Revised; originally published on 23 August 2014
- What Is Mysticism?
- WAYS TO EXPERIENCE MYSTICISM
- Slowing the Mind
- Concentrating on the Body Instead of the Mind
- Extraordinary Sensory and Emotional Experiences
- Bringing Up the Emotions of Gratitude, Appreciation, or Divine Love
- EVERY MAJOR RELIGION HAS ITS MYSTICS
- WHY IS MYSTICISM SO ALL-PERVADING?
- The Mystical Mind
- Mental Intelligence versus Universal Intelligence
- SWARM BEHAVIOR
- Could These Notions Be True?
- PRAYER FOR MYSTIC INSPIRATION
- SUGGESTED READING AND LISTENING
- MEDIA CREDITS – BACKGROUND MUSIC PLAYED DURING THE EVENT
I just woke up thinking about a Mystical Poetry Celebration I facilitated at The Onion … http://sepulvedauu.org/ … in North Hills a few years ago. It somehow seemed relevant today, so here it is.
In love, light and joy,
I Am of the Stars
Image: Seagulls landing on a bridge in the blue sky, with white clouds: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/33/7d/4e/337d4ee83193a115c3b57fcb31228d16.jpg ..
What is Mysticism?
Mysticism is immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality.
WAYS TO EXPERIENCE MYSTICISM
Slowing the Mind
- Repeating a mantra (a sacred sound or word)
- Gazing at a mandala (sacred art that induces a meditative state)
Concentrating on the Body Instead of the Mind
- Dance, such as: Sufi whirling and Dances of Universal Peace (1)
- Walking in a maze or labyrinth
- Walking in a circle
Extraordinary Sensory and Emotional Experiences
- Extreme pain, such as mortification of the flesh
- Red tantric yoga (sexual union in a sacred context)
- Use of such psychoactive substances … LSD, peyote, etc (Caveat: This can cause ‘bad trips’ and contact with negative astral entities.)
- Neurophysiologic disturbances … profound depression, schizophrenia, or stroke
Bringing Up the Emotions of Gratitude, Appreciation, or Divine Love
- Affirmations of gratitude or appreciation – giving thanks
- Heartfelt prayer, spirit-filled religious services,
- Devotional chanting (bhakti yoga)
- Spiritual music, hymns
- Reading mystical poetry
— adapted from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA
EVERY MAJOR RELIGION HAS ITS MYSTICS
These are just a few examples:
- Christianity and Sufism … “God Is Love”
- Kabbalah … Judaism … ” … To love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;” (2) … this is devekut, or communion with God
- Hinduism … “Atman is Brahman” (i.e., the individual Soul is the cosmic Soul)
- American Sikhism, quote by Yogi Bhajan on the oneness of a person with God. (3)This concept is sometimes termed advaita, nonduality, or ‘God indwelling’ or ‘God immanent
- Zen … haiku (short poems that can bring one to experience of the present moment) and koan (riddles that baffle the mind)
— adapted from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA
WHY IS MYSTICISM SO ALL-PERVADING?
The Mystical Mind
In 1999, Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew Newberg wrote a book: “The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience,” in which they demonstrated that God is generated by and generates the brain. (4,5) If this is true, then it follows that the mystical experience is inherent in brain chemistry.
Now, the doubter in us might propose that any experience based on brain chemistry is suspect, might he not? But on what basis might he make that assumption? On the basis of sense perceptions?
Sense perceptions are also based on brain chemistry, and so, our doubter must posit, they are also suspect. More suspect, I might suppose, than the mystical experience, since many subjective interpretations may be put upon sense perceptions, and all mystical experiences are remarkably similar.
A person determined to experience “things as they are” will find sense perceptions often mislead … they severely limit the data that come to us from the universe. What about the mystical experience? Could it be an experience of reality at the quantum physics level? At the level of the most basic subatomic particles?
If, in fact, the mystical experience holds greater scientific validity than sense perceptions, then the question becomes, how to have this mystical experience, how to experience reality As It Is, and not through the filter of the senses.
Mental Intelligence versus Universal Intelligence
In autumn, starlings flock and dance together at nightfall in the skies above England and Scotland. These dancing clouds of starlings are called murmurations and their complex dance patterns, performed, as it seems, of ‘one mind’ are like aerial ballet in their precision.
In the video clip below, the starlings are the tiny black specks in the sky.
Video: “Murmuration” by Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith, Facebook: Islands and Rivers, https://vimeo.com/31158841 ..
Why do they do it? How do they do it? It’s not like they’ve been having practice sessions together. It’s not like they’re all that intelligent. Why don’t they bump into each other in mid-air?
There’s a theory that we’ve been looking at the starlings for intelligence, and we’ve been looking in the wrong place … intelligence is all around us (6) … in the air … or so the theory goes. We (birds, people) are the end-receptors, so to speak, of universal intelligence. (7)
All we have to do is open ourselves to it and let it in. What if we don’t? Well, then we’ll be stuck with the limited intelligence stored in our personal minds. We won’t get to stand in the doorway to unlimited intelligence, the doorway to All That Is. The key to that door is found through the practice of mysticism.
