Paramaartha and modern constructivists on mysticism:

Epistemological monomorphism versus duomorphism
By Robert K. C. Forman
Philosophy East & West
39:4\1989.10
p.393-418


p. 393 I. INTRODUCTION One of the axioms of what may be called the received view in the post-Wittgensteinian humanities and social sciences is that my experience of something, say a door, is highly shaped and conditioned by my concepts, expectations, beliefs, and so forth about doors. To see an opaque, four-by-seven-foot, tan, flat, vertical rectangle is, consciously or unconsciously, to think the word "door," and hence to expect that it will open, that it will not fall on my head or spit fire at me, that it will probably be made of wood or veneered particle-board, and that I will be able to walk to some unastonishing place through it. Such commonplace expectations are part of my concept and experience of a door. They come to me by way of my language, past experiences, and beliefs. A great deal of my experience of that tan rectangle, according to this received view, is the product of such accumulated concepts and experiences. Indeed, were it not for my linguistic and cultural background, I would be unlikely to know how to respond to the tan rectangle before me. Let us call this view "constructivism"-for in significant ways I "construct" my experience of a door from my expectations, sense input, concepts, and so forth. Such a received view is so well accepted as to be almost an article of faith in the academy. It was inevitable, then, that scholars of religion would apply this model to religious experience, especially to its pinnacle, mystical experience. Like any other experience, according to the "constructivist" version of mysticism, the mystic's experience of God, of Brahman, of the Tao, of `sunyataa and so forth is in significant ways shaped, formed, and/or constructed from his or her expectations and concepts of those notions. Proof of such a statement is hardly necessary for these constructivists, for they are capitalizing on the enormous body of literature to this effect in the study of perception, cognition, art, and so forth. But if extra proof were needed, one need only point to the fact that Christians virtually never have a vision of multiarmed Kaalii, and Neo-Confucians never see Jesus. Expectations, concepts, and the background of beliefs clearly limit and form the mystic's visions. The constructivist model is the engine which has driven most of the articles and books written about mysticism over the last decade. It dominates the two principal genres of recent books and articles about mysticism. The first genre is historical: theological and contextual studies of an individual mystic note how he or she was influenced in particular ways by his/her tradition. For example, in the literature concerning Meister Eckhart's mysticism, with which I am especially familiar, recent studies have shown how his thought and experience were influenced by Neo-Platonism,(1) Augustine,(2) and Saint Thomas.(3) ------------------------- Robert K. C. Forman, Ph. D., teaches in the Department of Religion at Vassar College. p. 394 The more or less explicit implication here is that the experiences described by Eckhart were themselves influenced by his predecessors. Such articles typically do not argue for the claimed connection between experience and set; they either assume it or refer the reader to the second genre of recent articles which do explicitly argue for this connection. In the Eckhart literature, for example, both McGinn and Clark refer to Steven Katz's well-known article for a defense of this connection.(4) Hence, for a defense of the claimed connection between the background of belief and mystical experience, the reader must turn to the second type of recent construtivist literature, the theoretical, in which theories and methodologies of mysticism are articulated and defended. Much of recent construetivist theory has been published in two recent volumes edited by Steven Katz: using Buddhist meditation practices as his field of inquiry, Robert Gimello argues that mystical experiences result from a "psychosomatic enhancement" of expectations and beliefs.(5) Peter Moore attempts to draw out the full range of possible influential factors, which might include not only beliefs and expectations, but also the music, architecture, aesthetics, and ethics of a tradition.(6) Elsewhere William Wainwright argues that mystical experience is encountered and validated similarly to sense experiences--that is, my experience of a door.(7) Jerry Gill argues that, since all experiences are intentional and hence in significant ways constructed, mystical experiences must be, too.(8) In one of the most sophisticated defenses of constructivism, Wayne Proudfoot argues that mystical experiences result from a labeling of "visceral arousals"; since labels are supplied by one's tradition, mystical experiences must be so shaped.(9) Smart,(10) Hick,(11) Penehelum,(12) and others have written in a similar vein. The most outspoken and renowned defender of the position is probably Steven Katz, especially in his article, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism."(l3) So frequently glossed is this article that it has itself become virtually the received view on mysticism.(l4) No experiences are pure, that is, unmediated, Katz asserts. Hence, mystical experiences are also mediated, that is, in part constructed, by the language and beliefs mystics use to interpret them. Katz offers as his paradigm case one quite like that of seeing a door: Monet's mispainting of Notre Dame. Because he expected them to be so, Monet substituted Gothic (pointed) arches for the Romanesque (rounded) ones which were actually there.(15) In this case, as in mysticism, Katz asserts, expectations play a key causal role in the shaping of mystical experiences. Such men (women, curiously, have so far played a very minor role in this debate) were opposing the so-called Perennial Philosophy tradition, which held that mysticism is largely the same across traditions, and thus is not the product of tradition-bound expectations. Authors like Evelyn Underhill, (16) Aldous Huxley, (l7) Frithjof Schuon, (18) Rudolf Otto,(19) W. T. Stace,(20) and p. 395 recently, Huston Smith(21) have all taken such an approach. From this fact alone, these authors continue, mystical experiences can serve as a way to ground a "perennial" philosophy, that is, one which is held in essence across cultures and times. For them mysticism is something nearer to an expression of a fundamental human connectedness with the Divine which is experienced in a firsthand, unmediated manner. The advantages of the constructivist approach over perennialism are considerable, It cannot but make stand in relief the differences, both gross and subtle, between mystics from various faiths. As Katz states this, his position is a "plea for the recognition of differences."(22) It provides a relatively clear epistemological model for mystical experiences, one which is certainly clearer than the rather vague suggestions of the perennialists. It capitalizes on the enormous theoretical and empirical post-Wittgensteinian literature, bringing the study of mysticism out of the realm of dogma and into twentieth-century pluralistic thought. Finally, one of its claimed virtues is that it can dispense with the host of a priori assumptions which lent plausibility to perennialism. But there are problems with this constructivist paradigm, many of which my colleagues and I have elsewhere noted. Perovich and I have pointed out that the claims of constructivism to be able to handle all forms of mysticism are not borne out with respect to Neo-Platonic descriptions of unitive absorption or to Buddhist claims about cessation meditation.(23) As Jerry Gill does, constructivists will tend to ignore or write off nonrelational mystical experiences as not "fitting" with the paradigm cases. Perovich has elsewhere argued that the articles which argue for constructivism are systematically vague and incomplete: their systematic elusiveness is a device which protects the pluralism hypothesis.(24) I have argued that because constructivism is an inherently conservative thesis, it will have difficulty accounting for novel or unexpected mystical experiences--those which come without any or most of the cognitive preparation on which the theory depends so heavily.(25) Constructivism is hardpressed to handle mystical experiences which come "out of the blue" to the uninitiated, as well as experiences of the initiated whose shape is unpredicted and utterly surprising. Focusing on Steven Katz's first article, Steven Bernhardt pointed out the gaping incompleteness and inconsistencies in this renowned piece. Noting that the "pure consciousness event" does not seem to have enough complexity to be shaped or constructed, he throws the ball back into the other camp.(26) Prigge and Kessler argue against the pluralistic claims of constructivism by arguing that the Pure Consciousness Event does indeed seem to be found across many traditions.(27) In this article I want to add to this growing anticonstructivist literature by pointing out one critical and fallacious assumption in the constructivist position. I mentioned before that Katz claims that, except for his renowned epistemological assumption that there are no pure, that is, unmediated experiences, his position needs to make no unusual a priori assumptions. p. 396 Our position is able to accommodate all the evidence which is accounted for by non-pluralistic accounts without being reductionistic, i.e. it is able to do more justice to the specificity of the evidence and its inherent distinctions and disjunctions than can the alternative approache. That is to say, our account neither (a) overlooks any evidence, nor (b) has any need to simplify the available evidence to make it fit into comparative or comparable categories, nor (c) does it begin with a priori assumptions about the nature of ultimate reality.