Mystics. (You are one, most assuredly.)

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Meister EckhartMystical Experiences

Mystical experiences have been studied since the early 1900s. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) famously studied them at Harvard University. It was their study of mystical experiences that led them to experiment with LSD. They had heard (and then they scientifically proved in a double-blind study) that people tripping on acid indeed had experiences that mirrored other, more classical, mystical experiences.

Scholars agree that certain qualities characterize a mystical experience. (Some scholars list more or less than these seven. This is just a listing I like.)

Whether you’ve had five of these experiences at a time or three of them, it doesn’t mean that you have or haven’t had a mystical experience. I’m giving these so you can understand a little more about the science behind measuring a mystical experience.

Mystical experiences are:

  1. ineffable
  2. noetic
  3. transient
  4. passive
  5. unifying
  6. timeless
  7. lasting in terms of positive change

Let me go through them one at a time. (While I do so, think about when you have had such experiences in your life.)

  1. Ineffable – can’t be captured by language in regular ways. Some hyperbolic language is usually needed because language alone is inadequate to explain a mystical experience.
  2. Noetic – you know what it is, but you just can’t explain what it is.
  3. Transient – it goes quickly; the experience itself lasts a very short period of time.
  4. Passive – it’s not something that people sought or orchestrated; it happened to them. So a mystical experience is something that’s beyond our control.
  5. Unifying – brings a sense of oneness, wholeness, and completeness.
  6. Timeless – it happened so quickly, and it feels like it happened in a dream, like it took a very long time as it was happening. It transcends time.
  7. Lasting in terms of positive change – as opposed to just getting high off a drug and having a pipe dream, a mystical experience changes one’s life and they are never quite the same again.

A mystical experience is not the thing itself; it’s what it points at. If a monk is pointing at the moon, the important thing is the moon, not the monk’s finger.

Being a mystic means you have the ability to see the holy, the sacred, God, the spiritual in everyday occurrences.  I am certain that you have had (to a greater or lesser extent at different times) various experiences that match the above seven criteria of a mystical experience.

So, if you never realized it before, allow me to congratulate you: you too are a mystic.

#wisdom_biscuit: Your eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one love.

Meister Eckhart

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