Dream sleep — How to understand it?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

dreamPeople have random eye movements under closed eyelids (REM) from time to time when they are asleep and if wakened at these times they report  dreaming. In this way sleep researchers found that most people dream for about a fifth of their sleeping time. A person of age seventy-five will not only have  slept twenty-five years, but will have spent five years dreaming! We need this  for, if deprived of REM sleep for a while, we become disturbed and even psychotic. Although occasionally there is speech in dreams, it is mostly composed of dramatic visual representations. There are no proven scientific theories to explain the experience. So why is it important? How can we understand it?

Why your dream is not easy to understand

Clinical psychologist Wilson Van Dusen, wrote that dreams tend to deal with a wide range of present-life concerns of the person. The precise meaning of any one  however is unclear, even though it makes use of people, situations and objects familiar to the sleeper.

Because of familiarity with the content, it isn’t immediately apparent that the dream uses things and people in a symbolic manner. In this way whilst getting an inkling of what is going on — we are protected from a blunt expression of those inner concerns and desires we would rather keep from daytime awareness.

Dreaming is thus a personal process that need to be understood in a personal way. And so a book offering a general meaning of dream symbols is probably not valid.

If you haven’t worked with your own dreams, they can easily seem to be a mishmash of elements into which one could read almost anything.

How to understand a dream

  • When you next wake up after the dream, jot down a phrase or two about it in order to jog your memory later.
  • The next day try to get back into the dream, reliving it. Slowly tell the dream to yourself. What were you feeling at different points. Ask yourself, ‘What did it feel like when …. ?’ ‘How is that like my life?’
  • Pretend to be a person you dreamed of, and tell the dream story from this perspective. You may get clues as to what the individual figure represents in you.
  • Assume everything in the dream is you. Your most conscious day-time  feelings and thoughts are shown by you in the dream. Less conscious aspects are represented by others eg one’s future potential, choice points, what is hoped for. See what you associate with each person, place or thing in the dream.
  • Summarise the dream and listen to the summary for its meaning.
  • Reflect a little on the rest of the dream’s connections during the day and you may find the remaining meanings.
  • The only valid interpretation of a dream is that which you, the dreamer, give to it.

Revelatory nature of dreams

In using images in a symbolic way it is as if the dream is allowing you, the dreamer, to remain in freedom to listen or ignore its message. If your dream simply said you boast too much or waste too much money, it would not only would be a distressing insult but one you could not fail to see. Instead it offers an intriguing drama you can try to remember and work out only if you wish.

Carl Gustav Jung suggested that dreams come from a level more objective than one’s subjective point of view. Dream images are not from the dreamer’s usual subjective sphere of thought and language. It is as if what the dream is saying goes beyond our daytime conscious understanding to reveal something true about the inner quality of our life. It possesses a higher wisdom and knowledge about all our memories, hopes and fears.

The reality of our inner mind

In his books The Natural Depth In Man and The Presence Of Other Worlds, Van Dusen gives a clear picture of the hidden reality of our inner world. His understanding not only comes from his own experience as a psychotherapist working with his patients dreams but also his study of Eastern and Western philosophy, particularly the extraordinary insights and often frightening experiences of Emanuel Swedenborg. Van Dusen concludes that in a wide range of states of consciousness (including that of dreaming) an inner world is revealed as precisely Swedenborg describes.

This is a hidden realm of spirit which will become fully conscious to us all following our bodily death: a spiritual world which permeates all our human minds, whilst we still live on earth, with inflow of high and low desires, pure and corrupt thoughts, as well as beneficial and harmful impulses; an influx of good and bad influences that are perfectly balanced to preserve our inner human freedom.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on18th December 2012CategoriesConsciousness, Spirit awarenessTags, , , , , , , , ,, , , , Leave a comment

Guardian angel – Do I have one?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

guardian angelIt would be nice to believe there is someone like a guardian angel watching over you protecting  against harm. But the sceptic will soon say this is just wishful thinking. Fairy godmothers are for children’s fairy tales like Cinderella and not for educated adults.

