“I think I’m God, but my wife is unconvinced.”

Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 4, Part 15 of 19 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

Student: What if that would test for enlightenment.

CTT: Pardon.

Student: What about a test to measure enlightenment?

CTT: Yes. What about it?

Student: Is there anything like that available for people?

(Laughter)

Is it possible to create something like that?

CTT: Well I know of one test created by the wife of a friend of mine and that is if you want to know if somebody’s enlightened, you ask their spouse.

(Laughter)

That’s a tough test. I don’t think many people would rate as enlightened that way.

(Laughter)

Student: That’s like (name unclear) was supposedly enlightened; and could levitate and move objects by his will, do all this fancy stuff. And his wife didn’t think he was enlightened.

CTT: Who?

Student: (answer unclear).

CTT: Yeah.

Student: His wife didn’t know for years and years and years, and she used to nag him and admonish him. And then one day she was admonishing him about something and he just disappeared. (Snaps fingers) (Laughter) And then she was like well –

CTT: Was this enlightenment or just avoiding confrontation?

Student: Yeah. (Laughter)

CTT: You know, it would be wonderful if some day we had a test of enlightenment. We don’t have anything near that. And enlightenment traditions would claim that we probably never would because it’s not something that can be inferred from the kinds of things we could ask on tests. But who knows, you know?

One of the things we have to remember about Transpersonal Psychology is this is a very young field. It’s what, 30, 35 years at most since some people got serious about the idea of let’s take spiritual realities seriously, but then apply scholarly and scientific methods to try to find out what does work and what doesn’t work and what’s just a cultural relic and what’s really applicable and so forth. And we don’t know much yet.

We’ve borrowed from all sorts of traditions. I don’t think I told you folks yet, but usually I welcome the new first-year students and tell them we are going to teach them all sorts of really vital spiritually important truths — and at least 50 percent of what we teach is bullshit and we don’t know which 50 percent!

(Laughter)

When I’m in a more transpersonal mood, I call it unicorn shit rather than bullshit. 😉

(Laughter)

We’ve borrowed an awful lot from a whole variety of spiritual traditions, and we think that it has value for at least some people, but we don’t have much discriminating wisdom yet. You guys are all in the experimental group and there is no control group.

(Laughter)

3 comments

    1. Very interesting book, very interesting guy. On the one hand what he says strikes me as very knowledgeable, on the other it reminds me of how very, very little I actually know…. I expect to start a correspondence with him, but am not quite ready to start. But if you’re serious about meditation, this book will be stimulating and challenging!

  1. Why doesn’t it surprise me you already read the book? 😉
    Shinzen mentioned Daniel Ingram briefly during a recent phone retreat, discussing the best speed to label experiences during vipassana meditation.

    on the other it reminds me of how very, very little I actually know

    Same here 🙂

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