Have You Ever Met a Mystic?


mysticism5Please do not let the word “mystic” scare you. It simply means one who has moved from mere belief systems or belonging systems to actual inner experience. All spiritual traditions agree that such a movement is possible, desirable, and available to everyone. The experience of divine union is the goal of all religion.  ~Richard Rohr, Catholic Theologian and author of The Naked Now:  Learning to See as the Mystics See. (pp. 29-30.)

Have you ever had what felt like a “religious experience?”  Something that filled you with awe and wonder and made you feel you were in the presence of the Divine? Perhaps it came in physical form, like a wildly improbable synchronistic experience; a wave of chills that came while listening to a beautiful hymn; seeing an aura around a person; or feeling a powerful surge of energy in your body that couldn’t be explained by science. Maybe it was an extraordinarily meaningful dream, vision of light, sudden knowing, or spiritual awakening. Or you stepped onto a forest glade or mountain peak with a view that stopped you in your tracks and brought tears of appreciation and gratitude to your eyes. If you’ve experienced these or similar things, you’re not alone.

Throughout history, revered spiritual leaders such as Lao Tsu, Jesus, Buddha, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Mother Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Hasidei Ashkenaz, Rumi, Ibn Arabi, and countless ordinary people have reported spontaneous mystical experiences.  Documented religious experiences have also been induced by a variety of hallucinogens for millennia.

Either way, mystical experiences are not only real, but surprisingly common.  Why?  They’re simply evidence of the benevolent life-giving and life-sustaining Divinity that indwells every one of us, that permeates our minds and physical bodies, that is the very substance of which we are made. What should be more surprising than having a mystical experience is not having one!

Unfortunately, the idea that we can each find a direct and personal pathway to the Divine is still considered blasphemous by many adherents to mainstream religions.  And when hallucinogens are used to induce mystical experiences, world governments get involved in banning them. This, despite the fact that a rigorous study with clearly explicated methods was conducted in clinical conditions at John Hopkins university in 2006 with astonishing and highly beneficial results that

“may re-define our mutual human history as it’s been indoctrinated into billions of humans across the planet.  Not just one of two participants spoke of having an ineffable mystical experience;  it was 79% of the 36 participants who underwent the study…. That’s truly an astounding and inarguable number.”

As one writer reports, a follow-up in 2011

“appeared in the June 2011 issue of Psychopharmacology entitled Psilocybin occasioned mystical-type experiences: immediate and persisting dose-related effects“. Personally, I feel it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read.  How often do any of us get to read something that speaks directly to the human psyche in relation of our experience of the mystical in such a scientific and clinical environment, but while recounting it in such personally spiritual terms?”

Now here’s the kicker:

“This study unquestionably and undeniably validates what shamans and spiritual explorers throughout history have known, what they’ve often shared at the risk of incarceration or death, but have painstakingly documented throughout history: The Psilocybe mushroom, a hallucinogen, can provide any one of us with an extraordinary, life-changing mystical experience that is indistinguishable from any other religious experience reported in our mutual human history.  What is perhaps more extraordinary is that the participants in this study didn’t just have a spiritual experience; the ingestion of these hallucinogenic mushrooms “produced substantial spiritual effects” and “those beneficial effects appear to last more than a year” (Griffiths et. al., 2008). In other words, here we have an example of scientifically proven religion, a spirituality that, rather than being in conflict with the rational, is supported by it.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not pushing a particular agenda for drug reform, despite the obvious need.  And I know the difference between entheogens—a term meaning “to reveal the Divine within” that belongs to a category of substances used for Divinatory purposes—and dangerous and life-threatening drugs like cocaine and heroin. It’s just that my goal in this blog is to serve evolving consciousness and empower individuals to discover spiritual meaning for themselves, and I’m not going to avoid doing so just because it requires us to challenge outmoded laws, belief systems and institutions.

My point is simply that we don’t have to blindly follow doctrines, religions, or spiritual authorities to connect with God!  Nor should we, unless they serve our growth into compassion and expanding consciousness.  Rather, we can listen to and learn from our own inner spiritual authority, which can be developed with reflective and meditative spiritual practices. Each of us knows what’s truly Sacred in the depths of our being, and that inner knowing, that actual inner experience of holiness, is available to everyone.

Have you ever met a mystic?  You have if you or anyone else you know has had an individual “religious” experience of divine union that s/he trusts over collective attitudes and institutions. If so, I invite you to share your story here.

