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"Through his own episodes of schizophrenia and mystic experience, Boisen cultivated his theory about the structure of 'eruptive' or sudden growth episodes. In his discussion on schizophrenia and mystic experience Boisen (1936) points out that human attitudes, feelings undergone, and convictions highlighted during 'eruptive' or sudden episodes of growth depend on the character, world-view and determination of the people having the experience. The positive beliefs, attitudes and convictions of religious people who experience sudden transformations of character, or in other words, 'sudden expansions of growth' can manifest positive, creative episodes indicating exceptional and ameliorating mettle of reality/ies that are usually described as peak and/or mystic experiences. Alternatively, when 'eruptive' or sudden growth episodes expose the reflective thought processes of people who are engrossed with negativity the reading of reality/ies appear unhealthy, distorted and un-related. Such people manifests grave feelings of hopelessness that culminate in contorted ideas crowned with suspicion and distrust. Correspondingly, negative 'sudden growth' experiences 'are customarily' identified as episodes of mental illness (Boisen 1935: ix, 58-83). In this relation Boisen deems that 'eruptive' development or sudden expansion of growth experiences manifest as mental illness and mystic experience are bi-polar opposites, they are the negative and positive expressions of the human 'aspiration construction' schema at work.


This means that on the extended arms of the pole (the innate human 'aspiration construction' schema), people construct cognitive schemas and mental pattern that can intensify in 'growth' as the extremity increases. And as the extremity of growth intensify beyond the perimeters of normal expression the sudden or 'eruptive 'transformation of character' becomes manifest. At the negative pole there is mental illness. At the positive pole, individuals and/or groups of people construct positive schemas that encourage people to grow in less fearful and more positive ways.


In Boisen's view, self and social acceptance, trust, faith and forgiveness are the building blocks for the development of a positive self-attitude, fearlessness and social assimilation. Further, Boisen (1936: 80-2, 244) believes that the full acceptance of an 'authoritative prototype' is essential for positive development of socialisation, establishing supreme loyalties and the constructive transformation of human character (Boisen 1936: 244). Moreover, if the 'authoritative prototype' represents a meta-communicative schema that claims to transcend the negative effects of everyday life, a gateway to a positive concept of the self and society will be created. This gateway Boisen identifies as 'trust' 'faith' compassion, forgiveness and hope. Thus, when the human 'aspiration construction' schema or the 'sense of personal failure' is augmented through a sudden distension of growth with the help of hope and trustful faith in a religious belief system that claims to assist people in transcending the negativity of human conditioning and embodiment, and further proclaim to be a vehicle for forgiveness, compassion and liberation then the 'eruptive' experience is manifest in a positive and productive way. These positive and creative forms of 'eruptive' experiences are described as mystic experience even when a religious mystic has a negative sense of personal failure to begin with.1


The point Boisen is making here is that when the 'human sense of personal failure' is reinforced with a meta-communicative schema that acknowledges debility as an inherent part of being human and acts as a mechanism that gives support and re-assurance to the person in a magnanimous way, the person is unlikely to continue to maintain a 'sense of personal failure' in the mood of hopelessness and negativity. Moreover, when religion and/or ideas of Godhead are synthesised with experiences of failure in life, a person can seek help from his/her perceived supreme loyalties (Godhead/religion). In the frantic struggle against his/her inner fears a person out of desire to identify with the 'ideal good' becomes totally dominated by such desires and ideas. Consequently, the person hears inner voices which (are, or stem from the beliefs and ideologies of the supreme loyalties) give re-assurity and a sense of security to the person undergoing a sudden transformation of consciousness. These inner fabrications or 'voices' become a kind of therapist that act or function to help the person having the 'eruptive' experience avoid any destructive or negative experience (Boisen 1936: 80-2, 204-6). Through the above analysis we can see that for Boisen religious mysticism is an experience correlated with human aspirations to grow in a positive way and to attain the 'ideal good'; therefore religious mysticism is not madness nor is it mental illness.


