Religions, values and peak experiences (maslow 1964)


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Religions, values and peak experiences (maslow 1964)

  1. 1. Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences Abraham H. MaslowReligions, Values, and Peak Experiences1964 by Kappa Delta Pi and 1970 (preface) The Viking Press.Published by Penguin Books LimitedISBN 0 14 00.4262PDF version by: D33k0n57r0k7’d ContentsEditorial Introduction and PrefaceI. IntroductionII. Dichotomized Science and Dichotomized ReligionIII. The "Core-Religious" or "Transcendent" ExperienceIV. Organizational Dangers to Transcendent ExperiencesV. Hope, Skepticism, and Mans Higher NatureVI. Science and the Religious Liberals and Non-TheistsVII. Value-Free Education?VIII. ConclusionsAPPENDIXES:A. Religious Aspects of Peak ExperiencesB. The Third PsychologyC. Ethnocentric Phrasings of Peak-ExperiencesD. What is the Validity of Knowledge Gained in Peak-Experiences?E. Preface to "New Knowledge in Human Values"F. Rhapsodic, Isomorphic CommunicationsG. B-Values as Descriptions of Perception in Peak-ExperiencesH. Naturalistic Reasons for Preferring Growth-Values Over Regression-Values Under Good ConditionsI. An Example of B-AnalysisBibliography procedural, give promise of increased world co- Editorial Introduction operation between the Roman Catholic church and other faiths. And efforts have been and are The world has seen increased being made to reconcile the views of the great communication among political and economic religious leaders of all major religions—Jewish, philosophies, among the social sciences, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu— among religions, among the physical sciences, religions that, in the past, have been regarded and among people in general. Although there by their followers as having been founded upon are individual differences in the cultural and the direct revelation of a supreme being to a material developments of the nations of the chosen earthly prophet. world, there has been a growing movement Traditionally, religion has been of the toward the establishment of a world philosophy spirit; science, of the body; and there has been in the social and physical sciences. a wide philosophic gulf between the knowledge Concurrently with this growth of of body and the knowledge of spirit. The natural international communication and the unity it has sciences and religion have generally been brought about in the sciences, and the lesser considered as natural and eternal opponents. amount of agreement it has engendered among William James, through his psychology, political and social theorists, there has been a especially his Varieties of Religious rising sentiment in favor of increased Experience, and John Dewey, in his A communication among, if not unity of, the Common Faith, have strongly influenced the religions of the world. Protestant groups have views of Dr. Maslow in this, the thirty-fifth abandoned, or are abandoning, their strict volume in the "Kappa Delta Pi Lecture Series." sectarian views. The Ecumenical Council has Dissenting from the followers of those prophets brought changes that, although so far largely who claimed direct revelation from God, and
  2. 2. from the nineteenth-century scientists who through the same motions and behaviors as hisdenied not only direct revelation but God more numerous coreligionists, but he is neverhimself, the author declares that these reduced to the behavioral, as most of them are.revelations were, in his words, "peak- Most people lose or forget the subjectivelyexperiences" which are characteristic not only religious experience, and redefine Religion [1]of specially ordained emissaries of God but of as a set of habits, behaviors, dogmas, forms,mankind in general. Dr. Maslow considers which at the extreme becomes entirelythese revelations valid psychological events legalistic and bureaucratic, conventional,worthy of scientific, rather than metaphysical, empty, and in the truest meaning of the word,study—keys to a better understanding of a anti-religious. The mystic experience, thepeculiarly "human" aspect of mans existence. illumination, the great awakening, along with This volume is presented as a the charismatic seer who started the wholecontribution to philosophical and scientific thing, are forgotten, lost, or transformed intothinking, as one interpretation of a fundamental their opposites. Organized Religion, theaspect of life, as a step toward a better churches, finally may become the majorunderstanding among the religions of the world, enemies of the religious experience and theand as a possible program for the development religious experiencer. This is a main thesis ofof a healthy relationship between modern this and modern theology. But on the other wing, the mystical (or experiential) also has its traps which I have notE. I. F. Williams, Editor stressed sufficiently. As the more ApollonianKappa Delta Pi Publications type can veer toward the extreme of being reduced to the merely behavioral, so does the Preface mystical type run the risk of being reduced to the merely experiential. Out of the joy and Since this book was first written, there wonder of his ecstasies and peak-experienceshas been much turmoil in the world and, he may be tempted to seek them, ad hoc, andtherefore, much to learn. Several of the lessons to value them exclusively, as the only or atI have learned are relevant here, certainly in least the highest goods of life, giving up otherthe sense that they are helpful supplements to criteria of right and wrong. Focused on thesethe main thesis of the book. Or perhaps I wonderful subjective experiences, he may runshould call them warnings about over-extreme, the danger of turning away from the world anddangerous, and one-sided uses of this thesis. from other people in his search for triggers toOf course, this is a standard hazard for thinkers peak-experiences, any triggers. In a word,who try to be holistic, integrative, and inclusive. instead of being temporarily self absorbed andThey learn inevitably that most people think inwardly searching, he may become simply aatomistically, in terms of either-or, black-white, sel1ish person, seeking his own personalall in or all out, of mutual exclusiveness and salvation, trying to get into "heaven" even ifseparativeness. A good example of what I other people cant, and finally even perhapsmean is the mother who gave her son two ties using other people as triggers, as means to hisfor his birthday. As he put on one of them to sole end of higher states of consciousness. In aplease her, she asked sadly, "And why do you word, he may become not only selfish but alsohate the other tie?" evil. My impression, from the history of I think I can best state my warning mysticism, is that this trend can sometimesagainst polarization and dichotomizing by a wind up in meanness, nastiness, loss ofhistorical approach. I see in the history of many compassion, or even in the extreme of sadism.organized religions a tendency to develop two Another possible booby trap for theextreme wings: the "mystical" and individual on (polarizing) mystics throughout history hasthe one hand, and the legalistic and been the danger of needing to escalate theorganizational on the other. The profoundly and triggers, so to speak. That is, stronger andauthentically religious person integrates these stronger stimuli are needed to produce thetrends easily and automatically. The forms, same response. If the sole good in liferituals, ceremonials, and verbal formulae in becomes the peak-experience, and if all meanswhich he was reared remain for him to this end become good, and if more peak-experientially rooted, symbolically meaningful, experiences are better than fewer, then onearchetypal, unitive. Such a person may go can force the issue, push actively, strive and
  3. 3. hunt and fight for them. So they have often lesson can be easily lost. To be lookingmoved over into magic, into the secret and elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign ofesoteric, into the exotic, the occult, the dramatic ignorance that everything is miraculous.and effortful, the dangerous, the cultish. The rejection of a priestly caste whoHealthy openness to the mysterious, the claimed to be exclusive custodians of a privaterealistically humble recognition that we dont hot line to the sacred was, in my opinion, aknow much, the modest and grateful great step forward in the emancipation ofacceptance of gratuitous grace and of just plain mankind, and we have the mystics—amonggood luck—all these can shade over into the others—to thank for this achievement. But thisanti rational, the anti-empirical, the valid insight can also be used badly whenantiscientific, the anti-verbal, the anti- dichotomized and exaggerated by foolishconceptual. The peak-experience may then be people. They can distort it into a rejection of theexalted as the best or even the only path to guide, the teacher, the sage, the therapist, theknowledge, and thereby all the tests and counselor, the elder, the helper along the pathverifications of the validity of the illumination to self-actualization and the realm of Being.may be tossed aside. This is often a great danger and always an The possibility that the inner voices, the unnecessary handicap."revelations," may be mistaken, a lesson from To summarize, the healthily Apollonianhistory that should come through loud and (which means integrated with the healthilyclear, is denied, and there is then no way of Dionysian) can become pathologized into anfinding out whether the voices within are the extreme, exaggerated, and dichotomizedvoices of good or evil. (George Bernard Shaws compulsive-obsessional sickness. But also theSaint Joan confronts this problem.) Spontaneity healthily Dionysian (which means integrated(the impulses from our best self) gets confused with the healthily Apollonian) can becomewith impulsivity and acting out (the impulses pathologized at its extreme into hysteria with allfrom our sick self), and there is then no way to its symptoms. [2]tell the difference. Obviously, what I am suggesting here Impatience (especially the built-in is a pervasively holistic attitude and way ofimpatience of youth) dictates