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Mystical Experience of Flora Courtois

Flora Courtois (1916 – 2000) seemed to have a self-described “magic communion” with the natural world that began during her childhood.  While a college student in the 1940s, she had an enlightenment experience after months of deeply pondering the question, “What is Reality?”.  She described this experience (and others) in her 1986 book, An Experience of Enlightenment.  Courtois was a founding member of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, which opened in 1967 and aims to help foster “an enlightened world free of suffering, in which all beings live in harmony with each other and the earth, everyone has enough, deep wisdom is realized and compassion flows unhindered.” 

Courtois described her enlightenment experience (mystical experience) as follows:

“It was as if, before all this occurred, “I” had been a fixed point inside my head looking out at the world out there, a separate and comparatively flat world.  The periphery of awareness had now come to light, yet neither fixed periphery nor center existed as such.  A paradoxical quality seemed to permeate all existence. Feeling myself centered as never before, at the same time I knew the whole universe to be centered at every point.  Having plunged to the center of emptiness, having lost all purposefulness in the old sense, I had never felt so one-pointed, so clear and decisive.  Freed from separateness, feeling one with the universe, everything including myself had become at once unique and equal.  If God was the word for this Presence in which I was absorbed, then everything was either holy or nothing; no distinction was possible.  All was meaningful, complete as it was, each bird, bud, midge, mole, atom, crystal, of total importance in itself.  As in the notes of a great symphony, nothing was large or small, nothing of more or less importance to the whole.  I now saw that wholeness and holiness are one.”

Quoted from Flora Courtois’ An Experience of Enlightenment in The Hazy Moon of Enlightenment by Taizen Maezumi and Bernard Glassman.

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