Tag Archives: Abraham Maslow

Non-Peakers vs. Peakers

Abraham Maslow was a 20th Century psychologist who did a lot of work in the field of the psychology of spirituality and religion. He carried on a tradition started by William James in the late 19th Century. James and Maslow observed that there was a great divide that made reconciliation of materialist thought and spiritualist experience daunting if not impossible. For a primer, see Maslow’s Religions, Values and Peak-Experiences and James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience. In summary, they understood that the spiritually-inclined could not be understood or taken seriously by a class of materialists. Maslow referred to the latter as ‘non-peakers.’ That is, people who seemed constitutionally incapable of peak experiences, a term he coined for personal transcendent spiritual events. These have variously been described as glimpses of or connections to non-duality, unity consciousness, or God.

Whatever the description, the peak experience by its nature defies words. The futility of relating such through language was noted 2,500 years ago by Lao Tzu in the opening verses of the Tao Te Ching: the unnamable is the eternally real. General Semanticist Alfred Korzybski put it this way in the 20th Century: the map is not the territory.

More recently physicists have applied science to validate Lao Tzu and other Eastern sages (and in a way the likes of Korzybski, Maslow and James too), see The Tao of Physics – Fritjof Capra, The Unobservable Universe – Scott Tyson, The God Theory – Bernard Haisch, Biocentrism – Robert Lanza; to name but a few of many. In various ways the authors argue that the evolution of science is beginning to reveal the accuracy of what spiritualists have attempted to describe since antiquity as the true nature of the universe.  It is a nature that transcends the limitations of language and two-value logic.

In his essay “The Will To Believe” William James addressed why the materialist/spiritualist debate is a dead end street. It is because while materialists write off any spiritualist argument as being predicated upon belief, the materialist’s ‘certainty’ of the dual nature of the universe is just as strongly founded upon faith. To quote U2, both sides are coming from “a place that has to be believed to be seen.” But, the materialist is dead certain he is not. A better appreciation for the truth of James’ conclusions can be found in Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. In a simple, matter-of-fact manner Bryson demonstrates that all branches of science rely upon faith in theories.

Having spent three decades exploring scientology and another decade examining its nemesis, the Anti-Scientology Cult (ASC), I believe the answer to the ASC-Scientology perpetual conflict may lie in the observations of James and Maslow. As much as ASC’s Scientology debunking is embraced by the infotainment, scandal-obsessed media –  which ASC’s leaders have chortled effectively makes Scientology fair game – the ASC is more of a belief-based culture than Scientology is (a self-acknowledged religion).  ASC’s means of attempted conversion to its materialist world views can be  more zealous and coercive than anything it accuses Scientology of.  Attempts to ameliorate ASC’s extremism have been met with the most vicious, surreptitious back stabbing; carried out with crusade-like fervor.

But, put all that hypocrisy aside for the moment – it leaves a lot of room for debate. Let’s focus on one  fact that cannot be disputed. It is published for the world to see. That is, all ASC fora (Underground Bunker, Mike Rinder’s blog, Ex Scnsts Message Board included) default to making ruthless fun of that which Scientologists swear Scientology does for them spiritually. While wrapping their periodic scandal-mongering around a noble reform flag, ASC sites most consistently revel in denigrating professed results of Scientology applications as nothing but the bunk. It is a critical component of ASC membership. It justifies all of its ass clown hijinks against Scientology. It operates like a bedrock article of faith. The highest attainment in ASC is the firmly expressed certainty that peak experiences are delusions of the weak minded.

Those who got something useful from their Scientology experience but ever felt afraid or embarrassed to share it might agree with some of this. They might also reinstate the power of their peak experiences by perusing some of the references cited above.

My Practice

My practice is grounded in client-centered education techniques.  That is not because I sought to duplicate them.  Instead, I recently came to learn that the way I coach and counsel toward recovery and graduation from Scientology was discovered and written about long before I was born.  Reading of it helped me to improve what I was already doing.  Carl Rogers covered this approach in his book, On Becoming a Person, explaining how educational techniques logically evolve out of client-centered therapy.

That I gravitated in this direction during my own recovery and graduation should be no surprise, given the authoritarian, religious discipline all Scientologists studied under for so many years.  The client-centered approach is tailored to consulting the understanding of the client or student.  In that regard, it radically differs from Hubbard’s training approach that was memorialized as follows:

If you can’t graduate them with their good sense appealed to and their wisdom shining, graduate them in such a state of shock they’ll have nightmares if they contemplate squirreling (defined as departing one iota from the letter of what is taught).  – L. Ron Hubbard, Keeping Scientology Working

That learning philosophy was explained further in Hubbard’s highest level instructions (Class VIII course) wherein he told the most advanced Scientologists that humanity was incapable of being appealed to through understanding; and so, instead, it was their duty to command people and make them ‘obey.’   (See Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior, Amazon Books 2012)

Irrespective of the fact that much of the technology such methods sought to impart was geared towards bringing a person to self-determined understandings, that system of indoctrination ultimately implants fixed, subjective ideas about living, God and ultimate spiritual concerns.  At the end of the day, the methods place a glass ceiling on growth (in fact create regression) by means of enforced belief that curiosity and thirst for continuing education inherently stem from aberration.

