RE: MD Philosophy and Theology

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 20 2003 - 22:00:37 BST

  • Next message: Scott R: "Re: MD Undeniable Facts"

    Scott, Sam and all interested partiers:

    Scott said:
    I think it is a problem when truth claim seems to me absurd (like thinking
    that the Bible is literally true). But now that many theologians treat
    biblical statements more or less mythologically, we're talking about
    something else.

    dmb says:
    Many theologians treat it mythologically? I'd like to think so, but am still
    waiting for some evidence of this often made assertion. The ones I'm aware
    of have had to leave the church, are not accepted in official circles and
    seem quite outside the mainstream. Please, convince me otherwise. Dish it

    Scott said:
    Theologians have become very alert to the mindlessness that you (correctly)
    criticize in "that old-time religion". This does not mean that they -- or
    anyone -- can prove their assumptions. Why do you find value in myth, or
    mysticism? I think that you do for the same reason I do: It helps explain
    the world better than the assumption that myth and mysticism is merely the
    product of "primitive" culture and/or addled brains. But I don't see how you
    can prove this.

    dmb says:
    As I tried to point out, I don't think we can talk about faith and
    experience, about theology and mysticism as if they were the same things....

    DMB had said:
    > Yikes. You're mixing mystical experience and sectarian theology in
    > ways here and I hardly know what to make of it. But I just wanted to point
    > out that, yes, of course, some things are not "answerable by reason
    > but it does not follow that we ought to suppliment this inadequacy with
    > irrational reasons or unreasonable rationalizations. I mean, there is a
    > world of difference between the pre-rational and post-rational modes of
    > thinking. So if reason alone is inadequate, the answer is clearly NOT to
    > rely of something even less reliable than reason.

    dmb continues:
    And by confusing the two you have misread my meaning. What I'm calling
    pre-rational and post-rational modes of consciousness is perhaps better
    understood in terms of Barfield's "original participation" and "final
    participation". They both suggest a kind of wholeness or unity, but occur at
    different levels. Mythic unity is like original participation, whereas the
    MOQ is a higher, intellectual expression of that can describe that same
    mystic union. The mystical experience itself is neither social nor
    intellectual because it is not about static quality. The mystical experience
    is, in the MOQ, a direct, unmediated experience of Dynamic Quality. Pirsig
    says that when we sort out the low grade yelping about god, we can see that
    the mystical experience is what its all about. That's what he realized as a
    result of his own mystical experience and that's how I see it too.

    Scott replied:
    I rely on the assumption that the Buddha, and Franklin Merrell-Wolff are
    sincere, authentic reporters of their experience. I see no way to prove that
    assumption other than to draw rational consequences from it and find that it
    makes more sense of the world. But no matter how encompassing that "more
    sense of the world" is, I cannot avoid that it is based on something other
    than reason. How do you avoid it?

    dmb says:
    I have no problem going beyond reason, but I just can't accept the
    irrational or the unreasonable. Post-rationality is altogether different. I
    trust experience, not only the reports like Pirsig's, but my own mystical
    experience and I can tell you that faith and theology had nothing to do with
    it and none of it contradicts reason, even if it does fly in the face of the
    assumptions of scientific materialism. (The belief that our non-rational
    experiences meaningful is not unreasonable or irrational.) As I see it,
    religion is supposed to guide us toward, and open us up to, the mystical
    experience. I think the value of the churhes and theologies ought to be
    measured in terms of their effectiveness toward this goal. In other words,
    realization of one's true identity, the realizaton that "Thou art That", is
    the main thing and the static forms like myths, religions and theologies
    only serve that goal.

    Scott asked:
    If you join a political party, should you then be allowed to speak in direct
    opposition to that party's platform and not be expected to lose your
    position in it?

    dmb says:
    Pretending for a moment that we can compare priests and politicians, the
    analogy still doesn't hold. Guys like Watts and Fox aren't speaking "in
    direct opposition". I mean, it isn't like they became Satanists. They're
    still interested in moving Christianity forward. In spite of all that, I see
    your point. No such organization should have to harbor a person who is
    hostile to its aims.

    Scott said:
    Most, if not all Catholic theologians also want to abandon literalism. Not
    so many are in favor of mysticism, or rather, they acknowledge it (for
    example, by naming John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila as Doctors of the
    Church), but are still nervous about encouraging it to all Catholics
    world-wide. It is definitely no sin to be a mystic.

    dmb says:
    Well, there's that unsupported assertion about most theologians again. As
    you already know, I'm eagerly awaiting conversion on this point. With
    respect to mysticism in the Catholic Church, you say its no sin, but the
    idea of actually spreading it around still makes the theologians nervous.
    Why do suppose that it? Why are they nervous? Isn't that what religion is
    all about? To become one with the father, to become like Christ? This is why
    I object to the kind of social values that get the Foxes thrown out. Its
    almost like the theologians are guarding the most precious secret as if it
    were poision, when in fact it is exactly what people need most. Which
    reminds me of a debate I was thinking of introducing here...

    Eating fake bread and fake wine is as spiritually powerful as an afternoon
    on peyote in a teepee. True or false? (Just kidding, but you get my point.)

    DMB quoted Campbell:
    "I don't need faith. I have experience."

    Scott responded by asking:
    So if you don't have mystical experience you should be an agnostic? I

    dmb says:
    Something tells me your question is rhetorical and sarcastic, but I'll take
    a wack at it anyway. IF one is intellectually oriented and IF one has never
    had a mystical experience, I think the only reasonable position is the
    agnostic stance. I should be careful here and point out that the agnositic
    postition, as I understand it, is that we CAN"T know. It doesn't exactly
    confirm or deny the claims of religion. It just says that its not possible
    to know such things. This is opposed to theism and atheism, which actually
    claims to know something.

    I know. You're asking yourself if the mystic doesn't also claim to know
    something. Its true. They don't call it enlightenment or expansion of
    consciousness for nothing. I'd like to get into that, but I'm very hungry at
    the moment - and this post is already too long.

    Thanks for your time,

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