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Topic: Mysticism (Read 22537 times)

  • Frenzie
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Mysticism
That's exactly what blessed Ruysbroek says. He puts a check on himself referring to church's authority. What's your reaction? I personally prefer uninhibited individual quest.

That's why a female mystic like Hadewijch is both literarily and mystically speaking more interesting than Ruusbroec. In fact Ruusbroec adopted several of her ideas without attribution, but that aside.

  • jseaton2311
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #100
Look, I don't like to point out to you every time you are wrong, so I'll be very gentle this time: Last time you told me about it, there was more to the story, and the extra info yielded a very different conclusion


I used meditation (and many other things), in a desperate effort to save myself from my suicidal depression (I'm sure you remember that).  My major depression has been in remission for some time now, but I continued to do guided visualization meditation for relaxation purposes.  When someone mentioned mindfulness meditation to me about 8-9 months ago, I read about it and learned to use it somewhat effectively--I believe. 

I did not rely solely on meditation to keep me from killing myself again (figure it out folks), I had therapy sessions, both privately and in a group, I changed my diet, exercised and I took medication--way too much medication as it turns out--simply because depression was the diagnosis du jure at that time and antidepressant prescriptions were flying everywhere (it is still overdiagnosed and overtreated today). 

Eventually, I dumped all the meds in favor of one pill that boosts my dopamine to a normal level and I've never felt better in my life.  "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah....".   :cheers:  :knight:
James J

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #101
Nice little personal testimony there, JS. The way you are putting it now, it cannot be determined which factor was most prominent in getting you back on track, if the cause was a single cause or aggregated cumulative. Anyway, it's evident that these are life-changing events, not some small matter.

Let me share a personal story too, so that people here don't think of me as a mere bot. On the surface my childhood was essentially worry-free. I didn't experience any significant stress (of course there were some duties that I ran away from, things I broke, a few people I annoyed, but since I was not too evil-spirited, all of this had only short-term ripple effect), not even physical fatigue. In fact, when I heard people complain about fatigue or when I read in the newspapers and magazines about stress and depression, I couldn't understand how these things are possible. I understood how stress and depression could come about, for example imprisonment could dishearten one permanently, but I could not understand how people let things go that far without keeping track on their own psychological status. I did not experience the world as a too significant stress factor.

Then, once upon a time in my adolescence, I moved to Finland, which, as you might know, is one of the Nordic countries where the best living standards in the world are found. The Nordic countries happen to be next to my own birth country and, incidentally, I spoke and wrote fluent Finnish since early childhood. My plan was to remain in Finland. I went to the university there, but then a weird thing happened. I fell sick for a few months without a reason or cause, literally bed-ridden. There were days on which I could walk about, buy myself food, consult doctors and such, but both the cause and remedy to my condition remained a mystery. The doctors I consulted were so much at loss that they didn't even know what pills to suggest, even though in rich countries there easily tends to be a pill for everything.

In the end, I had to treat myself, i.e. diagnose  myself and figure out a remedy on my own. I remembered from my longer childhood excursions a psychological state called home-sickness, and as far as I was able to determine, the current condition pretty much matched that. (Naturally, who else could have been able to figure this out besides me.) The remedy: Move back home. When I did that, I was automatically fixed and completely recovered in a week. The diagnose had been right and the remedy too.

Now, the curious thing in this story is that the home-sickness that had bed-ridden me was completely unexpected and unwanted. As far as I knew, I wanted to live in Finland. I passed all the difficult tests and requirements, many weird hurdles to get there. I entered the university and began studying. I envisioned a nice future for myself there. The sickness that blocked me from all this was absolutely not in the plans. Instead of a lifetime, I managed to spend a bit less than three years in Finland.

This event made me understand the dangerous nature of stress and depression, and the importance of keeping track of one's own psychology in general, employing techniques of stress management or, better said, happiness management. It's like eating: Nobody else can eat your lunch to feed you; you have to do it yourself.

