Psychology of Mysticism Seminar
PSYCHOLOGY OF MYSTICAL / RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
The following notes are from a
Psychology of Mystical And Religious Experience Seminar
presented by Todd Swanson in A
biquiu, New Mexico in June 2006

In the Beginning…Prehistory

•        “And the earth was without form, And void; And darkness
was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon
the face of the waters.  God said ‘Let There be light’, And There
was Iight..."

•        tohu-wa-bohu

•        Garden of Eden: Tree of Knowledge of Good And Evil;
tree of Life.

•        “The imagination, always working overtime And particularly
when stimulated by cave settings And the play of light And
shadow, can play astonishing tricks.  It is so easy to fool oneself,
to see a sign that somehow no one else can see.... cases of self-
hypnosis are not rare And must be guarded against.  Cave-art
experts, aware of this occupational hazard, have a standard
remedy - get out of the cave And just And rest your eyes!”

•        “The world is a richer place with fire close at hand in the
night.  I have watched flames playing on convoluted cave walls,
patterns of flickering light And shadow on the gray-pink-white-
black mottled surfaces of crevices And alcoves And niches, tube
like channels winding further into the depths-and witnessed a
variety of special effects that would inspire any stage designer
concerned with creating an atmosphere of mystery And the
supernatural.  When the time for art ultimately came, fire must
have served to enhance And animate illusion.  A stimulant, a
psychedelic thing, it must have stirred the imaginations of our
ancestors as it stirs us today”.

•        There are many ways of preparing the brain for
indoctrination, one of the most effective being sheer monotony, the
more monotonous the better.  The brain feeds on information, And
it starves if you cut off or severely reduce the flow of signals it
receives from the outside world.  It goes into a state of altered
consciousness, a trancelike or twilight state between sleeping And
waking.  Anything that blocks sensory input may produce this
vulnerable frame of mind - solitary confinement, concentrating on a
hypnotist's lulling words, experimentally isolating individuals in
dark soundproof chambers or immersing them underwater in
tanks.  ...At some level of monotony, if nothing exists out There to
hold attention, it turns inward and..it creates images of its own,
seeing And hearing things that are not There.  Extreme boredom
may be as effective as drugs in eliciting hallucination, And may
produce similar kinds of images - intricate rating, filigree,
honeycomb, And check board patterns, cobweb And spiral effects,
forms described as tunnel And funnels And alleys, visions of
people And places in vivid color....  Of all natural settings, caves
are among the most effective for sensory deprivation.  The power
of suggestion may become irresistible, all encompassing, during
vigils in remote chambers And passages.  T find out for
themselves, Dennis Puleston of the University of Minnesota And
some of his students took turns spending up to forty-eight hours
alone without lights in the depths oaf number of Maya caves in
Belize.  It was a revealing expiring: "Although apprehension
prevailed at the outset, within a few hours it was dissolving into
wonderment...Many-hued geometric patterns, mixed with a salad
of memories from years ago, were being triggered by occasional
sounds - a distant dripping stalactite, or the scrape of a foot on
rock.  The mind was strongly inclined to invent light.  Within less
than a day, a disposition developed toward supernatural
interpretation of any unexplained phenomena.

•        The point has been strongly made by David Lewis-Willmar’s
And colleagues that all humankind possesses the same
neuropsychology And so all peoples have the same capacity to
enter trance.  According to Lewis-Williams, such trance states fall
into a common pattern with three identifiable stages, each
characterized by different suites of images seen in the mind's eye
of the subject.  These images are call entopics or phosphenes.  
State one images typically take the form of geometric shapes,
whereas stage three images are more characteristically those of
monsters, creatures that are often part human And part animal.  
Such depictions can be identified in the cave art of both the Ice
Age And postglacial periods.

•        Engaging with the cave-wall gave access to the other world.  
The rock was not to be seen as solid but as a veil; beyond the veil
lay the chthonic realms.  We may wonder, however, whether the
hands depicted were reaching out to or from the world of spirits.   

Hindu Mysticism

•        As you practice meditation, you may see in vision forms
resembling snow, crystals, smoke, fire, lightning, fireflies, the sun,
And the moon.  These are signs that you are on your way to the
revelation of Brahman.

•       
 Waking, Dreaming, Dreamless State (Bliss)

•        Emotion is what drives karma forward: it is what causes us
to be reborn...according to the Upanishads, emotion is also what
causes us to dream: dreamless sleep occurs when someone has
no desires whatsoever And therefore sees no dream whatsoever.

•        Myths are often made out of private dreams.  The core of the
myth is a dream actually dreamt once upon a time by one person.  
Dreams And myths alike draw their power from certain intense
moments in actual human experience; but art transforms the
private understanding of the dream into the public understanding
of the myths.

•        Shankara argues that dreams are real because they are
experienced And have effects in waking life: a man bitten by an
imaginary snake can die of imaginary venom.