(28) By this last statement (c), he means that his position needs to make no a priori ontological assumptions, that is, about God's existence or the nature of the soul. This claim is implicit in many of the above-mentioned constructivist articles. And it is, as I noted, an advantage of his position over perennialism. But to show that constructivism must make at least one very important and dogmatically held assumption--one which is unnoticed, undefended, and implausible--will be the goal of this article. I shall argue this case by drawing a parallel between these authors and certain Buddhist writers, notably the sixth-century Yogaacaarin philosopher and translator, Paramaartha. We shall see that Paramaartha describes an epistemological constructivism which is strikingly similar in its important respects to the modern constructivist's. While there are, of course, differences between these authors, in their versions of ordinary experiences the fundamental claim that experiences are significantly built out of concepts, words, and expectations is identical. Paramaartha, however, does not end with such a constructivism. He goes on to describe mystical experiences in completely different terms. The modern constructivist, on the other hand, does not. It is my hope that by noting the parallels and divergences between these two sets of constructivists we can gain insight into the more recent ones which may prove helpful as we try to understand their model for mysticism. Why the modern writers make the case they do and what it portends about constructivism in general will be the subject of my concluding remarks. One prefatory remark: the above-mentioned critical articles have, on the whole, focused on one particular form of mysticism, the Pure Consciousness Event (PCE), in which one is awake and alert but devoid of any and all objects for consciousness. One entertains therein no feeling, sensation, thought, perception, or even the realization, "Oh, now I am having an unusual experience." Nothing. I want to emphasize that I believe that constructivism is incapable of handling other, perhaps more advanced forms of mysticism as well, that is, unitive or illuminative. But I will not be discussing them here; I, too, will focus on the Pure Consciousness Event. The reasons I am focusing on this more rudimentary form of experience are: (a) it seems to play a role in the epistemological formation of the more advanced forms, and understanding its philosophical character should help clarify the character of those more advanced, complex states of consciousness; (b) the traditional figure on whom I will focus, Paramaartha, himself focuses on such experiences in certain critical p. 397 passages; and (c) because of its character, the philosophical matter at hand, constructivism, may be most readily understood with reference to this form of mystical experience. For these reasons I think it is reasonable to look at it, saving my discussion of the more advanced experiences for a later work. II. YOGAACAARA CONSTRUCTIVISM AND ITS OPPOSITE Many schools of fourth-century Buddhism, like today's constructivist, portrayed the ordinary experienced world as being in large part the result of the constructive and conditioning activities of the mind.(29) In the La^nkaavataara Suutra, for example, there is a considerable emphasis on the role of language and its power to bind the mind, thereby keeping one from enlightenment. Words and concepts are there said to be an artificial creation and born of convention. There are an infinite set of possible languages, it states, by any one of which people could communicate and divide up the world differently. If, Mahamati, you say that because of the reality of words the objects are, this talk lacks in sense. Words are not known in all the Buddha-lands; words, Mahaamati, are an artificial creation. In some Buddha-lands ideas are indicated by looking steadily, in others by gestures, in still others by a frown, by the movement of the eyes, by laughing, by yawning, or by the clearing of the throat, or by recollection, or by trembling.(30) From early on, Buddhism thrived in a polygloy and multilingual world. As its missionaries spread out, they had to wrestle constantly with translation and cross-cultural issues. Buddhists perforce had to be sensitive to the fact that different languages could slice up the experiential pie differently, and hence are, to a considerable extent, arbitrary and conventional. According to the La^nkaavataara Suutra, the language that we use sets up the categories of thought by means of which we perceive and experience. Separating things by such different names is technically called vikalpa. This term, which I will discuss below, may be translated as discrimination or even construction.(31) Further, Mahamati, by `discrimination' is meant that by which names are declared, and there is thus the indicating of (various) appearances. Saying that this is such and no other, for instance, saying that this is an elephant, a horse, a wheel, a pedestrian, a woman, or a man, each idea thus discriminated is so determined.(32) When a person uses a language and concepts, he or she inevitably discriminates in the terms provided by that language. As a result people tend to fall into the habits of perception which their language engenders, and form attachments to (ta.nhaa, literally, thirst for) such linguistically engendered notions. Mahamati, [ordinary men] cling to names, ideas and signs; their minds move along (these channels). As thus they move along, they feed on multiplicity of objects, and fall into the notion of an ego-soul and what belongs to it, and cling to salutory appearances.(33) p. 398 In the La^nkaavataara Suutra, the key discrimination which leads to du.hkha, suffering, is the notion of the ego or the self. Modern mystical constructivists, to my knowledge, have not offered a corresponding psychological theory. However, I see no reason for them to deny some such psychological claim. The claim that certain key notions of language are critical in the building up of psychological cathexes and attachments would fit in readily with the theory. Aside from its emphasis on such attachments, however, this suutra's analysis of constructivism parallels the constructivist's. That is, according to both, the ordinary mind tends to impose labels provided in large part by one's language and beliefs, and thereby develop tradition-informed habits of perception. According to both, in significant ways the subject creates or shapes his/her own experiences. Finally, according to both, one's ideas and expectations significantly shape and determine perception. One of the most systematic Buddhist accounts of the constructed nature of ordinary perception and behavior may be found in Paramaartha, especially in his brief Chuan shih lun (CSL), The Evolution of Consciousness, which is a translation of and commentary on the Tri.m`sikaa of Vasubandhu. I turn to Paramaartha, first, because he was a not insignificant writer and translator for Chinese and later Japanese Buddhist thought; second, because his presentation is especially clear; and third, because his cognitive psychology is strikingly parallel at key points to the modern constructivists' philosophy of mind. My discussion of Paramaartha must perforce be summary, and I commend Diana Paul's more exhaustive works on Paramaartha to the interested reader.(34) I will give an overview of his account of experience and then turn to his account of perception in order to draw out the parallels with modern thought. In order to allow his reader to gain control of them, Paramaartha begins this text by offering an account of mental processes as they are found in ordinary, everyday states of consciousness. Employing a term as ancient as Buddhism itself, he maintains that our behavior and perception are based on a process of conditioning (pratiityasamutpaada). Following Vasubandhu, Paramaardha maintains that in this conditioning process there are three structural or functional levels within the mind (or, as he puts it, three kinds of perceiver), each of which conditions and constructs behavior and experience. [Verse 1b:] Next we shall explain the three kinds of perceiver [or cognizer]. [Verse 2: ] (1) The retributive (vipaka) consciousness, namely the aalayavij~naana;(2) the appropriating consciousness, namely the aadaana vij~naana; (3) the consciousness of sense data, namely the six [sense] consciousnesses vij~naaptir vi.sayasya).(35) Let us look at these in turn. The most fundamental level is called the aalaya vij~naana, a term for which Yogaacaara is renowned. It is fundamentally volitional, p. 399 representing the capacity of the mind to construct future acts based upon past habits and behavior.(36) Insofar as we choose what we attend to and which aspects of a perception we focus on, it plays a role in perception as well. It [the aalaya vij~naana] is called the fundamental consciousness because all seeds of conditioned phenomena are dependent upon it and [called] the "abode" consciousness because it is the place where all seeds rest....It is also called the "storehouse" consciousness because it is the place (sthaana) where all seeds are concealed.(37) The influences of past habits and behavior are said to be "stored" in the aalaya vij~naana as impressions (vaasanaa) or habits; these act like seeds (biija) which "sprout" into, that is, they condition and form, future behavior and karma. The aalaya vij~naana both stores latent habit impressions and acts as a "switching network" which delivers them as needed. The key terms here in the process of forming and storing perceptual habits are "seeds" and "karma." The CSL goes into the character of these two at some length. Vasubandhu's Tri.m`sikaa (verse 19) asserted "two kinds of latent impressions from past karma" which are stored in the aalaya vij~naana.(38 According to Paramaartha's gloss, these two kinds of "seeds" are: (1) latent impressions from past karma and (2) attachment to the latent impressions from past karma.'" Attachment to the latent impressions is a second-order function, after the mere having of latent impressions. Attachment denotes the ego-investment in certain discriminated entities. Hence, the primary elements in the constructive process are the "latent impressions" that are stored in the aalaya vij~naana. What are those impressions? Latent impressions from past karma are identical to the discriminated [object] and are discriminated in nature.. [T]he [discriminated] object is the sense object; the discriminator is consciousness.... As for "the two kinds of latent impressions from past karma," each impression has two principles: (1) the object [discriminated], which is the latent impressions from past karma; (2) the discriminator, which is the attachment to the latent Impressions from past karma. The object is [the result of] the nature of discrimination that can produce a panorama of phenomena generated from seeds [in the aalaya vij~naana]. This panorama of phenomena is called the latent impression from past karma.