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"Cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research" and "the most important function of art and science [is] to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are capable of it." Albert Einstein [1]

As I have gained knowledge and seen others share their visions with me, I conclude that our ancestors lived in a strange condition in which they were in touch with the spirits constantly, and I see that as a goal for our present activities. Vine Deloria


Introduction

Sometime in the year 2003, during the Easter holidays, I had a series of powerful "mystical" experiences, what I now call Connection Experiences, that completely rocked my material, athiest, world. The experiences were totally unexpected, and, I have to say, initially unwelcome. Like many scholars who have these experiences,[2] I neither expected nor anticipated the events. Although raised a Catholic, I had observed the hypocrisy and violence at an early age and rejected it. Even though I fiddled around with alternative systems throughout adolescence (Eckankar, Buddhism, Zen, etc.), I eventually entered university where I gradually accepted the dogmatic truth of atheism--God was a stupid idea, and human spirituality was, at best, a remnant of a more primitive time, and at worst, a delusion, oedipal regression.[3][4] I neither wanted, needed, expected, or accepted anything religious to happen. But then, "it" happened. I had a powerful Connection Experience, and then I had more.

At that time the initial experiences occurred, I had three choices. One, I could pretend they didn't exist and that I didn't have them. Two, I could attribute the experiences to temporary psychosis or fantastical outburst of some deep area of my unconsciousness. Three, I could embrace them and try and figure out was going on. Since there was a certain amount of dis-ease in the first connection event (frankly, it was a terrifying Clearing Experience), pretending it hadn't happened and continuing on with my career was an attractive option. On the other hand, the experiences were literally mind-blowing, providing deep insight[5] and opening up entirely new realms of thought, conception, and experience to me. Clearly, there was more to it than self-delusion or some kind of psychosis.

Ultimately, as you will gather as you browse through this online lexicon/textbook of human spirituality and connection, I didn't attribute the experiences to psychosis, nor did I try to pretend them away. I just couldn't. The experiences, which were easily repeatable, were obviously real, and had real and verifiable outcomes for me and, as I learned later when I began the literature review, others as well. The initial experience, which was a Nadir Experience characterized by the exposure and resolution of deep Catholic rooted fears, blew my socks off and totally changed me and my life. Later on, I began to see the initial experience as a successful Clearing Experience, which is an experience where a deep-seated fear that prevented connection, in this case, a Catholic fear, was suddenly and permanently cleared. I'll go into the details of this experience at some other point. Here I will just say that once the fear was cleared, my mind began to develop and expand beyond the Normal Consciousness I had lived within until that point. I started a journey that challenged my scientific materialism and led me on a two-decades-long path of discovery, analysis, and synthesis. I was, I later concluded, like Michael Harner, Oscar Ichazo, Agehananda Bharatati, Ram Dass, and other scholars who had "crossed over" into the mystical realms and had come back excited, interested, and wanting to talk.

Of course, although I may have wanted to talk about my experiences, it was a challenge doing so. I broached the subject with colleagues here and then but was never really able to break the ice, so to speak. The problem was three-fold.

For one, the language that was available to discuss the experiences was imprecise, tainted by all sorts of bias and misconception, and characterized by considerable Nomenclature Confusion.

For two, most discussions, even those which presumably provide a sophisticated take of the topic, seemed confused and undeveloped.[6] Scholars (and even practitioners) could not distinguish between Connection Outcomes and Connection Experiences, and didn't have a sensible understanding of Consciousness. There was a lot of talk and a lot of EPMO, but nothing was really capturing the essence and contours of my experience or practice. It was a conceptual and theoretical mishmash that wasn't really providing a sensible rubric for study.

Finally, for three, there was (and is) considerable hostility to discussing this aspect of Human Spirituality, especially in sociology. Most scholars simply dismiss spiritual experiences as some form of nonsense. Almost all sociologists focus strictly on the ecclesiastic and institutional components of organized religion. Efforts to broach the topic are often met with derision.

As a consequence of confusion and generalized hostility, broached discussions were often simply dismissed out of hand. I couldn't talk "mysticism" and "mystical experience" without being called a space cadet, or being told it wasn't "serious" scholarship. I couldn't express meaningfully the experience or my growing understanding because the words and frameworks available all seemed limited and incomplete in some way.

This inability to discuss the topic in a grounded and sufficiently sophisticated manner was a problem. I knew that what I had experienced was important, not only philosophically, spiritually, and psychologically, but sociologically as well. Later, I learned that I was hardly the only one. These Connection Experiences were ubiquitous[7], and were profound for the people who had them. They lead to a variety of usually positive Connection Outcomes.