Image Credit:  Google Images.  “Contemplation” Nathan Jon Tillett 2003 www.Fuzzy Planet.co.uk

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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0 Responses

  1. Wow Jean! I’ve never seen this explained in such a short and succinct manner before! I’ve seen many people react quizzically, when they see the interview clip of Dr. Jung being asked the question, “Do you believe in God?” His response was, “I have no need to believe, I know.” Even when I think about it, it opens a numinous space for me in my psyche, because I too know. I have had many many such experiences! In fact, I find them so common that I believe everyone must have them, but they’ve closed their minds to them, or don’t interpret them as such. Albert Einstein once said that if you cannot explain something simply, you can’t understand it well enough. You’ve obviously achieved here what many before you have tailed to achieve.
    I’m convinced that you can read all of Dr. Jung’s oeuvre, and never understand what he meant from what he explicitly said in one passage or another. But if you read his collected works, you too will know. But, an adept cannot explain what he knows, even with a million or a hundred times a million words. But, they have their ways. Koans (Japanese two line verse with an aha!) often lead to knowing, as do Haiku. Dr. Jung’s statement is like a koan or teaching given by an adept master. For me it snapped my attention and focus away from the idea of “belief,” which is crammed down our throats from the time we can understand language, and forced me to ask myself, “What did he know?” When I did that, I found I too know. If that makes me a Mystic, I wear the title proudly. It obviously applies to you! Sadly, it may take one to know one!

    1. Many thanks, Skip. Yes, “knowing” comes from personal experience, not external belief. And some of us—I suppose you could call us “seekers”— are simply more attentive to, and interested in, pursuing and reflecting on affirming interior experiences that satisfy our search. Dr. Ernest Hartmann of Tufts University theorized that it has to do with the metaphorical thinness of one’s “boundary” between the conscious and unconscious selves. Perhaps it also has to do with other factors such as personality type, DNA, genetic inheritance, early conditioning, and early trauma as well.
      I find it especially fascinating that many who are drawn to Jungian psychology because of his mind-blowing spiritual nsights and theories are unwilling or unable to move from the “headness” of acquiring mental knowledge to the “heartness” of physical feeling, experiencing and personal knowing. Perhaps it’s because that way is much more difficult and painful as it always requires us to face our shadows and truly begin to know and accept our human flaws. I think the ego is the psychological boundary that stops most of us, and no wonder. I doubt there’s an ego on the planet that welcomes that kind of assault on its belief in its primacy and invulnerability!

      1. I was hearing a piece on NPR yesterday on the growing number of suicides on college campuses. In several of the final calls were comments about how the individual couldn’t deal with their emotions. We have a VERY long way to go in helping people understand their own psyches, and especially their emotions. But, if we start to talk about it, at least we have taken the first step. As a retired Marine, I used to get quite embarrassed when tears would run down my face, which is perhaps more often than the average American man; but now I just let them flow and am indifferent to perceptions of others. No one ever seems to think the less of me because of my tears. BUT, the issue is how to help teenagers and others know how to deal with their emotions. Not everyone can afford a psychotherapist, nor would they know that they need one when they do.

  2. “We have a VERY long way to go in helping people understand their own psyches, and especially their emotions.” That’s an excellent point, Skip. Thanks for bringing it up. Maybe this would be a good topic for my next post….. 🙂