It may well be that I was also influenced in the client-centered approach through my own earlier education, some of which was influenced by, or was even attempting to experiment in, Roger’s educational recommendations.  The middle school I attended was a fail-pass (no grade), choice of curriculum, self-scheduling format with emphasis on consulting students’ interests.  I also attended a semester of similar organization at University of California Santa Cruz.  I never knew until I read Rogers where these ideas came from.  Perhaps my Scientology study contributed to this leaning too, since I have noted in the post On Becoming A Person, Scientology’s central practice (auditing) is a modified, structuralized form of Rogerian client-centered therapy.  No matter what led to which along this road, it is interesting to note how what gets around comes around.

Having studied all of Scientology and a great deal on the subjects that led to its development (including their continued evolution while Scientology has remained static), a simple, workable rule of thumb has materialized for me.  That is, the degree to which Scientology departs from its client-centered philosophical and technical roots is proportional to the degree it harms rather than helps.  This in large part has become evident to me in helping people who were disappointed with their Scientology experience over the past five years.  Almost to a one, somewhere along the line each individual’s intent and purpose for engaging in Scientology in the first place were tampered with, rejected and replaced entirely by imposed intents and purposes.

Somewhere along the line in the Scientology experience the magic of the technology – each of its efficacious results marked by its adherence to its client-centered philosophic roots – is replaced by inculcation of the client rather than consultation and service of his or her needs, wants, aspirations and purposes.  Those goals do, and ought to if a positive evolution of awareness and ability is being achieved, change along the road.   But evolution in Scientology is geared solely toward achievement of goals that do not involve the client’s participation in establishing, except to the extent means are employed to obtain the client’s agreement to pursue them.  The attainment of those implanted goals turns out to be purely subjective – no matter how clothed in science its claims and promises are presented.   An objective examination of the result of those who pursue the implanted goals to their ends – no matter how convincing its achievers may be in professing their alleged subjective feelings of happiness, power, ability and bliss of self-actualization – proves their actions often betray their vigorous assertions of equanimity.  For the most part they have turned their own self-determinism (the restoration of which is promised) over lock, stock and barrel to their teacher (See What Is Wrong With Scientology, Amazon Books 2012).  They will lie, steal, and cheat for their religion without a twinge of conscience – all while attempting to exude a vibrant, open, extroverted appearance. Thus, they cannot be trusted by ordinary mortals, not even by their mothers, fathers or even their children. In any values computation, their religion trumps conscience.  And thus the price of the ultimate ring in Scientology is the forfeiture of one’s conscience.

That result is patently evident from counseling a number of people who have completed much of, or all of, the Scientology route both inside and outside of Scientology.  To a one, of those who graduated and moved on, their departures from Scientology were occasioned by their consciences failing to succumb to Scientology demands that they be forfeited.  To a one, of the dozens I have counseled.  The top Scientology achievers who remain, who forfeit their consciences to achieve (or at least assert) the ultimate super human powers Scientology promises, are in the somewhat schizophrenic condition of apparently being as happy as hell but in fact having nowhere to go. The result is continued, slavish adherence to the goals and programs of an organization that – by the time it has ceased delivering client-centered techniques – offers no purpose beyond self-perpetuation and world dominance.  The resultant super-amped adherent’s course is described well by Abraham Maslow, as apparently a common result of many paths that lose sight of client-centered principles:

The better we know which ends we want, the easier it is for us to create truly efficient means to those ends.  If we are not clear about those ends, or deny there are any, then we are doomed to confusion of instruments.  We can’t speak about efficiency unless we know efficiency for what.  (I want to quote again the veritable symbol of our times, the test pilot who radioed back, ‘I’m lost, but I’m making record time.’)

Client-centered education begins with finding out where the interests and purposes of the student (client) lie.  One encourages open communication in that discovery process.  Viktor Frankl’s work Man’s Search For Meaning is helpful in that regard.  Knowing the individual before you proceed is essential in working to recover and strengthen that person’s determinism.  Omitting this step tends to usurp determinism.  One doesn’t rehabilitate and enhance the faculty of determinism by indoctrination that conflicts with the client’s interests and purposes.  For example, one does not force a student who is inspired by, inclined toward – and thus usually gifted in some way – the arts to become an arms manufacturing specialist.  Similarly, one would not attempt to enforce upon a person seeking spiritual awakening the behavior and habits of a para-military religious zealot.

A client-centered educator does not preach and teach as much as find out and only then guide. He puts more emphasis on assisting an individual in finding and following his own purposes and interests.  He then does what he can to help the person move along that chosen path with the best possible chances for success. He acts more as a facilitator than an instructor.  He operates more of a resources center than a rigid curriculum school.