Scientists call what the starlings do “swarm behavior.” Two-dimensional computer simulations have been made showing this behavior.
The second and last video clip is just such a computer simulation. As you watch this video, imagine that you yourself exist as points of light – in quantum physical terms, as a “swarm” consisting of tiny bundles of subatomic energy. Imagine that the edges of the screen represent time and space.
Video: “Swarm Simulation,” by flight404, https://vimeo.com/11704967 ..
What would happen if there were no edges on the screen of our minds? What would happen to the points of light that represent our awareness?
Could These Notions Be True?
- God is generated by and generates the brain.
- The mystical experience is more valid than sense perceptions.
- Unlimited intelligence pours into our limited human form from the air, from water, and some say, from the solar winds, from the Universe. As the song goes, “Love is in the air!” All we have to do is perceive it.
- And finally: We exist as points of light. Our awareness is compressed by our concept of time and space into a four-dimensional reality (length, width, breadth, and time). This time-and-space limitation is a mental concept only; not reality. What is reality, then?
Image: Hands of a man, holding water with a heart-shaped ripple in it: https://files.constantcontact.com/37702b02301/dcc82d5d-a63e-4afd-b8f3-e8ae14ea07ab.jpg ..
PRAYER FOR MYSTIC INSPIRATION
by Alice B. Clagett
May the love that the great mystics felt
touch the hearts of each of us.
May each of us know the wisdom that they knew.
As we go about our lives, may that love and wisdom
touch and transform the hearts of all we meet.
SUGGESTED READING AND LISTENING
(All can be purchased at www.Amazon.com )
- “A Gift of Love: Deepak and Friends Present Music Inspired by the Love Poems of Rumi. To hear clips: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-gift-of-love-music-inspired-by-the-love-poems-of-rumi/id2901840 ..
- “A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings,” translations and commentary by Coleman Barks, published by Harper One, 2006
- “The Gayan: Notes from the Unstruck Music,” Hazrat Inayat Khan, Omega Publications, 2005
- “For Love of the Dark One: Songs of Mirabai,” translations by Andrew Schelling, revised edition, Hohm Press, 1998 … The dark one is Lord Krishna, whose skin color is traditionally depicted as blue.
- “Thirst,” poems by Mary Oliver, Beacon Press, 2006
- Abraham Isaac Kook, “The Lights of Penitence, the Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems” … His poems in the back of the book are quite good
- Eknath Iswaren, compiler, “God Makes the Rivers to Flow: An Anthology of the World’s Sacred Poetry and Prose,” 1982
- Stephen Mitchell, translator, “A Book of Psalms: Selected and Adapted from the Hebrew,” 1993
(1) Link: “Dances of Universal Peace are being led by Lakshmi Lambert in West LA,” http://www.sivananda.org/la/DancesOfUniversalPeace.htm ..
(2) Deuteronomy 11: 22 (KJV – public domain)
(3) Link: “God and Me, Me and God Are One,” mantra, downloads, and CDs, at SpiritVoyage, https://www.spiritvoyage.com/mantra/god-and-me,-me-and-god,-are-one/man-000041.aspx ..
(4) A short book review by Tim Knepper, 2001, of the book “The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience,” by Eugene d’Aquili, Andrew B. Newberg, may be found here …
LInk: “Eugene d’Aquili; Andrew B. Newberg … ‘The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience,'” Review by Tim Knepper, 2001, http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/relexp/reviews/review_daquili_newberg01.htm ..
(5) By the way, in a book called “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief,” d’Aquili and Newberg … together with Vince Rause, spoke of incomplete ‘neurobiological transcendence’ as a possible cause of religious intolerance.
So, I gather, when the brain is working at optimum capacity, in a state of ‘neurobiological transcendence,’ religious bigotry will be a thing of the past. For a very good summary of the book “Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief,” surf to
Link: “Council on Spiritual Practices, http://csp.org/chrestomathy/why_god.html ..
(6) Video: “Intelligent Air,” by conferencereport, 24 April 2009,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoIIUB3irys ..
(7) Rupert Sheldrake has another way of explaining murmurations. He proposes that mind extends beyond the brain and is capable of connecting with everything else. See his long video talk:
Video: “The Mind Is Not the Brain, Matrix,” by Ifitallfails, Rupert Shaldrake, Consciousness, 19 September 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBc9_e60-7k ..
MEDIA CREDITS – BACKGROUND MUSIC PLAYED DURING THE EVENT
- “Himma,” a CD by the Sufi Music Ensemble. You can hear and purchase the CD at www.amazon.com.
- “Harmony Within,” a CD by David Castle, master healer, whose Celestial Energy Center is here in the San Fernando Valley. To hear or purchase the CD: http://celestialenergycenter.com/ ..
- “Solace,” by Tom Kenyon. To hear or purchase CD: http://tomkenyon.com/store/solace ..
Image: Sunlight filtering through forest leaves: https://biancabibiri.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/picture152.jpg ..
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