(40) Paramaartha is taking a strong constructivist position here, that the terms by which we pick out an object play an enormous role (or the entire role) in composing it. His utterances, "the object is [the result of] the nature of discrimination that can produce a panorama of phenomena," and "the object [discriminated]...is the latent impressions from past karma" together suggest that the object cannot be what it is without our constructive, discriminative processes. The terms we use to pick something out make up the object in whole or in large part. Discrimination makes the object what it is. p. 400 There is a second facet or level of this process. Let us ponder the example with which we began: my experience of a door. Insofar as I expect the door to act just like the other doors in my experience, I bring my expectations to it, expecting it to open, not to spit at me, to open on a space into which I can walk, and so forth. This is how I construct a door in part with my expectations. A more subtle aspect of the process of perceiving a door, however, is the separation of subject from object. The subject, that is, the "discriminator," is, he notes, "the attachment to the latent impressions from past karma." That is, I become attached to (involved with) certain past experiences as my "self," and then regard an object (that is, the door) as a something "over against" my "self." Thus, my experience is informed by the particular latent impressions concerning doors and the more general latent impressions which go into my notions of my self and the structure of "my" experience as, in modern parlance, intentional. Seeds stored in the aalaya vij~naana can lead to what we might call psychological attachments to objects or processes as well. Let us use as an example a man's neurotic compulsion to paint. This behavioral pattern may be said to be analyzed as derived from childhood experiences of parental disdain and not being noticed or seen. The impressions of that disdain and its concomitant influences on behavior are said to be "stored" in the aalaya vij~naana as "seeds" for future behavior and may be expressed as a compulsion to paint and display. The second level of conscious functioning is the aadaana vij~naana, the "appropriating subject." This structure conditions all conceptualizations and perceived objects as inherently intertwined with my self (to which I have become attached, he says).(41) Such a focus on the self is in turn based on the "four defilements" (ignorance, views of the self, conceit, and self love).(42) The neurotic painter's identification of himself with his own fame or wealth may be an example of this level of functioning. So far, Paramaartha has drawn a psychologically oriented picture of the constructed character of experience. Based on the tendencies and desires set up by the above two functions of consciousness, we encounter the world in terms of certain habituated categories and concepts. We see things in terms of categories and labels which derive from old habits and impressions: a painter seeing a Gothic arch. Such an encounter occurs through the constructive activities of the third and final structure, the vij~naptir vi.sayasya, objective apperception, the six "sense consciousnesses," which is the final stage in our contact with the external world.(43) Such contact, according to Paramaartha, results from the interaction of three elements: sense faculty or intellect (manovij~naana), sense data or ideas, and consciousness.(44) Paramaartha, here, like Husserl, maintains that in ordinary experience we are always conscious of some object, be it external and p. 401 experienced through the senses or an internal object like a thought.(45) Any perception of an object has some conceptual (sa.mj~naa) and some sensory elements (vedanaa). We perceive no object or thought without bringing in terms and concepts which in part comprise it, according to Paramaartha. Discrimination of any object is conditioned by the characteristics by means of which we pick it out from the world of objects in general and distinguish it from other objects in a similar class. As part of this process we provide it with a name, Paramaartha notes in his San wu-hsing lun.(46) This implies that the act of making such distinctions is part and parcel of and stands in relationship to a specific language and hence to an experiential system as a whole. When Paramaartha suggests that an object has a "discriminated nature," he is suggesting that it stands within a system of discrimination as a whole and is at least in part the product of discrimination processes made by a subject. The perception of an object is thus in part the result of the application of conceptual categories. These categories are derived from past experiences and stand as an element of the conceptual set as a whole. There is an obvious parallel between Paramaartha and the modern constructivist on this point. According to both, ordinary perception, thought, and behavior are in significant part the result of mental conditioning or construction. The Yogaacaara term for construction (translated above as "discrimination"), vikalpa, is interesting here. It derives from the root, k.lp, to order, adapt, arrange. Sometimes it carries the meaning, to ornament and to embellish. The poet's ornamented, ordered, but fictitious creations are called kavikalpanaa. The prefix vi adds a distributive sense; vi + k.lp can mean to create or contrive, set up antitheses, and so forth. As employed by Buddhist thinkers, it connotes the mind's activities of construction and classification. Like the poet's spinning out of a fictitious world, the mind was thought to create (vikalpana) a fictional world for itself. The term may be translated as "imagination," although "mental construction" seems nearest.(47) Thus, the constructive activities of the mind involve something akin to the spinning of a conceptual "web" as a whole, and placing any individual entity or experience some place on such a web. In sum, there are unmistakable parallels between this Yogaacaarin's account of the constructive activities of the mind and the modern constructivists like Gombrich, Gill, and Katz, All maintain that the mind, as Katz notes, "half sees and half creates," drawing upon categories of perception based on habits and language.(48) All maintain that such categories are not absolute, but are largely conventional and derived from language and the general background of experience. All hold to the pluralistic correlative that one person's or language's conventional distinctions will differ from another's, and hence, that experiences engendered by different languages will differ accordingly. Now, with reference to ordinary experiences the differences between Paramaartha p. 402 and the modern constructivists in respect of these two accounts of ordinary experience do not significantly challenge their fundamental agreement. Probably the most important difference centers on the character of the critical formative milieu. For the Buddhist, what shapes experience is "karma," action or experience as a whole. This notion emphasizes the role of experience more than language per se, whereas the modern constructivist focuses his/her attentions on language (though not to the exclusion of experience(49) ) . Additionally, according to the Western world view, only one's biographical background in this life plays a role. In Yogaacaara, while this life's background plays the dominant formative role, karma derived from past lives is also thought to have its influence. Finally, Paramaartha writes of an "evolution" of consciousness into objects. "Consciousness evolves in two ways: (1) it evolves into selves (aatman); (2) it evolves into things (dharma). Everything perceived [or cognized] is included in these two objects [of cognition]."(50) The Western constructivist would deny such an evolutionary tenor and would prefer a more neutral picture of objects and subjects mutually conditioning one another, or perhaps appearing together. This seeming discrepancy, however, may be more apparent than real. Paramaartha does not intend "evolve" here with the ontological, Darwinian connotations we may understand. Rather, he means "evolve" in the psychologically astute way we have been discussing: the notion of "self" gradually develops and with it the notion of objects and the world over against my self. The general picture of the world as a complex web gradually develops with experience.(51) Thus, Paramaartha and the modern constructivists may disagree about the nature of the beginnings of our constructions and disagree about precisely which past habits and concepts shape any experience. These are disagreements over details. But--and this is the critical point--on the fundamental claim that experiences are constructed by language, concept, and past experiences, they agree profoundly: an ordinary perceiver's experience of an object is in significant ways shaped, delimited, and controlled by certain previously learned, habituated perceptual and cognitive categories. And this, it goes without saying, is the key claim in the modern-day constructivist's account of mysticism. Perhaps no better confirmation could be found that their pictures are parallel than this: in her summary of Paramaartha's cognitive psychology, Diana Paul's description could be, without changing a word, a description of the constructivist picture given by Katz, Gill, Gombrich, and others. Here is her summary of Paramaartha: How we perceive and construct our world is influenced by associations from past experiences and by the linguistic terms we use to categorize the world we live in. For example, a child's fear of the dark may be due to perceiving monsters lurking In his room at night. These "monsters" may in turn have p. 403 been shaped by a previous experience in which the child's parents said a monster would spank the child if he or she misbehaved. Every time the child misbehaves, there is the recurrent fear of the dark associated with fear of punishment. This fear affects the child's perception, that is, monsters in the room; the word "dark" can evoke all of these feelings, perceptions, and ideas in the child.(52) But that it is devoid of affective content, she could equally well have used Katz's example of Monet looking at Notre Dame.(53) III. ARE MYSTICAL EVENTS CONSTRUCTED? However, unlike Paramaartha's, the modern-day constructivist's epistemo logical picture ends here. For Katz, Gimello, Hick, and others, language, expectation, and past experiences come together to create mystical experiences in much the same way that Monet's past experience led to his sensory misperception. The construction of mystical experience is structurally similar or identical to the construction of sensory experience.