Empiricism does not require the confinement of belief to propositions
that are in any strict sense demonstrable [W.T. Stace]
What follows is a discussion of some issues I encountered upon reading Chapter 4: Pantheism, Dualism and Monism from Mysticism and Philosophy - a logical analysis and examination of the utterances of the mystics by W.T. Stace. A version of the full text of the book is provided online by Wudhi Mysticism - with occasional commentary inserted by DCW. (I want to express my gratitude for his making most of Stace's illuminating resource easily accessible.) I have also presented excerpts from Stace's text that reflect my special interests in separate pages for the Preface and each chapter in the following links:      
This page concerns Stace's concept for dividing mystical experience into two categories- extrovertive and introvertive with some perspectives by myself and others. I am greatly impressed with how well Stace has assembled the anatomy of the mystical experience from his forensic examination of evidence from both Eastern and Western mystics. From my own Nirvikalpa Samadhi perspective, I particularly appreciate his ordered approach that clarify many of the distortions in every body of mystical literature- in the continuum of philosophical speculation that perpetuates many of the myths originating in all the historic spiritual traditions that distort the essential truths at the core of the perennial mystical body.
Upon reading Stace Chapter 6, I was excited over his mention of claims by the Christian mytics Herman Joseph and St. Francis Xavier that each had briefly been shown (by God) supra-knowledge about the universe. Although Stace dismisses these impressions as delusional - I think Christopher Isherwood is more precise in awarding them status of mystical visions arising from a lower samadhi where consciousness is restrained in a state of duality. I also agree with Isherwood that since this seemed the height of their mystical impression, that neither had risen to experience a state of non dual union of the highest samadhi. However it did suggest that my brief encounter with supra-knowledge during my samadhi ascent may be a peripheral veridical mystical component that may manifest during the state of duality of lower samadhi.
Perspectives on Mysticism (taken offline) - an extended philosophical examination of W.T. Stace's book Mysticism and Philosophy by Jonathan Harrison (1992) Introduction: W.T.Stace's brilliant and forceful book, Mysticism and Philosophy, was published in 1961, a little over thirty years ago. By contemporary rates of obsolescence (which are perforce excessively high) that is a long time ago. However, there is not to my knowledge any work on the philosophy of mysticism, as opposed to scholarly work on mysticism and the work of mystics themselves, of comparable scale and merit. So far as I know, too, Mysticism and Philosophy has not been the object of any study of the length of that which is to follow, though there is an excellent review of it by W.E.Kennick in the Philosophical Review (1962).
My first encounter with Stace concerned his separating mystical experiences into two categories- he called "extrovertive" and "introvertive". At first I took "extrovertive" to define my experience that I believe was manifested top down- graced and deterministically orchestrated journey (but with free-will aspects) that culminated in a non dual union with Brahman. I took "introvertive" to refer to the mystical states arrived at via jnana mentation such as the Self Inquiry of Maharish Ramana. The fact that Ramana considered temporary Kevela or Nirvikalpa Samadhi to have no more use than a "drug experience" and supported what I consider a mythical notion of Sahaja Samadhi wherin all vasanas are permanently burned away rendering a Jivanmukta- and refered to the realization resulting from his "Self Inquiry" as a "direct experience"- I had a negative take on Ramana's approach in particular and generally extended "introvertive" to apply to mentated practices of dhyana and most yogas with the exception of Bhakti and the ecumenical core of satisfying desire in Tantra.
Having read this Chapter 4 of Mysticism and Philosophy I realize that I had misconstrued and inverted the qualities Stace associated with his categories of extrovertive and introvertive. He does not even consider- as I do- that mystical experiences have two origins- "bottom up" from psychic, mentated process (I term intrapsychic) and "top down"- (my term transnuminous transcendently graced and orchestrated journeys that the Upanishads describe in the cosmography and revelation of the soul's journey at physical death - or ego death as in samadhi. (The terms should not be confused with introversion-extraversion (also spelled- extroversion) - terms Jung applied to traits referring to the two central dimensions of human personality.)
Instead the meaning Stace gives in Mysticism and Philosophy to the two terms is as follows:
Extrovertive mystical experience appears to be the main source from which the pantheistic and monistic identifications of God and the world as a whole are derived. Introvertive mystical experience is the main source of the identification of God and the individual self when in a state of union.
The extrovertive mystics see the world around them, the grass, the trees, the animals, and sometimes "inanimate" objects such as rocks and mountains, as God-impregnated, or as shining from within with the light of a life which is one and the same life flowing through all things. As R. M. Bucke expressed it, "I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is on the contrary a living presence." (see p. 78) Boehme, Eckhart, N. M. [see Chap 2, p 71 - mescalin trip by anonymous], and many others have, as already shown, expressed themseIves in similar language. The question for us is whether extrovertive mystical experience actually supports dualism, monism, or pantheism.
The introvertive mystic, getting rid of sensations, images, and thought content, comes at last to find within himself the pure self which becomes, or is, unified with the Universal Self, or God. This is the source of our problem in so far as it especially concerns relations of identity or difference between God and the individual self. In particular, what is most relevant here is the experience of the "melting away'' or "fading away'- "fana" as the Sufis call it - of individuality into "boundless being" which Tennyson, Koestler, and others have described in more modern and nontheological language.
See also Stace's primary account for the distinction between extrovertive and introvertive mystical experiences.
So Stace concerns an entirely different set of issues than what my division of mystical experiences into what I will now refer to as "intrapsychic" (bottom-up) and "transnuminous" (top-down) to better distinguish my categories from Stace's. These should replace the terms "introvert" and "extrovert" respectively, that I originally used in my disagreement with Ronald Haven about his book Self Hypnosis for Cosmic Consciousness where he assumes the mystical experience is soley contained (internally) within the brain and I hold that it arises from a (non dual) transcendent realm.
Frankly, in reading Stace I am in complete empathy with all his philosophical approaches but as he implies- mystics have little interest in justifying their experience in methodology of analytic philosophy- although I personally spend a good deal of time surfing around for articles on the Internet that I run through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience to aprise credibility.
Although his work is a major resource in most transpersonal curriculum there has been a steady erosion by the ecclesiastical community to denigrate his arguments for awarding pantheistic beliefs superior credibility over monism and particularly dualistic philosophies which has led to a diminishing of his influence on contemporary epistemology and heuristics of the subject overall.
Some further examination of Stace's percepts:
Defining Mystical Experience excerpts of Stace's defining two types of mystical experience:
"One may be called extrovertive mystical experience, the other introvertive mystical experience. Both are apprehensions of the One, but they reach it in different ways. The extrovertive way looks outward and through the physical senses into the external world and finds the One there. The introvertive way turns inward, introspectively, and finds the One at the bottom of the self, at the bottom of human personality. The latter far outweighs the former in importance both in the history of mysticism and in the history of human thought generally. The introvertive way is the major strand in the history of mysticism, the extrovertive way a minor strand.
The extrovertive mystic with his physical senses continues to perceive the same world of trees and hills and tables and chairs as the rest of us. But he sees these objects transfigured in such manner that the Unity shines through them. Because it includes ordinary sense perceptions, it only partially realizes the description...(that is, an experience of complete unity)...It is suggested that the extrovertive type of experience is a kind of halfway house to the introvertive. For the introvertive experience is wholly nonsensuous and nonintellectual. But the extrovertive experience is sensory-intellectual in so far as it still perceives physical objects but is nonsensuous and nonintellectual in so far as it perceives them as "all one."
Introvertive mysticism..."Now it happens to be the case that this total suppression of the whole empirical content of consciousness is precisely what the introvertive mystic claims to achieve. And he claims that what happens is not that all consciousness disappears but that only the ordinary sensory-intellectual consciousnesses disappears and is replaced by an entirely new kind of consciousness, the mystical consciousness." (pp. 15-18)
"Of the introvertive mystical consciousness the Mandukya (Upanishad) says that it is "beyond the senses, beyond the understanding, beyond all expression...It is the pure unitary consciousness, wherein awareness of the world and of multiplicity is completely obliterated. It is ineffable peace. It is the Supreme Good. It is One without a second. It is the Self."..."Not only in Christianity and Hinduism but everywhere else we find that the essence of this experience is that it is an undifferentiated unity, though each culture and each religion interprets this undifferentiated unity in terms of its own creeds and dogmas." (p.20-21)
Update 02 22 10:
In exploring the explicit distinction in nature between my terms intrapsychic and transnuminous- the latter refering to a realization experience (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) orchestrated from a transcendent gracing (top down) and Stace's introvertive- that refers to the contemplative, mentative, "direct experience" as in the Vedanta teachings of Sankara, the Advaita jnana yoga of Ramana, the Integral Yoga of Aurobindo and the jnana yoga of Buddhism - I became confused over the distinction for the nature of the terms jnâna (Sanskrit) and jnana (Pali). Closely related terms such as dhyana and the distinction in the nature of the five principle yogas and their several dozens of offshoots made relating my mystical experience even more challenging. So as not to distract from Stace's work here, I've created a separate page Jnana/Bhakti Tensions to present the growing body of notes from my research into these other aspects of the metaphysical anatomy.