This story is also the reason why I decisively reject the characterisation of the return phase from meditation as depression in any shape or form. Frenzie's sources are defectively informed about the nature of mysticism and spreading false information inasmuch as there is any significant insistence on depression. In the area of mysticism, as in any discipline, there are experts, peddlers and dabblers, and the distinction is significant.

Just like depression befell me, a mystical experience can befall anyone out of the blue. An unexpected psychological experience can result in anything - that's what unexpected means. What matters is how you get out of it, and only experts get out of it the safe and sure way every time. They can use the experiences for their own best and for the best of others too.


The mindfulness meditation I use is distinct in that it is not directed toward getting me to be different from how I am already. It simply helps me become aware of what is already true moment by moment in and about my life.  No two meditations are exactly the same for me...

On microlevel, no two meditations, not even repetition of mantras, is the same for anyone. On the other hand, inasmuch as there's a specific result you wish to obtain from meditation - and you obtain it too -, it's the same. And more generally, inasmuch as the overall aim of mysticism is the same, all mysticism can be said to be one. So there's really nothing distinct about your meditation on this view.

In the theory of Buddhist mindfulness meditation, you actually are Mindfulness, and from this perspective it's true that we are not changing ourselves by means of the meditation. We are only discovering our true selves. This is not saying anything special, because in the same theory absolutely everybody is Mindfulness to begin with. On the other hand, from the individual perspective we are not properly Mindfulness yet. If we were, we would not need the meditation. So from the individual perspective, the course of meditation is a process of becoming something else.

(You hate logic enough already, and probably now more than ever.)

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #102
(Psychologising seems to be a pretty effective way to strangle threads to death and I'm going to do some more of it right now.)

I've been making the point that mysticism is essentially one and I've disputed the contrary views. But of course both views are right from their own perspective.

The unifying view of mysticism emphasises mysticism's nature as a set of transformative and constructive psychological techniques. The pro-diversity point of view would emphasise the differences between the techniques and of various traditions all around the world. These opposite views are okay. However, I will continue to dispute the views that attribute detrimental nature (as in producing depression) to mysticism or that dismiss mysticism as illusory, as insincere posturing, as unintelligible mystification, as obfuscation or as self-delusion. This essay is meant to clarify, so questions for further clarification are allowed.

The Common Elements of Mysticism

From the unifying point of view, the irreducible common elements of mysticism are that the techniques are psychological, transformative to the character of the practitioner, performed for a constructive end. The minimal necessary concepts for the practice are the internal world, good and evil, mind, soul, spirit and matter. In addition, it's necessary to develop symbolic (i.e. allegorical) reasoning concerning these concepts, because some traditions of mysticism don't have literally the same concepts, but they all have their equivalents, and the equivalents have their aspects, subdivisions, roles and categorisation in vivid allegorical language, the language of visions and dreams.

The Internal World

The internal world is one's own psychology. This is the field to be cultivated. This field is an indivisible entirety. The change of one spot of it causes inevitable readjustments all over the place. This is how the work is transformative and, for obvious reasons, caution is strongly advised. Choose the path which you can understand all the way and only take steps whose consequences you can calculate.

As another analogy, the internal world is the map where to find oneself and orientate. As yet another analogy, it is the kingdom to be ruled.

Good and Evil

The concepts of good and evil provide the sense of direction, the measure of improvement, so that there will be an understanding of where one is and where one is going, a clarity of progress and of setbacks. Good and evil are the same as right and wrong, God and the devil, up and down, towards heaven and towards hell.

The improvement is initially (and throughout really) informed by ethics, and from there it's progressively mystical. Mystical progress means that the symbolism of the conceptual framework of one's chosen path gradually concretises so that it becomes completely experiential. In the advanced stages the respective "heaven" will be perceived like the physical world is now. It becomes the second nature (which is really the first nature, but newly re-realised).

The Mind

The concept of the mind has various applications. In alchemy it's equated with the internal world, so the concept of the mind may appear to be missing in alchemy and the internal world is used instead. More often, in other traditions, the mind is explicitly mentioned and divided, as a minimum, into higher and lower.

