Information on the book:

The term “spiritual development” in the subtitle of this book is to be understood as having a precise meaning in terms of evidence adduced in Volume 1. In brief, it can be said that the development in view is of the inmost disposition of the individual, and takes place when some stress, refractory force or other influence requiring voluntary control is calmly faced with fortitude, so yielding to upliftment by the gift of an Obedient Faith.That upliftment and control is the reward to which Faith looks. But growing out of that are the further rewards of a well-grounded spirituality, the character of which may then be glimpsed as through an opening door.

Among those rewards is knowledge of the possibility of being “in the spirit” (as the ancient scriptures say), alert and keenly watchful. Then the space of this world is as if dissolved in Universal Mind and we have entered an intelligible space. The voluntary power to reach such states, obtained by cultivating an habitual Recollection, was studied in Volume 1, and no more than a brief reminder of the evidence is appropriate here.As will be seen, the subject-matter of the book falls into two Parts, and in a broad way of speaking the first Part deals with the gifts of Wisdom, while the second Part deals with the givingness of Love. Something of its genesis needs to be told.

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Even forty years after my seven-month-long “ultimate contest” (which I equate to the biblical “last times” or “day of the Lord) and continual other-world disclosures following, I had no plans to write a book with such a breadth of view, or even to venture far into psychopathology. The paranormal and the mystical were well within my scope; but to bring the vast field of the mentally abnormal into the mystical purview was a thing I could not see my way to undertake.Into these deep waters I was metaphorically flung in 1975, through my involvement in a cause célèbre - the so-called “Scissors Murder” case. In this, an adolescent girl (Marlene), outstandingly religious and “too gentle to hurt a fly”, when brought to a suicidal state and given excessive dosage of a dissociative drug along with alcohol, induced an uneducated coloured cripple to commit a gruesome murder - and was sentenced to death. Since I could well understand her dissociative and depersonalised state of mind, I gave what help I could after the sentencing, and resolved at all costs to equip myself as an authority on such little-understood mental disorders, and on psychopathology in general.My endeavours in this way soon bore fruit. In 1978 a leading USA psychiatrist, Professor Roland Fischer, with whom I had corresponded regularly after the publication of my first book (in 1961), along with Dr Colin Martindale, co-editors of the Journal of Altered States of Consciousness, invited me to write a paper on “The Mystical Model for Psychopathology”. Published in 1980, this called forth more than 70 requests for offprints from many countries of the world. It now appears in this book, with slight adjustments, as Chapter 3.A follow-up (now Chapter 4) was published in South Africa, and a paper on “The Mystical Way and Habitualization of Mystical States” (Chapter 8) was commissioned for inclusion in the Handbook of States of Consciousness (ed. Wolman and Ullman) published in 1986. My contribution ends with a fairly extensive study of ultimate contests in general. By that time I had arrived at a more comprehensive view of “scientific mysticism” and had presented a wide-ranging introduction to it in Volume 1 of The Meaning of Life (published the same year).

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For the projected second volume, I had in mind chiefly my three published papers on psychopathology and a long analysis (written but unpublished) of Marlene’s ordeal, treated as a contest of “near-ultimate” kind. I had in mind also to include a detailed account of my own ultimate contest, this providing strong supporting testimony to the character of the altered states and “insistent directive” (as it has been called) which are so much in need of understanding in cases of that kind. Even after 55 years, I had published only a few indications concerning my ultimate contest, without touching on certain essentials in such cases. But some big problems remained, and it was clear that the time was not ripe for completing Vol. 2.I therefore turned my attention to finalising my earlier translation of the Yoga Sutras in the light of mystical experience, adding commentaries and historical studies which I felt sure would back up what I had to say in both Volumes 1 and 2. That book was published in 1993, with the title Aphorisms on Spiritual Method.Then providentially, that same year, I was again involved in à deux murder case, this time even more bizarre and complex. One could describe it as a “hanger-rod killing” (not a murder, because unwilling and profitless). A frying-pan was also used, but did not kill.In contrast with the earlier case, however, my involvement in this case began soon after the tragedy; and my intimate association with the girl accused has continued through the following years.

Some explanation is needed here, first, of the differences in approach made in this book between the two cases of “near ultimate contest”, as I describe them. I think it is correct to say that the public in general felt strongly that something was very wrong with the trial of Marlene (who was advised not to give any evidence in her support). Subsequently a mass of material evidence was brought out in press-investigations, and this, along with the very valuable autobiography which she was asked to write, throws the case in an altogether different light. As with the other publications, I have given the names of the chief participants in full, while keeping the account scientifically objective.Public response to the second case was very different. Right from the start, the police took the view that the girl was a satanist (though satanists do their work in secret, never in a blatantly anti-social and bizarre way), and the prosecution and public in general followed suit.

Although three defence experts diagnosed “possession” (a great advance in psychiatry since Marlene’s trial), in the Court’s view the boy’s evidence was “incomprehensible” and the girl was an “out-and-out liar”. The press, almost equally ignorant of recent psychological and paranormal research, showed little or no understanding of the true state of affairs. As a result, both accused declined to give interviews to the press.