Warnings claimed to come from a guardian angel

On the other hand it is claimed there is support for the notion of guardian angels in the experiences of individuals.  There are those who claim their lives have been protected by what they say is the intervention of a dead loved one.

Warnings have been sensed that turn out to have prevented such things as house fires, industrial injuries, undiagnosed health problems, motor vehicle accidents, and harm from criminals.

Two cases involving a guardian angel?

For example Catherine was asleep at her home in New Brunswick when she heard someone call her name. It was her great grand-mother who had been dead for almost a quarter of a century. Catherine woke up and looked out of the window where she could see the barn was on fire. As this was adjoined to her home, by the time she and her sons had got out of the house that too was up in flames.

Jan’s example of a guardian angel

Another example is that of Jan who lives in Arizona. Her son had become very ill and she had him under the doctor’s care. In the middle of the night she suddenly found her husband Ronny standing at the foot of the bed.

She was told “Take Wally to a dentist or he will die”. She surmised Ronny must have communicated via telepathy for he had lost his life eight years previously in a car crash. The next day the dentist examined her son and said he had a systemic infection because some of his teeth had been injured in an accident. The boy recovered with the proper treatment.

History of the concept of guardian angel

Of course none of this proves we are being watched over from a hidden realm. Perhaps it was simply the individual’s subconscious awareness at work. But the more stories you hear the less sceptical you feel.

The belief that God sends a spirit to watch every individual was common in Ancient Greece and was alluded to by Plato in Phaedo.

And the Bible reflects the belief that angels can be guardians for people:

“He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11)

There seems to be a bit of an angel craze going on these days and the idea of an angel might put you off; especially if you understandably reject a mythical notion of angels as androgynous beings with wings.

Swedenborg’s perspective on the concept of a guardian angel

Emanuel Swedenborg provides an alternative description of angels: they are said to have no wings but are in a human male or female form. We are told that all angels are now spirits in a heavenly realm — walking, talking, reading, writing, and holding down jobs — although they were all were once born and died in our material plane of life.

And he says one of these jobs can consist of being with a person; exercising constant vigilance to protect your spiritual welfare and leading you towards a higher happiness if you wish to follow.

Furthermore Swedenborg says they do not impose themselves on you but help you gently not going against your will and principles. According to this view they act as a representative of the heavenly state of life stirring up your feelings of kindness to others and your interest in searching for the truth as well as illuminating your insights.

In other words the claim is they are your guardian angels in so far as they protect you from what is bad and false coming from harmful spirits.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on16th February 2012CategoriesConsciousness, Spirit awarenessTags,, , , , ,, , , , , ,, , Leave a comment

Evidence of life after death – Is there any?

We have all heard about so-called communications purportedly from a spirit world through mediums. However, less well known are those where no medium is involved. These have been called ‘after death communications’ (ADCs) and might  be seen as evidence of life after death. An ADC is defined as a spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a deceased family member or friend.

Is Marian’s ADC evidence of life after death?

For example Marian aged 71 years who lives in Florida was in bed reading one evening. Her father had been dead for 33 years but she suddenly  heard his voice urgently telling her to get out of the bed. She walked into the  family room and sat down for 3 minutes wondering. She then felt the whole house shuddering with things rattling in cupboards and falling off shelves. Going outside she saw why. A heavy branch from her neighbour’s tree had fallen on her  roof; a totally unexpected event as it had been a windless night.  In her bedroom she discovered three enormous holes in the ceiling and her bed covered with lumber, plaster, and debris.

Are such reports about what dead loved ones say, just the wish fulfilling fantasies and dreams of grieving people as most professional social care and health workers say, or are they genuine communication from the  dead and thus evidence of life after death? It is difficult to argue that Marian was grieving for her late father,  given the length of time since her bereavement.

