Is Mysticism a Pursuit for Delusion
Is mysticism a pursuit of delusion and is delusion a term applicable to describe mystical elements? In mysticism hearing voices, seeing things, entering a trance state, losing self-awareness, influencing alternate states of mind, ego dissolution, are expected to occur and are sometimes even a goal on their own. In the medical world, many mystical subjects are described as mental disorders, weird paranormal, pseudoscientifically, undefined activities.
In this article:
- I will generalize concepts strongly to summarize them into major categories and look at many mystical subjects in relation to other more known subjects.
- I will try to link common behavioral, mental illnesses to this mystical world and practices that date back thousands of years in the past.
- I will link the ‘Theory of Bicamical Mind as described by Julian Jaynes’ to all the mystical subjects. I really think this theory has very likely to explain many mystical elements in relation to many mental problems we can still observe today.
This article is mainly just thinking out loud and should not be taken 1–1 as factual, objective, claims for their truth value. I talk about many fields like mental disorders and much of who I am not a professional at all. So take this article as a theory and something to think about.
The Bicameral Mind
Bicameralism (the condition of the brain being divided into “two-chambers”) is a controversial hypothesis in psychology and neuroscience which argues that the human mind once operated in a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be “speaking”, and a second part which listens and obeys — a bicameral mind, and that the evolutionary breakdown of this division gave rise to consciousness in humans.
The human part-heard voices and experienced these as coming from gods. These gods were no judging, moral or transcendent gods, but were more like each person’s problem solvers. They were hallucinated voices that provided the answers when a person entered a stressful situation that couldn’t be solved by routine. The human was not conscious or self-aware in those times and mostly driven by instincts and the so said divine voices.
Jaynes proves that beginning around 2000 years BC, across the globe, people and humanity started to develop consciousness and self-awareness. More on this in the next section.
Mediumship is the practice of purportedly mediating communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. An oracle is a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions, most notably including precognition of the future, inspired by deities. A prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on behalf of that being, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner who is believed to interact with a spirit world.
There are a lot of other terms that we can list: we have Gurus, Yogis, Masters, Lamas, Saints, and the list will go on and on, varying by culture, of those people are repeatedly described as having mystical experiences of all kinds.
These labels from Abrahamic, Eastern, Asian, Greek, American, African, Western cultural systems all point to individuals seeing faces, hearing voices, having communication with the divine world. This is not only something of the past but exists still today and there are many relations we can draw between old mystical ideas and disorders of all kinds.
Is a state of semi-consciousness in which a person is not self-aware and is either altogether unresponsive to external stimuli (but nevertheless capable of pursuing and realizing an aim) or is selectively responsive in following the directions of the person (if any) who has induced the trance
Non-Mystical: Trance can be seen as a workflow, study zone, a euphoric state at festivals such as hardcore, metal concerts, rock concerts, while people are doing: pit fights, mosh pits, headbanging, swinging, jumping, dancing, screaming. Or when flashes of lights, performing rhythm, increasing sound volume, energy help to get into this state of trance. It can also be seen in military marching music, playing music yourself, mass psychosis, psychosis, going into war battles while screaming. Even some people with the syndrome of down or other mental configurations tend to move in certain rithms forth and back similar to the Shuckling of jews.
Mystical: Trance is induced by Shamans, Mediums, Oracles, to get in touch with the divine. People with multiple personality disorders are also able to switch to other persons, as mediums do when they serve as hosts.
A hallucination is a perception in the absence of external stimulus that has qualities of real perceptions. Hallucinations are vivid, substantial, and are perceived to be located in external objective space.
In the bicameral mind theory, it is said that idols served as the speakers of voices that an individual heard. The idol served as a location. Also in Egyptian stories the passed pharaoh becomes the God Osiris, to them he was not dead, he was still God, living on in the minds of the humans speaking to them via Auditorial voices. This is so common that people used to honor the dead and given them food and such. Why would they do it other than they still heard the voices of their kings in their minds? This applies to any kind of statue, totem pole, rocks, trees, or physical location specified to a god.
Non-Mystical: Auditorial hallucinations are reported by people having Bipolar disorder, Borderline personality disorder, Depression (mixed), Dissociative identity disorder, Generalized anxiety disorder, Major depression, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Psychosis (NOS), Schizoaffective disorder, Schizophrenia, Substance-induced psychosis. (SOURCE WIKIPEDIA). Common Auditorial suggestion categories are a person hearing a voice speak one’s thoughts, a person hearing one or more voices arguing, or a person hearing a voice narrating their own actions. But also is regularly experienced such as in the exploding head syndrome, musical ear syndrome, or when waking up by a noise.
Mystical: Auditorial hallucination occurs during sleep paralysis, with the intake of psychoactive substances. Mediums, prophets, oracles, hearing the voices of the Gods/angels/entities/machine elves, the prophets talking with God, oracles having divine contact, mediums communicating the voices of the death, etc…
Visual Hallucinations :
Non-Mystical: Visual hallucination occurs with Alzheimer’s, Brain tumors, Charles Bonnet syndrome, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Epilepsy, meningitis (infection), Intense stress, schizophrenia, Delirium, Anton’s syndrome, Seizures, Migraines, Tumors, etc…
Mystical: Ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, almost any psychotropic substance, trance state, sleep paralysis, appearances of ghosts, appearances of Maria, shamans, paranormal activity, appearances of aliens, alien abductions seeing faces in dark etc…
Spasms, Tourette, stuttering / Tremors, Possession
Non-Mystical: Tourette, stuttering, movement tics, vocal ticks, thinking thicks,
Mystical: Body tremors in a muscle, a jerking reaction, spasm, possessions as seen with demons, Holy Spirit, sports, kriya experiences, kundalini awakenings, are really, really common.
