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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly clear, extraordinarily profound
I found "The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object," one of the two books making up this volume, by chance a few years ago. Dr. Wolff is like pure gold. He provides independent confirmation and explication of mystical experience outside of religious traditions.
To existing reviews I just want to add that one of the deep joys of this book is Dr...
Published on October 30, 2001 by Mark Voss

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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and distracting
Friends, over the years I have read many books purporting to describe the enlightened mind, this book left me wondering "what is he thinking?" To spend so much time and effort in this manner makes me wonder what was going on here. This book is boring: no imagination, no heart, no love, no humor, no empathy with his readers, to mention a few. If you were to study with...
Published on February 18, 2011 by AlexG


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly clear, extraordinarily profound, October 30, 2001
By 
Mark Voss (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
I found "The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object," one of the two books making up this volume, by chance a few years ago. Dr. Wolff is like pure gold. He provides independent confirmation and explication of mystical experience outside of religious traditions.
To existing reviews I just want to add that one of the deep joys of this book is Dr. Wolff himself, as transmitted by his language. Extremely literate, deeply kind, considerate, powerful, courageous, patient, thorough, Dr. Wolff is beautiful to read. This book contains the truth, in sentences that are so precise that they are like mathematical equations, and so vast in scope that they are themselves like books.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars utterly mind-blowing, July 3, 2000
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
It is quite rare to come across a book on "mysticism"--the perennial philosophy, that is--which is written by a person who is not only speaking from a very advanced level of direct Realization but, at the same time, is a very well-trained and highly skilled philosopher. This is such a book. After years of wide study, deep thought and serious practice in the world's wisdom traditions, including formal training in both Eastern and Western philosophy and religion, this book still blew my mind from cover to cover. It will help to clarify significant points in your understanding, even if you are an advanced jnana yogi or a professional philosopher.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of intelectual mysticism, American-style., February 4, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
The experience of enlightenment, or of an unitive awareness beyond subject-object dualisms has often been basic for mysticisms in all traditions. It has also been vigorously debated by philosophers with a general consensus reached during the Enlightenment that reason or logic was the unique quality of consciousness. Even today reductionisms attempt to limit consciousness to some energetic metaphor. Merrell-Wolff's experience is all the more important for he comes out of a rigorous mathematical and philosophical background. When confronted with this nondualistic consciousness and its transformative effects, Merrell-Wolff was hard put to explain it. Taking on Kant's mirror dependencies of consciousness, being contingent upon perception and conception, Merrell-Wolff formulated important accounts all based experientially upon his own illuminate nondual consciousness. His most important work, and least known is Introceptualism where he sets out a formal epistemology and metaphysics for this basic transcendent consciousness. He also modifies some of his earlier statements, attempting to clarify his account of mysticism as well as placing his idealism into juxtaposition to modernist naturalism, realism, idealism and pragmatism. These books reflect a life time effort to formulate an adequate philosophy that can include such radical nondual consciousness as a present reality and possibility. Somewhat reclusive during his long life, he refused to guide or instruct others in what he felt was a natural condition of human consciousness when left to its own nature. In many ways these books provide a place where critical philosophy is strictly mystical. Highly recommended
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual human potential fullfilled, A facinating account!, July 16, 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
This book is one of the most facinating accounts of mans potential for spiritual tranformation. It was written during the actual experience. Most eastern accounts of illumination are written after the fact. This account is different as the author gives you a personal account during and after each deeping state of conciousness. Not only this but from a "western mind" viewpoint of the experience. Not vailed in symbolism as most eastern writers. The totality of the experience left him with new insight into the human mystery and a renewed meaning to life. He can be added to the list of Richard Bucks book: "Cosmic Conciousness" as one who achieved spontaneous illumination. I recommend Merrell-Wolff's book for anyone seriously on the "path" to spiritual enlightenment
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pathways Through To Space, May 12, 2001
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
Franklin Merrell-Wolff's memoir of and reflections upon his experience of "Realization" is one of the most engaging and intelligent accounts ever written. His path was that of the jnani and the philosopher, and his lucid critical thinking is a rarity in this sort of literature. But this story is far from dry, and the mysticism is genuine and deep. This book got me through a series of "spiritual" crises in the mid-80s and has come around several times since, and is richer and more suggestive on each reading, as few books are. There is a subtle chemistry to "mystical" writers; one person's revelation is another person's tedium. Merrell-Wolff's work has a particular ineffable quality, a flavor that appeals to me immensely. He was an inspiration to Richard Moss, whose works are also highly to be recommended to those pursuing the path that disappears into God's country.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and remarkable!, November 5, 2003
By 
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
Franklin Merrell-Wolff is perhaps the greatest little-known philosopher of the 20th century. As the other reviewers have pointed out, FMW's deep understanding of Western philosophy and his genuine Realization of the highest level of Enlightenment as defined by Eastern religious philosophy, have made it possible for him to provide an utterly unique and remarkably detailed explanation of what It is all about.
Don't bother reading any more reviews: Buy this book NOW and read it. You will not be disappointed!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Transcendence, January 3, 2007
By 
E. C. Holloway (SACRAMENTO, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
For going on nearly a decade now, I continue to be inspired by Franklin Merrell-Wolff's (FMW's) two-in-one book, Experience and Philosophy, containing Pathways Through to Space, and, in particular, The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object (CWO). CWO is remarkable because it eloquently expresses how FMW 1) "became convinced of the probable existence of a Transcendent mode of consciousness that could not be comprehended within the limits of our ordinary forms of knowledge." 2) proceeded to experience It for himself, and, most usefully (and ingeniously) 3) documented his Realizations within a systematically reconciled Eastern and Western framework of philosophies. There are many, many transcendental ("enlightened") people, but few who can actually explicate and teach the meaning of Transcendence!