Jewish Mysticism

•        The second major emphasis identifiable in Jewish mystical
literature is the emphasis placed on intense religious experience.  
The particular form of this experience varies, but usually includes
one or more of the following: heavenly ascent, vision of the divine
form, And mystical union.  What also distinguishes the ecstatic
experience is the claim that special techniques of a meditative sort
were required to induce the desired frame of mind.

•        Merkevah Mysticism - the vision of the divine chariot was
first recorded in the book of Ezekiel.

•        The Glory of God: Glory is a way of safeguarding the actual
appearance of God.  We do not know God himself, who is beyond
of figuration.  We only know his Glory, the form in which he
chooses to reveal himself.  The terms for likeness, then, suggests
two things: first, that the experience is visionary, not normal;
second, that Ezekiel saw an appearance of an image of the Glory,
not the Glory itself, which further safeguards the majesty of God.  
No one can see God And live (Exod. 33:20) nor apparently can
one see his Glory directly as Moses did, but people do see images
of his Glory in religiously altered states of consciousness.  One
the dignity of the divinity is protected; the human features of his
appearance are described with no sensitivity to anthropomorphism.

Buddhist Mysticism

•        Siddhartha - "Goal Achieved" or "Mission Accomplished"

•        The acquiring of a new viewpoint in Zen is called satori...  
Without it There is no Zen for the life of Zen begins with the
"opening of satori.”  Satori may be described as an intuitive
looking-into, in contradistinction to an intellectual or logical
understanding.  Whatever the definition, satori means the
unfolding of a new world hitherto unperceived in the confusion of a
dualistic mind.

•        "When the mind is ready for some reasons or others, a bird
flies, or a bell rings, And you at once return to your original home,
that is, you discover your real self.

•        "As satori strikes at the primary root of existence, its
attainment generally marks a turning point in one's life.

•        "Without the attainment of satori, no one can enter into the
truth of Zen.  Satori is the sudden flashing into consciousness of a
new truth hitherto undreamed of.  It is a sort of mental catastrophe
taking place all at once...after the piling up of much matters
intellectual And demonstrative...Religiously, it is a new birth.”  

Greek Mysticism

I.        Oracle at Delphi

II.        Chasm theory, volcanic gases

III.        Euphoria, excitation of nervous system

IV.        Eleusinian Mysteries

V.        In his Seventh Letter Plato describes this ultimate state of
knowing as beyond language: it happens "suddenly, like light
kindled by a leaping spark.”  It is a kind of inner illumination or
intuitive insight achieve after much labor And mental toil.   16

VI.        Plotinus, at one point, also carne under the patronage of
the Emperor Galienus whom he apparently persuaded to establish
a city of philosophers ("Platonopolis") in Campanula This was
envisioned as a "model city" where the citizens would be governed
by the principles set down in Plato's Laws.  This dream, however,
was never realized, put to an end by court politics And intrigue.

Christian Mysticism: Jesus

VII.        "Every thought And saying of Jesus was directed And
subordinated to one single thing, a difficult thing to put into words
today: the realization of the Kingdom of God upon the earth...What
was unique about Jesus was his conviction that it had already
started happening by his agency And under his guidance.

VIII.        Temptation in the Desert

IX.        Baptism "You are my beloved son, in whom I am well
pleased."
a.        Crowd did not notice.

X.        Transfiguration: Mark 9:1-13

XI.        Distinction of prophetic "thus saith the Lord" And Jesus' "I
say unto you."

XII.        "Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls
before swine."

XIII.        Jesus' own family was among those who rejected him.  
When they heard how he was behaving; 'the set out to take
charge of him for "he is out of his mind."  (Mark 3:21)

XIV.         "You must not think 1have come to bring peace to the
earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  (Mt: 10:34)

XV.        Cleansing of the Temple

XVI.        "My soul is in turmoil.  Save me from this hour...not my
will, but thy will"

XVII.        He was utterly convinced that it could not possibly
develop on its own account, without the assistance of mankind: he
insisted that it could only develop if men And women could be
induced to form an attitude receptive to the Kingdom – thus
encouraging its further And eventually triumphant evolution...  
Metanoia, repentance, a complete change of mind, heart, And
attitude, a turning from this world to God.  (Unless a man be born
again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.)

XVIII.        Parable of the dishonest steward: reducing his master's
debts to his creditors so that when he was fired, the creditors
would take care of him.  Jesus praised him because when he was
faced with a crisis, he took action.

As the Roman Emperor Julian (And Martin Luther) later observed,
if the injunction to sell your possessions secured widespread
acceptance, no city, no nation, no house could endure.  (Michael
Grant.  Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels.  New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1977, p. 26.)

XIX.        Seven Last Words

Christian Mysticism: Paul

Paul... is the victim of violent, manic-depressive alterations of
moods.  And he feels a terrible discord between his desires And
actions.  (Michael Grant.  Saint Paul New York: Barnes And
Nobles, 1976, p. 23.)

