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Hine's Illumination and James' Mystical Experience

Phil Hine's Illumination criteria (from Condensed Chaos):

  1. A sense of unity--a fading of the self-other divide
  2. Transcendence of space and time as barriers to experience
  3. Positive sensations
  4. A sense of the numinous
  5. A sense of certitude--the "realness" of the experience
  6. Paradoxical insights
  7. Transience--the experience does not last
  8. Resultant change in attitude and behavior.

Stages of illumination:

  1. Change
  2. Crisis
  3. Transcendence
  4. Transformation
  5. Predisposition to further change.


William James' "four marks" of mystical experience (1902):

  1. Ineffability--it defies expression.
  2. Noetic quality--it is authoritative and full of knowledge.
  3. Transiency--it cannot be sustained for long (at most an hour or two).
  4. Passivity--it cannot be purposefully induced, feels as if the mystic has been removed from willful reality, and it modifies the inner life of the mystic regardless of will.


Hine's stages and criteria are remarkably similar to James' four marks. Some days, I wonder if we are re-doing work that has already been done. While I don't doubt that Hine knows what he's talking about, and I'm positive that he's shown some innovation, is it likely that we could have used the information James wrote over a hundred years ago as our starting point?

Hine isn't the first person to have the same thought as James. Others have looked at these states, whether mystical, religious, initiatory, or illuminatory, and said similar things.

The real, central issue, is that we're starting over from step one, when we're already on step two. Why keep restarting when we don't have to? Why keep redefining this state, or these states? Accept a definition, any definition, and move on. Experience that state. Don't simply talk about it. 


William James' definition of religion:

"the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they may apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider divine."


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