shortcuts of all thinking. Not only must the experimental bekinds. Drugs, which can be helpful when wisely stressed and brought back into psychology andused, become dangerous when foolishly used. philosophy as an opponent of the merelyThe sudden insight becomes "all," and the abstract and abstruse, of the a priori, of what Ipatient and disciplined "working through" is have called "helium-filled words." It must thenpostponed or devalued. Instead of being also be integrated with the abstract and the"surprised by joy," "turning on" is scheduled, verbal, i.e., we must make a place forpromised, advertised, sold, hustled into being, "experientially based concepts," and forand can get to be regarded as a commodity. "experientially filled words," that is, for anSex-love, certainly one possible path to the experience-based rationality in contrast to the aexperience of the sacred, can become mere priori rationality that we have come almost to"screwing," i.e., desacralized. More and more identify with rationality itself.exotic, artificial, striving "techniques" may The same sort of thing is true for theescalate further and further until they become relations between experientialism and-socialnecessary and until jadedness and impotence reform. Shortsighted people make themensue. opposites, mutually exclusive. Of course, The search for the exotic, the strange, historically this has often happened and doesthe unusual, the uncommon has often taken the today still happen in many. But it need notform of pilgrimages, of turning away from the happen. It is a mistake, an atomistic error, anworld, the "Journey to the East," to another example of the dichotomizing and pathologizingcountry or to a different Religion. The great that goes along with immaturity. The empiricallesson from the true mystics, from the Zen fact is that self-actualizing people, our bestmonks, and now also from the-Humanistic and experiencers, are also our mostTranspersonal psychologists—that the sacred compassionate, our great improvers andis in the ordinary, that it is to be found in ones reformers of society, our most effective fightersdaily life, in ones neighbors, friends, and against injustice, inequality, slavery, cruelty,family, in ones back yard, and that travel may exploitation (and also our best fighters forbe a flight from confronting the sacred—this excellence, effectiveness, competence). And it
  4. 4. also becomes clearer and clearer that the best actualized by the society."helpers" are the most fully human persons. My study of the failure of most UtopianWhat I may call the bodhisattvic path is an efforts has taught me to ask the basicintegration of self-improvement and social zeal, questions themselves in a more practicable andi.e., the best way to become a better "helper" is researchable way. "How good a society doesto become a better person. But one necessary human nature permit?" and, "How good aaspect of becoming a better person is via human nature does society permit?" (For thehelping other people. So one must and can do implications of this way of asking the questions,both simultaneously. (The question "Which see my Eupsychian Management: A Journalcomes first" is an atomistic question.) [1965] (69) and my paper "Some Fundamental In this context I would like to refer to my Questions that Face the Normative Socialdemonstration in the Preface to the revised Psychologist," Journal of Humanisticedition (1970) of my Motivation and Personality Psychology, 1968, VIII.)(59) [3] that normative zeal is not incompatible Finally, I would now add to the peakwith scientific objectivity, but can be integrated experience material a greater consideration,with it, eventuating in a higher form of not only of nadir-experiences, the psycholyticobjectivity, i.e., the Taoistic. therapy of Grof, confrontations with and What this all adds up to is this: small r reprieves from death, postsurgical visions, etc.,religion is quite compatible, at the higher levels but also of the "plateau-experience." This isof personal development, with rationality, with serene and calms rather than a poignantlyscience, with social passion. Not only this, but it emotional, climactic, autonomic response to thecan, in principle, quite easily integrate the miraculous, the awesome, the sacralized, thehealthily animal, material, and selfish with the Unitive, the B-values. So far as I can now tellnaturalistically transcendent, spiritual, and the high plateau-experience always has aaxiological. (See my "A Theory of noetic and cognitive element, which is notMetamotivation: The Biological Rooting of the always true for peak experiences, which can beValue-Life," Journal of Humanistic Psychology, purely and exclusively emotional. It is far more1967, VII, 93-127). voluntary than peak experiences are. One can For other reasons also, I now consider learn to see in this Unitive way almost at will. Itthat the book was too imbalanced toward the then becomes a witnessing, an appreciating,individualistic and too hard on groups, what one might call a serene, cognitiveorganizations, and communities. Even within blissfulness which can, however, have a qualitythese last six or seven years we have learned of casualness and of lounging about.not to think of organizations as necessarily There is more an element of surprise,bureaucratic, as we have learned more about and of disbelief, and of esthetic shock in thehumanistic, need-fulfilling kinds of groups, from, peak-experience, more the quality of havinge.g., the research in Organization Development such an experience for the first time. I haveand Theory Y management, the rapidly pointed out elsewhere that the aging body andaccumulating experience with T-groups, nervous system is less capable of tolerating aencounter groups, and personal-growth groups, really shaking peak-experience. I would addthe successes of the Synanon community, of here that maturing and aging mean also somethe Israeli kibbutzim, etc. (See my listing of the loss of first-timeness, of novelty, of sheerEupsychian Network, an appendix in the unpreparedness and surprise.revised edition [1968] of my Toward a Peak-and plateau-experience differPsychology of Being (70).) As a matter of fact, I also in their relations to death. The peak-can say much more firmly than I ever did, for experience itself can often meaningfully bemany empirical reasons, that basic human called a "little death," and a rebirth in variousneeds can be fulfilled only by and through other senses. The less intense plateau experience ishuman beings, i.e., society. The need for more often experienced as pure enjoyment andcommunity (belongingness, contact, happiness, as, lets say, in a mother sittinggroupiness) is itself a basic need. Loneliness, quietly looking, by the hour, at her babyisolation, ostracism, rejection by the group— playing, and marveling, wondering,these are not only painful but pathogenic as philosophizing, not quite believing. She canwell. And of course it has also been known for experience this as a very pleasant, continuing,decades that humanness and specieshood in contemplative experience rather than asthe infant are only a potentiality and must be something akin to a climactic explosion which
  5. 5. then ends. different ways by different people, even in Older people, making their peace with contradictory ways, that this indictment doesdeath, are more apt to be profoundly touched not apply to all who use the label. But justwith (sweet) sadness and tears at the contrast because of this diversity of usage, the word isbetween their own mortality and the eternal now almost useless, in my opinion, and hadquality of what sets off the experience. This better be dropped. The trouble is that I have nocontrast can make far more poignant and good alternative label to offer. If only there wereprecious what is being witnessed, e.g., "The some way to say simultaneously: "Yes, man issurf will be here forever and you will soon be in a way his own project and he does makegone. So hang on to it, appreciate it, be fully himself. But also there are limits upon what heconscious of it. Be grateful for it. You are can make himself into. The project islucky." predetermined biologically for all men; it is to Very important today in a topical sense become a man. He cannot adopt as his projectis the realization that plateau experiencing can for himself to become a chimpanzee. Or even abe achieved, learned, earned by long hard female. Or a baby." The right label would havework. It can be meaningfully aspired to. But I to combine the humanistic, the transpersonal,dont know of any way of bypassing the and the transhuman. Besides, it would have tonecessary maturing, experiencing, living, be experiential (phenomenological), at least inlearning. All of this takes time. A transient its basing. It would have to be holistic ratherglimpse is certainly possible in the peak- than dissecting. And it would have to beexperiences which may, after all, come empirical rather than a priori, etc., etc.sometimes to anyone. But, so to speak, to take The reader who is especially interestedup residence on the high plateau of Unitive in continuing developments along the lines ofconsciousness—that is another matter this book may be referred to the recentlyaltogether. That tends to be a lifelong effort. It established (1969) Journal of Transpersonalshould not be confused with the Thursday Psychology (P. O. Box 4437, Stanford,evening turn-on that many youngsters think of California 94305), and to the older weekly,as the path to transcendence. For that matter, it Manas (P. O. Box 32112, El Sereno Station,should not be confused with any single Los Angeles, California 90032).experience. The "spiritual disciplines," both theclassical ones and the new ones that keep on Dr. Abraham H. Maslowbeing discovered these days, all take time, The W. P. Laughlin Charitable Foundationwork, discipline, study, commitment. 1 Saga Lane There is much more to say about these Menlo Park, California 94025states which are clearly relevant to the life of May, 1970transcendence and the transpersonal and toexperiencing life at the level of Being. All I wish Footnotesto do here with this brief mention is to correct 1. I have found it useful to differentiate thethe tendency of some to identify experiences of subjective and naturalistic religious experiencetranscendence as only dramatic, orgasmic, and attitude from the institutionalized,transient, "peaky," like a moment on the top of conventional, organized Religions by usingMount Everest. There is also the high plateau, lower case for the former (calling it "small r"where one can stay "turned on." religion") and capitalizing the R in "big R If I were to summarize both the book Religion."and my remarks in this Preface in a few words, 2. Colin Wilsons "Outsider" series will furnishI would say it this way: Man has a higher and all the examples necessary. (back)transcendent nature, and this is part of his 3. Numbers in parentheses refer to items in theessence, i.e., his biological nature as a member Bibliography. (back)of a species which has evolved. This means tome something which I had better spell out Chapter Iclearly, namely, that this is a flat rejection of the IntroductionSartre type of Existentialism, i.e., its denial ofspecieshood, and of a biological human nature, Some time ago, after the Supremeand its refusal to face the existence of the Court decision on prayer in the public schools,biological sciences. It is true that the word a so-called patriotic womens organization—IExistentialism is by now used in so many forget which one—bitterly attacked the decision
