Understanding personal mystical experience – Part 1

This post is in support of Understanding personal mystical experience Part 1 on our podcast. In the session I put forward a model of such experience. This covers a broad range of experiences that share similarities, allowing for an explanatory model.

In seeking to understand the experience we recognise a distinction between the way in which people experience the presence and activity of spiritual beings. There is an interplay between our consciousness and unconsciousness on one side. Here the individual is fully present and participating whether in a waking dream or sleeping vision. John Klimo speaks of this as open channelling. On the other end of the extreme, the individual is completely checked out and some-one/-thing else is in the driving seat of their body. Klimo speaks of this as closed channelling. In the first diagram we model two poles: the conscious and unconscious and, being present and being replaced.

Diagram 1: Open and closed channelling

Here we model the interplay between the experience as conscious and unconscious. Yet this includes intermediary spiritual beings who self-identify and lay claim to representing Godde and to a spiritual being self-identify as Godde .

Diagram 2: Self-revealing spiritual beings and un-/consciousness

References:

Klimo, J. 1998. Channeling: Investigations on receiving information from paranormal sources. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California.

The problem of God

This post goes together with S01E05 The problem of God at urbanmystic.podbean.com.

One of the key conversations we regularly share is that of the problem of God. This is not as classically conceived as the problem of God’s power, goodness, and the reality of evil. It is instead conceived as a problem of experiénce, as confirmed and validated only in and through experience as the pursuit of relational engagement with God. Here the notion of experiénce includes experimentation and relational engagement.

Here we begin with the recognition that our urban environment, which includes our religion and spirituality, is not about the experience of God. Yet it is within our urban desert, which serves as a rich environment for experiencing God, that we need to pursue and engage God. But how do we go about doing that? This is problematic as people are raised to believe on a God by faith and yet faith is not tied to experience while being strongly disconnected therefrom. And so, as many religions and their claims about God, we are not able to solve the problem through classical arguments as though there is somehow a proof for God in the historical roots and institutionalized traditions of religions. The religions make the problem of God a tremendously diverse and complex issue resulting in the-idea-of God as varied, nuanced, and not easily answered. The problem of God is not something we can meaningful solve apart from God’s availability in Person. How then do we understand the experience of God? In Part 1 we explore this as a broader phenomenon present in primal religions, contemporary spiritualism, and the three great monotheisms or Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

A common phenomenon

Exploring the Transcendent: our inner state-place

In the second episode of our podcast (link) we introduced the notion of the horizon coupled with the Transcendent. Anyone and everyone who has delved into ‘religious, spiritual and mystical experience‘ and ‘experience deemed religious, spiritual and mystical‘ (the difference is not just semantics but technically complex) understands that these are entirely natural experiences taking place within people in relation to the Transcendent. Here the horizon can be recognized as simultaneously enfolding everyone and everything in the outer world while also intersecting within the inner world of each and every individual and therewith every-one throughout past, present and future. The horizon encompasses space-time and intersects every-one, every-where and every-when.

Our podcast and the focus of this blog

A few weeks ago we published our first podcast (link) followed quickly by our second (third) and now our third (link). The first two had me flying solo to introduce Urban Mystic and the Transcendent. The third included a guest, Steve Carter, and we picked a conversation up from those first two podcasts. Turns out there’s a world of difference between blogging, podcasting and vlogging. I’ve not hit a natural flow when writing on the blog. This is largely because I’m not a natural writer. I believe the podcast is more of natural medium for exploring the key conversations I’m interested in. Moving forward I will invest more time in the podcast and publish there regularly. This blog will continue with occasional posts supporting what’s published there.

Living in the village

I met with one of the world’s forerunners concerning mysticism last week. Krüger is the author of Along Edges, Sounding Unsound, Metatheism, and Signposts to Silence. They’re seriously good books and I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are also incredibly challenging, so consider yourself forewarned.

While speaking to Krüger, he dropped a number of gems. One of them relates to the usual tension between (1) trying to establish something (like plant a church) and (2) withdrawing to live as a hermit (like the hermits and ascetics). Yet there is another option that isn’t often explored, which is that of (3) living in the village.

My muse has arrived!

