Berdyaev suggests that "where mysticism begins, there is the end of the realm of dogmatic clarity," but must this always be the case? No doubt it is sometimes or maybe even often true, what with various suburban shamans, dime store gurus, and cracker barrel gnostics hocking their counterfeit upperwares.
The difference, I think, is between a kind of grasping at spirit -- a storming of heaven, or attempting to pull oneself up by one's own buddhastraps -- versus an infusion or acquisition (not possession!) of something that is always "other" -- a pneumatic "third," as it were.
Regarding this third, it is either "acquired" via human effort, and is therefore simply human; it is loaned, in which case it is repaid upon death; or it is a gift, free and clear.
The moment someone begins taking credit for the process, we're going to have problems, e.g., Andrew Cohen and all the rest of the self-styled new age saviors.
I mean, show me the genuine saint who boasts of his enlightenment. To the extent that he is enlightened, the only valid recognition is the testimony of others. And even then, one would be embarrassed. What's that word? Starts with an h... humility?
Speaking of whom, now he tells us: "I’m fifty-seven years old and currently find myself facing the biggest challenge of my life."
Oh? The Enlightened One is facing a challenge? What, parenthood? Having to make an honest living? The other messiah canceled your health insurance? Ken Wilber won't return the lawnmower? Do tell.
But first: does everyone get their money back?
Just kidding! Besides, not only can the Enlightened endure good-natured mockery, but they are known to have a refreshingly self-effacing sense of humor. They don't take themselves seriously.
"I’ve been a teacher of spiritual enlightenment for twenty-seven years."
You sure about that? Enlightenment? Is that really something one can teach? I mean, I know you can charge for it, but is that the same as teaching it?
And would an "enlightened" person charge big bucks for the secret, or would giving it away be one of its seals of authenticity? Because I'm with Captain Beefheart on this question: I want to give it away, because where I got it, it didn't cost me a thing.
I know what you're thinking: "Bob, you're just jealous. Plus, you're using reverse psychology on us, trying to plant the seed that since you don't profit from your prophetry, ergo you must be the enlightened one. You are Neo!"
Well, I'm not Neo. Like you, I'm just Morpheus, looking toward Neo while trying to extricate myself from the Matrix. You can comb through all 2,500 posts for the merest suggestion that I am some sort of enlightened evolutionary being, the next phase of cosmic evolution incarnate. What an obnoxious -- and fascistic -- idea. From the Raccoon perspective, there are plenty of infrahumans, that is, people who sink beneath their humanness. But there are no suprahumans, with only one possible exception.
As I've said before, if there are suprahumans among us, then anyone less than the Übermensch is just a means to a superior end, thus rendering his own life as meaningless as that of a drone to the queen bee. Or, to quote the Sphinx,
"Enlightenment has always been and always will be about transcending the ego."
Or not. Perhaps it's about infusing the ego. Or maybe it cannot be understood in such an intrasubjective manner, and is fundamentally intersubjective, i.e., about relationship. If this is the case, then the most transcendent ego in the world is just wrong if it is not properly attuned to the Other -- both horizontally and vertically.
Indeed, in the Raccoon tradition this is rule number one: all other rules are number two or lower. In concrete terms it is reducible to the formula: love the lord (↑) and love the neighbor/stranger (↳) -- which is really one and the same spiro-paracletic movement.
"Over the last several years, some of my closest students have tried to make it apparent to me that in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well."
Ah, the students have surpassed the teacher! Isn't that a good thing? You know what they say: if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him! Or at least stop paying him.
You know Taranto's running gag about the Butterfield Fallacy, e.g., Crime Down Despite Increased Prison Population? Well, here's one for the book: "in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well."
"I’ve understood this simple truth -- that we all have egos no matter how enlightened we may be..."
Er, shouldn't that realization come at the beginning, not the end? Because if not, then you can be quite sure that
"when I was being asked to face my own ego by those who were nearest and dearest to me, I resisted. And I often made their lives difficult as a result."
I know people like that. Except I don't call them "enlightened." Rather, I call them "patients."
"I’m aware that many of my students over the years have also been affected by my lack of awareness of this part of myself."
Part, eh? Okay. But I think it's a little like dieting: you can't spot reduce.
And to paraphrase the Sphinx, you need to know that the Adversary has many weapons. To defeat him you will need to have more than just flunkies and flatulence.
In any event, what is mankind to do in your absence? Will you send a helper?
Orthodox mysticism is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit -- a mysticism of the Holy Spirit. In it human nature is transfigured and illuminated from within.... Christ enters the heart, and by this 'christ-ization' of the heart the whole human nature is changed: man becomes a new creature....
The grace of the Holy Spirit is acquired by means of humility.... We may establish three conditions for Christian mysticism, three marks or signs of it: personality, freedom, love.... [It is] at once more involved in the world, and more free from it. --Berdyaev