The mind is to be understood as the internal processes, the lower instinctive impulses pulling down towards evil, and the higher mind enabling ascent. In Buddhist mysticism the mind is the dividing line (the veil) between the Void and the universe. The habitual life-experience pertains to the universe.

Without the concrete perception of one's own mind and the ability to direct and control it, there is no mysticism to begin with.

The Soul and Spirit

The soul and spirit refer to the same essence. The soul is of spirit, and spirit is the focal topic of spirituality. Mysticism is methodical spirituality.

The soul is the practitioner's true identity, distinguished from the false identity. All the problems, dilemmas, questions, mundane and spiritual troubles, emotional and physical pain, etc. are all due to the false identity - humans identify themselves with with the personality and the mind rather than with the soul.

From the mundane point of view, this false identity is the normal or ordinary identity, and most people see no need for any other identity, or if they do, they seek to modify only the personality or even only the body, disregarding the depths of the soul because they have no clue of the soul (or when they are familiar with the word "soul", it is synonymous with the personality for them). Whereas spiritual people seek liberation from the personality altogether, from the mundaneness, and from the mind. This is achieved by means of realising one's own soul and identifying with it.

In Buddhism there's no soul or spirit, but there's still liberation from the mind into the Void. The Void is the conceptual equivalent of spirit.

Matter

And where does the concept of matter fit in? Matter is the opposite of spirit. Matter is a relative concept. The body is material (=of matter) vis-a-vis the personality (and the personality is immaterial in this juxtaposition). The personality is material vis-a-vis the mind (and the mind is immaterial in this juxtaposition). And the mind is material vis-a-vis the soul.

The work of mysticism consists in clearing away the matter, thus purifying the soul, thus ultimately realising one's own true identity, which means the comprehension of one's own destiny. It also means the capacity to put the destiny into effect, knowing what obstacles lie ahead and also knowing how to overcome them. The problems, dilemmas, questions, and suffering will dwindle away into nothing.

Some Different Traditions of Mysticism

This was the overview of the irreducible common elements in all traditions of mysticism. Now about some of the differences between various traditions.

I regard the differences merely formal or verbal, even though some of the tenets in some tradition may seem irreconcilable with the tenets of another tradition. Either way, the first common point again is that all traditions are necessarily systems, i.e. the respective tenets make perfect sense internally. With this in mind, the traditions can be juxtaposed and their essential sameness understood.

For example, in alchemy the soul is said to be acquired, even manufactured (like homunculus), whereas in most other traditions the soul is eternal and is to be psychologically assimilated rather than manufactured. And in Buddhism, as I already mentioned, the concept of the soul is avoided, even denied. How can these different tenets be reconciled?

Kabbalah

Let's take the Kabbalah as a sort of intermediating system against which to compare the other systems. The path of Kabbalah is described as the ten Sephiroth, which are the ten hierarchical worlds. The central tenet of the Kabbalah is that we reside in every one of those worlds. As those worlds are meant as internal worlds primarily, the worlds actually constitute the aspects of our own psychology. Now, psychology in translation means the soul (and this translation is a perfect match in terms of Kabbalah) and each of the worlds is an aspect of the soul, but each of the aspects is not internally properly connected at the joints so as to cooperate with all the other aspects. So the claim is that the different aspects of the soul are disjointed, e.g. the body disjointed from the mind, or the mind from spirit. The work of the path consists in studying each aspect of the soul and achieving the seamless cooperation of all aspects.

Alchemy

So, in Kabbalah, the view is that we are the soul all the way from the body to the mind and spirit, but these elements are disjointed. In comparison, alchemy states that we are crude matter initially, which requires transformative enlivening and extraction of the (psychological) elements that would spark the birth of the soul. Once born, the soul must grow and mature to perfection.

It should be clear enough that in alchemy the imagery is different, but the process is similar to the Kabbalah. And the overall purpose is evidently the same.

Buddhism

As to Buddhism, even with the denial of the concepts of spirit (replaced with the Void) and the soul (replaced with "Buddha nature" or "Buddha essence"), the work still consists in renouncing and shedding away of that which we call matter, so the process is equivalent.