I have been asked, and challenged, to publish the specific route I recommend several times.  I have tried to do that.  But, each time in the process I find myself thinking of particular individual whom I have assisted in the past and recognize that a given reference for that person would not be of interest or applicable to another individual I had worked with.  No two paths are exactly the same.   I have learned through life that to the extent one tries to convince you otherwise that person is trying to lead you to where he wants you to go – irrespective of how eloquently he might convincingly represent otherwise. To the extent one attempts to enforce one way for all, one deviates from the client-centered approach – and some other interest or evaluation is entered into the equation for someone to whom it may not apply or serve any salutary purpose.

There are a number of recommendations I have made in the recommended reading section of the blog that I find myself recommending over and over again to people.   For the most part those are applicable to the Scientology decompression and contextualization process, and lead toward freeing one from Scientology’s injunctions against exercise of conscience and awareness.  Most of them were chosen because of their effectiveness in expanding people’s intellectual and spiritual horizons after years or decades of having those horizons treated as forbidden terrain.

I am working on a book that will make many more recommendations for those seeking to move up the Scientology Bridge in an integral fashion (non-cult, integrated approach), and another for those seeking to move up from and beyond the Scientology Bridge.  In the meantime, I strongly recommend that those embarking on the Scientology path – whether in the church or out – read  What Is Wrong With Scientology?, before doing so.  It will help you avoid the pitfalls inherent in the system.

What’s Going On?

I came across an interesting passage in a book – the passage originally published in 1963 – by a prominent psychologist predicting quantum advancements in human consciousness by the marrying of religious and philosophic wisdom with rapidly evolving science. It is fifty years later and it seems Scientology is only now beginning to go through the throes of differentiating the adults (truth seeking spiritualists and values inspired scientists) from the children (flat earth religionists and reductionist-mechanistic inclined scientists).  Scientology seems, to steal a verse from U2, stuck in a moment that it can’t get out of.  From Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences, by Abraham H. Maslow:

These two groups (sophisticated theologians and sophisticated scientists) seem to be coming closer and closer together in their conception of the universe as ‘organismic’, as having some kind of unity and integration, as growing and evolving and having direction and, therefore, having some kind of ‘meaning.’ Whether or not to call this integration ‘God’ finally gets to be an arbitrary decision and a personal indulgence determined by one’s personal myths.  John Dewey, an agnostic, decided for strategic and communicative purposes to retain the word ‘God’, defining it in a naturalistic way.  Others have decided against using it also for strategic reasons.  What we wind up with is a new situation in the history of the problem in which a ‘serious’ Buddhist let us say, one who is concerned with ‘ultimate concerns’ and with Tillich’s ‘dimensions of depth’, is more co-religionist to a ‘serious’ agnostic than he is to a conventional, superficial, other-directed Buddhist for whom religion is only habit or custom, i.e., behavior.

Indeed, these ‘serious’ people are coming so close together as to suggest that they are becoming a single party of mankind, the earnest ones, the seeking, the questioning, probing ones, the ones who are not sure, the ones with a ‘tragic sense of life’, the explorers of the depths and of the heights, the ‘saving remnant.’  The other party then is made up of all the superficial, the moment-bound, the herebound ones, those who are totally absorbed with the trivial, those who are ‘plated with piety, not alloyed with it’, those who are reduced to the concrete, to the momentary, and to the immediately selfish.  Almost, we could say, we wind up with adults, on the one hand, and children, on the other. 

Dichotomized Religion & Sheep Production

The following is a 1964 analysis of what had happened to religions over the millennia. Interesting how it was happening in real time, first generation, to Scientology while the words were being typed.  It continues to play out in real time in the ‘independent field’ as evidenced by the commentary – and omission thereof – on this blog.  If you find yourself not to be one of the sheep described (or no longer wanting to be one), you might be interested in investigating more deeply how this applies to Scientology, by reading Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior.

From Abraham H. Maslow’s Religion, Values, and Peak Experiences :

When all that could be called ‘religious’ (naturalistically as well as supernaturalistically) was cut away from science, from knowledge, from further discovery, from the possibility of skeptical investigation, from confirming and discomfirming, and, therefore, from the possibility of purifying and improving, such a dichotomized religion was doomed.  It tended to claim that the founding revelation was complete, perfect, final, and eternal.  It had the truth, the whole truth, and had nothing more to learn, thereby being pushed into the position that has destoryed so many churches, of resisting change, of being only conservative, of being anti-intellectual and anti-scientific, of making piety and obedience exclusive of skeptical intellectuality — in effect, of contradicting naturalistic truth.

Such a split-off religion generates split-off and partial definition of all necessary concepts. For example, faith, which has perfectly respectable naturalistic meanings, as for example in Fromm’s writings, tends in the hands of an anti-intellectual church to degenerate into blind belief, sometimes even ‘belief in what you know ain’t so.’  It tends to become unquestioning obedience and last-ditch loyalty no matter what.  It tends to produce sheep rather than men.