I don’t think mystics are set apart from ordinary people.
They are just better quantum navigators. They journey into
the transition zone closer to God….Instead of wondering about
the mystery of life, a saint lives it.
– Chopra, Deepak
The journey of my coming to awareness really began in my early childhood, though at the time I was ill-prepared to understand the experience. I cannot be sure of the exact circumstances for my first and most profound mystical experience. I have only vague memories of the day or the place where the experience occurred. What is most clear to me is the inner, not the outer, experience. The inner, experiential nature of the moment is the thread that binds the fabric of my being. It resides at the deepest core of who I am. Over the years, it has provided a foundation, energy, and conviction for many of the choices and actions that I know I otherwise would not or could not have pursued.
I believe I was seven or eight years old at the time of this occurrence, which profoundly altered my consciousness and way of being in the world. My recollection is that one day while I was sitting quietly beside my parents in the pew near the front of a church at Sunday Mass, I suddenly experienced a deep, penetrating, almost overwhelming sensation the likes of which I had never experienced before nor have I since in quite the same way. It was a feeling that drew me right out of myself and out of that place into what felt like the very far reaches of anything and everything. It felt at the same time like the sensation was inside of me and outside of me, and I had become all of it and it had become all of me. It also felt – and I sensed this even at that young age – as if it were an experience of deep, eternal, and unconditional love.
Then, just as quickly as it arrived, the sensation left me. The whole experience felt timeless, and yet it could only have lasted a mere moment. Brief as it was, though, it left a profound impact, requiring me to deal with the consequences of the experience for the rest of my life.
Mary Conrow Coelho (2002) describes the contemplative experience as a form of knowing that includes the experience of belonging to all of creation. She writes:
“[T]he person participates in an alternative type of knowing that grasps its object immediately rather than seeking knowledge outside herself by discursive reasoning. It involves a direct, intimate knowing that brings with it awareness of a person’s deep belonging to the world” (p.76).
This sense of belonging, living within me as a deep-seated sense of communion with all that is, has been in my life both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the times when it gave me solace even during the worst times of my life; a curse of sorts as it compelled me to live against the grain of such dominant Western ideals as individualism, competition, and dominance.
Chopra. D. (2000). How to know God: The soul’s journey into the mystery of mysteries. NY: Harmony Books. p. 12.
Conrow Coelho, M. (2002). Awakening universe, emerging personhood. Lima, OH: Wyndham Hall.