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Mystic Spotting: A True Essay
Enemies of the Mind, Unite!
The Cult Classic
Sounds like some New Age Cult, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. It’s as old as the hills. And yet the Neo-Mystics, like the Neo-Nazis, claim its brand new. It even has that new factory smell, they say. To them, it's so cutting edge, they are not yet able to wrap their turbans around it. That's just how great it is. Hand me some Neo-Mysticism now, you might say. With green eggs and Canadian bacon, if you please.
The Neo-Mystic mantra? Just obey, do not think. Thinking is impossible. It's just knowing. Feeling deep within your non-being. That warm and fuzzy fairy tale of understanding. That whimsical wonderland of the oneness with the oneness. Can you hear it hum? Should you take the leap? Does introspection of introspection help one pass the time? Then perhaps, feeling the warmth of God or the spastic disjointed thoughts of the "grand unknowing" – if you are an atheist type of mystic – is your bailiwick.
Come one come all. Your mystic needs you not to think or perhaps to unthink.
Now there are various definitions of associated with term mysticism. It has changed, morphed since the ancient Greeks built their monuments. Greece, for a time, was able to eject such anti-conceptualization as mysticism. But history tells us that until the Renaissance, few places on earth were not steeped in the throes of this ancient idea. For most of human history, reason and rationalism have been, shall we say, set aside in favor of "Feeling and Intuition du jour."
Always, there have been those who indicate that they alone hold the irreducible mental powers capable of transcending reason. That rejecting rational thought, dogmatically and pragmatically, was the path to some heretofore unheard of nirvana. A reasoning beyond the rational mind. Hallelujah!
Reason and the Law of Identity were cast aside as has-been notions, according to the Neo-Mystics. They ignored, of course, that human progress was made, not in the throes of mysticism, not by Popes or Kings, but by scientists, mathematicians and free-trade, to name a few – working and living in the three greatest ages of human history. The ages, predominantly of anti-mysticism or pro-reason.
The Big Three
You can even name these three major periods in human history, when mankind advanced the farthest. Ancient Greece, the Renaissance and the 19th Century.
Imagine that, only three times on this earth did mankind leap forward at incredible speed. All other centuries were dominated by age old-mysticism. Stagnant swamps, where thinking beyond the confines of dogma was punishable by imprisonment or worse. Power or prayer, were the orders of the centuries.
This is not to say that mankind became completely stagnant, during all of the other ages, but much was lost.
Medical science was stifled by religion, across the globe under the edicts of mysticism. Exploration was for conquest, rather than trade, according to the ConQuistadors. Kings and Popes fought for muscle and soul. Privilege of race and royal status surpassed productive ability and rational thought. This was the way of life, under the mystical empires of yore.
It was a pay to play routine.
But mysticism, like some ancient virus, has always waited. It has never been fully rejected or unequivocally eliminated from minds of men. During these brief ages, where reason was the measure of reality, and achievement, the yardstick of progress, mankind has always devolved toward mysticism. Toward the rejection of his own mind. Toward obeying, not his own judgement, but the whims of the unqualified or the un-elected authority.
The supposed keepers of the one true rule of men? Arbitrary knowledge gained by the process anaerobic osmosis. This has been a history repeating, the fable: "Allegory of the Mystic -- Savior of souls -- Redux.”
Mysticism, to put it as simply as possible, is the idea that one can perceive some special reality. A reality beyond nature -- a super-nature -- by means of using one’s own thoughts or intellect. In some cases, the intellect is not actually used. Bits of bones, pig entrails, miracle stones, scriptures, “feeling” the wind -- are all ways in which the learned mystic “interprets” his universe. But remember, it is a private knowledge. You are not allowed to understand or question the sacred stones, if you catch my meaning.
But let us focus on the mystics of the mind, because let's face it, if you read tea leaves or bird intestines or “just know,” you have, at some point, intellectualized that they work. So it is your mind -- your ability to perceive reality -- that is in question.
These days, indeed, in any age, mysticism is prevalent and can be blamed for much ill in the world. It existed before Aristotle, Plato or Joe the Caveman, in some form or another.
In the name of...
In the religious vein, the atrocities committed in the name of the Christian Crusades or the current horrors being visited upon the world, in the name of Islam, by ISIS, is ample evidence of mysticism. The blind belief that either side is right or that both sides are right or that both are wrong. Hence, rationalism loses out and blood wins. The Gods fight it out through flesh, we are told by the mystic. He just feels it is true.
