WHAT IS MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE?
What is the meaning of my life?
Is there really such a thing as God?
If you find yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone. I’ve wondered the same things all my life. In 2003, I found the answers; not by looking for them but through a mystical experience that sought me.
According to merriam-webster, the term mysticism means “the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality.” It refers to an incident of connection to God, the Divine Source, the Most High or whatever term one feels comfortable calling It, accompanied by a feeling of inner peace and unimaginable bliss. It’s as if the experience itself has been orchestrated by a higher intelligence, something separate, yet inextricably entwined with one’s deepest sense of Being.
From a psychological standpoint, in “Body Mind Spirit,” K. Ramakrishna Rao describes it thus:
Religious experience, the mystic experience, the peak experience, and all paranormal experiences may have one thing in common. They are the encounters with consciousness as such, pure consciousness in which there is no subject-object distinction … but a transformational process that often results in remarkable behavioral changes and beliefs and sometimes translates itself into informational content.
How can I explain it so that you too, can know? I can’t, but I can give you a taste:
Have you ever felt the wonder of gazing at the stars on a warm summer night and thought about all the people over eons of time who might also have witnessed them?
Have you considered that the concept of time may be nothing but illusion or had the feeling that you’ve been here before?
Have you relished the sensation of freedom when taking off your shoes and socks and burrowing your bare feet into powdery, warm sand?
Have you known a sense of smallness as you stood at the base of a mighty glacier and questioned what a responsibility it would be to be a glacier? Or pondered what the glacier knew that you didn’t?
Have you ever strained your ears to hear the messages these things have been trying to tell you?
These are the flavors of mystical experience.
Have you appreciated the tiny eyelashes of a newborn baby or felt the fragile hand of an elderly person with its paper-thin skin, blue veins rising just below the surface? Knowing your grip could easily crush that frail hand, your instinct instantly acts to protect something so tender and vulnerable.
Have you ever fallen so deeply into art where you are no longer conscious of where your identity ends and the identity of the artist and the work itself begins?
These moments are the first steps on the path to mystical experience.
How Does it Feel to Have a Mystical Experience?
Initially I felt a golden liquid light flowing into me—a light that felt as solid and real as a steel girder. I then felt lifted out of my body, pulled by an unseen force higher and higher, until my consciousness was above the room, above the world.
All at once, I understood on a level deeper than I knew I was capable of, that there was no separation between myself and every living and non-living thing of this world and all worlds.
I was an integral component of all the thoughts that were being thought or had been thought forever—backward and forward in time. And there was no such thing as the concept of time.
Pure love, ecstasy and light poured into me. I was submerged in its essence.
The colors of my tangible world seemed dull and grey compared to the colors of the bliss I was experiencing: vibrant, alive and breathing.
I knew that within this ecstasy was a connection to the Divine—to God or whatever term one needs to use. The feeling was all-encompassing. I suddenly understood the meaning of the word ecstasy, which seems to have become misconstrued in our human language.
I realized in a very deep way that God is, as the Sufi say “Love, Lover and Beloved.” And I was.
And I am…
How does one know if they’ve had a mystical experience?
This is like asking “Is your skin wet when you get out of the shower?”
Believe me, you’ll know. There is no mistaking it. You will never be the same again. After it has taken place, a love greater than anything that could originate from our limited human existence surges out of you. This love is not only directed toward others, but toward yourself as well.
That’s the part I found hardest to understand after the dust settled. It has always been easy for me to love others, but when it came to loving myself, it was a different story.
The moment I had my mystical experience, I knew something incredible had taken place because I suddenly loved and accepted myself just the way I am and it was fine to be me. No excuses. It was divine.
What can I do to make myself have a mystical experience?
You can’t make yourself have a mystical experience. When your soul is ready, it will happen. According to D.T. Suzuki:
When [the] mind is matured for satori [enlightenment] it tumbles over one everywhere. An inarticulate sound, an unintelligent remark, a blooming flower, or a trivial incident such as stumbling is the condition or occasion that will open [the] mind to satori. Apparently, an insignificant event produces an effect which in importance is altogether out of proportion. The light touch of an igniting wire, and an explosion follows which will shake the very foundation of the earth…When the mind is ready for some reasons or others, a bird flies, or a bell rings and you at once return to your original home; that is, you discover your now real self.
There are however, certain things you can do to help open yourself to the possibility. I will write a future post about this.
Is it possible to have a mystical experience without my knowing it has occurred?
No chance. It can certainly happen without your expecting it; it can happen without your input, but you will know if and when it does.