How to Marry a Beautiful Woman by Discussing Mysticism

I was recently discussing consciousness with a friend (via the internet).  Consciousness, of course, seems to be based on what I often fascinatingly call  “subject / object perception”.  I know the phrase “subject / object perception” is fascinating because, when I mention it at cocktail parties everyone gets a look on their faces like they are fascinated with something else — anything else.   So, my friend and I were discussing that fascinating subject when she unexpectedly asked,  “Paul, it took me a while to grasp the image you present when you talk about ‘a loss of subject/object perception’,  though I think I’ve attained a somewhat understanding. Can you describe it again?”

No doubt she then giggled and shut down her computer.  But this was over the internet, so I couldn’t see that, and — fool that I am — actually spent considerable time and effort writing up a short answer for her, which I then sent to her, before realizing that she is the only person in my life who has asked me to elaborate on what I mean by “subject / object perception”.

Now, I am a man who normally says, “I’ll be brief and to the point”, only  immediately prior to having sex.  But I actually worked like a school kid on getting his prom bow tie in perfect shape in order to explain the loss of subject / object perception to her in a brief and to the point manner.

Even so, that woman, if she seriously wanted a further explanation, could probably endure a four year round trip to Mars in a small space ship with only one magazine aboard.  She appears to be the perfect person to appreciate my personality, which could bore a dog into refusing to enthusiastically slobber your face.  I just might propose marriage to her.  But I digress.

Here’s what I spent so much time and effort — apparently wasted time and effort — making as short and to the point as I could:

When I am consciously aware of something, I experience a division between me (the observer) and it (whatever it is that I observe). In slightly different words, when I am consciously aware of something I perceive a division between me (the subject) and it (the object). I take those two sentences to be synonymous.

And here’s one way to describe in a simple way that division between me and it, between the observer and the observed, between subject and object: So far as I can see, I am not the notebook on my desk that I am looking at.

Apparently, this division of reality into me and not-me is ultimately caused by as yet largely unknown physiological processes in my brain. Yet, if that’s the case, then any such processes can be interrupted. And, indeed, they sometimes are.

For instance, it appears those processes are routinely interrupted after I go to sleep — or in any other moments when I lose consciousness. But what might happen if those processes were interrupted while I, in some sense of “I”, was still awake? Or still aware?

I believe that if and when that happens there is no longer a division in perception or awareness between me and it, between the observer and the thing observed, between subject and object. Put somewhat poetically, “I and the universe become one”. And this “One”, this “Unity of all things”, or more simply this “All”, is sometimes called by some mystics, “god”; and by other mystics other words.

I believe a friend of mine once said it well when he  mentioned that this “Unity” is the sine qua non — the indispensable condition — of this one particular kind of mystical awareness.  There are other kinds of mystical experiences, but this one is crucially marked by the loss of subject / object perception.

Last, I think it is important, however, to recognize that when mystics use that word “god”, they are — so far as I can see — not talking about the Gods of non-mystics. At least not in any significant way.

And that’s it.  That’s the explanation I gave her.  Can you believe she wrote back and actually thanked me for it!  Thanked me for it!

Now, should I propose to her or not?

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10 thoughts on “How to Marry a Beautiful Woman by Discussing Mysticism

  1. blah…blah…blah…blah…blah…blah… No. You should not propose. Proposing marriage is nothing but accepting society’s definition of personal relationships while you fight desperately against accepting society’s perception of God.

    Perhaps you are losing grasp of the fact that your subject/object comparison is nothing but another rational for describing the persistent call from God that you perceive as blurring the two states.

    Mystics are as confused as the Pope about God. Mystics do not push their perceptions of subject/object blurring enough to clasp a title.

    Don’t clasp the title of marriage and invalidate the pureness of your independence. She will accept a different proposal much more readily and it will make you both happy/

    • “blah…blah…blah…blah…blah…blah…”

      I can see, Curtis, that I have once again impressed a friend with my extraordinary ability to fascinate.

      “Proposing marriage is nothing but accepting society’s definition of personal relationships…”

      That strikes me as insightful. Although, I will add that we sometimes find ourselves in at least partial agreement with “society’s vision” of something.

      “Don’t clasp the title of marriage and invalidate the pureness of your independence. She will accept a different proposal much more readily and it will make you both happy.”

      Very good advice, Curtis. Thanks!

    • I haven’t been in the market for one. But that’s because my heart hasn’t been in the market for one. It’s not because I’m sworn to some resolution opposing it. If someone comes along to change my heart, then I will follow it.

      “Wait to find out if she can cook.”