Neo-Nazis believe in mysticism. Assertions with no basis in reality are commonplace. The Aryan Race. That the Jews caused all of the problems in Germany. That Germany needed more 'breathing space.' All of these are formed not from the minds of reasonable men and women, rather they are disgorged from the mouths of mystics. Truncated platitudes offered up as supreme knowledge or that knowledge itself is a fool's errand.
Even Hitler advised that people will believe almost anything, if you repeat it long enough. It does not need to be true or have any basis in reality. The human becomes the Aryan drone, a mindless, but re-programmable, great ape. Millions die. Mystics at their worst.
At Ground Level
On a more basic level, the root of the mystic is more interesting to explore. His or her recipe for ruin is all too evident when one peels back the thin veneer of "unobtainium" over flimsy rotten balsa wood.
So what does it take to become a mystic? What ability must one have to abdicate one's own reality? It turns out there are no qualifications. All one needs to do is repeat a mantra of choice and never question internalized intuition. Just believe. Have blind faith. Convert reason to "I just feel it's true."
Just the fakes, please
To the mystic, factual evidence is not the test of reality or what is true. Both are fluid approximations, based upon some inner unknowable clockwork -- known only to the mystic.
If outwardly rejected by others, the mystic often resorts to snide comments, guilt mongering, or even holier-than-thou antics. By no means are these the only bags of tricks they offer. It is only important to know that they are tricks.
If not a trickster, the mystic can become a master verbal contortionist. Yipping, like a vicious canine at your ankles or twisting language so oddly, that one is considered myopic for not just believing. Understanding is believing and vice versa.
Consider the premise and it is often easy to unwind the conflated propositions offered by your local mystic.
Anger to Order
Chiding those who dare to unveil the fallacies of their beliefs, feigning peace of process and claiming some aversion to conflict, as a way of subverting the truth, is yet another dance of death, practiced by the mystic.
He probably knows that he has fallen through the ice and that his legs are past feeling, but never will he give up the ship. Instead, he will, for as long as he is able, ask you to avert your eyes whilst he regales you with stories that will enrapture your very soul, at the price of your capacity to think.
Mystics don't want to be challenged, but adored, obeyed and loved. Respect is also a requirement, but absent that, the mystic will demand obedience. Some might call them psychopathic, but that wouldn't necessarily be true because mystics can and do function normally. They are all around us. Unless and until you see one in action, the guy at the grocery store or the elderly women financial planner, you wouldn't know their capacity to compartmentalize. Separate their mental fictions from the absolutes of reality and chew gum and the same time.
Ah, the Pragmatic View
A pragmatic person who compatmetalizes his two worlds – fiction and reality – can be dangerous, however. These are like soldiers in war. When ordered by their officers to kill a hundred Jews with gas, knowing it is wrong – immoral – they do so anyway. They feel that they have abdicated responsibility and moral considerations to another, because they were instructed not to think. Sort of like an out of body experience. "It was not my decision," they might say. "I was just following orders," is the all time best excuse, ever. But better yet, “It’s not my fault.” You might answer, “but you turned the gas on.”
You are never excused for not exercising your rational judgement, however. Reality always kicks you in the butt. Hence, like soldiers who are jailed for following irrational orders, provided by the demanding commanders steeped in the mantra of the mystic, so to are the soldiers of mind called on the carpet of reason, when they decide to judge reality by the dream of super-nature.
As a way to overcome the weakness of their baseless positions, mystics also play games. Go figure.
They might act as the victim of ridicule to obfuscate the issues at hand. They might shut you out. Think of a child with his fingers jammed in his ears. They might try to drown you out with repetition. The mantra and not the reasoning. They are usually easy to spot. "Just believe me," they might say, even if they cannot validate it. "It just is" or one of my favorites, "I am that I am." Really? Is that the best you got?
Reality and the mind -- reasoning -- are to the mystic, as light in a dark room. A light to be avoided at all costs, lest they actually have to use their own brains.
Are You Awake?
The mystical anti-reality, instead, is based upon one’s consciousness, in its natural state. A possible, but not assured, waking state. In that state of “thinking” one perceives or imagines whatever one desires and the desire becomes the need – the real. Becomes the a priori so to speak.
