Mystical Encounters with the Natural World: Experiences and by Paul Marshall

By Paul Marshall

A few reports of the wildlife carry a feeling of team spirit, wisdom, self-transcendence, eternity, mild, and love. this is often the 1st specified examine of those exciting phenomena. Paul Marshall explores the conditions, features, and after-effects of this significant yet rather missed kind of mystical event, and reviews causes that diversity from the non secular and metaphysical to the psychoanalytic, contextual, and neuropsychological. The theorists mentioned comprise R. M. Bucke, Edward chippie, W. R. Inge, Evelyn Underhill, Rudolf Otto, Sigmund Freud, Aldous Huxley, R. C. Zaehner, W. T. Stace, Steven Katz, and Robert Forman, in addition to modern neuroscientists. The booklet makes an important contribution to present debates concerning the nature of mystical event.

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2 Distinguishing extrovertive mystical experience Extrovertive mystical Mystical but not extrovertive Unity with the world or its parts Identity with undifferentiated Absolute Identity of self and cosmos Blissful isolation of soul Union with God partly or fully immanent in the world Union with God apart from the world Luminous transfiguration of body and surroundings Intense light and peace but no sense of the world Noetic and unitive encounter with spirits at work in nature Luminous vision of esteemed religious personage, plus incidental nature contents Sense of time stopping, with profound insights into the universal process Timeless and spaceless pure consciousness Vision of world supported by supreme consciousness Pure consciousness, plus incidental nature contents Naming the Experiences It is difficult to find an entirely satisfactory label for the experiences outlined in the preceding section.

A few seconds? I don’t know. Back again in this world, lying under the lime tree, I felt thunderstruck. What was that? What did it mean? (Franklin 2000: 14) Whereas everyday experience is, for the most part, organized around a sharp distinction between self and other, Franklin’s experience brought a relaxation of the distinction. He felt ‘one’ with everything. His engagement with the world was further transformed by an intellectual capacity that apparently enabled him to know anything he wished, and his visual experience was altered by a luminosity that seemed to be both inside and in the world outside.

If the unitive criterion were applied strictly, an experience would not qualify as mystical if it brought, say, only a luminous transformation of the environment and a sense of well-being. However, the fact that luminosity and feelings of well-being often accompany the unitive, noetic, and reality characteristics suggests that it would be misleading to exclude the experience from the category. At the very least, we should be open to accepting it as a ‘borderline’ or ‘incipient’ mystical experience.

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