XX.        I do not acknowledge my own actions as mine, for what I
do is not what I want to do, but what I detest... though the will to do
good is There, the deed is not...miserable creature that I am.  
(Romans 7:15)

XXI.        O, if we are insane, it is for God; if we are sane, it is for
you.  (2 Corinthians 5:13)

XXII.        If Christ were not raised, your faith has nothing in it.  (1
Corinthians 15:17)

XXIII.        Visions

XXIV.        Acts 9:1-9 Breathing Murderous Threats

XXV.        Three versions in Acts: in the first, Paul's companions
hear the voice but see nothing.  In the second, they see the light,
but hear nothing.

XXVI.        Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewal of your mind.  METANOIA

XXVII.        2 Cor.4:6 "For the same God who said: "Out of
darkness let light shine", has caused his light to shine within us, to
give the light of revelation.”

XXVIII.        2 Cor 12:1-4 Caught up as far as the third heaven

XXIX.        Acts 22:17 Saw Jesus in a trance

Christian Mysticism: Martin Luther And His Time

•        1483-1546

•        Globalization

•        347-50 Black Death - killed from 1/3 to1/2 the population in
Europe

•        Considered "wrath of God"

•        20,000, 000 deaths

•        "Charity was dead"

•        Eat, drink, And be merry

•        Enormous sense of collective guilt

•        Dreadful fear of divine retribution o Sought intercession

•        Pogroms against Jews

•        China o Arabia in sixth And seventh centuries

•        In 1346, an anonymous Flemish cleric wrote in the Chronicle
of Flanders of news he received from a friend in the papal curia in
Avignon: "In the East, hard by Greater India...horrors And unheard
of tempest overwhelmed the whole province for the space of three
days.  On the first day There was a rain of frogs, serpents, lizards,
scorpions, And many venomous beasts•••On the second...lightning
And sheets of fire fell upon the earth, mingled with hail stones of
marvelous size, which slew almost all, from the greatest even to
the least.  On the third day There fell fire from heaven And stinking
smoke, which slew all that were left of men And beasts  (Robert K.
Strong.  Blind Chance or Divine Revelation?  www.chilit.
org/Strong%201.htm

•        Flagellants

•        Danse Macabre

•        1500 - widespread peasant revolts in Germany

•        1527,1535,1539 Outbreaks of the Black Death

•        1533 - Severe attacks of depression.  Anfechtung - word
Luther used to describe his terrors before God.

•        1539 - "Suddenly, surrounded by terror And agony of death,
I felt constrained to make my vows" Entered monastery.  (Richard
Marius. Martin Luther: The Christian Between God And Death.  
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 44.)

•        1542-1543 Table Talk "I am the ripe shit; so also is the world
a wide asshole; then shall we soon part.’ (Richard Marius.  Martin
Luther: The Christian Between God And Death.  Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 20.)

•        Luther was not one for ecstasy, although sometimes his
language tips into that direction.  His warmhearted mysticism was
akin to a phenomenon found in many religions.  The Quaker
theologian, Rufus Jones, said it was the most universal religious
experience.  (Richard Marius.  Martin Luther: The Christian
Between God And Death.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
1999, p. 98•99.)

•        "But even I once knew a man who declared himself to have
suffered these torments indeed during an interval of the briefest
time, but they were so great And so hellish that neither tongue
could say, nor pen write, nor the inexperienced believe, And had
they lasted for a half-hour or ten minutes, he would have perished
utterly And all his bones reduced to ashes…  (Richard Marius.  
Martin Luther: The Christian Between God And Death Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 145.)

•        1540: Final break at the Diet.  " ...My conscience is captive
to the word of God...  I cannot And will not recant anything, for to
go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  God help me.  
Amen.  (Richard Marius.  Martin Luther: The Christian Between
God And Death.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999, p.
294.)

•        What was the proper Christian response to those claiming
private revelation?  He said it was to ask whether those claiming it
had suffered anguish 0 f spirit by their encounter with God.  He
reeled off biblical quotations to demonstrate that those who met
God in biblical accounts were terrified.” (" Richard Marius.  Martin
Luther: The Christian Between God And Death.  Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 324.)

Christian Mysticism: Teresa de Avila

•        1515-1582

•        Entered convent at age 16.

•        1537 - Severe attack of something that resembles hysteria.  
Orison begins.

•        Twenty years of interior struggle

•        1555 - vision of Christ covered with wounds; reading of
Confessions of Augustine: anguish, turmoil.  (40 years old)

•        1558 - First rapture - ascent of the soul "I do not want you
anymore to converse with men, only with angels."

•        Beginning of period of great love trances.

•        Vision of angel who "held in his hands a long golden dart,
tipped with fire ...from time to time, he would plunge it through my
heart, And push it down into my bowels.  As he withdrew the dart,
it seemed as if the bowels would be tom away with it.”

•        Periods of “dryness" followed by ecstasy

•        Ascent divided into Four Stages:

•        Meditation (Autobiography, Chapters XI-XIII)
o        Assisted by divine grace
o        
o        Subject is passions of Jesus

o        Aim is to increase love And courage in the service of God

•        Orison of Quiet (Autobiography, Chapters (XIY-XV)
o        Foretaste of supernatural favors
o        God elevates the soul to Union

•        Sleep of the Powers (Autobiography Chapters XVI-XVII)
o         Powers of soul are incapable of occupying themselves with
any other object than God; they are altogether taken up with the
enjoyment of this excess of Glory."

