The Universality of the Mystical Experience

16 Feb

Over the centuries and throughout many cultures, ordinary people as
well as monks and mystics, have reported a personal experience that
transformed their lives and perspective on life and existence. While
interpretations of this experience have differed, researcher Walter
Stace outlined important common characteristics which distinguish
them from any other kind of experience. These include:
*The Unitary Consciousness; the One; pure consciousness.
*All life is interconnected and the One is in all things.
*Nonspatiality, non-temporality.
*Sense of objectivity or reality.
*Peace, bliss, serenity, rapture.
*Feeling of the sacred or mysterious.
*To be transcendent, immanent, indescribable, ineffable.
*No judgmental quality. “Insight into depths of truth
unplumbed by the discursive intellect.”
*Transiency. Most transcendent experiences have a short
occurrence, but their effect persists.
While the discernment of this Reality is subjective, it is not
exclusively personal as the experience has been shared often
throughout different epochs and localities.
Although a supramundane experience can occur spontaneously, it
is usually discerned profoundly after living virtuously and immersion
in deep states of meditation. In that consummate state of awareness,
the illusory boundaries of the separate self-dissolve and there is no
longer any cognitive distinction between subject and object, and
time and space disappear. To paraphrase psychologist William James:
This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and
the Absolute … we become aware of our oneness, however, (labeling it
as) “union with God” is only one possible interpretation of it, which
should not, therefore, be given as its definition. The same experience can
be interpreted non theistically as in Buddhism…. All this can be
experienced and felt without any creed at all. … The mystic in any
culture usually interprets his experience in terms of the religion in
which he has been reared. But if he is sufficiently sophisticated, he can
throw off that religious creed and still retain his mystical experience.’
This discernment can be experienced without any ideology at all and
it is still understood as sacred and spiritual.

The Apophatic theology proposes that instead of aiming for worldly
glory, wealth, or power, it is far more worthwhile that we become
fulfilled with our own existence and strive for virtue, goodness, and a
quiet mind to eventually gain access to the essence of Being or ‘God’.
In fact, as Angelus Silesius wrote, ‘God’ is a pure No-thing; concealed in
now and here; the less you reach for ‘Him’, the more ‘He’ will appear.

The All is the divine immanence that embraces all.

The Apophatic and Cataphatic Relationship
‘The (Emptiness)relation between the individual and ‘God’ is a universal
relation which is the foundation for all other relations.’
said Martin Buber
Reflecting Apophatic theology. Jiddu Krishnamurti, an
philosopher, and teacher taught that the Middle Way offers healing
from the dualistic mechanical perspective of science and technology
by reuniting the divide between subject and object, and emotions
and rationality – making our personal world whole again.
A core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement:
“Truth is a pathless land”. For Krishnamurti, humans cannot realize
the Truth through any organization or creed, through any dogma,
priest or ritual, nor through any philosophical knowledge or
psychological technique. It must be found through the
understanding of the contents of one’s own mind, through
observation, instead of through endless intellectual analysis or
introspective dissection.
The religious, political, and personal descriptive manifestations of
symbols, ideas, beliefs that dominate our dualistic thinking,
relationships, and daily life, create our alienation for they divide us
from our true nature, each other, and nature. Instead, Awakening to
Nothingness by showing the interconnectedness and inherent
emptiness of all reunites us with our true nature and each other.
Once a practitioner has succeeded in experiencing, thereby
understanding, that the Apophatic relation is based on the pure
experience, all their encounters are free of a cataphatic
categorization and separateness. It is a relation not driven by
a dualism using categories of “same” and “different” which promotes
experiences of a detached object from subject, fixed in space and
time. To perceive from the dualistic, rational perspective makes the
world classified, predictable, manipulable, and an alienated
object. The I is detached or separated from the other. The world is
viewed as consisting of categories and rationally knowable objects.
While in a pragmatic way this positive relationship with the world is
necessary, to only live with this perspective is living in a world of
ignorance and alienation, ending in a refusal to affirm life. Every
natural impulse is viewed as bad or evil.
In this dualistic-based relationship, Interaction with people is mostly
guided by a person’s social role. The conversations are mainly
superficial and impersonal. A person stays within their social roles
and keeps their private selves veiled. Communication is with less
depth than with those we love most. Casual friends, service
providers, work associates, and interactions with distant family
members typically involve this type of communication.
Differently, the Apophatic relation participates as the dynamic, living
process. In the Empty, non-dualistic relation there is no split self, or
simultaneous experience and self-reflection. It is not used to gain or
have an object or goal, but a relationship involving the whole unified
being of all. No aim, no craving, and no attachment are possible. There
is not a thing among things.
This Apophatic relationship cannot be explained; it simply is. This
relation is based on mutuality, openness, directness, and being in the
present. It reveals the mystery that underlies all forms. By
understanding that mystery, as manifest through all things, existence
becomes a divine picture, and each sentient being is expressed
through that transcendent mystery. Those who understand that
always greet each other with the awareness of the divine presence in
each other. It is a recognition that the divine is within all. We
interact with the world in its whole being which brings a deep
richness and empathy to life

Of the Book, God is No-thing. The Apophatic Assertion. Copyright Rodger Ricketts Psy.D.,2020. All rights
reserved. Protected by international copyright conventions. No part of this chapter may be
reproduced in any manner whatsoever, or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted,
without the expressed permission of the Author-publisher, except in case of brief quotations with
due acknowledgment. Published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: