Empiricism does not require the confinement of belief to propositions
that are in any strict sense demonstrable [W.T. Stace]
What follows is a discussion of some issues I encountered upon reading Chapter 4: Pantheism, Dualism and Monism from Mysticism and Philosophy - a logical analysis and examination of the utterances of the mystics by W.T. Stace. A version of the full text of the book is provided online by Wudhi Mysticism
- with occasional commentary inserted by DCW. (I want to express my
gratitude for his making most of Stace's illuminating resource easily
accessible.) I have also presented excerpts from Stace's text that
reflect my special interests in separate pages for the Preface and each chapter in the following links:      
This page concerns Stace's concept for dividing mystical experience into
two categories- extrovertive and introvertive with some perspectives by
myself and others. I am greatly impressed with how well Stace has
assembled the anatomy of the mystical experience from his forensic
examination of evidence from both Eastern and Western mystics. From my own Nirvikalpa Samadhi
perspective, I particularly appreciate his ordered approach that
clarify many of the distortions in every body of mystical literature- in
the continuum of philosophical speculation that perpetuates many of the
myths originating in all the historic spiritual traditions that distort
the essential truths at the core of the perennial mystical body.
Upon reading Stace Chapter 6,
I was excited over his mention of claims by the Christian mytics Herman
Joseph and St. Francis Xavier that each had briefly been shown (by God)
supra-knowledge about the universe. Although Stace dismisses these
impressions as delusional - I think Christopher Isherwood
is more precise in awarding them status of mystical visions arising
from a lower samadhi where consciousness is restrained in a state of
duality. I also agree with Isherwood that since this seemed the height
of their mystical impression, that neither had risen to experience a
state of non dual union of the highest samadhi. However it did suggest
that my brief encounter with supra-knowledge
during my samadhi ascent may be a peripheral veridical mystical
component that may manifest during the state of duality of lower
Perspectives on Mysticism - an extended philosophical examination of W.T. Stace's book Mysticism and Philosophy
by Jonathan Harrison (1992) Introduction: W.T.Stace's brilliant and
forceful book, Mysticism and Philosophy, was published in 1961, a little
over thirty years ago. By contemporary rates of obsolescence (which are
perforce excessively high) that is a long time ago. However, there is
not to my knowledge any work on the philosophy of mysticism, as opposed
to scholarly work on mysticism and the work of mystics themselves, of
comparable scale and merit. So far as I know, too, Mysticism and Philosophy
has not been the object of any study of the length of that which is to
follow, though there is an excellent review of it by W.E.Kennick in the
Philosophical Review (1962).
My first encounter with Stace concerned his separating mystical
experiences into two categories- he called "extrovertive" and
"introvertive". At first I took "extrovertive" to define my experience
that I believe was manifested top down- graced and deterministically
orchestrated journey (but with free-will aspects) that culminated in a
non dual union with Brahman. I took "introvertive" to refer to the
mystical states arrived at via jnana mentation such as the Self Inquiry
of Maharish Ramana. The fact that Ramana considered temporary Kevela or
Nirvikalpa Samadhi to have no more use than a "drug experience" and
supported what I consider a mythical notion of Sahaja Samadhi
wherin all vasanas are permanently burned away rendering a Jivanmukta-
and refered to the realization resulting from his "Self Inquiry" as a
"direct experience"- I had a negative take on Ramana's approach in
particular and generally extended "introvertive" to apply to mentated
practices of dhyana and most yogas with the exception of Bhakti and the ecumenical core of satisfying desire in Tantra.
Having read this Chapter 4 of Mysticism and Philosophy I realize that I had misconstrued and inverted the qualities Stace associated with his categories of extrovertive and introvertive.
He does not even consider- as I do- that mystical experiences have two
origins- "bottom up" from psychic, mentated process (I term intrapsychic) and "top down"- (my term transnuminous
transcendently graced and orchestrated journeys that the Upanishads
describe in the cosmography and revelation of the soul's journey at
physical death - or ego death as in samadhi. (The terms should not be
confused with introversion-extraversion (also spelled- extroversion) - terms Jung applied to traits referring to the two central dimensions of human personality.)
