Podcasts/Sacred Tension-atheisticmysticismFINAL2

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atheisticmysticismFINAL2 SUMMARY KEYWORDS mysticism, mystical experience, experience, supernaturalism, sam harris, bliss, religion, spirituality, beliefs, life, transcending, reading, consciousness, bradford, steven, meditation, fact, giving, mind, harris SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long

Stephen Bradford Long 00:06 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. You can find the full transcript of this mini episode at Steven Bradford long.com. I consider myself a mystic. And yet I am an atheist. I don't believe in God, God's the afterlife or the supernatural. How is this not? A contradiction in terms isn't supernaturalism and woo central to the experience of mysticism. I was recently reading Sam Harris's book waking up a guide to spirituality without religion, and came across an excellent passage which helped me to articulate this seeming contradiction because this is the internet though, I need to give one annoying caveat. I have strong disagreements with Sam Harris, many of which you can read on my website Steven Bradford long.com. However, like all authors, Harris is a complex moral and intellectual creature with whom I have some agreements and some disagreements. Just like every other human being on this planet, I can have grave misgivings about a public intellectual even as I admire other areas of their work, Harris writes, quote, authors who attempt to build a bridge between science and spirituality tend to make one of two mistakes. Scientists generally start with an impoverished view of spiritual experience, assuming that it must be a grandiose way of describing ordinary states of mind, parental love, artistic inspiration, all at the beauty of the night sky. In this vein, one finds Einstein's amazement at the intelligibility of nature's laws, described as though it were a kind of mystical insight. New Age, thinkers usually enter the ditch on the other side of the road. They idealize altered states of consciousness and draw specious connections between subjective experience and the spookier theories at the frontiers of physics. Here we are told that the Buddha and other contemplatives anticipated modern cosmology or quantum mechanics and that by transcending the sense of self, a person can realize his identity with the one mind that gave birth to the cosmos. In the end, we are left to choose between pseudo spirituality and pseudo science, and quote, I encounter this dichotomy between pseudo spirituality and pseudo science on a regular basis. Many progressives and secularists assume that when I talk about mystical experience, I'm referring to a lovely walk I had in the woods, or an evening drive under the stars. Those experiences are incandescently wonderful, and lend great richness to life, but they are nowhere near what I mean by mystical experience. By mysticism. I mean, the complete annihilation of my experience of self through meditation, I mean, altered states of consciousness. I mean, dream work that leads me to psychedelic and transformative cosmic experiences. I mean, having tactile hallucinations and full body bliss by way of yoga. I mean, language centers in my brain shutting down and speaking in tongues and having narrative visions. I mean, reading Tarot as a meditation aide, and doing a cult ritual for cathartic transformation and release. When I mean mysticism. I mean, mysticism. On the other hand, I encounter a wide range of unverifiable, whoo, and spiritual spaces. Quantum mumbo jumbo is ubiquitous, and I have gone on leave from the yoga world. Because I find the amount of conspiracy theories and dangerous pseudoscience alarming, Harris goes on to defend a marriage of full blown mystical experience and scientific rigor, in a manner that happens to converge nicely with my own personal views as a member of the Satanic Temple, the fifth tenet of which reads, beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs. Sam Harris writes, quote, few scientists and philosophers have developed strong skills of introspection, in fact most doubt that such abilities even exist. Conversely, many great contemplatives know nothing about science. But there is a connection between scientific fact and spiritual wisdom and it is more direct than most people suppose. Although the insights we can have in meditation tell us nothing about the origins of the universe. Are, they do confirm some well established truths about the human mind. Our conventional sense of self is an illusion. Positive emotions, such as compassion and patience are teachable skills. And the way we think directly influences our experience of the world. And quote, I am a proponent of mystical experience, but not because I believe it tells me anything fundamental about the cosmos. I practice these disciplines because they enhance the quality of my life and I sincerely believe make me happier, kinder and more compassionate. They are also unbelievably fun. I don't think there is any contradiction between engaging in practices that press up against the deepest mysteries of consciousness, while also holding a fundamentally skeptical and scientific worldview. enchantment, and skepticism are in my own life, healthy bedfellows, giving up mysticism because I no longer believe in God is like giving up orgasm because I no longer believe sex is between one man and one woman. Like orgasm. Mysticism transcends religion, despite the fact that religions have spilled oceans of ink on both subjects, and have insisted through human history to be the ultimate authority on both sex and spirituality. Sam Harris agrees writing, quote, spirituality must be distinguished from religion, because people of every faith and none have had the same sorts of spiritual experiences. While the states of mind are usually interpreted through the lens of one or another religious doctrine, we know that this is a mistake, nothing that a Christian, a Muslim and a Hindu can experience self transcending love, ecstasy, bliss, inner light, constitutes evidence in support of their traditional beliefs, because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another. A deeper principle must be at work. In quote, my personal religious experience is rich with dichotomies and this is a central one. In the same way religion and atheism are a false binary, non supernaturalism, and mysticism are two. If you are a non theist, and have an irresistible draw to the outer fringes of ritual mysticism or altered states of consciousness. Don't let yourself be shamed into avoiding those life giving experiences by fellow atheists. Conversely, if you are a religious person who fears that giving up God also means giving up the benefits of mystical bliss. Be not afraid, you can still retain the best parts of religion without the false constellations and unverified claims of supernaturalism. But that's just me. What do you think? I love hearing back from my audience, and you can share your thoughts on this episode at Steven Bradford long.com Or my Discord server, which is linked in the show notes. As always, Hail Satan and thanks for listening.