Evolution and the Anthropic Principle
Richard Dawkins vs Ken Wilber
Where Am I
The Cheshire Cat
I Could Have Been a Contender
What I Wish Id Said
Keeping Up with the World
The Flight of the Phoenix
The Power of Fog
Naming the Unnamed
Principles in Art
Spirit and Matter
The Enlightenment Conundrum
On Believing
Water? What Water?
Telling Stories 2
I believe in Rainbows
Whom Can We Believe
Patterns by Paul Simon and Douglas Hofstadter
Copyright Inheritance
Broad Minded
Beliefs Part Two
A Long drawn-out solstice
The Quest for, and the Illusion of, Certainty
To the Ends of the Earth
The Meaning Of Life
We Hold These Truths
There are Beliefs
Music and Language
Circular Thinking
Runaway World
Deep Playmate
An Alchemy of Telling
Cultural Genes
The Joy of Science
The Conundrum of Human Nature
No, The Computer Isn't Smarter than I Am!
A Rant on Religion
The West Wing Turning Right?
The Geometry of Spring
Music as Language
What is Art
Beauty and Spirit
You Don't Understand Us
The New God of Probability
Gene Hackman as President
Being Lifted Out of the Ordinary
The Head and the Heart
Pay Attention!
Music Poetry and Meaning
On Seeking Truth
Perceptions and Reality
The Marriage Bond
Taboo is a Right
Copyright versus Copyleft
Cycles of Transcendence
Ego and Self
The Big Picture
Mindfulness as Larger Mind
The Power of Words
The State of the Union
Out of My Mind
Family Thoughts
One Life
Telling Stories
Small World
Bigger Realities
What Comes Next
Humor as a Higher Level of Consciousness
Sometimes Everything Goes Wrong
Emotional Resonance
Extraordinary Respect
Insight Meditation
Us and Them
Paradox and Paradigm
To Reach
I Don't Know
Don the Romantic
The Guy in the Blue Saab
The Sound of Silence
Eating is an Intimate Act
Evolution of Spirit
On Cloning and Other . . .
Creativity and Psychic Phenomena
Magic in My Life
My Difficulty with Aaron
Mindful & Mystic
Taste of Irony
Music Appreciation
Levels of Consciousness

Creativity and Psychic Phenomena

In Eye to Eye, Ken Wilber carefully teases apart the different ways of knowing (through the eye of flesh, the eye of mind and the eye of spirit). He discusses the problem of describing these different ways as "scientific" endeavors, and proposes a set of criteria for scientific investigations in the different realms. One anomaly, however, he "brackets" (sets aside) as something that does not seem to fit the classification scheme: psychic, or paranormal, events. In the chapter on "The Problem of Proof," he writes a single paragraph about such phenomena, which ends with:

"This, of course, makes their data accumulation and verification very difficult—much more difficult than even that of transcendelia, because the realm of transcendelia, as a higher but natural stage of growth and structure of consciousness, can be repeatedly demonstrated by those who attain it, whereas psychic events, like creativity, seem to come and go."

I remember my frustration upon reading that passage for the first time, because psychic phenomena have been such a mystery to me, even in the context of my (rather arrogant, as it seems now) loudly proclaimed agnosticism. I wanted him to put such things into the new context that he was building in my mind. In reading the passage again after a couple of years of absorbing Wilber's worldview, I'm struck by something quite different: his simile "psychic events, like creativity, seem to come and go."

Of course creativity is a mystery, one more powerful than psychic events if only because of its ubiquity. The deeper one goes into the mystery, the more mysterious it becomes. Everybody, it seems, has some access to creativity, even if some of us appear to grasp and use it almost effortlessly while most of us struggle even to recognize its manifestations (to say nothing of giving birth to them). There is obviously something paranormal about creativity. It doesn't come out of analytic effort and it's not itself amenable to analysis. Whether, as Wilber asserts, creativity (and psychic events) seem to come out of someplace other than the realm of the eye of mind or that of the eye of spirit (perhaps from some transition stage of consciousness), their study seems to me to be incredibly practical as well as philosophically important.

I guess it just never occurred to me to put them together as similar (or similarly based) phenomena. I'm flabbergasted at the notion. (Isn't it interesting how a single sentence in a 400-page book can burst like a flare on one's awareness, even after having completely escaped notice before!)

I think that I was annoyed, the first time I read this passage, that Wilber seemed to grant even the slightest validity to "psychic events" that I lump together with UFOs and exorcism and haunted houses and guardian angels. He wrote (as I remember) that the documented cases of some kinds of paranormal phenomena suggest at least that one cannot discount them all out of hand. But creativity? Who can deny it? I have to smile at myself.

Most people (it seems to my admittedly biased eye) can accept mystery and go on with their lives, perhaps using creativity or denying that they possess it (and sometimes both at the same time), without having to ponder and read and write and think, think, think about it. Sometimes I wish I could. It would make my life so much simpler.

And bland.

Ah, yes. I've been here before. Another mystery to dig into.

November 28, 2004

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