•        "Glorious delirium, celestial madness"

•        Deeper degree of absorption

•        Ecstasy, Rapture, Flight of the Soul (Autobiography,
Chapters XVIII-XXI)
o        Delights which occupy the soul are incomparably greater

o        The soul seems to leave the organs it animates

o        If spoken to, soul hears the sound of the voice, but no
distinct word

o        Impression of levitation

o        Ecstasy is of short duration, perhaps half an hour


•        First Mansions

o        "I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a
single diamond or very clear crystal, in which There are many
rooms.,,( Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle (translated by E.
Allison Peers).Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 28).

o        "The door of entry into this castle is prayer And meditation.,,
(Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle (translated by E. Allison
Peers).Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 31)

o        • "The first rooms...the rooms of self-knowledge.,, (Teresa
de Avila.  The Interior Castle (translated by E. Allison Peers)
Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 38)

o        "The light which comes from the palace occupied by the
King hardly reaches these first mansions at all...because There
are so many bad things - snakes And vipers And poisonous
creatures which have come in with the soul that they prevent it
from seeing the light.,, (Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle
(translated by E. Allison Peers) Garden City: Image Books, 1961,
p. 40)

•        Second Mansions

o        "For those who have begun to practice prayer And realize
the importance of not remaining in the First Mansions, but who
often are not resolute enough to leave these mansions, And will
not avoid occasions of sin...  (Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle
(translated by E. Allison Peers) Garden City: Image Books, 1961,
p. 46)

o        " ...at the beginning, one must not think of spiritual favors,
for that is a very poor way to begin building such a large And
beautiful edifice.,,”  (Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle
(translated by E. Allison Peers) Garden City: Image Books, 1961,
p. 50)

o        "Bring will into conformity with the will of God  (Teresa de
Avila.  The Interior Castle (translated by E. Allison Peers) Garden
City: Image Books, 1961, p. 51)

•        Third Mansions

o        Aridity in prayer

o        "Often it is God's will that His elect should be conscious of
their misery And so he withdraws His help from them a little”  
(Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle (translated by E. Allison
Peers).Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 63).

o        "What the journey I am referring to demands is great
humility...  (Teresa de Avila.  The Interior Castle (translated by E.
Allison Peers).Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 66).

•        Fourth Mansions

o        "We now begin to touch the supernatural...these Mansions
are getting near to the place where the King dwells”  (Teresa de
Avila.  The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden
City: Image Books, 1961, p. 72.)

o        "To reach these Mansions, one must have lived for a long
time in the others... in these Mansions poisonous creatures
seldom enter, And if they do, they are harmless”  The Interior
Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books,
1961, p. 73.)

o        "The important thing is not to think much, but to love much,
do then, whatever arouses you to love”  The Interior Castle
translated by E. Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p.
77.)

o        Two fountains..."happiness has its source...at the center of
the Soul”  The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers
Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 82.)

o        " ...however much we may practice meditation, however
much we do violence to ourselves, And however many tears we
may shed, we cannot produce this water in those ways; it is given
only to whom God wills to give it, And often when the soul is not
thinking of it at all”  The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison
Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 84.)

o        Prayer of Recollection: "a person involuntarily closes his
eyes And desires solitude; And, without the display of any human
skill, There seems to be gradually built for him a temple in which
he can make the prayer already described; the senses And all
external things seem gradually to lose their hold on him; while the
soul, on the other hand, regains its lost control…”  The Interior
Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books,
1961, p. 85)

•        Fifth Mansions

o        "...Do not think of this is a state, like the last, in which we
dream; I say "dream" because the soul seems to be, as it were,
drowsy, so that it neither seems asleep nor feels awake.  Here, we
are all asleep, And fast asleep, to the things of the world, And to
ourselves (in filet, for the short time that the condition lasts, the
soul is without consciousness And has no power to think, even
though it may desire to do so”  The Interior Castle translated by E.
Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 97.)

o        " ...union with God...that joy is greater than all the joys of
earth, And greater than all its delights, And all its satisfactions...”  
The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden City:
Image Books, 1961, p. 99.)

o        "Of this, I have the fullest experience; And I have experience
of timid, half-learned men whose shortcomings have cost me very
dear.  At any rate, my own opinion is that anyone who does not
believe that God can do much more than this, And that he has
been pleased, And is sometimes still pleased, to grant his
creatures such favors, has closed the door fast against receiving
them.”  The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden
City: Image Books, 1961, pps.  100-101.)