I myself have Tourette, note I am not saying they are possessed to any degree. The energy in the body has to go out. I recall an experience I had where letting goes of this energy felt very natural, like part of nature itself. I myself notice a dramatic increase of ticks under certain psychoactive substances. I really wondered what might have caused that. Ticking never felt that amazing before. The jerking and ticks are seen in some ideas as spiritual and in others as neurological problems. It's an interesting one to think about. Current science is very uncertain about anything on Tourette.
OOBE, NDE, Astral Projection,
An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is a phenomenon in which a person perceives the world from a location outside their physical body. Out of body happens in many areas of interest. We can see it unintentional induced as in NDE’s or intentionally induced as with Astral Projection. The astral projection and astral travel assume the existence of a soul called an “astral body” that is separate from the physical body and capable of traveling outside it throughout the universe. A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death where one leaf the body and is able to travel the astral planes.
Those claims go back into almost all cultures that have existed on the planet In Japanese mythology (ikiryō), Inuit groups, Liṅga Śarīra, Taoist alchemical practice involving energy work, ancient Egyptian with the soul (ba) as having the ability to hover outside the physical body via the ka, or subtle body. Bibel describing paul visiting the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2). Shamans enter a trance to induce OOBE, in order to perform healing ceremonies, this healing is also described by people regularly projection them selfs into the astral realm. Next to that, beliefs go back to witches, shamans who are said to be capable of projection into all kinds of items like cats, lions, objects.
Depression, Anxiety disorder / Emptiness, the void, enlightenment
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
The emptiness, the void, the detachment from oneself, the surrender to human behavior is described both by depressives and by people who seek some kind of mystical enlightenment. It is like watching gameplay from the sidelines and seeing how humans pursue pleasures, goals, purpose. This watching of existence from the sidelines is capable of raising all kinds of questions and dilemmas. The question that depressed people are left with ‘why should I live life if it is suffering’ is a very real and interesting one. It is a kind of nihilistic question but perhaps one of the most fundamental ones. Why is there something rather than nothing? Existence does not make sense, really strange. Science is not able to answer this question neither will human reasoning be able to answer it. It’ll be guess based on own experiences and knowledge. This question can possibly consume people even to death. Interestingly, we see that many spiritual systems develop attitudes to create a purpose in existence. The first rule of Buddhism’s 8 rule weel is “accept that life is suffering,” Christian teaching teaches to take up the cross and follow Jesus through the hell of misery, Stoic teaching is about creating purpose and meaning every second one lives.
Meaninglessness, futility, sadness, inner stress, the desire to die are described by depressed people. Meaningfulness, purpose, inner peace, joy are described by enlightened people. Both humans have faced the same sides of reality, one ends up integrated into existence the other lost in reality.
Watching from the sidelines, observing life as it is, is frightening if you don’t know how to deal with it. It has driven spiritually active people like Allan Wats to death and rational philosophers like Nietzsche to insanity. Many other famous people can be named when it comes to seeing the deep-pit, darkness, hell, depths of reality, and losing them selfs in it. Depression is a state of awareness of a reality that is difficult to grasp and can only be really understood if one experiences it.
With the breakdown of this bicameral mind Prophets, Mediums, Oracles, Shamans, Guru, Yogis, Masters, Lama’s, Saints, were put in place to interact with the divine. Since many people lost this contact with the divine. Religious practices such as praying, fasting, dessert retreats, meditation, dehydration, sensory overload, sensory deprivation, shamanic music, dancing, all are used in order to enter the alternate bicameral state of consciousness. Those are methods that go back to our roots, our homeland, the world of mythologies, tales, symbolism, and dreams. They have the potential to induce qualities that in western thoughts are described as mental issues. They give us a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose in the strangeness of existence. Mental illnesses can be framed with the bicameral mind theory. Julian Jaynes even states psychoses to be the state human used to exist in before we had awareness. And that all people from the past were schizophrenic to a certain degree.
So is mysticism seeking the delusion, so-called mental issues of mind, or is it a way to connect ourselves to the ancient bicameral mind? I like to answer this in the light of the works of Carl Jung.
He says that the dream world, psychedelic world, word of tales, the world of fairy tales, the world of conspiracies, the world of dreams, the world of spirits/demons/ghosts/gods all live in our and collective unconscious (bicameral — addition from Jaynes) mind. It is not not-directly reachable or perceivable and is hidden, it's like searching for darkness with light. When we shine on unconsciousness it’ll become part of our consciousness. Jung describes that it is very important to anchor the EGO in the consciousness. When we experiment with the unconscious, bicameral mind and try to induce various things by certain substances, religious methods, we might go into a psychic death (ego death) as Jung describes it. This is where depression, delusion, non-self-control, takes over the ego. We must be strong to endure that and be able to get back into a well-balanced person mastering both unconscious and conscious.
As I always like to put it, integration, balance, self-observation, self-criticism, skepticism will help us to stay balanced on the loose string of consciousness and unconsciousness. The unconsciousness is part of our selves and is both a dangerous and useful area field with many monsters lurking in its shadows. To understand ourselves and the world mysticism is a useful two-cutting sword to fight those monsters.