(54) Paramaartha's picture, on the other hand, does not end here. Taking this constructivistic process as his problematic, he begins here. He describes the nature of the constructive process to help the Buddhist adept understand it -- so that she/he can gain arhatship or beyond by seeing through this process: the construction engendered in the aalaya vij~naana continues unchanged only "until the attainment of Arhatship," that is, enlightenment.(55) The functioning of the aadaana vij~naana "and its associated [mental] states is eliminated in the Arhat stage, and [these] are also eliminated upon entering cessation-meditation (nirodha-samaapatti) "(56) (italics mine) . Since perceptual and behavioral experiences are constructed and shaped so significantly by the intellect and its associated five senses (the mano-vij~naana) , it is most significant that Paramaartha writes: On what occasions does this intellect (mano-vij~naana) not arise? [Verse 34:] A: Except for these six states--[cessation] meditation [nirodhasamaapatti], [meditation associated with the third level or dhyana in] heavens without conceptualization (asamj~nii-samaapatti), dreamless sleep, drunken stupor, unconsciousness, or a coma-the others always have it [intellect].(57) In other words, during the first of these states, nirodhasamapaatti, cessation meditation, the constructive role played by past experiences and by previously held concepts, habits, and expectations ceases. Such a claim stands as the soteriological raison d'etre of the CSL--indeed of virtually all Yogaacaara thought.(58) The picture of the mind as a constructive agent was put forward, as I noted, in order to make clear how the practitioner might bring about its stoppage. 59 By seeing that one brings about perception based on convention-founded discrimination, one may stop those discriminations. Paramaartha, here following Vasubandhu, observes that if one does not p. 404 perceive or encounter an object, then the conceptual system as a whole does not arise. Verse 28 of the Tri.m`sikaa says: If the cognizer (vij~naana) does not apprehend (upalabhate) the objects (aalambanam) , the two [attachments to objects and to consciousness that grasps the object, i.e. the attachments which are the product of the aalaya and aadaana vij~naanas] are not manifested.(60) When the adept eliminates all objects of perception, the aalaya vij~naana--the storehouse of seeds which provides the interpretive categories -- temporarily ceases active functioning. Fleshing this out: if no objects are encountered or discriminated, none of the mind's constructive activities can occur. Para maartha comments: "If the cognizer does not apprehend the object, the two [attachments to objects and to consciousness that gasps the object] are not manifested." The "sense objects" are the objects of Consciousness-Only. Because there are no objects, there is [also] no activity of consciousness....These two [sense objects and consciousness] only refer to two [processes of] consciousnesses presented with a sense object before them, but the sense object [presented] before consciousness is already nonexistent.(61) Such statements as these have significance for two kinds of mystical experiences. I cannot here go into the character of the most advanced form of mystical experience, nirvaa.na, which involves a change in the epistemological character of all of one's experience, even "ordinary" waking experience. In brief, though, it should be clear that if someone who has attained such a state does not perceive (even in his everyday activities) objects as "over against himself," for him no separation between subject and perceived object arises, and hence, the various attachments "cannot be manifested." More relevant for the present study is this: within meditation, if someone does not temporarily encounter objects, no objects in nirodhasamaapatti will be either discriminated or perceived. Hence no activities of the aalaya vij~naana or the other two aspects of the perceiver can arise. The aalaya can play no "seeding" role, the aadaana can form no attachments, and the manovij~naana can perform no discriminations. The constructive functions of the ordinary mind, in other words, are simply abolished in nirodhasamaapatti.(62) The modern constructivist cannot both maintain his own philosophical position concerning the etiology of nirodhasamaapatti and also agree with Paramaartha on this point. For these accounts of the constructive activities of the mind in this mystical experience are categorically opposed. Now which approach is correct here? Does it make sense that the Buddhist can bring about an unconstructed state within him/herself? Or can we assert with certainty, as Katz does, that "there are no unmediated experiences"-- that all experiences are in part shaped, constructed, and so forth? We might offer a syllogism as a way of articulating the claim of modern constructivism: p. 405 All experiences are constructed; All mystical events are experiences; Therefore, all mystical events are constructed. I believe that such a syllogism is actually at work in recent thought about mysticism. The thinking is, stated more informally: look, all experiences have a similar or identical epistemological structure in that they are all intentional and involve memory, belief, and so forth. And mystical experiences are, too. Hence, they are constructed. When Katz, for example, speaks of the "kind of beings we are," he is asserting that all experiences are of a like structure owing to humanity's characteristic nature. Here is his assertion to this effect: This much is certain: the mystical experience must be mediated by the kind of beings we are. And the kind of beings we are requires that experience be not only instantaneous and discontinuous, but that it also involve memory, apprehension, expectation, language, accumulation of prior experience, concepts, and expectations, with each experience being built on the back of all these elements and being shaped anew by each fresh experience.(63) Logically, the syllogism above is unimpeachable. Furthermore, according to some definitions of "experience," the syllogism is valid and true. If we take one of Webster's suggestions and define experience as "personally encountering, undergoing or living through something, as the observing of an event, " then "experience" bears an intentional burden, and all experiences are indeed, according to Paramaartha and the modern constructivists, constructed. (For Paramaartha, all such experiences are in and through the vij~naaptir vi.sayasya, objective apperception, or the six "sense consciousnesses," and are a result of the combined activities of this structure, the aadaana and the aalaya vij~naana--and hence are the result of vikalpa, discrimination or construction.) Fine. To avoid the intentional baggage of the term "experience," then, I propose henceforward to speak of mystical "events." But such a neat solution would be overly facile, of course, since it would be defining away the very point at issue and thereby begging the question. The question at issue is not "is nirodhasamaapatti correctly called an experience?" but is rather "is this mystical phenomenon, event, or what have you correctly understood as constructed?" As for this second, more interesting question, I have noted Paramaartha's answer above: since no objects are encountered, none of the agencies by whose means people usually interpret and construct objects are called into action. And I believe, the claims of the modern constructivists notwithstanding, that he is largely correct. In order to show why I believe there are no cognitive constructions in nirodhasamaapatti, I would like to suggest that there are three ways by means of which the mind may be thought to construct or mediate something: it may be thought to contribute form, to contribute content, or to be involved in the processes of experiencing. None, however, I will argue, are herein involved.(64) p. 406 A. Form When Katz or Gimello uses such terms as "shape" and "form," each seems to have a formal, Kantian picture in mind.65" That is, a concept may be thought to produce an objective unity out of the formless flux which is presented to our senses by imposing a form on it. The imposition of form may be thought to operate in one of two directions. (1) In Kant's picture, the operations of the mind impose a unity on the complexity of the manifold, that is, the many bits of sensory stimulation are brought to a unity as an object. For Kant the unity was provided by the categories. In a more modern view, one could maintain that the language system provides its own kind of unity on the formless flux of experience. The pluralism thesis might be thought to emerge from this process: that is, the varieties of unity imposed on the manifold of the given give rise to a variety of shaped experiences. (2) The other direction through which form may be imposed on the flux of experience is this: the given may be regarded as a formless or seamless whole, and concepts introduce divisions into this whole. As Whorf states it, the result of imposing concepts is an "artificial chopping up of the continuous spread and flow of existence."(66) As above, the pluralism thesis grows naturally out of this picture: the categories in whose terms we introduce distinctions will differ, and hence experiences will differ. However virtuous these approaches may be in unpacking the exigencies of ordinary experience, they cannot plausibly explain a PCE. The reason is that any combining of a manifold (as in 1) will to some extent result in an experience which is complex in some way. The shaping of a pluriform manifold will add connections and divisions to such a manifold; it would not erase complexity entirely. But complexity is just what is lacking in PCEs. On the other hand, the notion that concepts lend complexity to a seamless whole (as in 2) is similarly incapable of accounting for the PCE. If this process is occurring during a PCE, then a uniformity (the seamless whole) becomes divided up into a complexity in such a way that a new contentless uniformity results. But by Occam's razor we should eliminate the intervening step. Concepts which distinguish cannot be thought to be playing a role in a conscious event devoid of distinctions. Hence, it is implausible that concepts lend form in either sense to the PCE. B. Content In Monet's Notre Dame experience, expectations and beliefs led him to introduce certain elements (which are not present in the flow of sense perception) into experience. Through an automatization process he provided himself with experiential content. Gimello's suggestion that the mystical experience results from a "psychosomatic enhancement" of his beliefs and expectations is of a piece with this notion.