Roger asked some good questions in his comment on a recent blog post. He started off by agreeing with my oh-so-agreeable statement about the ineffable can't-know'ness of someone else's subjective experiences.
"Everybody has their own subjective experiences. It isn't possible to know what those subjective experiences are like, unless you're the person having the experiences."
---However, what is a RSSB [Radha Soami Satsang Beas] meditation experience? Why is there a need for RSSB initation into a meditation process? Is the RSSB meditations nothing more than one's subjective personal experiences?
---So, these RSSB meditation experiences of the various astral planes or regions are nothing more than one's personal subjective experiences?
---How would a honest and sincere RSSB devotee know that their subjective experience didn't just come from their brain? Surely, the human brain can generate various experiences, without the need of a GIHF [God in Human Form, the RSSB guru].
---Finally, why is there a problem with sharing one's subjective experience with another person? The other person is listening to what is being described, nothing more.
I found the middle two questions particularly interesting, because they're related to a central philosophical issue. What is the nature of reality as known to us humans?
Some people take a realist perspective.
What's real is our perception of a cosmos open to being known. There's really no difference between the objective outside world and our subjective internal experience of it. What we experience is what there is.
Now, it's pretty clear that absolute realism can't be true.
Illusions are common. Hallucinations are experiences of what isn't really there. Different people understand things in different ways. Animals (and likely space aliens, if they exist) have sensory/cognitive abilities at variance with ours.
On the other hand, some people take an idealist perspective.
What's real is our individual understanding. There's no such thing as objective reality. How we subjectively perceive things is how the world is. Conscious experience essentially creates the cosmos through awareness of it. No way of looking at the world is more true than any other.
Well, it's also pretty clear that absolute idealism can't be true.
Most people agree about what exists and doesn't exist. Sensory perception is generally accurate, or we couldn't function in a world that had no reliable foundation. Laws of nature operate whether or not human consciousness is present.
So a middle way appears to be the correct path: there is an objective world, but it isn't transparent to our understanding. Knowledge of the universe steadily progresses, but a realm of mystery always lies beyond the horizon of what humans are capable of knowing.
Which brings me back to Roger's questions about internal meditative experiences. I say "internal," because meditation with eyes closed and one's attention diverted from the senses often is termed going inside.
The Big Question is: inside what? One's own brain, or some transcendent supernatural realm of existence?
Answering this question isn't easy. Especially if the person who goes inside and experiences something seemingly divine doesn't compare notes with other meditators, or share his/her experience with other people.
After all, how do we confirm that what we perceive in the outside world is really there? We ask other people. Do you see that bird in the tree? Do you smell smoke? Doesn't it seem like the room is colder than usual? We also may gather some demonstrable evidence of our perception: a photograph, chemical analysis, thermometer reading.
We can't blindly trust our subjective experience unless we take an extreme idealist position in which reality is however it seems to us. If we accept the presence of objective reality, there has to be some demonstrable outside confirmation of what we experience "inside."
Mysticism is bullshit without this.
People are adept at deceiving themselves. The brain has many layers, many complex mechanisms, many hidden tunnels, many unconscious processes. Blindly accepting whatever pops into our awareness puts the human mind on an undeserved throne.
There is a lot more to reality than just the human mind. Worshipping our own mind by believing in the objective reality of our own thought-creations is a form of blasphemy. Not against God. Against what is true.