Tag Archives: mystical experience

The Universality of the Mystical Experience

18 Apr

The Universality of the Mystical Experience
Over the centuries and throughout many cultures, ordinary people as well as monks and mystics, have reported personal experiences 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. * Non-spatiality, 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.’ 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.

Quotes about the “mystical” experience and no-self.

19 Jul

“The goal of Heidegger’s thinking and teaching was to reawaken in human beings the awareness of the mystery of Being which is Nothing because it is No-thing. It is an ultimate, ungraspable, impersonal reality that reveals itself to human beings who are receptive to this revelation… By devoting himself to Being Heidegger hoped to overcome the emptiness and meaninglessness, the homelessness and anxiety of modernity.” M. D. Henry

Rather than merely view acts of cognition in classical terms as representations or images of independently existing facts, the empirical foundation for these acts in the physical substrate of the human brain must now be viewed as intimately connected with the whole. The dynamic neuronal patterns generated by the brain which are the basis for our “representations” of reality infold within themselves the previous stages of the life of the cosmos, and are seemlessly interconnected with all other activities in the cosmos. In the grand interplay of quanta and field in whatever stage of complexity, including the very activities of our brain, there is literally “no thing” that can be presumed isolated or discrete. In these terms we can “infer” that human consciousness “partakes” or “participates in” the conscious universe, and that the construct of the alienated mind, no matter how real feelings of alienation might be in psychological terms, is not in accord with the scientific facts. M. Kafatos, R. Nadeau

“Evaporate away the fixed identity of self and discover the light(ness) and openness of Being.” Rodger

“The solution for the sense of nihilistic alienation in our culture is not to find a new ground; it is to find a disciplined and genuine means to pursue groundlessness, to go further into groundlessness….The mindfulness/awareness tradition points the way to a radically different resolution….when groundless is embraced and followed through to its ultimate conclusions, the outcome is an unconditional sense of intrinsic goodness that manifests itself in the world as spontaneous compassion.” F.j.Varela /E. Thompson

Maybe mind is another’side’ of that same thing- that which we call energy on one side is mind on the other side. That is, energy is pervaded with a kind of intelligence, out of which insight comes, or deeper perceptions of truth. Then what about ourselves? We say our ground is in all that. But we have all sorts of representations of ourselves which are really rather superficial. And we try to identify with them. But then once we do that, we have this quality of thought which infuses it into perception. We apparently perceive the thing we are representing – it seems to be there. It’s like the rainbow; we see a rainbow, but what we have is drops of rain and light – a process. Similarily, what we ‘see’ is a self; but what we actually have is a whole lot of thoughts going on in consciousness. Against the backdrop of consciousness we are projecting a self, rather than a rainbow….if you try to touch the self, it will be the same difficulty as trying to touch the rainbow. We have a representation of the self, which is really arising in a process. We don’t know the process very well; but the attempt to treat the self as an object is just not going to mean anything. So instead, suppose we say that the self is unknown. Its origin, its ground is unknown. And it is constantly revealing itself, through each person or through nature or through various other ways. D. Bohm

“Hell-hades cannot be thought of as eternal, rather only as an infinite endless time. Hell-hades is the impossibility of an emergence from this time.”N.A. Berdyaev

“The Augenblick-moment is not situated within the order of mathematical time, but rather in an emergence from it. Herein is attained the fullness and joy of the eternal present… Therein is the meaning and value of the experienced moment situated within it itself. With this is connected the Sacred within time, which is situated within the moment external to the temporal order.” N.A. Berdyaev

There must exist, beyond mere appearances … a ‘veiled reality’ that science does not describe but only glimpses uncertainly. In turn, contrary to those who claim that matter is the only reality, the possibility that other means, including spirituality, may also provide a window on ultimate reality cannot be ruled out, even by cogent scientific arguments,” B. d’Espagnat

