Ready for another file from the “Weird Shit” folder?
I knew you were.
With all the bullshit going on in the world, we could all use a breath of stranger air.
Okay, like all good philosophy, we’re going to have to begin by defining our terms.
(I recognize that the term mystical has a lot of woo-woo connotations. Stick with me here, and you’ll find I’ll avoid the woo.)
First off, many people believe Mystic refers to connecting directly with the Divine. If this works for you, I mean really works – as in is something you can use – then don’t let me disabuse you of that notion.
(As my old teacher, Sifu Leroy used to say, “Good technique is whatever works.”)
If, on the other hand you equate mystical with dropping 2 hits of acid and going to the Phish concert, allow me to pop that fucking bubble and bring you back down to Earth where all the cool shit is really happening.
A Mystical Experience, stripped down to its essential nature, is a shift in consciousness from duality to a non-dual perspective.
What the fuck does that mean?
(I knew you’d ask, because you folx are fekkin’ awesome. And if I tell you this enough, one day you’ll realize I’m not being sarcastic.)
Duality Consciousness is your everyday mind.
It is the sense you have of being a separate being. It is intrinsically linked with your ego – your sense of self.
Before you jump ahead, No, the ego/ duality consciousness is not a bad thing. You should not attempt to extinguish it. It’s part of you for a reason, and it’s very useful, under the right circumstances.
Duality consciousness is the state of mind where you make a distinction between you and the tree, the clouds, the Earth, other humans, the Universe as a whole.
This is helpful for a number of things, including producing and managing this technological world we live in. For specialized understanding, for narrowly focusing in on a thing – as a thing – to get a handle on how it works, Duality consciousness is what allows us to put things in discrete boxes, to dissect things for better comprehension.
That’s our everyday mind.
If you’re quick – which I know you are – you’ve already deduced what the Mystical Experience is: pretty much everything else.
And by everything else, I mean the only other thing:
This is the state of mind we experience when we do not differentiate between ourselves and everything else.
You, me, the flowers, the trees, all one thing.
So, to dispel the woo:
Our brains are fully capable of this state of consciousness at any time.
If you’ve ever experienced “flow state” you’ve experienced non-duality consciousness.
(If you’ve never experienced flow state, do yourself a favor and research it. I’ll post about it some other time, but don’t wait. Get into learning about it now. You will thank me for it. I promise.)
Non-duality consciousness – is a fucking mouthful, which is why I still refer to it as Mystical Experience. Also, I like the magical feeling of the old language. But really, they’re the same thing. Use which one works for you.
If you take the time to study, oh, pretty much every religion or spiritual teaching in history, you’ll see that some branch of it has been dedicated to direct, personal experience of the Divine.
Sufism. Ecstatic Christian Prayer. Gnosticism. Kabbalah. Moksha. Nirvana. Spirit journeys. Crossing the The Abyss….
Give it a name, human beings have looked for it in whatever spiritual paradigm they have found themselves in.
There is even a modern, scientific description of the phenomenon, which is what led me to begin investigating the ancient traditions more closely, with an eye to stripping away the inessentials of this experience.
Jill Bolte Taylor talks about it in her book, “My Stroke of Insight”. You can listen to her TED talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_my_stroke_of_insight.
Our brains, the fatty electrical mesh in our noggins, can function in 2 modes. MS. Taylor refers to them as Serial Processing and Parallel Processing.
Serial processing is, much like it sounds, a straight line of one thing connected to another. Causality and determinism. You know, the way we typically perceive the universe.
Parallel processing is experiencing the world as one unbroken, eternal Now.
(All that exists is now, all the we are is now, and only now. No past. No future. Simply, truly, and completely Now.)
This appears to be because the hemispheres of our brains process information in these 2 different ways.
Have I gotten deep into the weeds yet?
Let’s venture a little deeper into the dense foliage, shall we?
In that unending moment of Now, the suffering of the past and the stress of the future do not, can not exist. Only what you are experiencing in the present moment of awareness is in focus.
If this sounds like some version of paradise to you, you’re not wrong.
In non-duality consciousness one experiences the world as one’s self, and one’s self as the world. Or, as Alan Watts put it, “You simultaneously feel as though you are controlling every aspect of the universe, and that it is also controlling you. You are ‘doing’ it, at it is ‘doing’ you.”
(also, also, if you haven’t looked into Alan Watts, and you dig any of the weird shit I post about, do yourself a solid and go explore. He’s hoot and expert at explaining Eastern traditions to a Western conditioned mind.)
Here’s the thing, getting back to the #mystical for a bit, most of us, in this country and elsewhere in the world, have a notion of God that is less personal and more all encompassing.
(You can thank Saint Thomas Aquinas for that shift, by the way.)
This imagining of God is of a God that is everywhere, in everything, knows and is a part of everything.
(Yes, I recognize that there are still a great many people who see God as some kind of Human-ish Authority figure. Big fuck-off beard, long flowing robes, that look in the eye of both judgement and adoration, much like the look in a favorite grandparent’s eye when they saw you about to get into some harmless trouble. A lot of people still believe that way, but as time has progressed – as well as science – it has become more fashionable to conceive of God in a more pantheistic sense – as the whole shebang, man and boy, maiden, mother, crone, all the stars and all of the grains of sand, etc… instead of some paternal HMFIC up in a mountain somewhere.)
My hypothesis is modern peoples tend to believe this, not just because of Aquinas, but also because it jives with a way we can experience the world – ie: non-dualistic consciousness.
One with all things. No conflict. Only harmony.
So, why don’t we slip in and out of this consciousness all the time?
Good question. Since it’s a part of how you naturally exist, you ought to be able to, right?
Here’s where another one of my hypotheses comes into play:
I think most people are not aware of this ability, and not using it, for the same reason 90% of the world is right-handed.
Most of us are taught to write with our right hand. Left-handers are usually forced to cobble together something functional on their own.
“Here’s the shapes of the letters, have fun figuring out how to make that appendage use them,” kind of thing.
You see, there was a time when everything in the human experience was intertwined with the spiritual.
We didn’t have proper science – as we know it – and so we intuited spirits and gods in everything. For everything.
But, in the not too distant past – only 4 or 5 generations- we brought science to the forefront of how we understand the world.
Notice I didn’t say the Natural World as many people do. Lots of people make that very telling distinction between the Natural world and the world of the Supernatural. Our ancestors didn’t do that. The fact that we do demonstrates how we’ve come to think of things as separate.
We’ve been conditioned, and conditioned ourselves, to use primarily only the one system of our consciousness. Like we’ve been conditioned to only have one dominant hand.
It’s not a bad thing we did, either. If our ancestors had not been primarily dualistically conscious most of us probably would have had our faces eaten off by the leopard we were trying to hug.
And because we use the dualistic-consciousness so often, because our societies are so entrenched in that paradigm, very few of us have experienced, or learned to use, this other side of our mind’s coin that is as intrinsic to our existence as breathing.
This is what the Mystical Experience is, when all the myths are stripped away.
I’ve already mentioned Flow State, but there are other ways to utilize non-dualistic consciousness.
Magicians, yogis, sufis, hermits, nuns, and shamans, throughout history have explored and benefited from this other pole of our consciousness.
I’ll bet, with a little bit of work, you could too.
Who knows what you could do if you embraced the experience of the mystical?
It’s there, waiting for you to awaken to it.
The Mystical Experience is your birthright.
What are you going to do with it?
Until next time…