Someone asked: “What would cause mystical experience?”
In the broadest sense, wider experience in all forms comes through evolution, both in the external and spiritual sense. So it is the growth of the soul—through many life times—that results in mystical or spiritual experience. So, to some degree, people tend to be born with an inclination toward such experiences. As a result some people have spontaneous mystical experiences that appear to have little relationship with the life they are living. If one happens to be, as a result of many lives of growth and experience, at a point of readiness for revelation then a seemingly trivial life experience—something seen or even a thought, can trigger mystical experience.
But more specifically, however, there is a path—or a number of them according to needs and temperament—that accelerates evolution in a way that tends to evoke whatever immediate potential exists for spiritual experience.
Many would say that it is meditation that leads to mystical experience, and while this can be true for many, the path is much broader than that. In addition to what we come in with at birth, it is our way of life—how we think and feel and act—that determines whether our potentials for deep experiences are activated or remain latent.
The key thing is: real mystical experience includes some degree of transcendence of the little ego—that is of the little mind, emotions, and body—that we have misidentified as “I.” The question becomes then, what type of life is resonant with such transcendence? What type of life takes us beyond the little self-centered ego with its many desires and petty concerns?
First, this is a life of love and service, a life that expands our focus beyond our personal needs into the wider world of humanity and nature. The second factor is how the mind is used—the mind must be developed and educated along some line, otherwise, our ability to be helpful or creative will be limited. Third, right meditative thinking, and more universal thinking is key. The life of service, of love, of creativity, and right thinking is supported by study. Right thinking means educating and equipping the mind so that it is an instrument of service and creativity. Right thinking means optimism and focusing the mind on questions related to wisdom, questions related to the needs of humanity, and of the part we can play in making the world a little better for all who live in it.
We should understand this word “service” very broadly. The mother serves by being a good mother. The scientists serves by discoveries. The artist services by inspired creations. The statesman services by good governance that takes into account the highest good for the greatest number. We serve by thought, by communication, by words of kindness, by words of warning, by words of poetry. And most importantly, we serve by making our emotional nature clear and translucent so that it is no longer dominated, as is the usual case, by fear and selfishness.
In the way of life that is service, the key thing is motivation. There is only one true motive and that is love, broadly understood. So, we do not let our interest in personal things dominate. For instance, the desire for mystical experience should not be uppermost in our minds or condition unduly our emotions. The evocation of mystical experience is the byproduct of right living. It will come to us when it is time, according to natural and spiritual law. Such experiences are useful not only to ourselves personally, but to others, to world. It is same with meditation. Meditation should not be something pursued for its own sake. Your awakenings, your talents, are gifts for giving.
A compilation about the essence of spirituality, what it is, what it means, and nature of direct realization or enlightenment. A video montage of personal narratives of spiritual experience.
Metaphysical thinkers often become preoccupied, not with true spiritual life, but with a kind of pseudo-spirituality bound up with external things, with things intellectual, emotional, and physical. People become preoccupied with the pseudo-spirituality quite easily and that to the great detriment of both normal healthy material life and true spiritual life. These masquerades of spirit are defined by the lack of true motive.
Transition from a personal vision to a transpersonal vision is largely dependent on meditative apprehension of the heart and its fusion with wisdom. When the fire of the heart becomes the goal and the vision, the focus becomes transcendental. Spiritual motivation has few true exponents because people try to approach a higher path in the same way as worldly one.
Everything transcendental is above the limits of external language. In direct realization we no longer need translation by linking words to meanings via external personal experiences. Yet fidelity of “reception” and “transmission” are still issues. We may catch a meaning directly, but there will still be limitations surrounding its embodiment on the personality level, that is in the form it takes in the mind, emotion, or physical world. Yet, in the depths of consciousness we can still sense the truth directly. And if the realization is revisited directly, it becomes apparent that the body we give it is inadequate. Words and images never fully embody the realities of spiritual life.
