About two years ago, a colleague introduced me to the work of Jeffery A Martin. Along with my colleague, upon reading this work, I agreed quite how groundbreaking it was.
Martin began with a premise of studying “happiness” and decided a good way to do so was to study “happy people”, and this, seemingly by chance, led him to start interviewing people that had had some form of spiritual or mystical experience.
Over ten years, he proceeded to interview some 1,200 people. At first, struggling to identify any commonality between what they described, he started asking questions about the impact of their experience upon their cognitive, emotional experience, as well as memory and perception. It seems these were questions they had not been asked before, and led to answers that showed marked similarities between them. He went on to group people into four ‘locations’ based upon the changes they had experienced. Rather than rewrite his own work, I will direct you to his website, or more specifically to his summary paper, short or longer versions available.
He goes further than this – asking these people what methods they used to transition into what he describes as “persistent non-symbolic experience” or PNSE. Amongst this large group of people, he found just six predominant methods.
Whilst he doesn’t detail what these are publicly, this fact is significant, and he explains this. The vast majority of spiritual traditions that do have a means to help people transition to PNSE have just one method, and he describes how students often first have to transform themselves into the correct “shape” before that practice can work, when in fact they could have had success far faster by trying one of the other six methods. This is precisely what he offers in his Finders Course.
The insight in this work is of profound consequence – it suggests that (and my experience concurs with this) that the vast majority of spiritual and religious traditions are limiting themselves with a parochial attitude to their techniques and methods.
It will be fascinating to see how this insight unfolds in the world – we at Odoko consider it to be of great significance, and hope we can, over the coming months and years, play our small part in its development.