Man matures and completes himself only by becoming conscious of those great laws which, at the level of unconscious Nature, are simply lived. But this is a special form of becoming conscious. This special consciousness is blocked when he first begins to work because man always fixes objectively everything that he perceives from the standpoint of the I, including himself, as soon as he observes himself carefully. As the Zen masters expressed it, he turns the ‘inside’ into an ‘outside’. And thereby he alters beyond recognition what he orginally wanted to perceive. ‘Becoming conscious’ therefore means something completely different. It is … becoming aware of breathing as a living movement in which oneself is also included, without fixing it or standing apart. To become aware means to regain the oneness with the orginal reality which of itself could transform him. Letting-go of the I is unthinkable without also letting-go one’s old built in patterns of thought and consciousness. Only the dissolution of the I and its patterns will allow the coming into force and the potential fruitfulness of that consciousness-pattern which accords with the Great life. This is the immanent inner consciouness. By becoming aware of the Source – not just ‘knowing about’ it- man becomes effectively aware of the estrangement into which his outer consciousness has led him, and only then will he be ready to approach and draw again from the well-springs of life. Karlfried Durckheim

Some other faculty than the intellect is necessary for the apprehension of reality. Bergson

This state (state of freedom) is said to be without thought, not because all consciousness is gone, but because there is no thinking in terms of substantail entities. Hence there is nothing to grasp on to as a real object. It is supramundane knowledge, not because it constitutes a transcendent intuition, but because the dispositional tendencies, the character of the fundamental consciousness is transformed. Instead of consciousness looking for an ultimate real subject or an absolutely real object, a person deals with the world of experience as it has come to be. Such knowledge reveals things as they have come to be. Unperturbed by any mystery, not looking for the hidden something, a sage leads a life free from influxes. It is unthinkable, not because such a state is beyond conceptual thinking, but because it cannot be appreciated by those who are constantly thinking of something mysterious. It is a state of happiness not punctuated by suffering. Hence it is stable. It is the highest state of release enjoyed by the enlightened ones. The doctrine of the Great Sage pertains to this state of freedom and happiness. D. J. Kalupahana

There is a trend … to describe nibbana as a metaphysical substance, transcending space, time, and causality, a supramundane reality, with independent existence. … (Instead it is ) the personal plane with which discussions of nibbana are usual concerned. … (Certain translations) need not be taken as referring to a supramundane reality but to experiences in the vinnana of the arahant; experiences of something timeless, unchangable, inexpressible, in which distinctions and opposites do not exist. There would arise a tendency to project experiences of this type outside consciousness and interpret them as perceptions of something external and not only as subjective ideations. Rune Johansson

He who wants to follow the Path of the Buddha must give up all thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. But this giving up does not make us poorer; it actually makes us richer, because what we renounce and destroy are the walls that keep us imprisoned; and what we gain is that supreme freedom, which is not to be understood simply as a merging into the whole or a feeling of identity with others, but as the experience of an infinite relationship, according to which every individual is essentially connected with all that exists, thus embracing all living beings in his own mind, taking part in their deepest experience, and sharing their sorrow and joy. Lama Anagarika Govinda

However recently many so-called Buddhist teachers insist the importance of ‘mindfulness.’ But such a kind of attitudes might be insistence that Buddhism might be a kind of idealistic philosophy. Therefore actually speaking I am much afraid that Buddhism is misunderstood as if it was a kind of idealistic philosophy. However we should never forget that Buddhism is not an idealistic philosophy, and so if someone in Buddhism reveres mindfulness, we should clearly recognize that he or she can never be a Buddhist at all.Gudo Wafu Nishijima

For (William) James, therefore, the phenomenal world is both ontologically and epistemologically prior to the objective world and the subjective world. James’s analysis led him to a primordial level of unified experience that arises prior to the subject-object distinction, and provided the ground for an ontology that harbors no aperture for any brand of metaphysical dualism. In doing so, he furthermore safeguards the irreducible primacy of our nonconceptual phenomenal experience, which emerges from the sensory modalities of an agent immersed and acting within a living world.Joel W. Krueger

“Stace’s investigation of the experience of pure consciousness/awareness lead him to conclude that thousands of mystics throughout the world unanimously assert that they attained a complete vacuum of particlar mental content and what emerges is a state of pure consciousness – ‘pure’ in the sense that it … has no content except itself.” Robert Brainbridge

All theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever green. Goethe

“As the Christian mystics state,’God is no-thing’, He is utterly other;He is VOID.’Eckhart proclaims,’Thou shalt love God as He is, a Non-Spirit, a Non-Person, a Non-Form.’ Tauler describes God as ‘The divine darkness, the nameless, formless nothing.’ In the Jewish mysticism there are frequent references of God as No-thing. It is when these mystics make affirmative statements about the nature of God that misevaluation occurs. God cannot exist in the sense that we normally mean existence. As with things, whatever we say God is, he is not.”Weinberg

