The Mystical Approach

Einar Adalsteinsson – Iceland

There is an experience which we read of in prose and religious texts of every culture and time. This is the experience of oneness, the mystical experience in its vast variety. It is a special state of consciousness, where thought has totally ended and there remains only the silence of absolute peace in the mind. People fall into this state of mind, sometimes without noticing how or why. There is suddenly an overwhelming silence and the person stands thunderstruck against this totally new experience, for it is always new and fresh, even if he or she has experienced it more than once.

Common descriptions might be something like these: I was one with everything there is. I was the world and the world became I. My separation from the world disintegrated and instead there was love and oneness, impersonal, all encompassing. Hate was unthinkable and all my problems vanished into thin air. Everything was good. Or, The world was as it had always been, nothing had changed except that the "I" had ceased to be, had blended into everything else. Such descriptions are taken from ordinary people telling how they experienced their world when this special state of mind prevailed. This has been called 1-less-ness.

It is a state that is without problems and therefore rather comforting and desirable. You feel that you are nothing but the whole of existence, regardless of whether you look to the stars or think of your neighbor. Everyone is a brother, whether he be rich or poor, good or bad, friend or enemy in ordinary terms.

Often people feel that they are standing before God; sometimes even a picture of the Godhead appears before them. But we should bear in mind that God is an idea acquired from someone else.

The God that the Christians see is different from that of the Hindus. You may have touched the Universal Divinity, but its form is from your own religion or civilization. The aim of the mystical approach is to reach for this state of consciousness, and the methods take form after that.

In fact we have to sacrifice each present moment to the process of becoming

In every spiritual endeavor it soon becomes apparent that we do not master our basic faculties, our thoughts and our emotions. On the contrary, we find that we are the slaves of those very faculties. To be able to begin to use our feelings and thoughts in our daily life, we have to know ourselves. To change, we first have to know who we are. We have to look inside and see what is taking place there. And in mystical work this is the key to every change. Awareness itself is a subtle, ongoing change. We may have a desire to change on the surface or deep down, we may see that our life is not quite as it should be, but this seems to be inadequate. The effort, the desire, must go. We have to trust the escalation of the present, what is coming from moment to moment. We have to let go of the desire, of the negative, of the fear. In fact we have to sacrifice each present moment to the process of becoming. This is of great importance in the mystical approach. You take everything as it comes, look at it as from behind the scenes like a divine comedy on the stage, everyone playing their role spontaneously, intuitively - you included. Slowly you learn to direct your life like the director of an orchestra or a drama, not participating, not intervening too much, rather, influencing in a subtle way. You look, wait, patient and attentive, at what is going on inside and outside.

Ordinary will is of no use. You see how that is always born of desire and fear, how it always relates to thought and reason. It breeds conflict, inside and outside. It simply does not fit into the scheme of things. But there is another factor, more related to the feelings, to sensitivity, a sort of Inner Will, impersonal, non-formal. You are coming into touch with the informal side of existence, where everything is related and where there is an inner entrance to the soul. We are all open to the realm beyond, where we are almost visibly connected on the inside.

I ask you, my lord, if it is according to your divine will

When there is silence and tranquility we can begin to use this inner will or what I would like to call intent. Intent is in a way similar to ordinary will, something which we put in motion or which gives direction, and then allow that to work in its own way. We see a possibility, something that should be done, something that should be. We will it to be, intend it to be, wholeheartedly, but in the same moment give this intent to the whole of existence and look at its effects from behind, without a trace of desire for a result. This is the true prayer - I ask you, my lord, if it is according to your divine will is the prevailing state of mind, and nothing else is needed. If it is to become, it will, and you look at it happening, sometimes like a miracle, mostly in an unexpected way, but you know that it works.

We may see someone in distress and feel the need to help. But even if we try all we can from the outside, it does not help. (It usually doesn’t - right!) Let us stand by calmly and meditate. Let us feel the pain, the misery, the anger, whatever, and let us wish him or her all the good, intensely and sincerely, and then let it go, give it to the divinity, which means that the desire no longer exists. What will come out of it is not our business any more. We know that our petty desires are no match to the divine scheme of things anyway, so we only wish and do not press. But we watch to see what happens, attentive, patient, even a little curious. We can also look at it in another way, that we let the wish sink deep inside, into the common unconscious, where all existence is at hand, whole and undivided.

My private will has no place in the scheme of existence, but if I see what is and place my intent according to it, then I am participating in God’s creation on his premises. To see what is takes a peaceful and quiet mind, calm emotions and faith in life. Faith is something that comes slowly into being with increased impartial awareness. Of course it is only in our best moments that we really are in touch with this inner side of ourselves. Most of the time we are entangled in the daily struggle of the mirror world. But there are rare moments in our lives when we are in our natural state, at one with nature, at one with life.

There is a tremendous power at hand inside. It is not mine or yours; it is an impartial, living, compassionate force of love. You cannot but feel it if you go inside in meditation. You cannot touch it, but it reacts to our silent prayer, it interacts with your whole being. You find that you can trust it with your life, with your whole existence. Slowly you build up faith in life, trust that nothing and no one can shake. It is not always prevalent in the outside-you, where the ocean of life still reigns, sometimes calm, sometimes rough, but deep down there is the faith in life, like a rock at the bottom of your existence. You place your destiny in the hands of Him who knows all and rules everything. Your life becomes a service to Him in all and everything. But such faith is no hallelujah. You have the feeling that such faith is the very power that could move mountains if needed.

We become aware of the general direction of the whole, the ground reason for every instance, and nothing comes as a surprise any more

By looking at the world in this way we slowly become aware of the becoming. We can see what goes on in the depth of existence before it comes to the surface. We become aware of the general direction of the whole, the ground reason for every instance, and nothing comes as a surprise any more. This is also built into the awareness, the clear awake attention, and we can now meet life in the sharp-cut moment, right where it all happens. We probably do not know exactly what will happen next, but we have a continuous awakening understanding of what is happening moment by moment. We see clearly the close connection between the inner and the outer, the relation between our inner being and the so-called outer world. It becomes clear that there is only one world, that what I meet inside is also outside. When there is calm inside everything goes smoothly outside, but if there is a storm inside we find even so-called dead matter turning against us out there.

A curious factor for one who believes in karma is to encounter its real and living counterpart in this coexistent inner-outer world. To see the lessons come, to try and meet them head-on and take whatever comes. To realize over and over again how deep one’s real problems go, and how tamasic one’s nature really is. To witness the delicate interplay between one’s inner moods and the outer happenings. To take to the real tasks, the untying of the big knots of complex relationships that may take years or even lifetimes to disentangle. To find that all one’s karma is there, inside oneself, packed in neat parcels of tendencies, faculties, guilt, fear and so on. To realize the fact that the enemies inside, as well as those outside, must become friends, by one’s very invitation, before they loosen their grip on the soul. To find out firsthand that to conquer is to surrender to the truth, to reality itself.

All this and much more, is the work to be done by one pursuing the mystical approach. Yet there is nothing to be done: not to do but to be, not to will but to see, not to strive but to love. And lastly, there is nothing more important than enduring, patient, non-attached and wide awake awareness focused on what is, on life itself.

[This is a reprint from The Light Bearer, Fall October 1997, with special thanks to Janet Kerschner]

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