•        Sixth Mansions

o        Interior Sufferings..."The Lord is also in the habit of sending
the
o        most grievous infirmities.  This is a much greater trial,
especially if the pains are severe.”  The Interior Castle translated
by E. Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 121.)

o        "Often when a person is quite unprepared for such a thing,
And is not even thinking of God, be is awakened by His Majesty
as though by a rushing comet or a thunderclap.  Although no
sound is heard, the soul is very well aware it has been called by
God.”  The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden
City: Image Books, 1961, p. 135.)

o        "And now you are going to see what His Majesty does to
confirm his betrothal, for this as I understand it, is what happens
when he bestows raptures, which carries the soul out of its
senses...,, The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers
Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 209.)

o        "When the soul is in this state of suspension And the Lord
sees fit to reveal to it certain mysteries, such as heavenly things
And imaginary visions...”  The Interior Castle translated by E.
Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 150.)

•        Seventh Mansion

o        "The Most Holy Trinity reveals itself, in all three persons...,,
The Interior Castle translated by E. Allison Peers Garden City:
Image Books, 1961, p. 209.)

o        "The soul is made one with God…”  The Interior Castle
translated by E. Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p.
214.)

o        "On reaching this state, the soul has no more raptures...
save very occasionally…”  The Interior Castle translated by E.
Allison Peers Garden City: Image Books, 1961, p. 223.)

Christian Mysticism: Juan de la Cruz

1542-1591

•        Patron of the afflicted

•        Inquisition called on him to abandon the Teresan way of life

•        Locked in a small room, six feet wide by ten long, that for a
window had a tiny opening, two inches wide, high up in the wall.  
For about nine months, he suffered in darkness And alone, wrote
the first thirty-one verses of the Spiritual Canticle.

•        Dark night is the painful lack And privation, darkness in the
intellect, aridity in the exercise of love in the will, emptiness in the
memory offal possessions, And affliction And torment as a
consequence And general state."  (Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed)
John of the Cross: Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist Press,
1987, p. 159.)

•        "The Dark Night" signifies purgative contemplation... lulled to
sleep And deadened all the inordinate movements of passions And
appetites in the house of sense."  (" Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
(ed) John of the Cross: Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist
Press, 1987, p. 162.)

•        Imperfections of pride, spiritual avarice, lust, anger, spiritual
Gluttony, And spiritual envy And sloth.

•        "The one night of purgation will be sensory, by which the
senses are purged And accommodated to the spirit; And the other
night of purgation will be spiritual, by which the spirit is purged And
denuded as well as accommodated And prepared for union with
God through love...the sensory night is common And happens to
many.”  (Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of the Cross:
Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist Press, 1987, p. 178.)

•        “The first night is bitter And terrible to the senses.  But
nothing can be compared to the second for it is horrible And
frightful to the spirit.”  (Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of the
Cross: Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist Press, 1987, p. 179.)

•        Three signs for the discernment of purgation of the senses:
I. Souls do not get satisfaction or consolation from the things of
God.
2. soul does not think it is serving God, but turning back
3. Powerlessness to meditate And make use of the imagination, as
was previous custom.  .”  (Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of
the Cross: Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist Press, 1987,
pps.  181-183.)

•        God withdrawing soul from senses, moves it from meditation
to contemplation...considerable affliction is suffered.  .”  (Kieran
Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of the Cross: Selected Writings.  
New York: Paulist Press, 1987, p. 183.)

•        Contemplation is a secret And peaceful And loving inflow of
God...  Spiritual dryness is caused by change of sensory life to
spiritual life.  .”  (Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of the
Cross: Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist Press, 1987, p. 187)

•        Soul undergoes complete purification..."God divests the
faculties, affections, And senses, both spiritual And sensory,
interior And exterior.  He leaves the intellect in darkness, the will in
aridity, the memory in emptiness, And the affection in supreme
affliction, bitterness, And anguish, by depriving the soul of the
feeling And satisfaction it previously obtained from spiritual
blessings.  For this privation is one of the conditions required that
the spiritual form, which is the union of love may he introduced into
the spirit And united with it.  The Lord works all of this in the soul
by means of a pure And dark contemplation”  .”  (Kieran
Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of the Cross: Selected Writings.  
New York: Paulist Press, 1987, p. 199.)

•        Purgation has the same effect on the soul as fire does on a
log of wood...transforms the wood into itself And makes it as
beautiful as the fire.  .”  (Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. (ed) John of
the Cross: Selected Writings.  New York: Paulist Press, 1987, p.
205)

Christian Mysticism: George Fox

•        from George Fox’s Journal

•        1644: A strong temptation to despair came upon me...often
walked solitary...and wondered why these things should come to
me...

•        1646: And after some time I went into my own country again,
And was There about a year, in great sorrows And troubles, And
walked many nights by myself.  

•        1647: ...my troubles continued, And I was often under great
temptations; And I fasted much, And walked abroad in solitary
places many days, And often took my Bible And went And sat in
hollow trees And lonesome places till night came on; And
frequently in the night walked mournfully about by myself; for I was
a man of sorrows in the times of the first workings of the Lord in
me”

•        And when all my hopes in them And in all men were gone, so
that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could tell what to do,
then, Oh then, I heard a voice which said, ''There is one, even
Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition, And I heard it in my
heart And did leap for joy...and this I knew experimentally

•        1648: I saw There was a great crack to go throughout the
earth, And a great smoke to go as the crack went; And that after
the crack There should he a great shaking.  This was the earth in
people's hearts, which was to be shaken before the Seed of Good
was raised out of the earth.  And it was so, for the Lord's power
began to shake them, And great meetings we began to have, And
a mighty power And work of God There was amongst people, to
the astonishment of both people And priests...Thus the work of the
Lord went forward, And many were turned from the darkness to
the light within the compass of these three years, 1646, 1647,
1648...

