I Just Had a Transcendent Experience

Just now.  Walking along, in an ordinary place in an ordinary time on an ordinary day. Which is usually when they happen, at least to me.

Suddenly, I felt myself open very wide on the inside. The phrase, “benevolent channel for love” popped into my head. That’s what I felt like. A channel for love that initially didn’t come from me, but through me, flowing outward toward every living human. Love for all humanity.

Then I felt it coming from me as well. For a moment, I felt a numinous connection to and love for every human being on the planet.

Those who know me, know this is not my typical stance.

What does it mean? I believe it means that there is something out there. That we are not alone in the universe, but that something else exists that transcends mundane reality and existence.

I have my own ideas as to what that something is. I am also willing to allow for the possibility that it’s a mere synaptic misfire.  The bottom line is, really, who cares?

If it makes you happy and gives you comfort, what harm is there in believing in a Great Benign Whatsit and accepting and allowing transcendent experiences? I know that, for me, the experience left me happier, comforted and elevated. I’m down with that.

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Dark Nights of the Soul, Epiphanies and Stress, Pt. l

Inner growth spurts come in cycles. They have uncomfortable periods, but they get better and they’re definitely worth it. I’ve just gone through another one myself and I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

The Universe is nothing if not consistent. It begins with a gentle nudge. You get a feeling of discontent, a hint that things aren’t working. If that doesn’t get your attention, small things will start to go wrong in your outer life. Many of us don’t take that as an indication that inner work is required, so the Universe delivers its message with a cosmic clue by four. Some people still don’t get it and, regrettably, continue to be unhappy and have unpleasant things going on in their lives.  Eventually, you will get physically sick.

When I first moved to Hollywood, years ago, not only was I unhappy, but I held the idea that only dumb, unaware people could possibly be happy. In high school, I had a teacher who used to say, “If you aren’t scared, you don’t understand the situation.” Substitute “miserable” for “scared” and you have my philosophy. Thanks, Mr. Johnson.

The Universe was on the job, though, and deposited me literally right next door to a happy woman. I would have just written her off as a doofus, but I interacted with her almost daily, so that label couldn’t stick. She has a Ph.D. in psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology. Neither dumb nor unaware!

It was fascinating to me. Eventually I figured it out. Being happy doesn’t mean you don’t get it. It means you don’t let it get you. Thanks, Kristine.

This time around, the topic was stress. I’d always been of the opinion that the proper response to stress wasn’t yoga or meditation or any other activity to designed to allow you to cope with it more effectively. My attitude was, “Fuck that! I don’t need to adjust myself so that I can tolerate the intolerable; the intolerable needs to go.” To an extent, I still hold that idea. If something in your life is crap, either fix it or get rid of it. The problem is that it’s pretty much impossible to get rid of everything stressful, forever. Stress happens.

I was stressed, angry and miserable. The situation did, and still does, need to be fixed, but it’s unlikely to be fixed right away. I became more and more unhappy, more and more withdrawn, and less and less able to cope with my life. I just wanted to escape.

I was spiraling down to the low point of the inner growth cycle, the dark night of the soul. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, in the dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning Sounds awful, doesn’t it? It’s a necessary part of inner growth. It’s similar to an initiation in that you go through something unpleasant to come out the other side changed for the better.

The good thing about the dark night of the soul is that the more times you go through it, the easier it gets. It becomes less and less dark and shorter and shorter in duration. This is likely because the first few are the biggest, the most shocking, the most life-changing. The first few are unfamiliar so you won’t know what to do. You may even feel like you’re losing your mind. Nope! This period of isolation, confusion and deep dissatisfaction is a step on the path to spiritual and psychological growth. Stay with it, ride it out, and you will come out the other side a better and happier person. If it is true that the only way out is through, nowhere does this apply more.

In my own recent cycle, certain people needed to stop doing certain things and bad situations needed to end. That is still true, but my response has changed. I knew stress was bad for you, health wise. I knew it in a vague, somewhere over there way, though. What happened next is the classic way up and out of the dark night. To be continued…