What is the relationship between mysticism and philosophy?

I think they are inseparable on a fundamental level, but represent divergent processes and emphases in their methodology. In the Western tradition before Aristotle, mysticism and philosophy felt synonymous. Aristotle is probably the first to tease the two apart — or at least isolate different processes and categories of exploration. But within Aristotle’s differentiations we see the seeds of what later became empiricism, rationalism, and the full-throated speculations of metaphysics. In other words, we see a drifting apart of that which is observable, that which is logically reasoned out, and that which is understood at a deeper level of experiential insight. Later, we would see Thomas Aquinas wrestle with this very same drifting apart, but he would try to honor all trajectories…while also integrating them. It is this tension — along with its attempted resolution — that we can observe repeated in the Western tradition as a fairly contiguous thread through Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Tielhard de Chardin, William James and many others. At the same time, we find thinkers like Bacon, Nietzsche, Russel, Husserl and Wittgenstein steering away from such integration or reconciliation— or even deferent consideration of the intuitive or speculative at all — in favor of the concrete, observable and analytical. Still, I suppose we could say that in the Western canon carries a drumbeat of mysticism forward well into 20th Century philosophy, before postmodernism began to more systematically snuff it out. Since then, however, we have seen a resurgence of the integration among the integralizing crowd (Gebser, Wilber, Rosenstock-Huessy) — and one that for me appears very promising. In fact, this is where I live philosophically, and how I arrived at my own multidialectical synthesis and Sector Theory.

In the Eastern traditions, this process of divergence didn’t occur in the same way — in fact, to my eye the Cartesian divisions never really happened at all, and mysticism and philosophy remained intertwined in a much more persistent and harmonious way up into modern times. There were still sages who focused more on the pragmatic than the esoteric (such as Confucius), but like Plato they apparently didn’t feel the need to distance themselves from mystical perceptions and conceptions. In this light, it is somewhat ironic that it is popular in the West to approach Buddhism or Yoga as a “philosophy of life,” or view meditation as a way to simply recondition the mind into healthier cognitive habits, while ignoring or minimizing the spiritual/mystical/metaphysical elements of these practices and traditions. This is just what we do in Western culture…whereas many Eastern cultures do not appear to have the same (IMO unhealthy) compulsion.

In any case, I feel like I have meandered a bit, but hopefully touched on why mystical and philosophical processes are really aiming toward the same end: understanding self and mind, understanding the world, understanding the nature of reality and truth, developing both knowledge and wisdom about what is. Depending on the school of thought — or mystical practice — these are all just different input streams to fortify human understanding, and deserving of our careful consideration.

My 2 cents.

Can wisdom be mechanized and proceduralized, and if so, what are some of the issues involved in doing so?

IMO wisdom cannot be mechanized — at least not the spirit of what wisdom is really all about (i.e. multifaceted efficacy). It can be “proceduralized” to a limited degree, in that certain input streams, aptitudes and processing techniques can be encouraged that tend to permit available wisdom to percolate up through our intentions and actions (for example, certain types of meditation). But there is no guaranteed approach in my experience. In this sense we could equate characteristics of wisdom with compassion, in that there are ways to inspire or induce those characteristics (or mimic them), but that a rigid enforcement of authentic compassionate responses is really not a practical or “procedural” possibility. Further, the difference between imitations and the real thing are fairly pronounced.

With that said, I once formulated a “pathway” to wisdom that looked something like this:

data/observation → education/information/contextualization → insight/knowledge → compassionate/inclusive intentionality (i.e. “for the good of All”) → application/testing/efficacy → experiential feedback → ongoing practice + fine-tuning → additional multidimensional input streams (emotional + somatic + spiritual + analytical intelligence) → discernment → consistent operationalization + values alignment→ wisdom.

As you can see, this isn’t really a formula or procedure as much as a loose container for a combination of felt experiences, moments of insight, careful attention to consequences and conditions, and continuous adjustment; it is therefore inherently both multidimensional and emergent.

My 2 cents.

From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Can-wisdom-be-mechanized-and-proceduralized-and-if-so-what-are-some-of-the-issues-involved-in-doing-so/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Can an enlightened being feel pride?

LOL. Not if they want to remain enlightened, engage the world around them from an awakened state…or operationalize their insight. Pride indicates regression. I suppose it can and does arise in some vulnerable context (beings being beings), but it won’t have any staying power — there is nothing for it to latch onto. The moment the ego is invoked to be deliberately fed with pride, the I/Me/Mine rises up to obscure the unadorned reality that initially attenuated it. So perhaps we could say this is a case of greater/lesser, rather than either/or. But the lessening can be fairly complete, as a matter of consequential maturation. We might even say that experiencing pride is a good barometer of that maturation process.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Can-an-enlightened-being-feel-pride/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Post-Postmodernity's Problem with Knowledge

Sell Sell Sell

This may actually be a pretty straightforward problem, with a challenging but nevertheless obvious solution. Here's my take....

