Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large.
-The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
Let me remind my readers that the term divine did not originally imply the existence of gods: on the contrary, gods were constructed to interpret man's experiences of this quality.
Zen pretty much comes down to three things: everything changes, everything is connected, pay attention
This is an almost word for word description of what you saw.
From the Wikipedia page for Buddha nature:
All in One, One in All. The All melts into a single whole. There are no divisions in the totality of reality [...] [I]t views the cosmos as holy, as "one bright pearl," the universal reality of the Buddha. The universal Buddhahood of all reality is the religious message of the Avatamsaka-sutra.[note 11]
The founder of the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism, Dōgen Zenji, held that Buddha-nature was simply the true nature of reality and Being (Busshō 佛 性). This true nature was just impermanence, becoming and 'vast emptiness'. Because he saw the whole universe as an expression of Buddha-nature, he held that even grass and trees are Buddha nature.
Therefore, the very impermanency of grass and tree, thicket and forest is the Buddha nature. The very impermanency of men and things, body and mind, is the Buddha nature. Nature and lands, mountains and rivers, are impermanent because they are the Buddha nature. Supreme and complete enlightenment, because it is impermanent, is the Buddha nature.
Nichiren Buddhism explains that insentient matter (such as trees, mandalas, images, statues) also possess the Buddha nature, because they serve as objects of worship. This view regards the Buddha nature as the original nature of all manifestations of life – sentient and insentient – through their interconnectedness:
In the words of the Awakening of Faith — which summarizes the essentials of Mahayana — self and world, mind and suchness, are integrally one. Everything is a carrier of that a priori enlightenment; all incipient enlightenment is predicated on it. The mystery of existence is, then, not, "How may we overcome alienation?" The challenge is, rather, "Why do we think we are lost in the first place?"
In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena.
-The 14th Dalai Lama
Yugen. An awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and powerful for words.
Satori (悟り?) (Chinese: 悟; pinyin: wù; Korean: 오 o; Vietnamese: ngộ) is a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, "comprehension; understanding".[web 1]It is derived from the Japanese verb satoru.
In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satorirefers to the experience of kenshō,"seeing into one's true nature". Kenmeans "seeing," shō means "nature" or "essence."
Satori and kenshō are commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to translate bodhi, prajnaand buddhahood.
.... looking into one's nature or the opening of satori"; "This acquiring of a new point of view in our dealings with life and the world is popularly called by Japanese Zen students 'satori' (wu in Chinese). It is really another name for Enlightenment ("Annuttara-samyak-sambodhi")".
Kenshō is an initial insight or awakening, not full Buddhahood. It is to be followed by further training to deepen this insight, and learn to express it in daily life
• Soothill (1934): "To behold the Buddha-nature within oneself, a common saying of the Chan (Zen) or Intuitive School."
• Fischer-Schreiber (1991): Lit. "seeing nature"; Zen expression for the experience of awakening (enlightenment). Since the meaning is "seeing one's own true nature," kenshō is usually translated "self-realization." Like all words that try to reduce the conceptually ungraspable experience of enlightenment to a concept, this one is also not entirely accurate and is even misleading, since the experience contains no duality of "seer" and "seen" because there is no "nature of self' as an object that is seen by a subject separate from it.
• Baroni (2002): "Seeing one's nature," that is, realizing one's own original Buddha Nature. Kenshō is a Japanese term commonly used for an enlightenment experience; in many cases, it is used synonymously with satori. In the Rinzai school, it most often refers more specifically to one's initial enlightenment experience attained though kôan practice.
• Muller (year unknown): To see one's own originally enlightened mind. To behold the Buddha-nature within oneself, a common saying of the Chan school, as seen for example, in the phrase 'seeing one's nature, becoming Buddha'
Kenshō may be attained without the aid of a teacher. For example Richard Clarke (1933), who studied with Philip Kapleau, states that he had a spontaneous kensho when he was 13.[web 2]Dennis Genpo Merzel states he had what he described as an "awakening experience" in 1971:[web 3]
It was in February of that year, and I was 26 years old. My second serious relationship was ending, and I was feeling very confined and conflicted. I needed to get some space, so I went out to the Mojave desert for a three-day camping weekend with two friends. On the Friday, I hiked up a mountain alone. I knew nothing about meditation or spiritual practice. I was just sitting there, thinking about my life and the things going on. I felt I had gotten pretty screwed up for such a young age.
I could see my VW camper, my home for the weekend, parked a few miles away, . But at the same time, I was aware that my home was back in Long Beach, California. And a natural koan came to me: Where is home? All of a sudden, I had a kind of breakthrough. I felt myself fall away, and I became one with the cosmos, one with the universe, one with all things. I knew in that moment that wherever I am, that is home; home is everywhere. I also knew who I was, beyond description, but let’s call it Big Mind.
That experience completely changed my life.[web 3]
More descriptions of "spontaneous kensho" can be found throughout the Zen-literature.[note 14]
The Absolute, also represented through other concepts as the Source, Fountain or Well, the Centre, the Monad or One, the All or Whole, the Origin (Arche) or Principle or Primordial Cause, the Sacred or Holy or Utterly Other (Otto), the Form of the Good (Plato), the Mystery, the Ultimate, the Ground or Urground ("Original Ground"), is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. The manifestation, creation, of the Absolute has been described as the Logos or Word or World, the Ṛta or Ratio.