In other words, as a mystic, one can theorize and imagine the universe, all or in part or even deny its existence altogether. A mystic, in the true sense of that idea, the epistemological sense, can do this without experience or observation. He or she simply uses the unidentifiable intellect. One just knows, sayeth the mystic.
The Tree Fell?
If a tree falls in the forest and your are not present, it does not make a sound, according to a mystic. Then again, it might. To the mystic, his consciousness manufactures an anti-reality on the fly. In this way, nothing is fixed and anything goes. Flexibility is a given. There are no hard and fast rules.
At a moment's notice, the mystic, like the chameleon, can change colors and blame you for not following his latest scheme. Some simply cannot see the Emperor's new robes, sayeth the mystic.
Are you reminded if the Wizard of Oz? That fiery face which Dorothy so skillfully unmasked?
The Amoeba was a Mystic?
Mysticism is a pre-Newtonian concept. It came about, I will surmise, some short while after the first amoeba swam earth’s oceans. Think about it. A simple existence. It could feel it’s way around and “just know” it was time to eat.
But seriously, mysticism is sort of heliocentric belief system, but instead of the universe being “sun-centered,” it is vaguely “consciousness” centered. I say vaguely, because many a mystic will argue that you can’t actually identify that which resides outside of nature, but only tap into the feeling-intuitive mind.
The debate has always centered around “realism v. anti-realism,” however -- or to put it differently, what we can know and how we can know it (epistemology).
René Descartes and Isaac Newton, for example, used different methods of reasoning. Different epistemological sets. Whereas Newton would observe and experiment, Descartes would utilize inductive thought to rationalize what can be true. Descartes used his intellect as the test of what is true, not his physical senses. Newton used the real world, his senses, and his reason. Do you see the difference? Which is more accurate?
This is not to say that pure intellect is not usable. Indeed, imagination and reasoning can intersect at reality. The problem then develops in the application, the intellect’s ability to ignore reality -- to suspend belief -- forever. To divorce reality and claim that they have discovered truth.
At some point, one needs to place boots on the ground. He or she must validate the process of intuition by testing conclusions, in the real world -- to prove that these imaginary constructs actually exist. If they apply to the physical world. Else, one is a mystic or if you prefer, a Neo-Mystic.
As a non-mystic, you have to ask yourself, is your mind usable or not? Can you reason with this pink gummy cortex or not? Can you move your arm? Can you walk? Can you then understand that the various parts of your body have different functions, all based in the here and now? The heart pumps. The kidneys flush. The eyeballs see.
By extrapolation, does not your brain have a function? That function being thinking. That thinking being governed by what is real, based upon evidence and observation, perceived through the tools connected to your brains, such as your eyes and ears?
A mystic labels the mind as being impotent. Take him or her at his word. If a mystic tells you something works, maybe it works, perhaps it does not work -- know that he or she has invalidated his or her own conclusions. They have not traveled beyond intellect. There is no such place.
The irreducible truth is, the mystic is wrong. He or she has failed the rationality test. Ask about the power of his rabbit's foot and you should get an earful. Oh come on, be open minded.
If a mystic advises that one's mind is evil, a malfunctioning organ at best and that one must be guided not by ability to reason, but by feelings, gut instinct, intuition, or even blind faith, then know one has crossed paths with an ancient idea. One has met again, the shaman.
History is replete with mystics. From the navel contemplating caveman to today's college professors. They have never left. It's a scourge, I tell you.
Can you feel me?
Witness the ancient ages where mysticism held sway. Ancient Egypt. Men and women were thought to be Gods. Ancient Rome. Might was right. Dominance and war, the measure of power. The Dark Ages or even the primitives who worshiped rivers, rocks and spirits of the animals.
All of these are systems based upon the idea the man's mind was and is unreasoning, untrustworthy and unless “you can just let go,” you will never understand. To the mystic, all one needs to do is not think. Everything was and is a mystery, always will be, so just feel your way through life.
It does not matter, however, if the mystic simply alters his persona – calls his or her belief system "skepticism" for example. Skepticism is the alter ego of mysticism. To state that the ability to know or to reason is not possible, is an attempt to do what? To be skeptical? No. It is to attempt to figuratively remove one’s own mind. To avoid responsibility. To abdicate rational judgement in favor of spiritual practice.
