Your enthusiasm makes me want to read it more closely. The general reaction of reviewers and bloggers is to dismiss it as a product of its time. Perhaps a re-evaluation of EU is called for.
Quite the strawman argument. As one who has been through all the stages, her posit has merit, and in my experience, is quite valid.
Good to have an active conversation going. Thanks for participating, gents.
BR was aware of EU and didn't much care for her. She mentions her sarcastically in some of her writings, and surely did so in a lecture I heard years ago. Not that that has implications for the quality of EU's work, however. Vintage BR.
Les, having read what EU actually meant by "Awakening of the Self," I think she means much more than what I mean to be describing as non-reflecting consciousness. There is an awakening to transcendence as well, and it seems that's where she places the focus. As a conversion experience, it's often about awakening to awareness of God. I think she mentions "Self" only in the context of her psychological emphasis. I wouldn't equate this by any means with Eastern notions of enlightenment or samadhi.
It seems EU validates your experience, which is fine. There are many ways of charting the journey, and, fwiw, she's drawing from very traditional Christian sources, including St. Teresa of Avila and the desert experience.
I've created a free-pass coupon (for 20 admits) to a course on "Spiritual Development" presented at our retreat center as part of our spiritual director training program.
(use coupon SPDB is asked for a coupon name)
At this time in Christian history, a wide variety of approaches are used to describe spiritual development. Class #4 would pertain to the traditional Purgative, Illuminative, Unitive stages, in the light of modern psychology. There are various teachers, but I probably do at least half. Each presentation has the audio and handouts. Enjoy!
Hi, Les, I am affirming my interest in her writings. That was tongue in cheek, not a strawman argument!
LOL...my apologies. Knee jerk reaction.
Phil, I've given that some thought. I think there is a separation between NRC and Samadhi. When I first became 'aware' it was during meditation and there appeared the emergence of the 'observer'. When I then experienced Samadhi, it was an absolute, immediate, and total. I spend most of my time in NRC these days, but have to fully 'intend' to move into Samadhi, typically requiring a deeper slide into meditation first.
It's not that I (or for that matter EU since she also experienced Illumination) am looking for validation, rather it's an attempt to find a belief system that encompasses the totality of the experience. Besides my immersion in fundamental Christianity up through age 32, I've immersed myself in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and even read whole works by Jane Roberts, William James, Don Juan, etc. in the search. None of them by themselves fully encompasses the experience. Yet, the one that comes closest depending on the interpretation, is Christianity, especially when reading Jesus words from the perspective of Illumination.
FWIW, I read somewhere that one of those closest to EU felt she struggled with the Mortification (Judgement) stage, and he wasn't sure if she'd ever reached the Unification stage. I haven't read any of her later works so I can't really offer an opinion on it.
Awesome! I'll give it a go Thanks!
Les, I understand. It sounds like your experience with Christianity was largely from the Fundamentalist perspective, which has little appreciation for the vast body of traditional writings on mystical Christianity that have come down through the ages. EU is sharing her own understanding of that tradition, attempting to give it psychological expression.
I've been doing spiritual direction with people for over 30 years and can share that every one's journey is unique. Spiritual growth stages give us a general idea of how the journey unfolds, but that's about all. There is really no such thing as a "unitive stage," or anything like that. There's only growth into deeper surrender and belonging to God. Human nature being what it is, people too quickly attach to a stage label and then it becomes part of self-image, an identification that defines them and out of which they project themselves -- just another ruse of the false self. It's something to watch out for.
Yes. I agree. When something is that deeply ingrained from childhood, it serves as a backdrop against which all other beliefs are ultimately reflected.
Very well stated. In my case at least, they just serve as signposts to help address the "What the heck?!" moments... whether they be the Celestial Sounds in the head, Samadhi's, or any other mystical experience. In the end, you're right though...they all just lead to a deeper surrender to, and appreciation of, God.
Les, Phil: That is what I am thinking, too. The astonishing thing when one compares the lives of the contemplatives is not the degree of their similarities but the breadth of their differences. That being said, I am enjoying EU's book. I read through Part Two Chapter II The Awakening of the Self, and I have started Part Two Chapter III The Purification of the Self. Even if you think her overarching theory is never going to apply to everyone, there's still a lot of condensed wisdom in her writing.
