I’m reading a good little book on mysticism. It is called The Mystic Experience: A Descriptive and Comparative Analysis, by Jordan Paper. He endeavors to compile a universally consistent description of the mystical experience. He includes his own mystical experience in his analysis.
Paper writes that one of the constant characteristics of this mystical experience is:
An understanding of what was experienced either
- brings into question all that was known before
- or confirms theological or metaphysical/epistemological understandings
I would love to talk with Paper about this, because I would suggest another way, a third way, a middle way. My experience neither threw into question all that was known before, nor confirmed my previous understandings. It did both. In fact, it swallowed up in a consummate whole all that I had known before as well as all I had not understood.
Paper says that light is the most common element of description for the mystical experience. But he also says water is. Water was what I experienced. It was a universal flood of all that was… not in a destructive way, but in a recreative, regenerative, resurrective way. Like the mythical flood, it did destroy everything, but restored and reconstituted everything in a new way. Everything was totally familiar but also totally new.
So I did not reject Christianity as if it was wrong. Rather, I now see Christianity as a story among many stories about The Story that all stories articulate in part, through a glass darkly. So my experience was neither destructive of all I’d known and neither was it affirmative. For it annihilated everything while resurrecting everything as one in an all consuming unified oneness.
I have poorly articulated some of my experience in my posts on the z-theory.
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