The Guggenheim’s evidence of life after death

evidence of life after death
Judy Guggenheim

According to research by Bill and Judy Guggenheim, ADCs happen surprisingly often and many first-hand accounts are reported in their book Hello from Heaven.

They point out that, since many religions specifically warn against summoning ‘spirits’, all experiences that involved seances, Ouija boards, crystal balls etc., were excluded from  their study. They advertised for first-hand accounts of after death communications and spoke with 2,000 people in North America filling more than 10,000 pages of interview transcripts.

Perhaps it is only in reading these that one can make an informed judgment about their credibility as evidence of life after death. Confidence about this is increased when the receiver is not in a state of grief and when unknown information is received.

Is Millinda’s ADC evidence of life after death?

Another example is that of Millinda. She and Tom grew up together as next-door neighbours. She lost contact with him after she moved to  Texas. Ten years later she woke up one night and saw him standing at the bottom of her bed in a Navy uniform. She had thought he was intending to become a Catholic priest. He said, “Good-bye, Melinda, I’m leaving now.” And he disappeared. After three days she received a letter from her mother saying Tom had been killed in action serving as a chaplain in the Navy. More evidence of life after death?

Are Swedenborg’s ADCs evidence of life after death?

Most people who have an ADC do so only once. However Emanuel Swedenborg was someone who reported having many ADCs from the spirits of dead people. These were not loved ones for whom he had had any sense of loss or grief.

According to his testimony, he did occasionally experience the after-life in a dream or vision, but nearly always it was in a state of full wakefulness so that he could retain his full freedom and exercise his human judgment. He wrote up these extraordinary experiences in meticulous detail and included reports of these in his theological and philosophical books.

The reason people today who experience an ADC is often specific – to warn them of some danger, to prepare them for the shock of a sudden bereavement, to provide them with needed help, and to reassure them about the well-being of a love one who has died. However in the case of Swedenborg the purpose was to provide a comprehensive description of the after-life.

He describes what he calls ‘the spiritual world’ as similar to the life with which we are familiar. He says, however, it does not follow physical laws but rather reflects human feeling and thought.

For all that, it is just as real as our world and in fact he emphasises the solidity of what is seen there and the individual spirit body of each inhabitant.

“After death, we enjoy every sense, memory, thought, and affection we had in the world: we leave nothing behind  except our earthly body. Repeated experience has witnessed to me that when we move from the natural world into the spiritual, which happens when we die, we take with us everything that pertains to our character except our earthly body. In fact, when we enter the spiritual world or our life after death, we are in a body as we were in this world. There seems to be no difference, since we do not feel or see any difference. This body is spiritual, though, so it has been separated or purified from earthly matter. Further, when anything spiritual touches and sees something spiritual, it is just like something natural touching and seeing something natural. So when we have become a spirit, we have no sense that we are not in the body we inhabited in the world, and therefore do not realize that we have died.” (Swedenborg Heaven and Hell section 461)

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on3rd February 2012CategoriesConsciousness, Spirit awarenessTags,, , , ,, , , , ,, , , , , , Leave a comment

Will we meet in heaven – my partner and I?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Poets sometimes voice a feeling that even death cannot break the bonds of love. That even after their demise a  loving couple meet in heaven.

meet in heaven
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! And, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Sonnets from the Portugese XLIII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

But does love really transcend bodily death and do you and your loved one ever meet in heaven or in another form of afterlife for that matter?

We do meet in heaven according to Leslie Flint

The psychic Leslie Flint held seances in which voices could be heard speaking. A recording includes an account by a man named George Wilmot purportedly from beyond the grave. According to this communication, we do meet in heaven again. This man awoke in an afterlife and said he met there a young woman he  was sweet on during the war in France before she died together with her family.

Through Flint’s mediumship Queen Victoria was also heard speaking. Of Albert, she said
“We are still very, very concerned and interested in all the things that transpire in your world.”

