Sunday, November 2, 2014

On Mystical Experiences, or the Lack Thereof

I've been on my spiritual journey for about six months now - probably not long as these sorts of things go.  But it's easily long enough to lose what little faith I started out with.

I've learned a little bit from my experiences, and I've learned a lot from books and from discussion with others.  But I often find myself questioning the benefit of it all.  I have trouble incorporating the knowledge into my daily life.  And I struggle to understand things on a non-intellectual level, which is very important for practices like Buddhism and Taoism.  Many days, I feel I'm still in the exact same place where I started.

A friend of mine, knowing that this whole endeavor feels quite unnatural to me, said that he was surprised I've kept on my spiritual journey.  But partially, I keep on because I have nothing better to do.  I keep walking this path, because I don’t see another that looks any more promising.

I've read accounts about and heard people describe powerful mystical experiences had during prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices.  They've found great pleasure and bliss from these experiences, and I hoped that I might find the same.  Indeed the Buddha explained that all can and will experience joyful epiphanies during meditation on the path to enlightenment.  But I don't think it's that simple.

It seems clear to me that some people are naturally oriented toward the mystical and spiritual.  I hypothesize that these tend to be the sorts of people that fall in the ‘Sensing’ and ‘Feeling’ areas of the Myers-Briggs spectrum.  For these people, I'd imagine that strong mystical experiences are relatively likely to occur.  For those, like myself, who are naturally oriented toward reason and analytical thought, I believe that such mystical experiences may be less common and/or more subtle.  I've experienced moments of joy during meditation, but they were orders of magnitude less intense than those I've heard described.  Maybe I just need to get further along the path.  And maybe by healing and empowering the third-eye (Ajna) chakra, I and others like me can open ourselves more to the mystical dimension.  But I've not experienced this and cannot say.

I believe that people who have profound mystical experiences use them to fuel their spiritual journeys.  During difficult times, they can find comfort and encouragement as they remember the bliss they had once felt in their practice.  For the agnostics - for those for whom the experience is subtler, I think the journey will be much more difficult.  When we are overwhelmed by obstacles, we must find the inspiration to continue from external sources or from grit and raw determination.  For this reason, I highly recommend that any skeptics travelling a spiritual path find a community to share in and support their practice.  I am thankful to have such a community at the Indiana Buddhist Temple.

A spiritual journey can be overwhelming for a true believer.  For a skeptic, it is even harder

Thank you for reading.  Please share my blog with others who might find value in it.  May you be well and happy.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this immensely Andy!!! TY for sharing!!!!!