  6. 6. as antireligious. They were in favor of "spiritual professional religionists do. Since they excludevalues," they said, whereas the Supreme Court values from the realm of science and from thewas destroying them. realm of exact, rational, positivistic knowledge, I am very much in favor of a clear all values are turned over by default to non-separation of church and state, and my reaction scientists and to non-rationalists (i.e., to "non-was automatic: I disagreed with the womens knowers") to deal with. Values can be arbitrarilyorganization. But then something happened affirmed by fiat only, they think, like a taste or athat set me to thinking for many months. It preference or a belief which cannot bedawned on me that I, too, was in favor of scientifically validated, proven, confirmed, orspiritual values and that, indeed, my disconfirmed. Therefore, it appears that suchresearches and theoretical investigations had scientists and such philosophers really have nogone far toward demonstrating their reality. I argument either for or against the churches;had reacted in an automatic way against the even though, as a group, they are not verywhole statement by the organization, thereby likely to respect the churches. (Even this lack ofimplicitly accepting its erroneous definition and respect is, for them, only a matter of taste andconcept of spiritual values. In a word, I had cannot be supported scientifically.)allowed these intellectual primitives to capture Something of this sort is certainly truea good word and to put their peculiar meaning for many psychologists and many educators. Itto it, just as they had taken the fine word is almost universally true for the positivistic"patriotic" and contaminated and destroyed it. I psychologists, the behaviorists, the neo-had let them redefine these words and had behaviorists, and the ultra-experimentalists, allthen accepted their definitions. And now I want of whom feel values and the life of value to beto take them back. I want to demonstrate that none of their professional concern, and whospiritual values have naturalistic meaning, that casually renounce all consideration of poetrythey are not the exclusive possession of and art and of any of the religious ororganized churches, that they do not need transcendent experiences. Indeed, the puresupernatural concepts to validate them, that positivist rejects any inner experiences of anythey are well within the jurisdiction of a suitably kind as being "unscientific," as not in the realmenlarged science, and that, therefore, they are of human knowledge, as not susceptible ofthe general responsibility of all mankind. If all of study by a scientific method, because suchthis is so, then we shall have to reevaluate the data are not objective, that is to say, public andpossible place of spiritual and moral values in shared. This is a kind of "reduction to theeducation. For, if these values are not concrete," to the tangible, the visible, theexclusively identified with churches, then audible, to that which can be recorded by ateaching values in the schools need not breach machine, to behavior.[2]the wall between church and state. The other dominating theory of The Supreme Court decisions on psychology, the Freudian, coming from a veryprayer in the public schools were seen different compass direction winds up at a(mistakenly, as we shall see) by many similar terminus, denying that it has anythingAmericans as a rejection of spiritual values in much to do with spiritual or ethical Much of the turmoil was in defense Freud himself and H. Hartman (28)[3] after himof these higher values and eternal verities say something like this: "The only goal of therather than of the prayers as such. That is to psychoanalytic method is to undo repressionssay, very many people in our society apparently and all other defenses against seeingsee organized religion as the locus, the source, unpleasant truth; it has nothing to do withthe custodian and guardian and teacher of the ideologies, indoctrinations, religious dogmas orspiritual life. Its methods, its style of teaching, teaching a way of life or system of values."its content are widely and officially accepted as (Even Alan Wheelis (89), thoughtful andthe path, by many as the only path, to the life of probing though he may be, comes to a similarrighteousness, of purity and virtue, of justice conclusion.) Observe here the unwittingand goodness, etc.[1] acceptance of the unexamined belief that This is also true, paradoxically enough, values are taught, in the traditional sense offor many orthodoxly positivistic scientists, indoctrination, and that they must, therefore, bephilosophers, and other intellectuals. Pious arbitrary, and also that they really have nothingpositivists as a group accept the same strict to do with facts, with truth, with discovery, withdichotomizing of facts and values that the uncovering the values and "value-hungers" that
  7. 7. lie deeply within human nature itself. been known and said in the world." And no one And so official, orthodox, Freudian disagreed with him. Nor did it need to bepsychoanalysis remains essentially a system of spelled out that he meant knowledge of thepsychopathology and of cure of classics; these were the universally acceptedpsychopathology. It does not supply us with a models.psychology of the higher life or of the "spiritual But in recent years and to this day,life," of what the human being should grow most humanistic scholars and most artists havetoward, of what he can become (although I shared in the general collapse of all traditionalbelieve psychoanalytic method and theory is a values. And when these values collapsed, therenecessary substructure for any such "higher" or were no others readily available asgrowth psychology (70)). Freud came out of replacements. And so today, a very largenineteenth-century, mechanistic, physical- proportion of our artists, novelists, dramatists,chemical, reductionistic science; and there his critics, literary and historical scholars aremore Talmudic followers remain, at least with disheartened or pessimistic or despairing, andrespect to the theory of values and everything a fair proportion are nihilistic or cynical (in thethat has to do with values. Indeed this sense of believing that no "good life" is possiblereductionism goes so far sometimes that the and that the so-called higher values are all aFreudians seem almost to say that the "higher fake and a swindle).life" is just a set of "defenses against the Certainly the young student coming toinstincts," especially denial and reaction- the study of the arts and the humanities will findformation. Were it not for the concept of therein no inspiring certainties. What criterion ofsublimation, that is what they would have to be selection does he have between, let us say,saying. Unfortunately, sublimation is so weak Tolstoy and Kafka, between Renoir andand unsatisfactory a concept that it simply DeKooning, or between Brahms and Cage?cannot bear this huge responsibility. Thus, And which well-known artists or writers todaypsychoanalysis often comes perilously close to are trying to teach, to inspire, to conduce tobeing a nihilistic and value-denying philosophy virtue? Which of them could even use this wordof man. (It is fortunate that any really good "virtue" without gagging? Upon which of themtherapist in practice pays no attention to this can an "idealistic" young man model himself?philosophy. Such a therapist often functions by No, it is quite clear from our experiencean unconscious philosophy of man which may of the last fifty years or so that the pre-1914not be worked out scientifically for another certainties of the humanists, of the artists, ofcentury. It is true that there are interesting and the dramatists and poets, of the philosophers,exciting developments in psychoanalysis today, of the critics, and of those who are generallybut they are coming from the unorthodox.) It inner-directed have given way to a chaos ofmust be said to Freuds credit that, though he relativism. No one of these people now knowswas at his poorest with all the questions of how and what to choose, nor does he knowtranscendence, he is still to be preferred to the how to defend and to validate his choice. Notbehaviorists who not only have no answers but even the critics who are fighting nihilism andwho also deny the very questions themselves. valuelessness can do much except to attack, Neither are the humanistic scholars as, for instance, Joseph Wood Krutch does (40,and artists of any great help these days. They 41); and he has nothing very inspiring orused to be, and were supposed to be, as a affirmative to suggest that we fight for, muchgroup, carriers of and teachers of the eternal less die for.verities and the higher life. The goal of We can no longer rely on tradition, onhumanistic studies was defined as the consensus, on cultural habit, on unanimity ofperception and knowledge of the good, the belief to give us our values. These agreed-uponbeautiful, and the true. Such studies were traditions are all gone. Of course, we neverexpected to refine the discrimination between should have rested on tradition—as its failureswhat is excellent and what is not (excellence must have proven to everyone by now—itgenerally being understood to be the true, the never was a firm foundation. It was destroyedgood, and the beautiful). They were supposed too easily by truth, by honesty, by the facts, byto inspire the student to the better life, to the science, by simple, pragmatic, historical failure.higher life, to goodness and virtue. What was Only truth itself can be our foundation,truly valuable, Matthew Arnold said, was "the our base for building. Only empirical,acquainting ourselves with the best that has naturalistic knowledge, in its broadest sense,
