The Different Types of Human Destiny and Spiritual Realization


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Common Views on Human Potential and Destiny


The traditional religious views say, believe in God (in this or that specific form), go to church, and generally be a good person, and you will go to heaven (and "see" or "be with" God), after you die; miss in any one of these things, and you may go to a less than heavenly realm after you die. There seems to be a widespread but generally unarticulated belief that there is something in the nature or structure of things which, with a few saintly exceptions, prevents people from seeing God while alive, but that automatically allows them to see God after they die, if, while alive, they've generally adhered to all the rules for being a "good person". (A simple believer's view often goes, "God is in Heaven, and we're here, and here and Heaven are two separate places." Of course, more sophisticated theologians have always realized that such views place limits on a God Who in fact if God, must be All-Pervading.) And so the greatest human potential suggested by the traditional religious views is: be a good boy or girl, and you'll go to Heaven and see God when you die (or something more or less to that effect).

The conventional materialistic view says there is no God, no Greater Reality, that "when you're dead you're dead", and thus, the greatest human potential is: "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die", or "self-fulfillment now". A refinement on this view suggests that, through various forms of self-improvement (whether they are physical, mental, emotional, psychic, etc.), we can fulfill ourselves better. But none of these variations finally and effectively relieve us of the problem represented by human suffering and impending death.

Even Abraham Maslow, one of the leading thinkers of the "human potential movement" re-conceptualized a wide array of mystical experiences as "peak experiences". He "secularized" their description, removing all references to "God", "Revelation", etc., feeling that this was a requirement for their scientific study:



 

Abraham MaslowBut it has recently begun to appear that these "revelations" or mystical illuminations can be subsumed under the head of the "peak-experiences" or "ecstasies" or "transcendent" experiences which are now being eagerly investigated by many psychologists. That is to say, it is very likely, indeed almost certain, that these older reports, phrased in terms of supernatural revelation, were, in fact, perfectly natural, human peak-experiences of the kind that can easily be examined today, which, however, were phrased in terms of whatever conceptual, cultural, and linguistic framework the particular seer had available in his time.

Abraham Maslow, Chapter III, Religions, Values, And Peak-Experiences

 


But by removing all such theistic references, he permanently reduced his studies to materialistic and brain-based explanations. The underlying assumption is: If something can be explained in purely brain-based, materialistic terms, then it should be explained that way! But in fact there is nothing anyone could tell you about the Greater Reality, that can't be "explained" as someone's personal subjectivity or hallucination.

So this particular, behavioristic choice of values eliminates a priori any view that suggests there is a Greater Reality that includes Spiritual and Transcendental Dimensions as well as material. It also rules out any kind of statement connecting what one does in the present life with what occurs after one's death, because "after death" just isn't in any way "secularizable" accountable from a purely materialistic standpoint without reference to a Greater Reality! The only view that can be stated in material terms is "when you're dead you're dead." And it also rules out the Reality of the Great Spiritual Realizations: "I am God" and "God and the World are One". In this traditional humanist view, such Realizations are not different in kind from the "high" that runners get. The Ultimate Realizations are reduced to mere subjective “experiences”. Thus Maslow’s framework does not allow for a distinction between permanent Realizations (permanent because they are based on a clearer and more direct awareness of Reality), and temporary (even though “peak”) experiences.

Curiously enough, while Maslow doesn't "burn down the house" (which is how he describes the activity of atheists) per se, he definitely does rip out the house's foundations and replaces them with surface-level (behavior-only) dirt instead of concrete depth.

An important thrust of this discussion is to underscore, again and again, the difference between temporary experiences, even of a very "peak" kind (which come and go), and stable Realization (which is a permanent shift).



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