Instead the meaning Stace gives in Mysticism and Philosophy to the two terms is as follows:
Extrovertive mystical experience appears to be the main source from
which the pantheistic and monistic identifications of God and the world
as a whole are derived. Introvertive mystical experience is the main
source of the identification of God and the individual self when in a
state of union.
The extrovertive mystics see the world around them, the grass, the
trees, the animals, and sometimes "inanimate" objects such as rocks and
mountains, as God-impregnated, or as shining from within with the light
of a life which is one and the same life flowing through all things. As R. M. Bucke
expressed it, "I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter,
but is on the contrary a living presence." (see p. 78) Boehme, Eckhart,
N. M. [see Chap 2, p 71 - mescalin trip by anonymous], and many others
have, as already shown, expressed themseIves in similar language. The
question for us is whether extrovertive mystical experience actually
supports dualism, monism, or pantheism.
The introvertive mystic, getting rid of sensations, images, and thought
content, comes at last to find within himself the pure self which
becomes, or is, unified with the Universal Self, or God. This is the
source of our problem in so far as it especially concerns relations of
identity or difference between God and the individual self. In
particular, what is most relevant here is the experience of the "melting
away'' or "fading away'- "fana" as the Sufis call it - of individuality
into "boundless being" which Tennyson, Koestler, and others have
described in more modern and nontheological language.
See also Stace's primary account for the distinction between extrovertive and introvertive mystical experiences.
So Stace concerns an entirely different set of issues than what my
division of mystical experiences into what I will now refer to as
"intrapsychic" (bottom-up) and "transnuminous" (top-down) to better
distinguish my categories from Stace's. These should replace the terms
"introvert" and "extrovert" respectively, that I originally used in my disagreement with Ronald Haven about his book Self Hypnosis for Cosmic Consciousness
where he assumes the mystical experience is soley contained
(internally) within the brain and I hold that it arises from a (non
dual) transcendent realm.
Frankly, in reading Stace I am in complete empathy with all his
philosophical approaches but as he implies- mystics have little interest
in justifying their experience in methodology of analytic philosophy-
although I personally spend a good deal of time surfing around for
articles on the Internet that I run through the lens of my Nirvikalpa
Samadhi experience to aprise credibility.
Although his work is a major resource in most transpersonal curriculum
there has been a steady erosion by the ecclesiastical community to
denigrate his arguments for awarding pantheistic beliefs superior
credibility over monism and particularly dualistic philosophies which
has led to a diminishing of his influence on contemporary epistemology
and heuristics of the subject overall.
Some further examination of Stace's percepts:
Defining Mystical Experience excerpts of Stace's defining two types of mystical experience:
"One may be called extrovertive mystical experience, the other
introvertive mystical experience. Both are apprehensions of the One, but
they reach it in different ways. The extrovertive way looks outward and
through the physical senses into the external world and finds the One
there. The introvertive way turns inward, introspectively, and finds the
One at the bottom of the self, at the bottom of human personality. The
latter far outweighs the former in importance both in the history of
mysticism and in the history of human thought generally. The
introvertive way is the major strand in the history of mysticism, the
extrovertive way a minor strand.
The extrovertive mystic with his physical senses continues to perceive
the same world of trees and hills and tables and chairs as the rest of
us. But he sees these objects transfigured in such manner that the Unity
shines through them. Because it includes ordinary sense perceptions, it
only partially realizes the description...(that is, an experience of
complete unity)...It is suggested that the extrovertive type of
experience is a kind of halfway house to the introvertive. For the
introvertive experience is wholly nonsensuous and nonintellectual. But
the extrovertive experience is sensory-intellectual in so far as it
still perceives physical objects but is nonsensuous and nonintellectual
in so far as it perceives them as "all one."
Introvertive mysticism..."Now it happens to be the case that this total
suppression of the whole empirical content of consciousness is precisely
what the introvertive mystic claims to achieve. And he claims that what
happens is not that all consciousness disappears but that only the
ordinary sensory-intellectual consciousnesses disappears and is replaced
by an entirely new kind of consciousness, the mystical consciousness."