My solution to the problem was to try and develop a framework, nomenclature, and research map that would allow me to talk about these ubiquitous human experiences in a psychologically, sociologically, and spiritually meaningful, but neutral fashion. I wanted words that would neither trigger immediate scepticism, or lead one-off into ungrounded realms of mystical musing, like can sometimes happen to those who spend a lot of time engaged in Connection Practice. I also wanted to bring some sociology (sadly lacking) and some unity to the field. Humans have been having these experiences for centuries and as a consequence, every culture has at least one, sometimes more, sets of terms to describe Connection and what one experiences and learns through them. It became clear as I read that these people were all talking about the same things, but none of these people were talking to each other. I wanted to change all that.

This online resource, this SpiriWiki, is an attempt to bring a grounded coherence to the study of Connection Experience. This online textbook/notebook/spiritual lexicon[8] is my attempt to sort things out in a manner acceptable to myself, and to provide a "more sophisticated religious language coordinated with the scientific data," as suggested as necessary by Timothy Leary.[9]

As an attempt to bring grounded coherence to the study of Connection Experience, this SpiritWiki is not here to "conceal meanings," as is sometimes the case,[10] but to clarify and reduce Nomenclature Confusion, encourage research and discussion, teach, and, dare I say, liberate from the shackles that bind us and disconnect us.[11]

I should note that the SpiritWiki is still very much a work in progress. New concepts and ideas are flowing in, semantic connections are being made between concepts, definitions and discussions are being refined, and new research, resources, and backing citations are being added all the time. The reader should bear this in mind. There are many rough sections, many sections that consist of little more than notes and ideas, and many areas that need supporting research and discussion. The resource is progressing, however, and it is, with moderate haste, I feel, becoming a useful distillation of Human Spirituality and a modest contribution (I hope) to connecting the dots and moving the discussion forward.

To use this resource, simply choose one of the topics below. Read and follow the links provided to explore terminology, concepts, and practices. Pay attention to the "Syncretic Terms" and "Related Terms" sections of each entry. Syncretic terms link concepts I've coined (like Fabric of Consciousness or Connection Event to syncretic terms in the world's spiritual corpus. Related terms link you up to related concepts that will expand, deepen, and help develop your understanding of the area of Human Spirituality. Both sections link SpiritWiki concepts up in a semantic web or memex of the type envisioned by Vannevar Bush[12], a technological system designed to open access and bring order to an area of inquiry thousands and thousands of years old.

You can send suggestions for improvement, comments, and cudos to [email protected] If you are a student of human spirituality and want to contribute by adding citations, theorists, perspectives, etc., just reach out.

Overview

The SpiritWiki is organized into several main sections of research/study. These are Human Development, Healing, Connection, and The System. These sections are an attempt to present, in a coherent and integrated way, my thoughts on various topics related to the main topic of this SpiritWiki, which is Connection.

Human Development

  • The goal of Human Development and human evolution is to create and develop a Physical Unit capable of strong and persistent Connection.
  • In order to develop a healthy Physical Unit, all Seven Essential Needs must be met throughout the lifespan.[13]
  • Meeting essential needs creates a strong and independent Bodily Ego capable of resisting oppression and capable of handling the powerful Spiritual Ego.
  • When essential needs are met, the individual bodily ego enters Growth Mode.
  • When needs go unmet, the Bodily Ego enters Deficit Mode or Defense Mode.
  • While in Deficit Mode, the body directs energy towards meeting unmet needs.
  • While in Defense Mode, the bodily ego directs energy towards defending the body from assault. Note, these modes are not mutually exclusive. One can grow at the same time one seeks to meet needs, or defends from assault.
  • A Physical Unit operating in Deficit Mode or Defense Mode is easy to manipulate and control. Being as that the primary motivation of an individual in deficit mode is to meet unmet needs, any individual or organization that promises the satisfaction of an essential need may gain control over an individual. For example, religious institutions promise satisfaction of our need for Connection. Marketers attach the satisfaction of needs to product purchase (i.e., you'll fit in if you buy the right products). Note that individuals and institutions do not necessarily have to meet an essential need to get control over individuals. Often the promise is sufficient. This is especially true when the promise is coupled with various forms of diversion and justification,
  • When all needs are met, the individual is harder to control and the Bodily Ego enters Growth Mode and directs energy towards growth of the Physical Unit (i.e. growth of mind and body).
  • Healthy human development is precluded by the predatorial Capitalist Regime of Accumulation currently dominant on the world stage. Capitalism encourages and supports a Toxic Socialization process that subverts healthy environment and full needs satisfaction of needs. This is done intentionally in order to subvert Connection and place the individual into Deficit and Defense mode where they are much easier to manipulate and control.