•        Now was I come up in Spirit, through the flaming sword, into
the paradise of God.  All things were new; And all the creation
gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can
utter.  I knew nothing but pureness, innocency, And righteousness,
being renewed up into the image of God by Christ Jesus; so that I
was come up to the state of Adam, which he was in before he fell.  
The creation was opened to me; And it was shewed me, how all
things had their names given them, according to their nature And
virtue.  I was at a stand in my mind, whether I should practice
physick for the good of mankind, seeing the nature And the virtues
of creatures were so opened to me by the Lord.  But I was
immediately taken up in Spirit, to see into another or more
steadfast state than Adam's in innocency, even into a state in
Christ Jesus that should never full.  Then pausing from thence, I
heard of a people in prison in Coventry for religion.  As I walked
towards the gaol, the word of the Lord came to me saying MY
LOVE WAS ALWAYS TO THEE And THOU ART IN MY LOVE.  
And I was ravished with the sense of the love of God, And greatly
strengthened in my inward man.  But when I came into the gaol
where these prisoners were, a great power of darkness struck at
me; And I sat still, having my spirit gathered into the love of God.

•        1649: Oh, the rage And scorn, the heat And fury that arose,
Oh, the blows, punchings, beating And imprisonments that we
underwent for not putting off our hats to men.

•        1651: And in this time I was exceeding much oppressed with
judges, And magistrates, And courts, And was moved to write to
the judges concerning their putting men to death for cattle And for
money And small things, several times, how contrary to the law of
God it was.  One time, I was under great sufferings in my spirit
through it And under the very sense of death; but when I came out
of it, standing in the will of God a heavenly breathing arose in my
soul to the Lord.  Then did I see the heavens opened And the
glory of God shined over all.”

•        1651: I passed to Cleveland amongst those people that had
tasted of the power of God, but were all shattered to pieces And
the heads of them formed Ranters.  Now they had had great
meetings, so I told them after that they had such meetings they did
not wait upon God to feel his power to gather their minds together
to feel his presence And power And therein to sit And wait upon
him, for they had spoken themselves dry And had spent their
portions And not liven in that in which they spake, And now they
were dry.  They had some kind of meetings but took tobacco And
drank ale in them And so grew light And loose.

•        Others under the influence of the early preaching of Fox
rejected all conventions And felt obligated to go naked in the
streets.

•        So early a writer as Voltaire, not noted for his sympathy to
religious experience, had heard of Fox And noting that Fox was
"irreproachable in his life And conduct" noted that Fox's disciples
"aped very sincerely their master's several grimaces And shook in
every limb the instant the fit of inspiration came upon them,
whence they were called Quakers.”

•        1652: They fell so upon Friends in many places that they
could hardly pass the highways, stoning And beating, And
breaking their heads...So the Lord's power came over them all,
though There was a great rage in the county.”

•        1652: "Your teacher is within you; look not forth; it will teach
you lying in bed, going abroad, to shun all occasion of sin And
evil.”

•        1654: (Identification with Christ?)  Fox before Cromwell:
"God is my witness, by whom I am moved to give this forth for the
Truth's sake, from him whom the world calls George Fox; who is
the son of God who is sent to stand a witness against all violence
And against all the works of darkness, And to turn people from the
darkness to the light, And to bring them from the occasion of the
war And from the occasion of the magistrate's sword, which is a
terror to the evildoers who are contrary to the light of the Lord
Jesus Christ, which is a praise to them that do well, a protection to
them that do well And not evil.  Such solders as are put in that
place no false accusers must be, no violence must do, but be
content with their wages And magistrates bear not the sword in
vain.  From under the occasion of that sword, I do seek to bring
people.  My weapons are not carnal but spiritual, And "my kingdom
is not of this world," therefore with a carnal weapon I do not fight,
but am from those things dead; from him who is not of this world,
called of the world by the name George Fox.  And this I am ready
to seal with my blood.

•        Truth hath been talked of, but now it is possessed.  Christ
hath been talked of, but now he is come And is possessed.  

•        1656: James Nayler's messianic actions.  Hard blow to
Quaker credibility And witness.

•        "Then I was moved by the power And spirit of the Lord, to
open unto them the promise of God, how that it was made to the
Seed, not to seeds, as many, but to one, which Seed was Christ;
And that all people, both males And females, should feel this seed
in them, which was heir of the promise; that so they might all
witness Christ in them, the hope of glory, And the mystery which
had been hid from ages And generations, which was revealed to
the apostles, And is revealed again now, after this long night of
apostasy.”  

