Didymos Thomas;68783 wrote:
Feeling is not a kind of knowing? . . . . No, I do very much mean to include acquiring knowledge from mysticism as a methodology as well.
[SIZE="3"]Part of the problem with asserting claims about the potentials of a feeling-based epistemology stems from debating people who know absolutely nothing about serious mysticism (serious = not the supernatural, magical, nonsensical variety). The great saints who spent a lifetime turning inward, and developing the potentials of feeling are ignored by those committed to rationalism alone.
If you make a point about he accomplishments of Teresa of Avila or Joshu or the Baal Shem Tov or Kabir or Julian of Norwich or the great Sufi inner practitioner Shah Nimatullah Wali, it's been my experience you can't get any pure rationalist to go and study the field to understand what you are talking about. What you will get over and over is dismissal without understanding, and unfair evaluation of the inner experience by insisting it meet the standards of science or some other ineffective epistemology (i.e., ineffective at studying the mystical experience)
Why exactly, for example, does the sufi Shah Nimatullah Wali say "When the mind's very being is gone, in a rapture divine and deep, itself in the Godhead lost, it is drawn from its former state, to another [that is] measureless." Is that all nonsense, or was he actually experiencing that? The answer you'll normally get from rationalists will be it is delusion, not because they've done the work of exploring the epistemology of inner practitioners, but strictly because that report doesn't fit within their own beliefs. And so instead of a studied, careful, informed response you get constant arguments intended to be little more than a dismissal.
The ability to feel that "serious" mystics refer to isn't body feeling or emotions; so the problem is made more difficult by using a term that has several meanings. In my opinion, a better term would be conscious sensitivity
. In other words, if consciousness is more sensitive, then it can detect more. If we can detect more, we might detect things people whose "normal" consciousness is too insensitive to detect (like a vast field of consciousness we are wall within).
The Sufi Shah Nimatullah Wali did practice the disciplines that evolve our feeling side, and he did report (many times) he experienced a vast field of consciousness. Those who practice and study those disciplines recognize right away what he means when he says "the mind's very being is gone." He has worked to let go of self; that when he says "it is drawn from its former state, to another [that is] measureless" he has experienced absorption and it seems vast to him; when he says "in the Godhead lost," he interprets the field as conscious (the "head" of God); and when he says "in a rapture divine and deep," he is reporting the blissfulness of the experience.
Now, if you study reports of inner practitioners who attain absorption or "oneness," they all report the same sort of experience. 700 years after Shah Wali in Persia wrote, Julian of Norwich wrote from her English monastery "And then the Lord opened my ghostly eye and shewed my soul in the midst of my heart. I saw the Soul as it were an endless world, and as it were a blissful kingdom." Sound familiar? And if someone practices the proper inner discipline himself, he too can experience the same thing as other witnesses.
So there is a verification process for this epistemology, there is a history of consistent reports, and there is a method for personally exploring claims.
Will the science-rationalist mind embrace the rules of this epistemology when examining it? Nope, they'll hook up practitioners to EEGs, etc. and proclaim when they don't find proof that way that it's likely the God area of the brain causing the inner practitioners' reports. Can they prove that claim? Nope, but it fits their a priori physicalist belief system, and so serves as a justification for dismissing those silly ol' deluded mystics.[/SIZE]