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In my account of the case (Chapters 17, 18 and 19) I have respected the girl’s wish that I should not refer to her by her true name. The true name of the boy is likewise better withheld here. I have therefore used pseudonyms, “Angela” for her (chosen after consultation, for reasons as explained below, p. 448), and “Barry” for the boy. It must be emphasised that, except for my impressions of Angela’s character gained over the years in various ways, I depend for evidence solely on the Court Record, contemporary scientific research, and my own vividly real and well-tested experience. There is no “hearsay”.In my experience, then, “Angela” is, like Marlene, a girl with deep religious feeling and family background. She has impressed me as having an unusually sensitive and strikingly honest nature. But having remarkable psychical gifts she is also a seeker; and at the age of 16 she became the victim of a satanist with whom she had been friendly for two weeks.On dissociating herself from the relationship, she suffered a series of about eight temporary “demonic possessions” (such as research has shown to occur quite commonly with people who break away). The actual killing was done by her boyfriend, unwillingly, in a possession state set up by intense psychic infection. The account in Chapter 18 is restricted to certain essentials which I believe are all that is necessary here.What I have learnt from studying details of the event, its background, the voluminous Court Record, and my long and close association with Angela, has been of quite incalculable value. It has solved my problems over finalising this Volume 2, reconciled me at last to giving the details of my own ultimate contest, and intensified the drive to work through the remaining problems and thus complete the volume fairly soon.

In addition, the writing of the papers which now appear as Chapters 5 and 6 (published in 1995 and 1996) was inspired by my knowledge of Angela’s experience of precognitive and possession states; and some of her descriptions are usefully quoted.The two concluding chapters, 20 and 21, look more closely than is usual at concepts of “accountability” and “punishment”, in the light of spiritual development. The standpoint of the one is chiefly that of Jurisprudence (but led by the concept of justice to consideration of the “afterlife”). The other looks deeper, and passes from a study of “smear words” and linguistic confusion in matter of accountability, to that of reformation and regeneration, “divine correction” and acknowledgement of “the Holy”.

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The two causes célèbres studied in this book are presented with only passing attention to the continuance of the medieval “bad or mad” dichotomy in courts of law world-wide. That is evidenced in a persistent ignorance or denial of the involuntary stress-induced effects of depersonalisation, derealisation, insistent directives, and some more obvious kinds of possession-state. The public in general also forms strong “bad or mad” opinions, and the thought that “justice must be seen [by the public] to be done” has in some cases clearly affected judgement in the courts.Though the book does not follow up these social troubles, I believe the detailed psychological analyses of the two cases of stress-induced depersonalisation and related effects will throw much needed light on the inhumanity of the “bad or mad” fixation still current today in many quarters.

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It will be seen that Part II begins with five chapters on female sexuality and bisexuality in the personality and the unitive mystical life. These were felt to be necessary after I had written the autobiographical Chapter 14. For I then realised that a fully experiential view of female sexuality, at the mystical level and derivatively in the personality, was urgently required.

In fact that psychology, theology and the law, in respect of their basic structuring in principles and valuations, have been built up entirely by men imposes limitations that are seldom realised. Feminist endeavours to rectify matters, and expose the ramifications of “man’s fantasy of woman”, focus mainly on the faults or injustices of society, while what is innate or archetypally determined is overlooked.Thus Shere Hit’s monumental “Women and Love” (1987) is said by Naomi Weisstein, in her introduction, to stress “cultural relativism in sexuality” as against the “biological given”. Here, however it is necessary to look to the mystical level where one’s “core sexual identity” has its root, beyond both the biological and the accultured.Readers of my first two books on mysticism (1961, 1986) will have some idea how a firsthand experiencing of this has become possible for me; and the autobiographical Chapter 14 should throw much further light on the situation. Here a concise outlining of the chief relevant facts (explained more fully in Volume 1) may be helpful:

1. Mystics who have come to know their core sexual identity through an orientation of “faithful obedience” to the Divine Source know themselves as patterned on either “the Son” or “Daughter and Bride”. The former write of the mystic as “he” or “the Son”; the latter write of the mystic as “she” or some such term as “the bride-soul”. But some who are “sons” refer to “the soul” (anima) conventionally as “she”.2. This is a distinction in respect of the mystic’s unchangeable principal sex, represented in every manifested detail of the spiritual body, whatever form it takes. But the mental functions characteristic of the opposite sex (described as auxiliary) can be used in a partial or adapted way, as in empathy or as if by a partner in marriage.3. After the Divine Source was revealed (in 1930) a fairly regular series of experiences in full separative release began, in which I have been always female in disposition and every detail of the spiritual body.

Since 1952 the impression of being ultimately female “in the sight of God” has been virtually unceasing (“in the world but not of it”). But the auxiliary sex can be acted out in company without undue discomfort; and there seems to be nearly always cooperation in creative work.The importance of an approach of this kind to the subject of spiritual development is that it provides a vantage-point from which the problems of individuals in their personalities, arising from family conditioning, cultural pressures, biologic dependence, and social or personal conflict in general, can be studied objectively. For clear judgement requires that we stand above all such confusion.

Although the emphasis in Part II is on female sexuality some attention has to be given to male fantasies and deviance; for ideas of femaleness are involved in virtually all. A few are therefore considered briefly (in Chapter 12) on the basis of published research. In particular, the remarkable ubiquity of “women envy” in biological males today calls for attention. Although this does not bear on study of mystically disclosed principal femaleness, it raises problems which might be clarified by the detailed analysis of sexuality here proposed,

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Certain other topics which would indeed by important in any thoroughgoing study of “spiritual development” receive little or no attention in this volume. For example: death and after-death states; reincarnation; life in non-physical “worlds”, especially “lower” and “higher” ones; the archetypal structuring of humanity, and theological principles regarding this.A certain amount of “hard evidence” (non-physical) exists on these topics; and a glimpse of what lies beyond may be provided by my first two published papers on mysticism, The Vision of Archetypal Light and The Angelic Choirs (both published in 1954). A third volume of evidence on “the meaning of life” would be needed for a survey of what seems to be at present reliably known. It is hoped that this might be completed in the near future.

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