My "transnuminous" experience seems to result in all the non-epiphenomenal qualities that Stace's describes in his "introvertive" experience. But since it arrived unintentionally and spontaneously to my utterly naive mindset there was none of the mentation or mediation processes that Stace includes in his "introvertive" definition. In fact it seems Stace is essentially reifying descriptions of awakening, realization, moksha, bodhi, satori and fana presented in the Rg Veda, Upanishads, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, teachings of the Buddha and Sufi and attributing their result to a process he describes as- "The introvertive way turns inward, introspectively, and finds the One at the bottom of the self, at the bottom of human personality." Although he doesn't refer to this process as dhyana, meditation or jhana yoga it certainly sounds identical to these practices and particularly to the introspective process that Ramana recommends in his "Self Inquiry". So Stace's "introvertive" mystical experience seems indistinguishable from the revelation of Kevela, Nirvikalpa, Bohdi, Satori or Moksha that the non dual traditions say results from their various yoga and dhyana practices that include in my acronym of . This in no way is meant to distract from the rapport I feel with Stace's appreciation of mysticism and his essentially perennialist approach.
In regards to Stace's "extrovertive" mystical experience I can relate elements in the very beginning of my Nirvikalpa journey as "sensory" as my sexual ecstasy transformed to spiritual and then a distinct "feeling" of being "swept up" by an omniscient "force" just prior to shooting through the "cosmic slot". Likewise in the dual portion of my "ascent" I had a definite "sense" of exhilaration. The culminating portion of my journey however had all the ineffable, seedless, without attributes described in the non dual tradition where one is in union with Brahman. So far as the aftermath of my experience, I felt imbued with a Gaia imperative that viewed all nature and cosmos as the handiwork of God...although these features did not glow in divine auras, in the process of integrating my revelations I felt a sacred responsibility to protect and nurture her.
But I am thoroughly puzzled as to what Stace is suggesting is the process by which the "extrovertive" mystical experience is realized. Elsewhere I may have read that the shamanic ritualistic/entheogenic process that manifests a soul flight is given as an example for this category of experience and the animistic world view that corresponds to Stace's "extrovertive mystics" [who] see the world around them, the grass, the trees, the animals, and sometimes "inanimate" objects such as rocks and mountains, as God-impregnated, or as shining from within with the light of a life which is one and the same life flowing through all things. I certainly see that his extrovertive mystic embraces a mystical world view analogous to one embraced by those who arrive at via philosophy. I'm further confused when he identifies Bucke, Boehme, Eckhart and N. M. [see Chap 2; p 71 about the mescalin trip by anonymous N. M.] with this category of mysticism since their processes seem so divergent and the only commonality in their reality models is monism only in the broadest sense rather in the anatomical details - for example in the fact that Bucke and N. M. present an essentially atheistic reality whereas Böehme's and Eckhart's is unequivically theistic and implicates God.
In a qua-synchronicity moment- in searching for the term "stace extrovertive" I encountered a Google book preview of The Interpretation of Cosmic and Mystical Experiences by Robert Crookall which was the first book to reveal to me that I had experienced a classical mystical experience and began my effort for integration the months following my Nirvikalpa Samadhi in 1970.
The Interpretation of Cosmic and Mystical Experiences by Robert Crookall, 1969 (This excerpt starts on page 61:) Discussion of At-Oneness In General
Mr. Spencer then referred to Mysticism and Philosophy, by Professor W.T. Stace. The latter does not draw a distinction between nature-mysticism (or union with nature or "cosmic consciousness") and religious mysticism (union with God), but between "introvertive" and "extrovertive" mysticism. He quotes, as an example of the former, the Mandookya Upanishads where reference is made to "the pure unitary consciousness wherein awareness of the world and of multiplicity is completely obliterated". To Stace, this "pure unitary consciousness: is the core of mysticism at its highest point (as exemplified by Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Sufi mystics). Mr. Spencer pointed out: "Stace, however, acknowledges alongside of this a type, which in his view is equally religious, but less thoroughgoing or complete, and which he describes as 'extrovertive'. It is characteristic of mysticism of this kind that: it does not exclude the consciousness of the objects and forces of the world around us, but takes them as its starting-point. It is aware of the world and its multiplicity, but at the same time transcends them. Its central feature is 'the appearance of a unity taken to be in some way basic to the universe'. St. Teresa saw 'how all things are seen and contained in God'; Boehme 'saw through all things and into all creatures' and 'recognized God in grass and plants', etc....It is a consciousness of the One in the many rather than the One as the sole Reality".
