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Record Type: Review   ID: 202

Ecstasy: A Way of Knowing

Greeley, Andrew M.

 Discusses the nature of mysticism and the revival of interest in mystical experiences. Describes the nature of mystical experiences, drawing on the works of Richard M. Bucke, William James, and Abraham Maslow. He shows how a good case could be made for saying that mystics are more "normal" than anyone around them. In a chapter on "The Psychology of Ecstasy" he discusses the psychological explanation of mysticism. The next two chapters are "Mysticism and Creative Experience" and "Ecstasy as Knowledge." In them he contends that "the mystical experience is a natural form of knowledge in the sense that one need postulate no special intervention of the deity to explain it. Nevertheless, in the mystic experience the person makes contact with the Way Things Are" (p. 490.). In the next chapter he concludes that mystics are not mad and calls for research on the question of whether mystics are healthier than the norm. The next chapter is "Ecstasy Through Sex." In the eighth chapter he argues that mysticism and politics are not necessarily antethetical. It is possible that mystical experience can reinforce, deepen, and enrich "a sensitive, subtle and sophisticated political commitment" (p. 111). The ninth chapter is on current fads mysticism is having. He thinks that in the end not everyone will become mystics but that Americans will become much more open to mysticism. Next he discusses whether a capacity for mystical experience can be developed and if it can, whether it should be. He also deals with mysticism and Christianity, asking whether ecstatic experience proves the existence of God or the immortality of the soul. He also discusses whether or not Christian mysticism differs from other kinds, and what mysticism's role is in the Christian life. Appendix A is "Varieties and Descriptions of Religious Experiences" and Appendix B is "Varieties of Altered States of Consciousness" (taken from Arnold Ludwig’s work).
Publisher Information:Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974. Ind
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