•        Our principle is, And our practices have always been, to
seek peace And ensue it And to follow righteousness And the
knowledge of God, seeking the good And welfare And doing that
which tends to the peace of ail.  We know that wars And fightings
proceed from the lusts of men out of which lusts And the Lord hath
redeemed us, And so out of the occasion of war.  The occasion of
which war, And war itself (wherein envious me, who are lovers of
themselves more than lovers of God, lust, kill, And desire to have
men's lives And estates) ariseth from the lust.  All bloody principles
And practices, we, as to our own particulars, do utterly deny, with
all outward wars And strife And fightings with outward weapons,
for any end of under any pretence whatsoever.  And this is our
testimony to the whole world•••for this we can say to the whole
world, we have wronged no man's person or possessions, we
have used no force nor violence against any man, we have been
found In no plots, nor guilty of sedition.  When we have been
wronged, we have not sought to revenge ourselves, we have not
made resistance against authority, but wherein we could not obey
for conscience' sake, we have suffered even the most of any
people In the nation.  We have been accounted as sheep to the
slaughter, persecuted And despised, beaten, stoned, wounded,
stocked, whipped, imprisoned, haled out of synagogues, cast into
dungeons And noisome vaults where may have died in bonds,
shut up from our friends, denied needful sustenance for many
days together, with other the like cruelties.

Rudolf Otto: The Holy

•        Feeling of terror before the sacred
•        Awe-inspiring mystery
•        Majesty
•        Religious fear
•        All of these constitute the numinous.

Islamic Mysticism

•        Though all the trees of the earth were pens And the sea
were ink - seven seas after it to replenish it - yet the words of God
would not be spent.  (Koran 18: 109)

•        God charges no soul save to its capacity.  (Koran 2:286)

•        Neighbor, friend, companion-all are He; In beggar's rags And
sultan's satin-All are He; Dispersed in assemblies, gathered in
retreats; By God, All are He!  By God, All are He!  (Jarni: al-
Futuhat)

•        "God has one hundred mercies, of which He has sent down
one mercy among jinn And men, animals And crawling things,
through it they show compassion to each other, through it they
have mercy upon one another, And through it the beasts are kind
to their young.  But God has kept back ninety-nine mercies, by
which He will show mercy to His servants on the Day of
Resurrection.”  (Hadith?)

•        "And of His signs is the creation of the heavens And earth
And the variety of your tongues And hues.”  (Koran:30:22)

•        "We shall show them Our signs in the universe And in their
own souls.”  (Koran 41:53)

•        The lover was at rest with existence And nonexistence.  He
had not yet seen his beloved's face when the melody of the word
"Be" woke him from the sleep of nonexistence.  The audition of
that melody produced rapture, And that rapture gave him
existence.  (Iraqi, Lama' at)

•        "One tune And all existence began to dance.”  (Jami, Diwan)

•        The goal of the voluntary return to God is to actualize the full
range of Divine Names, or the Name Allah, which comprehends
them all.  The means employed to reach the goal are varied, but
they can be summarized in one word shirk, the "remembrance" of
God.  Remembrance is made incumbent upon Muslims in many
verses of the Koran, a Scripture which itself was revealed as a
"remembrance unto all beings" (Koran 12).  Only by turning one's
mind And indeed one's entire existence toward God can one hope
to become godlike in a true sense...Constant remembrance of God
through various ritual activities And the unceasing repetition of his
Name fans the fire of love in the heart, "a flame that bums away
everything except the Beloved”  (Donald H. Bishop, ed. Mysticism
And the Mystical Experience: East And West.  (Islamic Mysticism
by William Chittick London And Toronto: Associated University
Presses, 1995, p. 316-317.)

•        The Melvin dervishes...have a dance in which a semi-circle
of dancers represents the emanation of life from the Godhead And
another semi-circle represents the return of life to its origins.  
Rumi, the founder of the Mehlevi order, said, "Who knows the
power of the dance resides in the God, for he knows how •
Muhammad also had many seizure-like experiences: he saw
flashing lights, heard the voices of the angel Gabriel And Allah,
And suffered from fits of trembling And profuse sweating And
bodily pain.  He also had several out-of-body experiences, a
common feature of temporal lobe epilepsy.  Again, it was part of a
lifelong pattern.  Legend tells us that Muhammad was born with
excess fluid around the brain And had fits as a child.  Flashing
lights And mysterious voices are two of the most common
hallucinations in temporal lobe epilepsy. (Dean Hammer.  The God
Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes.  New York:
Doubleday, 2004, p. 133.)

Twentieth And Twenty-First Century:
Perception And Reality

•        "One major new finding revealed in The God Gene is our
discovery of a specific individual gene associated with the self-
transcendence scale of spirituality.  This 'God Gene' (VMAT2)
codes for a monoamine transporter - a protein that controls the
amount of crucial brain signaling chemicals.  Interestingly, these
same brain chemicals can be triggered by certain drugs that can
bring about mystical• like experience.”  (Dean Hammer.  The God
Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes.  New York:
Doubleday, 2004, p. 11.)