According to W.H. Dyson, "Between speculative and religious mysticism there is this important difference: in philosophic ideas the interest is mainly intellectual and consequently limited to the few highly-trained minds; in religious experience the fellowship is personal and may be shared by all. Between nature-mysticism and religious-mysticism there is an underlying unity, for only to the religious spirit, conscious of the Divine within itself, is the vision of the Divine in nature an inspiration and a joy". St. Teresa observed, "It is one grace that our Lord gives grace; it is another grace to understand what grace and what gift it is; and it is another and further grace to have the power to describe and explain it to others".
So it is clear my mystical journey had simultaneously both sensory and non dual attributes resembling qualities that Stace identified as proprietary in each of his two distinct categories of mystical experiences but that arose from a spontaneous "transnuminous" (my term) transcendent source that it seems Stace had not even considered.
See also Samadhi Anecdotes and Credibility Transcendence for further exposition as to how the terms extrovertive and introvertive can be confused and the distinction in my categories of mystical experience as transnuminous and intrapsychic.
Update 04 14 2012: I just discovered that Carl Jung used the term intrapsychic to define a major category in his psychological model. The implications of his use of the term are detailed at
Jung's Psychology of Religion: The Intrapsychic Model by Robert Aziz, 1990. Five places in the book featuring Jung's "intrapsychic" concept - in respect to the universal desire for an alternative to religious structured rituals that will provide an intimate communion for "wholeness" with numinous spirit; it's relationship to the "archetype" and "synchronicity" and the role of the analytical therapist compared to a shaman. I can only wonder if what I thought was the creation of an original acronym was a case of synchronicity or mere coincidence. In any event it appears there is sufficient similarity between our application that I will retain my use of intrapsychic for distinguishing transpersonal effects arising from the subconscious versus transnuminous events that are graced from a supreme transcendent consciousness.
Transcendent Experiences: phenomenology and critique By Louis Roy, 2001 (p 13) Zaehner proposes a threefold division of mysticism that matches Otto's tripartite schema: nature mysticism (a cosmic consciousness in which everything is experienced as one), soul mysticism (wherein no awareness remains of any frontier between the soul and the divine), and theistic mysticism (an interpersonal relationship between the believer and god). Zaehner insists on the distinctiveness of each of three kinds of mysticism and has decisively rooted out the erroneous assumption that at its core mystical experience is always the same.
Stace acknowledges only the first two types (which he calls extrovertive and introvertive mysticism) as corresponding with a genuine experience. He and Ninian Smart take the third one - theistic - to be a matter of mere interpretaion and thus reducible to the other two.
W.T. Stace on compatibilism and free-will
The following work introduces another way in which Stace's extrovertive mystical experience is applied but seems to conflict with Stace's contention that the extrovertive is inferior to introvertive in that it associates the former with what Ramana considered the ultimate and superior state of Sahaja Samadhi. The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy By Robert K. C. Forman. This page opens with a discussion applying Stace's extrovertive term to Ramana's description of Sahaja Samadhi that distinguishes it from Nirvikalpa Samadhi- Stace makes no mention of Sahaja.
(mg commentary: Since I believe Sahaja is a concept for a mythical superior experience of union with Brahman- beyond Kevela or Nirvikalpa Samadhi- and at best describes an idealized state of integration of a Nirvikalpa Samadhi that results in a Jivanmuka, I disagree with Forman that Stace overlooked what Forman describes as "a central distinguishing mark [of mystical experience]. Consequently, I find Forman's relating Stace's "extrovertive" mystical experience to Ramana's Sahaja an arbitrary conclusion. Immediately following this discussion is a Chapter about Katz's Mystical Constructivism that I haven't read but suspect Forman will refute- a I do- the constructivist thesis or model that ALL mystical experience are mediated by culture and belief.
Mysticism and Philosophy by W.T. Stace - book review by E. Godfrey: As he is a philosopher, he finds truth in systematization, which I believe explains why Stace strongly favors other mystics who were intellectual enough to systemize their work. This bias is all the more evident where in the book Stace ridicules and insults Teresa of Avila for her anti-intellectualism at several points. His bias discredits and discounts those who simply have religious insight but do not systematize it, labeling such mystics as secondary in status. It is my opinion that Stace has given undue preference to those who happen to think analytically like himself.
It also is evident that in not further breaking down this typology, he makes a broad generalization between "introverted thinkers" and "extroverted feelers" in a very "either/or" sort of fashion excluding anything in the middle (i.e. an extroverted thinker or introverted feeler). In making this generalization, Stace presumes introversion to be categorically superior to extroversion as it often ends with rational analysis. I think Stace has undermined his own position by not thinking through the implications of this generalization.
As an ultimate systematization, or even an initial step in systematizing religious experience, Stace fails, but that is not to say that he is not without merit (as per my 4 stars). If one reads him with such concern in mind, his optimism and drive to seek the universal is nothing short of inspiring, especially when compared to Katz (who denies anything meaningful can be said about religious experience). I compare both Stace and Katz to watching some politically spun "news" program like Fox's Bill O'Reilly or John Stewart. Sure, they may be fun, but one must keep in mind that both are catering to a specific bias.
From its beginning non dual philosophy has struggled to define distinctions among various kinds and states of mystical experience. A major handicap as the traditions were evolving is that they had little understanding of what we are just beginning to sort out- how psychological and psychic baggage can color the phenomenological memory of mystical episode. Both Hindu and Buddhist traditions proposed samadhi and bodhi arose through a hierarchy of states from duality to non duality defined with a variety of aphorisms to distinguish the ultimate state by which Brahman/Bodhi is known- nirbija, kevala, kaivalya, asamprajnata, nirvikalpa, dharmamegha, suchness. Since Western philosophy and science was applied to the non dual concepts of the East- a diverse field of pseudo-disciplines- integral spirituality, transpersonal psychology, science of the mind, quantum consciousness have created neologisms that attempt to distinguish mystical events beyond the perspectives in the historical traditions. See ecstasis/enstasis and Analogous Concepts and extrovertive/introvertive/extravertive in the following.
Mircea Eliade seems to have anticipated Stace's terms and definitions for two classes of mystical experience. According to Eliade- yoga and shamanism are two poles of religious experience. The defining element of the shaman is ecstasis (literally "standing without"), extravertive or numinous. By contrast, the yogi concerns himself with enstasis ("standing within") intravertive or cessative (cessation of egoity- prakrti unveiling purusa- Self).
An issue arises in Rudolf Otto's use of the term- "extravertive" that he defines in terms that I relate to in my use of the term- "transnuminous". 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.
Examining variant use of terms by Carl Jung: - Jung used the terms extraverted-intraverted in defining two types of personalities - distinct from his use use of the terms extroverted-introverted. (Some hold that Jung used the term extraverted as a variant of extroverted At the present time I haven't confirmed his use of the term intraverted and whether he used the terms extraverted-extroverted interchangeably.
Mysticism examined: philosophical inquiries into mysticism by Richard H. Jones, 1993. We in the West can study yoga, Jung says, but we ought not to apply it because of the differnce in ethos (extravertive versus introvertive) (11: 534; cf, 13: 7): "in the West, nothing ought to be forced on the unconscious" and "no insight is gained by repressing and controlling the unconscious, and least of all by imitating methods which have grown up under totally different psychological conditions" (11: 537). Jung contrasts the science-based "Western mind" grounded in the conscious mind with the "Eastern mind" grounded in the unconscious. Jung's broad and outdated generalizations do not do justice to any of the cultures involved.
Actually, all of Richard Feynman's disparate characteristics are entirely in keeping with each other. In psychiatrist Carl Jung's terms, Feynman was an extraverted (adj. Variant of extroverted) [personality type].
(Adj. 1. extraverted) - being concerned with the social and physical environment: extravert, extravertive, extrovert, extrovertive, extroverted (Jung's spelling), intuitive type. These are people who can make leaps of understanding that seem to have no logical connection. These types seem rather off-the-wall in their personal, as well as their professional, lives.
See another view of terms introversion-extraversion (also spelled- extroversion) - terms Jung applied to traits referring to the two central dimensions of human personality (from Wikipedia).
Update 02 01 10: In an essay by Michael Daniels, he uses the term "extravertive" as one of Stace's two forms of mysticism. He writes:
In identifying the phenomenological characteristics of mystical (as unitive) experience, Stace makes a fundamental distinction between extravertive and introvertive mysticism. Extravertive 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. Extravertive mysticism is more or less equivalent to panenhenic nature mysticism. Introvertive mysticism is comparable with monistic or soul mysticism, although theistic mysticism is also generally introvertive (cf. Underhill, op. cit.). In this way, Stace points out that introvertive mysticism is historically and culturally the more important. More contentiously, like Zaehner, he also argues that it represents a higher, more developed, form of experience.
I tried Emailing Daniels to clarify the extravertive/extrovertive issue without success. I've just starting to read the entire essay and am finding it highly illuminating and plan to examine his book.
See a revised and updated version of Daniels paper excerpted above that is a chapter in his book Shadow, Self, Spirit: Essays in Transpersonal Psychology. by Michael Daniels, 2005. Abstract: I define mysticism as the individual's direct experience of a relationship to a fundamental Reality. A review of the literature reveals many different conceptions and descriptions of mystical experience. I examine in particular the approaches of William James, Evelyn Underhill, R.C. Zaehner, F.C. Happold, Walter Stace, Rudolf Otto, Andrew Rawlinson, Ken Wilber and John Welwood. On this basis of this review, I propose a new framework for understanding mysticism (the "5 x 5 model) that identifies twenty-five distinct forms of mystical experience.
The Explanation of Introvertive and Extrovertive Mystical Experience The purpose of this research is to examine interpretations of mystical experience with reference to WT Stace's explanation of introvertive and extrovertive mystical experience. (1570 6 pages)
Myticism and Philosophical Analysis Edited by Steven T. Katz (1978) Katz is one of Stace's major critics but his own philosophy of mystical experience - variously named 'constructivism' or 'constructionist/constructivist mystical theory' has itself received a high measure of scholarly criticism. Excerpt from the 1978 paper: Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism (pages 65-66)
IV - Our discussion, though somewhat lengthy, has only begun to touch upon some of the more fundamental issues relating to a proper philosophical and phenomenological study of mysticism. Our primary aim has been to mark out a new way of approaching the data, concentrating especially on disabusing scholars of the preconceived notion that all mystical experience is the same or similar. If mystical experience is always the same or similar in essence, as is so often claimed, then this has to be demonstrated by recourse to, and accurate handling of, the evidence, convincing logical argument, and coherent epistemological procedures. It cannot be shown to be the case merely by supported and/or unsupportable assertions to this effect, no matter how passionately these are advanced, nor again can it be demonstrated by a priori assumptions on the matter which 'prove' their case in what is essentially circular fashion. Hopefully it has been made clear that we do not hold one mystical tradition to be superior or 'normative' as, for example, did Stace and Zaehner (and in opposite directions, one might add, with Stace favouring monism and Zaehner theism). ... A strong supporting element in favour of our pluralistic account is found in the fact that our position is able to accommodate all the evidence which is accounted for by non-pluralistic accounts without being reductionistic, i.e. it's able to do more justice to the specificity of the evidence and its inherent distinctions and disjunctions than can the alternative approaches. That is to say, our account neither (a) overlooks any evidence, nor (b) has any need to simplify the available evidence to make it fit into comparative or comparable categories, nor (c) does it begin with a priori assumptions about the nature of ultimate reality - whatever particular traditional theological form this metaphysical assumption takes (such a priori assumptions are common to almost all the non-pluralistic accounts). As a consequence of these hermeneutical advantages, one is in a position to respect the richness of the experiential and conceptual data involved in this area of concern: 'God' can be 'God', 'Brahman' can be 'Brahman' and nirvii1Ja can be nirvii1Ja without any reductionist attempt to equate the concept 'God' with that of 'Brahman', or 'Brahman' with nirvii1Ja. This respect for the relevant evidence, both experiential and conceptual, is an essential element in the study of mysticism which is disregarded only at the philosopher's peril. NOTES For a complete defence of this position, see my forthcoming paper on 'Mystical Experience and Theological Truth'. 2 See Ninian Smart's essay 'Interpretation and Mystical Experience' in Religious Studies, vol. l, no. l (1965).
Scholarly approaches to mysticism Wikipedia