Thread: Attack on 'The Path to Enlightenment' by The Times newspaper

  1. #1
    Forums Member
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    Mar 2017

    Attack on 'The Path to Enlightenment' by The Times newspaper

    There was an interesting attack on those seeking enlightenment on the front page of The Times today, supposedly led by 'science', (then drag the page down) which talked about spiritual smugness and being 'more likely' to inflate the ego rather than shrink it. I followed it up by tracking down the original study 'An Exploration of Spiritual Superiority: The Paradox of Self‐Enhancement' by the author Roos Vonk which is free to download at for those who are interested.

    Why The Times thought it had to run such a story on the front page sparked my curiosity so I had to read the original study. Apparently the author has published similar stuff in the past, which has been commented on variously if you chase it up on the internet. The abstract of the study states that 'Spiritual Superiority scores were consistently higher among energetically trained participants than mindfulness trainees and were associated with supernatural overconfidence and self-ascribed spiritual guidance.' where 'energetically training' means those 'which aim to train skills that classify as paranormal, such as reading auras and regressing to previous lives'. Mindfulness, on the other hand, means those following mindfulness training.

    Of course the Times article falls down when you actually read the study, which shows that the journalist has reinterpreted it as a study of those following 'the path to enlightenment.' I found the study too full of 'may' and 'could' words to be of any use. The discussion in the study was interesting, especially where it says 'The question is whether a truly enlightened person would even participate in our studies. Would such a person be interested in or even capable of answering all these ‘me’-questions? Perhaps our studies were possible only thanks to participants whose egos were still big enough to want to engage.' Which kind of sums it up, I think.

  2. #2
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
    London UK
    This is an interesting subject. I followed the given link to the Times front page, but it involved quite a hunt.

    Here is a direct link to the Times article:

    The Times newspaper is a canny organisation. It won't let me read the article unless I sign up for a month's 'free' trial. So I skipped the newspaper altogether and went straight on to look at Prof. Vonk's paper.

    I digested the abstract at the start, but to read the whole thing is a task I'm not quite ready for at the moment. However, it definitely has a place on my to-read list.

  3. #3
    Just a note to say that the article by Roos Vonk is protected by copyright on every page, so its definately not a good idea to quote it, thanks.

    The author mentions and quotes Chogyam Trungpa (which for me is a turn-off) - who coined the phrase "Spiritual Materialiam" in the 1970's.

    The alleged "studies" she also mentions didn't make much sense to me - and I think the pali word "papanca" sums up my view of what I read in general.

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