Mystical Experiencer: Female in early eighties
Current location: U.S.A.
Age at time of experience: 34
I was in a very difficult marriage of 16 years, with four children aged 10 to 15. (I want to say that further in this description there is an ugly incident described, just to let you know ahead of your reading it.) I had been raised Catholic but had stopped believing its doctrine at a fairly early age. At this time, I did not engage in religious practices.
I was enrolled in an English lit class and was lying on a couch reading “Doors of Perception” by Aldous Huxley, which had been mentioned in class. At one place Huxley says that what he was experiencing couldn’t be described as good or bad (paraphrase). I put the book down on my chest and began wondering how something as positive and wonderful as his experience was could be beyond good or bad.
I was looking out the window at a bird in a pine tree as I lay there. All at once my question was answered. I understood how everything and everyone was One. One of the most beautiful parts of the experience was my understanding that our individuality (or ego) is the least important thing about us. I stood up and I think I walked around a little in my living room. My color sense changed in that everything was light-filled and brighter. I understood that there are no paradoxes; none. (I can hardly write this now it is still so powerful as I try to describe it.) Of course, there are not words to adequately do so.
I don’t know how long this understanding lasted, but it seems like it was an hour or more. It is the most important day of my life. I am and have been a very agnostically-oriented person. I could never be untrue to this experience or deny it. This was not a religious experience. It did not give me a belief in an individual afterlife.
When my husband came home intoxicated as usual late that night, I was hopeful, said to him that we had a whole new basis for our marriage. I tried to tell him about my experience. He was angry and uninterested. We went to bed. He listened to the radio often as he went to sleep. At that time, I had had no experience with classical music; I had tried to listen to it once as a child but my father said the piece was about trees blowing in the wind or something like that and I couldn’t hear that, and didn’t like it.
By some incredible stroke of luck during the night, classical music had come on. (My husband did not ever listen to classical music.) I woke up hearing this music on the radio. I rushed out to the living room where we had one classical record that a friend had loaned me and I’d not listened to: Beethoven’s 6th. I put it on the stereo and it seemed to recreate or describe a part of the experience I had had. Since that day I am very much an appreciator of classical music and play it frequently.
I left my husband some months after this experience. The final break came when we were in a truck and I told him I was concerned about his smoking. He said “Every time you open your mouth you vomit all over yourself.” This felt like an assault on my experience, which I knew to be true. I got out of the truck with the children and walked home. Despite being afraid he might kill me, when he got home, I told him he had to leave, and I stuck to it.
This experience changed my life. Perhaps I’ll have a chance to say this later, but I had some further experiences which I considered small sequelae to my earlier experience, one where looking at my kitchen cabinets I seemed to know the entire history of cabinetmaking, the relationship of humans to cabinets and storage, what it takes and what it took in times far past to be a cabinetmaker. I had experiences also where I could see (not actually see of course) but felt I could see that trees and vegetation are connected deeply to the planet, the ground. I have also experienced a feeling that I could never be lonely again, with nature around me, having seen somehow into the life of nature.
I also want to say I am a pretty rational and calm type, not given to emotional outbursts or excess. One unusual thing about my history is that my IQ has been tested with the Stanford-Binet when I was 18 as part of a job application, the Wais II-R, and Miller Analogies (which has a high correlation with standard IQ tests) and I come out at the 99.9 percentile. I am virtually uneducated, however, particularly in the sciences, even basic math, despite having an MS in counseling psychology, and I think few would ever guess my IQ. I do belong to the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, an organization for those at the 99.9 percentile and above in IQ.
I see your next question (Please indicate what you consider the content of your most significant mystical experience to have been…) and will check neutral, but you don’t have a response choice that is adequate. It is so far beyond any category. I have my answer to Huxley’s question.