Any questions?

  • Belfrager
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #103
Any questions?

No questions but comments.
Mysticism is methodical spirituality.

As for my comment, a story from Santiago de Compostela, O Caminho de Santiago:

Pilgrim - Old man, where do I find the path to Santiago?
Old Man - Walker, there's no path, you do it yourself while walking.

It doesn't matter if people are "methodical" at their spirituality or if are stricken by a blinding flash of light, mysticism is not about how the path must be done but about the destiny.
I'm inclined to value Revelation and uniqueness rather than any systematization or method, regarding mysticism.
A matter of attitude.

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #104

It doesn't matter if people are "methodical" at their spirituality or if are stricken by a blinding flash of light, mysticism is not about how the path must be done but about the destiny.
I'm inclined to value Revelation and uniqueness rather than any systematization or method, regarding mysticism.

For you Revelation is the way, but this is a great blessing not granted to everyone. Everyone is not so lucky. So, those without Revelation but still with strong spiritual impulses are left with methodical spirituality, disciplined practice, the rational approach, because they don't have the other blessing and cannot follow that.

And then there are people who cannot keep up with the disciplined practice or they cannot make sense of the rational approach. They are those who don't follow much anything systematically or they follow everything to some extent or they follow the wrong thing, mistaken about their own nature.

Ultimately, yeah, to everyone one's own. No dispute :)

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #105
Post #103 was about the structure of mystical cosmology (macrocosm and microcosm). This one is about an actual practice.

Mandukyopanishad is the shortest of upanishads (Hindu scripture). Its length is just one book page or even less, depending on the density of the script. In summary, it says:

Atman* has four quarters. The quarters are:
1. Waking state
2. Dream state
3. Deep sleep state
4. The Fourth (Turiya)

The same Atman (with the quarters) is symbolized by Om.

This is it in a nutshell. For the mystically-minded, this upanishad unambiguously suggests the practice of dream study. Dream study is a mystical practice that should be accessible to anyone in its primitive form, but it has its advanced and elaborate stages all the way to the end, so that if dream study fits one's temperament, it's the only practice one will ever need.

The same way as there are experiences in the waking state and our perceived character is determined in the course of those experiences (such as, to react with resentment when feeling let down, to feel flattered when praised, etc.; the character or personality is made up of such reactions), our deeper (subconscious) character is determined by dream-experiences. The basic idea is that the same way as we can, by means of self-discipline, gain composure over the mind and character in the waking state, we can achieve the same in dream state.

Self-control is harder in dream state than in the waking state. It's easier to abstain from blatant naughtiness when others are watching. Still, self-control in dream state is essentially not too different from self-control in the waking state. It's quite possible to gradually keep composure under all circumstances.

In the course of the practice, the layers of microcosm and macrocosm as detailed in post #103 should gradually become a visible reality. This will serve as a measure of progress (even though each achievement dauntingly also multiplies the responsibilities and temptations). The successful practice of dream discipline takes one eventually face to face with the deep sleep state, which in the mundane sense is a dreamless happy state of oblivion. The deep sleep state corresponds to the veil of ignorance, the mystical mental matter, a very tough nut to crack.

Beyond the veil dawns Turiya, counted as the fourth in relation to the three earlier states, but the fourth is not a state of mind. It's a state of transcendence beyond the waking, dream, and deep sleep states. In this state of transcendence, the mind has merged with the soul and the living body becomes as if an evanescent dream entity while the soul becomes the true identity comparable to the current waking state. When properly practised, this state of transcendence will not remain a glimpse, but will stay permanent.

It should be clear that this talk is not a matter of theory, but of practice. The three states of mind - waking, dream and deep sleep - are a common-sense experience observable to everyone. Everyone can choose either to continue to be tossed around by those states of mind or do something about it. Why do something about it? If this question arises, you are not well predisposed for this practice and you should abstain. But those who follow through will elaborate and strengthen their own soul as a matter of course.

* Atman means the Self. Microcosmically it's the soul. Macrocosmically it's the spirit. Combined it's equated with Brahman (the Absolute).

  • jseaton2311
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #106
But those who follow through will elaborate and strengthen their own soul as a matter of course.


And exactly where is my soul, what is it's function?  And how are these states of mystical practice differentiated from self-delusion?  I believe they would be quite indistinguishable and certainly not common sensical at all.  Common sense tells me that people make mountains out of molehills like this all the time and that sleep--waking, dream or deep--is simply a biological function of nature and little more.  What is the necessity in nature for this strange phenomena?  You do believe in evolution don't you?  Nature is the epitome of maximum parsimony and what you are describing is not useful to perpetuating our species, so it wouldn't be selective in nature even if the mutation occurred.  It sounds like a nice mind game to play, but that's really about it Ersi...really.   :knight:  :cheers:

James J

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #107

And exactly where is my soul, what is it's function?
 
The soul is oneself. The soul is wherever you are. And what is your function? Perhaps you can figure out your own function.


And how are these states of mystical practice differentiated from self-delusion? I believe they would be quite indistinguishable and certainly not common sensical at all.

Yet another brave argument from ignorance.


Nature is the epitome of maximum parsimony and what you are describing is not useful to perpetuating our species, so it wouldn't be selective in nature even if the mutation occurred. 

Perpetuating the species is animal business. Humans have moved on to metaphysical and mystical concerns. Somehow humans evolved to be this way, so it's common sense to take this seriously.

  • jseaton2311
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #108
Perpetuating the species is animal business. Humans have moved on to metaphysical and mystical concerns. Somehow humans evolved to be this way, so it's common sense to take this seriously.


Talk about arguments from out of the blue!  A few people claiming to have mystical experiences, does not qualify as proof of biological evolution of our species.  Mysticism has been around for quite some time, I believe and I would guess that it is less common today than in other ancient times--if anything, this is evidence of evolution in reverse--but actually we have just come to our senses...most of us, that is.   :knight:  :cheers:
James J

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #109

Talk about arguments from out of the blue! 

You eulogised some animal instincts that humans possess and called it evolution. This was embarrassingly self-refuting. I gave the argument you should have given, about some actual evolution that distinguishes humans from animals.

Re: Mysticism
Reply #110
Mushrooms cure all mind problems.

Mysticism = Religion = Mysticism

Only the garb differs.

  • OakdaleFTL
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #111
Folks! Need I remind you, that "evolution" doesn't entail progress? :)
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
No one listens to me as much as I do and even I have my limits...
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #112

Folks! Need I remind you, that "evolution" doesn't entail progress? :)

It did for Darwin. Otherwise he would have named it "change of species".

And as used in mystical literature, evolution has its teleological connotations that are definitely meant to be there. Otherwise it doesn't make sense to use the word.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #113
It did for Darwin. Otherwise he would have named it "change of species".

Darwin does not use the word evolution:* he primarily speaks of modification and -- wait for it -- change. Moreover, he goes to great lengths to dispel any misguided notions about progression. The word evolution is used occasionally in the 1872 edition, however, in response to public debate.

Here is a video explaining why Darwin didn't use the word:




(You can safely skip most of the middle, which is mostly about The March of Progress. What's pertinent with regard to the question is mostly in the opening minutes and the final minute.)

* But even if he had, so what? Evolution today at its basis still roughly means the modern evolutionary synthesis, not what Darwin wrote.

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #114

Darwin does not use the word evolution:* he primarily speaks of modification and -- wait for it -- change.

Actually, he uses the word origin in the title. The actual origin of the species happens to be the most contentious and the least solved point of his theory even today.

But yeah, you are right. Evolution was not Darwin's choice of words. Still, Darwin surely had his ideas of betterness and fitness as commonly attributed to Darwinism. Says his book: "One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die." Note advancement.


Moreover, he goes to great lengths to dispel any misguided notions about progression.

