Added Authority?


#1

The fact that there is still confusion between East and West as regards enlightenment and spiritual states would seem to indicate that practitioners are interpreting their experiences according to their tradition, i.e. that they are not yet qualified to describe their experiences in purely objective terms. Since advanced religious people seem reliant upon their tradition, it would seem likely that the founders and sustainers of these traditions possess added authority.

What do you think?


#2

[quote=catholickyle]The fact that there is still confusion between East and West as regards enlightenment and spiritual states would seem to indicate that practitioners are interpreting their experiences according to their tradition, i.e. that they are not yet qualified to describe their experiences in purely objective terms. Since advanced religious people seem reliant upon their tradition, it would seem likely that the founders and sustainers of these traditions possess added authority.

What do you think?
[/quote]

My short answer is no. However…

…I would like to comment on the statement “advanced religious people seem reliant upon their tradition.” To an extent, this is true, but it needn’t be. Frankly, the true mystic needs no “map” to God, which in a sense, is the ultimate purpose of all religious tradition (that is, to provide such a “map”). However, they are also not against using a “proven map” (that is, the map of the community with which he finds himself) when showing other people the route which they themselves have pursued. So, in reality, they are no more “reliant” on their tradition than I am reliant on one pair of shoes versus another to “tread the path.”

Mike


#3

[quote=mhansen]My short answer is no. However…

…I would like to comment on the statement “advanced religious people seem reliant upon their tradition.” To an extent, this is true, but it needn’t be. Frankly, the true mystic needs no “map” to God, which in a sense, is the ultimate purpose of all religious tradition (that is, to provide such a “map”). However, they are also not against using a “proven map” (that is, the map of the community with which he finds himself) when showing other people the route which they themselves have pursued. So, in reality, they are no more “reliant” on their tradition than I am reliant on one pair of shoes versus another to “tread the path.”

Mike
[/quote]

Mike,
If advanced mystics are not reliant on their tradition, then how is it that no one, anywhere, is able to form a stable and rational bridge between what the East calls “enlightenment,” and what the West calls “sainthood”? The Catholic mystics and the Eastern mystics describe their experiences using radically different terminology, that is derived mainly from their religious tradition. Kyle’s point is that these traditions have issued forth from someone’s mind; and whoever made them, and whoever sustained them, would likely have added authority, beyond those who find themselves within them. You can see this looking at the major doctrines and teachings, for instance about ahimsa in the East, and brotherly love in the West. Yes Jesus forms the basis, but people with authority and charisma chose to represent Him. These Architects of the religion formed the boundaries within which current practioners dwell. If the boundaries are profound, it would seem to indicate superiority.


#4

[quote=jayceeii]Mike,
If advanced mystics are not reliant on their tradition, then how is it that no one, anywhere, is able to form a stable and rational bridge between what the East calls “enlightenment,” and what the West calls “sainthood”? The Catholic mystics and the Eastern mystics describe their experiences using radically different terminology…
[/quote]

So why don’t we get rid of all terminology and just “see”?

peterkreeft.com/topics/loves-sees.htm

And has the art (and person) of David Lynch formed “a stable and rational bridge” between East and West? Has God restored the worlds sight through Lynch’s art?


#5

[quote=jayceeii]Mike,
If advanced mystics are not reliant on their tradition, then how is it that no one, anywhere, is able to form a stable and rational bridge between what the East calls “enlightenment,” and what the West calls “sainthood”? The Catholic mystics and the Eastern mystics describe their experiences using radically different terminology, that is derived mainly from their religious tradition. Kyle’s point is that these traditions have issued forth from someone’s mind; and whoever made them, and whoever sustained them, would likely have added authority, beyond those who find themselves within them. You can see this looking at the major doctrines and teachings, for instance about ahimsa in the East, and brotherly love in the West. Yes Jesus forms the basis, but people with authority and charisma chose to represent Him. These Architects of the religion formed the boundaries within which current practioners dwell. If the boundaries are profound, it would seem to indicate superiority.
[/quote]

I agree with Pace’s recommendation. Experiences such as these can’t be described adequately using ANY terminology. Words are simply insufficient. We must experience it. Mystics do the best they can when they try to explain it, but they know they fall short. Hence, they often don’t even try.

As I said in my post, true mystics need no “map”, but can, and often do, use the “map” of the community (tradition) they belong to. The willingness to use these “maps” does not imply a necessity to. A bird does not need instructions on how to fly. Eventually, left to its own devices, it simply does so.

Mike


#6

[quote=mhansen]I agree with Pace’s recommendation. Experiences such as these can’t be described adequately using ANY terminology. Words are simply insufficient. We must experience it. Mystics do the best they can when they try to explain it, but they know they fall short. Hence, they often don’t even try.

As I said in my post, true mystics need no “map”, but can, and often do, use the “map” of the community (tradition) they belong to. The willingness to use these “maps” does not imply a necessity to. A bird does not need instructions on how to fly. Eventually, left to its own devices, it simply does so.

Mike
[/quote]

Mike,
The divide between East and West is very real, and very deep. You cannot make it disappear by announcing to the world that you don’t see it. Others are aware of this chasm, if you are not.


#7

[quote=jayceeii]Mike,
The divide between East and West is very real, and very deep. You cannot make it disappear by announcing to the world that you don’t see it. Others are aware of this chasm, if you are not.
[/quote]

Perhaps you’re right and I don’t see it. Perhaps we’re getting too caught up in words. Either way, I’ve never personally met anybody who has acheived both Eastern “enlightenment” AND Western “sainthood” and asked them to explain the difference, if any, between the two. The closest I’ve come is Anthony DeMello, who, while being a Catholic priest, was very familiar with Eastern spirituality. His writings use a “blend” of the terminology you find in the East and the West. The problem is, the man isn’t a Catholic “saint”, so my suggestion is still lacking.

Until then, I have to look beyond the words and into the similarities between the two. At their core, their essence is, to me at least, identical.

Make no mistake, I may very well be wrong. I’ve just never emphasized the experiences of others over that of my own. All I know is what is true for me. Thanks!

Mike


#8

Mike,

Whew! This is the first time in my life someone has seen value in what I have written! Everyone else, everywhere, just says, “You are totally wrong and could have no portion of the truth, please go far, far away!” I kid you not! They all turn their backs on me, every one! I define religion as what comes from God, and spirituality as what comes from man. In defining his spirituality, man has relied on religion; this is true even of enlightened sages like Cohen, who keeps referring to an “oversoul,” and great saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who keeps referring to the Creator. They sense a greater authority is present in religion, and so they fall into line, perhaps without realizing it. This authority is seen in the formal liturgies and ceremonies that have been introduced, which have profound unstated meanings, as well as in the magnificent architecture employed, to lift man’s considerations into zones of the spirit.

There are many signs of the unbridgeable chasm between Eastern and Western spirituality. One of them is that the West posits an embodied Creator, and the East states that the universe was created from within. Western mystics thus describe their experiences with reference to the Lord, giving thanks to the Creator, whereas in the East they typically take credit for their own existence. Then there is the question of where everything is headed. The saints look to a heaven after only one lifetime, whereas the eastern gurus look to total dissolution in the “All.” If you study the works of any mystic, East or West, you will find them always speaking in terms of their tradition. Even those who try to bridge the chasm, like the one you mention, fail because they cannot answer ultimate questions about motivation and destination, creation and destruction. Yes mytical experience is ineffable, but God has not yet revealed the correct paradigm, by which the East and West may be bridged. One would expect such a revelation may occupy a prominent place, in the Second Coming of Christ.


#9

[quote=jayceeii]Mike,

Whew! This is the first time in my life someone has seen value in what I have written! Everyone else, everywhere, just says, “You are totally wrong and could have no portion of the truth, please go far, far away!” I kid you not! They all turn their backs on me, every one! I define religion as what comes from God, and spirituality as what comes from man. In defining his spirituality, man has relied on religion; this is true even of enlightened sages like Cohen, who keeps referring to an “oversoul,” and great saints like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who keeps referring to the Creator. They sense a greater authority is present in religion, and so they fall into line, perhaps without realizing it. This authority is seen in the formal liturgies and ceremonies that have been introduced, which have profound unstated meanings, as well as in the magnificent architecture employed, to lift man’s considerations into zones of the spirit.

There are many signs of the unbridgeable chasm between Eastern and Western spirituality. One of them is that the West posits an embodied Creator, and the East states that the universe was created from within. Western mystics thus describe their experiences with reference to the Lord, giving thanks to the Creator, whereas in the East they typically take credit for their own existence. Then there is the question of where everything is headed. The saints look to a heaven after only one lifetime, whereas the eastern gurus look to total dissolution in the “All.” If you study the works of any mystic, East or West, you will find them always speaking in terms of their tradition. Even those who try to bridge the chasm, like the one you mention, fail because they cannot answer ultimate questions about motivation and destination, creation and destruction. Yes mytical experience is ineffable, but God has not yet revealed the correct paradigm, by which the East and West may be bridged. One would expect such a revelation may occupy a prominent place, in the Second Coming of Christ.
[/quote]

My friend,

No, it’s never good to say someone is “wrong.” I avoid that at all costs! The moment we close ourselves to other possibilites is the moment we cease to allow ourselves to grow and develop spiritually. There is much value in what you have to say.

Interestingly though, I have a reverse conclusion regarding religion and spirituality. I believe spirituality is from God, and religion is from man. Religion is man’s attempt to explain the inexplicable…to convey unknowable mysteries into somewhat “comprehensible” doctrine and dogma…to make sure everybody is on the “same page”, if you will.

But, I would like more time to contemplate this. Thank you for sharing your views and allowing me to dwell on them and examine other possibilities.

Mike


#10

This is an interesting topic, especially for me. I recently converted to Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy. While I do not profess to be a theologian or anything near it, I’ve learned from experience and from my background to where I am presently that the gap between East and West isn’t a chasm, although it may seem that way in moments of frustration in waiting for Christ’s splintered church to be one. Yes, some concepts may seem foreign or even entirely different. But what does one do when one doesn’t understand something from a different culture? Translate it! The East and the West say the same thing and come to the same conclusions almost all of the time, they just may take a different approach and use different phraseology in getting there. The beauty of it is that the two fit together perfectly and complete each other like two sides of a coin. The Catholic Church should be immensely proud to have the Eastern Catholic churches within its bosom because they are living proof that it is possible for East and West to live in harmony as different but complementary traditions. The Eastern churches are a model of what a reunited church would look like and silence naysayers who say that such a union, can never, could never exist in today’s world or at any time in the future. As a former Orthodox I am fully aware of the obstacles that lie before us in unity, but if anything forms a chasm it will be human pride and stubbornness, not doctrine and tradition.


#11

Mike:

No, it’s never good to say someone is “wrong.” I avoid that at all costs! The moment we close ourselves to other possibilities is the moment we cease to allow ourselves to grow and develop spiritually. There is much value in what you have to say.

Kurt:

Sometimes a person can be wrong, for instance Hitler in his “final solution” for the Jews. But the first impulse upon hearing a new idea should be, “Perhaps,” instead of “Never.” Then examining the issues with the fullest objectivity, one makes one’s own conclusions. You have to really listen to what the other is saying, before you can possibly know whether their position is valid and tenable. Otherwise you are just an animal, barking.

Mike:

Interestingly though, I have a reverse conclusion regarding religion and spirituality. I believe spirituality is from God, and religion is from man. Religion is man’s attempt to explain the inexplicable…to convey unknowable mysteries into somewhat “comprehensible” doctrine and dogma…to make sure everybody is on the “same page”, if you will.

Kurt:

By religion I indicate what is normally meant by this term, the organized structures put in place upon the Earth in order to worship God and optimize man’s spiritual condition according to revealed scripture. I say these things have a divine origin, which is in line with Catholic teachings. That is to say, they are products of the Lord and His Kingdom. By spirituality I mean what a man can discover by himself, sinking into his own soul and examining what he finds therein. That would include the experiences of mystics and sages. But, from within no one can learn the details about the actual heaven; someone who is from heaven would have to come and tell about those things. If you say that religion is from man, that it is an attempt to explain what exists through superstitious means, then you take the position of the atheists and secularists. Kyle’s point here, in starting this thread, is that there are so many profundities surrounding organized religion, and the appeal to mankind is so deep, that it argues for added authority, beyond the mystics. In other words, it is possible that visitors from heaven have had a hand, herein.

Mike:

But, I would like more time to contemplate this. Thank you for sharing your views and allowing me to dwell on them and examine other possibilities.

Kurt:

You are open-minded, supporting my theory that the Catholic religion contains the most spiritual people on the Earth, Christ’s “elect,” if anywhere there be such. There is infinite room for discussion and even dispute, provided both parties maintain a mutual respect. I support everything I see in Catholicism, regarding it as the true vine of Christ upon Earth. It is a great religion, made even greater by the voluntary expulsion of the Protestants, who were tricked out by Luther and others during the reformation. Now those who remain have a right mind, looking up to the saints, who really do have spiritual elevation. How can a person who fails to recognize spiritual elevation in another human being, possibly hope to recognize the Lord when He appears? If there is hope for man, it is in Catholicism, although I wonder if when Jesus returns His message might be too radical, and He would need to found a brand new religion, just as He did when rejected by Jews.


#12

[quote=Starsweeper]As a former Orthodox I am fully aware of the obstacles that lie before us in unity, but if anything forms a chasm it will be human pride and stubbornness, not doctrine and tradition.
[/quote]

Starsweeper, the usual interpretation of the phrase “Eastern religion” is Hinduism and Buddhism and other religions of the orient like Shintoism. There is an unbridgeable gap between this East, and the West, which a person could argue includes Judaism, Christianity, and even Islam. The East does not posit an embodied Creator God. It states that things have formed themselves, from within. There is no Heaven in the Eastern presentation; one either disappears (Buddhism) or merges with the All (Hinduism). In the East enlightenment is the goal, but the West does not admit this state as a potential human experience. In truth, on both sides there is much confusion and ambiguity. The Earth possesses one species Homo sapiens, but East and West are truly at loggerheads in talking about origins, goals, and spiritual practices. These differences cannot be bridged through man’s spirituality, because the individual soul does not possess this information within itself; or the enlightened ones and saints would have achieved it long ago.


#13

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