As I have already mentioned, for transformation of character to be successful a person must have a process that aids the development of the schemas needed. For Boisen, religion provides a person with the positive mental constructs needed for a constructive transformation of character to occur. In this connection Boisen (1936:155, 204) explains that the positive mental constructs of religion are trust, compassion and forgiveness. On this point Boisen (1936: 240) further mentions that the most important of these positive constructs is 'trust', one 'must be able to confide in someone' (Boisen 1936: 242). 'There must be a facility wherein confidentiality and trust can occur' (Boisen 1936: 242). Religion, Boisen hypothesises is the vehicle for 'trust'.


To illustrate Boisen's above hypothesis I will now turn to mystic experiences described in Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and ontology. When a Gaudiya Vaishnava mystic (bhakta) places his/her trust in Godhead and Godhead by definition is identified as the Absolute, the most loving (Madhana-Mohan), the sustainer of all existence (Nityah), the fulfiller of the individual's longings (Govinda) and the 'friend of the most fallen' (Patita-Pavan) the notion of Godhead as the object of religion provides the mystic (bhakta) with a sense of hope and the mystic (bhakta) believes that confidentiality between the Godhead and the self will be maintained (Boisen 1936: 265-6). Thus in Boisenian (1936) terms, the human entity, through religion creates a mind-set that provides a positive venue to accommodate and/or construct positive sudden and/or gradual forms of human growth.


For instance, in Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and ontology there is the belief that the Godhead Krishna and spiritual selves (jivatman) enjoy a type of 'spiritual kinship', spiritually they are social entities with personal relationships (bhakti-rasa). Accordingly, the 'topmost' form of socialisation in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition is to associate with Krishna in the 'spiritual world' (Goloka/Vaikuntha), to spontaneously or primarily identify with ones 'spiritual' persona and relations (bhakti-rasa) (c/f. Deadwyler a. 1996; Bhaktisiddhanta 1932). Correspondingly, from the perspective of the Gaudiya Vaishnava spontaneous devotional mysticism (suddha-bhakti) is the most perfect expression of socialisation. However, for the materially conditioned living entity to re-establish his/her primary spiritual identity the individual must become socialised by a group whose focus of moral behaviour emphasises the re-kindling of one spiritual nature. For the Gaudiya Vaishnava, sadhana-bhakti is the process of re-establishing one's innate spiritual identity. That is to say, the individual performs sadhana-bhakti to reconstruct his/her spiritual consciousness and de-construct his/her identification with the 'madness' of material conditioning and embodiment (maha-maya).


Through the above analysis of Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and ontology and the social psychology of Anton Boisen we can understand that for both, religious mysticism is a totally different experience to mental illness. However it is important for me to mention here that because Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and ontology and the social psychology of Anton Boisen agree that religious mysticism and mental illness a totally different experience this does not mean that both Boisen and Gaudiya Vaishnavas have the same views about the nature of religion and mystic experiences. For Boisen mystic experience is in interpretation correlated to social and/or cultural conditioning and is in part an experience of the numinous. Hence religious mystic experience can include the view that customs and values of the material world influence the interpretation of the mystic experiences. For the Gaudiya Vaishnava however, the spontaneous mystic experiences of the uttama-bhakta are purely:


spiritual forms…embodiments of spiritual rasa…un-mediated concrete expressions of spiritual ecstasies… (and)…are non-different from the souls and from the spiritual bodies that bear them. The forms of love are not abstractions and their relations are not allegories. In the abode of God life is infinitely more real than any thing experienced in the material world (Deadwyler a. 1996).