  3. Hello Jean,
    I think you make a great point about so many people using substances to induce mystical experiences. It can be a real eye opener. But beyond the benefits of such activity, I do want to mention the pitfalls of seeking mystical experiences through hallucinogens, beyond the mainstream Western “drugs are bad” school of thought. So, I’ll share my own experience.
    When I was 20, I did Ayahuasca two times about 5 months apart. It was paradoxically the best and worst thing that I’ve ever done in my life. It was wonderful because both experiences expanded my consciousness all the way to enlightenment… temporarily. To make an analogy, imagine that wisdom is like a river that flows from the subconscious mind into the conscious mind. Imagine that the ego is like a dam that restricts the majority of that wisdom water from flowing into the conscious mind. Taking Ayahuasca completely opened up the dam and I had so many insights. I was fully aware of my connection with everything. Also, because I was dis-identified with my ego, my shadow was brought into full light and I had pure love for even my darkest repressions. I came to this place from a space of having little interest in anything spiritual and an extreme doubt of the existence of God. The first time I tried it, all I wanted was a recreational drug experience, but I got so much more than I bargained for.
    Here are the pitfalls:
    1. After the drug wore off, I tried to apply the wisdom that I had access to in the enlightened state, from an unenlightened state. I made many bad decisions this way.
    2. Prior to this experience, I had a really clear (albeit illusory) sense of self. I felt that I knew who I was. After the experience, it showed me that I had been lying to myself and that I had not idea who I was. I unwisely, tried to dis-identify with myself and get rid of the ego and made many bad decisions.
    3. My work-ethic took a beating. When I was on Ayahuasca, I realized that I had such a strong work ethic because I was striving for a sense of significance and I had an extreme fear of dying without a legacy. Enlightenment made me realize that because I was fully connected with everything, that I was significant just because I exist. I was fully content with being, when before I felt that doing was the only way I had value. So, I repressed my work ethic when the drug wore off.
    4. I realized that I wasn’t happy and started trying to fix myself. Before, I was blissfully ignorant to the fact that I was struggling. Also, trying to fix myself was not very self loving. It was the antithesis of the radical acceptance and love I felt in the state of enlightenment.
    5. I became increasingly abstract and felt very isolated from others. No one that I know in life has shared my experiences.
    6. I’m not enlightened anymore.
    There are others, but these are the ones that I’ve grappled with. But, despite all the difficulties, I’m so glad to have had these experiences. I would not even know to seek the things that I’m seeking now had it not been for them.
    Thank you for posting,

    1. Dear Emerald,
      Wow! Double Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sure many who read this will find it extremely helpful and cautionary. I’ve never tried any of these drugs myself, but have often thought I’d like to at least once. It would be so interesting to know if your pitfalls are related to your youth and inexperience. In other words, I wonder if you’d have the same kind of experience if you’d already done 25 years of inner work and had learned enough about your shadow to know which choices were not as good as others. Perhaps someone else knows something about that.
      Anyway, it’s a fascinating story and I’m so grateful to you for sharing it with us.

      1. I definitely think that my age and lack of preparation played a major role in experiencing these pitfalls. I had little real knowledge of anything related to spirituality and I had a childish 2-dimensional view of ideas like God and heaven, that I was very skeptical about. I was a very rationally-oriented, iconoclastic, high achieving and hyper-individualistic. I thought that was all their really was to life, and I had a secret (secret even to myself) sense of superiority over everyone else. But my experiences showed me a completely different point of view that I didn’t even know was possible. The main thing that tripped me up was trying to apply wisdom through intellectual means once the drug wore off.
        I thought that because I had these insights that I could apply them rationally in daily life. For example, I had an insight during my Ayahuasca experience about being one with everything. So, when the drug wore off, I strove to have no personal boundaries in hopes of recapturing the essence of that insight. This was of course very dangerous and unsustainable. Another example of this was in the unearthing of my shadow qualities. I didn’t know much about Jungian Psychology at the time, so I thought that maybe I have to actually express the negative traits to feel as free as I did during my experiences. Some of these were surprisingly dark and impossible to express without major life-shattering consequences. These I avoided out of necessity with much frustration and cognitive dissonance. Some were traits that I should be expressing, and other traits were just annoying and problematic. So, I began forcing myself to act in some maladaptive ways trying to ‘think’ and ‘do’ my way back into enlightenment. I was trying to make a flower grow by tugging on it.
        In all these cases, I was taking the more ethereal truth and trying to apply it where a more grounded truth would work better. So, my main issue was in the lack of understanding that certain truths are only true from some perspectives. I didn’t understand that paradoxes were part of the human experience and that opposites could be equally true depending on point of view. So, while it is true from the highest vantage point that I need not ‘do’ anything to achieve significance, as a human being I need to do things and feel significant to the world for a fulfilling life. While I am one with the universe, I still need to have firm boundaries because I’m also a separate being. While I need to accept my shadow qualities to be free, I need not accept their expression. While everything in the world is perfect the way it is, there is a lot of room for improvement. It’s mind boggling.
        I’m sure that you would undoubtedly handle that experience better than the 20-year-old me did. However, it’s such a big shift in perspective that I think everyone (except maybe zen-masters) would have a little bit of a struggle coming back from it and reconciling the remembered new perspective with their current perspective. If someone were to try it, I would recommend reading a lot of books on enlightenment and spirituality before and after.
        Thank you for listening and reading my long messages. 🙂
        Best Wishes,