Flint was involved in thousands of experiences in which people spoke to deceased loved ones and the deceased responded in normal conversations. Their voices did not come through the medium’s mouth or from any one else present. Flint was tested hundreds of times using all manner of controls and never once was found to have produced the voices or had any collaborator produce the voices.

For example he was bound to a chair, his mouth sealed with tape. In other experiments he wore a throat microphone to detect possible vibrations in his vocal organs. He was observed through an infra-red viewer. At no time did sounds come from his mouth. In no tests by qualified, skeptical scientists, was anything found to be fake or deceptive.

Does the Bible say we meet in heaven again?

Christians have traditionally thought that angels and the spirits of the departed are
sexless beings — neither male nor female. They point to the words of Christ who said

“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt 22:30)

However another interpretation of this passage is that Jesus was referring to the kind of superficial impure marriages the scoffing Sadducees had in mind which are not going to be made in heaven.

Do couples do meet in heaven according to Swedenborg?

Emanuel Swedenborg lived over a century before testing of psychics started. However, he did write about his extraordinary communication with spirits in meticulous and comprehensive detail. His books report on both his own experiences of the spirit world and what spirit communicators had told him about it. He addresses the issue of whether husband and wife meet in heaven.

He reports that people after death are male or female not only as to their
psychological makeup but also as to every detail of their spirit bodies. We are told that all of what one loves and desires stays with one in the next life. This is said to be because what one deeply feels is the inner being of one’s life. And this includes one’s sexual inclination and the person one loves.

Swedenborg claims that most couples meet after death, in a `world of spirits’ before they are ready for heaven, recognize each other, associate, and live together at least for a while. So they do not meet in heaven but meet outside heaven. To the extent they are familiar to each other and have things in common, they remain together and mutually explore each other’s true feelings. They start to see more clearly to what extent they had any real affection for each other.

According to this account those, whose minds are inwardly in a state of agreement and unity, progress and stay together for all time in heaven and are said to experience a deep conviction that they had been born for each other, and have a sense of tender love and joy such as they had never known before.

However, those whose relationship is discovered to consist of an inner disharmony, then sooner or later the individual partners have a growing unease. If there is pleasure in having a partner to blame or at least to foil and outwit, this may break out into open enmity, quarrelling, and even combat.

Other partners unsuited to each other realise it is not good for them to stay living together and so separate no matter how long they have lived together in their former life.

We are told those individuals with a heavenly character who are in unhappy relationships separate and  find a new partner with whom union is possible to the point that the new pair do not wish to lead two lives but one.  They are indeed kindred spirits.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problem

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on17th January 2012CategoriesConsciousness, Spirit awarenessTags, , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Calm mind – How to find it in daily life?

calmI was on holiday in the French Vendėe looking for peace and calm. The family had caught the ferry and located the camp site. And now on a lovely day without a cloud in the sky, I shouldn’t have had a care in the world. My daughter passed by and said “Oh Dad, you look relaxed”.

Outwardly I probably did – she’s not used to seeing me lazing in shorts and tee shirt. But inwardly, I was still bothered about not finding the best shady spot away from the hot sun. I was focusing on other minor inconveniences, such as sand in the tent, the grandchildren squabbling in the background, and not immediately finding that wretched bottle opener for a refreshing bottle of beer.

I know that finding inner calm should be less difficult when you are on holiday. But how do we achieve this in ordinary life at home and at work? How does one find peace and calm in times of bother and responsibility?

Mindfulness and calm

Therapists, as well as spiritual teachers, all say to experience a state of emotional calm one must be in a receptive state and this means learning a little self-discipline. So I try to take an attitude of mindfulness: focusing my awareness on the present moment, while calmly observing my feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This discipline enables one to take an emotional step back from what is going on around oneself.

For me it also means trying to be receptive to what I believe to be an available in-flowing spirit of calm and contentment. I’ve discovered that this level of consciousness replaces thoughts that dwell on minor irritants, it raises the mind above whims that would otherwise comes flitting into the head, and it prevents falling for each sense of frustration.

Calm and the Divine-within

I happen to believe that quietening the mind to all the things of self and the world can be hard. A higher awareness is easy to miss when I am preoccupied with the things of the material side of life and self-centred cares.

I find it helpful to direct my thought to what I’ve learned to term ‘the Divine within’, and to listen carefully to its inner voice.

I’m reminded of the Old Testament story of the child Samuel who was lying down at night in the Temple. He heard a voice calling his name. The narrator tells us that the boy, not knowing God, mistakenly supposed it was Eli the priest who had spoken. Only when he was told to direct his thoughts to the Lord did Samuel respond:

“Speak, for your servant is listening”. (1 Samuel 3:3-10)

Listening to this inner voice might be said to amount to prayer. Yet, when doing so, to all appearances, one is merely in a reflective mood quietly going about one’s business. This prayerful state of mind is allowing the universal spirit of love as the ‘Divine within’ to lift one from an ego level of mind to a spiritual one.

A human picture of the Divine

Everyone has some sort of idea of God. Mine came from when I was a boy. Then, every night my mother would tuck me in, and say the Lord’s Prayer with me, before kissing me good night and turning off the light. And, as a teenager and later, I would silently rehearse those few sentences alone when going to sleep. And as a consequence feeling the peaceful presence of my idea of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was and is an impression of a very personal deity. Not just a cosmic powerhouse but an essentially humane entity. Not a punitive harsh idea of God but rather a compassionate figure – who I see as the true source of humane love. One with whom I can take my troubles and feel comfort, encouragement, and guidance.  This is a personal image of the Divine with whom one can have a relationship.

Conclusion about finding calm

Many years later I find that I do lose my way and sometimes forget to keep up the inner conversation.  But I have learned that when I re-direct my attention away from immediate concerns and focus on this Christ-within – a spirit who is present within me but at the same time coming from beyond myself – I can directly experience calm.

I would say that to really know this Divine presence is not just to possess a memory about it. Nor is it to just have some level of enlightened thought. Neither is it to simply have a strong spiritual belief. I feel to truly know the ‘Divine within’ means to base one’ life on this presence and be transformed.

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on 5th September 2016 Categories Consciousness, Latest post, Mystical experience Tags , , , , , ,

Astral Plane – Real or Imagined?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

astral planeThe astral plane is said to be another dimension of reality coexistent in space with our physical world. It is featured in the television show Charmed, in which it is described as a realm of “spirits and energies” and a place where time does not progress.

Carl Jung practised what he called ‘active imagination’ and reported that in his mind he regular met and consulted an old man called Philemon. Whether one calls this degree of consciousness a psychic, mental or astral plane, it is one where all feelings and thoughts become detectable: just as noticeable as physical objects that are visible to our natural eyes.

You might wonder if Jung was projecting his expectations or hopes onto an imagined guru figure who had no independent existence? Perhaps all so-called experiences of the astral plane consist of mistakenly attributing what is imagined in the mind to an objective reality.

On the other hand, arguably we are distracted by sensations from the day to day physical world and so do not experience the existence of any spiritual reality beyond it.

The Neanderthals 100,000 – 25,000 years ago buried their dead in graves containing food and flint implements that would then be needed. And throughout human history there has been belief in the reality of an afterlife in a non-material plane of existence.

So is the astral plane real or imagined?

Common idea of astral plane

Hindus, Buddhists, Theosophists, and Anthroposophists, amongst others, give accounts of events after death which are basically very similar. After death the soul is said to consist of the astral body – the personal consciousness – that is fully parted from the physical body. The individual then enters into a state in which one’s past life is reviewed in-depth and desires and emotions are re-experienced, the soul perhaps inflicting its own purgatory on itself. This suffering is said to bring purification after which the astral body too is allowed to dissolve away.

Astral plane and Swedenborg’s ‘World of spirits’

There is a fascinating account of the astral plane actually arising from personal experience lasting many years. Eighteenth century visionary, Emanuel Swedenborg, wrote it. He called this astral plane of life ‘the world of spirits’, a transitional level of the ‘spiritual world’. The spiritual world is said to be the inner world of mind of which we usually only have full consciousness after our bodily death.

In his book Window to Eternity, Bruce Henderson has pointed out the reasonable as well as detailed way Swedenborg wrote about the spiritual world. He says this demonstrates that this is not just one man’s fanciful imagination; it is a special vision.

Visual aspects of Astral plane

According to traditional spiritualism, after death the soul eventually wakes up in some land, a realm of consciousness created by the desires of the individual. Likewise Swedenborg reports that the surroundings he experienced in the ‘world of spirits’ reflect the thoughts and feelings of its inhabitants. Whether or not thoughts and feelings are good and rational, or bad and illusory, these inner states of heart and mind are represented by corresponding natural qualities and things. Light or dark: warm or cold: beautiful or ugly.

Afterlife process in Astral plane

Swedenborg wrote that there is nothing that a person has ever sought in him or herself or done in secret that can be concealed after death. All things and each single thing are then laid open as clear as in daylight. However he says all the secret things in one’s life are not suddenly revealed to others. Our inner character only slowly can manifest. But in this way our selfish attitudes can be eventually seen for what they are and, if we will, turned away from. In so far as we do not do so we suffer the consequences as a sort of self-inflicted punishment.

Something similar to this is taught in Tibetan Buddhism. The Bardo is a state between death and rebirth. ‘The Tibetan book of the dead‘ describes the individual being aware of a radiant colour light of pure reality. This is the chance of the self to obtain Nirvana, by abandoning ego existence and becoming one with the light. But most souls are not willing to be reunited with the light of this stage. The self then acquires a karmic body formed by the action of past thoughts and deeds and encounters all the deities that are projected by its own mind both benign and vengeful, loving and judgemental in accordance with its beliefs and conditioning whilst on Earth. Judgement and punishment follow.

This description of the afterlife process parallels that of other occult traditions where the astral body creates its own reality until the desires and emotions which drive it have been purged.” (Donald Watson)

Ruling love and the astral plane

It is widely thought that the astral body gravitates to a level appropriate to its make up on the astral plane. This is probably the reason that some religions insist that right emotions are more important that actions or beliefs. Similarly, Swedenborg would say that the crucial thing is one’s intentions. However, he fastens on the general intention that rules our heart.

According to this idea underlying all the various interests, desires, goals we have is one pervasive and prevailing love, the love that rules you. It develops through many personal choices made in life. It is what turns up when we reflect on the things that please us most.

“It is not necessarily what comes into your mind… that reveals your true character, but what you do with those thoughts or would like to do if you could.” (Bruce Henderson)

In Swedenborg’s ‘world of spirits’ your ruling love points you in one direction or its opposite. Let’s consider those souls orientated towards a higher plane of spiritual consciousness because they are ruled by good intentions. He claims that right thinking replaces their illusions. Those, however, with an opposite orientation, ruled by selfishness, according to Swedenborg, find what insights they have will be replaced by illusions. As this process takes place he says the person gravitates to the community of like-minded souls.

In other words, we surround ourselves with thought forms in keeping with our astral states: and our desires and emotional attachments rule our existence on the astral plane after death. I would suggest that in this way we form our own heaven or hell.

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author Heart, Head & Hands

 

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

 Posted on 21st June 2016 22nd June 2016Categories Consciousness, Mystical experienceTags , , ,  Leave a comment

Mystics – Can we learn from them?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

I do often find the books written by mystics as mystifying! And so put them down quick; and I don’t think I’m the only one.  For mysticism is often viewed as confused, irrational thinking.