I would propose there are nine primary forces at work in present-day knowledge generation, dissemination, evaluation and integration, which I would sketch out as the following inverted values hierarchy:

A. Titillation to entertain or make money.
B. Arrogant ideological agendas.
C. Tribalism and groupthink.
D. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.
G. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
H. Critical self-awareness.
I. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.

What seems immediately evident when looking these over is that personal and collective values have tremendous influence on the efficacy of a given approach to knowledge - and, perhaps most importantly, this influence can and does defy any institutions created to sustain a more diverse or fruitful values system. For example:

1. If the profit motive reigns supreme, then titillation to entertain or make money will trump all other variables. This has clearly had a role in news media, where entertainment and sensationalism have far outpaced accuracy or depth. More subtly, this has also had an impact on scientific research, where competition for grant money has distorted methodology and data in order to attract sufficient funding.

2. If a particular belief system is venerated above everything else, then arrogant ideological agendas destroy truth in favor of persuasive propaganda - especially when combined with tribalism and groupthink. We see this with religious indoctrination and exclusionary bias (i.e. denial of empirical evidence), with conservative news media that promote neoliberal political and economic agendas, and with the refusal of institutions of higher learning to allow truly diverse or controversial perspectives among their events and curricula.

3. When democratization and diffusion of knowledge is prioritized above every other value, then we end up with the armchair Dunning-Kruger effect, where folks believe they have mastered a complex discipline after reading a few Internet articles, and are then able to confidently refute (in their own estimation) the assessments of more educated and experienced practitioners in that field. Social media seems to provide considerable reinforcement of such knowledge-distorting self-importance - as do participatory systems and institutional dialogues that refuse to qualify or evaluate sources of information or their veracity, and give all input equal weight.

4. With extreme self-protective specialization, we end up with isolated islands of understanding that do not fully comprehend or appreciate each other - and in fact often can't function harmoniously together in society. One consequence of this are graduates of universities who are preoccupied with scholastic performance at the expense of actual learning, or who cannot understand their field in a way that actually adds value to its execution in the real world. In other words, an education system that rewards one narrow flavor of performance, while devaluing creative productivity in order to generate compliant specialists.

There are also some nasty values combinations in the post-postmodern era that seem increasingly pernicious in the destruction of knowledge, mainly because they deliberately exclude F, G, H & I - that is, the humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth, fluidity of exact knowledge, critical self-awareness, and appreciation of ever-increasing complexity and interdependence. Really, whenever these four characteristics are deprioritized or absent, insight and understanding tends to be thoroughly crippled. But let's briefly take a closer look at each of these fundamentals....

What is "critical self-awareness?" I think it could be summarized many ways, such as taking one's own opinion with a grain of salt, or having a healthy sense of humor about one's own understanding, or being able to effectively argue against one's own position and appreciate its flaws - i.e. some of the central themes of postmodern thought. The "humbly inquisitive ongoing search" is certainly a kindred spirit here, but also implies that our journey towards the truth is never-ending; it's not just humility about conclusions, but about the process of seeking itself. Appreciating the "fluidity of exact knowledge" is an additional variable to balance out other, less rigorous impulses. It means there will be few black-and-white conclusions that are accurate; that ambiguity and imprecision are inevitable; that assertions should be tested in small arenas for limited periods, rather than as sweeping revisions; and so on. This fluidity does not, however, insist on a nihilistic or dismissive orientation to qualitative truth; on the contrary, it can recognize and integrate absolutes while remaining keenly aware of context. And, finally, "complexity and interdependence" means that we will of necessity be synthesizing a collective understanding together - there isn't much opportunity for elitist leadership or vanguardism, except perhaps in a few highly abstracted or technical areas. In other words, functional truth is perpetually intersubjective. At the same time - again as a balancing factor to the diffusion and democratization of knowledge - we will also need to appropriately weight the insights of experiential "experts" to help us navigate complexity.

