The Nature of Mystical Experience
James C. Wilhelm, Contributor
Thousands of books have been written about mysticism over thousands of years, and this essay is a mere 1,012 words. Do I really think I can convey the essence, power and bliss of the mystical in a thousand words?
That is what I set out to do after recently viewing numerous videos and reading many essays that I found on the World Wide Web. After reviewing this mass of content, I realized that after all those hours of viewing and reading content by gurus, masters and experts, I realized I had learned nothing of value. Indeed, much of the content was nothing if not misleading.
Lao Tzu says it well in the Tao Te Ching:
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth…
~ Translation by Derek Lin.
The following one thousand words are descriptors that come directly from my experiences of the mystical beginning in 1961.
We ask three questions:
- WHAT IS A MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE?
- WHY BOTHER WITH IT?
- CAN ANYONE EXPERIENCE MYSTICAL TRUTH?
What is a Mystical Experience?
The mystical experience is the direct experience of your true self, which is the singular essence of being that creates and sustains all that ever has been, all that is now, and all that ever will be.
- Direct experience is the unfiltered knowing of something with no intermediary
- Your true self is the God-Self that lives within you always.
- It is who you are at your essence: eternal, uncreated, infinite love.
- Singular essence of being: is the unchanging, eternal, enduring reality upon which the tapestry of life is woven. It is your ultimate Self, the energy that underlies what we know as everyday life.
Mystical realization is a non-experiential experience of the true and original singular nature that underlies the manifestation of the phenomenal world; it is the dissolution of the everyday distinctions of time and space, knower and known subject and object.
Why Bother with Awareness of Ultimate Reality?
Before the existence of the material universe there was, and is now, one. Experience is not possible when all of existence is an infinite, unborn singularity. The one had nothing to experience and thus no reference point for its own awareness.
Despite the apparent differences you see in the world of multiplicity in which you live and breathe, everything you see is you. Everywhere you look you see yourself. The original one is always one, perceiving itself in this multiplicity of wonder as many. From this experience of multiplicity, the one learns about its own True and Original Nature. That is, you discover who you really are.
Your life in the world is an opportunity for self-understanding. Self-understanding is enlightenment, and enlightenment is the direct experience of the mystical — the all and the nothing, the ancient of days, the singular creator of this universe of multiplicity — you.
Given the sole purpose of the existence of this infinite space time universe is to provide you with objects of experience that are all you, perhaps this is the real, or true, reason for being here alive in a body in the first place.
The process of self knowledge / self understanding that seems to culminate in the mystical experience actually commences with this experience. Knowing your full potential is an eternal trip that never, ever ends.
Shedding all that is unreal about you leaves you with nothing but the real and what is real is the bliss of knowing your true and original self — your singular nature, one with all that is. Knowing we are all one, you understand that the object of all of your thoughts and actions can only be you.
Your true self is the singular self that never began and never ends. Your true self is the power that creates all that is. Your true self is the power that has created every experience and every detail of your life that you have ever known.
The mystical experience is awareness of the incredible power that you are. You have created all that is and you don’t remember having done it. Now that you are aware of truth, you will consciously create and recreate your world in accordance with your most powerful desires, visions and dreams.
What Can I Do to Have an Experience of Truth?
You are having such an experience right now. There is no way to escape your true nature. Immerse yourself, be fully present in each moment. It is only in this moment that transformation occurs.
There is nothing you need do and nowhere you need go. You are this singular nature of reality right now and you are not consciously aware of it.
Being consciously aware of the ground of all being, what some call God, is to be consciously aware of your own True and Original Self. Awareness of your Self is awareness of all that is.
This mystical, non-experiential experience is who you are right now; your essence is vibrating within you right now, waiting patiently for you.
Consciously intend to be your true and original self right now. Breathe in deeply, breathe out thoroughly. Focus your conscious awareness on the movement of your breath in and out.
Now ride your in-breath to the silence within you and listen — intently and carefully — to the beautiful sound of the perfect silence that you are.
It is possible for each of us to know and understand the most enduring part of who we are, the part that remains after we have looked at ourselves and released all that we are not. This self understanding is enlightenment, and there are as many ways to enlightenment as there are sentient beings in the universe. Creating a world of peace where our similarities transcend our differences and where we love each other without condition is simple, as simple as being exactly who we are right now.
About the Author
Jim Wilhelm is an international spiritual teacher, self-development mentor, author, lecturer, philosopher, Emmy award-winning television producer, and successful entrepreneur. He has shared his experiences of practical mysticism around the world for more than 40 years. Jim has translated his mystical understanding into practical knowledge that we all can apply in our lives.
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