A mystical experience?

Buddhism has always been attractive to me even at a young age. When I was young (early teens) I had an experience that I couldn’t quite relay to others. I don’t remember what age I was exactly. I meditated and experienced what some would describe as a mystical experience. I felt a joy that was un-containable. If it were light I would have shone like a star. It was pretty brief, less than 5 minutes. I have since been unable to replicate it. This experience has always echoed within me. I think it is very easy to pin beliefs on these experiences because they are so incredibly powerful. Many churches are uncomfortable with what these experiences mean or are. I myself don’t know. I bring this up now because I had a therapy session last night in which I recalled this experience and described it as quasi-mystical. in describing the experience, my psychologist asked why I thought it was quasi-mystical and not just mystical. This was a great question. I have placed many negative judgments on this experience because of my religious experience and upbringing.

I was raised primarily Roman Catholic (RC) so mystical experiences aren’t opposed unless of course it doesn’t agree with orthodoxy. I was also raised Seventh Day Adventist-ish (SDA) on my dad’s side. RC and SDA don’t mix very well. I believe that SDA religion sees the devil around every corner and possibly in every experience or at least that is how I experienced it. Along with other variations of Christianity that I have been in contact with, I basically learned to look upon this experience with suspicion and fear. “To be so touched by the devil” was a thought that bothered me immensely.

Anyway, if I were to extract religious meaning from the experience I think you would be shocked at how much it agrees with what many saints and mystics have said and it would also have a heretical component as well.

  • “His love manifests itself in greater or lesser degree according to the impediments that block His love.” St. Catherine of Genoa
  • “O souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ!  Learn to understand yourselves and take pity upon yourselves!  Surely, if you understand your own natures, it is impossible that you will not strive to remove the pitch which blackens the crystal?” St. Theresa Of Avila

My experience was one of such nonjudgmental boundless joy that words continue to fail me in describing it.

If I was to speculate or add religious meaning/twist to it, I would say we are all loved by God no matter what. This experience does not have a face or denomination, it’s everyone and no one at the same time. It isn’t Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish or anything else necessarily. I was compelled to follow it/emulate it because it was so beautiful. (The thinking was ; “Why wouldn’t I want to be like this?” like an epitome of love) I would say it compelled me to be love. The takeaway message I got was be loving to each other because it matters, but oddly not to God, but to us. Our actions block us from “the crystal” if you will. I quote the above saints because they seem to overlap with my experience in some aspect

As an atheist I can now look back and reevaluate the experience but I hated how I felt Christianity (and I’m not just talking about RC or SDA) interpreted it as a work of the devil because it didn’t match what was in the Bible exactly. If I still believed that Jesus was son of God, my experience would confirm Christian Universalism, Buddhism some sects of Sufism etc…. As you can see, mystical experiences can sometimes counter what one believes. I was taught that God wants me to do good and avoid sin. If I failed at that task than hell eternal awaited me and was quoted chapter and verse to that effect. I came to believe on a contingent being that loved me only if I was on the straight and narrow, and only maybe loved me even then. My experience suggested otherwise. It was more about humanity and less about what God wants. God’s just there sending out love to all, the child molester and the saint. It didn’t seem to me that I could affect it’s opinion on anything. It seemed more like a property of nature like gravity, always constant, never changing, opinionless, it didn’t want anything or expect anything, It just radiated boundless joy like a heater as if that’s what its function was, it didn’t judge me wrong or right, it didn’t ask for worship or sacrifice, it didn’t want anything at all from me. It was and still is incomprehensible to me. I literally couldn’t handle the emotion for that long. I felt like it would annihilate me if I stayed too long with it, that’s how powerful it felt. The fact that I had it so young is also bewildering. I didn’t have a whole lot of experiences to go by to begin with. I was motivated for a time to go into clergy either because I was a threat to Satan (Satan attacks those who are dear to God or so I was taught) or given a gift from God.

I’m more inclined to view it as a positive experience now. It’s one of the few things that gives me an inkling that there might be a God and most importantly one that is loving.

I still don’t know if that was a glimpse of God or just some emotion or altered state. I’d like to know what you think?

2 responses to “A mystical experience?”

  1. The Scrupulous Atheist says :

    From Seven Characteristics of Mystical Experiences

    http://www.oneonta.edu/academics/philos/shrader/MysticalExperiences.pdf

    “I am reminded of a Sufi story about a religious devotee (described as a lover) who knocks at the door of the Divine Being (identified as ‘the Beloved’). The Beloved asks, ‘Who is there?’ ‘It is I’ replies the lover, only to be told ‘This house will not hold both Me and thee.’ So the lover goes away and weeps and prays in solitude. After a long time he returns and knocks again. The Voice asks, ‘Who is there?’ This time the lover responds, ‘It is Thou.’ Immediately the door opens; lover and Beloved are united at last.”

    This little story is a great metaphor for what I experienced as well.

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