  8. 8. can serve us now. I hesitate to use the word I shall, therefore, use these words, since I"science" here, because this itself is a moot have no others to use, to refer to subjectiveconcept; and I shall be suggesting later in this happenings in human beings withoutessay an overhauling and redefinition of necessarily implying any supernaturalscience that-could make it capable of serving reference. I claim that it is not necessary tobetter our value purposes, to make it more appeal to principles outside of nature andinclusive and less excluding, more accepting of human nature in order to explain thesethe world and less snobbish about its experiences. (back)jurisdictions. It is in this broader sense, which I 2. This is an especially fantastic notion in theshall be sketching out, that science—meaning context of this lecture because human behaviorall confirmable knowledge in all its stages of is so often a defense against motives,development—begins to look capable of emotions, and impulses. That is, it is a way ofhandling values. inhibiting and concealing them as often as it is Especially will our new knowledge of an expression of them. Behavior is often ahuman nature probably give the humanists and means of preventing the overt expression ofthe artists, as well as the religionists, the firm everything Im talking about, just as spokencriteria of selection, which they now lack, to language can also be. How then can wechoose between the many value possibilities explain the quick spread of that theory-bound,which clamor for belief, so many that the chaos sectarian, question-begging phrase: "Themay fairly be called valuelessness. behavioral sciences"? I confess that I cannot. (back)Footnotes 3. Numbers in parentheses refer to items in the1. As a matter of fact, this identity is so Bibliography.profoundly built into the English language that itis almost impossible to speak of the "spiritual Chapter IIlife" (a distasteful phrase to a scientist, and Dichotomized Science and Dichotomizedespecially to a psychologist) without using the Religionvocabulary of traditional religion. There just isntany other satisfactory language yet. A trip to My thesis is, in general, that newthe thesaurus will demonstrate this very developments in psychology are forcing aquickly. This makes an almost insoluble profound change in our philosophy of science,problem for the writer who is intent on a change so extensive that we may be able todemonstrating that the common base of all accept the basic religious questions as a properreligions is human, natural, empirical, and that part of the jurisdiction of science, once scienceso-called spiritual values are also naturally is broadened and redefined.derivable. But I have available only a theistic It is because both science and religionlanguage for this "scientific" job. have been too narrowly conceived, and have Perhaps I can get out of this terminological been too exclusively dichotomized anddifficulty in another way. If you look up the separated from each other, that they have beenwords "sacred," "divine," "holy," "numen," "sin," seen to be two mutually exclusive worlds. To"prayer," "oblation," "thanksgiving," "worship," put it briefly, this separation permitted"piety," "salvation," "reverence," the dictionary nineteenth-century science to become toowill most often tell you that they refer to a god exclusively mechanistic, too positivistic, tooor to a religion in the supernatural sense. Now reductionistic, too desperately attempting to bewhat I want to say is that each and all of these value-free. It mistakenly conceived of itself aswords, and many other "religious" words, have having nothing to say about ends or ultimatebeen reported to me by non-theistic people in values or spiritual values. This is the same astheir effort to describe particular subjective saying that these ends are entirely outside thehappenings in "non-religious" (in the range of natural human knowledge, that theyconventional sense) peak-experiences and can never be known in a confirmable, validatedilluminations. These words are the only words way, in a way that could satisfy intelligent men,available to describe certain happenings in the as facts satisfy them.natural world. This vocabulary is the language Such an attitude dooms science to beof a theory which people have had about these nothing more than technology, amoral and non-subjective happenings, a theory which is no ethical (as the Nazi doctors taught us). Such alonger necessary. science can be no more than a collection of
  9. 9. instrumentalities, methods, techniques, nothing corrupted and pathologized. The point is drivenbut a tool to be used by any man, good or evil, home fully that they need each other in order toand for any ends, good or evil (59). be themselves. This dichotomizing of knowledge and When all that could be called "religious"values has also pathologized the organized (naturalistically as well as supernaturalistically)religions by cutting them off from facts, from was cut away from science, from knowledge,knowledge, from science, even to the point of from further discovery, from the possibility ofoften making them the enemies of scientific skeptical investigation, from confirming andknowledge. In effect, it tempts them to say that disconfirming, and, therefore, from thethey have nothing more to learn. possibility of purifying and improving, such a But something is happening now to dichotomized religion was doomed. It tended toboth science and religion, at least to their more claim that the founding revelation wasintelligent and sophisticated representatives. complete, perfect, final, and eternal. It had theThese changes make possible a very different truth, the whole truth, and had nothing more toattitude by the less narrow scientist toward the learn, thereby being pushed into the positionreligious questions, at least to the naturalistic, that has destroyed so many churches, ofhumanistic, religious questions. It might be said resisting change, of being only conservative, ofthat this is simply one more instance of what being anti-intellectual and anti-scientific, ofhas happened so often in the past, i.e., of making piety and obedience exclusive ofsnatching away another territory from the skeptical intellectuality—in effect, ofjurisdiction of organized religion. contradicting naturalistic truth. Just as each science was once a part Such a split-off religion generates split-of the body of organized religion but then broke off and partial definition of all necessaryaway to become independent, so also it can be concepts. For example, faith, which hassaid that the same thing may now be perfectly respectable naturalistic meanings, ashappening to the problems of values, ethics, for example in Fromms writings, tends in thespirituality, morals. They are being taken away hands of an anti-intellectual church tofrom the exclusive jurisdiction of the degenerate into blind belief, sometimes eveninstitutionalized churches and are becoming the "belief in what you know aint so." It tends to"property," so to speak, of a new type of become unquestioning obedience and last-humanistic scientist who is vigorously denying ditch loyalty no matter what. It tends to producethe old claim of the established religions to be sheep rather than men. It tends to becomethe sole arbiters of all questions of faith and arbitrary and authoritarian (46).morals. The word "sacred" is another instance This relation between religion and of the pathologizing by isolation and byscience could be stated in such a dichotomous, splitting-off. If the sacred becomes thecompetitive way, but I think I can show that it exclusive jurisdiction of a priesthood, and if itsneed not be, and that the person who is deeply supposed validity rests only upon supernaturalreligious—in a particular sense that 1 shall foundations, then, in effect, it is taken out of thediscuss—must rather feel strengthened and world of nature and of human nature. It isencouraged by the prospect that his value dichotomized sharply from the profane orquestions may he more firmly answered than secular and begins to have nothing to do withever before. them, or even becomes their contradictory. It Sooner or later, we shall have to becomes associated with particular rites andredefine both religion and science. ceremonies, with a particular day of the week, As always, dichotomizing pathologizes with a particular building, with a particular(and pathology dichotomizes). Isolating two language, even with a particular musicalinterrelated parts of a whole from each other, instrument or certain foods. It does not infuseparts that need each other, parts that are truly all of life but becomes compartmentalized. It is"parts" and not wholes, distorts them both, not the property then of all men, but only ofsickens and contaminates them (54). some. It is no longer ever-present as aUltimately, it even makes them non-viable. An possibility in the everyday affairs of men butillustration of this point can be found in Philip becomes instead a museum piece without dailyWylies fascinating novel The Disappearance. usefulness; in effect, such a religion mustWhen men and women disappear into two separate the actual from the ideal and ruptureseparated, isolated worlds, both sexes become the necessary dynamic interplay between them.
  10. 10. The dialectic between them, the mutual effect excluding subjective experience from the realmand feedback, the constant shaping of each of the existent or explorable.other, their usefulness to each other, even, I So also for the exclusion of the sacredwould say, their absolute need for each other is and the transcendent from the jurisdiction ofdisrupted and made impossible of fulfillment. science. This makes impossible in principle theWhat happens then? We have seen often study, for instance, of certain aspects of theenough throughout history the church whose abstract: psychotherapy, naturalistic religiouspieties are mouthed in the middle of human experience, creativity, symbolism, play, theexploitation and degradation as if the one had theory of love, mystical and peak-experiences,nothing to do with the other ("Render unto not to mention poetry, art, and a lot more (sinceCaesar that which is Caesars"). This pie-in-the- these all involve an integration of the realm ofsky kind of religion, which often enough has Being with the realm of the concrete).turned into an actual support of daily evil, is To mention only one example that hasalmost inevitable when the existent has no to do directly with education, it could be shownintrinsic and constant connection with the ideal, easily that the good teacher must have what Iwhen heaven is off some place far away from have called elsewhere B-love (unselfish love)the earth, when human improvement becomes for the child, what Rogers has calledimpossible in the world but can be achieved unconditional positive regard (82), and whatonly by renouncing the world. "For endeavor for others have called—meaningfully, I wouldthe better is moved by faith in what is possible, maintain—the sacredness of each individual.not by adherence to the actual," as John To stigmatize these as "normative" or value-Dewey pointed out. (14, p. 23). laden and, therefore, as "unscientific" concepts And this brings us to the other half of is to make impossible certain necessarythe dichotomy, dichotomized science. researches into the nature of the good teacher.Whatever we may say about split-off religion is And so it could go on and on almostvery similar or complementary to what we may indefinitely. I have already written much onsay of split-off science. scientistic, nineteenth-century, orthodox For instance, in the division of the ideal science, and intend to write more. Here I haveand the actual, dichotomized science claims been dealing with it from the point of view of thethat it deals only with the actual and the dichotomizing of science and religion, of factsexistent and that it has nothing to do with the (merely and solely) from values (merely andideal, that is to say, with the ends, the goals, solely), and have tried to indicate that such athe purposes of life, i.e., with end-values. Any splitting off of mutually exclusive jurisdictionscriticism that could be made of half-religion can must produce cripple-science and cripple-equally be made of half-science in a religion, cripple-facts and cripple-values.complementary way. For instance, Obviously such a conclusion concernscorresponding to the blind religions "reduction the spiritual and ethical values that I startedto the abstract" (71)—its blindness to the raw with (as well as the needs and hungers forfact, to the concrete, to living human these values). Very obviously, such values andexperience itself—we find in non-aspiring such hungers cannot be handed over to anyscience a "reduction to the concrete," of the church for safekeeping. They cannot bekind that Goldstein has described (23, 24), and removed from the realm of human inquiry, ofto the tangible and immediately visible and skeptical examination, of empiricalaudible. It becomes amoral, even sometimes investigation. But I have tried to demonstrateanti-moral and even anti-human, merely that orthodox science neither wants this job nortechnology which can be bought by anyone for is able to carry it out. Clearly what is neededany purpose, like the German "scientists" who then is an expanded science, with largercould work with equal zeal for Nazis, for powers and methods, a science which is ableCommunists, or for Americans. We have been to study values and to teach mankind abouttaught very amply in the last few decades that can be dangerous to human ends and Such a science would and—insofar asthat scientists can become monsters as long as it already exists—does include much that hasscience is conceived to be akin to a chess been called religious. As a matter of fact, thisgame, an end in itself, with arbitrary rules, expanded science includes among its concernswhose only purpose is to explore the existent, practically everything in religion that can bearand which then makes the fatal blunder of naturalistic observation.
  11. 11. I think I may go so far as to say that if on the codification and the communication ofwe were to make a list of the key words which this original mystic experience or revelationhave hitherto been considered to be the from the lonely prophet to the mass of humanproperty of organized religion and which were beings in general.considered to be entirely outside the jurisdiction But it has recently begun to appear thatof "science" of the older sort, we would find that these "revelations" or mystical illuminations caneach and all of these words today are acquiring be subsumed under the head of the "peak-a perfectly naturalistic meaning, i.e., they are experiences"[1] or "ecstasies" or "transcendent"within the jurisdiction of scientific investigation. experiences which are now being eagerly(See Appendix A.) investigated by many psychologists. That is to Let me try to say it in still another way. say, it is very likely, indeed almost certain, thatOne could say that the nineteenth-century these older reports, phrased in terms ofatheist had burnt down the house instead of supernatural revelation, were, in fact, perfectlyremodeling it. He had thrown out the religious natural, human peak-experiences of the kindquestions with the religious answers, because that can easily be examined today, which,he had to reject the religious answers. That is, however, were phrased in terms of whateverhe turned his back on the whole religious conceptual, cultural, and linguistic frameworkenterprise because organized religion the particular seer had available in his timepresented him with a set of answers which he (Laski).could not intellectually accept—which rested on In a word, we can study today whatno evidence which a self-respecting scientist happened in the past and was then explainablecould swallow. But what the more sophisticated in supernatural terms only. By so doing, we arescientist is now in the process of learning is that enabled to examine religion in all its facets andthough he must disagree with most of the in all its meanings in a way that makes it a partanswers to the religious questions which have of science rather than something outside andbeen given by organized religion, it is exclusive of it.increasingly clear that the religious questions Also this kind of study leads us tothemselves—and religious quests, the religious another very plausible hypothesis: to the extentyearnings, the religious needs themselves—are that all mystical or peak-experiences are theperfectly respectable scientifically, that they are same in their essence and have always beenrooted deep in human nature, that they can be the same, all religions are the same in theirstudied, described, examined in a scientific essence and always have been the same. Theyway, and that the churches were trying to should, therefore, come to agree in principle onanswer perfectly sound human questions. teaching that which is common to all of them,Though the answers were not acceptable, the i.e., whatever it is that peak-experiences teachquestions themselves were and are perfectly in common (whatever is different about theseacceptable, and perfectly legitimate. illuminations can fairly be taken to be localisms As a matter of fact, contemporary both in time and space, and are, therefore,existential and humanistic psychologists would peripheral, expendable, not essential). Thisprobably consider a person sick or abnormal in something common, this something which isan existential way if he were not concerned left over after we peel away all the localisms, allwith these "religious" questions. the accidents of particular languages or particular philosophies, all the ethnocentric Chapter III phrasings, all those elements which are not The "Core-Religious," or "Transcendent," common, we may call the "core-religious Eperience experience" or the "transcendent experience." To understand this better, we must The very beginning, the intrinsic core, differentiate the prophets in general from thethe essence, the universal nucleus of every organizers or legalists in general asknown high religion (unless Confucianism is (abstracted) types. (I admit that the use of pure,also called a religion) has been the private, extreme types which do not really exist canlonely, personal illumination, revelation, or come close to the edge of caricature;ecstasy of some acutely sensitive prophet or nevertheless, I think it will help all of us inseer. The high religions call themselves thinking through the problem we are hererevealed religions and each of them tends to concerned with.)[2] The characteristic prophetrest its validity, its function, and its right to exist is a lonely man who has discovered his truth
