Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mystical Experiences

Posted by Hello

What do you see when you turn out the light,
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.
with a little help from my friends--lennon/mccartney

have you had a mystical experience? just what is that? here are some descriptions from a book by Paul Davies titled "the mind of god" and subtitled "the scientific basis for a rational world." these descriptions of the mystical experience are all necessarily from others as Davies ends his book by saying that he has never had a mystical experience.

"sometimes the mystical path seems to involve little more than an inner sense of peace---'a compassionate, joyful, stillness that lies beyond the activity of busy minds' was the way a physicist colleague once described it to me. Einstein spoke of a 'cosmic religious feeling' that inspired his reflections on the order and harmony of nature.'

"in other cases mystical experiences seem to be more direct and revelatory. Russell Stannard writes of the impression of facing an overpowering force of some kind, 'of a nature to command respect and awe....there is a sense of urgency about it; the power is volcanic, pent up, ready to be released.' science writer David Peat describes 'a remarkable feeling of intensity that seems to flood the whole world around us with meaning....we sense that we are touching something universal and perhaps eternal, so that the particular moment in time takes on a numinous character and seems to expand in time without limit. we sense that all boundaries between ourselves and the outer world vanish, for what we are experiencing lies far beyond all categories and all attempts to be captured in logical thought.'

"the language used to describe the experiences usually reflects the culture of the individual concerned. western mystics tend to emphasize the personal quality of the presence, often describing themselves as being with someone, usually god, who is different than themselves but with whom a deep bond is felt. there is, of course, a long tradition of such religious experiences in the christian church and among other western religions. eastern mystics emphasize the wholeness of existence and tend to identify themselves more closely with the presence."

without claiming wisdom, i can say that those descriptions work for me, and that despite my western upbringing my own experiences were of the eastern type. i felt myself to be a mere drop in the ocean of oneness, but definitely a part of it and not apart from it. the trace of those experiences that remains is a sense of connectedness with everything but most strongly with the natural world. thus it is rational for me to seek a universalist ethic and do my best to live up to it.

dread pirate roberts

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