Richard Maurice Bucke (1837-1902) was a Canadian psychiatrist. He is best known for his 1901 book Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind, in which he explored higher forms of consciousness as they have been expressed throughout human history. In 1872 Bucke had a mystical experience of his own, which he later recorded.
Language often constructs our perception of reality. As the philosopher William H. Gass once said, "The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words." Or so they try.
A friend recently shared a video clip with me from an event on June 23, 2018, which was a public conversation and debate between psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson and philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris, moderated by biologist Bret Weinstein. It's an interesting discussion between a theist (Peterson) and an atheist (Harris) on the nature of God, which I think begins to get at the heart of the issue from both sides.
John van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381) was a Flemish mystic and writer. He was raised in the Catholic faith, becoming a priest. He is now venerated in the Catholic Church. He was beatified in 1903 by Pope Pius X.
This morning I listened to a podcast conversation between neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris and bestselling journalist and author Michael Pollan about Pollan's new book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence.
How should I say what is infinitely ineffable?
Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) was a Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and was canonized a Roman Catholic saint by Pope Gregory XV. In her autobiography, The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, she describes many of her ecstatic visions of the Divine which should ring a few bells for Latter-day Saints.
"The [mystical] visions are not ends in themselves but means to an ineffable religious experience that exceeds normal concepts. They will be conditioned by the particular religious tradition of the mystic. A Jewish visionary will see visions of the seven heavens because his religious imagination is stocked with these particular symbols. Buddhists see various images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas; Christians visualize the Virgin Mary [or Jesus]. It is a mistake for the visionary to see these mental apparitions as objective or as anything more than a symbol of transcendence."
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was a noted poet, essayist, and journalist, perhaps best known for his collection of poems titled Leaves of Grass. He wrote of divine experiences on several occasions in his poems.
In 1979 she had an experience while giving a eulogy at the funeral of a friend that forever changed her life. She later called it a "near-death-like" experience, being similar to many NDEs (including one she had earlier in life), but she was not near death at all. She describes it in one place this way...