What is skeptic, as it applies to modes of thought, really attempting to do? Escape from reality itself. To advocate that nothing is really absolute. Not reality and certainly not that brick hurting toward one's skull.
Most of everything to the mystic is gray, not black and white. Never mind that gray consists of the absolutes of black and white.
So the difference is that a skeptic wants to avoid the responsibility of thinking, whereas the mystic advises that his or her consciousness is endowed with the seemingly supernatural ability to derive what is real, as mere assertion. Same difference. You arrive at the same train station. The sign says: "Welcome to Hell."
Dammit Man, it’s true I tell you!
And yet the battle rages. What happens when some men "assert" that they possess the supernatural ability to "know" the truth? That you cannot know what they feel? You will be unable to persuade them otherwise. Like the criminally insane mental health patient, any type of communication is often useless. Drugs just numb them a bit and keeps them docile. The problem remains.
At best, one can attempt to understand the mystic and refute, as publicly as possible, his or her anti-reality. At least then, you have hope. Maybe some young minds out there, those who have been told to just "shut up and do what you are told," are awakened to a new prospect. The ability and responsibility to think for one's self. Something the ancient Greeks began in earnest, thousands of years ago. Before that, mysticism was often the order of the eon. The Age of Reason never weathered the storms of popular mysticism for long, however.
Historically, how do mystics ultimately apply their formulae? How, when not all men will become subjugated? There is only one way the arbitrary assertion of mysticism can win over the masses. Force. Think about that for a moment. Whim wins. Channel some Nietzsche -- the power of will wins -- not reason. Why do you think Hitler was a Neitzsche fan?
If the king or his government mandates public school prayer, then by God it shall be done. Would an atheist refuse to pray? At what cost? Can the medical doctor challenge the use of some ancient Chinese technique for healing, that has never worked, aside from placebo test verification, if a government health care organ demands that it be used? At what cost? The doctor's license to practice?
Pervasive Ear Mites
If mysticism is so bad, why does it still exist in the modern world? Why are their prisons? The reasons are the same, but at least the thief can be caught red-handed. Even this, however, will not guarantee a confession of guilt. In fact, guilt is part of the mystic's tool kit. He just reverses it. Turns the tables.
How do mystics flip it around?
The criminal mystic blames his parents. He is not responsible for his own actions. It was only an impulsive theft. "Nobody really owns the car I stole," he says. "The insurance company will pay for the diamonds," he offers. "I need the new radio and they don't." A favorite: “the devil told me to do it.” The result? He is forgiven his inability to think rationally, but jailed to ensure that he cannot practice his applied mysticism on others.
The college professor blames the white race for being white supremacist. He creates artificial labels, such as "value gaps" to explain that a vast gulf exists between the all pervasive white social structure, which he invents out of hand, and all blacks, omitting whatever does not fit his narrative or otherwise detracts from the oratory. The the professor liberally spices the message with religious overtones and “asserts” it is true, since blacks are worse off economically and whites can be mean. Evidence? Scant. Required suspension of belief? About 99%. Basis in reality? Highly questionable. Leap of blind faith needed? And how.
(Is this the state of education in America today? Certainly it is. The tides are turning back, my friends. Mysticism has always been there, but today it is rampant and pervasive.)
The cheating husband blames the unemotional wife. "That's why I need to go to bars and pick up chicks," he says. "You are a cold wench," he repeats. The husband "feels" his oats and he must be satisfied. "I just have to do this," he says. "And I don't know why." The wife cries, goes to counseling and sticks it out. Her burden is the guilt for not satisfying her husband’s unstated, unknown, insatiable needs. Her shame is for remaining with a man who treats her as an object, in the face of others, because God hates divorcees. Or is the husband just a jerk and a liar? Are mystics this way as well?
In these examples, nothing is based upon reality. Assertions are reality. The mystic is working the crowd, not unlike a good comic. With exceptions of course. It is not laughter the mystic is after, but abject shame. Irreconcilable guilt comes as an aperitif. You feel guilt he wins. You feel shame, he wins. You feel fear, and do nothing, he wins. You question his mental acuity, he cries foul. Depraved you are, for your refusal to accept your own ignorance.
In a sense, the mystic is a good con artist. Logical fallacies and invalid premises take a back seat when it comes to the full-blown mystic. He does not need logic, he needs "feeling." It reminds me of Captain Picard in Star Trek..."make it so!" Both are mere fictions of course.