•        Flow, dissociative states

•        Good Friday Experiment, drugs
•        Typology of mystical experience composed of nine
components: Unity, transcendence of time And space, positive
mood, sacredness, sense of objective reality, paradoxically,
ineffability, transiency, And persistent positive changes in attitude
And behavior.  (Dean Hammer.  The God Gene: How Faith is
Hardwired into Our Genes.  New York: Doubleday, 2004, p. 83.)

•        Serotonin affects consciousness in many ways that are
connected to self-transcendence And spirituality.  It alters
perceptions, one aspect of mystical experience.  It increases
sociability, an aspect of transpersonal identification.  It elevates
mood - as aspect of the perception of sacredness.  All of this can
be influenced by a single monoamine.  (Dean Hammer.  The God
Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes.  New York:
Doubleday, 2004, p. 112.)

•        Trance: Any state of dissociated consciousness,
psychologically induced And reversible, which is not associated
with primary schizophrenic symptoms.

•        The most basic part of the nervous system is the autonomic
nervous system (composed of sympathetic And parasympathetic
systems).  It is responsible, with input from the rest of the brain
And central nervous system, for maintaining baseline bodily
function.  It also allows the body to respond to various external
stimuli...it plays a crucial role in the overall activity of the brain, as
well as in the generation of fundamental emotions such as fear,
joy, And shame.  (Eugene d' Aquili And Andrew B. Newberg.  The
Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience.  
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999, p. 23.)

•        Five basic categories of arousal/quiescent states that may
occur during extraordinary phases of consciousness:

I.        The Hyperquiescent State: Extraordinary state of
relaxation.  Happens during normal sleep And Paradoxically truly
occur during meditative phases.  Accompanied by heightened
alertness And vigilance.  May occur during "slow" ritualistic
behavior such as chanting or prayer.  This state may be
experienced as a sense of oceanic tranquility And bliss in which
no thoughts or feelings intrude on consciousness And no bodily
sensations are felt.  In Buddhist psychology, this state is called
access concentration or Paccar Samadhi.
II.        The Hyperarousal State: .Arousal activity is exceptionally
high as in "rapid" or frenzied ritual behavior such as Sufi dancing
or long distance running.  It may also occur during a state in which
continuous processing of information'  becomes so voluminous
that interjection of thought And ego-centered decision-making
would prove disadvantageous - such as racecar driving or piloting
a jet fighter.  This state will be associated with keen alertness And
concentration.  The person may feel as if she were channeling
vast quantities of energy effortlessly through their consciousness,
resulting in what has been called the quintessential "flow"
experience.
III.        The Hyperquiescent State with Eruption of the Arousal
System: Quiescent activity is so extreme that "spillover" occurs
And the arousal system becomes activated.  In this case, for
example, a person who is meditating enters a state oceanic bliss /
absorption.  This has been called the Appana Samadhi in
Buddhist psychology.
IV.        The Hyperarousal State with Eruption of the Quiescent
System.  Arousal activity is so extreme that the Quiescent System
becomes activated.  May experience an orgasmic, rapturous, or
ecstatic rush resulting in trance-like states.  
V.        Simultaneous Maximal Discharge of Hyperarousal l
/Hyperquiescent.  Complete breakdown of discrete boundaries,
between objects, absence of time, And elimination of the self-other
dichotomy.  The unio-mystica. ( Eugene d'Aquili And Andrew B.
Newberg.  The Mystical Mind' Probing the Biology of Religious
Experience.  Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999, p. 25-6.)

XXX.        Neurotheology is based on how the brain And mind
function in order to generate And experience myths, ritual,
religious, And mystical phenomena.  Neurotheology attempts to
explain how the mind And brain function to interpret, codify, And
rationalize such experiences into logical, cognitive systems.  
(Eugene d'Aquili And Andrew B. Newberg.  The Mystical Mind'
Probing the Biology of Religious Experience.  Minneapolis:
Fortress Press, 1999, p. 45.)

XXXI.        Ritual
•        Structured or patterned

•        Rhythmic And repetitive (to a degree)

•        Acts to synchronize affective, perceptual-cognitive, And
motor processes within the central nervous systems of individual
participants, And

•        Synchronizes these processes among the various individual
participants.  (Eugene d'Aquili And Andrew B. Newberg.  He
Mystical Mind' Probing the Biology of Religious Experience.  
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999, p. 89.)

•        Newberg And d'Aquili believe that the neurological
phenomenon known as differentiation, when a brain structure is
cut off from sensory inputs (afferents) is responsible for the
experience of a unitary state.  We believe that the neurological
machinery of transcendence may have arisen from the neural
circuitry that evolved for mating And sexual experience use terms
like bliss, rapture, ecstasy, exaltation, It's no accident that this is
the language of sexual arousal."

Is religion, in other words, merely a product of biology - a
neurological illusion, or does that fact that our brains function in
such a curious way argue that God is not only real, but
reachable?  (Rich Heffern.  Exploring the Biology of Religious
Experience.  National Catholic Reporter.)