Now I'm getting the chance to read books I didn't have time for before. Think of me whenever you see the slogan "So many books, so little time!" Now I've got the time.  Cheers, Fred.

Putting on the Mind of Christ: The Inner Work of Christian Spirituality

Book Number: 
775
Date Fred Read: 
September 2018
Fred's Rating: 
4
Author: 
Jim Marion
Total Pages: 
301
Publisher: 
Hampton Roads
Year: 
2011

Jim Marion is a contemporary American mystic who studied for the priesthood and pursued divinity studies at Hartford Seminary Foundation. He is the founder of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness and the author of The Death of the Mythic God.

The Amazon website for the Kindle edition is:

https://www.amazon.com/Putting-Mind-Christ-Christian-Spirituality/dp/157...

[None of the ISBN-10, ISBN-13, or ASIN numbers on Amazon’s websites for the three editions (Kindle, hardcover, or paperback) are recognized by Amazon, thus the ‘no image Circle' appears. I think this new change by Amazon is not good. However, you can see the images of this book's covers at the website above.]

On 8/30/18 I bought the 2000 paperback first edition. The 2011 second edition given here has an update to the original 9-pp Introduction. Since only the Kindle second edition gives this important update, I don’t know the number of pages (maybe 10 or so) but I highly recommend reading both the first and second edition’s Introductions. The home page has a reasonable summary of this book. I recommend reading the first three Top Customer Reviews further down the Home page. They have somewhat different “takes” on this book, thus worth reading.

Use the ‘Look inside’ option and scroll down to the 3-pp Table of Contents. In his original Introduction, Jim Marion briefly discusses the six Parts, comprising 23 chapters and an Afterword. Since this book combines the author’s recommended spiritual path consisting of nine states of consciousness with his own experienced spiritual path, and with what he has deduced were the spiritual paths of some saints he admires. He interprets these saints as being mystical but as starting probably at different states of the nine states of consciousness. After the Table of Contents come a 2-pp Foreword by Ken Wilber (whose states of consciousness are used by Jim Marion), then the first and second edition’s Introduction by Jim Marion. I highly recommend reading all three of these, for they prepare you for this book.

I focus now on the nine states of consciousness. The first seven states are in PART II and the last two in PART IV. There is a chapter for each state, so I list the chapter, its title, and I give my comments in square brackets, mostly my reduction of the main ideas of the text of the chapter, as I feel that Ken Wilber and Jim Marion sees them:

Chapter 4 – the first state – is The Archaic Consciousness of Infants (4-pp), ages 0-2; [immediate sensory/emotional experience, beginnings of self-awareness].

Chapter 5 – the second state – is The Magical Consciousness of Children (3-pp), ages 2-7; [dominant consciousness of tribal people; polytheistic and animistic; believes natural phenomena are ‘alive’ and can be controlled by magic words and ceremonies].

Chapter 6 – the third state – is Mythic Consciousness – Pre-adolescence (7-pp), ages 7-adolescence; [understanding of general rules; begins to realize the importance of specific cultural roles (such as mother, father, boy, girl, teacher, doctor); an incomplete and distorted version of the truths one can see at higher levels of spiritual growth; the dominant consciousness of believers of all the world’s great “universal religions” and great empires destined to conquer all they can since only they know the truth; most great religions were soon reduced to the level of mythic consciousness (since it was an easy and popular way to be)].

Chapter 7 – the fourth state – is Rational Consciousness (13-pp), more or less the average adult of today; [the passage from mythic into rational consciousness is the primary spiritual task of adolescence; maturity can have different levels of rational and mythic consciousness, as many cling to mythic religious ideas in a modern world that deals mainly with rational thinking; rational level strongly linked to educational level; religious fundamentalists (or orthodox) strive to separate their mythic religious beliefs from their rational concepts of modern society; prayer and/or meditation can help teens make the transition from mythic to rational].

Chapter 8 – the fifth state – is Vision-Logic Consciousness (6-pp); the highest level of the three conscious mental levels. [At this level the self is fully identified with the abstract mind; great thinkers are capable of both abstract reasoning and taking many different perspectives, then integrating them and putting them together in new and surprisingly creative ways; the progressive movement in Christianity is quite powerful, for realizing that scripture contains spiritual truths expressed not only in parables but also in analogies and mythology, from the simple shepherd/sheep analogy of Psalm 23 to deeply insightful stories in the Gospel of John.]

Chapter 9 – the sixth state – is Psychic Consciousness (18 pp); “an inner witness to the permanent self, the part of self beyond space-time; persons with psychic consciousness may make use of abilities such as healing by the laying on of hands, prophecy, and speaking in tongues; this witness, familiar to all serious meditators, is the part of self beyond body, emotions, and mind; it has been called by some the permanent self.” [This sixth state uses some terminology that remains vague to me after rereading Ch. 9. I have come to realize that the word ‘mind’ has a local component (the brain) and a nonlocal component (from beyond the brain). Also the concept of “permanent self” is called by many one’s “soul.” I simply cannot determine what Jim Marion means in Ch. 9. Has he accepted unchanged Ken Wilber’s descriptions of the nine states of consciousness? Or does he begun to expand this sixth state to include what he has experienced? The answer seems to be yes for this last question. I would have to read Ken Wilber to find out, but here I’ll just try to explain what I think is from Jim Marion’s view of things.]

Chapter 10 – the transition from the sixth to the seventh state – is called The Dark Night of the Senses (18-pp). Jim Marion begins by declaring that his transition was so much like that of St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) that he, Jim Marion, is content to describe the transition St. John of the Cross experienced. [Here I simply add that this transition can be difficult and thus can take a lot of time.]