(67) So is Katz's statement that p. 407 the Buddhist understanding of reality generates the entire elaborate regime of Buddhist practice, and it is this understanding of reality which defines in advance what the Buddhist mystic is seeking and what we can tell, from the evidence, he finds.(68) The suggestion here is that expectations somehow provide the content as well as the form of the experience. The pluralism thesis grows out of this notion because different expectations will produce different experiential content. Visionary experiences may be quite nicely explained by this picture of someone providing his/her own content. The Hindu's context and background does seem to play a significant role in the etiology of his vision of Krishna. Furthermore, it is significant that, to my knowledge, we have no records of a Christian seeing K.r.s.na or a medieval Vai.s.navite seeing Christ. However it is not clear that expectations are providing content in the empty nirodhasamaapatti we are considering. My reasons are as follows. (a) There is no experienced content for consciousness encountered therein. (b) I have argued elsewhere that in mysticism expectations are frequently confounded.(69) The neophyte is the dearest example; the advanced adept also frequently encounters phenomena for which she/he was ill prepared. If expectations are playing the critical role in providing content here, it is hard to see how someone can possibly have a counter-expectational experience. (c) Finally, if the mystic's "set" provides his content, the different "sets" from the various traditions should provide sharply different content. Prigge and Kessler and I have shown elsewhere that we have experiences from many traditions and ages which are, at least, not sharply different.(70) I believe that these experiences have identical definitions: it is on this basis that I can describe them all with a single expression: "pure consciousness event." It is hard to explain why we should see experiences which are so similar: how could they arise from such divergent sources if this theory is true? In sum, nirodhasamaapatti or pure consciousness events are not plausibly explained as the result of the subject's providing content. C. Shaping Process Not only is the constructivist position ill-suited to make sense of the experience as it is reported, it is also ill-suited to account for the process which, from all we can tell, goes on during the experience. In ordinary experiences it is possible (at least in phenomenological theory) to trace out the succession of epistemological processes involved during any period of time. Through introspection one could theoretically be able to specify just which connections led from this thought to that one, and from this sensation to that perception, and so forth. Although a complete list of shaping processes would be virtually impossible to draw up, the kind of processes which seem to be involved are well stated by Katz in a passage already quoted: p. 408 [T]he kind of beings that we are requires that experience be not only instantaneous and discontinuous, but that it also involve memory, apprehension, expectation, language, accumulation of prior experience, concepts, and expectations, with each experience being built on the back of all these elements and being shaped anew by each fresh experience.(71) It would not be difficult to imagine a succession of thoughts and perceptions which involved all of these. We might even show how each and every moment's experience would be built on the back of the previous experiences: my feeling of pangs in the belly led to a comparison with similar pangs remembered from the past, which led to a memory of a particular dinner, which led to a recall of that dinner's conversation, which led to a question asked therein, which led to.... The point is that such complex connections, if involved at all, can be traced step by step through every successive experience. Each fresh experience stands on the back of and moves forward from each previous moment in some more or less clearly specifiable way. Each experience is relatively discontinuous from each previous experience, and yet it is related to the previous experience through such processes as these. These processes--the way I make connections--may be thought to the way I construct experiences. However, it is difficult to see how such processes may be occurring during nirodhasamaapatti. For here we have a phenomenon two successive moments of which are, for all intents and purposes, identical. No report states, for example, "I had a rough few moments in my pure consciousness event and then it grew quieter," or "It was a bright PCE but got darker," or "At first I thought about thus and such during my PCE and this led to...." The reports we have are of a period of time in which, once it begins, no subjectively observed changes occur. It is utterly homogeneous. Under such circumstances it is difficult to see how someone may be differentiating his or her awareness, remembering this or that, building on the back of the previous experiences, shaping the new experience through a process of comparison or imposition of concepts, and so forth. There is just not enough complexity to warrant the claim that such processes are occurring. The pure consciousness event is a conscious event which may be described adequately with a single noncompound sentence. Several studies of its physiological correlates suggest that it may last as long as forty-five seconds.(72) Think how complex a sentence would have to be to describe a forty-five-second continuum of thoughts! Or how many sensations and perceptions must be processed, organized, and sifted through while driving a car through city traffic for forty-five seconds! It is hard to see how meditative events are the products of identical epistemological processes as such ordinary experiences. One involves comparison, computation, elimination, and incorporation of sensory input, determination of direction, and so forth. The other is more like, if you will, just being present. The two cases are just not similar. p. 409 In conclusion, pure consciousness events do not show signs of being constructed or shaped in either form, content, or process. But the constructivist position necessarily requires that one or more of these three be demonstrably present. Without further argumentation, the modern constructivist's claim that such events are significantly shaped, constructed, and/or formed by epistemological processes like those which are responsible for ordinary constructed experiences fails. How will the modern constructivist presumably defend his position that Paramaartha is wrong and that nirodhasamaapatti does not result from the stoppage of mental constructions? Although no one answers this question directly, an answer is built into the structure of Katz's argument. Fundamentally, it is because we are the "kinds of beings we are"(73) that all our experience must always involve constructive activities. For the kind of beings we are requires that experience involve memory, concepts, apprehension, expectation, language, accumulation of prior experience, and so forth with each experience being built on the back of all previous ones. Thus, any experience of X--be X God or nirvaa.na--will be conditioned both linguistically and cognitively by a variety of factors, including the expectation of what will be experienced.(74) Even an attempt to rid ourselves of constructive activities sets up expectations and, as such, conditions the resultant experience. Hence, any possible attempt to rid ourselves of such constructive activities is doomed to failure. In bald language, because he is committed to his constructivist picture of experience as a whole, the modern constructivist must say that even to lay out a set of instructions designed to bring about such a new form of experience would be a wrong-headed attempt. All experience is, and always will be, constructed! I have two comments in response to such an argument. First, it is not the philosopher's or the textual critic's place to decide in advance whether a novel technique can do a job. Whether or not a meditation technique can effectively eliminate some set of constructions is an empirical question. The philosopher's role concerning such matters (as opposed to purely analytic ones) is to describe and interpret--but not to legislate. Secondly, a claim that a set of instructions can never function to eliminate mental constructions would itself be a mistake. Just so that we can agree on what we are talking about, here is a sample of some instructions. It is from Dogen's Fukan zazengi, a very famous Zen instruction manual, and from it we can see how a passage may function not only as a description, but also as a set of instructions. In the room which you use for zazen, spread some thick mats and place a firm, round pillow on them. Sit on the pillow with your legs crossed either in the full lotus position or (sit) in the half lotus position. This means [in the full p. 410 lotus position] that you place your right foot on your left thigh, and your left foot on your right thigh. In the half lotus position, you just put your left foot on your right thigh with the right foot on the mat beneath your left thigh]. Loosen your clothes and belt and arrange them neatly. Next, place your left hand [palm up] in the palm of your right hand. Both thumb tips should touch slightly. Now regulate your posture so you are sitting properly, leaning neither to the left nor to the right, forward nor backward. Your ears and shoulders should be in a straight line, and from the front, your nose will be in a direct line with your navel. Place your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and keep your teeth and lips closed. Your eyes should be [slightly] open, and your breathing should be soft. When your body posture is correct, breathe in and out [once, deeply]. Sway left and right [several times] and then sit firmly and resolutely. Think about the unthinkable. How do you think about the unthinkable? Do not think. These are the essentials of zazen. Like most instructions, words like "place your right foot on your left thigh, and your left foot on your right thigh" function as a description of the act of getting into the lotus position, and as an instruction to do so. Similarly words like "do not