These four characteristics can be viewed as attitudes, character traits, virtues, priorities, beliefs, operating assumptions, etc. The point is that if we prioritize these four above all considerations - subordinating our other beliefs, reflexes and desires to them - we can begin to formulate a healthy, fruitful relationship with knowledge, both culturally and interpersonally. If we don't prioritize these characteristics...well, then I suspect we'll keep making the same kinds of errors that have led us into our current state of apoplectic befuddledom. We simply can't afford to constrain the four essential qualities of truth-navigation in a straight jacket of what really should be extraneous and subordinated values and habits. And thus we arrive at a proposed values hierarchy that maximizes the utility of any approach to true and useful knowledge:

A. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.
B. Critical self-awareness.
C. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
D. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.

E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
G. Tribalism and groupthink.
H. Arrogant ideological agendas.
I. Titillation to entertain or make money.

As you can see, this is simply an inverted version of the current status quo. Okay...if we can entertain this thesis, how do we get from here to there? Well I think education about this issue will help, but really we need to evaluate what is generating the memetic force of competing values hierarchies, and disable or de-energize that force wherever possible. How is it that titillation to entertain or make money has gained such prominence? Or that arrogant ideological agendas or tribalism and groupthink have usurped both the scientific method and common sense? Why has extreme, self-protective specialization so often shattered collaborative, interdisciplinary exchanges and synthesis? And how has the democratization and diffusion of knowledge rallied itself into such a farcical exaggeration...? Is there a common denominator for all of these trends...?

Well I think the answer is pretty straightforward, and I along with many others have been writing about it for a long time - it was Aristotle, I believe, who most clearly identified the same core issues we face today. The central problem is our highly corrosive form of capitalism. But perhaps I should forsake my own confidence for a moment and - applying the very virtues I've exalted here - humbly offer that a culture of acquisitiveness, infantilizing consumerism, competitive egotism and blindly irrational faith will likely not facilitate the four essential qualities humanity requires for thriving and productive knowledge. And I do believe this is a cultural decision - one in which we have all become complicit, and have all reinforced through tacit acceptance of the status quo. To break free of our shackles, we will need to let go of some of the habits and appetites we most covet and adore. But I could be wrong. Perhaps we can achieve equilibrium through our continued bluff and bluster, through ever-greater fabrications, self-deceptions and carelessly conspicuous consumption. That seems a risky bet to me...but again, I might be mistaken.

What are the most important ideas you'd like to share with others?

That would probably be what I’ve written about in my books and essays - and what I still plan to write about. Those topics include:

- That it is imperative to replace capitalism and consumerism with a more egalitarian and compassion-centric political economy…soon!

- Encouraging multidimensional self-care that encourages moral development, healing and self-actualization.

- Ways to actively re-contextualize memories in order to heal past trauma and reconfigure self-concept.

- The underlying unity of all spiritual traditions and experiences, and the importance of practicing techniques that engage the spiritual dimension of being.

- That the most important thing in life is to learn how to love effectively.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-most-important-ideas-youd-like-to-share-with-others/answer/T-Collins-Logan

What is wisdom?

What is wisdom? I think wisdom is appreciating what actions, aspirations, intentions and consequences are the most holistically beneficial, for the greatest number and the greatest duration, as well as confidently intuiting why they are beneficial. This then leads to a practiced ability to generate circumstances over time - or make choices in a given instant - that support and enlarge such an understanding even as it is reified. In other words, wisdom will beget its own embodiment in being. I also believe when authentic wisdom is in play, there is a kind of effortlessness to its efficacy and amplitude, even as it propagates itself. Wisdom does not try to love someone or strive to “do the right thing,” it is instead on fire with a compassionate affection that knows just how to be, and inspires that same energy as a gift in others. What often prevents wisdom from either blossoming within us or bearing fruit in our lives is our impulse to lock it down in rational terms, or explain it in a language that can be universally understood. But because it is experiential in nature, such attempts will always fall short.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/What-is-wisdom/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is any theodicy reasonable?

Which do we trust - our hearts or our minds? Where do Reason and Passion intersect?

I think the details of this question are the answer to the question. Where reason and passion intersect is what is important. Continually navigating the relationship and synergy of felt experience and rational consideration is what is important. Developing a sense of discernment that proves itself reliable in predicting the rightness or efficacy of a given choice in terms of outcomes…this is what is important. Learning how to most skillfully express compassion for another human being and for oneself…this is what is important. Cultivating wisdom about how best to stimulate love-consciousness in others, and help them make wise, discerning and effective choices for themselves…this is what is important. Learning how to consult the spirit within, and adding this to the mix of inputs to synthesize final insight and judgment…this is what is important.

