Mysticism and Atheism
Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis in Human Evolution
The Natural Order (Thesis)
The Destruction of the Natural Order (Antithesis)
The New Natural Order (Synthesis)
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Mystical Thinking vs. Functional Thinking
Mysticism vs. Spirituality
Mysticism, Insanity, Cruelty, Brutality, Perversion, and Fascism
Most people think Western science was characterized by a definitely rational approach to reality. Contrary to the natural order, they consider modern politics as rational and ethical policy making as a rational approach to leading people, countries and international organizations.
Atheism can be a fruitful transition from religious indoctrination to true liberal spirituality, but when it’s a lifetime business, it takes the form of knowledge denial, and then it’s pure reductionism and ignorance in the form of ‘I see my body is flesh and bones only and that it decays after death, so how can there be anything beyond the reality of our senses? If there was anything, I could feel and touch it.’
Atheism is an absolutism of the five senses, a reduction of the wholeness, vastness and completeness of life to a residue concept that is but a tiny splitter of reality. And as such, it’s first of all a reduction of perception, and in most cases a categorical exclusion of its most original vintage: direct perception. The process of perception is confounded with information processing, whereas of course both processes, that the brain does simultaneously, are functionally different and serve different purposes.
To put it in simple terms, it’s the expression of the human No in the face of the greater life, which is basically transpersonal and which includes other, and perhaps parallel, realities (for which we do not have built-in sensory perception abilities), and for the perception of which we would need to build and train our extrasensory, multisensory or metasensory perception potential.
What I am saying is that from a position of denial and fragmented perception, and from a paradigm of ‘reality reduction to the known,’ as Krishnamurti put it, and the limited realm of sensory experience, it’s but a step to end up in mysticism as a cover concept for intellectual anarchy and the supremacy and sanctification of spiritual ignorance.
Mystical Thinking vs. Functional Thinking
As Wilhelm Reich put it, mysticism truly is part of mental insanity, and its confusion with spirituality is a rather typical result of mechanistic thinking. Thus, the mechanist and hyper-rational functionary is only a step away from becoming a fanatic mystic. Wilhelm Reich writes in The Schizophrenic Split (1945/1949/1972), a report of a schizophrenia case:
The schizophrenic world in its purest form is a mixture of mysticism and emotional inferno, of penetrating though distorted vision, of God and devil, of perverse sex and murderous morals, of sanity to the highest degree of genius and insanity to its deepest depth, welded into a single horrible experience. (Id., 1)
Wilhelm Reich was one of the rare functional thinkers of his era and who by the mass mind was invariably qualified as a mystic. This is so until this day. Even many of the self-labeled orgonomists and especially the many hagiographers of Reich put the late Austrian doctor, psychiatrist and bioenergy researcher up as a mystic genius who was largely misunderstood because of the latitude, depth and complexity of his mind.
This is simply not true. Reich was in no way a mystic, but a clear, rational, functional and yes, broad-minded thinker, a scientific mind par excellence. And because of the fundamental, and all-so-typical, misunderstanding of this unique and highly gifted scientist, Reich had to become explicit in explaining what mysticism really is — and what it is not.
That is why I am going to use a number of quotes from his writings here to explain what mysticism really is, and that it has nothing to do with true spirituality. Reich writes in Ether, God and Devil:
Functional thinking as a research principle of energetic functionalism is best seen at its work in understanding the unity of soul and body, of emotion and arousal, of sensation and stimulus. This unity or identity as a base attitude in observing the living clearly excludes otherworldliness, and even the idea of the autonomy of soul. Emotion and sensation are bound to physiological and orgonotic arousal. This excludes any form of mysticism, for mysticism is characterized by an otherworldly autonomy of emotion and sensation. This is why any regard upon nature that affirms the autonomy of soul life, whatever it is labeled, is mysticism.
—Wilhelm Reich, Äther, Gott und Teufel (1983), pp. 95–96. Translation mine. This book was originally published in its English version: Ether, God and Devil, ©1949, 1972 by Mary Boyd Higgins as Trustee of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Fund and published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. The first edition of Ether, God and Devil was published in the English language as Volume 2 of The Annuals of the Orgone Institute in 1949.
Reich explained in this quote that spirituality, if it is true and not just mysticism, must be based not upon belief, but upon real spiritual knowledge. At the time of Reich, it is true, knowledge about what soul reality means was scarce and it was entangled with indoctrinating and irrational religious thinking and maneuvering.
What is soul? Has soul ever been scientifically defined?
It has, in the meantime. Soul may be an awkward expression, but we have today clear accounts of, and scientific evidence for, the afterlife, of the realm of spirits and other disincarnate entities, of psychic powers, of precognition and remote viewing, of the independence of life from the physical shell, and of parallel universes. It was mainly quantum physics that through its paradoxes lifted the veil of what formerly was held for mysticism and integrated this missing knowledge into a broader-defined science that is to be called holistic or meta-rational.
It may not be obvious for many people today why Reich had to explain so extensively why he was a functional thinker and not a mystic and sex-obsessed freak. It has to be seen that orgonomy is a science and, at its basis, the existence of the human energy field simply was denied in the West, and is even today is denied in other than avant-garde science circles. Reich experienced frequent attacks from groups close to churches, and they argued Reich’s research on orgasmic streaming was but ‘scientific’ pornography. The following two quotes may serve to clarify this issue:
Research in the nature of sensation led to the theoretical, practical and experimental discovery of physical orgone energy that possesses specific biological functions. This discovery could never have been made by a mystical worldview that affirms soul motion. This is a matter of principle, because the mystic does not see the connectedness of soul and body, and this is also a practical matter because mystical thinkers do not acknowledge their organ sensations, or they experience these sensations in a distorted way, and not in an immediate connectedness like the animistic child. The mystic can describe energy sensations in the body, the streaming and excitation of the orgonotic field, he may even give details that are astonishingly correct. But he will never quantitatively grasp these sensations, in as little as you can put the mirrored image of a log on a balance. (Id., 96–97)
Clinical research has shown that mystics suffer from a built-in wall between organ sensation and the objective process of stimulation [in their organism]. This wall is real. It is the muscular armor of the mystic. Any attempt to get the mystic in direct touch with the sensations of the living triggers fear or loss of consciousness. The mystic can see the mirrored image of an emotion, but he cannot feel it as a real sensation. I state this so clearly here because my knowledge is based upon experience: if, namely, through orgone therapy, the armor is dissolved in a mystical thinker, all mystical experiences at once disappear. The existence of the separating wall between stimulus and sensation is the cause of the mystical experience. (Id., 97)
Mysticism vs. Spirituality
It may become clear through these elucidations that most people in our modern world are mystics and mystical thinkers, and especially those hyper-rational reductionist thinkers who deny emotions, and also those who deny children’s emotions and sexual feelings. This is so because they are armored against their own natural body sensations. And this armor they have built is the embodied wall of their religious and ideological beliefs that serve them to repress their natural emotions, sensations and orgonotic streamings.
Once it is understood what mysticism really is, true knowledge-based spirituality can come about in the human mind. Carl-Gustav Jung, when asked if he was a religious thinker, or if he believed in salvation, simply replied ‘I do not believe, I know.’
Spirituality is an extended realm of knowledge that reductionist science has not integrated so far. But this is currently changing. We are right now living through an era of strong developmental change that brings science and religion closer to each other by fostering and developing integrative views and publications that are the building blocks of a truly holistic science.
The following quote may demonstrate that Reich was not against true religion in the sense of religio, the connectedness to spiritual guidance, and that he did not hold that all religion was per se mysticism. Let us not forget that Reich wrote a study on Jesus Christ, a study that never was published and that he completed shortly before he died, entitled The Murder of Christ. Reich was not an atheist. He possessed that kind of intelligent and natural spirituality that we can find with one of his even more well-known scientific contemporaries, Albert Einstein.
The widespread view that nature is basically harmony is essentially an animistic view that, however, the mystic degrades into the idea of a personified godhead or the omnipresence of god. The mystic is as it were stuck in the absolute. The absolute cannot be grasped. The animist, by contrast, is a flexible thinker. He can change his views. And he also bears the advantage that his grasp of nature, contrary to the mystic worldview, contains a useful grain of truth. The animist Kepler, who discovered the planetary harmony and who explained it with the term vis animalis, was right, even from today’s perspective, centuries after his death. The same energy that directs the movement of the animals and the growth of all living substance indeed also directs the stars and planets. In the functional identity of organismic and cosmic orgone, we find the origin of all animistic and truly religious worldviews. (Id., 98–99)
Mysticism, Insanity, Cruelty, Brutality, Perversion and Fascism
Mysticism is not just a fancy, day-dreaming or idealistic thinking, as it is often called. It truly is a pathology, an aberration from nature, and a pitfall of perception.
Most politicians around the world are mystical thinkers; most people who are entrapped by sects, saviors, gurus and churches are mystics, and among scientists and even among hardcore rational computer programmers I have met many hidden mystics.
They all have in common that they are emotionally starved, incomplete, fragmented, in a constant intellectual overdrive, repressed, reductionist in their worldview, reducing namely all of life and living to some Darwinist evolutionary beliefs, often fond of genetics and affirmative of euthanasia, often narcissistic and most of the time icy and aloof in relationships. They are most of the time male and in relations seldom warm and empathetic. The female’s organism is resisting much more than the male the specific paranoid split which is part of mysticism, and that is brought about by a fundamental split between ratio and emotions.
And there is more to it. Mystics also experience a basically distorted sexual life, be it perversion in the sense of a strongly repressed, ritual-based and sadistic sexuality, or plain impotence. Adolf Hitler is a famous historical example of an impotent mystic whose brutality and criminality is known today as a matter of popular knowledge.
The crux is that in popular wisdom, people like Hitler and so many of his Nazi followers are considered as rational-minded ‘solution-givers’ because the mass mind functions exactly on the same mystic wavelength as those perverse and abject political leaders. And here we face the tragedy of all human history and political history. Wilhelm Reich explains why this is so:
The mystical experience is rarely to be found without brutal-sadistic impulses. Further, in my experience orgasmic potency is seldom to be found with mystics, and mystical thinking is not to be found with orgastically potent individuals. (Id., 97)
Mysticism is a blockage of direct organ sensation and a projection of those sensations upon ‘supernatural forces’. This is true for the spiritualist, the schizophrenic, the religious physicist and for any form of paranoia. (Id., 97–98)
A good part of the brutality of the mystic can be seen in the fact that while he senses the living in himself, he does not really experience it, and therefore cannot let it unfold. He therefore develops a violent impulse to conquer what he sees like a spooky image in the mirror of his distorted mind, so as to make that faint shadow touchable and real. For the mystic mind, the mirror of reality is a steady provocation that drives him into a frenzy. Here it is, the living, the moving, the laughing, crying, hating, loving emotional being … but only in the mirror, in reality unreachable for the ego of the mystic, as the fruits, in the old myth, were for the tortured Tantalus. From this tragic situation arises every impulse for murder that is directed against the living. (Id., 122)