"Of the introvertive mystical consciousness the Mandukya (Upanishad)
says that it is "beyond the senses, beyond the understanding, beyond all
expression...It is the pure unitary consciousness, wherein awareness of
the world and of multiplicity is completely obliterated. It is
ineffable peace. It is the Supreme Good. It is One without a second. It
is the Self."..."Not only in Christianity and Hinduism but everywhere
else we find that the essence of this experience is that it is an
undifferentiated unity, though each culture and each religion interprets
this undifferentiated unity in terms of its own creeds and dogmas."
Update 02 22 10:
In exploring the explicit distinction in nature between my terms intrapsychic and transnuminous-
the latter refering to a realization experience (Nirvikalpa Samadhi)
orchestrated from a transcendent gracing (top down) and Stace's introvertive-
that refers to the contemplative, mentative, "direct experience" as in
the Vedanta teachings of Sankara, the Advaita jnana yoga of Ramana, the
Integral Yoga of Aurobindo and the jnana yoga of Buddhism - I became
confused over the distinction for the nature of the terms jnāna (Sanskrit) and jnana (Pali). Closely related terms such as dhyana
and the distinction in the nature of the five principle yogas and their
several dozens of offshoots made relating my mystical experience even
more challenging. So as not to distract from Stace's work here, I've
created a separate page Jnana/Bhakti Tensions to present the growing body of notes from my research into these other aspects of the metaphysical anatomy.
My "transnuminous" experience seems to result in all the
non-epiphenomenal qualities that Stace's describes in his "introvertive"
experience. But since it arrived unintentionally and spontaneously to
my utterly naive mindset there was none of the mentation or mediation
processes that Stace includes in his "introvertive" definition. In fact
it seems Stace is essentially reifying descriptions of awakening,
realization, moksha, bodhi, satori and fana presented in the Rg Veda,
Upanishads, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, teachings of the Buddha and Sufi
and attributing their result to a process he describes as- "The
introvertive way turns inward, introspectively, and finds the One at the
bottom of the self, at the bottom of human personality." Although he
doesn't refer to this process as dhyana, meditation or jhana yoga
it certainly sounds identical to these practices and particularly to
the introspective process that Ramana recommends in his "Self Inquiry".
So Stace's "introvertive" mystical experience seems indistinguishable
from the revelation of Kevela, Nirvikalpa, Bohdi, Satori or Moksha that
the non dual traditions say results from their various yoga and dhyana
practices that include in my acronym of . This in no way
is meant to distract from the rapport I feel with Stace's appreciation
of mysticism and his essentially perennialist approach.
In regards to Stace's "extrovertive" mystical experience I can relate elements in the very beginning of my Nirvikalpa journey
as "sensory" as my sexual ecstasy transformed to spiritual and then a
distinct "feeling" of being "swept up" by an omniscient "force" just
prior to shooting through the "cosmic slot". Likewise in the dual
portion of my "ascent" I had a definite "sense" of exhilaration. The
culminating portion of my journey however had all the ineffable,
seedless, without attributes described in the non dual tradition where
one is in union with Brahman. So far as the aftermath of my experience, I
felt imbued with a Gaia imperative that viewed all nature and cosmos as
the handiwork of God...although these features did not glow in divine
auras, in the process of integrating my revelations I felt a sacred
responsibility to protect and nurture her.
But I am thoroughly puzzled as to what Stace is suggesting is the
process by which the "extrovertive" mystical experience is realized.
Elsewhere I may have read that the shamanic ritualistic/entheogenic
process that manifests a soul flight is given as an example for this
category of experience and the animistic world view that corresponds to
Stace's "extrovertive mystics" [who] see the world around them, the
grass, the trees, the animals, and sometimes "inanimate" objects such as
rocks and mountains, as God-impregnated, or as shining from within with
the light of a life which is one and the same life flowing through all
things. I certainly see that his extrovertive mystic embraces a mystical
world view analogous to one embraced by those who arrive at via philosophy. I'm further confused when he identifies Bucke, Boehme, Eckhart and N. M. [see Chap 2; p 71
about the mescalin trip by anonymous N. M.] with this category of
mysticism since their processes seem so divergent and the only
commonality in their reality models is monism only in the broadest sense
rather in the anatomical details - for example in the fact that Bucke
and N. M. present an essentially atheistic reality whereas Boehme's and Eckhart's is unequivically theistic and implicates God.
