Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The Mystic Experience and Spontaneity
In my blog posting Yatra Yatra Mano Yati: Sri Ramakrishna, Krishnamurti and Samadhi, I wrote about the mystic experiences of both Sri Ramakrishna and J Krishnamurti. Here is one of the experiences of Krishnamurti that I had quoted in the article from his Notebooks:
“She was carrying a large basket on her head, holding it in place with one hand; it must have been quite heavy, but the swing of her walk was not altered by the weight. She was beautifully poised, her walk easy and rhythmical. On her arm were large metal bangles which made a slight tinkling sound, and on her feet were old, worn-out sandals. Her sari was torn and dirty with long use. She generally had several companions with her, all of them carrying baskets, but that morning she was alone on the rough road. The sun wasn't too hot yet and high up in the blue sky some vultures were moving in wide circles without a flutter of their wings. The river ran silently by the road.
“It was a very peaceful morning, and that solitary woman with the large basket on her head seemed to be the focus of beauty and grace; all things seemed to be pointing to her and accepting her as part of their own being. She was not a separate entity but part of you and me, and of that tamarind tree. She wasn't walking in front of me, but I was walking with that basket on my head. It wasn't an illusion, a thought-out, wished-for, and cultivated identification, which would be ugly beyond measure, but an experience that was natural and immediate. The few steps that separated us had vanished; time, memory, and the wide distance that thought breeds, had totally disappeared. There was only that woman, not I looking at her.”
I was today amazed to read another mystic experience that closely parallels the experience of Krishnamurti. This is taken from the annals of RERU, Religious Experience Research Unit of Oxford. The experience of an unnamed person and it happened spontaneously.
“I was sitting on a low wall on the outskirts of the town of Chittagong. Across the road was a wayside teashop stall, with the proprietor in full view serving two customers. The branches of two small trees next to the stall waved in the moderately strong breeze and the sun shone with some glare on the white dusty road, along which came some fishermen with baskets of fish on their heads. From the second storey of a nearby building I could hear a nautch tune. Then, as the fishermen came abreast of me, one fish still alive, flapped up and seemed to stand on its tail and bow. I felt great compassion for the fish.
“Suddenly everything was transformed, transfigured, translated, transcended. All was fused into one. I was the fish. The sun sang and road sang. The music shone. The hands of the stall-keeper danced. All in time with the same music. They were the music and I was the music and I was the fish, the fisherman, the hands of the stall-keeper, the trees, the branches, the road, the sun, the music; all one and nothing separate. Not parts of the one, but the one itself.”
I find it difficult to believe this is not an experience of Krishnamurti. It is so close to his experiences, repeatedly recounted in his Notebooks.
Incidentally, it is not necessary that these experiences happen after long preparations and years of meditations. They can happen spontaneously, as in the case of the person who has this experience in the outskirts of Chittagong. The mystic experience happens as frequently as a spontaneous experience as in the ripeness of preparation. For, what it requires is the right kind of mind. If that mind is there spontaneously, then it can happen spontaneously.
As I wrote in another short article called “The Great Way of the Heart”, spirituality is something to be cultivated through the silence of the heart, through stillness, through joy and celebration, through the awe one feels for existence, through trust, through love and through waiting.
And whenever the heart is ready, it happens. It can happen to us while we are overpowered by the glory of a sunset, the silence of a night, the beauty of the moon, or the splendour of a mountain or the power of the ocean. It can happen to us on a leisurely evening walk. Or while sitting quietly under a tree. Or in our own room.
As the Katha Upanishad says, it is not something we make happen to ourselves, but something that happens by itself. We never choose it, we are chosen by it: yam eva esha vrnute tena labhyah, tasya esha aatmaa vivrnute tanum svaam:
That choice – swayamvara – is made by the Self. And the Self chooses only the one who has silence in his heart, stillness, joy and celebration; only the one whose heart is filled with awe, with trust, with love and with waiting. Into such hearts, the Self descends. In such hearts, the Self reveals itself.
The unknown author of the following passage was in his room when it happened to him. He had been passing through a dark period and then one day a feeling of surrender overcame him – born of helplessness. He said to himself. “I can do no more. Let nature, or whatever is behind the universe, look after me now.” And let go of himself and then it happened.
“The world was infinitely beautiful, full of light as if from an inner radiance. Everything was alive and God was present in all things; in fact, the earth, all plants, and animals and people seemed to be made of God. All things were one, and I was one with all creation and held safe within a deep love. I was filled with peace and joy and with deep humility, and could only bow down in the holiness of the presence of God. . . if anyone had brought news that any member of my family had died, I should have laughed and said “There is no death’. It was as if scales had fallen from my eyes and I saw the world as it truly was. How had I lived for thirty-three years and been so blind? This was the secret of the world, yet it all seemed so obvious and natural that I had no idea that I should not always see it so. I felt like going round and telling everyone that all things were one and that knowledge of this would cure all ills . . .”
Ishaavaasyam idam sarvam, says the Ishavasya Upanishad: Everything, is enveloped in God, all this is nothing but God. And that precisely is what the person narrating his experience experiences spontaneously in his moment of letting go.
Surrendering of the human will is the final suicidal act of the ego, the limited self. When that happens, miracles begin happening. Then the true nature of the world and of the self is revealed for the first time.