In other words, the similarity between Boisen's social psychology and Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine is that both acknowledge the existence of a transcendent reality. Both Gaudiya Vaishnava mysticism and Boisen hold the view that there exists a reality that is independent of the embodied 'human' entity's conceptualisation. However, under Boisen's theory the transcendental reality can only be approached, but never fully understood. It is not fully understood because a human being can not transcend his/her subjective constructs while conceptualising a transcendent reality. While Boisen's, contextualisation is understood as an imposition of conditioned human constructs upon religious mystic experience, the Gaudiya Vaishnava teaching of spiritual origination prohibits material conditioned conceptualisation on devotional mystic experience (suddha-bhakti). Spiritual contextualisation can only be considered within the context of yoga-maya. If elements of the experience are not intrinsic to the jiva's spiritual identity (that is, if objects and concepts are not the product of yoga-maya), then the experience is dependent upon maha-maya for its existence and therefore does not belong the category of 'topmost' (uttama) mystic experience. For the Gaudiya Vaishnava, experience of the transcendent Godhead Krishna and his abode can be fully understood by the topmost mystic (suddha-bhakti) because the topmost mystic (uttama-bhakta) is functioning in full awareness of his/her spiritual identity (bhakti-rasa). Bhakti-rasa is a type of awareness that is native to the jiva and is re-kindled through the performance of disciplined spiritual practice (sadhana-bhakti).


Aside the above mentioned difference in views, Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and ontology and the social psychology of Anton Boisen both agree that religion is a process for spiritual growth and awareness, a vehicle to gain faith and faith together with hope provides a sense of determination and optimism. Correspondingly, religion is a meta-communicative schema that serves as a tool for liberation, a vehicle of salvation and a means to remedy the negativity that is correlated with the human 'sense of personal failure' or lack. In this connection Boisen (1936: 50-70, 238-9) wrote:


Religion and psychoanalysis are dealing with the same thing…The position of religion is that it provides people with a device that give people a means to discuss and fix their sense of personal failure.


Although the underlying contrivance of Boisen's view is that religion always remains for the forthright or open-hearted religious person the image of ideal purity that gives hope and determination, Boisen does not overlook the view that a religious person can become mentally ill. Boisen himself experience many episodes of mental illness as well as mystic experiences. However Boisen's view is that unless the person's 'aspiration construction' schema is backed up with positive reinforcements, 'eruptive' (sudden) and/or 'gradual' human development will be negative and manifest as mental illness. In 'eruptive' development experiences, sudden transformations of character are defined as mystic experience if the person is determined to grow towards perfection and social acceptance. This determination to grow towards perfection or higher goals is that which provides the reconstruction of mental and/or spiritual health of the individual. In mental illness the opposite occurs.


In short, what Boisen wants to point out here is that aspiration for perfection by a person whose 'aspiration construction' schema is reinforces with hope and the feeling of positive reception from the object of his/her 'supreme loyalties' creates a situation conducive for a positive reconstruction of the self. Further, when the object of a person's 'supreme loyalties' is defined as a benign and magnanimous Godhead then this further creates a situation conducive for a positive transformation of consciousness to take place. Thus when people believe religion to be benign and magnanimous then religion provides a venue to cure mental illness (Boisen 1936: 246;265-8). Thus religious mysticism and mental illness are two distinctly different types of experiences.


Although, Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and ontology and the social psychology of Anton Boisen agree that religious mysticism and mental illness a totally different types experience this does not mean that both Boisen and Gaudiya Vaishnavas have the same views about the nature of religion and mystic experiences. For the Gaudiya Vaishnava 'religion' in terms of sadhana-bhakti provides not only a cure for mental illness, but it also 'cleanses the heart' of the embodied jiva from the 'contamination of material existence'; material conditioning (Rupa Goswami a. b. 16th Century CE; Bhaktivedanta 1970; 1975). For Boisen, mystic experience is in part derived from social conditioning and in part correlated to the numinous (Boisen 1936: 306-7). Mystic experience according to Boisen is that 'which brings to the individual's sense of fellowship' in harmony with 'God'. Further, God


regardless of the metaphysical reality...symbolises that in the individual's social experience, which he counts of highest value and with which he would be identified. It represents the composite impress of those whom he most worthy of love and honour (1936: 306)............... "


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