Comments on “My revelatory no-God experience”

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jim- 2019-06-26

God is in the neurons and the hormones. Cool story. Head injury or insult has produced a lot of revelation. Temporal lobe epileptics are quite common to prophecy when they are postictal.

rares mircea 2019-07-14

”[..] I felt the presence of God. It’s difficult to describe this experience to someone who hasn’t had it. It’s as though you become aware of a kind of force in the atmosphere around you. It’s like you feel the presence of a being [..] pervading the environment around you”

I can imagine conscious beings that due to evolutionary reasons and certain special contexts (very different to those of human beings), don’t have a sense of self and never get to know how it is to have one. Enlightened (defined as “having no self”!) minds that are born and remain so throughout their life. My intuition is that if this being would posses natural language, it would use very similar words to yours to describe its first contact with a sense of self! Off course, instead of “something pervading” the 3rd-person part of conscious experience it would be something felt as 1st-person. A ghostly sense of agency forming within 1st-person (please see the link below to the Thomas Metzinger segment)

“I was genuinely puzzled by having felt His Presence because I had already seen the light that he wasn’t real. So right there on the hospital bed, I conducted an experiment. I decided to see whether I could make God come and go by intentionally feeling his presence there, or not. It took a bit of practice, but I was able to do that by entering into and immersing myself in the state of mind that would believe and welcome his presence, then mentally stepping outside of that state of mind. This was the revelation: that I could intentionally, consciously move between radically different, apparently contradictory perceptual experiences”

Again, i can imagine this kind of transition between different “topologies” of conscious experience, this time with regards to the experience of “self”. Individuals that declare themselves enlightened are often repeating that “once you see the Truth there’s no going back” (..back to being a self). But i think that future conscious beings (provided dharma evolves to greater subtlety of understanding) will find this to be a very deluded/indoctrinated way of understanding. It is my personal opinion that the state of enlightenment, defined as “non-self”, isn’t some “natural state”, “fundamental ground of being” or some “metaphysical truth”. So, a really enlightened experience would be one that isn’t clinging to any opinion, isn’t constrained by any feeling/impression, doesn’t hold metaphysical beliefs (..as being anything more than mere beliefs). So, whenever someone says “after you’ve seen the truth you cannot ever get back into the illusion”, i get the feeling that that mind is still very much ignorant to the mystery/ambiguity of existence. In certain contexts existence seems to produce experiences of selfhood, in others it seems to be able to produce experiences of non-self, and in others, i suggest, it could produce an experience that holds a meta-ability to shift between self and non-self. Going to sleep, transitioning from awake to asleep, is equally amazing but we’re so used to it that it doesn’t seem that way at all. Self is equally amazing to non-self but we’re so used to the former, that the latter unnecessarily captivates our imagination. We imbue non-self with an illusory metaphysical meaning. Perhaps somewhere in the universe there is a society of naturally enlightened beings that hold mystical beliefs about the elusive state of “selfhood” and a few very privileged got to this amazing state by engaging in strange practices (a mirror world to Buddhism). I’m not contradicting the Buddha though. He seems to be right: 1) the human sense of self looks like a hallucination when you examine it (conceptually and by practicing introspective insight); 2) it is an essential condition for suffering; 3) it can be seen through and eliminated, if the right circumstances are met.

So, as i read your story i was wondering about a deeper reality:
isn’t this a case where a hallucination (“your-self”) hallucinates the agency over the ability to hallucinate (“the sense of God” or “not God”)?

~ this link should send you directly to the 1:03:00 mark, where Thomas Metzinger describes what he believes to be essential aspects of the self >
https://player.fm/series/series-2430068/dy-012-consciousness-spirituality-and-intellectual-honesty-with-guest-thomas-metzinger?t=3810

Rin’dzin Pamo 2019-07-15
It is my personal opinion that the state of enlightenment, defined as “non-self”, isn’t some “natural state”, “fundamental ground of being” or some “metaphysical truth”. So, a really enlightened experience would be one that isn’t clinging to any opinion, isn’t constrained by any feeling/impression, doesn’t hold metaphysical beliefs (..as being anything more than mere beliefs).

Yes, I think this is insightful and accords with Dzogchen perspective. The “natural state” described in Dzogchen does not equate with the experience of non-self in Theravadan-derived systems. It’s not defined, or limited, by non-conceptuality, or “emptiness”.

Believe and not believe

vanessa mathews 2021-10-23

Thanks for long post (rares mircea?) I’ve been interested in thus phenomenon of being able to simultaneously believe and not believe as it fits my experience of being able to retain a strong, vibrant faith while radically deconstructing it. I haven’t come across reference to it very often (one academic lecture) and now your car accident post Charlie, many thanks. Also perhaps Thomas Metzinger (yet to listen) I think it’s so important for humans to start talking more about these inner experiences. What is your profession Rares Mircea? Do you have a website? Thanks for your great post Charlie.

Suspension of disbelief

Rin’dzin Pamo 2021-10-24

Thanks for the comment, Vanessa. I think about this phenomenon of being able to simultaneously believe and not believe as a stance that’s particularly salient for contemporary practitioners. Given our base of skepticism (a good thing imo) and exposure to cultural & religious relativity, we can move between states of mind as methods, without requiring that they point to an overarching, metaphysical truth.

Reply

Vanessa Mathews 2021-10-25

Thanks for replying Rin’dzin! However for me “God” is as close as we can get as humans conceptually to the ‘principle’ or ‘system’ that is the Universe and whatever is beyond as a whole ie the whole system which we can’t understand and never will be able to conceptualise so for me their is this ‘metaphysical truth’ that I don’t see how we can get away from. Everything within that is a human state of mind. What is your professsion? All the best, Vanessa

Reply

Vanessa Mathews 2021-10-25

Thanks for replying Rin’dzin! However for me “God” is as close as we can get as humans conceptually to the ‘principle’ or ‘system’ that is the Universe and whatever is beyond as a whole ie the whole system which we can’t understand and never will be able to conceptualise so for me their is this ‘metaphysical truth’ that I don’t see how we can get away from. Everything within that is a human state of mind. What is your professsion? All the best, Vanessa

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