In a qua-synchronicity moment- in searching for the term "stace extrovertive" I encountered a Google book preview of The Interpretation of Cosmic and Mystical Experiences
by Robert Crookall which was the first book to reveal to me that I had
experienced a classical mystical experience and began my effort for
integration the months following my Nirvikalpa Samadhi in 1970.
The Interpretation of Cosmic and Mystical Experiences by Robert Crookall, 1969 (This excerpt starts on page 61:) Discussion of At-Oneness In General
Mr. Spencer then referred to Mysticism and Philosophy, by Professor W.T.
Stace. The latter does not draw a distinction between nature-mysticism
(or union with nature or "cosmic consciousness") and religious mysticism
(union with God), but between "introvertive" and "extrovertive"
mysticism. He quotes, as an example of the former, the Mandookya Upanishads
where reference is made to "the pure unitary consciousness wherein
awareness of the world and of multiplicity is completely obliterated".
To Stace, this "pure unitary consciousness: is the core of mysticism at
its highest point (as exemplified by Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Sufi
mystics). Mr. Spencer pointed out: "Stace, however, acknowledges
alongside of this a type, which in his view is equally religious, but
less thoroughgoing or complete, and which he describes as
'extrovertive'. It is characteristic of mysticism of this kind that: it
does not exclude the consciousness of the objects and forces of the
world around us, but takes them as its starting-point. It is aware of
the world and its multiplicity, but at the same time transcends them.
Its central feature is 'the appearance of a unity taken to be in some
way basic to the universe'. St. Teresa saw 'how all things are seen and
contained in God'; Boehme 'saw through all things and into all
creatures' and 'recognized God in grass and plants', etc....It is a
consciousness of the One in the many rather than the One as the sole
According to W.H. Dyson, "Between speculative and religious mysticism
there is this important difference: in philosophic ideas the interest is
mainly intellectual and consequently limited to the few highly-trained
minds; in religious experience the fellowship is personal and may be
shared by all. Between nature-mysticism and religious-mysticism there
is an underlying unity, for only to the religious spirit, conscious of
the Divine within itself, is the vision of the Divine in nature an
inspiration and a joy". St. Teresa observed, "It is one grace that our
Lord gives grace; it is another grace to understand what grace and what
gift it is; and it is another and further grace to have the power to
describe and explain it to others".
So it is clear my mystical journey had simultaneously both sensory and
non dual attributes resembling qualities that Stace identified as
proprietary in each of his two distinct categories of mystical
experiences but that arose from a spontaneous "transnuminous" (my term)
transcendent source that it seems Stace had not even considered.
See also Samadhi Anecdotes and Credibility Transcendence
for further exposition as to how the terms extrovertive and
introvertive can be confused and the distinction in my categories of
mystical experience as transnuminous and intrapsychic.
Update 04 14 2012: I just discovered that Carl Jung used the term intrapsychic to define a major category in his psychological model. The implications of his use of the term are detailed at
Jung's Psychology of Religion:
The Intrapsychic Model by Robert Aziz, 1990. Five places in the book
featuring Jung's "intrapsychic" concept - in respect to the universal
desire for an alternative to religious structured rituals that will
provide an intimate communion for "wholeness" with numinous spirit; it's
relationship to the "archetype" and "synchronicity" and the role of the
analytical therapist compared to a shaman. I can only wonder if what I
thought was the creation of an original acronym was a case of
synchronicity or mere coincidence. In any event it appears there is
sufficient similarity between our application that I will retain my use
of intrapsychic for distinguishing transpersonal effects arising from the subconscious versus transnuminous events that are graced from a supreme transcendent consciousness.
phenomenology and critique By Louis Roy, 2001 (p 13) Zaehner proposes a
threefold division of mysticism that matches Otto's tripartite schema:
nature mysticism (a cosmic consciousness in which everything is
experienced as one), soul mysticism (wherein no awareness remains of any
frontier between the soul and the divine), and theistic mysticism (an
interpersonal relationship between the believer and god). Zaehner
insists on the distinctiveness of each of three kinds of mysticism and
has decisively rooted out the erroneous assumption that at its core
mystical experience is always the same.
Stace acknowledges only the first two types (which he calls extrovertive
and introvertive mysticism) as corresponding with a genuine experience.