      I sense you didn’t even consider the possibility she might like my cooking. Well, that makes two of us, Grasshopper: I certainly didn’t consider that possible either.

  2. Q: Are you consciously aware of seeing your own hand?
    Q2: What if the division between me and not-me reality isn’t physiological, i.e. it is based in language (or culture) and does this change anything?
    Q3: Do you know you’re asleep (or dreaming) WHEN you’re alseep (or dreaming)? If not, how can we talk of conscious awareness?
    Q4: If ‘I and the Universe become one’ when I’m not aware of it, does it make a sound?
    Q5: Does she have a nice laugh? If yes = marriage.
    Q6: Don’t you think talking over the internet is much harder? I’m a terrible typist.
    Q7: Do you think numbering these questions gives an unnecessarily harsh or analytic feeling to the whole process. If yes = sorry.
    Q8: Do you think ‘ARTiculation’ is a better blog title for me than ‘God-free Morals’?
    Q9: Is everyone a mystic when they’re alseep?

  3. “Are you consciously aware of seeing your own hand?”

    It seems that at times we are.

    “What if the division between me and not-me reality isn’t physiological, i.e. it is based in language (or culture) and does this change anything?”

    In so far as both language and culture are mental processes, and since all mental processes are ultimately physiological in nature, it is difficult to see how the perceptual division between me and not-me could not have a physiological basis. I suppose one could posit a consciousness that existed independent of the brain, but that seems problematic.

    “Do you know you’re asleep (or dreaming) WHEN you’re alseep (or dreaming)? If not, how can we talk of conscious awareness?”

    Some people report that they have experienced knowing they are asleep and dreaming when they are asleep and dreaming, although it does not seem to be the most common thing.

    Why would we not be able to talk of conscious awareness unless we could talk of knowing we are asleep and dreaming when we are asleep and dreaming?

    “If ‘I and the Universe become one’ when I’m not aware of it, does it make a sound?”

    Apparently, any sound it makes is not recorded into any memory that can be consciously accessed.

    “Does she have a nice laugh? If yes = marriage.”

    Excellent advice!

    “Don’t you think talking over the internet is much harder? I’m a terrible typist.”

    The internet has improved my typing. That’s well worth the price of its also having driven me insane.

    “Do you think numbering these questions gives an unnecessarily harsh or analytic feeling to the whole process. If yes = sorry.”

    I find it charming. When proposing to her, I intend to number the premises in my argument to marry. I am certain she will appreciate its value for quick reference.

    “Do you think ‘ARTiculation’ is a better blog title for me than ‘God-free Morals’?”

    Actually, I think ARTiculation has some advantages over God-free Morals. For one, God-free Morals says to me the blog is only about God-free Morals. ARTiculation seems to imply a wider variety of topics.

    “Is everyone a mystic when they’re alseep?”

    If one says so as a sort of joke, then yes, for dreaming seems to often be a non-dual state — and that is a large part of it. But strictly speaking, I doubt it qualifies — at least, not by how I would define mystic.

    • Thanks for the answers!

      Your answers, especially of Q2, do make you sound like a scientific reductionist. I think the ‘problem’ of consciousness has much more difficulties than can simply be solved with an appeal to brain processes, but then that’s not my area of philosophy. I do like language however and find that language AND culture = mental processes to be far too simple. Unless you make ‘mental processes’ to be a huge meta-concept (and ‘catch all’).

      I think the fact that the original summary took so much effort to write is a sign that this is not a simple matter. I doubt you’d say that it represented the end of inquiry, but it does give a great start for further inquiry, which is really all philosophy students like myself are doing. Pushing at the boundaries of our knowledge to see if it works and trying out new ideas. You don’t need a degree in philosophy to take part in the activity of philosphy (although you’ve obviously studied it – and as I write this I wait to be shot down in flames), just the right approach and ‘mind set’, of course having the degree helps if you want to get paid… (this is my hope)

      Anyway, all that to say, I enjoy the dialogue and hope to continue.

      C

      • When I went back and re-read my responses, I could see how I might come across as a scientific reductionist. That comes from not taking enough time in the first place to make sure I was clear about my position.

        Usually, I try to allow for the possibility that not everything can be adequately explained by science while at the same time advocating the scientific exploration of such things as the origins of our notions of deity. Some people prefer not to push science in that direction, but I think it might be beneficial.

        To me, the difficulty with scientific reductionism is that it seems to presuppose a knowledge of metaphysics that I just don’t think we’ve achieved yet — if we ever will.

        I wish you the best in finding a paid position. That can sometimes be difficult, but please don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. Keep on applying!

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