Imagine this. You go to your religious building of choice. There, before you is that holy man in his beautiful and very ornate flowing red robes or perhaps a stylish gray pinstriped Italian suit.
You are told, by this man of the cloth, that your life is miserable, full of pain and devoid of promise. That you are of lowly stock, not fit, unworthy, sinful, here to serve others, and too rich. As if the list was not long enough.
The nice holy man continues. Women are second class slaves to men and vile, wanton, serpent courting flesh pots, to boot. As a prize, for your hell on earth, the holy man forbids you almost all of life's pleasures. You must toil, give away your money, grovel upon your knees or stomach, when at prayer, in His presence and never take pleasure in your accomplishments, as this is considered a sin. Be not proud, be humble in your station here. Heaven awaits. Paradise is just around the corner. Depending upon one’s brand of mysticism, spiritual virgins await, or just the late wife.
Now what can you do? If you work hard and treat women justly – as equals – you suffer the guilt and shame of your alleged weakness. If you dare to be proud that you have accomplished anything beyond prayer and sabbath, you are guilty. But do not worry. Salvation is next. Your soul will be saved. You will, hold the phone...die! Great, you say, sign me up! Put me down for Cloud 10!
Like the Mafia, the religion of choice will protect you. Pay up. Give. Repent and you will be forgiven. It is called the blackmail racket. Being tithed unto death as the men of cloth spend your hard earned money to guilt others. To flood their coffers with gold as the flock grows, that the message of love and pain can reach still farther. Your reward is in heaven, remember. How do they know? They just "believe."
So if one rejects reality, as a mystic, does not one also reject existence? Yes.
Then what happens? Hatred. Destruction. Hatred of all things one values. Self-Esteem. Productive work. Peace. The gamit. You will be a pariah in a community of fervent "Holy Rollers" if you dare take the Lord's name in vain, for example. A blasphemer. Why? Because you did something the local Mafioso Preacher does not like; you denied him the power over your mind.
The destruction comes next. Witness ISIS. Witness North Korea where the irrational dictates of one man enslaves and starves millions and threatens billions more with real annihilation. Witness Venezuela, where bakeries are now run by the government, because they know what is best, without rational judgment, and with force. Might is right, sayeth the mystic. To hell with reason, just take it.
This is what any mystic must resort to on the national scale. On the local scale, say your "Holy Roller" neighborhood preacher or your "KKK" block party Knight, if you do not at least shut up, you will be noticed by that "evil eye." Yet another mystical concept born of hatred of the good for being good. The jealous rage against those who dare upset the tribal covenants created by the ancient mystics, interpreted by today's mystics, in books or seances, and adhered to by the guilt ridden flocks of followers, for fear of retaliation, to this day.
I know not what I know
So the mystic knows what is not known, but if pressed to reveal his secret knowledge, available only to him, he will never provide clear answers. It is, "I just know" or "It's obvious," or "I can't help but know." It is a way to place knowledge in the realm of the anti-real, while denying responsibility, if something bad happens.
But here is the "root" of it. Actually, the seed from which a mystic grows. The dirty soil of it.
The mystic declares that the consciousness has no identity. It is not real. That somehow, the mind and thinking, which takes place within that organ atop our heads, is akin to non-specific bacteria. There are no laws which govern our thought processes, according to a mystic. The brain is simply a "tabula rasa" void at any given moment. It works as if by magic.
If a mystic attempts to actually define consciousness, to identify the brain's processes, as not some miracle working "thing," he disqualifies his own consciousness. Contradiction is key. Believe, but do not think, and it is real for me and maybe you too, sayeth the mystic. But tomorrow is another dream.
Oddly, the only absolutes the mystic appears to support are the inner ramblings of his own purported special consciousness. A dreamy state of knowing nothing, but asserting anything. A emotional abyss, full of odd sensations, juxtaposed half-notions, ill-formed conclusions, non-observable phenomena -- and rambling diatribes.
Saying all of this is by no means a declaration of war upon the mystical mind. In a free society, one in which I support, any type of thought process should be allowed. In that same spirit, so to should any type of exposure of that thoughtless process be undertaken. If one side can better distinguish reality, that side has the option to point out the fatal flaws of the mystic and drop, without fanfare, the epistemological nuke.