RE: MD James, Pirsig, Mysticism

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Nov 14 2004 - 20:10:48 GMT

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    Sam Norton asked if dmb believes...

    a) the central truth of mysticism is an experience;

    No. The central truths of mysticism ARE REVEALED in an experience.

    b) this experience is common to all the great religious and mythical

    That's about right, but maybe its better to say that the myths and religions
    are a static portratit of those central truths and are meant to lead us
    toward this relevation.

    c) as such it represents a 'common core' underlying religious traditions;

    Right, commonalities are discovered and sifted out.

    d) the religious traditions often prevent adherents achieving this mystical
    experience (ivy blocking out the sunlight);

    Right. For example, you seem to read Christianity the its myths in such a
    way that you can deny the very existence of such an experience and, oddly,
    insist that it is determined by subsequent behavior of one who had this
    experience, which does not exist. Makes my head spin.
    e) the tradition known as the perennial philosophy, or philosophical
    mysticism, is the intellectual level exploration of this experience, which
    is free of the problems in d);

    Well, intellecual descriptions have their own limitations and problems, but
    yes, to the extent that the PP represents an integration of the social and
    intellectual levels, it does escape the limitations of the social level
    while preserving its wisdom.

    f) Pirsig is a philosophical mystic in this sense; specifically, the MoQ
    uses the 'levels' of reality common to other descriptions of the perennial
    philosophy (and explored in more detail by, eg, Ken Wilber).

    Right. The idea of levels and the idea that the reality is dynamic,
    undivided and therefore beyond all thought categories - these are the two
    core notions. We can see the levels in the great chain of being, in Dante's
    Inferno and that5 sort of thing. And I've already explained how the
    christian myth can be read as a psychological or spiritual story of
    ignorance and enlightenment rather than of sin and redemption in an
    historical drama.

    Does that help?

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