December 10th, 2008

Generic Meditation Issues: Asperger's syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is a type of autism where a person may have very high intelligence, but (a) reacts to "ordinary" stimuli in very extraordinary ways and/or (b) does not pick up on subtle social cues and therefore does not respond "appropriately" to other human beings.  Why I did what I did and why others did what they did were pretty much mysteries to me for seventy four years because I probably have this condition and I had never heard of it before July 2007.  This made my life difficult and it made the lives of those few people who were very close to me very difficult.  The more intelligent of us learn to act "normal" much of the time, but, in the words of Tim Page, it is always pretty much "parallel play."

Because the emotional and irrational aspects of human experience are so frightening and mysterious to us, many of us turn to the intellect as our sole tool for dealing with people and the universe.  From my limited experience, I would guess that agnosticism is somewhat more prevalent among "aspies" than it is in the general population.  This is because an empirical approach to life does not easily arrive at clear ideas about what cannot be known, and clarity is so dearly wished for by those of us to whom almost everything is unclear.

My original reaction. when considering adopting a more contemplative, mystical, spiritual approach to life was that this might be made more difficult, even impossible, by Asperger's.  It was pointed out to me by another "aspie" that Asperger's might be advantageous to a spiritual quest.  We are less limited by our culture and less tied to our society.  Being, in a sense, homeless, among our species, we are freer to ascend (or descend) to other realms.  We are more solitary by nature because the sounds of silence are less harsh to us than the ordinary sounds and sights of daily life.

This may have something to do with Asperger's, I don't know; but I have always felt that I reached the conclusion that "God cannot be known, but only loved" by a series of shortcuts.  The life time struggle that people must take to go through the "stages of faith,"  the likelihood that the vast majority of people never come close to a mystical consciousness, almost makes my believe in "the free gift of grace."  I have heard that the truth will not be found by seeking; but only those who seek will find it.  I believe that, but I have not really sought it.  In my own mind, I am a spiritual dilletante, playing with the idea of mysticism, unfit to even read "the Cloud of Unknowing" let alone understand it.  Perhaps this gift was given to me because my need for it, though completely unrecognized, was very great.  But my skepticism stands in the way of accepting that.  Its just an idea I picked up from my reading somewhere (probably "The Cloud of Unknowing).