A Hidden Treasure – Franklin Merrell-Wolff

A_Hidden_Treasure_-_Franklin_Merrell-Wolff-transformed

From time to time I try and introduce thinkers / writers who’s work not only represents significant contributions to the field of happiness but also who aren’t part of the popular lexicon or the Amazon best seller lists. Franklin Merrell-Wolff definitely fits that bill. He was a giant in the field little known to today’s readers.

“Experience and Philosophy” by Franklin Merrell-Wolff is his philosophical and spiritual work that explores the nature of human consciousness and its relationship to reality. Published in 1937, the book combines elements of Eastern and Western philosophy, metaphysics, and mysticism to present a unique perspective on the nature of experience and the ultimate reality.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Mystical Experience: Merrell-Wolff begins by emphasizing the significance of direct mystical experience as a valid and transformative source of knowledge. He argues that such experiences can provide profound insights into the nature of reality beyond what traditional philosophy or science can offer.
  2. The Philosophy of Consciousness: The author proposes a philosophy rooted in the idea that consciousness is fundamental to reality. He asserts that consciousness is not merely an epiphenomenon of physical processes but the very essence of existence itself. This perspective aligns with Eastern philosophies such as Advaita Vedanta.
  3. Transcending Dualism: Merrell-Wolff challenges the dualistic view that separates subject and object, self and other. He argues that through deep contemplative practice and mystical experiences, one can transcend these dualities and directly experience a state of unity and oneness with all of existence.
  4. The Divine Reality: The book discusses the concept of the Divine Reality, which Merrell-Wolff sees as the ultimate ground of being and the source of all existence. He suggests that the individual soul can have a direct and transformative encounter with this Divine Reality, leading to a profound spiritual awakening.
  5. The Path to Liberation: Merrell-Wolff outlines a path to spiritual liberation that involves rigorous meditation, self-inquiry, and the cultivation of inner stillness. He describes his own spiritual journey and the stages of realization he underwent on his quest for ultimate truth.
  6. Practical Implications: Merrell-Wolff suggests that the insights gained through mystical experience have practical implications for one’s daily life. They can lead to greater compassion, wisdom, and a sense of purpose in the world.

Wolff (1887-1985) was an American philosopher, mystic, and mathematician. He was born in Pasadena, California, and pursued a career in mathematics, eventually earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University. Despite his academic achievements, Merrell-Wolff was drawn to mystical and spiritual experiences from an early age.

He briefly taught mathematics at Stanford in 1914, but left academia the following year. In 1920, Wolff married Sarah Merrell Briggs. The couple joined their original surnames; hence Wolff became Franklin Merrell-Wolff. Merrell-Wolff and his wife founded an esoteric group called the Assembly of Man in 1928, which gathered in an ashram he built in the Siera Nevada mountains near Mount Whitney Sarah Merrell-Wolff, also known as Sherifa, died in 1959. Franklin Merrell-Wolff remarried and lived the rest of his life in the mountains until his death in 1985.

His spiritual journey led him to study Eastern philosophies. Merrell-Wolff’s mystical experiences and philosophical insights formed the basis for his groundbreaking work, “Experience and Philosophy.”

In addition to his philosophical writings, he also left behind a substantial body of work on meditation and spiritual practice. Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s writings continue to be influential in the fields of philosophy, mysticism, and spirituality, inspiring seekers on their own journeys of self-discovery and spiritual realization.

While not a particularly easy read, his seminal book is well worth the effort.

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