Healing

  • Connection requires a healthy Bodily Ego. Humans are born with a healthy (but undeveloped) bodily ego, but, as a consequence of Toxic Socialization, the bodily ego becomes damaged, defensive, and diminished.
  • A damaged, defensive, and diminished bodily ego cannot handle The Flow of Consciousness that occurs during connection. Consequently, a damaged bodily ego will disconnect from its own Spiritual Ego in order to preserve its ability to function and navigate reality.
  • A damaged Bodily Ego, an unhealthy ego, is an ego with a damaged sense of self, damaged perspective, corrupted will, and distorted imagination (see the LP definition of Ego). A damage bodily ego is susceptible to various Connection Pathologies, including complete Egoic Collapse
  • Since the bodily ego may be damaged by Toxic Socialization (see below), in order to achieve strong and persistent connection, healing is often required. The LP offers an LP HEALING Framework that provides a framework for guiding the healing process.
  • Note that Connection Experiences often facilitate the healing process. [14] [15] [16] Therapeutically, one should be encouraging connection at the same time one is working on healing.

Connection

Let's face it, these hidden laws [of mysticism] are hidden, but they are only hidden by [your] own ignorance. And the word mystical is just arrived at through people's ignorance. There's nothing mystical about it, only that you're ignorant of what that entails" ― George Harrison

Connection is the main topic of this SpiritWiki. Connection refers to the phenomenon of Connection between the Spiritual Ego and Bodily Ego, sometimes called mystical experience, peak experience, transcendence, depending on the strength of the connection. Connection may be continuous or discrete. A discrete connection is a short term Connection Experience that can be measured along five Connection Axes.

A Connection Experience may be a positive Zenith Experience or a negative Nadir Experience. A Connection Experience may lead to many positive and some negative Connection Outcomes. Sometimes, when the Bodily Ego is heavily damaged, Connection Experience can lead to Connection Pathology and even Connection Catastrophe.

Connection is a common and ubiquitous human experience[17] that happens to everybody at least once in their lives, but that some people actually pursue, through various forms of Connection Practice, using various types of Connection Techniques and [Connection Appliances]], and often using powerful Connection Supplements.

Scientists and scholars are aware of the existence and significance of Connection Experience. They take one of three basic Theoretical Approaches to Connection to Connection Experience, reductionist, adaptive, or transformative. The LP, this SpiritWiki, takes an adaptive/transformative approach.

Connection is an ongoing human concern. Through the centuries many Connection Manuals have been written, from various cultural, scientific, and religious perspectives. Connection manuals are designed to help guide and facilitate the expanded Flow of Consciousness that occurs during connection, and to help individuals overcome Connection Obstacles. Connection manuals are often a part of various Connection Frameworks.

Connection is a challenge. High levels of Consciousness in the body tax the mind and body in the best of situations. When there is damage to the bodily ego, connection can be even more difficult. When the bodily ego is damaged, connection may lead to Connection Pathology or even Connection Psychosis.

Achieving persistent and consistent connection is the goal of human development.

Under ideal circumstances, achieving consistent connection requires extensive Connection Practice

Under the less-then-ideal conditions of planet Earth, achieving persistent and consistent connection requires healing from the trauma of Toxic Socialization.

Disconnection

Section on the etiology and pathology of Disconnection.

The System

Toxic Socialization

  • Toxic Socialization is a socialization process that undermines human potential and disables the body's ability to connect.
  • Toxic socialization is consciously designed to undermine human potential and amputate/subvert human's natural ability to heal and connect.
  • Toxic socialization is implemented in order to ensure a steady supply of labour suitable for the factories, cubicles, and board rooms of The System.
  • Toxic socialization is implemented by System Agents.
  • Toxic Socialization is characterized by violence, neglect, chaos, and indoctrination, all of which damage and diminish the Physical Unit and make it difficult to heal and connect.

Indoctrination

Coming soon, a more focussed examination of Ideological Institutions and how they operated. Includes an analysis of Archetypes and Creation Templates, their origin in ancient Zoroastrian elite theology[20] examination of the Masonic Tarot as a creation template,[21] provision of the TOSAS as an alternative/

Consciousness

The origins, nature and structure of consciousness.