He who thinks that God is not comprehended, by him God is
comprehended; but he who thinks that God is comprehended knows him not. god is unknown to those who know him, and is known to those who do not know him at all. Upanishads

Bare attention yields no experiencer seperable from experience, and the Buddha’s teaching about the self becomes more than a theory. The absence of a permanent, seperable self erupts as a realty that changes the face of life. J. Macy

“Mystical experiences… involve the apprehension of an ultimate nonsensuous unity in all things, a oneness or a One to which neither senses nor reason can penetrate. In other words, it entirely transcends our sensory-intellectual consciousness. Only fully developed experiences are necessarily apprehensive of the One.” W.T.Stace

Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know. Lao tzu
And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell, and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks

In pure experience there is “not the slightest interval between the intention and the act.” Every action is a unity indivisible into temporal stages. Nishida

“By religious feeling, what I mean-altogether independently of any dogma, credo, organization of the Church, Holy Scripture, hope of personal salvation, etc.- the simple and direct fact of a feeling of the ‘eternal’. This feeling is in truth subjective in nature. It is a contact.”R.Rolland

The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng,“I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas i do not quite understand. Please enlighten me.” The patriach responded, “I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning.” Said the nun, “You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?” “Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”

The Apostle tells us that in the beginning was the Word. He gives us no assurance as to the end. It is appropriate that he should have used the Greek language to express the Hellenistic conception of the LOGOS, for it is to the fact of its Graeco-Judiac inheritance that Western civilisation owes its essentially verbal nature. We take this character for granted…. but we should not assume that a verbal matrix is the only one in which the articulations and conduct of the mind are conceivable. In certain Oriental metaphysics, in Buddhism and Taoism,… the highest, purest reach of the contemplative act is that which has learned to leave language behind it. The ineffable lies beyond the frontiers of the word. It is only by breaking through the walls of language that visionary observance can enter the world of total and immediate understanding. Where such understanding is attained, the truth need no longer suffer the impurities and fragmentation that speech necessarity entails. G. Steiner

In pure experience there is no prior or posterior, no inner or outer; no experiencer precedes or generates experience. Nishida
We experience timelessness in the unfrettered Now. Rodger

Were a man to say: I shall show the coming, the going, the passing away, the arising, the growth, the increase or development of consciousness apart from the body, sensation, perception and volitional formulations, he would be speaking about something which does not exist. Buddha

Descartes’ notion of the soul was given some degree of respectability when the technical term of ‘mind’ was introduced to replace the religious concept of “soul”. But careful analysis shows that to somehow seperate the physical(body) from the non-physical(mind) is nonsense. P. Treffner

“Nishitani thinks that the self is at play after it becomes detached to itself, the world,actions and time. As time loses its sequential nature, it and the self are simply united. Time presents itself as world-time or as a whole in the present, opening up a field of transcendence which Nishitani thinks that each moment opens itself to etenity anf the self opens itself to the fullness of time or eternity. The self is engaged in complete spontaneity and play. The self is unattached and yet active and completely real. Once an individual overcomes the false notion of “self”, their conduct and actions become effortless and he/she is able to recapture their spontaneity and creativity.”C.Olson

“Sunyata is neither subject or object, but merely is. When a person discovers that their mind does not really exist(as seperate) then mind and ego pass away, leaving only Mind.” A. Gullette

“Selflessness is not a case of something that existed in the past becoming non-existent;rather,this sort of ‘self’ is something that never existed. What is needed is to identify as non-existent something that was always non-existent.”Gyatso”
The experience of ‘self’ as non-existent is experienced as relief…”M.Epstien

“The meaning of the word ‘Being’ is the emptiest and thus embraces everything.” Heidegger

“The Middle Way is neither emptiness nor existence.”Hua

The knower participates in her knowledge. And to the extent that she participates with maximum sensitivity to all being, she participates in the cosmic being and purpose, which is life to the fullest extent and intensity, i.e., the sublime. When coherence is established between the knowing self and all that can be known, the self partakes of no-space-no-time and all-space-all-time. This sublime aesthetic experience is therefore also the highest form of knowledge. Mae-Wan Ho