What I have always resonated to--going back to them over and over again--is what FMW calls the "precipitated effects" of the Transcendental state. I like the phrase, Transcendent Effects, but it would be the same to me if they were Transformation Effects, or Enlightenment Effects, or simply Awakenings, Realizations or Recognitions. They can be found in Chapter 2, A Mystical Unfoldment. FMW strongly qualifies them as -effects-, not Pure Consciousness itself, which is ineffable--totally inexpressible on any linguistic level.

Still, what impresses me is how they are itemized and so fully and wonderfully articulated. For me they are rather much an inventory, such as a psychologist might assemble for a survey. If I were doing a dissertation on Transformation amongst us (yes, it -does- happen), then, as a guide for research, I would be using them as operational definitions for constructing a scale. One simply has to believe that Transformation is a matter of degree, or quantum of change.

To pose the Transcendent Effects in language I like, they would be: 1, an experience of a transformational shift; 2, non-duality, or a sense of oneness with all things; 3, an illumination or deep understanding (this IMO is where the word "enlightenment" might apply--but only as -part- of the picture); 4, classical transcendence (i.e., of being beyond time, space and "physical" reality); 5, a sense liberation from any restriction or bondage; 6, a sense of redemption from all wrong and wrong doing; 7, a sense of completion or wholeness; 8, a sense of peace and calmness; 9, a sense of groundedness, clarity, or inner consilience; 10, a joyfulness--an awareness of the "life-force"; 11, love or compassion; 12, inspiration, creative intuition, noetic resonance, or, as FMW likes to call it, "knowledge through identity"; 13, paranormal ability--clairvoyance, precognition, etc (FMW admits that he's not experienced this dimension, referring to it as "atypical features"); 14, dhyana, or ecstasy; and, 15, what he calls high indifference, a state of satisfaction, yet with a Knowing that it does not matter whether you have it or not. This latter one is discussed elsewhere, but I include it because it seems to fit.

Franklin makes it clear that the levels at which one can Know that these Effects of Pure Consciousness are themselves infinite, each level or form being subject to still higher levels, no matter how powerfully you might feel you know them in the present, they is always something beyond it, something more.

What's wrong with FMW's picture? Well, it's that he explicitly avoids prescribing any particular method of getting there. It is, ultimately, a matter of Grace--somehow bestowed upon you, whether or not you are doing your meditation practices every day, living with mindfulness, or having loving kindness towards everything.

However that may be the case, what I gather between the lines is that Transcendent Effects cannot happen by looking at (or reciting, or speaking about) any particular object, whether physical or mental. Thus the practice towards experiencing Transformational Effects is based upon being engaged with one's -subjective- reality, whatever you might be experiencing within your whole being.

Speaking for myself, I have sensed that there have emerged some practices that literally embody these subjective practices, as I call them. One can find subjective practices in such disciplines known as Focusing, Somatic Experiencing, EMDR, and, possibly, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Hakomi, and Thought Field Therapy (TFT), and still others. Such practices, which are a recent emergence of what I call collectively the Somatic Movement, carry us into subjective practice. Many close students of FMW's work might not agree, but they can open the door to Transcendent Effects. They are humanity's answer to FMW's prescription for Introceptualism, a pre-conceptual, direct knowing of what is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars your search is over, October 28, 2012
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
Just think, Franklin Merrell-Wolff was a properly trained philosopher scientist and a gifted mathematician, like Bertrand Russell, but instead of tut-tuting at mysticism or using the intellectual tyranny of logic to cancel out the experience, like Russell did; Merrell-Wolff read heavily on mysticism and found enlightenment.

There are other similarities between the two thinkers. Bertrand Russell once said that he found solace and certainty in higher mathematics. Franklin Merrel-Wolff says the same thing. In fact, Merrel-Wolff says that this certainty was his inspiration for looking further and finding the Other. If only Bertrand Russell had a more open mind. Who knows? There is a lesson here.

A word of warning. Like logical atomism, the writings of Franklin Merrell-Wolff are not meant for the uninitiated, though if you stick with it, as I did, and do your homework, the lessons will stay with you forever; trust me. Franklin Merrel-Wolff is not a snake-oil salesman, and neither is he selling you a fast-track to enlightenment, like Huxley did. Instead, Franklin Merrell-Wolff's goes to great lengths in explaining the difficulty of understanding, and there is trust in this sort of complexity I guess. I think that I have gained a glimmer of something by reading this guy and I think you will too.

Being the real deal then, it is any wonder that we find Franklin Merrel-Wolff difficult at times? He isn't difficult because of his style, its just that words cannot describe the thing, words will never ever take you there, except for the lies of gurus and Deepak Chopra type salesmen, words are not the terrirory. Why are words useless? Well imagine trying to describe what ice cream tastes like to someone who has never tasted ice cream. This is why words fail.

It was Plotinus who said that the mystic experience was 'the flight of the alone to the alone' and so Franklin Merrel-Wolff says that he is mostly writing for other sages, as it takes a sage to know a sage. Fortunately for you and me, Merrel-Wolff's prose is immaculate and you can still benefit from reading what the man says. I suppose that the writing can help trigger the spark that leads to the place.

Franklin Merrell-Wolff recomends we study what he studied and so to get a better grasp, we need to know our Shankara and our Kant before we take the plunge. For the best introduction to Kant, his achievement, and Western philosophy: check out The Philosophy of Schopenhauer: by Brian Magee. Max Muller says somewhere that Kant is the culmination of the Veda's. So it will benefit the reader immensely to read about Kant first.

It is impressive that Merrell-Wolff knows his Kant because this is the correct path to the place we want to go. This means that we can express ourselves in a coherent and, dare I say it, scientific way. This is a good reason as any for reading what Wolff has to say about his experience.

In fact, Franklin Merrell-Wolff was a gifted academic, who read heavily on philosophy, East and West, before he had the experience. I have never come across an academic, and especially an academic on the subject of philosophy, who actually got enlightened by studying the said subject.

To my mind, this reading about enlightenment and then having it really happen to you is unique. Imagine watching porn films for years and, suddenly, out of the blue, a beautiful girl knocks on your door and has sex with you. Well this is what happened to lucky Dr Merrell-Wolff.

Pathways is divided into brief and pungent musings on enlightenment and the authors own ongoing experience of enlightenment. The descriptions of so many subjects left me startled. I thought I knew about mysticism until I read Franklin Merrell-Wolff. I believe the author was going through the experience and writing what he experienced at the same time, and this is why Pathways Through Space is unique. Nobody has ever written it down whilst it happened.

However, I was left feeling frustrated that I couldn't have the experience myself. I have read loads of philosophy, but to no avail! The problem with this sort of book is that reading about another mans mystic experience is like looking at another mans holiday snaps. It isn't the same thing. What I mean is, reading about the experience that Franklin Merrell-Wolff had is like reading an autobiography of a very successful porn-star. The reader is left with only his imagination to play around with and a big craving for the things being described in the book.

This craving is probably why Franklin Merrell-Wolff isn't as famous as lesser thinkers. Here is no magic pill or simple mantra to get you off. Franklin Merrell-Wolff is honest in this respect, as he says that only special people can get it. A typical Eastern idea that gets edited out of the Western export. Though he does say that we can all read the texts and we can get as far as we allow ourselves.

It was in the middle of reading Systems of Vedanta, by Paul Deussen, that it happened, writes Franklin Merrell-Wolff. He read a passage on the Indian philosopher, Adi Shankara, when suddenly he himself started breathing the sweet ambrosia of Brama and so the experience kicked-in. He wrote notes of the experience each day and this is what the book is about.

A word of warning to those who haven't done any homework. Franklin Merrell-Wolff is a very cerebral man. There is no 'don't think, feel' philosophy in Franklin Merrell-Wolff's arsenal. He makes you think. In the West, we are sold the simplistic 'switch off your mind' philosophy, however, that is a sales pitch. Franklin Merrell-Wolff explains that there are traditions that say the opposite to the 'stitch off your thoughts' idea. Merrell-Wolff lists the indian sage, Adi Shankara and Emmanual Kant as two cerebral sages who though big. Indeed, Franklin Merrell-Wolff owes a great deal to both these masters and his style is just as difficult as Kant's and Shankara's.

Also, even though Franklin Merrell-Wolff is a Western sage, he is top-heavy with Sanskrit words. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book, but if the reader is new to the words, consulting a glossary is analogous to reading how-to-fly instructions whilst flying a jet. So I recommend reading an introduction to Eastern philosophy, though this isn't essential for enjoying the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining the very nature of Reality., November 27, 2013
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This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
In my view this is one of the best books ever written, if not the best -both in form and content- as to the development of self-consciousness, step by step, until the point where our existence's ultimate meaning is found by means of an outstanding mixture of impeccable logic, rational knowledge, and pure apperception. As a by-product, a proof that hard science, despite all honest efforts, will never reach, per se, the very basis of Reality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very informative book that raises some important questions, October 22, 2012
By 
C. Chesney (Arlington, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy: A Personal Record of Transformation and a Discussion of Transcendental Consciousness (Paperback)
Merrell-Wolff's personal account of his experience of transcendental consciousnes is the best attempt at describing that state I have ever come across. He comes back again and again with observations that add tantalizing clues to that state of mind. It is a very difficult subject. As he readily acknowledges, the experience is ineffable, and no matter how mightily he tries he is not able to adeqauately express the actual state in terms that lead us to see it clearly without having the experience ourselves. It is, however, a much better exposition than any other I've seen. Unlike many of the other commenters here I think the language he uses is overly academic, convoluted, and sometimes detracts from the points he is trying to make.

The more I read of the book the more I was struck by a curious contradiction it contains. The ultimate transcendental state Merrell-Wolff describes is disconnected from the material world that we identify with almost exclusively during our lifetime. He asserts strongly throughout the book that the transcendent state is vastly superior to our normal, limited consciousness, and is a greatly enhanced state of being. But from our unenlightened perspective the rarified climate of transcendence he describes seems to be devoid of all the things that bring us joy in life. When we try to identify what makes us happy, it is always related to "things", the objects that disappear when we enter the world of consciousness without an object. He mentions more than once in the book that the transcendent state, as he describes it, sounds unappealing to most people. This poses an interesting question. His mission and reason for remaining in the material world, was to contribute to the evolution of consciousness and aid humanity in moving toward a transcendent state, but his descriptions seem to dampen people's enthusiasm for that state. What we have heard consistently from all sources is that attaiining enlightenment requires a tremendous effort driven by an overwhelming desire to reach that state. As much as I appreciate the increased knowledge this book provides I can't say it has increased my desire for enlightenment.

Merrell-Wolff does not make any attempt to validate the position that the enlightened state not only transcends normal consciousness, but also transcends the universe subject to the laws recognized by science. Altered consciousness is still a form of consciousness, all of which is normally assumed to be generated through matter and not independent of it. I think that the people (including myself) who read the book are likely to be receptive to the idea that our consciousness can exist without our material bodies, but I'm a little surprised that MW didn't spend more time on the logic of his position. Some of the mentation MW describes is similar to the kind of mental processes that happen to stroke victims who lose some brain functions and are forced to function within a more localized part of the brain. It is not impossible that we might learn to invoke those conditions by selectively disconnecting our consciousness from certain parts of the brain.
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