He and Ninian Smart take the third one - theistic - to be a matter of
mere interpretaion and thus reducible to the other two.
W.T. Stace on compatibilism and free-will
The following work introduces another way in which Stace's extrovertive mystical experience is applied but seems to conflict with Stace's contention that the extrovertive is inferior to introvertive in that it associates the former with what Ramana considered the ultimate and superior state of Sahaja Samadhi. The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy By Robert K. C. Forman. This page opens with a discussion applying Stace's extrovertive
term to Ramana's description of Sahaja Samadhi that distinguishes it
from Nirvikalpa Samadhi- Stace makes no mention of Sahaja.
(mg commentary: Since I believe Sahaja is a concept for a
mythical superior experience of union with Brahman- beyond Kevela or
Nirvikalpa Samadhi- and at best describes an idealized state of
integration of a Nirvikalpa Samadhi that results in a Jivanmuka, I
disagree with Forman that Stace overlooked what Forman describes as "a
central distinguishing mark [of mystical experience]. Consequently, I
find Forman's relating Stace's "extrovertive" mystical experience to
Ramana's Sahaja an arbitrary conclusion. Immediately following this
discussion is a Chapter about Katz's Mystical Constructivism that I
haven't read but suspect Forman will refute- a I do- the constructivist
thesis or model that ALL mystical experience are mediated by culture and
Mysticism and Philosophy
by W.T. Stace - book review by E. Godfrey: As he is a philosopher, he
finds truth in systematization, which I believe explains why Stace
strongly favors other mystics who were intellectual enough to systemize
their work. This bias is all the more evident where in the book Stace
ridicules and insults Teresa of Avila for her anti-intellectualism at
several points. His bias discredits and discounts those who simply have
religious insight but do not systematize it, labeling such mystics as
secondary in status. It is my opinion that Stace has given undue
preference to those who happen to think analytically like himself.
It also is evident that in not further breaking down this typology, he
makes a broad generalization between "introverted thinkers" and
"extroverted feelers" in a very "either/or" sort of fashion excluding
anything in the middle (i.e. an extroverted thinker or introverted
feeler). In making this generalization, Stace presumes introversion to
be categorically superior to extroversion as it often ends with rational
analysis. I think Stace has undermined his own position by not thinking
through the implications of this generalization.
As an ultimate systematization, or even an initial step in systematizing
religious experience, Stace fails, but that is not to say that he is
not without merit (as per my 4 stars). If one reads him with such
concern in mind, his optimism and drive to seek the universal is nothing
short of inspiring, especially when compared to Katz (who denies
anything meaningful can be said about religious experience). I compare
both Stace and Katz to watching some politically spun "news" program
like Fox's Bill O'Reilly or John Stewart. Sure, they may be fun, but one
must keep in mind that both are catering to a specific bias.
All Book Reviews
by E. Godfrey (Comparative Religion) tags: buddhism c g jung, chakras,
comparative, religion, daoism, death, death and dying, hiroshi motoyama,
meditation personality, yoga.
From its beginning non dual philosophy has struggled to define
distinctions among various kinds and states of mystical experience. A
major handicap as the traditions were evolving is that they had little
understanding of what we are just beginning to sort out- how
psychological and psychic baggage can color the phenomenological memory
of mystical episode. Both Hindu and Buddhist traditions proposed samadhi
and bodhi arose through a hierarchy of states from duality to non
duality defined with a variety of aphorisms to distinguish the ultimate
state by which Brahman/Bodhi is known- nirbija, kevala, kaivalya, asamprajnata, nirvikalpa, dharmamegha, suchness.
Since Western philosophy and science was applied to the non dual
concepts of the East- a diverse field of pseudo-disciplines- integral
spirituality, transpersonal psychology, science of the mind, quantum
consciousness have created neologisms that attempt to distinguish
mystical events beyond the perspectives in the historical traditions.
See ecstasis/enstasis and Analogous Concepts and extrovertive/introvertive/extravertive in the following.
Mircea Eliade seems to have anticipated Stace's terms and definitions for two classes of mystical experience. According to Eliade-
yoga and shamanism are two poles of religious experience. The defining
element of the shaman is ecstasis (literally "standing without"),
extravertive or numinous. By contrast, the yogi concerns himself with
enstasis ("standing within") intravertive or cessative (cessation of
egoity- prakrti unveiling purusa- Self).
