Mystical Experience of Karl Joel

Karl Joel (1864 – 1934) was a German philosopher and a professor at the University of Basel. He opposed physicalism and claims of “objectivity” in the study of reality, as he believed natural materialism ignores spirituality’s subjective and emotional components, which are part of the fullness of reality.

In Joel’s book, Soul and World, he described his “primal experience” (mystical experience) as follows:

“I lay on the seashore, the shining waters glittering in my dreamy eyes, at a great distance fluttered the soft breeze, throbbing, shimmering, stirring, lulling to sleep comes the wave beat to the shore – or to the car?  I know not.  Distance and nearness become blurred into one; without and within glide into each other.  Nearer and nearer, dearer and more homelike sounds the beating of the waves, now, like a thundering pulse in my head it strikes, and now it beats over my soul, devours it, embraces it, while it itself at the same time floats out like the blue waste of waters.  Yes, without and within are one Glistening and foaming, flowing and fanning and roaring, the entire symphony of the stimuli experienced sounds in one tone, all thought becomes one thought, which becomes one with feeling, the world exhales in the soul and the soul dissolves in the world.  Our small life is encircled by a great sleep – the sleep of our cradle, the sleep of our grave, the sleep of our home, from which we go forth in the morning, to which we again return in the evening, our life but the short Journey, the interval between the emergence from the original oneness and the sinking back into it!  Blue shimmers the infinite sea, wherein dreams the jelly fish of the primitive life, toward which without ceasing our thoughts hark back dimly through eons of existence.  For every happening entails a change and a guarantee of the unity of life.  At that moment when they are no longer blended together, in that instant man lifts his head, blind and dripping, from the depths of the stream of experience, from the oneness with the experience, at that moment of parting when the unity of life in startled surprise detaches the Change and holds it away from itself as something alien, at this moment of alienation the aspects of the experience have been substantialized into subject and object, and in that moment consciousness is born.”

Quoted from Karl Joel’s book, Soul and World, in Psychology of the Unconscious by Carl Jung.

Photo Credit: Karl Joel from

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