Hey folks... I'm offering a link to my own journey. I've edited it until I'm blue in the face in the effort to keep it somewhat concise. It's still a work in progress, but this is the final draft, short one final read/edit before I publish it, _if_ I publish it, though Spirit is pushing me to do so. There are aspects that may not agree with your own experiences, but for the most part I've tried to limit it to what I was given in the huge knowledge dump that resulted from the Enlightenment experience.
Thank you very much! I enjoyed reading about your journey. I also see layers of meaning (inner and outer) in the apocalyptic teachings.
Thanks, Les. Things have gotten very busy with the retreat center lately, but I will download and review your work sometime soon. Congratulations on completing it.
Re. "aspects that may not agree with your own experiences" -- your experience is your experience. Nothing to argue about there. It's the interpretation of experience that opens the door to agreement/disagreement.
Hi Phil... I went through the handouts and am impressed by the depth and diversity of the material. Not something we were ever presented with in the Church of Christ, or any other denomination I was involved with over the years. I'm looking forward to listening to the lectures when time abides.
Thanks Derek. Hopefully it's concise enough, but not too much so. A lot of the experiences were stripped... too personal, painful, and protects the names of the innocent <wg>
The information/knowledge transfer that occurs with Immersion is... well... significant. I'm still working through a few bits, but the energy challenges can be interesting when making changes even at this late date.
I thought I'd tell you my story in a nut shell: Our only child, despite rounds of chemotherapy over 4 years, was ultimately incurable, and she died of cancer at age 11, at home, literally in our arms. An "opening" occurred the same day she died at home:I was meditating with eyes closed, when a gold ring appeared to form in the visual field, over a couple minutes, first at 11 oclock and then coalescing into a gold ring with dark blue/purple center. (This is now a daily occurrence.)
My interpretation was that this was what is referred in the literature as a post-traumatic kundalini opening (could just as well be called a broken heart), now in retrospect though I didn't have any explanation at the time. Later, my wife and I signed up for a weeklong Buddhist Insight meditation retreat, to work on our grief and find courage and to face this better. On the fifth day, at 3AM, I was awakened suddenly from sleep, by a buzzing vibration in the pelvic area, and this buzzing slowly move up to chest level over and over for several hours. Later that day, during a meditation sitting, my heart began skipping and the heart rate rose to 150 beats per minute every other a skipped beat, continuing for an hour. I thought death was imminent but there was an absence of fear. A stress echocardiogram and other medical testing later on when back home, showed my heart to be healthy and athletic.
17 yrs later, the current of joyful energy has continued daily. As a family doctor, its notable that service to others causes the greatest ecstasy to occur during meditations.
On a monthlong retreat a years ago, I was meditating, and there was a "brief gap" just a fraction of a second, with no observer. Stream entry. There was a knowledge that self was an illusion. Grief followed this cruel realization that self was an illusion of brain chemistry.
Nowadays, I recite the Lord's prayer during 40 minute sittings, and this causes the pervasive, overpowering flow of kundalini current from toes on up to top of the head. Actually, this current is present in background form, all the time. It is a palpable physical joy and it is grace.
I was raised a Catholic, sent to Catholic parochial elementary and high school, by devout Catholic parents, even though the cost was a considerable financial hardship.This message has been edited. Last edited by: JohnL,
Hi, John, That is a powerful journey. Thanks for sharing it with us. I'm no expert on kundalini, but I wonder if it might be what St. John of the Cross calls "infused contemplation." Does any of this fit for you?
This dark night is an inflowing of God into the soul, which purges it from its ignorances and imperfections, habitual natural and spiritual, and which is called by contemplatives infused contemplation, or mystical theology. Herein God secretly teaches the soul and instructs it in perfection of love without its doing anything, or understanding of what manner is this infused contemplation. Inasmuch as it is the loving wisdom of God, God produces striking effects in the soul for, by purging and illumining it, He prepares it for the union of love with God. Wherefore the same loving wisdom that purges the blessed spirits and enlightens them is that which here purges the soul and illumines it.
Hi Derek, Thanks. Yes, that fits. J
I guess it fits. Not sure. Any other comments? I'm just throwing this out there.
Thanks for sharing your experience, John. So sorry to hear of the death of your young daughter. That must have indeed been heartbreaking.
Are you seeing a spiritual director? It might be helpful to have this kind of regular listening presence to help discern what's going on.
The golden ring and blue/purple center is what I called a "shimmering mandala" in my book -- definitely associated with kundalini. Kundalini and contemplation are sometimes connected, but not always. You'd know if they were as contemplation is prayer and there's a sense of God about it. Not always so with kundalini.
Re. that "no observer" experience: I wouldn't be too concerned. People have lapses all the time, not to mention experiences of deep sleep, when we are not awake as an observer. This "knowing" that a "brief gap" had occurred, however -- to what do you attribute that?
Yes I have a spiritual advisor. Sounds like you're worried. I was summarizing some life events that are spread over many years. This is not the early confusing phase, not by a long shot.
What you refer to as a "shimmering mandala" is what I have described all right. Your interpretation sounds like a personal idea. It is more commonly referred to as Third Eye, the portal through which I pray and surrender to God, and God bestows His grace as far as I can tell. Furthermore, the literature indicates that this is the portal through which we exit the physical body, at the time of death, hopefully.
As to the experience of a "brief gap" this is a phenomenon well documented in the Samatha Buddhist literature and tradition, as "one single mind moment that occurs, an experience without an experiencer." It is only in retrospect on exit, that it becomes a perception that this occurred without any willing it to, where there is utterly nothing, that very suddenly the knowledge into the illusion of self, so to speak, trying to express the ineffable. It is a very unique perception that is stream entry. I shouldn't be discussing any of this due to the dangers of creating identity ego concept around this fact.
Hi John. Yes, I relate the "shimmering mandala" to third eye consciousness as well. And I understand what you say about "an experience without an experiencer" and have come upon this in my life as well, though I cannot say that this transcended (for me) self-as-witness or observer. I do not know what that could be except some kind of unconscious state. Whatever one might mean by "the illusion of self," I cannot, because of my Christian faith, take it to imply anything about human individual personhood. I say this because I take the resurrection of Jesus to be the definitive revelation of God's intent for humans, and we find, in the risen Christ, one who still possesses everything that signifies individuality -- body, name, locus of relationship, personal memories, and more. That's the "good news" which counters the saddening, implicit nihilism of a metaphysics of no-self. Who/what we really are as an individual person lives on in Christ, as part of the communion of saints. None of this is affirmed by writers like BR, nor in some Eastern religious groups. Of course, by "individual person," I am not meaning to suggest anything like a conventional, mental-conceptual Ego structure, which is indeed transitional.
Thanks for your observations.
I'll need to think over the apparent contradictions you have pointed out.
JThis message has been edited. Last edited by: JohnL,
John, the response above is different from the one I got via email notification. It sounds like some of my posts might have been received as some kind of criticism, which was not the intent.
I understand the human soul to be:
- spiritual (rational, free)
- oriented to give life to a human body, in which context it develops its potential and powers
- metaphysically deficient without a body
- open to God
- open to the cosmos, including other human beings
With this in mind, one can affirm a variety of experiences, including some that emphasize the soul's openness to the cosmos and the sense of oneness of all things. The difficult thing, it seems, is how to affirm the goodness of all these potentialities without suppressing one or more to emphasize others. I've come to appreciate how Christianity does this, and how the resurrection of Jesus completely fulfills all of these potentialities, even to the restoration of embodiment in resurrection.
Sometimes I just like to wax on about these matters as I find them exciting!
This varies with individuals and tends to be worse for those who incur a crisis K awakening, or who rush the awakening (e.g.-me) prematurely. It's caused by a rapid expansion of the energy in the Vasovagal nerve, which as a doctor you already know weaves throughout the upper body. I ended up with all the symptoms of Vasoval 'Attacks', the heart issues perhaps being on the lesser end. After several weeks of tests, they prescribed an off use med that supposedly has a 60% effective rate (Paxil). I wasn't thrilled with going on a med, but it allowed me to function. I've cycled off it a half-dozen times since '97, but the symptoms return at around 1/2 the dose, no matter how long I take to titrate (last attempt was over 15mo). Maybe next time.
Thanks for sharing...
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