Captured from Muse’s YouTube video

I nabbed the screenshot above from the Muse video on YouTube. I haven’t been this excited about a new toy on a long time and friends have gifted me a Muse 2 for my birthday. I’m so excited! The Muse headband is a tech device designed to assist with meditation which covers real time EEG (Original Muse) and the updated version (Muse 2) provides real time feedback from multiple sensors including EEG, Movement, Breathe and Heartbeat.

Think of the Muse as a fitness device that’s an informative companion assisting you in your practice and training. But where a fitness device gathers data and informs you about your physical fitness training, such as calories burned and routes travelled, this is a device dedicated to mental training. The device has been designed to assist you in developing your mental focus, commonly referred to as meditation. People practice meditation for different reasons but the most common is perhaps to develop your mental focus and attentional awareness of the inner working of your own body or interoception. This is accomplished by focusing the minds attention on the breathe or heartbeat and then bringing the wandering mind back to that focus whenever it goes wandering off. I know it sounds simple but in our overstimulated world this is not easy!

There are enormous benefits to getting ‘fitter’ at mental focus and self awareness. (There is a great blog post by Muse explaining interoception.) And both the real time feedback during meditation and the data recorded by the Muse really helps with this.

Continue reading “My muse has arrived!”

Christianity sells well

This has been a tough week with tensions high between an art student critiquing Christianity as a commercialized religion and those accusing the poor lad of Satanism. Somewhere in between sanity was lost and atheists gained another self-professed atheist. (Well done Team A! And what the f*ck Team C?) But before we accept the term atheist with a capital “A” let’s see where the lad is in ten-years or twenty-years or forty-years time. I suspect there’s going to be an interesting journey where the question of God is settled with utter certainty only to return repeatedly and for the critique to burn ever deeper in their heart and mind. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds! But the ‘subject’ of the artwork was Christianity and its commercialization. So let’s get back to that for one more post here.

One of the movements that released a clear statement is the Vineyard Movement in South Africa. And after releasing their statement, I responded as follows:

It is, however, “the ‘subject’ of the artwork that demands our objective and discerning critique” and not the artwork or student.

Tim Victor

Continue reading “Christianity sells well”

From selfie-culture to our authentic self

I was watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon. It is a period piece set in the 1958 in New York City and tells the story of a Jewish and female comedian starting out quite by accident and with talent. There’s so much detail in the story that makes it incredible as a feminist story without being feminazi – something so appreciated. So there’s a lot they’re saying with the story they are telling and ton more they’re implying. Overall its remarkable storytelling and insightful social critique. Well done to the writers and actors/actresses!

There’s a subtle scene repeated in Season 1 between Mrs. Maisel and her mother. In one scene, Mrs. Maisel goes to bed with her husband and after he falls asleep gets up to take her makeup off and then “dress” herself for bed. Then before he wakes up she wakes up to go and do her hair and makeup to hop into bed and pretend that she’s been asleep and wakes up as she’s made herself up quite naturally and effortlessly. This scene is repeatedly similarly with Mrs. Maisel’s mother and she has a conversation around this with her husband toward the end of the series.

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On satanism …

Yup, not for the faint of heart 😉

There’s been a recent hoo-ha around an art exhibition. A parent posted this video and a local pastor and colleague of mine protested and asked for email responses to the school. So, here’s a blog post. Be warned that it requires some adult-ing in reading and response. So here it is 16-SNVLM. Proceed with you ‘big boy panties’ on.

Recently a matric art pupil in SA exhibited their artwork as part of their practical. The material is, no doubt, of a sensitive nature to those religious. This is partly due to the presentation of God and Jesus as clowns and demonic imagery. The symbolism is clearly evocative and loaded.

The response of Christians is, however, problematic in considering the artwork somehow magical evidencing the continued superstitious thinking of Christians. Wow a teenager as demonologist and the most powerful of all, capable of summoning the big bad wolf itself and of bringing down a school superstitiously dedicated to God. Ok, so fix it. Find and sprinkle some holy water, chant some Latin, I believe Catholic is best, and put up an artwork whether Catholic with Jesus on a cross or Protestant without. Done. Sorted. Back to normal. Christian spells are powerful stuff. So counter artwork with artwork and everything should be fine. But no, here, somehow, the student is capable of enabling a real Satan to somehow curse or inhabit the school and being it to ruin. Powerful fiction indeed. It’s as though Faust has not been read for the absurdity of believing in can exercise such control over essentially unruly cretins with artwork, albeit of an earlier historical kind.

Continue reading “On satanism …”