... HI JULIA!!
Okay, maybe it's not exactly like standing up at an AA meeting, but it comes pretty close in terms of making a statement about yourself you know is true and being very uncertain of the reception. Now, how can I say that about myself? Isn't it a bit ... well ... spiritually arrogant? Aren't mystics supposed to be very special holy people with gentle Buddha-reminiscent natures? Today we know mystics often look less like this ...
... and more like this:
Evelyn Underhill, the modern guru of mysticism in Chapter 4 of her classic book Mysticism says we do not call everyone who has some limited mystical experience a "mystic" but reserve the word for:
"The true mystic" "in whom the transcendental consciousness can dominate the the normal consciousness, and who has definitely surrendered himself to the embrace of Reality." This person "lives at different levels of experience from other people and this of course means that he sees a different world..."
Elizabeth Mahlou wrote on her blog Modern Mysticism::
I don't completely understand the mystic phenomena that I experience or live within, nearly always being surrounded by a diaphanous cloud that is, to me, the Presence of God. I feel like I need to reflect upon what happens, but reflection does not take me very far. The more I try to understand, the more I simply get pulled into the diaphanous ether without explanation but with such a warm feeling of love, of being "home"," of safety, and of mutual desire, that I instinctively stop thinking and just start "being." I try to learn more through reading, but it appears that God reacts with each author and each person differently
I once had a rather frustrating conversation with someone on a message board who seemed to believe his own experience was totally unique and no one could ever understand because no one else described their own experience exactly as he did his own. His misunderstanding led him to an isolation with his extraordinary experience he didn't need to endure. I'm going to explain a basic thing about mystical experience, the higher order live-on-a-different-level kind.
Everyone who has the experience is having a True experience. Everyone who explains it has it wrong.
It is by the very nature of mystical experience that we can never convey it in any truly accurate way. let's start with the differences between people's subjective experiences. For some like Hugo of St. Victor or Saint Francis of Assisi, the experience is of a distinctly musical flavor and so they describe it. For others, like Saint Theresa of Avila or Paramahansa Yogananda, it's much more about the Light.
Mystical experience in individuals is like seeds scattered and then watered. They may all sprout, but they become, with the same water and sunlight and soil, different plants. This is because of the diverse nature of the seeds which is inherent in their existence. And so, we are all humans and by necessity, we live through the flesh, each unique.
Here is the paradox: the true mystical experience of higher consciousness is not obtained in the body. That is, the experience is not located in the brain, but in the true consciousness of being. When you see a table across the room, you don't see it across the room, you "see it" inside your brain which creates a picture of the room for you through translating signals from the light reaching your eyes. "Reality" takes place inside your head.
In the kind of transcendent experience Underhill was referring to, The Self, including the human self-identified consciousness, merges into non-physical total Conciousness. The knowledge/experience passes directly to you without going through any physical part of you. Saint Paul of Tarsus, when describing being "taken up to the third heaven" said, "whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, only God knows." (2 Cor. 12:2)
You see the problem, I'm sure: no one can remember the experience (memory being an event which takes place in the brain) without by the very nature of physicality limiting the experience. It's like snorkeling in a brilliant coral reef amongst a huge diversity of amazingly beautiful fish and sea creatures in crystal clear blue water. Afterward you have some video to watch, which is like your memory of the transcendental. Then, you try and explain the experience in a letter to a distant relation.
What the frustrated man in the forum, or many who have extraordinary experiences do not understand is: their memory is not the experience. They only have a partial imprint of the complete experience. But because these experiences are so very real, more real that what we experience in "reality," they people can fool themselves onto believing their subjective and limited memory is something objectively factual for all.
Now wait just a doggone minute!
Have you spotted the fallacy in my little treatise? If all we have is memory that is by definition partial, how can I know there was more? . There comes a time after you have practiced contemplation, which an Eastern mystic would call meditation, when instead of being gone from connection to this reality, you can sustain being in Eternity while still perceiving Reality. And, you can remain in this state virtually all the time with enough dedication to contemplation.
The first time I experienced this, I was writing. Writing is my life, my way of encountering the world. I was writing about my experiences in and dealing with what the "Universe" actually is. I wasn't sure, I did have some ideas I knew were on the right track from the writings of others and as I was writing I became aware I was connected to Higher Consciousness. The best I can explain that is to direct you to the title of this blog. It's as if I were the dark green words, a solid physical being I was directing, while another, lighter, ethereal self literally expanded upward, (lighter green words) connecting naturally to the Consciousness of all information.
I became aware of this and then I experienced knowing, I knew how the Universe worked in an astounding moment of perfect clarity of something utterly ineffable. It was as if I could suddenly see all sides of a cube simultaneously and felt perfectly able to convey to everyone exactly how to do that because it was so obvious.
So I wrote, confidently while I was in this state, explaining the ultimate mystery. Then I went on to other things that derived from that, and after a while the transcendental connection subsided and I read what I had written.
It was gibberish. Oh, it wasn't complete nonsense like chimp might type, or a three-year-old. It resembled more the work of a schizophrenic, where it seems as if there is some sense there but you realize the pronouns don't actually refer to anything. But I do know that the knowledge itself was quite real and I did retain a relatively large amount of insight. It's simply that, while some mystics can surely see all sides of a cube, they can't actually explain to you how to do it.
This limitation of the flesh, of the brain, explain why Jesus spoke in parables. It's how I can tell you that prayer is the most powerful force at the disposal of humankind, but I cannot explain why directly. I can only give you metaphors for the way it works, one element at a time. I can know there are innumerable dimensions and recall several, but only give you one at a time. Indistinctly.
In the Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot is the description of how a single piece of film can hold many many images. These images are never seen all at once, layered one atop the other. It not only is impossible for the images to appear simultaneously, it would also be visual gibberish. You can only view one at a time and they come become visible dependent on the angle at which you view the film.
This is the nature of transcendental knowledge. A mystic can give you an approximation of a part of the way things work in an image or analogy. When some psychic or visionary even yogi starts telling you exactly what things are like on the Other Side, they are wrong. The knowledge is not housed in a building, though some see it that way. There may or may not be tunnels or gardens or your Aunt Minnie, though usually someone comes to guide you. The basics we all know: there will be Light.
I have posted this because I am going to begin posting my experiences that have something of message and message and I want everyone to know that just as I get a personal message couched in terms of a Hollywood movie scene, so the analogies and images I have to covey more general Truths are to be taken as what they are: one limited view of a snapshot of the Universe. Remember:
Every step from the experience is another diminution. What can be remembered is only part of what a mystic knows they know, and what they can convey is only a part of that and what the seeker understands from the explanation is again, only a fraction of that. Look for the congruities among mystical writings and you will begin to find the Eternal Truths.