Views on Human Potential and Destiny
The traditional religious views say, believe
in God (in this or that specific form), go to church, and generally be a good
person, and you will go to heaven (and "see" or "be with" God), after you die;
miss in any one of these things, and you may go to a less than heavenly realm
after you die. There seems to be a widespread but generally unarticulated belief
that there is something in the nature or structure of things which, with a few
saintly exceptions, prevents people from seeing God while alive, but that automatically
allows them to see God after they die, if, while alive, they've generally adhered
to all the rules for being a "good person". (A simple believer's view
often goes, "God is in Heaven, and we're here, and here and Heaven are two
separate places." Of course, more sophisticated theologians have always realized
that such views place limits on a God Who in fact if God, must be All-Pervading.)
And so the greatest human potential suggested by the traditional religious views
is: be a good boy or girl, and you'll go to Heaven and see God when you die (or
something more or less to that effect).
conventional materialistic view says there
is no God, no Greater Reality, that "when you're dead you're dead", and thus,
the greatest human potential is: "eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall
die", or "self-fulfillment now". A refinement on this view suggests
that, through various forms of self-improvement (whether they are physical, mental,
emotional, psychic, etc.), we can fulfill ourselves better. But none of these
variations finally and effectively relieve us of the problem represented by human
suffering and impending death.
Abraham Maslow, one of the leading thinkers of the "human potential movement"
re-conceptualized a wide array of mystical experiences as "peak experiences".
He "secularized" their description, removing all references to "God", "Revelation",
etc., feeling that this was a requirement for their scientific study: