In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Or was it a song or a vibration perhaps? If there has been one abiding and constant thread to my life it has been a yearning for mystical experience. To see the face of god, to touch it. To witness the very essence of reality.
You do not need to be conventionally religious to have your spine tingle, to feel the hairs rising from the back of your neck when you hear those words. You certainly do not have to subscribe to dogma – Eastern or Western.
Perhaps my earliest conscious exposure to the concept was from the Magician’s Nephew. I can not count how many times I thrilled to that song in the dark, calling life and existence to a barren and empty world.
I have become tired these past few years of academic discourse, of science, of learning of any sort. Philosophy bores me, not least because of its arcane and incomprehensible jargon. As with religion, I have a strong conviction that most philosophers are stumbling blindly in the dark, however much they may believe they have discovered “Truth”.
I can not claim that I know what reality is; I can not define the ineffable, let alone prove that it exists or that it is the fount of all being.
I can only rely on my beliefs, my feelings, the strength of my conviction that behind the scenes there is some deep mystery we are missing. That behind the curtain there is a Wizard, even if he is not a conventional mage but a selection of obscure and thus far hidden laws.
Science is wonderful – there is no doubt that without it we would be living a life of abject misery. Of poverty, disease and mud huts. But so far, while science has shown something of the mechanics of matter, it has failed to get to the bottom of what matter is.
Consciousness is a prime example. Some claim it to be an emergent phenomena, arising from physics and the laws of nature. Others that it is in itself a separate law of nature – that consciousness simply “exists”. Yet others still believe in a soul or a supernatural explanation of what we are.
I can claim no expertise; I can venture no opinion.
What I can say is that while science has explained much about how this particular physical universe works, it has left unexplained more than it has revealed. So far.
Even if there is no such thing as a “supernatural”, the wonders of the natural are still so little understood that “god” may indeed yet be found in the gaps. God in the sense of the ultimate explanation, the ultimate driving force of reality.
Take the photon, electricity, the strong and weak nuclear forces. Take matter, energy. On any intuitive level has science really conveyed to us what they actually are? Where they came from? What they mean? We know a little of what they can do but as to the rest, it is shrouded in deep mystery.
What of the multiverse? Does it exist? How did it originate? Does it share the physical laws of this habitat of ours?
It has long been my contention, my belief that intelligence can move towards “god”. Can become “godlike”. Can become god. That consciousness perhaps is “god” if developed sufficiently. That we can move towards an Omega Point where all will be revealed.
Who knows, perhaps it is science which will take us there.
But is it possible to intuit what is out there, even at our rudimentary stage of development?
The mystics would have it so.
And if I have seen any hint of another realm in all these years, it has been in music. Especially Renaissance polyphony, that pure, meditative, ethereal vibration.
At times I have become so lost in music that any sense of self or body evaporates and I am left with pure consciousness. And ecstasy. A complete and utter transcendence of normal existence.
At such times I know that I am, but I have no sense of “what” I am or “where” I am. At such times I wonder whether I am the music itself or a note from it. Any sense that the music originates in physical reality disappears and I am left in pure void.
What do I make of these moments, other than to marvel at the joy?
It tells me that there may be more to consciousness than we might believe when in more prosaic states of mind. Even though as a subjective and unverifiable experience it proves nothing, except perhaps to the recipient.
A neuroscientist will be able to see bits of the brain light up during such states but this is no proof of the reality or otherwise of what is experienced by the seer.
And how does life feel in between such experiences? Different, I guess is the answer. You are left feeling that you have witnessed something deep, true and profound. It does not make you into a “good” person (or a bad one come to that) but it certainly makes you a lot more reflective and a far less amenable to to the absurdities and lures of our Darwinian and materialist society.
It brings a wry grin as you glance at the pompous lead articles in the press, of the right or the left. It makes you sigh with impatience as The Donald blows the shit out of yet another “enemy”, instead of making peace with him. It makes you vaguely amused by the foibles of the tycoons and the politicians to whom power and money is the end game.
And has it made a “believer” out of me? Have I become one of the godly, the priestly cast so anxious to tell of our sins and to explain how many angels can dance on a pinhead?
No. No to all of that. It has simply told me in clear and unambiguous terms that there is more to reality than we are customarily able to sense. It has informed me that there are unimaginable marvels to be discovered. It has helped me to decide what is of importance and what, assuredly, is not.
Your emphasis in this post reveals both the reasons for your viewpoint, and the challenges we all face in addressing these important questions. For me, the most interesting lines from John 1 are the ones that come after your quote:
“Through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
The suggestion is that a life of faith is equated with “a light arising in the darkness,” and in some ways, science has dispelled much of the darkness of ignorance and superstition from ancient epochs and provided us with a light leading to the discovery of the way the world actually works. In his book, “The Demon-Haunted Scientist: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” author Carl Sagan describes science as not simply a body of knowledge, but, more precisely, a way of thinking–critical thinking–a skeptical approach to unproven ideas, which helps people to figure out if a given premise is valid or not.
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
We may not have all the answers to the important questions you’ve asked here, but asking them, and pondering what the answers might be, is a uniquely human attribute–a significant part of our nature–and we gain much in striving for the answers, whether or not we find them while we live. Much of what has been accomplished by humanity has come as a result of building upon the efforts of previous generations, and while much of the language of philosophers from the past challenges our now commonly abbreviated modern usage, as I have tried to convey in my own writings, there are many beautifully uplifting and eloquent passages among these works, which can still inspire and elevate our discourse.
Psalms 57:8 “My heart is steadfast, Oh God; my heart is steadfast; I will sing and chant praise. Awake, Oh my soul; awake lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn.”
The psalmist here makes a bold statement that singing and music will “arouse a new day to life!” There can be no doubt but that the expression of music is singular in its ability to convincingly convey the existence of the human spirit, and your testimony in this context carries much weight. What better way to acknowledge the ineffable! Our human languages, our philosophies, and even our sciences, can only go so far. Robin Williams was once quoted as saying that “Music is God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in the universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.”
Keep making music, Anthony, and participate in the world as you can; the world needs every voice to sing in harmony.
Reblogged this on Mystical Experiences of Reality.
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You are very kind, thank you. I downgraded my WordPress Plan and Lo! The Reblog feature re-appeared.
You aptly said “At times I have become so lost in music that any sense of self or body evaporates and I am left with pure consciousness. And ecstasy. A complete and utter transcendence of normal existence.” Some Hindus call this ‘turiya’ beyond beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep.
In my ebook on comparative mysticism I wrote: “Many of us have had a brief absorption in universal unity, with no sense of separateness. Unless we were advanced in spirituality, or actively engaged on the mystical quest, the awe of oneness which had we felt was as inexplicable as it was profound. It was impossible to sustain it when we tried to understand it; sometimes it may even have been frightening. We had seemed to have lost hold of “reality.” We actually had a glimpse of true Reality, the nature of being itself.”
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Ron, thank you so much for your comment. It was only by pure chance that I discovered the wretched WordPress had labelled your entry as spam, so I have only just seen it. I downloaded your e-book a week or so ago and am thoroughly looking forward to reading it.
I am currently reading one of Sue Blackmore’s tomes which of course gives a rather bleak explanation of such things.
Have you got a blog by the way – I couldn’t find one but perhaps you very sensibly prefer to keep your thoughts mostly silent.
Perhaps I write too much and expose thoughts which might be better kept private. On the other hand, I write for myself in reality and it seems to do me a great deal of good.
“The nature of being itself.”
Yes, perfectly put. And Susan Blackmore, Daniel Dennet and all the other naysayers can say what they will but having had such experiences, it is impossible to write them off as illusions or mere bodily processes.
Thanks Anthony. You can read about my experiences at http://www.academia.edu/37336425/My_personal_introduction_to_mysticism
I’m guessing that WordPress put my comment in spam because of the link to my ebook. If so, this will go to spam too. WP isn’t perfect, although it is very good.
I do not have a blog, but I’m the only ‘Ron Krumpos’ on the Internet. Commenting on other people’s blogs is easier than writing one.
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