvertive and extrovertive by W.T. Stace and Karl Jung and the intravertive and extravertive of Rudolf Otto. See also: Samadhi Anecdotes and Stace's Mysticism and Philosophy for further exposition as to how these terms can be confused.
Feminism, Constructivism and Numinous Experience, 1994 by Melissa Raphael- adding a feminist perspective to the contrasting views between Rudolph Otto's perennialism and Steven Katz's constructivism as to the cause and nature of numinous experience.
Poststructuralism and Postmodernism - Bald Ambtion, Chapter 7 by Jeff Meyerhoff In Integral World - In his Critique of Ken Wilber's Theory of Everything, Meyerhoff presents an integral examination of the constructivism issue.
Dr. J. Glenn Friesen examines Katz's constructivism within a Kantian framework refering to K.C. Forman, Anthony N. Perovich, Jr., Ken Wilber, Dooyeweerd and Baader - essentially rejecting a constructivist view.
Constructivist Epistemologies of Mysticism: A Critique and a Revision. by Michael Stoeber (1992). Religious Studies, pp 107-116 Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Some philosophers of mysticism stress the dependence of mystical experience upon the conceptual categories of the mystic. This has been referred to as an intentionalist or constructivist view, where the mystic "constructs" the framework of mystical encounter, or experiences that which was "intended" at the outset of the mystical path. Steven Katz, for example, insists that the beliefs, values and concepts of mystics directly affect the nature of their mystical experiences. He says, "the ontological structure(s) of each major mystical tradition is different and this pre-experiential, inherited structure directly enters into the mystical occasion itself". In contrast to essentialist theories which hold all mystical experience to be phenomenologically the same though subject to varying interpretations, this constructivist view interprets the tremendous differences in mystical descriptions to be evidence of differences in experience type.
Mysticism Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: An extended overview of issues of perennialism and constructivism.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the numinous event with the greatest credibility, is a much rarer, peak experience. It seldom is attained in NDE accounts involving physiological trauma and more often arises spontaneously as a continuum of supra-emotional, ecstatic states or less commonly attained through advanced meditative practice. Tradition recognizes it as the highest of various levels of Samadhi according to the extent the duality of consciousness is annihilated and other criteria. It can be realized as a sudden event where a radiant consciousness is swept directly into union with cosmic consciousness. More rarely it is recalled as an ultimate transcendent non-dual state in a journey with perennial features of dual consciousness such as a supra-rapid- perhaps superluminal- transport via a tunnel or stream of energy, momentary accessing collective knowledge, and the manifestation of a "gatekeeper" God consciousness conditionally offering grace for passage.
In nirvikalpa samadhi there is absolute non-duality where the soul is witness to annihilation of the ego Advaita Atman and immersed into the cosmic ocean of light, bliss and love. The range of time the emmersion lasts varies from minutes- to (sic) opinions in the archives of religious literature of weeks- ending with a reconstitution of ego and consciousness back to the phenomenal self.
Even in the model of transcendent consciousness that has been subjected to the most intense ontological and phenomenological review- the Advaita- there is acute ambiguity in the distinctions ascribed to the hierarchy of Samadhi and in criteria for establishing its credibility. The Advaitic Experience A doctorate thesis by John Glenn Friesen, provides an intimate view into the reality that- despite the twelve revisions of Upanishad doctrine, the evolution of Vedanta and Buddhism and the full realizations of countless rishis and yogis- the subject of the advaita experience- Samadhi- remains a divine enigma.
Cosmic and Mystical Consciousness essay by Erik van Ruysbeek. Ruysbeek studied German philology and has for years been deeply involved in Oriental and Western traditions of wisdom. "Just as the present-day physicists are confronted with the puzzle of what there could have been before the Big Bang, so the intellect of the mystic is confronted with the puzzle of the origin, of the nature of reality which is no longer reducible to anything else."
Cosmic and Mystical Consciousness Essay- m-g review Ruysbeek offers insightful, intuitive perspectives on many spiritual issues from his genuine mystical realization such as on reincarnation: "Every ego has come to being out of the same universal essence and goes back to that, where it could indeed come to experience again some of the elements from the egos which have previously existed, but not, or at least very seldom, the total, individual egos from a previous time. I am in this respect rather a Buddhist".
He might however, consider Occam's Razor in his model of reality where he proposes a distinction between cosmic and mystical consciousness. The challenge of modeling reality is to bring the intellectual instinct of conceptualizing which prompts us to separate objects and discover particulars in perfect balance with our intuitive impulse towards connectedness to evolve the most concise holistic paradigm.