        1. “In all these cases, I was taking the more ethereal truth and trying to apply it where a more grounded truth would work better. So, my main issue was in the lack of understanding that certain truths are only true from some perspectives. I didn’t understand that paradoxes were part of the human experience and that opposites could be equally true depending on point of view.”
          This is a deeply wise insight, Emerald, and obviously very hard-won. But this is how we truly learn, isn’t it? From personal experience? From my perspective it seems that while this early experience created enormous problems for you, the awareness of these conflicts and the struggle to resolve them was exactly what was needed for the expansion of your consciousness. I certainly wouldn’t recommend this for another as young and inexperienced as you, yet you seem to have emerged a much wiser and stronger person nonetheless, which is why you consider it the best experience of your life.
          Life really is all about tolerating the tension between paradox and opposites, isn’t it? And you learned that lesson at an unusually young age. I’ll share a quote from the Jungian analyst, Robert Johnson, that he made at a Journey Into Wholeness Conference I attended many years ago when I was in the midst of my own inner crisis: “The depth of your crisis is a measure of your genius.” I clung to that like a life raft. We all, of course, have our own “daimon” or personal kind of genius. Unfortunately, for most of us ordinary people, the only way to find it is through suffering. Knowing that we, too, have a form of genius truly is a “shift in perspective” that couldn’t be more foreign or difficult to accept. Moreover, as Jung continually noted, the way to it is through your shadow!
          Anyway, your recommendation to read a lot about enlightenment and spirituality is right on! I thank you very much for that. I might only add that someone considering this path should also commit oneself to some kind of ongoing spiritual practice (other than reading/study), perhaps something that requires more physical and emotional involvement (as opposed to purely mental and rational) and stick with it for a few years before even considering going this route.
          Thank you for the wealth of wisdom you’ve added to this discussion!

      2. Thank you. I definitely think that, in the long run, this experience has been the most eye-opening, beneficial experience I’ve ever had. It made me realize that this source of wisdom is always right there, if I can just allow myself to be self-honest and vulnerable enough to be in touch with it. I like the quote you gave about crisis and genius, It is very empowering. I will definitely think about it during times of doubt. I also definitely agree with you about using methods of preparation beyond the intellect. Body and emotions need to be prepared for shifts in consciousness as well.
        Have a nice evening!

  4. Jean, this was an interesting article. My brother’s master’s was in Para-psychology. He also was a Buddhist monk. He strongly believed that when we die that our spirit or electromagnetic energy left the body and joined the universe. I had an awakening due to an ugly situation with my parents. Since my brother was dead I sent prayers to him, and my brother appeared … plus more. It was quite an emotional experience, but I strongly believed that my brother heard me and came to let me know that he heard me.

    1. Dear Gwynn,
      What a great experience that must have been! And what a highly evolved person your brother must have been. Thank you for sharing this here. I believe pretty much the same as he did, and it’s nice to have another affirmation of that!

  5. Hi Jeanie ,
    I wrote before about an experience I had, many years ago,
    sitting in Glasgow University Men’s Union. Sitting having a coffee, it was as if a light had been switched on and I could see and feel the interconnectedness of everything around me and beyond.
    So much of the experience felt visual, like seeing from “behind” your eyes instead of the everyday “just looking”. I remember staring at and holding the coffee cup in awe.
    Although I was aware of myself as a conscious being, I instantly knew in some way I was “in” everything and vice versa.
    This way of experiencing lasted several weeks and gradually tapered off. Trying to explain it to others, including my mother, brought concern from them re my mental health and questioning whether I had been “on drugs”. (Not yet.)
    I have had a handful of these lightning bolt moments in my life. Apart from the revelation of the moments themselves, I’ve found that they gave me a route to tap into that way of being/experiencing which I can call up anytime I wish to although the intensity is not so prevalent.
    Certainly the psychedelic experience comes close to mimicking those occasions, but from my own experience, the lsd journey felt intensively ego-driven whereas the naturally occurring state was more of something that had been given/granted from “the outside-that-is-me”. Maybe this is akin to what you mention of entheogens.

    1. Yes, I remember this story, Brian. It’s a wonderful, classic example of a mystical way of seeing. It’s so very cool that you can call this up anytime you need or want it now. I always knew ‘ye had a bit o’ the mystic in ye! It shines thru yer poems!’ ( I may have the dialect wrong, but the sentiment’s true!) 🙂
      It’s sad that your mother was worried about your mental health. I wonder if that had anything to do with your pursuing that issue in your vocation? My own concerns about this, outgrowths of some ‘lightning bolt moments’ of my own, certainly influenced my psychological pursuits. Hopefully, the things I and many others are writing about today are helping to dispel our cultural ignorance about the whole mental health/mystical experience realm, which seems to be profoundly interconnected.
      Thank you so much for sharing your story here again. I’m especially interested in your observation about the difference between your LSD experience vs. the natural one. I wonder if that is because LSD is man-made instead of nature-made? Hmm…….

  6. A truly wonderful post Jeanie thank you and thanks to Skip and Emerald for her experiences (profound) and your follow on comments. The Divine is about and around and we witness that when we see the leaves blowing or the waves crashing or a smile from the heart or a gesture from the heart … something changes – an expansion of the blood cells ..
    Robert Johnson’s words: The depth of your crisis is a measure of your genius’. Powerful words, thank you – I will message them to my brother who is in the depths of depression …if he got his computer fixed I would send him your posts.
    I remember travelling down to the university my son was attending a long time ago. My husband was driving. Just outside a little village in the Eastern Cape, were beautiful cows grazing on farm land. I wondered what it must be like to be a cow – and all of sudden I was a cow … I felt a union then and do still when I think back on that.
    Thank you again …

    1. Thank you Susan. In thinking about your brother’s current situation, I’m noting once again (as in my answer to Brian, above) the powerful interrelationship between mental health and mysticism. I suspect that many forms of “mental illness” are actually misdiagnosed examples of the God Within trying to break through the ego’s powerful defenses.
      I love your cow story! What a fabulous example of opening to the universe. I’m sure you’re familiar with Hathor, the Egyptian cow goddess who represented the Sacred Feminine Creatrix and protectress of life. I’d think her myths would resonate especially deeply with you.
      I really appreciate your sharing this. It adds a lot to our discussion. I’ll be sharing another story I got from a Facebook post later on today as soon as I can get back to my computer!

  7. As I read Emerald’s responses and Jean’s rejoinders, I was reminded of the famous dictum of Dr. Jung, “Only the wounded doctor can heal.” Your struggles, Emerald, are reminiscent of Dr. Jung’s own struggles during the times of his visioning of _The Red Book_, which took place just before and thru World War I. By his own account, that was the prima materia of what he wrote for the rest of his life, which comprised almost the entirety of his Collected Works. I mean this only as an observation, without any prejudice about what this observation means for your own life, Emerald.

    1. Yes, I’m reminded of the same thing, Skip. Experiences like this, closely held and attended to, can set the stage for a soul’s individuation journey through life.

    2. Thank you Skip. These words are very encouraging to me. I hope that the wisdom I’ve derived from my struggles will enable me to positively impact the world like Jung has. For several years, I strayed away from the idea of leaving a mark on the world because I didn’t want to go back to struggling, grasping, and burning midnight oil for a sense of significance. Prior to my experiences, my greatest desire was to achieve fame, success, and accolades (particularly posthumously) through my creative work, so that I could feel that my life was important and had meaning. I was on a hamster wheel, unconsciously trying to elude the reaper through ALL of my thoughts and actions. So, once I realized this negative behavior pattern during my above experiences, I repressed my desire to leave a legacy and tried to be as low key and invisible as possible. I was on the other side of the horse and not really being myself. In the past couple years, I have been re-approaching the idea of leaving a mark on the world with caution. I’m nervous to make commitments to creative projects because I don’t want to do it for the “wrong” reasons, and I’ve become afraid of the massive action it takes to bring a dream to fruition. However, in recent months, I’m realizing that I need to be a bit nicer to myself and give myself what I need to feel fulfilled at my current level of development. It has been difficult to admit that I never stopped craving significance and never truly stopped running from death, despite the clarity of my wisdom during my experiences. These sneaky behaviors and cravings were always present but have just taken less beneficial, lower-value forms. So, I need to mindfully commit myself to my creative work once again to throw a bone to my ego, while also gradually working toward expanding my consciousness. On another note, it is so good to get this out in writing. I didn’t even realize some of these things until I wrote them down.
      Thanks again,

      1. Emerald, I’m so pleased my comment was useful for you. There is no doubt whatever that Dr. Jung himself struggled with similar experiences during The Red Book visions period. Humans are “meaning making beings,” so each of us, given enough time, will find the meaning of our lives. This is what Dr. Jung called “Individuation”.

