The essence of mystical experiences

 

My mystical experience has faded a lot now. I still spend time in nature, but that incredible oneness and closeness of feeling with the birds, trees, rivers is much less.

– J.

You may already have discovered this. One thing that has helped me with fading mystical experiences is to see what’s still there. Often, the strength of the experience may fade or the “bells and whistles” (the bliss, amazement etc.) may go away, but something is still there. And what’s still there is often the most central.

What I have found helpful is asking myself “what’s the essence of the mystical experience”, and then see if I can find that here and now. For instance, it may be a sense of oneness, or that all is Spirit or the divine. Initially, it can be a bit disappointing to see that it’s here but not as strong as before. But as you attend to it, you may find a real appreciation for what’s still here. It may turn out to be what’s most important and transformative in the long run.

– from my reply

I thought I would share this here. It’s common for mystical experiences to fade and for the side-effects – the bliss, awe, amazement – to go away. That’s the nature of mystical experiences. And there is an invitation here, and that’s to see what’s still here.

It’s easy to get into “chase the mystical experience” mode. I did for a while. Whether it works or not, it becomes pretty clear over time that it’s a bit like a dog chasing it’s tail. It can be fun, it may work, but it’s also exhausting and – if we are honest with ourselves – futile. It doesn’t really get us what we want because experiences, including the most amazing ones, fade and go away.

So what is it that didn’t go away? What’s still here? Maybe that’s what it is more about?

More on transition experiences

 

I wrote a long post on transition experiences, but decided to make it short and simple. Some details goes out, but the essence is maybe more clear.

Here are a couple of points from the longer post that may be interesting…

  • What we are, is a field of awake emptiness and form, absent of a separate I. This means that what is alive in each of ours awareness here and now, is realized to be nothing other than awake emptiness itself. This room, the cat, the sound of the cars, the lamp, computer, thoughts, sensations, it is all awake emptiness. An awake void, temporarily taking these forms. And it is all without a center, without any trace of a separate self.
  • When we take ourselves to be an object in the world, we filter awareness so it appears to be only here, associated with this human self, and not out there, in the wider world… with the exception of being there, in theory, in other people. We don’t notice emptiness much, everything seems quite substantial and real. And there is certainly a sense of a separate self here, in this human self.
  • So in the transition between the two, what we are breaks through within the context of what we take ourselves to be. There is a growing sense of no separation, glimpses of the wider world as somehow inherently alive and awake, a diminishing sense of the solidity of the boundary between I here and the rest of the world out there, and so on.

As Ken Wilber and others have pointed out, this transition mirrors what we find in nature mysticism (nature, all objects, as alive), deity mysticism (all as God), and finally realized selflessness (one field, absent of center and separate self.)

All of these transition experiences can be experienced and interpreted in different ways. I am sure there are many more than I wrote down here, and each of them will take on different flavors for different people at different times.

One experience I have heard recently, from a friend, is an experience of walking in nature, and everything suddenly appearing aware… the trees, stones, ground, landscape. Another, is of objects smiling back at you (having awareness, being somehow alive, able to make a connection.)

Of course, these are all just experiences and states. Nothing to be too caught up in. Just carrots, and sometimes distractions (!), within our process of exploring what we really are – in our own immediate awareness.

And that is the ground of awake void, and forms as no other than this awake void, all absent of a center and separate self. It is all emptiness dancing. A depth of awake emptiness with a thin surface of form.

Shifting filters

 

I was just reminded of how Ken Wilber’s old model of the levels of development reflects these shifts of filters.

The conventional level these days is where the field is filtered into a strong sense of I and Other, and the I is placed on only a relatively small part of our individual self.

Then, the I is placed on more of our whole individual self (whole body/mind, centaur.)

Then, a sense of I is also out there, in the form of nature mysticism. There is a sense of I, yet also of an aliveness and intelligence out there.

Then, a sense of all as God. I am still here, and everything is also God (deity mysticism).

And finally, the field awakening to itself as awake emptiness and form, centerless and selfless, even as it is functionally connected with an individual.

It is all part of the field awakening to itself as a field, and filtering itself slightly differently at different phases of the process. At the same time, there is a corresponding reorganization and development of the individual, as these changing filters are taken into account and reflected in the life of the individual.

Summary of the shifts

Throughout the whole process, the field is already and always a field of awake emptiness and form, with no center, no separate I, yet also functionally connected with a particular human self.

After the typical childhood development, there is a strong sense of I here and Other out there, this sense of I is placed on this individual, and any immediate sense of awakeness and consciousness is placed on this I here (it takes a great deal of energy and resistance to filter out the sense of awakeness, which is already alive throughout the whole field, and place it on this I).

From here on, the sense of a separate I is reduced at each shift, and the sense of an “I” out there increases – in the form of a sense of aliveness, intelligence, love and consciousness out there… in nature, and then in all of Existence.

Finally, the whole sense of I and Other falls away entirely, revealing the field as everywhere awake emptiness and form, without any center, without any separate I anywhere.