Chapter 11 – the seventh state – is Subtle Consciousness (10-pp) – reached “after the death of The Dark Night of the Senses and rebirth into the subtle level – the last level at which our self will be identified with our human personality; at the subtle level, our consciousness becomes capable of receiving direct communications from the causal level, the level of the soul; we gain immediate contact with our guardian angel (the angel of our true self), our own spiritual master, and Jesus himself; all three of these serve as messengers (angels) of the true self and guide us towards our final individuation as a human being.” [All I add to this is that Jim Marion has a clear Christian view of this subtle level which seems unlike a Buddhist or Taoist subtlety, which requires becoming totally selfless – that is, replacement of the physical self we used to be as a human being – for their spiritual progress is the work of shedding ourselves of any type of individuation in order to become divine and selfness in the unified state of Nirvana – one with the divine.]

PART II ends with Chapter 11. PART III – The Dark Night of the Soul – has four chapters (12-15, covering 62 pages) to discuss this important passage. In this part Jim Marion discusses his and others, both living and dead saints, who made this transition from the seventh state of Subtle Consciousness to the eight state of Christ Consciousness – the Causal Level of Ch. 16, to which I turn next.

Chapter 16 – the eighth state – is Christ Consciousness – the Causal Level (13-pp). “At this level the Christian is identified with his or her true Christ Self, which is seen as in a spiritual union with God the Creator; The person with Christ Consciousness sees all other human beings as the Christ and treats them accordingly; this spiritual love is identical to what the Buddhist masters call true compassion; the person with Christ Consciousness is free from neurotic projections and emotional addictions, and is able to live solely in the present, curiously detached from everyday struggles and anxieties; one is able to commune with God, now seen as the Great Void or Mother Creator within, from which all creation and creativity arises.” [The author describes his and others spiritual progress towards this eighth state, and he states: “Like the other levels of consciousness described previously, the causal level usually lasts many years.”]

Chapter 17 – the ninth state – is Nondual Consciousness: Ascension into the Kingdom of Heaven (18-pp). “Nondual consciousness marks the end of all division between ‘creature’ and ‘creator.’ It was the level from which Jesus spoke when he said that ‘The Father and I are one.’ This is what past Christian mystics referred to as the ‘beatific vision,’ the end point of the evolution of human consciousness on Earth. Were all humans to realize the nondual consciousness of the Kingdom, this beautiful blue-green globe would indeed be Heaven on Earth.” [The author doesn’t explain well what nondual consciousness implies, but I have concluded that he has realized that the physical and the spiritual are considered as wholly compatible with each other to a degree that exceeds that of the fifth and sixth states.]

An analogy of this in quantum physics is often called the wave-particle ‘duality’ which some have called a duality because classical physics is based upon the simple concepts of waves and particles as different. But these two are just two ways our measurements have been able to measure ‘physical objects’. At any one point in the motion (in space-time) of a physical object, it can, by measurement, reveal either particle-like or wave-like properties. Measurements can’t reveal both properties at any instant of space-time. When not being measured, the object (or entity) can’t be called a particle or a wave, since an ‘entity’ is able to reveal, by measurements, one or the other set of properties. ‘Entities’ have ‘either/or’ beings, not ‘both/and’ beings. Some think that this reality of ‘being’ is a wonder to behold and accept.

BOOK TWO has two parts. PART V is Special Problems Facing the Christian on the Path to the Kingdom of Heaven (4 chapters) and PART VI is Further Reaches of the Kingdom of Heaven (2 chapters and the Afterword). Having read of Jim Marion’s very difficult time during his teenage years and a few years afterward, BOOK TWO discusses problems and ‘further reaches’ which he dealt with during his busy life. In dealing with them he also discusses his experiences and his thinking about the saints who he found to help him advance in his spiritual path. By the time I got to his afterword, it seemed to me that he had accomplished what I assumed was one of his primary goals – that of finding deep and very satisfying meaning to every part of the Bible.

In Jim Marion’s descriptions of the sixth through the ninth states of consciousness, I think he used what he knew of the Christian saints (and some sages of other religions) who taught him more about spirituality to help him define his own path of spirituality. Ken Wilber’s states of consciousness and the saints and sages meant a lot to him. This I can understand. It made his own spiritual path understandable to him.

In Ch. 22 the author says “The earth is surrounded by many invisible realms.” The “physical earth is surrounded and interpenetrated by an etheric plane” which is “surrounded by a vast astral plane, above which is the causal plane which surrounds and interpenetrates the planes below.” He says “Beyond the causal plane is the plane of Spirit to which only those with nondual consciousness, the consciousness of the Kingdom of Heaven, are admitted.” Whenever I read of ‘astral’ things I think of astrology and alchemy, which have died to most people of today’s educated world but haven’t yet been laid to rest for some.

This worldview left me with questions for which his answers were quite vague. At times he seemed to accept the three-tiered worldview of the time of Jesus and the Christian writers from then up through the Dark Ages. His choice of words seemed to me to be those that supported the ancient worldview of a flat Earth at the bottom of a hemispherical dome in which the point-like light of the stars could be seen at night. And the Sun moved across the dome to send daylight to the Earth below. Egyptians proposed a hidden ‘underworld’ through which the Sun could sneak back East for sunrise – Jews called it Sheol and Greeks called it Hades. I can only wonder if the author knew that this old worldview had given way to our present worldview. His talk of ‘plane’ layers above the Earth reminds me of the old three-tiered worldview.

I found other questionable statements in BOOK TWO. I think I should reread this book a third time, for I may find (or assume) some answers to his vagueness or identify in detail what I thought were inconsistencies in what Jim Marion has written in this book. But I’m not ready to do so at this time. I rate this book at four stars, for the states of consciousness are worth knowing about.