It is sometimes used as an alternate term for the more commonly used God of the Universe, the Divine or the Supreme Being ("Utmost Being"), especially, but by no means exclusively, to express it in less personal and more impersonal representations. The concept of the Absolute may or may not (depending on one's specific doctrine) possess discrete will, intelligence, awareness, or a personal nature. It is sometimes conceived of as the source through which all being emanates. It contrasts with finite things, considered individually, and known collectively as the relative. This is reflected in the name's Latin etymology absolūtus which means "loosened from" or "unattached" (from a subject-object dualism).
A Shaman is a person who can access the 'above'.
Shamanism (/ˈʃɑːmən/ shah-mənor /ˈʃeɪmən/ shay-mən) is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.
Mircea Eliade writes, "A first definition of this complex phenomenon, and perhaps the least hazardous, will be: shamanism = 'technique of religious ecstasy'." Shamanism encompasses the premise that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Alleviating traumas affecting the soul/spirit restores the physical body of the individual to balance and wholeness. The shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community. Shamans may visit other worlds/dimensions to bring guidance to misguided souls and to ameliorate illnesses of the human soul caused by foreign elements. The shaman operates primarily within the spiritual world, which in turn affects the human world. The restoration of balance results in the elimination of the ailment.
Shamanic beliefs and practices have attracted the interest of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, including anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, religious studies scholars, and psychologists. Hundreds of books and academic papers on the subject have been produced, with a peer-reviewed academic journal being devoted to the study of shamanism. In the 20th century, many westerners involved in the counter-cultural movement have created modern magico-religious practices influenced by their ideas of Indigenous religions from across the world, creating what some call the Neoshamanicmovement.
Initiation and learning
Shamans are normally "called" by dreams or signs which require lengthy training. However, shamanic powers may be "inherited".
Turner and colleagues mention a phenomenon called shamanistic initiatory crisis, a rite of passage for shamans-to-be, commonly involving physical illness and/or psychological crisis. The significant role of initiatory illnesses in the calling of a shaman can be found in the detailed case history of Chuonnasuan, the last master shaman among the Tungus peoples in Northeast China.
The wounded healer is an archetype for a shamanic trail and journey. This process is important to the young shaman. S/he undergoes a type of sickness that pushes her or him to the brink of death. This happens for two reasons:
1. The shaman crosses over to the underworld. This happens so the shaman can venture to its depths to bring back vital information for the sick, and the tribe.
2. The shaman must become sick to understand sickness. When the shaman overcomes his or her own sickness s/he will hold the cure to heal all that suffer. This is the uncanny mark of the wounded healer.
In Christian theology, the beatific vision (Latin: visio beatifica) is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person. A person possessing the beatific vision reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven. The notion of vision stresses the intellectual component of salvation, though it encompasses the whole of human experience of joy, happiness coming from seeing God finally face to face and not imperfectly through faith (1 Cor 13:11–12).
Sunni Islam also has the idea of beatific vision. The Qur'an speaks of believers seeing Allah in paradise. In chapter 75, verses 22–23, it states "On that day, faces shall be radiant, gazing upon their Lord.".
There is also a Hadith of Muhammad which says the following:
Jarir bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali reported: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah when he looked at the full moon and observed, "You will see your Lord in the Hereafter as you see this moon having no difficulty in seeing it." [Al-Bukhari, chapter 10 Hadith number 529]
Shia Islam, however, is against this idea. Shiites believe that it's impossible to see God because if god can be seen then god has a form. And if god has a form then god needs the form and that can't be because god is absolute.
This is also mentioned in Quran verses 153, Surahat An-Nisa: (so indeed they demanded of Musa a greater thing than that, for they said: Show us Allah manifestly; so the lightning overtook them on account of their injustice. Then they took the calf (for a god), after clear signs had come to them, but We pardoned this; and We gave to Musa clear authority)
Someone asked Buddha "Who are you?" And he replied "I am awake"
In Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary vision of the soul and the Universe, of which saccidānanda is the principal term, even though the soul is incarnate in maya and subject to space, matter and time, it maintains an ongoing and eternal oneness with saccidānanda or divinity. This incarnating aspect or dimension of the human being, the spirit-soul, or the 'psychic being' or chaitya purusha, is the staple essence that reincarnates from life to life. This essence is of the energetic quality of saccidānanda.[web 7]
Aurobindo holds that there exists a supreme power, the 'Supermind', which is the first emanation from saccidānanda and can be brought into play through the practice of yoga to yoke life, mind and matter with sublime states of consciousness, being, delight and power and thereby manifest more of our inherent divinity
A mental breakdown
A Rationalist’s Mystical Moment
By BARBARA EHRENREICHAPRIL 5, 2014
MY atheism is hard-core, rooted in family tradition rather than adolescent rebellion. According to family legend, one of my 19th-century ancestors, a dirt-poor Irish-American woman in Montana, expressed her disgust with the church by vehemently refusing last rites when she lay dying in childbirth. From then on, we were atheists and rationalists, a stance I perpetuated by opting, initially, for a career in science.
How else to understand the world except as the interaction of tiny bits of matter and mathematically predictable forces? There were no gods or spirits, just our own minds pressing up against the unknown.
But something happened when I was 17 that shook my safely rationalist worldview and left me with a lifelong puzzle. Years later, I learned that this sort of event is usually called a mystical experience, and I can see in retrospect that the circumstances had been propitious: Thanks to a severely underfunded and poorly planned skiing trip, I was sleep-deprived and probably hypoglycemic that morning in 1959 when I stepped out alone, walked into the streets of Lone Pine, Calif., and saw the world — the mountains, the sky, the low scattered buildings — suddenly flame into life.
There were no visions, no prophetic voices or visits by totemic animals, just this blazing everywhere. Something poured into me and I poured out into it. This was not the passive beatific merger with “the All,” as promised by the Eastern mystics. It was a furious encounter with a living substance that was coming at me through all things at once, too vast and violent to hold on to, too heartbreakingly beautiful to let go of. It seemed to me that whether you start as a twig or a gorgeous tapestry, you will be recruited into the flame and made indistinguishable from the rest of the blaze. I felt ecstatic and somehow completed, but also shattered.
Of course I said nothing about this to anyone. Since I recognized no deities, and even the notion of an “altered state of consciousness” was unavailable at the time, I was left with only one explanation: I had had a mental breakdown, ultimately explainable as a matter of chemical imbalances, overloaded circuits or identifiable psychological forces. There had been some sort of brief equipment failure, that was all, and I determined to pull myself together and put it behind me, going on to finish my formal education as a cellular immunologist and become a responsible, productive citizen.
It took an inexcusably long time for me to figure out that what had happened to me was part of a widespread category of human experience. Some surveys find that nearly half of Americans report having had a mystical experience. Historically, the range of people reporting such experiences is wide — including saints, shamans and Old Testament prophets as well as acknowledged nonbelievers like Virginia Woolf and the contemporary atheist writer Sam Harris. It is of course impossible to ascertain how much these experiences have in common. We may be comparing apples and asteroids.
On the religious end of the spectrum, people have tended to describe their experiences as encounters with familiar deities or spirits, while nonbelievers — like some quoted by William James — are likely to speak of a more generic “living Presence.” Others write of something more akin to my own experience, which was wordless and profoundly unsettling. When the early 20th-century Protestant theologian Rudolf Otto surveyed the works of (mostly Christian) mystics for clues as to the nature of the “Other” they had encountered, he concluded that it was “beyond all question something quite other than the ‘good.’ ” It was more like a “consuming fire,” he wrote, and “must be gravely disturbing to those persons who will recognize nothing in the divine nature but goodness, gentleness, love and a sort of confidential intimacy.”
Of course all such experiences can be seen as symptoms of one sort or another, and that is the way psychiatry has traditionally disposed of the mystically adept: The shaman was simply the local schizophrenic, Saint Teresa of Avila a clear hysteric. The Delphic oracles may have been inhaling intoxicants; all of the great Christian mystics showed clear signs of temporal lobe epilepsy. A recent paper from Harvard Medical School proposes that the revelations experienced by Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Paul can all be attributed to “primary or mood-disorder-associated psychotic disorders.” I suspect we would have more reports of uncanny experiences from ordinary, rational people if it were not for the fear of being judged insane or at least unstable.
An alternative to the insanity explanation would be that such experiences do represent some sort of encounter. It was my scientific training, oddly enough, that eventually nudged me to consider this possibility. Sometime in middle age, when I had become a writer and amateur historian, I decided that the insanity explanation may have been a cop-out, that I could have seen something that morning in Lone Pine.
If mystical experiences represent some sort of an encounter, as they have commonly been described, is it possible to find out what they are encounters with? Science could continue to dismiss mystical experiences as mental phenomena, internal to ourselves, but the merest chance that they may represent some sort of contact or encounter justifies investigation. We need more data and more subjective accounts. But we also need a neuroscience bold enough to go beyond the observation that we are “wired” for transcendent experience; the real challenge is to figure out what happens when those wires connect. Is science ready to take on the search for the source of our most uncanny experiences?
Fortunately, science itself has been changing. It was simply overwhelmed by the empirical evidence, starting with quantum mechanics and the realization that even the most austere vacuum is a happening place, bursting with possibility and giving birth to bits of something, even if they’re only fleeting particles of matter and antimatter. Without invoking anything supernatural, we may be ready to acknowledge that we are not, after all, alone in the universe. There is no evidence for a God or gods, least of all caring ones, but our mystical experiences give us tantalizing glimpses of other forms of consciousness, which may be beings of some kind, ordinarily invisible to us and our instruments. Or it could be that the universe is itself pulsing with a kind of life, and capable of bursting into something that looks to us momentarily like the flame.
Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of “Living With a Wild God” and “Nickel and Dimed.”
A version of this op-ed appears in print on April 6, 2014, on page SR8 of the New York edition with the headline: A Rationalist’s Mystical Moment.