think" also seem simultaneously to describe and instruct. Hence, it would appear from surface grammar that these two statements function similarly. Having heard the instructions "place your right foot...," someone may perceive or imagine such an act in just these terms. Having done so, she/he may employ these words or notions in part to construct his/her perception. To perceive something as a foot, as over or under, or as a religious act (an act in a religious context) already introduces interpretive and discriminative categories. It acts, mutatis mutandis, like "look at that door" or "paint those Gothic archways!" "Do not think" seems to be similar. It appears at first glance to be another constructive perceptual description or instruction which sets up a category by means of which one will see or perceive something. Here, however, is where the mistake is. The advocate of this position is mistaking a deconstructive instruction for a constructive perceptual description or instruction. Not every instructive utterance serves to set up experiential categories. If you say to Monet, "forget about your Gothic expectations and look again," you will not be providing him with new categories for his experience. Perhaps some other of his previously acquired expectations or beliefs about buildings may start playing a role--like what a Romanesque archway is. But in giving your instruction, you, the instructor in this case, have not introduced that expectation or any other to him. You have only told him that his old one had misled him. You have spoken in the via negativa, if you will. You have simply deconstructed, in more modern parlance, his constructive expectation on the basis of which he had painted. If he obeys you, your statement will have played a role in stopping him from constructing his experience in terms of his habits and expectation. p. 411 Many instructions serve to deconstruct: "Forget it," "Put aside your expectations," "Just listen!" and so forth--all may play a deconstructive role. An instruction to a painter, "Paint just what is there," serves such a role. Inasmuch as a therapist attempts to decrease compulsive behavioral patterns and leave the client with greater options and choices, psychotherapy may be viewed as a deconstructive activity; so, too, one might understand the scholar's attempts to read "just what is in the text" and not impose his or her own beliefs on it. Such instructions do not attempt to provide a new set of expectation; all counsel someone to stop perceiving or behaving on the basis of old perceptual or behavioral patterns. Many if not most fields have some set of deconstructive instructions built into them. This is one way we have of insuring that our conceptual systems remain responsive to the world. The fact that there are deconstructive instructions may go largely unnoticed. That is because had Monet been told that he had imposed his expectations onto his perception, he might have dropped "Gothic" but he would not have been able to drop every expectation and belief. There are many complex and interconnecting levels of construction in ordinary experience, and no one, relatively simple deconstructive process could possibly address all of these.(75) However, Buddhist instructions and meditation practices are not as simple as a single deconstructive remark. The Buddhist procedures are, as I see them, complex and polyvalent systems of physiological, psychological, and intellectual practices and performances which together, it is hoped, will bring about a progressively less discriminated form of experience until an entirely nondiscriminated event occurs, The `deautomatization achieved by meditation as described by Diekman,(76) the intellectual transformation described by Streng, (77) the studied-mindfulness technique of "meditating while walking," and so forth, taken together and practiced for years, are designed to reduce systematically the number and significance of perceptual and behavioral discriminations. Such interactive deconstructive techniques together may serve to do what the system claims for itself, that is, to allow one to cease discriminating and seeing in terms of subject and object. This stands as an aspect of the forgetting model I have elsewhere put forward for mysticism.(78) Since the constructivist lays such stress on the formative role of the tradition itself, it is especially revealing that Buddhist texts like the Diamond Suutra and the Fukan zazengi overtly attempt to dissuade the practitioner from employing expectations about Buddha, Nirvaa.na, Boddhisattvaship, and so forth.(79) When Dogen instructs, "having stopped the various functions of your mind, give up even the idea of becoming a Buddha," he singles out the key concept which may lead one to expect and construct in Buddhist terms.(80) He encourages his reader or disciple to cease employing such a loaded idea. As any piece of language must, this utterance does stand as part of the language p. 412 of the tradition; yet his intention is clearly deconstructive. His instruction is not designed to function like a constructive perceptual description. To confuse the two forms of instruction would be a mistake. The results of a set of techniques and notions which intentionally disallow such constructive processes are inexplicable by the modern-day constructivist's system. A system which bases itself on the fact that all experiences are "in part formed and shaped" by past experiences and expectations cannot plausibly take seriously the words of mystics who are attempting in part to undo just that kind of formation and shaping. EPISTEMOLOGICAL MONOMORPHISM AND DUOMORPHISM I have set one school of constructivism up against another in order to reveal an unnoticed assumption in modern constructivism. The tacit and undefended assumption is that all experiences are, in their foundational structure, epistemologically uniform. Modern constructivism argues from an epistemological monomorphism, to coin a term, a uniform pattern or epistemological structure. The modern constructivist can argue for his ontological pluralism based on a dogmatic belief in this epistemological uniformity. Katz states that there is "a single epistemoiogical assumption which has exercised his thinking," that is, that all experiences are mediated or constructed.(81) The undisclosed foundation of that epistemological assumption is that all experiences are intentional, mediated, constructed, and more or less like Monet's perception of Notre Dame. Wainwright and Penehelum base their arguments on a similar epistemological homogeneity--here between intentional sense experience and mystical experience.(82) Gill writes out of the belief that all experiences are alike in that they are one and all vectorial and relational.(83) Each tacitly assumes that all experiences are epistemologically monomorphic. Indeed, open-sounding ontological pluralism may be a smokescreen for the dogmatic belief that all experiences are structurally identical. It may be couched innocently--as an epistemological assumption or as a self-evident truth--but unestablished claim it is. Modern constructivists cannot logically accept Paramaartha's assertions of an epistemological duomorphism, that is, that some experiences are conditioned and some are unconditioned. Nor can this position coherently admit that one can possibly follow common Buddhist instructions to cease thinking or perceiving in terms of such loaded notions as Nirvaa.na, Boddhisattva, and samaadhi. Nor can the modern constructivist accept the common Zen assertion that one can and should cease thinking, using discriminative thought, and so forth.(84) The claim of epistemological duomorphism is that there are (at least) two kinds of mental functioning and that they should not be conflated. In his inventory of states of consciousness, Roland Fischer has described a wide range of these states.(85) He charts a range from "ergotropic," hyperaroused p. 413 hallucinatory experience, through ordinary perception, through trophotropic, hypoaroused samaadhic forms. These all have sharply different phenomenological signatures. I think that anyone who assumes without argument that all such forms of experience are of any single epistemological structure is guilty of a form of oversimplification. V. CONCLUDING REMARKS Allow me to conjecture for a moment. It would not be an exaggeration to say that until recently Westerners have not been renowned in the East for their openness to Eastern ways of thinking about things. While a few nineteenth-century scholars and thinkers came to admire what they saw of Hindu and Buddhist philosophical thought, the more typical response has been more arrogant. As Evans-Wentz observed: Until the Occident outgrows its adolescent assumption of intellectual and spiritual superiority over the Wise Men of the East, it will fail to understand, much less to profit by, the doctrine of the Voidness." Until very recently, few believed that the East had anything of real value to offer us of the Western philosophical tradition. Here, however, I believe that we have something very important to learn from the likes of Dogen and Paramaartha. Even though the constructivistic picture may be applicable to most experiences, these men maintain that, as James put it long ago, there may be something more. They maintain that there are other epistemotogical structures, other forms of consciousness, if you will, of which human beings may be (they would say "are") capable. One such structure results, they say, from progressively eliminating things like habitual expectations, conventional distinctions, emotions based on childhood experiences, and even that most ancient of epistemoiogical structures, the dichotomy between subject and object. Certainly such a process of dehabituation does not seem utterly inconceivable. Is it not conceivable that the human being is capable of realizing that such distinctions are more or less conventional? Even modern philosophers have noted the conventional character of all conceptual systems. Does the most likely next step--that one can existentially realize this in one's own life--not seem equally conceivable? Does it seem so impossible that, with practice, we can learn to live without employing the old pigeon holes?