quote: Originally posted by Phil: But one thing is clear, and that is that any experience that we can come to access through a training of our minds is a natural one. Again, this does not mean it is bad, only that if it is so accessible through meditative training, then it must be within the grasp of our natural human potential to achieve. This is radically different from the way Christianity has spoken about God. Though God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, we cannot attain to God or God-consciousness by silencing our reflective consciousness and "tuning in" to the oneness and interconnectedness of all things. God, we say, is an-Other Being, who communicates to us as God chooses, this communication being what we call grace. As noted on this thread, I believe nondual mysticism gives evidence of the nonreflecting aspect of the human experience: attention prior to reflection on the data of attention. It is what Lonergan calls the first movement or level of consciousness: Being Attentive. And if one can camp out there while shutting down or silencing reflectivity, then one does experience an immediacy of presence of other existents, along with a profound sense of wonder. One is awake to the witnessing aspect of Self, or human consciousness -- that each of us is always "here/now," present to what goes on in the mind and body and the world around us. A question remains concerning the relationship between this non-reflecting, witnessing aspect of human consciousness and God, and I have addressed this many times on many threads and in my book, God, Self and Ego, but will do so again on this thread in the days ahead. Your reflections on all this are welcomed as well, of course.
I responded earlier: quote: JB wrote: There are rich variegations of textures and fruits that ensue from the manifold and multiform practices of our richly diverse schools and spiritualities within and across our traditions and the picture is further complicated by such as lines, levels, states, stages and other developmental paradigms that present along the journeys of spiritual sojourners everywhere. No gifts are procurable apart from God's grace and creatio continua. Lonergan would not differentiate the infrastructures of different practitioners using the interior gift of grace.
I also noted earlier that I remain dubious that an experience of absolute unitary being is within our grasp, rare as it is. But we can nevertheless stipulate that it is different from unitive experiences using other distinctions besides nature and grace (cf. polydoxy discussion hereinabove). Furthermore, it is too strong and facile (and 1
controversial) a claim, in my view, to suggest that such nondual methods have no corollaries in Christian spirituality. A polydoxic perspective would suggest that there are indeed differences in matters of emphasis between traditions but that the tensions between dual and nondual approaches present --- not only across, but --- within each of our great traditions. Further, I would submit that there is indeed a unitary continuum, where a wide spectrum of increasingly unitary states is possible, including self-transcendent moments that we all experience everyday, which differ only in degree, neurologically, from the rare experience that scientists call absolute unitary being. In the unitary continuum, as you say, non-reflective awareness is in play, but this continuum of experiences does not always involve the mere cessation of other intellectual operations but will often involve the substitution of qualitatively different modes of intellect, such as intuition. While conventional language may not apply to this inherently ineffable experience (due to interobjective indeterminacy), there is still an intellectual conviction, presumably via intuition, that the experience of oneness (intraobjective identity) reveals a truth and there can be a strong confidence in the experience's reality or objectivity. However, beyond these intellectual categories, we must not ignore the extraordinarily strong affective tones of these experiences for, beyond these states of pure awareness, which we all experience in varying degrees, and beyond our realizations of reality's interconnectedness, also experienced in varying degrees (up to and including, even, a very vivid consciousness of everything as undifferentiated whole), these experiences provide us a concomitant normative impetus or a "being responsible" (intrasubjective integrity) as these affective attunements then transvalue our interpersonal attunements or our "being in love" (intersubjective intimacy), which is quite the essence. Lonergan would be the first to say that "being in love" is self-justifying, which means we do not reason our way into it. Lonergan displaced the old fuddy-duddy fundamental theology with its deductivist methods of establishing theological conclusions on the basis of rational arguments with a new basis, conversion, which allows for a deeper unity between different religious approaches than beliefs. That unity (orthocommunio) can be found beyond our epistemic methods, both descriptive and interpretive (orthodoxy), in our axiological methods, both normative (orthopraxy) and evaluative (orthopathy), which are informed supra-epistemically by that religious love we call faith. This model accounts for, in my view, the tremendous efficacies that can and do flow from the constructive (i.e. neither uncritical nor hypercritical) engagements between many in our Christian contemplative communities and practitioners of the other great traditions, including Wilber and Tolle, including even the pop-nondualists. The deeper unity can be realized through our shared pursuit of virtue, even heroic virtue, through our shared values, through our shared affective and interpersonal attunements via our shared practices, even as we look forward to a deeper unity of interpretation, understanding and articulation regarding the aspects of God we have all variously encountered indwelling in self, others, the world and the persons of the trinity.