  12. 12. about the world, the cosmos, ethics, God, and "materialistic" or mechanistic tends to becomehis own identity from within, from his own a non-peaker. That is, such a view of life tendspersonal experiences, from what he would to make the person regard his peak-andconsider to be a revelation. Usually, perhaps transcendent experiences as a kind of insanity,always, the prophets of the high religions have a complete loss of control, a sense of beinghad these experiences when they were alone. overwhelmed by irrational emotions, etc. The Characteristically the abstraction-type person who is afraid of going insane and whoof the legalist-ecclesiastic is the conserving is, therefore, desperately hanging on toorganization man, an officer and arm of the stability, control, reality, etc., seems to beorganization, who is loyal to the structure of the frightened by peak-experiences and tends toorganization which has been built up on the fight them off. For the compulsive-obsessivebasis of the prophets original revelation in person, who organizes his life around theorder to make the revelation available to the denying and the controlling of emotion, the fearmasses. From everything we know about of being overwhelmed by an emotion (which isorganizations, we may very well expect that interpreted as a loss of control) is enough forpeople will become loyal to it, as well as to the him to mobilize all his stamping-out andoriginal prophet and to his vision; or at least defensive activities against the peak-they will become loyal to the organizations experience. I have one instance of a veryversion of the prophets vision. I may go so far convinced Marxian who denied—that is, whoas to say that characteristically (and I mean not turned away from—a legitimate peak-only the religious organizations but also parallel experience, finally classifying it as some kind oforganizations like the Communist Party or like peculiar but unimportant thing that hadrevolutionary groups) these organizations can happened but that had best be forgottenbe seen as a kind of punch card or IBM version because this experience conflicted with herof an original revelation or mystical experience whole materialistic mechanistic philosophy ofor peak-experience to make it suitable for life. I have found a few non-peakers who weregroup use and for administrative convenience. ultra-scientific, that is, who espoused the It will be helpful here to talk about a nineteenth-century conception of science as anpilot investigation, still in its beginnings, of the unemotional or anti-emotional activity whichpeople I have called non-peakers. In my first was ruled entirely by logic and rationality andinvestigations, in collaboration with Gene who thought anything which was not logical andNameche, I used this word because I thought rational had no respectable place in life. (Isome people had peak experiences and others suspect also that extremely "practical," i.e.,did not. But as I gathered information, and as I exclusively means-oriented, people will turn outbecame more skillful in asking questions, I to be non-peakers, since such experiencesfound that a higher and higher percentage of earn no money, bake no bread, and chop nomy subjects began to report peak-experiences. wood. So also for extremely other-directed(See Appendix F on rhapsodic communication. people, who scarcely know what is going on) I finally fell into the habit of expecting inside themselves. Perhaps also people whoeveryone to have peak-experiences and of are reduced to the concrete a la Goldstein, etc.being rather surprised if I ran across somebody etc.) Finally, I should add that, in some cases, Iwho could report none at all. Because of this could not come to any explanation for non-experience, I finally began to use the word peaking."non-peaker" to describe, not the person who is If you will permit me to use thisunable to have peak-experiences, but rather developing but not yet validated vocabulary, Ithe person who is afraid of them, who may then say simply that the relationshipsuppresses them, who denies them, who turns between the prophet and the ecclesiastic,away from them, or who "forgets" them. My between the lonely mystic and the (perfectlypreliminary investigations of the reasons for extreme) religious-organization man may oftenthese negative reactions to peak-experiences be a relationship between peaker and non-have led me to some (unconfirmed) peaker. Much theology, much verbal religionimpressions about why certain kinds of people through history and throughout the world, canrenounce their peak-experiences. be considered to be the more or less vain Any person whose character structure efforts to put into communicable words and(or Weltanschauung, or way of life) forces him formulae, and into symbolic rituals andto try to be extremely or completely rational or ceremonies, the original mystical experience of
  13. 13. the original prophets. In a word, organized the organization actually made a heresy out ofreligion can be thought of as an effort to the mystic experiences and persecuted thecommunicate peak-experiences to non- mystics themselves. This may be an old story inpeakers, to teach them, to apply them, etc. the history of religion, but I must point out that itOften, to make it more difficult, this job falls into is also an old story in other fields. For instance,the hands of non-peakers. On the whole we we can certainly say today that professionalnow would expect that this would be a vain philosophers tend to divide themselves into theeffort, at least so far as much of mankind is same kind of characterologically based left-concerned. The peak-experiences and their wing and right-wing. Most official, orthodoxexperiential reality ordinarily are not philosophers today are the equivalent oftransmittable to non-peakers, at least not by legalists who reject the problems and the datawords alone, and certainly not by non-peakers. of transcendence as "meaningless." That is,What happens to many people, especially the they are positivists, atomists, analysts,ignorant, the uneducated, the naive, is that they concerned with means rather than with ends.simply concretize all of the symbols, all of the They sharpen tools rather than discover truths.words, all of the statues, all of the ceremonies, These people contrast sharply with anotherand by a process of functional autonomy make group of contemporary philosophers, thethem, rather than the original revelation, into existentialists and the phenomenologists.the sacred things and sacred activities. That is These are the people who tend to fall back onto say, this is simply a form of the idolatry (or experiencing as the primary datum from whichfetishism) which has been the curse of every everything starts.large religion. In idolatry the essential original A similar split can be detected inmeaning gets so lost in concretizations that psychology, in anthropology, and, I am quitethese finally become hostile to the original sure, in other fields as well, perhaps in allmystical experiences, to mystics, and to human enterprises. I often suspect that we areprophets in general, that is, to the very people dealing here with a profoundlythat we might call from our present point of characterological or constitutional difference inview the truly religious people. Most religions people which may persist far into the future, ahave wound up denying and being antagonistic human difference which may be universal andto the very ground upon which they were may continue to be so. The job then will be tooriginally based. get these two kinds of people to understand If you look closely at the internal history each other, to get along well with each other,of most of the world religions, you will find that even to love each other. This problem iseach one very soon tends to divide into a left- paralleled by the relations between men andwing and a right-wing, that is, into the peakers, women who are so different from each otherthe mystics, the transcenders, or the privately and yet who have to live with each other andreligious people, on the one hand, and, on the even to love each other. (I must admit that itother, into those who concretize the religious would be almost impossible to achieve this withsymbols and metaphors, who worship little poets and literary critics, composers and musicpieces of wood rather than what the objects critics, etc.)stand for, those who take verbal formulas To summarize, it looks quite probableliterally, forgetting the original meaning of these that the peak-experience may be the model ofwords, and, perhaps most important, those who the religious revelation or the religioustake the organization, the church, as primary illumination or conversion which has played soand as more important than the prophet and his great a role in the history of religions. But,original revelations. These men, like many because peak-experiences are in the naturalorganization men who tend to rise to the top in world and because we can research with themany complex bureaucracy, tend to be non- and investigate them, and because ourpeakers rather than peakers. Dostoevskis knowledge of such experiences is growing andfamous Grand Inquisitor passage, in his may be confidently expected to grow in theBrothers Karamazov, says this in a classical future, we may now fairly hope to understandway. more about the big revelations, conversions, This cleavage between the mystics and and illuminations upon which the high religionsthe legalists, if I may call them that, remains at were a kind of mutual tolerance, but it has (Not only this, but I may add a newhappened in some churches that the rulers of possibility for scientific investigation of
  14. 14. transcendence. In the last few years it has is a meeting ground not only, let us say, forbecome quite clear that certain drugs called Christians and Jews and Mohammedans but"psychedelic," especially LSD and psilocybin, also for priests and atheists, for communistsgive us some possibility of control in this realm and anti-communists, for conservatives andof peak-experiences. It looks as if these drugs liberals, for artists and scientists, for men andoften produce peak-experiences in the right for women, and for different constitutionalpeople under the right circumstances, so that types, that is to say, for athletes and for poets,perhaps we neednt wait for them to occur by for thinkers and for doers. I say this becausegood fortune. Perhaps we can actually produce our findings indicate that all or almost all peoplea private personal peak-experience under have or can have peak-experiences. Both menobservation and whenever we wish under and women have peak-experiences, and allreligious or non-religious circumstances. We kinds of constitutional types have peak-may then be able to study in its moment of birth experiences, but, although the content of thethe experience of illumination or revelation. peak-experiences is approximately as I haveEven more important, it may be that these described for all human beings (see Appendixdrugs, and perhaps also hypnosis, could be A), the situation or the trigger which sets offused to produce a peak-experience, with core- peak-experience, for instance in males andreligious revelation, in non-peakers, thus females, can be quite different. Thesebridging the chasm between these two experiences can come from different sources,separated halves of mankind.) but their content may be considered to be very To approach this whole discussion from similar. To sum it up, from this point of view, theanother angle, in effect what I have been two religions of mankind tend to be the peakerssaying is that the evidence from the peak- and the non-peakers, that is to say, those whoexperiences permits us to talk about the have private, personal, transcendent, core-essential, the