An issue arises in Rudolf Otto's use of the term- "extravertive" that he defines in terms that I relate to in my use of the term- "transnuminous". Numinous Experience and Religious Language by Leon Schlamm- Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury. An examination of Rudolf Otto: The Idea of the Holy and his positions regarding extravertive mystical experiences and the mysterium tremendum and fascinans
moments of the numinous. Otto holds that religious experience is
primarily a feeling, moreover, he argues that this feeling offers a
distinctively religious form of knowledge, which eludes all attempts to
express it conceptually and is actually opposed to our ordinary rational
Examining variant use of terms by Carl Jung: - Jung used the terms extraverted-intraverted in defining two types of personalities - distinct from his use use of the terms extroverted-introverted. (Some hold that Jung used the term extraverted as a variant of extroverted At the present time I haven't confirmed his use of the term intraverted and whether he used the terms extraverted-extroverted interchangeably.
Mysticism examined: philosophical inquiries into mysticism by Richard H. Jones, 1993. We in the West can study yoga, Jung says, but we ought not to apply it because of the differnce in ethos
(extravertive versus introvertive) (11: 534; cf, 13: 7): "in the West,
nothing ought to be forced on the unconscious" and "no insight is gained
by repressing and controlling the unconscious, and least of all by
imitating methods which have grown up under totally different
psychological conditions" (11: 537). Jung contrasts the science-based
"Western mind" grounded in the conscious mind with the "Eastern mind"
grounded in the unconscious. Jung's broad and outdated generalizations
do not do justice to any of the cultures involved.
Actually, all of Richard Feynman's
disparate characteristics are entirely in keeping with each other. In
psychiatrist Carl Jung's terms, Feynman was an extraverted (adj. Variant
of extroverted) [personality type].
(Adj. 1. extraverted) - being concerned with the social and physical
environment: extravert, extravertive, extrovert, extrovertive,
extroverted (Jung's spelling), intuitive type. These are people who can
make leaps of understanding that seem to have no logical connection.
These types seem rather off-the-wall in their personal, as well as their
See another view of terms introversion-extraversion
(also spelled- extroversion) - terms Jung applied to traits referring
to the two central dimensions of human personality (from Wikipedia).
Update 02 01 10: In an essay by Michael Daniels, he uses the term "extravertive" as one of Stace's two forms of mysticism. He writes:
In identifying the phenomenological characteristics of mystical (as
unitive) experience, Stace makes a fundamental distinction between
extravertive and introvertive mysticism. Extravertive mysticism looks
outward and perceives the Unity of the World. Introvertive mysticism
looks inward and finds the One at the centre of the self, in the Heart,
or in the experience of oneness with God. Extravertive mysticism is more
or less equivalent to panenhenic nature mysticism. Introvertive
mysticism is comparable with monistic or soul mysticism, although
theistic mysticism is also generally introvertive (cf. Underhill, op.
cit.). In this way, Stace points out that introvertive mysticism is
historically and culturally the more important. More contentiously, like
Zaehner, he also argues that it represents a higher, more developed,
form of experience.
I tried Emailing Daniels to clarify the extravertive/extrovertive issue
without success. I've just starting to read the entire essay and am
finding it highly illuminating and plan to examine his book.
See a revised and updated version of Daniels paper excerpted above that is a chapter in his book Shadow, Self, Spirit: Essays in Transpersonal Psychology. by Michael Daniels, 2005. Abstract: I define mysticism as the individual's direct experience of a relationship to a fundamental Reality.
A review of the literature reveals many different conceptions and
descriptions of mystical experience. I examine in particular the
approaches of William James, Evelyn Underhill, R.C. Zaehner, F.C.
Happold, Walter Stace, Rudolf Otto, Andrew Rawlinson, Ken Wilber and
John Welwood. On this basis of this review, I propose a new framework
for understanding mysticism (the "5 x 5 model) that identifies
twenty-five distinct forms of mystical experience.
The Explanation of Introvertive and Extrovertive Mystical Experience
The purpose of this research is to examine interpretations of mystical
experience with reference to WT Stace's explanation of introvertive and
extrovertive mystical experience. (1570 6 pages)