Mystical Consciousness

Western Perspectives and Dialogue with Japanese Thinkers

By Louis Roy, O.P.

Subjects: Theology
Paperback : 9780791456446, 251 pages, January 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456439, 251 pages, January 2003

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Table of contents



Part I. Western Philosophies of Consciousness

1. Major Contributions


Concluding Remarks


2. Complementary Contributions


From Intentionality to Consciousness: Searle
Degrees of Consciousness: Crosby
Further Clarifications: Helminiak
The Affective Side: Morelli
Concluding Remarks


3. Accounts of Mystical Consciousness


Forman on Pure Consciousness Events
The Realm of Transcendence According to Lonergan
Moore on the "How" of Consciousness
Price on Bare Consciousness
Granfield on the Mystical Difference
Concluding Remarks


Part II. Three Classics

4. Plotinus: Consciousness beyond Consciousness


A Grand Worldview
Intellect's Share in the Good
Ordinary Consciousness
What Happens beyond Consciousness?
No Blackout and Yet No Self-Consciousness
Ecstasy, or Enstasy?
Concluding Remarks


5. Eckhart: When Human Consciousness Becomes Divine Consciousness


The Emptiness of the Human Intellect
No Awareness
A Detached Love without a Why
Is the Soul Equated with God?
The Soul's Breakthrough to the Godhead
Concluding Remarks


6. Schleiermacher: Consciousness as Feeling


Prereflective and Reflective Consciousness
Absolute Dependence
Three Kinds of Consciousness
Concluding Remarks


Part III. A Dialogue with Zen Philosophy

7. Western Views of the Self


Arguing against the Self
Arguing for the Self
Transcending the Self
Concluding Remarks


8. Japanese Views of the Self


Concluding Remarks


9. Some Western Views of Nothingness


Plotinus and Eckhart
Nishitani Interpreter of Plotinus, Eckhart, and Heidegger
Concluding Remarks


10. Japanese Views of Nothingness


Nishitani's Approach to Nihilism
Nishitani's Characterization of "Absolute Nothingness"
Hisamatsu's Characterization of "Oriental Nothingness"
Concluding Remarks




Provides a philosophical account of everyday consciousness as a way of understanding mystical consciousness, drawing on the work of many Western and some Japanese thinkers.


This book offers a philosophical account of ordinary consciousness as a step toward understanding mystical consciousness. Presupposing a living interaction between meditation and thinking, the work draws on Western and Japanese thinkers to develop a philosophy of religion that is friendly to the experience of meditators and that can explore such themes as emptiness, nothingness, and the self. Western thinkers considered include Plotinus, Eckhart, Schleiermacher, Heidegger, Brentano, Husserl, Sartre, and Lonergan; and Japanese thinkers referenced include Nishitani, Hisamatsu, and Suzuki. All employed centering prayer, Zen, or other forms of mental concentration. Particular emphasis is placed on the work of twentieth-century Catholic philosopher Bernard Lonergan, whose writings on consciousness can inform an understanding of mysticism.

Louis Roy, O. P. is Professor of Theology at Boston College. He is the author of Self-Actualization and the Radical Gospel and Transcendent Experiences: Phenomenology and Critique.