Tantilising insights amidst the paradox

Sometimes I feel mystics intentionally obscure the meaning of something to make it more difficult to grasp and that’s when I long for the clear albeit doctrinaire statements of orthodox religion or for that matter the dogmas of materialistic science. At least they do not so obviously contain contradiction and paradox. Yet occasionally I do get glimpses of something in the writing of mystics that I can only describe as giving me sudden deep moments of intuition.

mystics
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Telihard de Chardin – one of the mystics

Still keen to get a handle on the mystics, I recently started reading Hymn of the Universe by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin whose words are said to be part of the treasury of mystical literature.

I sensed here a heavenly perception of the warmth and light of the creative Spirit

“Over there, on the horizon, the sun has
just touched with light, the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again,  beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and  trembles”

A love and respect for so many people trying to fulfill what he calls the creative Energy.

“The whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them … who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.”

I felt a universal humanity with all its separate parts working together complementing each other to bring about heaven on earth.

As well as those “despite their error”, “confused or orderly”. “All of them, Lord, I will try to gather into my arms”

Is this not a love for his fellow man whom he asks God to “receive” and with whom he asks “Lord make us one”?

Mystics have more in common despite varying religious backgrounds

Mystics come from different religious backgrounds and there are mystic traditions which form sub-currents such as Kabbalah within Judaism, Sufism within Islam, Vedanta within Hinduism, and Christian mysticism within Christianity.

A scientist can also be one of the mystics

Teilhard de Chardin comes from a Roman Catholic background and demonstrates the basic Christian attitude that of ourselves we are lifeless but that we can be in-filled with the divine Life if we turn to it.

As for us creatures, of ourselves we are but emptiness and obscurity. But you, my God, are the inmost depths, the stability of that eternal milieu, without duration or space.”

Here we have the characteristic of mystical writing – poetry disguised as prose. Little or no attempt to provide rational coherence and structure but rather we get a subjective expression of devotional emotion.

Nevertheless in other of his writing he was a leading proponent of the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal driven way rather than due to the accidents of natural selection. Trained as a paleontologist and geologist as well as a Jesuit priest, he had a reverence for the natural world and a continual awareness of the spiritual.

“Like the pagan I worship a God who can be touched; and I do indeed touch him – this God – over the whole surface and in the depths of that world of matter which confines me.”

But he adds that it is more than the emotion felt by the pagan as he lies prostrate before a tangible divinity. “Through your own incarnation, my God, all matter is henceforth incarnate.

This reminds me of the mystical idea of the whole of creation as mirroring the
Divine soul operating in the world of people. Where accepted it is shown in the
beauty of nature.  Every single thing within the natural order should be cared for because it is an image of the Divine. In each thing we see in the forest, on the mountain and in the sea, something that meaningfully represents the spiritual dimension.

Esoteric secrets or mystical insights available to all

It is difficult to find words to express and describe meaningful insights. And so
the perceptions of the mystics are often regarded as ‘hidden secrets’, or ‘esoteric knowledge’ – and for the initiated only. Yet mystics themselves often seem to think that what is out of sight can be found by every person. It is said to be there in all of us, it is just that but we may not yet be able to recognize it.

Likewise according to Emanuel Swedenborg — who also came from a Christian background, and who also had mystical experiences — no matter how well educated and intelligent you are, you need inner enlightenment from the Lord to perceive spiritual matters.

He claimed this inspiration is the illumination that the angels of heaven enjoy and comes to those who are closely linked in their hearts and minds with the spirit of love and truth. The ideas of natural thought, to do with place, time, person or material objects, cannot provide the deep insights of the mystic.

In his book Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg wrote:

At times I have entered into the state in which angels are, and in that state have talked with them, and then understood everything. But when I was brought back into my former state, and thus into the natural thought proper to man, and wished to recall what I had heard, I could not. For there were thousands of things not on a level with the ideas of natural thought, and therefore only to be expressed by variegations of heavenly light, and thus not at all by human words.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on 13th October 2011Categories Consciousness, Mystical experienceTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment