Clarion Call

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: Alt.religion.eckankar
Publication date: 1995

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.


In response to Paul's recent post about Wilber's terminology (legitimacy vs authenticity; translation vs. transformation), I think it is quite true that much of what we take to be spiritual is really cultural, and perhaps vice versa.

Moreover, this issue of authenticity is probably the most thorny topic of all. Why? Because legitimacy, by its very definition, is open to empiricial observation and verification (we can cross reference books, we can observe a guru's actions, we can see how an organization is run--to a greater or lesser extent).

However, when it comes to authenticity (the actual transformative powers of a would-be teacher, guru, or group), we run into a major difficulty. Authenticity is wholly a personal affair, circumscribed by the relative elevation of the meditator, who determines for herself the power and utility of the guru and/or technique.

The problem here, of course, is that we can never be certain that what we are "authenticating" is nothing more than sophisticated permutations of our own mind, or, if you will, our own evolving neural web. As such, then we do not have the easy access to others who can readily support or disconfirm our internal insights. Indeed, we are not even certain if the radiant beings we encounter in our transformative states are genuely astral beings--with a life all their own (eating shabd for substance???)--or, as Faqir Chand would inform us, simply mock-ups of our own illuminated mind/brain which manifest when dopamine increases in the frontal lobes.

Thus, in a contrary view, it seems as if legitimacy is the only thing we have some confidence in. It is, to be sure, the only thing in the waking state that we can open to multitudes of other like-minded observers to test, to debate, to disconfirm.

Now there's a solution to this impasse. Take large communities of meditators/spiritual practitioners and have them meditate for significant periods and then discuss their results in an open and critical format. But there's one caveat here: the meditators should practice the same technique and then try to differentiate what maybe personal or cultural about the experiences in meditation (that is, what is peculiar or unique) from what maybe structural, common, or even universal.

No doubt groups have claimed to do this--from Zen to T.M.--but each of them, with various degress of success, have been entrapped by their own tendency to want to validate their given tradition or culture or teacher.

Paul's clarion call is really a lucid plea for religions (esoteric or exoteric) to move into the 21st century and begin to shed away the secrecy surrounding them so that we can see what is genuine from that which is merely incidental.

But in order to do this we must start with a basic assumption, which I am not certain most would like to accept:


And with this unknowingness as our premise, we can then stop imposing theory upon what occurs and then let the experiences speak for what they may be: transcendental glimpses of something beyond the rational mind or sophisticated fireworks of the visual cortex. In each case, our open minds must attempt to look for interpretations outside of our own pet theories, religions, gurus, or traditions.

Do I think this is going to happen? It's already occurred in physics, in chemistry, in biology, and in some cases in cognitive psychology.

Religion is still in the middle-ages when it comes to information transfer and critical scrutiny. Authenticity needs openness and needs critical inquiry.

E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.