intrinsic, the basic, the most religious experiences easily and often and whofundamental religious or transcendent accept them and make use of them, and, onexperience as a totally private and personal the other hand, those who have never hadone which can hardly be shared (except with them or who repress or suppress them andother "peakers"). As a consequence, all the who, therefore, cannot make use of them forparaphernalia of organized religion—buildings their personal therapy, personal growth, orand specialized personnel, rituals, dogmas, personal fulfillment.ceremonials, and the like—are to the "peaker"secondary, peripheral, and of doubtful value in Footnotesrelation to the intrinsic and essential religious or 1. If we were to go further with our analysis wetranscendent experience. Perhaps they may should find that succeeding upon the discoveryeven be very harmful in various ways. From the of the generality of all peak-experiences therepoint of view of the peak-experiencer, each are also "specific" factors in each of the peak-person has his own private religion, which he experiences which differentiate them from eachdevelops out of his own private revelations in other to some extent. This relationship ofwhich are revealed to him his own private specific to general is as figure to ground. It ismyths and symbols, rituals and ceremonials, something like that described by Spearman forwhich may be of the profoundest meaning to "g" and "s" factors in intelligence.him personally and yet completely idiosyncratic, I do not discuss these "s" factors herei.e., of no meaning to anyone else. But to say it because the "g" factor is far more important foreven more simply, each "peaker" discovers, the problem at hand and at this stage in itsdevelops, and retains his own religion (87). development. (back) In addition, what seems to be emerging 2. I have made no effort in this chapter, or infrom this new source of data is that this the next, to balance accounts by detailing theessential core-religious experience may be virtues and even the unavoidable necessity ofembedded either in a theistic, supernatural organizations and organizers. I have writtencontext or in a non-theistic context. This private about these elsewhere (69)religious experience is shared by all the greatworld religions including the atheistic ones like Chapter IVBuddhism, Taoism, Humanism, or Organizational Dangers to TranscendentConfucianism. As a matter of fact, I can go so Experiencesfar as to say that this intrinsic core-experience
  15. 15. It has sometimes seemed to me as I having many "religious experiences," and I aminterviewed "nontheistic religious people" that sure that he would agree with me if I asked himthey had more religious (or transcendent) about it.experiences than conventionally religious In any case, once this paradox ispeople. (This is, so far, only an impression but thought through, it ceases to be a paradox andit would obviously be a worthwhile research becomes, instead, quite obvious. If "heaven" isproject.) Partly this may have been because always available, ready to step into (70), and ifthey were more often "serious" about values, the "unitive consciousness" (with its B-ethics, life-philosophy, because they have had cognition, its perception of the realm of Beingto struggle away from conventional beliefs and and the sacred and eternal) is always ahave had to create a system of faith for possibility for any serious and thoughtfulthemselves individually. Various other person, being to some extent under his owndeterminants of this paradox also suggested control (54), then having such "core-religious"themselves at various times, but Ill pass these or transcendental experiences is also to someby at this time. extent under our own control, even apart from The reason I now bring up this peak-experiences. (Having enough peak-impression (which may or may not be validated, experiences during which B-cognition takesmay or may not be simply a sampling error, etc. place can lead to the probability of B-cognizing) is that it brought me to the realization that for without peak-experiences.) I have also beenmost people a conventional religion, while able, by lecturing and by writing, to teach B-strongly religionizing one part of life, thereby cognition and unitive consciousness, to somealso strongly "dereligionizes" the rest of life. students at least. In principle, it is possible,The experiences of the holy, the sacred, the through adequate understanding, to transformdivine, of awe, of creatureliness, of surrender, means-activities into end-activities, toof mystery, of piety, thanksgiving, gratitude, "ontologize" (66); to see voluntarily under theself-dedication, if they happen at all, tend to be aspect of eternity, to see the sacred andconfined to a single day of the week, to happen symbolic in and through the individual here-under one roof only of one kind of structure and-now instance.only, under certain triggering circumstances What prevents this from happening? Inonly, to rest heavily on the presence of certain general, all and any of the forces that diminishtraditional, powerful, but intrinsically irrelevant, us, pathologize us, or that make us regress,stimuli, e.g. organ music, incense, chanting of a e.g., ignorance, pain, illness, fear, "forgetting,"particular kind, certain regalia, and other dissociation, reduction to the concrete,arbitrary triggers. Being religious, or rather neuroticizing, etc. That is, not having core-feeling religious, under these ecclesiastical religious experiences may be a "lower," lesserauspices seems to absolve many (most?) state, a state in which we are not "fullypeople from the necessity or desire to feel functioning," not at our best, not fully human,these experiences at any other time. not sufficiently integrated. When we are well"Religionizing" only one part of life secularizes and healthy and adequately fulfilling thethe rest of it. concept "human being," then experiences of This is in contrast with my impression transcendence should in principle bethat "serious" people of all kinds tend to be able "religionize" any part of life, any day of the Perhaps now what appeared to me firstweek, in any place, and under all sorts of as a paradox can be seen as a matter of fact,circumstances, i.e., to be aware of Tillichs not at all surprising. I had noticed something"dimension of depth." Of course, it would not that had never before occurred to me, namelyoccur to the more "serious" people who are that orthodox religion can easily mean de-non-theists to put the label "religious sacralizing much of life. It can lead toexperiences" on what they were feeling, or to dichotomizing life into the transcendent and theuse such words as "holy," "pious," "sacred," or secular-profane and can, therefore,the like. By my usage, however, they are often compartmentalize and separate themhaving "core-religious experiences" or temporally, spatially, conceptually, andtranscendent experiences when they report experientially. This is in clear contradiction tohaving peak-experiences. In this sense, a the actualities of the peak-experiences. It evensensitive, creative working artist I know who contradicts the traditionally religious versions ofcalls himself an agnostic could be said to be mystic experience, not to mention the
  16. 16. experiences of satori, of Nirvana, and other inherited religion and who have then createdEastern versions of peak-and mystic one for themselves (whether they call it that orexperiences. All of these agree that the sacred not). Or, to be more cautious, this is whatand profane, the religious and secular, are not seems to occur in my sample, i.e., mostlyseparated from each other. Apparently it is one college people. It is a problem not only fordanger of the legalistic and organizational conservative religious organizations but also forversions of religion that they may tend to liberal religious organizations, indeed for anysuppress naturalistic peak-, transcendent, organization of any kind.mystical, or other core-religious experiences And it will be just as true for educatorsand to make them less likely to occur, i.e., the when they will finally be forced to try to teachdegree of religious organization may correlate spirituality and transcendence. Education fornegatively with the frequency of "religious" patriotism in this country has been terriblyexperiences.[1] Conventional religions may disappointing to most profoundly patrioticeven be used as defenses against and Americans, so much so that just these peopleresistances to the shaking experiences of are apt to be called un-American. Rituals,transcendence. ceremonies, words, formulae may touch some, There may also be another such but they do not touch many unless theirinverse relationship—between organizationism meanings have been deeply understood andand religious transcendent experiencing—at experienced. Clearly the aim of education inleast for some people. (For however many this this realm must be phrased in terms of inner,may be, it is a possible danger for all. ) If we subjective experiences in each individual.contrast the vivid, poignant, shaking, peak- Unless these experiences are known to haveexperience type of religious or transcendent occurred, value-education cannot be said toexperience, which I have been describing, with have succeeded in reaching its true goal.[2]the thoughtless, habitual, reflex-like, absent-minded, automatic responses which are Footnotesdubbed "religious" by many people (only 1. I have just run across similar statements inbecause they occur in familiar circumstances Jungs autobiography (35). "The arch sin ofsemantically labeled "religious"), then we are faith, it seemed to me, was that it forestalledfaced with a universal, "existential" problem. experience... and confirmed my conviction thatFamiliarization and repetition produces a in religious matters only experience counted"lowering of the intensity and richness of (p.92). "I am of course aware that theologiansconsciousness, even though it also produces are in a more difficult situation than others. Onpreference, security, comfort, etc. (55). the one hand they are closer to religion, but onFamiliarization, in a word, makes it the other hand they are more bound by churchunnecessary to attend, to think, to feel, to live and dogma" (p. 94). (I hope that we are allfully, to experience richly. This is true not only aware that it is easier to be "Pure" outside anin the realm of religion but also in the realms of organization, whether religious, Political,music, art, architecture, patriotism, even in economic, or, for that matter scientific. And yetnature itself. we cannot do without organizations. Perhaps If organized religion has any ultimate one day we shall invent organizations that doeffects at all, it is through its power to shake the not "freeze"?) (back)individual in his deepest insides. Words can be 2. The whole of Chapter 1. "Religion Versus therepeated mindlessly and without touching the Religious," (and especially the last twointrapersonal depths, no matter how true or paragraphs) in John Deweys A Common Faithbeautiful their meaning, so also for symbolic are relevant to the theme of this chapter. As aactions of any kind, e.g., saluting the flag, or for matter of fact, the whole of Deweys bookany ceremonies, rituals, or myths. They can be should be read by anyone interested in myextremely important in their effects upon the theses.person and, through him, upon the world. Butthis is true only if he experiences them, truly Chapter Vlives them. Only then do they have meaning Hope, Skepticism, and Mans Higher Natureand effect. This is probably another reason why The point of view that is rapidlytranscendent experiences seem to occur more developing now—that the highest spiritualfrequently in people who have rejected their values appear to have naturalistic sanctions
