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.