The goodness of God, in these contexts, is basically irrelevant. If you have a friend that you love, and who loves you, and your experience over a lifetime of friendship with them has been positive, supportive, edifying, empowering and encouraging to your maturity and wisdom…well, would it matter if someone could “prove” to you in some logical way that your friend was more bad than good? Or that they seemed hypocritical or insincere according to that outsider’s perspective? If your experience of that friendship - and your observations of your friend - contradicted these criticisms in fundamental ways, you would know how to answer that person, wouldn’t you, from your own experience? Your convictions about your friend would likely override abstract suppositions…because you know and love your friend.

I think it is such experience of relationship within which passion and reason intersect, and instructs us on how best to trust all of our being rather than just one part - our hearts and minds…and our spiritual insights, our somatic intuitions, our social intelligence, our learned life lessons and so on. Over time, experience instructs us how to integrate all such input streams into a sense of discernment and wisdom. It is from this perspective that a person can say to me: “So all of these internal contradictions I’m observing about the Divine make me just want to run away and deny the Divine exists at all!” To which my response would be: “That’s interesting. My experience of those same contradictions has deepened my wisdom and encouraged me to look deeper within myself for answers. In fact, I would say that my ‘disagreements’ with the Divine have been some of my most instructive experiences.”

From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Is-any-theodicy-reasonable/answer/T-Collins-Logan

How do you look into the aspects of reality and know it's not an illusion?

We don’t know it’s not an illusion. About the best we can do is participate in consensus and keeping checking it against our experience. What you are touching upon is epistemology: how do we know what we know, and how can we know that we actually know it for certain? Personally I answer this question with the following approaches:

- Is there a measurable, empirical basis for my assumption, and am I comfortable relying on the metrics involved?

- Is there a consistent, subjective felt experience that corresponds with my assumption?

- Do the results of choices and actions predicated on my assumption produce fairly predictable results?

- Have I been able to gain any insight into the veracity or efficacy of my assumption through reflection and meditation?

- Do others share a consensus about these correlations?

- Is there new evidence, experience or consensus that would lead me to consider revising my assumption?

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-look-into-the-aspects-of-reality-and-know-its-not-an-illusion/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Is it true that it is possible to cook up a lot of logical arguments on any given topic?

Speaking to what I think is the heart of your question, let me relate a story from my early twenties….

I was trying to do research on something and sought resources at a university library. This was back in the 1980s when most periodicals, research journals and abstracts were put on microfiche for longterm storage. When I asked about available research, I was led down to a very large basement room full of filing cabinets, with a narrow isle down the middle of the room. I explained to my guide (a graduate student working at the library) what I was looking for: some data on the environmental impacts of various common chemicals on wildlife, ecosystems, habitats and so forth. He then asked, without any hint of sarcasm, “What kind of data are you looking for?” I was confused. I said I was trying to understand what the actual impacts were over time. He shrugged and pointed first to one side of the room, then to the other, saying, “On that side of the room you will find all of the government-funded academic research, and on this side of the room you will find all of the privately-funded research.” He began to walk away, and being young and naive, I still didn’t understand what was going on. I laughed nervously and asked, “Why is it set up this way, instead of just by research topic?” The grad student paused on the way back up the steps and said, “If you want research to support one side of the argument, stick to the stacks on one side of the room. Each side will provide different conclusions that…basically contradict each other.” And with that he was off.

In this case, it wasn’t just logical arguments, it was decades of “scientific research” that supported opposing conclusions. How was this possible?

I think that may be what your psychologist was getting at. Once we begin to frame a given topic a certain way, it is very easy to cherry-pick new information to conform with our frame. This is sometimes called post-rationalization or confirmation bias, but it’s really just “wanting to see what we want to see.” And humans are very good at this. So what for one person is a “logical” justification for their beliefs simply doesn’t hold the same sway for someone else; the logic isn’t persuasive. Nevertheless, it is quite easy - and common - for people to accumulate gobs of “logical” arguments to support whatever position they have decided to take, and then resist any “logic” that opposes their position. A close friend to this pattern of self-justification is cognitive dissonance - for which we humans also can have a very high tolerance.

I think this is one reason why the concept of “discernment” was developed over time - to counter what may seem logical at first, but really doesn’t make any sense. Discernment…and ultimately wisdom…combines different modes of perception, intelligence and assessment to reach a tentative conclusion about something that logic alone may not be able to reach. It is a skill that takes time to develop, and is supported by certain innate abilities like empathy, emotional intelligence, self-awareness, somatic intuition, social intelligence, general intelligence, and analytical skills.

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-it-is-possible-to-cook-up-a-lot-of-logical-arguments-on-any-given-topic/answer/T-Collins-Logan