There is also a minor contradiction in writing extensive essays about advaita yet embracing axioms such as: "Thereafter one really experiences it; the complete advaita, which cannot be brought under words. For every word would remove the experience from the advaita. Every word would be an interpretation from the non-advaita and destroy the advaita and 'Those who know do not speak, those who speak do not know' said Lao-Tse five centuries before Christ, and to the present day this is still the case."
My take on a subtle motivation for such pronouncements is to perpetuate proprietary rights to esoteric wisdom by priests, tathagata and jivanmukta (as when Brahmin had exclusive access to sacred texts) and believe Nirvikalpa Samadhi insight is graced to reveal immanent/transcendent Brahman freely to both advance our collective realization and help satisfy God's desire to be known. Also there is a historical consensus in the nondual traditions which tends to set the limit for the range beyond which mystical conundrums are explained as paradox or consistently pronounced ineffable. This has the effect of imposing a political correctness in disparaging insights from contemporary realizers whose revelations suggest particulars that reach beyond those in established doctrines.
In his Varieties of Nondual Realization: Divine Play as One/Many (2006) Timothy Conway cuts through a number of these kinds of taboos and assumptions that have become stuck in the body of the non-dual traditions through an integral examination of its own scripture and texts.
"Certain teachers express almost shame over having to use words to teach, and express futility in trying to 'eff the ineffable', as Alan Watts joked. A longstanding bias- coming from certain teachers and texts themselves- idealizes a phenomenal state of 'no talking'/'no concepts' and makes this somehow equivalent with the ultimate 'silence of the Self'. [But]...Listen to Krishna's nondual teachings in the Bhagavad Gita and later Bhagavatam Purana; the Buddha's wisdom words in the Pali Canon and, along with Nagarjuna, Vimalakirti, et al., in the Mahayana canonical texts; later Indian sages like Gaudapada, Shankara, Saraha, Utpaladeva, Jnaneshvar, Kabir, and, in the West, Sufis like Bistami, al-Hallaj, Sana'i, Rumi, and Christian and Jewish mystics like Erigena, Meister Eckhart, and Moses Cordovero.
This is why Nisargadatta insisted that there be ample clarifying discussion before settling in for any kind of silent meditation: "First words, then 'silence'- one must be ripe for silence." So a bias against speech, per se, need not characterize nondual spirituality. No need for embarrassment over words and concepts.
Even the Ch'an/Zen/Son Buddhist tradition, which of all our sacred traditions most 'vociferously' puts down "attachment to words and concepts", itself generated countless words and concepts to express itself, didactically and poetically."
Probably a major reason the numinous experience has remained ineffable over the past millennia is the acute problem of putting the 'feelings' that are its essence into a coherent language. Leon Schlamm addresses the issue in his essay
Numinous Experience and Religious Language An examination of Rudolph Otto's The Idea of the Holy regarding intelligibly communicating transcendent experience- with comparison to other philosophers and phenomenologists (William James, Steven Katz, Henri Bergson, Martin Buber, etc.) who have agonized over, or asserted, the inexpressible tremendum, fascinans and ineffable mysterium moments of numinous experience.
Can an Atheist Have a Religious Experience? Ian Robinson - Editor of the Australian Rationalist. 2000 ...many studies have shown that subjective feelings of happiness and satisfaction in life are highly correlated with religious belief. The facts are pretty unequivocal - religious people are on the whole happier than non-religious people. For the atheist apparently, life's a bitch and then you die! So why are we all here? Why aren't we all at the Synagogue today or getting ready to go to Church tomorrow?
See my review of The God Experiments by John Horgan - DISCOVER December 2006; Horgan presents an unbiased description of the theories and research of five scientists taking different approaches to explain mystical religious experiences in reductionist terms.
One of the most prolific and constructive curmudgeons of science and religion, Horgan brings all the passion of a reformed sinner into his insightful critiques of hypotheses as they arise in the fields of science, formal religion, metaphysics both classical and New Age, philosophy and related intellectual disciplines.
