Mystical Experiencer: Male in mid-sixties
Current location: Australia
Age at time of experience: 20
When I was nineteen years old, I reached a stage where I was challenging my Christian beliefs and eventually concluded that without evidence, I should become an atheist. Talking to some young Catholic friends, they persuaded me to seek forgiveness for my sins. I figured it would be as good a test as any and then I could confront them with the failure of their belief. That evening, I closed myself in my bedroom and tried to summon God by praying for forgiveness. Nothing happened. I reflected on the empty universe and the pointlessness of consciousness. The universe seemed empty and cold and the problems of the world were overwhelming, with crime, evil, pollution and nuclear war a real threat (in 1973). I felt misery but determined to make my point. Again, I prayed and again nothing.
Finally, I decided the experiment was complete and I would be an atheist. I had nothing to confess, being pretty kind and causing no harm to anyone. But, unaccountably, I suddenly felt arrogant. Who was I to judge whether I was “sinless”? Much to my surprise, I suddenly felt guilty and cried like a baby, this time imploring God for forgiveness through Jesus. Suddenly, my room seemed suffused with a soft golden light and I felt this powerful Presence literally cradling me with love. It was like being in an oven of Love. I felt a communication without words that I was fine and blameless. I was “told” not to worry because the world and the universe was proceeding according to God’s Plan. Eventually, my room returned to normal. The entire experience occurred while I was wide awake either standing or on my knees.
After this, I tried to find meaning in church groups, but found them too focused on ritual or simply socializing. I’ve had other psychic experiences before and since – out of body experiences, premonitions etc., but nothing to match or repeat this. Strangely, I still do not accept traditional notions of sin. I feel as though my experience was caused by the breaking down of my ego to allow me to perceive God. But I’m not so arrogant as to insist on this, as my experience was very much a Christian one. Another odd thing was that my Christian friends at the time had no inkling of what they had triggered and themselves did not aim to produce such an experience in me.