Additional Exploration

Authentic Spirituality - Guidelines for assessing the authentic and inauthentic elements in religious/spiritual traditions.

Consciousness Quotient - Theoretical measure of the amount of Consciousness in the body.

Evolution

Footnotes

  1. Einstein, Albert. The World as I See It. Kindle. Samaira Book Publishers, 2018. https://amzn.to/2NR8B6z.
  2. Zaehner. Mysticism Sacred and Profane. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969. https://amzn.to/2LcdkCl.
  3. Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton, 1961. https://amzn.to/2STCpQT.
  4. ———. The Future of an Illusion. New York: Anchor Books, 1964. https://amzn.to/2EZqqgZ.
  5. William James notes "The simplest rudiment of mystical experience would seem to be that deepened sense of the significance of a maxim or formula which occasionally sweeps over one. "I've heard that said all my life," we exclaim, "but I never realized its full meaning until now. James, William. Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature (p. 332). Kindle Edition. https://amzn.to/2SQZ7Jv
  6. White, John, ed. What Is Enlightenment? St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 1995. https://amzn.to/30bVany.
  7. Everybody Has a Connection Experience: Prevalence, Confusions, Interference, and Redefinition.” Spirituality Studies 4, no. 2 (2018). https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume4-issue2-fall2018/files/assets/common/downloads/files/4-2-sosteric.pdf.
  8. Ernst, Carl W. “Mystical Language and the Teaching Context in the Early Sufi Lexicons.” In It’s Not Just Academic! Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies, 181–200. California: Sage, 2018. https://www.academia.edu/4416944/Mystical_Language_and_the_Teaching_Context_in_the_Early_Sufi_Lexicons.
  9. Leary, T. “The Religious Experience: Its Production and Interpretation.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 3, no. 1 (1970): 76–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.1970.10471364. p. 341.
  10. Ibid. p. 184.
  11. As Ernst says, "...the fundamentally transcendental orientation of the symbols and terms of mystical teaching is liberating.... The model suggested by the Sufi lexicons condenses mystical experiences in terms designed to reveal the experiential possibilities to those prepare for them." Ernst, Carl W. “Mystical Language and the Teaching Context in the Early Sufi Lexicons.” In It’s Not Just Academic! Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies, 181–200. p. 196. California: Sage, 2018. https://www.academia.edu/4416944/Mystical_Language_and_the_Teaching_Context_in_the_Early_Sufi_Lexicons.
  12. See Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic Monthly 1945, no. July (1945).

    A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

  13. See my paper on Eupsychian Theory', Mike Sosteric and Gina Ratkovic, “Eupsychian Theory: Reclaiming Maslow and Rejecting The Pyramid The Seven Essential Needs,” PsyArXiv Preprints, 2020, https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/fswk9.
  14. Bidney, Martin. “Epiphany in Autobiography: The Quantum Changes of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 60, no. 5 (May 2004): 471–80.
  15. Miller, William R, and Janet C’de Baca. Quantum Change: When Epiphanies and Sudden Insights Transform Ordinary Lives. New York: The Guildford Press, 2001. https://amzn.to/2D1gYZo.
  16. Bien, Thomas H. “Quantum Change and Psychotherapy.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, no. 5 (2004): 493.
  17. Sosteric, Mike. “Everybody Has a Connection Experience: Prevalence, Confusions, Interference, and Redefinition.” Spirituality Studies 4, no. 2 (2018). https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume4-issue2-fall2018/files/assets/common/downloads/files/4-2-sosteric.pdf.
  18. Ruyle, Eugene E. “Mode of Production and Mode of Exploitation: The Mechanical and the Dialectical.” Dialectical Anthropology 1, no. 1 (1975): 7–23. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00244565.
  19. Ruyle, Eugene E. “Mode of Production and Mode of Exploitation: The Mechanical and the Dialectical.” Dialectical Anthropology 1, no. 1 (1975): 7–23. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00244565.
  20. Mike Sosteric, “From Zoroaster to Star Wars, Jesus to Marx: The Art, Science, and Technology of Human Manipulation,” Unpublished, https://www.academia.edu/34504691.
  21. Mike Sosteric, “A Sociology of Tarot,” Canadian Journal of Sociology 39, no. 3 (2014), https://www.academia.edu/25055505/.