I'm sure he dispelled many misguided notions about progression, only to be inevitably replaced with other misguided notions. When morality and intelligence are side-effects of survival, as they are for Darwin, then it follows that any notion of progression should be discarded, because there's another driving force instead of morality, intelligence, or teleology. However, if constructive cooperation and true understanding of reality matter, as they evidently do both for survival and for other goals and motives, then morality and intelligence are not side-effects after all, but decisive considerations. Even though Darwin's theory regards morality and intelligence as later developments, mere survival has been surpassed now. Morality and intelligence, which come in degrees, provide a measure of true progression despite all claims to the contrary.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #115
Actually, he uses the word origin in the title. The actual origin of the species happens to be the most contentious and the least solved point of his theory even today.

Only if you purposefully misunderstand that the origin of species is not about the origin of life, but primarily refers to the mechanisms underlying speciation.

When morality and intelligence are side-effects of survival, as they are for Darwin, then it follows that any notion of progression should be discarded, because there's another driving force instead of morality, intelligence, or teleology. However, if constructive cooperation and true understanding of reality matter, as they evidently do both for survival and for other goals and motives, then morality and intelligence are not side-effects after all, but decisive considerations. Even though Darwin's theory regards morality and intelligence as later developments, mere survival has been surpassed now. Morality and intelligence, which come in degrees, provide a measure of true progression despite all claims to the contrary.

So in essence you agree wholeheartedly with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, despite all claims to the contrary.  :devil:

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #116

Actually, he uses the word origin in the title. The actual origin of the species happens to be the most contentious and the least solved point of his theory even today.

Only if you purposefully misunderstand that the origin of species is not about the origin of life, but primarily refers to the mechanisms underlying speciation.

Darwin's title proposes to settle something about the species, but all it does is suggest that all the species are intermediary transitional stages in constant flux. This is quite contentious, an unsettled (and unsettling) view, because it actually renders the notion of species meaningless. That he didn't settle the origin of the first species - and that nobody has after him either - only aggravates the problems with Darwinism.


When morality and intelligence are side-effects of survival, as they are for Darwin, then it follows that any notion of progression should be discarded, because there's another driving force instead of morality, intelligence, or teleology. However, if constructive cooperation and true understanding of reality matter, as they evidently do both for survival and for other goals and motives, then morality and intelligence are not side-effects after all, but decisive considerations. Even though Darwin's theory regards morality and intelligence as later developments, mere survival has been surpassed now. Morality and intelligence, which come in degrees, provide a measure of true progression despite all claims to the contrary.

So in essence you agree wholeheartedly with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, despite all claims to the contrary.  :devil:

In essence it appears that you agree there's a problem with Darwinism exactly as I stated. But I have not told you anything about my solution. I definitely do not agree that that morality and intellect are secondary epiphenomena upon the survival instinct. I simply haven't told yet in this discussion what they are.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #117
Darwin, Freud and Marx are the most adulterated authors I know.
Also Hitler, but no one cares about him, he lost a war, a mortal sin. Marx also lost, so he's disappearing.

I don't know why but it just came to my mind that Joan D'Arc was a special example of mysticism.
A matter of attitude.

Re: Mysticism
Reply #118
  :devil: :cheers: All religion is mysticism. :cheers: :devil:

  • ersi
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #119

I don't know why but it just came to my mind that Joan D'Arc was a special example of mysticism.

What would be an ordinary example? Hermits?

  • tt92
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #120


I don't know why but it just came to my mind that Joan D'Arc was a special example of mysticism.

What would be an ordinary example? Hermits?



Re: Mysticism
Reply #121
Don't be crabby, TT.

Re: Mysticism
Reply #122
Another Aussie joy.

  • OakdaleFTL
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #123
Darwin, Freud and Marx are the most adulterated authors I know.

Did you perhaps mean adulated?
Adulterated means "watered-down" and "misinterpreted"... "made impure". (Adulated means praised and venerated...)
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
No one listens to me as much as I do and even I have my limits...
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman

  • Belfrager
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Re: Mysticism
Reply #124
Adulterated means "watered-down" and "misinterpreted"... "made impure". (Adulated means praised and venerated...)

I know. I mean what I said but you're also right, adulated yet adulterated.
A matter of attitude.