The Religious A priori


Arguments for the Existnece of God





Mystical Experience page 2
Transformative Power







Overview:
C. Knowledge Gained in Peak Experience Self-Validating And Trnasformational.

Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Abraham H. Maslow
Appendix I. An Example of B-Analysis

1) Valuable as End in itself.

(Maslow)

"The question has to be differentiated still further. There is no doubt that great insights and revelations are profoundly felt in mystic or peak-experiences, and certainly some of these are, ipso facto, intrinsically valid as experiences. That is, one can and does learn from such experiences that, e.g., joy, ecstasy, and rapture do in fact exist and that they are in principle available for the experiencer, even if they never have been before. Thus the peaker learns surely and certainly that life can be worthwhile, that it can be beautiful and valuable. There are ends in life, i.e., experiences which are so precious in themselves as to prove that not everything is a means to some end other than itself."


2) Ego and Identity Issues

(Maslow)
"...Another kind of self-validating insight is the experience of being a real identity, a real self, of feeling what it is like to feel really oneself, what in fact one is—not a phony, a fake, a striver, an impersonator. Here again, the experiencing itself is the revelation of a truth..."

3) Life Transforming Experience.

(Maslow)

"...My feeling is that if it were never to happen again, the power of the experience could permanently affect the attitude toward life. A single glimpse of heaven is enough to confirm its existence even if it is never experienced again. It is my strong suspicion that even one such experience might be able to prevent suicide, for instance, and perhaps many varieties of slow self-destruction, e.g., alcoholism, drug-addiction, addiction to violence, etc. I would guess also, on theoretical grounds, that peak-experiences might very well abort "existential meaninglessness," states of valuelessness, etc., at least occasionally. (These deductions from the nature of intense peak-experiences are given some support by general experience with LSD and psilocybin. Of course these preliminary reports also await confirmation. )... ...This then is one kind of peak-knowledge of whose validity and usefulness there can be no doubt, any more than there could be with discovering for the first time that the color "red" exists and is wonderful. Joy exists, can be experienced and feels very good indeed, and one can always hope that it will be experienced again...."

"...Perhaps I should add here the paradoxical result—for some—that death may lose its dread aspect. Ecstasy is somehow close to death-experience, at least in the simple, empirical sense that death is often mentioned during reports of peaks, sweet death that is. After the acme, only less is possible. In any case, I have occasionally been told, "I felt that I could willingly die," or, "No one can ever again tell me death is bad," etc. Experiencing a kind of "sweet death" may remove its frightening aspect. This observation should, of course, be studied far more carefully than I have been able to. But the point is that the experience itself is a kind of knowledge gained (or attitude changed) which is self-validating. Other such experiences, coming for the first time, are true simply because experienced, e.g., greater integration of the organism, experiencing physiognomic perception, fusing primary-and secondary-process, fusing knowing and valuing, transcending dichotomies, experiencing knowing as being, etc., etc. The widening and enriching of consciousness through new perceptual experiences, many of which leave a lasting effect, is a little like improving the perceiver himself...."

Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Abraham H. Maslow
Appendix D. What is the Validity of Knowledge Gained in Peak-Experiences?


Quotes:
The history of science and invention is full of instances of validated peak-insights and also of "insights" that failed. At any rate, there are enough of the former to support the proposition that the knowledge obtained in peak-insight experiences can be validated and valuable....This all seems very obvious and very simple. Why has there then been such flat rejection of this path to knowledge? Partly I suppose the answer is that this kind of revelation-knowledge does not make four apples visible where there were only three before, nor do the apples change into bananas. No! it is more a shift in attention, in the organization of perception, in noticing or realizing, that occurs. In peak-experiences, several kinds of attention-change can lead to new knowledge. For one, love, fascination, absorption can frequently mean "looking intensely, with care," as already mentioned. For another, fascination can mean great intensity, narrowing and focusing of attention, and resistance to distraction of any kind, or of boredom or even fatigue. Finally, what Bucke (10) called Cosmic Consciousness involves an attention-widening so that the whole cosmos is perceived as a unity, and one's place in this whole is simultaneously perceived.

"In Appendix I and elsewhere in this essay, I have spoken of unitive perception, i.e., fusion of the B-realm with the D-realm, fusion of the eternal with the temporal, the sacred with the profane, etc. Someone has called this "the measureless gap between the poetic perception of reality and prosaic, unreal commonsense." Anyone who cannot perceive the sacred, the eternal, the symbolic, is simply blind to an aspect of reality, as I think I have amply demonstrated elsewhere (54), and in Appendix I."

"For "ought perception," "ontification" and other examples of B-knowledge, see my article "Fusions of Facts and Values" (54). The bibliography of this paper refers to the literature of gestalt psychology for which I have no room here. For "reduction to the concrete" and its implications for cognition of abstractness in various senses, Goldstein (23, 24) should be consulted. Peak-experiencers often report something that might be called a particular kind of abstract perception, i.e., perception of essence, of "the hidden order of things, the X-ray texture of the world, normally obscured by layers of irrelevancy" (39, p. 352). My paper on isomorphism (48) also contains relevant data, of which I will mention here only the factor of being "worthy of the experience," of deserving it, or of being up to it. Health brings one "up to" higher levels of reality; peak-experiences can be considered a transient self-actualization of the person. It can therefore be understood as lifting him "higher," making him "taller," etc., so that he becomes "deserving" of more difficult truths, e.g., only integration can perceive integration, only the one who is capable of love can cognize love, etc."

Next: Mystical argument page 3

The Religious A priori