Main CategoriesPsychology and JungHumanistic and Transpersonal Psychology Halfway Up the Mountain

Halfway Up the Mountain

Product no.: 0-934252-91-2
Caplan boldly examines the issue of fraudulent claims to enlightenment and addresses the major obstacles confronting the contemporary spiritual movement.

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Publisher's Synopsis

The book is divided into five sections: Enlightenment and Mystical Experiences; The Dangers of Mystical Experiences; Corruption and Consequence; Navigating the Mine Field - Preventing Dangers on the Path; and Disillusionment, Humility and the Beginning of Spiritual Life. Caplan explains the need for such a work:

"Although the dramatic rise in popularity of contemporary spirituality in the Western world is introducing more people than ever before to spiritual ideas and ideals, the possibility for something other than a superficial affair with God has a very limited value if such ideas and ideals are not understood from a perspective that is educated, deeply considered, and carefully examined and checked."

Her purpose is to raise issues, not to solve them. She leaves that up to the reader or seeker who will find that the raising of the questions may provide protection and aspiration to dive deeper into their own spiritual practices.


"'You smile a lot, you're very benevolent - it's the holy man role... I was going to be nobody special like the big boys', admits Dick Alpert in Halfway up the Mountain: The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment. What the book offers is a mirror to hold up to oneself.

Most engaging are the frank, firsthand accounts included here from interviews with dedicated long-time practitioners. Reading about their struggles and concerns, we feel we are not alone; we are in a process together; we wish to be free from illusion no matter what; and perhaps, as Caplan says, 'everything is a lesson', an inevitable and necessary step toward becoming 'responsible partners in our own awakening'. The book's topics include the nature of enlightenment, ego's many disguises, power and corruption, finding one's way among teachers, disillusionment and the beginning of spiritual life.

Caplan points out that ego inflation, the tendency toward 'a lopsided and subjective misperception of one's experience and spiritual progress', is a phenomenon 'common to most serious spiritual students', and should be considered 'always lurking nearby and ready to pounce'. The ego easily puffs up to become, in Claudio Naranjo's words, 'a professional of spiritual things'. A bhakti practitioner reminds us that when one starts 'relating to these experiences... as a goal', one loses 'the surrender that is sourcing the experience. The background is surrender, the foreground is experience'.

Genuine openness to the unknown is difficult when the ego takes spirituality as its own, as an accomplishment, as a possession, or even as one's very identity. To this last scenario Caplan applies the term 'bulletproof ego': 'When the ego itself is comprised of the experiences and the teaching, nothing save a small miracle is going to be able to penetrate.' How to be free of something that is not recognized? Caplan is quick to point out that the problem is not ego but a lack of seeing. In her view, ego is natural, a necessary mechanism, but rather than dominating, it could serve. Even while inflation occurs, she assures us, there is 'another aspect of the individual... that is not inflated' and 'can be accessed'. Letting the ego show itself and 'observing... without judgment' is the key, Caplan continues, although 'few can catch the process at work in themselves'.

Fortunately, with inflation comes deflation, what Caplan aptly calls 'bumping up against reality', difficulties in life that bring suffering, embarrassment, exposure. Such events may lead to a new sense of kinship with others facing their own challenges, or even to a moment of remorse, a powerful reminder to awaken. However, as Caplan points out, 'It takes a very strong degree of self-honesty and conscience... The more you are working with containing higher energies, the more dangerous it is for ego to identify with the process you're being put through, which at some point you realize is not your personal process. It is a universal process that is so much bigger than anything we are identified with...'

On the subject of seekers who are halfway up the mountain, the blunt old dervish in Gurdjieff's Meetings with Remarkable Men has the last word: 'Let God kill him who himself does not know and yet presumes to show others the way.'"      ~Parabola Magazine


Mariana Caplan, Ph.D., is an adjunct faculty member at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is the author of six books, including Do You Need a Guru?, by Thorsons Press.

Author Caplan, Mariana
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 568 pp.
Publisher Hohm Press 2001
Browse these categories as well: Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology, Self-Help and Relationships, Metaphysics, Mysticism and Initiation, Noteworthy Releases 2001

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