(87) These Buddhist authors also tell us that the lives which have been founded on such distinctions are one and all lives of suffering, du.hkha. The connections between these two notions are complex, and I could not hope to present them adequately in a paragraph or two. But in brief, it should be clear that the distinctions we draw between rich and poor, smart and stupid, beautiful and ugly, better and worse people, health and sickness, and perhaps even life and death, stand at the cognitive foundation of our self-perception and the choices p. 414 we make constantly. Even if presently satisfied, to prefer wealth or success or happiness over their respective opposites is to live in subconscious or conscious dread of just those opposites. As Buddha saw on his second and third excursions from his father's palace, to prefer health over sickness and life over death is ultimately to face disappointment. Life perceived in terms of such distinctions will inevitably lead to suffering. Paramaartha, in typical Buddhist fashion, prescribes his intellectual and meditative techniques as an antidote to the problem of the constructed nature of ordinary experience. He notes that with a life constructed in part out of terms like "I" and "you," "good" and "bad," and "life" and "death" comes suffering. Perhaps, just perhaps, we in the West have something to be gained by an openness to this way of thinking. Given the level of pain, anxiety, and stress in our culture, perhaps it would be wise to remain open to the possibility that epistemologically and technically (that is, through meditation techniques), the Buddhist knows something we do not. This claim--that there may be more than one epistemological structure, and that the atypical (mystical) ones may not be exposed to suffering--may turn out to be more important than anyone expected. NOTES 1. James Clark, Meister Eckhart: An Introduction to the Study of His works with an Anthology of His Sermons (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1957); Carl Franklin Kelley, Meister Eckhart on Divine Knowledge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977). 2. This is one of the key influences identified by Reiner Schurmann, Meister Eckhart: Mystic and Philosopher (Bloomington, Indiana: University of Indiana Press, 1978). 3. Benedict Ashley, O.P., "Three Strands in the Thought of Eckhart, the Scholastic Theologian," The Thomist 42 (1978): 226-239. 4. David Kenneth Clark, "Meister Eckhart as an Orthodox Christian" (Dissertation, North-western University, 1984), bases the connection explicitly on Katz's work. So, too, does Bernard McGinn, "Meister Eckhart: An Introduction," in Introduction to the Medieval Mystics of Europe, ed. Paul Szernach (Bingamton, New York: SUNY Press, 1984), pp. 237-258. 5. Robert M. Gimello, "Mysticism and Meditation," in Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, ed. Steven Katz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 170-199; Robert Gimello, "Mysticism in its Contexts," in Mysticism and Religious Traditions, ed. Steven Katz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 61-88. 6. Peter Moore, "Mystical Experience, Mystical Doctrine, Mystical Technique, " in Katz, ed., Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, pp. 101-131. See also "Christian Mysticism and Interpretation: Some Philosophical Issues Illustrated in the Study of the Medieval English Mystics," in The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England: Exeter Symposium IV, ed. Marion Glasscoe (London: D. S. Brewer, 1987), pp. 154-176. 7. William Wainwright, Mysticism (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1981). 8. Jerry Gill, "Mysticism and Mediation," Faith and Philosophy 1 (1984): 111-121. 9. As represented in his Religious Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). 10. Ninian Smart, "Interpretation and Mystical Experience," Religious Studies 1 (1965): 75-87. 11. John Hick, "Mystical Experience as Cognition," in Understanding Mysticism, ed. Richard P. Woods, O.P. (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1980), pp. 422-437. p. 415 12. Terence Penehelum, "Unity and Diversity in Interpretation of Mysticism, " in Woods, ed., Understanding Mysticism, pp. 438-448. 13. Steven Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism, " in Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978) , pp. 22-74; Steven Katz, "The `Conservative' Character of Mystical Experience," in Katz, ed., Mysticism and Religious Traditions, PP. 3-60. 14. From 1982 to 1984 alone it was glossed in some fifteen articles. Some of them are: Richard Jones, "Experience and Conceptualization in Mystical Knowledge," Zygon 18 (1983): 139-165; Dierdre Green, "Unity in Diversity [Typology of Mysticism], " Scottish Journal of Religious Studies 3 (1982) : 46-58; Jure Kristo, "The Interpretation of Religious Experience: What do Mystics Intend When They Talk about Their Experiences?" Journal of Religion 62 (1982): 21-38; Karel Werner, "Mysticism as Doctrine and Experience," Religious Traditions 4 (1981): 1-18; and James Home, "Pure Mysticism and Two-Fold Typologies: James to Katz," Scottish Journal of Religious Studies 3 (1982): 3-14. In a recent American Academy of Religion conference (1985), no fewer than seven papers were devoted to a consideration of this article. 15. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 30. 16. Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness (New York: Dutton, 1911; reprint, 1961); and Practical Mysticism (New York: Dutton, 1915, reprint, n.d.). 17. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (New York: Harper Colophon Book, 1944; reprint, 1970). 18. Frithjof Schuon, The Transcendental Unity of Religions, trans. Peter Townsend (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1975). 19. Rudolf Otto, Mysticism East and West, trans. Bertha Bracey and Richenda Payne (New York: Macmillan, 1960). 20. W. T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (London: Macmillan, 1960). 21. Huston Smith, Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1976). A similar view is found in his more recent Beyond the Post Modern Mind (New York: Crossroads, 1982). 22. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 25. 23. Anthony Perovich, "Mysticism and Mediation: A Response to Gill, " Faith and Philosophy 2. (1985): 179-188; Robert K. C. Forman, "Cessation in Dogen's Fukanzazengi," Journal of Religion, under consideration. 24. Anthony Perovich, Jr., "Mysticism and the Philosophy of Science," The Journal of Religion 65 (1985): 210-221. 25. Robert K. C. Forman, "The Construction of Mystical Experience, " Faith and Philosophy (forthcoming, 1988) . The argument here is amplified in my dissertation, "Constructivism in Paramartha, Soto Zen Buddhism, and in Eckhart" (Columbia University, 1988), chap. 6. 26. Steven Bernhardt, "Are Pure Consciousness Events Unmediated? " in The Problem of Pure Consciousness, ed. Robert K. C. Forman (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming). 27. Gary Kessler and Norman Prigge, "A Universal Mystical Experience?" in Forman, ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness. 28. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 66. 29. The dabate here, which I do not wish to enter, is whether the Yogaacaara school saw everything as the creation of language and concept, or rather a large part of experience. Is there something "out there" or nothing, or merely something of which we know nothing? Whatever the answer to this conundrum, the fact that experience is, as Katz put it, "at least in part" the result of the constructive activities of the mind is not at issue. 30. Chris Gudmunsen, Wittgenstein and Buddhism (New York: Macmillan, 1977), p. 58; La^nkaavataara Suutra 226. As noted below, the Buddhist sensitivity to the possibility of other language systems may be in part attributed to the polyglot and pluralistic society amidst which it was born and grew. That makes another parallel between these two philosophical systems. 31. On this see Paul Griffiths, "Pure Consciousness and Indian Buddhism," in Forman, ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness. 32. Gudmunsen, p. 58; La^nkaavataara Suutra 226. p. 416 33. Gudmunsen, p. 58; La^nkaavataara Suutra 225. 34. Diana Paul, Philosophy of Mind in Sixth-Century China: Paramartha's `Evolution of Consciousness' (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1984); "An Introductory Note to Paramartha's Theory of Language," Journal of Indian Philosophy 7, no. 3 (September 1979) : 231-255; "The Structure of Consciousness in Paramaartha's Purported Trilogy," Philosophy East and West 31, no. 3 (July 1981): 297-319. A responsible and insightful review of this book is by Collete Cox, in Journal of Asian Studies 45, no. 1 (November 1985): 125-127. A less helpful review is by J. W. de Jong, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 9, no. 1 (1986): 129-133; see Diana Paul's rebuttal, pp. 133-135, and de Jong's reply, pp. 135-136. While generally favorable to Paul's work, these reviewers criticize Paul for style and organization, and for what they feel are flaws in translation. Their criticisms, however, do not affect the theses of the present article since they do not criticize Paul's version of Paramaartha's philosophy of mind, the issue at hand. In the relevant passages I will make note of their alternative translations. 35. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 155; CSL 61c3-4. 36. Cf. Paul, "The Structure of Consciousness, " p. 301. 37. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, pp. 153-154; CSL 61c5-6. 38. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 161; CSL 62c20. Cf. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore, A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), p. 336. 39. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 161; CSL 62c20-21. 40. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, pp. 161-162; CSL 63c21-63a6. 41. I am indebted here to Paul, "The Structure of Consciousness," p. 301. 42. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 155; CSL 62a15; verse 4a. 43. Paul translates vij~naptir vi.sayasya as the six sense consciousnesses, which is a somewhat free rendering. Vij~napti is a technical term which refers to mental or perceptual events with intentional objects wherein something is represented. Her term, if taken literally, misses this nuance. See here Paul Griffiths, On Being Mindless (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court Press, 1986), p. 80. 44. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 154; CSL 62a6. 45. Theodore Stcherbatsky, The Central Conception of Buddhism (London, 1923; reprint, Calcutta, 1961), pp. 46-47: "The element of consciousness according to the same laws [pratiitysamutpaada] never appears alone, but always supported by an object (vi.saya) and a receptive faculty (indriya)." 