Five Traditions of Mysticism by R. D. Krumpos, 2012 Mystical approaches to life The greatest achievement in life? Living in conscious oneness of ultimate reality, found in Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Kabbalah, Sufi, and comparative mysticism. This ebook summarizes many similarities among those five traditions and outlines mystical approaches to life. It was inspired by ... meetings with 19 mystics in 12 countries: A Nobel astrophysicist in Chicago, a Vedanta Society spiritual director and the chairman of a global bank in New York, a professor of philosophy in Kyoto, a Zen abbot and a Cistercian monk on Lantau, a Quaker missionary in Victoria, Hong Kong, a Therevada monk at Nakhon Pathom, a Hindu priest on Bali, a Vajrayana abbot in Kathmandu, a sadhu/scholar in Lucknow, the Vice President of India in Delhi, a Sufi shaykh in Teheran, a professor of political science (and shaykh) in Cairo, a member of the Knesset, a professor of history and a Greek Orthodox monk in Jersusalem, a retired police inspector in Copenhagen, and an Anglican bishop in Bath, England.
An Exploration into Mystical Experience in the Context of Health Care by Alison Schell Witte: Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy, 2007
Dr. Alison S. Witte is now Assistant Professor and Chair of Nursing of the Science and Mathematics Department of Glenville State College, WV. Although her thesis for her Doctorate of Literature- was primarily designed to further the integration of mystical insight into nursing curriculum and health care, I found it an excellent overview and resource for scholarly work that directly pertain to many topics I address in my Maya-Gaia website. I had intended to create a separate page to present my extended excerpts to facilitate returning to extensive citations particularly in regards to sources for conceptualizations about mysticism that are the subject in many of my other pages- and to contemplate important insights the author provides. However due to copyright concerns- here I have only included an excerpt from her introduction and a map of her Torus Model that originally had captions defining elements in the anatomy for an archetypal mystical experience that I have retrofitted with captions that specify particular qualities relating to my Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience that correspond to each of her generic labels. To see her original Torus Model go to page 34 in the website linked above.
"Spirituality is a complex aspect of the human condition, and for some - perhaps many - it includes mystical experiences. This research project explores mystical experience in the context of health care, encompassing not only the inpatient hospital setting,
but also other settings in which the individual might be expected to receive nursing care or to communi-
cate with a nurse. The focus of this reseach is on understanding and describing mystical phenomena experienced by participants as well as on exploring the role and experience of the nurse in supporting the individual who has had a mystical experience."
Diagram: Torus Model of Mystical Experience (At right: Model with generic captions replaced with corresponding attributes specific to M-Gs Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience.)
Dying to Live: Science and the Near-Death Experience by Susan Blackmore.
The Way of Myth: Talking with Joseph Campbell - Fraser Boa.
Joseph Campbell The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and Religion.
Alan W. Watts. This is IT and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience.
What is Enlightenment? Exploring the Goal of the Spiritual Path by John White (Ed.)
Ken Wilber: The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion.
Is Religion 'Built Upon Lies'? Best-selling atheist Sam Harris and pro-religion blogger Andrew Sullivan debate God, faith, and fundamentalism. 2007.
No question that as a whole, the traditions of perennial wisdom provide a critical foundation by which to judge the credibility of the outpouring of new-age metaphysical conceptualizing/invention that grows exponentially on the internet. Lastly I must acknowledge that while the classical Samadhi journey contains the most consistency by which the authenticity of a numinous event can be judged relatively- it may be possible that all the happenings reported in NDEs as well as our dreams and the whole kit and caboodle of supernatural and paranormal events may yet prove to have forms of reality in some parallel dimension.
Credibility Yoga Is skepticism warranted that Hindu yoga and Buddhist dhyana meditation can result in realization anywhere comparable to a transcendently orchestrated experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi or is their value solely in their potential to provide insight in the integration of such an episode should it incidentally occur through grace?
Links to Credibility of Transcendence Resources touching on the spectrum of psychic episodes involving OOBs and NDEs but focusing on the most intriguing aspect of noetics- the transcendent forms of consciousness identified in metaphysical tradition as true samadhi, satori, moksha, or nirvana and perspectives regarding the issue of credibility.
Upanishad Synchronicity I examine the extraordinary synchronicities in my Nirvikalpa Samadhi journey with the cosmography and events in both the Katha and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads. "A space as wide as a razor's edge or a fly's wing" describes a gap between the two halves of the cosmic egg through which a soul passes on its journey to Ishvara. Other metaphors apply to the stages my consciousness was absorbed in my ascension scenario and my confrontation with the cosmic gatekeeper and subsequent annihilation and transformation to non dual union with the godhead.
Outline for the Concurrent, Two-Tier, Dual-Nondual, 200 Percent Model of Reality Through the past few years of fairly intense effort to integrate my Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience with a variety of ontologies and epistemologies in religion, science, philosophy and metaphysics I feel comfortable in proposing a tentative model wherein occult and psychic states are distinguished from the spiritual and transcendent.
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