  17. 17. and that supernatural sanctions for these progress was an inevitable by-product ofvalues are, therefore, not necessary—raises advances in knowledge of the natural world andsome questions which have not been raised in the technological by-products of thesebefore in quite this form. For instance, why advances died with World War I, with Freud,were supernatural sanctions for goodness, with the depression, with the atom bomb.altruism, virtue, and love necessary in the first Perhaps even more shaking, certainly for theplace? psychologist, has been the recent (61) Of course the question of the origins of discovery that affluence itself throws into thereligions as sanctions for ethics is terribly clearest, coldest light the spiritual, ethical,complex, and I certainly dont intend to be philosophical hunger of mankind. (This is socasual about it here. However, I can contribute because striving for something one lacksone additional point which we can see more inevitably makes one feel that life has aclearly today than ever before, namely that one meaning and that life is worthwhile. But whenimportant characteristic of the new "third" one lacks nothing, and has nothing to strive for,psychology is its demonstration of mans then...?)"higher nature." As we look back through the Thus we have the peculiar situation inreligious conceptions of human nature—and which many intellectuals today find themselvesindeed we need not look back so very far skeptical in every sense, but fully aware of thebecause the same doctrine can be found in yearning for a faith or a belief of some kind andFreud—it becomes crystal clear that any aware also of the terrible spiritual (and political)doctrine of the innate depravity of man or any consequences when this yearning has nomaligning of his animal nature very easily leads satisfaction.[2]to some extra-human interpretation of And so we have a new language togoodness, saintliness, virtue, self-sacrifice, describe the situation, words like anomie,altruism, etc. If they cant be explained from anhedonia, rootlessness, value pathology,within human nature—and explained they must meaninglessness, existential boredom, spiritualbe—then they must be explained from outside starvation, other-directedness, the neuroses ofof human nature. The worse man is, the poorer success, etc. (See Appendix E.)a thing he is conceived to be, the more Most psychotherapists would agreenecessary becomes a god. It can also be that a large proportion of the population of allunderstood more clearly now that one source of affluent nations—not only America—are nowthe decay of belief in supernatural sanctions caught in this situation of valuelessness,has been increasing faith in the higher although most of these therapists are stillpossibilities of human nature (on the basis of speaking superficially and symptomatically ofnew knowledge).[1] Explanation from the character neuroses, immaturity, juvenilenatural is more parsimonious and therefore delinquency, over-indulgence, etc.more satisfying to educated people than is A new approach to psychotherapy,explanation from the supernatural. The latter is existential therapy, is evolving to meet thistherefore apt to be an inverse function of the situation. But on the whole, since therapy isformer. impracticable for mass purposes, most people This process, however, has its costs; simply stay caught in the situation and leadespecially, I would guess, for the less privately and publicly miserable lives. A smallsophisticated portions of the population, or at proportion "returns to traditional religion,"any rate for the more orthodoxly religious. For although most observers agree that this returnthem, as Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and others is not apt to be deeply rooted.realized very clearly, "If God is dead, then But some others, still a smallanything is permitted, anything is possible." If proportion, are finding in newly available hintsthe only sanction for "spiritual" values is from psychology another possibility of asupernatural, then undermining this sanction positive, naturalistic faith, a "common faith" asundermines all higher values. John Dewey called it, a "humanistic faith" as Especially has this been true in recent Erich Fromm called it, humanistic psychologydecades, as positivistic science—which is for as many others are now calling it. (Seemany the only theory of science—proved also Appendix B.) As John MacMurray said, "Now isto be an inadequate source of ethics and the point in history at which it becomes possiblevalues. Faith in the rationalist millennium has for man to adopt consciously as his ownalso been destroyed. The faith that ethical purpose the purpose which is already inherent
  18. 18. in his own nature."— Quoted in Man and God, sciences. They stress rational knowledge anded. V. Gollancz (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., are uneasy with the irrational, the anti-rational,1951), p. 49. There is even a weekly journal, the non-rational, as if Freud and Jung andManas, which could be said to be an organ for Adler had never lived. So they know nothingthis new kind of faith and this new psychology. officially of a subrational unconscious, of repression, or of defensive processes inFootnotes general, of resistances to insight, of impulses1. For instance, my studies of "self-actualizing which are determinants of behavior and yet arepeople" i.e., fully evolved and developed unknown to the person himself. Like positivisticpeople, make it clear that human beings at their psychologists, they feel much more at homebest are far more admirable (godlike, heroic, with the cognitive than they do with thegreat, divine, awe-inspiring, lovable, etc.) than emotional and the impulsive and volitional.ever before conceived, in their own proper They make no basic place in their systems fornature. There is no need to add a non-natural the mysterious, the unknown, the unknowable,determinant to account for saintliness, heroism, the dangerous-to-know, or the ineffable. Theyaltruism, transcendence, creativeness, etc. pass by entirely the old, rich literature based onThroughout history, human nature has been the mystical experiences. They have nosold short primarily because of the lack of systematic place for goals, ends, yearnings,knowledge of the higher possibilities of man, of aspirations, and hopes, let alone will orhow far he can develop when permitted to. purpose. They dont know what to do with the(back) experiential, the subjective, and the2. See the February, 1950, issue of the phenomenological that the existentialists stressPartisan Review on "Religion and the so much, as do also the psychotherapists TheIntellectuals." See also Franklin L. Baumer, inexact, the illogical, the metaphorical, theReligion and the Rise of Skepticism (New York: mythic, the symbolic, the contradictory orHarcourt, Brace & Co., 1960). conflicted, the ambiguous, the ambivalent are all considered to be "lower" or "not good," i.e., Chapter VI something to be "improved" toward pureScience and the Religious Liberals and Non- rationality and logic. It is not yet understood Theists that they are characteristic of the human being at his highest levels of development as well as Nineteenth-century objectivistic, value- at his lowest, and that they can be valued,free science has finally proven to be also a used, loved, built upon, rather than just beingpoor foundation for the atheists, the agnostics, swept under the rug. Nor is it sufficientlythe rationalists, the humanists, and other recognized that "good" as well as "bad"nontheists, as well as for the "liberal" impulses can be repressed.religionists, e.g., the Unitarians and the This is also true for the experiences ofUniversalists. Both of them, orthodox science surrender, of reverence, of devotion, of self-and liberal and non-theistic religion, leave out dedication, of humility and oblation, of awe andtoo much that is precious to most human the feeling of smallness. These experiences,beings. In their revolt against the organized, which organized religions have always tried toinstitutionalized churches, they have unwittingly make possible, are also common enough in theaccepted the immature and naive dichotomy peak-experiences and in the B-cognitions,between traditional religion (as the only carrier including even impulses to kneeling, toof values), on one hand, and, on the other, a prostration, and to something like worship. Buttotally mechanistic, reductionistic, objectivistic, these are all missing from the non-theisms andneutral, value-free science. To this day, liberal from the liberal theisms. This is of especialreligionists rest heavily, even exclusively, on importance today because of the widespreadthe natural sciences which seem to them to be "valuelessness" in our society, i.e., people havesomehow more "scientific" than the nothing to admire, to sacrifice themselves for,psychological sciences upon which they should to surrender to, to die for.[1] This gap calls forbase themselves but which they use almost not filling. Perhaps, even, it may be an "instinctoid"at all (except in positivistic versions). need. Any ontopsychology or any religion, it Thus, average, liberal religionists try to would seem, must satisfy this all their efforts on knowledge of the The result? A rather bleak, boring,impersonal world rather than on the personal unexciting, unemotional, cool philosophy of life