46. Paul, "The Structure of Consciousness," p. 305. 47. Here I am indebted to Paul Griffiths, "Pure Consciousness and Indian Buddhism," in Forman, ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness, pp. 17-18. 48. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 30, quoting Coleridge. 49. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 59, asserts that among other things, "accumulation of past experience" conditions present experience. 50. CSL 61c1-2. 51. One of my readers for Philosophy East and West has claimed that Paramaartha is taking a subjective idealistic, solipsistic position, which makes him different from the modern constructivist. Even if this description of him were true, on the present matter--that of the constructed nature of conscious intentional experience--this difference would have no bearing. If anything, it would make Paramaartha even more of a constructivist than the modern one. However, I do not think it gives an accurate picture of Paramaartha, since to describe Paramaartha as an idealist misses his typically Buddhist assertion that there is no substantial idealistic absolute creating the external world (see verse 25a exegesis, in Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 165) . Instead he focuses on the constructive activities of the mind which represent the world as over against the self (verse 24a exegesis, in Paul, ibid., p. 165). Nor does he deny that there are causes of sense data. His whole emphasis is on the representational and constructive activities of the mind. And these, it need hardly be said, parallel the modern constructivist's assertions. 52. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, pp. 98-99. 53. Of course Paul, a modern academic, may be thought to be influenced by the same background of beliefs as is Katz et al. She may be reinterpreting Paramaartha here based on her own p. 417 constructivistic views. Let me say only that I am in no position to judge her analysis of Paramaartha. However, I know of no one who has criticized her on this point. 54. William Wainwright's Mysticism is most explicit on this point. He argues for a parallel between sense experience and mystical experience, implying that the epistemological processes involved are identical in both. 55. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 155; CSL 62a1l. 56. Translation Cox's, in Journal of Asian Studies (November 1985), p. 126; Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 155; CSL 62a16, has "being ultimately eliminated upon entering cessation meditation." This was criticized by Cox, which criticism was repeated by de Jong, p. 131. Cox noted, glossing Sthiramati, that the aadaanavij~nana "though eliminated upon entering the equipoise of cessation, nirodha samaapatti, arises again upon emergence from that equipoise" (p. 126); de Jong echoes this observation. Cox's "and are also eliminated" communicates this notion. In her rebuttal to de Jong, Paul replies that "the text, according to Paramaartha's rendering of this verse, does state quite clearly that the aadaanavij~nana is eliminated absolutely in cessation meditation" (p. 135) . I will not attempt to adjudicate this matter, since the debate does not threaten my point here: during nirodhasamaapatti the activities of the aadaanavij~nana are eliminated either transiently or permanently. 57. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 158; CSL 62b17-19. I should note that de Jong accuses Paul of borrowing the two samaapattis (nirodhasamaapatti, cessation mediation, and asamj~nasamaapatti, the dhyaana without conceptualization) from Paramaartha's original source, the Tri.m`sikaa, and applying it to Paramaatha's text. If de Jong is correct, I would have to amend the last two sentences of this paragraph to say that the Tri.m`sikaa notes that. Paul unfortunately does not address this criticism. 58. "What seemed important to them [the Yogaacaarins] was the statement that the Absolute is `Thought,' in the sense that it is to be sought not in any object at all, but in the pure subject which is free from all objects" (Edward Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), p. 163). 59. As Alan Sponberg presents it in "Dynamic Liberation in Yogaacaara Buddhism," The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 2 (1979) : 46-61, the enlightened individual abides in a state of "non- discriminating cognition (nirvikalpaka-j~nana)" in which the discriminating functions are cut off. This is especially clear in the transic state of cessation meditation, nirodhasamaapatti, in which there is an absence of both object and cognition. 60. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 166; CSL 63c2. 61. Paul, Philosophy of Mind, p. 167; CSL 63c13. 62. Paul Griffiths, in "Pure Consciousness and Buddhism," concurs with this thesis. In his On Being Mindless, he argues that this state should not be considered a state of consciousness as we generally understand the term. This is a matter which would require a full article to discuss. But for the present, we do agree that, whatever we call this empty event, there are no constructive activities at work therein. 63. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 59. 64. For the arguments of this section I am indebted to Anthony Perovich, "Mysticism and the Conceptual Structure of Experience" (Philosophy of Religion Section, American Academy of Religion, Nov. 21, 1985). 65. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," pp. 24-26; Gimello, "Mysticism in its Contexts," p. 62. 66. Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought and Reality, ed. John Carroll (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1956), p. 253. 67. Robert Gimello, "Mysticism in its Contexts," p. 85. 68. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 39. 69. Robert Forman, "The Construction of Mystical Experience." 70. Norman Prigge and Gary Kessler, "A Universal Mystical Experience?" in Robert K. C. Forman, Constructivism in Paramaartha, Soto Zen Buddhism and in Eckhart. 71. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 59. 72. John Farrow and J. R. Hebert, "Breath Suspension during the Transcendental Meditation Technique," Psychosomatic Medicine 44 (1981): 133-153; John Farrow, "Physiological Changes p. 417 Associated with Transcendental Consciousness, The State of Least Excitation of Consciousness," in Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation Program: Collected Papers, vol. 1, ed. David Orme Johnson (Weggis, Switzerland: Maharishi European Research University, 1977), pp. 108-133; J. Russell Hebert, "Periodic Suspension of Respiration During the Transcendental Meditation Technique," ibid., pp. 134-136. 73. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 59. 74. Ibid. 75. E. H. Gombrich, in Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (Princetion: Princeton University Press, 1960), shows how complex are the many layers of perceptual psychology. See here also his "The Mask and the Face," in E. H. Gombrich, Julian Hochberg, and Max Black, Art Perception and Reality (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972), pp. 1-46. Also Julian Hochberg's "The Representation of Things and People," in the same volume, pp. 47-73. 76. Arthur Diekman, "Deautomatization and the Mystic Experience, " Psychiatry 29 (1966) : 324-388; reprinted in Charles Tart, ed., Altered States of Consciousness (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1969), pp. 23-44. 77. Frederick Streng, Emptiness: A Study in Religious Meaning (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1967); and "The Process of Ultimate Transformation in Naagaarjuna's Maadhyamika," Eastern Buddhist 9, no. 2 (October 1978): 12-32. 78. Robert Forman, "The Construction of Mystical Experience"; this is amplified in the "Introduction," in Forman, ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness. 79. This is quite a common theme in Buddhism. To take just one example: Subhuti, what do you think? Does a holy one say within himself: I have obtained Perfective Enlightenment? Subhuti said: No, World-honoured One. Wherefore? Because there is no such condition as that called "Perfective Enlightenment." World-honoured One, if a holy one of Perfective Enlightenment said to himself "such am I," he would necessarily partake of the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality. World-honoured One, when the Buddha declares that I excel amongst holy men in the Yoga of perfect quiescence, in dwelling in seclusion, and in freedom from passions, I do not say within myself: I am a holy one of Perfective Enlightenment, free from passions. World-honoured One, if I said within myself: Such am I; you would not declare: Subhuti finds happiness abiding in peace, in seclusion in the midst of the forest. This is because Subhuti abides no where. (The Diamond Suutra, trans. A. F. Price and Wong Mou-Lam (Boulder: Shambhala, 1969), p.35.) 80. Yuho Yokoi, Master Dogen: An Introduction with Selected Writings (New York: Weatherhill, 1976), p. 46. 81. Katz, "Language, Epistemology and Mysticism," p. 26. 82. Wainwright, Mysticism; Terence Penehelum, "Unity and Diversity in Interpretation of Mysticism," in Woods, ed., Understanding Mysticism, pp. 438-448. 83. Gill, "Mysticism and Mediation." 84. In a brief summary of Soto teachings, "Controlling the Mind," the primate of the modern Soto Zen school, Roshen Takashina, states the goal of zazen, sitting in meditation: Think of not thinking of anything at all. How is one to think of not thinking of anything at all? Be without thoughts--this is the secret of meditation. Being without thoughts is the object of Zen meditation; the control of body and mind is only a method of reaching it.... What is meant by the absence of thoughts? The living samaadhi.. of all the Buddhas is no other than the state of absolute absence of thoughts....[A]n ancient says: "In Zen the important thing is to stop the course of the heart." It means to stop the workings of our empirical consciousness, the mass of thoughts, ideas and perceptions. (E. Conze, Buddhist Scriptures (New York: Penguin, 1979), p. 138.) 85. Roland Fischer, "A Cartography of the Ecstatic and Meditative States, " in Woods, ed., [Understanding Mysticism, pp. 270-285. 86. W. Y. Evans-Wentz, foreword to The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng, trans. A. F. Price and Wong Mou-Lam (Boulder: Shambhala Press, 1979), pp. 12-13. 87. Sheldon R. Isenberg and Gene R. Thursby, "A Perennial Philosophy Perspective on Richard Rorty's Neo-Pragmatism," International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 17 (1985): 41-65.