Supplementary Lecture Notes: Chapter 8: Transcendence
© 2013-17 Imants Barušs
Note about these "Supplementary Lecture Notes"
Please note that these "Supplementary Lecture Notes" consist of an Outline and a summary of some of the material covered in class that is not in the textbook. The textbook is actually the "lecture notes" (that got published). So, except for the outlines, which are usually just a list of the sections from each chapter in the book, these supplementary lecture notes cover only supplementary material that is not in the textbook.
Varieties of transcendent experiences
flow, peak experiences, mystical experiences
Instances of spontaneous transcendence
Edgar Mitchell, Allan Smith, John Wren-Lewis
Styles of Meditation
concentrative, witnessing, reflexive
Franklin Wolff’s transcendental philosophy
Explanations of transcendence
Edgar Mitchell's Transcendent Experience
I will show the first 12 minutes of Edgar Mitchell's video "The View from Space" as an example of a spontaneous transcendent experience. You can borrow this DVD from the King's library. The call number is QB500.262.M58.
Deep Release Meditation
USE AT OWN RISK!
In our ordinary waking state we are usually immersed in processing the objective world around us which can lead to the stress response. The purpose of this meditation is to create a movement in the opposite direction toward subjective experience, the induction of the relaxation response, and the release of inner wisdom. Most meditation has two structural components: “support” and “content.” The “support” manages the logistics of the meditation whereas the “content” is what the meditation is about. There are three components of the support: attention, monitoring, and volition. “Attention” refers to the capacity to attend to specific mental contents. “Monitoring” refers to introspective tracking of what is happening during the meditation. “Volition” is the ability to change what is happening, including redirecting attention. “Content” has at least three mental tracks to which we can attend: thoughts, words, and images. “Thoughts” refers to concepts that we can have in our minds. “Words” refers to silent self-talk. And “images” refers to pictures that we can have in our minds that are separate from actual sensory perceptions. A stated commitment at the beginning is used as a device for sustaining the meditation.
Say to yourself: “I commit myself to x minutes of meditation” where x is any length of time in minutes. The duration of a meditation session can be judged subjectively without using a clock.
Stage 1: Thoughts and images: Notice a tight muscle group in the body and direct attention to releasing those muscles. If none of them seem tight, pick whichever muscle group you wish. If it will not release, just imagine it releasing. Repeat this with other muscle groups. Words: Repeat the word “release” over and over again, synchronized with the breath if so desired. When monitoring notices that your thoughts have strayed to other mental contents, just use volition to redirect attention to the desired contents. When you feel that you have done this for long enough, say the word “into” and move to the next stage.
Stage 2: Thoughts: Think about the concept of silence as a positive quality rather than just as an absence of sound. Words: Repeat the word “silence” over and over again, synchronized with the breath if so desired. Images: Imagine a scenario, such as a favourite spot in nature that suggests silence to you. When monitoring notices that your thoughts have strayed to other mental contents, just use volition to redirect attention to the desired contents. If desired, contents other than silence can be chosen, such as joy, love, emptiness, and so on. When you can sustain attention effortlessly on the contents, move to the next stage.
Stage 3 (advanced practice only): Release the support and allow an inner process to direct contents.
Somasthetic and kinesthetic sensations can occur as tension is released. These can themselves be released. Once attention is sustained effortlessly at any of the stages, spontaneous images or knowledge can arise that can be meaningful. Such inner wisdom can be deliberately pursued, if desired, or noted for future reference and released. With practice, nondual states of consciousness can eventuate in which all conceptual distinctions have dissolved.
Mitchell, E. (2006). The view from space: A message of peace. [videorecording] Boca Raton, Florida, USA: Sheilah Mitchell Productions, Inc.