“At the Still Point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless, neither from nor towards; at the Still Point, there the dance is, but neither arrest nor movement, and do not call it fixity, where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards, neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the Still Point, there would be no dance, and there is only dance.” Eliot

“All our relative knowledge is concerned with dualities(complementaries) but emptiness(sunyata) is on the other side of being and non-being.”Suzuki

Nishitani’s interpretation of Nishida’s view of experience, from which the following amplifications of the latter’s philosophy of the self is taken: To speak of a mind that sees things, a self within that views what is on the outside, does not refer to experience in its pure form but only in a later explanation of experience. In direct experience there is no self, no- thing, nothing separate or individual at all. There is only a bond of many things into a single living whole. This is the way it is with what we call the universe or the world. In reality no separate individual things exist on their own. Nor is there any separate, individual self. The only such self is the one we have thought up; nothing in reality is so patterned. What exists in reality is at one with the Life of the universe. This view may seem to leave us out of the picture altogether, but it only means that in our looking and listening the activities of looking and listening have emerged somewhere from the depths of the universe, Our looking and listening and all other things we do issue from a point where all things form a single living bond. This is why these activities are united with all sorts of other things and why we cannot think in terms of things existing on the outside and a mind existing on the inside. This is a later standpoint; the prior standpoint is that of pure experience where subject and object are one and undifferentiated. Harold H. Oliver

“Nishitani refers to self-awareness as not-knowing, or knowing of nonknowing, which represents the self as an absolutely non-objective selfness that is only possible on the field of empitiness. After breaking through the field of consciousness and discovering oneself within the field of empitiness, one realizes the ‘in itself’, which is neither a substance nor a subject. This realization of the self-idenity of things indicates directly the thing itself in its original mode of being. From within emptiness, one can grasp a thing in its original mode of being, which is neither a subjective nor substantial mode of grasping. The realization of the ‘in itself'(jitai) is a nonobjective process that is entirely devoid of representation of any kind.” C.Olson

Cognition and experience do not appear to have a truly existing self but also that the habitual belief in such an ego-self, the continual grasping to such a self, is the basis of the origin and continuation of human suffering and habitual patterns. f.j.varela e. Thompson
Might one not say: the concept that the self-as-an-entity-distinct-from-other-entities is illusory is probably itself a false concept, for it assumes that the self has spatial characteristics. Wei Wu Wei The illusory character of the self, so much insisted upon, may well be an error due to a misplacement of the illusory element, which really belongs not to the self but to a non-existent spatial character gratuitously attributed to it. Wei Wu Wei

“… all those who apprehend the single significant whole, or experience cosmic religious feeling, with or without the awareness of the existence of the principle of cosmic order, are engaged in similar acts of communion with the Whole. Yet any translation into conscious content of that experience , in scientific or religious thought, invokes reductionism where it cannot be applied. …all knowledge in the conscious content is a differentiated system that cannot by definition articulate the universal principle of order. Just as there can be no one-to-one correspondence between physical theory and physical reality, there can be no such correspondence between religious descriptions of beings and Being itself.” M. Kafatos, R. Nadeau

If Space and Time are themselves illusory – as the same metaphysical approach insists – why should the self be given a spatial attribute. What is there in our consciousness of self to justify a spatial limitation. Wei Wu Wei

” The central problem… has been trying to “prove” the existence of Being when it can never be proven because of its inherent undivided wholeness. Being neither requires or permits “proof”. It merely is, and accepting this abundantly obvious fact can provide a “foundation”, as Einstein put it, ‘for our inner security.’ …the description of the parts cannot disclose the existence or nature of the Whole. Yet one cannot, of course, merely reason or argue oneself into an acceptance of this proposition. One must have the capacity for what Einstein termed ‘cosmic religious feeling.’ Hopefully many of those who have the capacity will also communicate their awareness to others in metaphoric representations in ordinary language with enormous emotional appeal. …As described by Jonas Salk: ‘…By using the processes of Nature as metaphor, to describe the forces of the Cosmos by which it operates upon and within Man, we come as close to describing ‘reality’ as we can within the limits of our comprehension. Men will be very uneven in their capacity for such understanding, which, naturally, differs for different ages and cultures, and develops and changes over the course of time. For these reasons it will always be necessary to use metaphor and myth to provide ‘comprehensible’ guides to living. In this way, Man’s imagination and intellect play vital roles in his survival and evolution’. The Conscious Universe