        1. Thank you for these additional comments, Emerald and Skip. Emerald, I’d just like to say that, for me, the fact that you can now realize you “never stopped craving significance’ represents a huge expansion/growth in your particular consciousness. As much as we believe our ego has “died” to the world’s opinion, in my experience, this is usually another of the ego’s sneaky deceptions that rarely actually happens fully. It certainly hasn’t happened to me, despite the significant awakenings I’ve experienced. I expect, though I have no proof, that there may be many levels of awakening that lead to full enlightenment, and that our egos probably think we’re “finished,” or have “arrived,” at every stage except for the last one. And who knows how, or when that might be or what it looks like? 🙂 I wish I did, but one thing I do know for sure is that I don’t!

      2. Thank you again to you both. These comments are really helping me realize some things. Skip, isn’t it beautifully counter-intuitive that when a person works long enough toward individuation that the result is more oneness? Jean, I find that the ego can be incredibly persistent. If the ego can’t come in through the front door, it will sneak in through the back. If it can’t do that, it will quietly slip in through the window. If it can’t do that, it will find it’s way in through the air conditioning vent. This is the case when someone is proud of being selfless. But maybe the answer is not to lock the ego out of the house at all, but to accept it fully and consciously as an important part of the human psyche. If not, the ego gets swallowed up into the shadow and major psychological issues can arise. Maybe expansion happens whenever a trait is re-integrated and exalted to its highest form. Maybe instead of denying ego, I should consciously strive to have the most beneficial, healthiest ego that I can. What do you think?

  8. I’m sharing this message via Asiya Sian Peut-être, who left it on my Author’s Facebook page when this post came out on Tuesday. I asked if I could share it here because I thought you might enjoy it, and received her permission today, so here it is:
    “I experimented with psilocybin when I was young, we could find mushrooms growing in the rainforest at the foot of the mountain in our city. I was an agnostic at the time and did not interpret the experiences religiously because I had no mystical framework to understand them.
    “Now I know the same feeling I have when I momentarily lose my I-ness is like those times. Being fully present. There’s twenty years between the Miro garden of a mushroom trip and the overwhelming joy if being present in the mountains in Morocco for me but it is the same entering of the Moment. I just wish I could enter it as easily without the mushrooms!”

    1. Another thought to add to my conversation with Emerald and Skip: I also think that it is possible for one’s Spirit, or to use different language, “upper chakras”—the more mental and cerebral aspects of one’s existence—to become highly developed at a young age, while the “lower chakras, or “Soul” (the more physical and human aspects of life), can lag far behind, remaining almost totally unactivated and unconscious. I know that’s counter-intuitive to the usual path of the kundalini serpent, but nonetheless, that’s basically the path my journey has taken. I was cerebral as heck at 17, and had my first spiritual awakening at that age; but I was truly ignorant about many aspects of my human, physical existence, especially my emotions, shadow and relationship issues. Because of that, I was very aware of Spirit’s influence in my life up through my mid-forties, but almost totally unaware of my true psychological Self: i.e. who I am in my totality—masculine and feminine, conscious and unconscious, Spirit and Soul, ego and shadow, how I really feel, what I really want, etc.—and very unconnected to others too, in any real, intimate way.

      1. I’ve found the same pattern in my own chakra development. I suspect that this pattern is more common in the western world because of the heavy influence of patriarchal religions and the extreme value we’ve put on mind over matter. I was recently reading a book about chakras called “Wheels of Life,” and it had a great quote describing the importance of developing both the upper spiritual chakras and the lower material chakras. “Matter without spirit is a corpse. Spirit without matter is a ghost.” (Marion Woodman) So, in order to be fully alive, everyone needs both.