Externally or physically, the things we know are those that reach the brain. And for most of us, there is a mechanism that keeps us largely focused on things physical, on experiences coming through the five senses. But the threads of our lives run deep into psychic and spiritual worlds, and there is a part of us with other senses, a higher or deeper part of which we, ensconced as we are in the physical brain, remain largely unconscious.
We live our life, so speak, in parallel worlds and in addition to our ordinary waking consciousness, have also a vast and mostly hidden life. It is a life of which we, in our physical brain consciousness, remain mostly ignorant. For most of us that is the design of nature and the way, for the time being, that it should be.
It is as if a one-way mirror stands between our ordinary consciousness and the heights and depths of our life in the psychic and spiritual worlds. Our brain lives on the reflective side of the mirror, and our higher self lives on the transparent side. Usually we are unconscious—at the brain level–of our larger identity and it’s life on the inner planes, and we do not realize to what extent we live this higher life, and do we realize that our “I” is but a small part of a larger deeper consciousness. At all times, the deeper part is an active participants in our life, but while the material world engages most of our attention, our brain registers little of this deeper nature. Most of what we are in our higher nature is hidden behind the one-way mirror so that when we look inward we see only the usual physical and emotional awareness. But there is another part of us that lives on the far side of the mirror, and in that space sees not only down toward physical personality, but outward to the psychic worlds and up to the world of spiritual.
Each of us is structured differently according to our needs and karmic conditions, so not all mirrors are the same. And the matter-energy barrier, of which our “mirror” is symbolic, is not a static veil but a dynamic one, being part of the living etheric-biological structure of our bodies. And sometimes, our mirror, or part of it, becomes more like translucent glass or a transparent window. Then for a time the mirror may no longer act as a barrier between worlds, so that we register part of our inner life in the brain. Then, to some degree, we experience “continuity of consciousness” where our brain registers not only the usual physical existence, but also aspects of spiritual or psychic life.
Brief or tenuous connection between worlds can be disorienting and radical thinning of the veil can be especially difficult, for most of us have trouble enough with the problems of a single level. There are many cautionary stories about magicians who evoke energies they are not yet ready to handle, a theme applicable to meditation practices. There are natural and forced developments that thin the veil between worlds, of which meditation is often cited. There are dangers associated with the premature development of anything, and this is especially true of psychic and spiritual experiences. If a strong energy is poured suddenly, prematurely, and persistently into an unready personality, then we may have a rending of the veil between worlds, with chaotic or pathological effects.
Awakening energies often proves confusing, and in seeking to understand them, a meditator may adopt one of the many schools of metaphysics or seek some teacher or guru to guide them. Unfortunately, the current wave of humanity hasn’t produced many spiritual midwifes who have the knowledge to lead people through such an energy crisis. Nor has it produced large numbers of sane, balanced and healthy souls who are ready for the difficulties of sudden awakenings. Instead, we have many half-right teachers in the world, and sad to say, some will make matters worse rather than better. In some cases crisis is actually precipitated in the first place by dangerous meditation practices taught by a pseudo-guru or drawn from a metaphysical book.
Gopi Krishna, in his book “Kundalini, The Evolutionary Energy in Man.” aptly describes the state of the world in this respect. He writes:
“I consulted other holy men and sought for guidance from many reputed quarters without coming across a single individual who could boldly assert that he actually possessed intimate personal knowledge of the condition and could confidently answer my questions. Those who talked with dignified reserve, looking very wise and deep, ultimately turned out to be as wanting in accurate information about the mysterious power rampant in me as those of a more unassuming nature who unbosomed themselves completely on the very first occasion without in the least pretending to know any more than they really did. And thus in the great country which had given birth to the lofty science of Kundalini thousands of years ago and whose very soil is permeated with its fragrance and whose rich religious lore is full of references to it from cover to cover, I found no one able to help me.”
Art by ihave3kids (modified)
We might picture magic as opposed to science where science is natural and magic is supernatural. But here we have one of those deceptively simple binaries that are worth questioning. Besides, in recent years, the axioms of quantum physicists start to sound like mystics, and many begin to use language that marries science and magic. For example, today a Google search yields 597 hits for the unusual phrase “quantum magic,” and 102 for “quantum sorcery.” But long before the latest science, the public mind was seeking a blend of worlds, at this writing, Google-net shows us 48,600 references to “spiritual science.” Of course many of these links have little to do with science and quiet a number bear little or no relation to anything truly spiritual. But the links do reflect how the mass mind responds to psycho-spiritual atmospheric pressure–an integrative pressure seeking manifestation in human culture.
We might think of “supernatural” as the unexplored natural, then a true magician would be a scientist in disguise. Or we might think that there is only the natural and that a true magician is a developing scientist. Or we could discard the word “magic” altogether in favor of a less burdened term. But this is contrary to the powerful wave that is solidifying the idea of magic in the public mind. This wave finds expression in numerous new mythologies, in books, and motion pictures. Much of this material is of a superficial kind, yet everything has a higher or deeper correspondence, and a writer or artist will sometimes bring through something of magical significance. There is this beautiful passage by Thomas Wolfe, from his book “Time and the River:”
“At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being–the reward he seeks–the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.”
In this, we find a subtler sense of the meaning of “charms” and “spells” associated with magical lore. The passage is about invocation, and it does address the supernatural, but it’s not so much phenomenological as psychological and spiritual, or if it is phenomenal, it places us in the realm of right motivation. There is in it the definition of magic as manifest spirit, the union of heaven and earth.
So then, the magician is thinker and creator, and good thought is like magic out of the air, like a clear day when the atmosphere sings with subtle possibilities. Magic is soul force, a secret wind that electrifies the body and collapses the space between points. It stimulates the spirit of service and makes the eyes supernaturally bright.
Art by David Urbanke
Down the ages teachings come to us of unity and the way to it, even though we humans have not taken to it very well. Books of religions advocate brotherhood even while the would-be faithful violate it. Everywhere, the form of things dominates and eclipses spirit. The form attracts us and the mysteries behind remain largely beyond comprehension and application. So, the eclipse of spirit by matter is the rule, and the ways of light are lost in the shadowy labyrinths of human imagination. Yet behind the veils of human activities is the impelling force, the luminous quest for unity.
Are the many quests for unity branches of one tree? On the contradictory surface it would be impossible to affirm this, yet in principle the idea works–but only if we dig deep, ignoring the many overlays, the crazy human constructions seething with chaos. In the deep cosmic sense, we find signs of the original tree of knowledge, signs pointing the way toward harmony and unity.
“Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?”
— Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
Looking out upon the world, it may sometimes seem that a beautiful change is not possible. The weight of the world and its chaos seems overwhelming. And it is the same when, at certain stage, we confront the burden of our own chaos. Some find the weight so great they become seriously ill or even end their own life in a vain attempt at escape. So also in the large world where it sometimes seems whole nations are obsessed with a path of chaos and death. The pain and chaos of group and the personal worlds mirror each other.
But there is a moment of realization, the moment when we wake to inner power and divinity. In this revelatory light, all things look different, and all things look possible. There is then no barrier too high and no way too difficult. We come to know then, with certainty, that the ultimate triumph of the good is inevitable. No matter the history or the long chain of dark days. It becomes clear that no circumstance and no limits can ultimately withstand the transformative energy of spirit. No cycle of chaos will remain unbroken. The power of divinity spirals up irresistibly and may not be denied. No human construction can long withstand it. There will be a new world in the future, and it will be good beyond dreaming.
“Love, from its awful throne of patient power
In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour
Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep,
And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs,
And folds over the world its healing wings.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
We can distinguish psychic from spiritual perception in this way: psychic perceptions do not interpret themselves, but spiritual perceptions do. We must seek and question the meaning of a psychic perception, just as we do with any normal sense perception. But in spiritual or intuitive perception, the meaning is given directly, being inherent in the experience. In the spiritual we may see, hear, or sense something—or more properly expressed, become something, because we apprehend that which is part of our being. If the spiritual experience is genuine, we do not need to ask, “What does this mean?” The question does not arise because true spiritual experience takes place in a world of pure meaning, and in this world perceptions contain their own validation, their own seals of authenticity. Validation is inherent in and inseparable from the experience. Instead of having to intellectually explain the experience, the experience itself is the explanation and the meaning. Likewise, in the case of “intuition” which means “direct knowledge,” we find that intuition is the answer, not the question. Mental or intellectual questioning arises in relation to phenomena, but intuition is the matrix of light that contains the answers.
Psychic and spiritual or mystical experience may sometimes be combined. For instance, we can have a vision, in the sense of a picture or image of something correspondent with the material world, and we can hear a voice with words that take objective form in our mind. These psychic experiences may be factual, or illusory, or some blend of the two. But the soul of a true mystical experience is real, while the form it may take in words or images is only relatively so, and is never fully adequate to express the spiritual which is formless. Spiritual experience may take a form in the mind or in expression through images or words. We normally give spiritual experience a psychical body either consciously or unconsciously, but these formal expressions are symbols, and are always a relatively limited embodiment and not the reality itself.
Is light form or formless? Even physically considered, it is energy and relatively formless. But “light” is a word adopted by both physical scientists and metaphysicians. We can use the word to point to something physical, psychic, and spiritual, because light is on spiritual as well as material levels. But here we make an intellectual distinction, which though it has some real validity, fails to reflect the continuum of things. We can say that psychic perception relates to form and that spiritual perception relates to formlessness, and this is more or less correct. Yet form and spirit remain a continuum, and our perceptions evolve in the fluid middle ground between material and spiritual material between the finite and the infinite.
For simplicity, I’ve divided the spiritual and personal levels. But in reality, things are not so sharply divided, and we should blend them because that’s more realistic. In this way we find that in objective seeing or hearing there can be a spiritual component. Everywhere, the spiritual transparency is laid over the personal one. So in every experience, physical-psychic-spiritual, we’re presented with a unified field. The physical and psychic (emotional-intellectual) components of any experiences may be rightly questioned. We can examine them and assess them. But if there is a spiritual component, if our experience has a soul, then that is the self-validating part. The body of our experience, the form it takes in our sense or psyche (shape, color, words)—these are the external or relative part, the part that intellect can address. But the spiritual part is transcendent to the intellect and phenomenal perceptions.
Familiar forms and familiar words
In the psychic, as in the physical, we may see, hear, or sense something and then think about it. The thing that distinguishes the phenomenal or personality-level experience is that it can generally be more or less adequately thought about and expressed in terms of forms. That is, a personality experience can be adequately described in terms of shape, color, or sound. To put it another way, since it takes place in the realm of forms, common word forms provide the natural means of communicating or recording it. We hear a voice and it might say, ”Circle of flowers,” and we may ask what does that mean? Or we see a shape that resembles a circle of flowers or colors and we ask, ”What does that mean?” The key is, when we ask such a question we’re speaking about something phenomenal, something closer to the personality or manifest realms.
In the paragraphs above, I’ve divided life into spiritual and personality levels, but let’s unify them because that is more realistic. So, if we are evolving, our experience of life is moving toward unity. This means that in any seeing or hearing there can be a spiritual component. Everywhere, the spiritual transparency is laid over the personal one, because the worlds and our experience of them overlap in a unified way.
So, in every experience, physical-psychic-spiritual, we’re presented with a unified field. The physical and psychic (emotional-intellectual) components of any experience may be rightly questioned. We can examine these and assess them with the mind. But if there is a spiritual component, that is, if our experience has a soul, then that is the self-validating part. The body of our experience, the form it takes in our sense or psyche (shape, color, words), these are the external or relative part, the part that intellect can address. The spiritual part is transcendent to the intellect, and the mind cannot judge that which is beyond it.
“At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being—the reward he seeks—the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.”
— Time and the Rive, Thomas Wolfe