Back in the middle 60’s, experimentation with LSD was actually legal. Out of those experiments, believe it or not, we gained some insight into why some people gravitate to one or the other expression of spiritual styles.
The experimentation in question was done by Jean Houston and her husband Robert Masters. The results are written up in their book, The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience.
What the research found was that we humans have four distinct levels of our psyches. These levels correspond, interestingly enough, with four levels of the psyche as reported by mystics from all of the great religions of the world.
No hierarchy of the four levels is implied. It is just that people seem to relate to a Higher Power in one of four different ways, depending on their psychological type. Which type are you?
Level one people are born nature mystics. My experience has shown me that there are many individuals who self-identify this way. Their conundrum, if they belonged to most religions, was that they were often considered to be pantheists or nature worshippers. If they wished to be married outdoors, for example, in “God’s cathedral”, these individuals would be shamed by their religious leaders. What do these religious leaders think about Jesus preferring to be baptized in the river Jordan, rather than in the Temple of Jerusalem, which was the custom of the day?
Level two people relate to a Higher Power , not primarily through nature, but through dialogue. They can close their eyes and talk to “God”, like my father used to do. When he was deep in prayer, it was obvious to anyone that he was in a real relationship.
Level three people have their most powerful spiritual experiences through ritual. They are at home with the rituals of their respective religion, whether it is spinning a prayer wheel, celebrating a Catholic Mass, doing yoga, or bowing to Mecca.
Level four people encounter “God’s” presence in silence, presence and awareness. There are no words or symbols or gestures that are necessary or adequate. Through meditation, or just “being”, the person feels at one with the One.
A good religion will find room for all four spiritual styles. An inadequate religion will drive people away because of a cookie cutter approach that does violence to an individual’s psychology. A religion that embraces all four styles, and is in harmony with science, has yet to arise. It is only a matter of time before evolution brings this about.
Next posting: Surrender
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