  9. Thank you, Jeanie, for a wonderfully eloquent description of what it means to be a mystic.
    I’ve traveled long distances to meet realized teachers and found a few close to home. My first spiritual teacher, Anthony Damiani, taught his students to find the Divine within and not fasten all hopes one religion or one teacher. Instead, the hope for mystical union was within me. The guidance of teachers such as Jung, Paul Brunton, Pema Chodron, the Dalai Lama, and Marion Woodman helped me find an inclusive psychological/spiritual path, I’m grateful for many living and dead teachers, many books and scriptures and poems, but it was up to me to find my own mystical path. No one else could take me there, even if being in their presence gave me a glimpse.
    I took LSD and other psychedelics in the late 1960s with reverence and awe for what was being revealed. They opened inner worlds and experiences. After three or four years, it was time to focus on meditation and study more than chasing peak experiences, but I remember those days fondly with no regret.

    1. My goodness, what a great story. You’re practically a cultural icon: the classical 70’s hippie! I missed all that by traveling the traditional road and longed for a teacher for many years. I was in midlife before I found the works of Jung, and I knew in an instant that that was what I’d been looking for. I love your term, “inclusive psychological/spiritual path.” That’s certainly been my way as well.

  10. Emerald, this is in response to your last comment above. I agree completely with your take on the ego: accepting it as a necessary and important part of the psyche is essential. I do think that trying hard to deny the ego is a recipe for feeding the shadow, whereas seeing my ego’s influence in my thoughts and behavior allows me to choose how I want to respond to that influence. Influence us it will, one way or another!!!

  11. Hello Jean,
    You are an inspiration to me. Your words resonate in my soul. I’m on a path of major internal and external transformation as I transition from a male body to female. I’ve had more than once the experience you speak of. They’ve been happening more frequently lately. It scared me at first, but now believe and know the reality of the unseen, the connectedness of all life, the deep understanding that at a root level, all our decisions are influenced by whether or not we are acting out of Love or Fear. I’m practicing making decisions in Love. Coming from a fundamental Christian background, I have wrestled with the question “Who am I?” for the past seven years, that is when my dark night of the soul began, and as of this weekend, I’m home. I have experienced the harmonic congruence of my mind, body, and soul. When I began trusting my own voice, my heart and soul, not my ego, dramatic changes occurred. I now experience joy. Today at lunch, a colleague I don’t know very well said I looked like I just went through a religious conversion experience. He was right in the sense that my most recent experience has had the same energy as the time I was “born again”. I have been told I’m shaman, a light worker, empathic, old soul, and more. People say I glow. More than once I’ve heard this. Jean, it’s more than overwhelming but I’m open and don’t have any intention to stop shining my light for the world to see. My path, just like yours, is one of individuation. What you speak of in this article reminded me of a terrific documentary on Netflix currently called From Neurons to Nirvana that goes into detail on the subject. Fortunately, change is happening. Worship of the divine feminine is returning in select individuals now. The patriarchal model is being challenged. If we don’t change, we will push ourselves to extinction.
    I’m honoring my soul, I’m individuating. I’m trusting the process and have been doing the difficult inner work. How different life now is. How free. There is abundance, not scarcity. Love instead of fear. The growth accelerated when my ego humbly realized that my soul was a better leader and the ego’s job is carry out my souls instructions and determine how to incorporate the new information I’m receiving. It’s freedom.
    When I was a young child around five years of age. I was filled with unbridled enthusiasm. I would dance around the house, had a wonderful smile, and was filled with joy. But I didn’t fit and once in school, kids could tell. My shame event happened at my Aunt and Uncle’s home when I was gleefully putting on makeup with the girls. One boy cousin chucked and brought me out to show the parents. I remember smiling at them and I remember their laughs. In my young mind, I heard loud and clear that what I was doing was “wrong”. To them, it was funny, and I get that, but it wasn’t to that five year old. Now, at 47 years of age, when the energetic resonance from the alignment of mind, body, and soul, filled me with an ecstatic sense of self, I had a profound discovery. The feeling wasn’t a new one. It was how I felt when I was that little five year old boy before I split off a significant part of myself to survive. It has taken years of difficult work. Lot’s of questioning and circular patterns, but now I have rediscovered myself. For the first time in my life, I have friends. There are new people in my life that are becoming my family. My life was a fairy tale, but now it has finally become REAL.
    Warmly, Shea

    1. Dear Shea,
      Thank you for writing and sharing your story. It’s an inspiration to all who struggle to accept themselves, find their voices, and live their souls’ truths. It’s thrilling to me to know that you have finally found self-acceptance and friends who love you as you are. In my experience, individuating is a never-ending journey, but it gets better, easier, and more rewarding with time. Sending you sincere warm wishes for continuing growth into consciousness and joy, Jeanie

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