Have You Had a Mystical Experience?
The author would like to invite people to share accounts of their own mystical and revelatory experiences. Many of these accounts will be included in her forthcoming book entitled, "Mystical Experiences of Ordinary People."
Lolette Kuby writes:
Email your experiences to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or mail them to:
Lolette Kuby, Mystical Experiences
c/o Origin Press
204 West Lake St, Suite C
Mt Shasta, CA 96067
Since my own revelation, I have become convinced that mystical experiences are far more widespread than anyone suspects. They occur to ordinary people like myself, sometimes just once in a lifetime, and sometimes repeatedly. They tell us that we are not--as the saying goes (usually as an apology for wrongdoing)--"only human": We are more than human. A mystical experience proves to us that we are more than human because it lifts us out of the physical/material dimension of reality.
Let me describe what I mean by a mystical experience. I do not mean seeing ghosts, hearing strange tappings on the ceiling, mind reading, or participation in seances. Mystical experiences have been known by the terms "cosmic consciousness," beatific vision," illumination," "enlightenment," and "revelation." It may come in the form of words, a vision, a sensation, even a dream. Each person is unique. Whatever it is called, and in whatever particular manifestation it appears, it is clearly marked by this quality: The person suddenly and surprisingly gains a knowledge that transcends their normal knowledge of the world. This knowledge is not acquired through the senses or the brain. There is not a cause-and-effect relationship, you cannot insert a "because" or a "therefore" between whatever preceded the experience and the experience itself.
For example, if a person is standing on a mountain or in a forest or in his or her back yard and is flooded with a sudden sensation of union with nature and a tender compassion for the surroundings, he or she would not say, "I had this experience because I was standing in my backyard," but could only say, "I was standing in my backyard and I had this experience."
A mystical experience need not involve sudden transport into the presence of God, Allah, Divine Intelligence or into the secret heart of the cosmos. The experience may involve nature, other people, animals, or any object. The poet William Blake says he saw the world in a grain of sand, which may be the poet's shorthand for a mystical revelation. Here is another account of a mystical experience of nature taken from William James's Varieties of Religious Experience: "When I went in the morning into the fields to work, the glory of God appeared in all his visible creation. I well remember, we reaped oats, and how every straw and head of oats seemed, as it were, arrayed in a kind of rainbow glory, to glow, if I may express it, in the glory of God."
Here is another nature experience told to me by a friend. Some years ago, he was sitting on the ground in a park, idly watching a bug climb a blade of grass. Suddenly the bug became huge in his sight and he saw, as if under a microscope, every minute part of its anatomy and knew the innermost nature of the creature. This experience may seem trivial and even humorous, but my friend was never the same person again. He received knowledge, instantly and forever, that the physical world as we usually perceive it is not the real world. The physical world is just one face that reality presents to our senses.
Another friend told me of an experience in which she felt sudden union with other people--everyone was she and she was everyone. She took pains to explain to me that she did not mean that she had an intellectual grasp of human interdependency--the kind that Charles Dickens includes in so many of his stories, in which, for example, a disease among the poor trickles up to infect the houses of the rich. My friend meant that she had an illumination that "I am He."
You can see why sharing experiences such as these is important. They make brothers and sisters of us all--we are all more than human. As only human we are Jews, Gentiles, Muslims, Americans, Africans, Italians, short, tall, rich, poor. But as more than human we are offspring of the Most High.
We rarely talk about these experiences. Our society is so thoroughly grounded in scientific materialism that we are predisposed to dismiss phenomena that have no scientific or rational explanation. We think of them as mental aberrations, as meaningless tricks of the mind, as daydreams or hallucinations or misfirings of the brain's synapses, or as just plain nonsense. We usually share them with few people, and we ourselves tend to diminish their importance--if not push them into forgetfulness.
The completion of the human genome project reinforces the material definition of the human being. For many, scientists, doctors, and laypeople alike, the genetic map offers the key to who we are--even including such qualities as temperament, intelligence, and talent. I feel it is imperative to counter this definition with one that emphasises our spirituality. I believe that by sharing our mystical experiences with each other we will heighten their importance. When we recognize their importance we will change ourselves. When many of us change ourselves, we will change the world.
This poem by Robert Frost, the splendid agnostic, intimates the deepest reason why mystical experiences are important:
We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone really find us out.
'Tis pity if the case require
(Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.
But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.
Our mystical experiences are God's way of not hiding too well away.