Practical Ecstasy

Whirling Dervishes, Istanbul. Photo by Lohen11

Recent events have me thinking yet again about ecstasy, mind, spirit and the power of suggestion and belief. The laying on of hands by Pentecostals. The ecstatic motions of Sufis. The chanting OMs of Hindus and Buddhists. The trance-states of shamans, west, east, south and north.

The universal appearance of X proves that X is not uniquely the province of any one region, culture, or religion. By definition. As in, if there are instances of peanut butter all over the world, then no one religion can claim ownership of peanut butter or its source. No one religion can logically claim they hold the only key to the peanut butter cabinet, when members of dozens of religions have access.

To take this sticky metaphor a bit further. Each case of peanut butter appearance has a story regarding the origin of that peanut butter. Many will pull resources and agree to the same origin, but across the world there will be hundreds of those origins. Same thing. Peanut butter. Hundreds of origins for that same thing.

The chances that they are all right about their interpretations of origins is minuscule. But the chance that only one interpretation out of hundreds is right is less than zero. The sheer multiplicity of origin stories all but negates the possibility of one being right and all of the rest being wrong. The sheer multiplicity of authentically striving adepts from dozens of religions, each looking for peanut butter, negates the extremely narrow view that only one holds the key to the origin of the cabinet.

The origin of the cabinet and the origin of the peanut butter. Organized religions want you to go through them to get to their particular cabinet. They don’t want you to go to the store and find the peanut butter for yourself. They also don’t want you to notice that people all around the world have their cabinets too, and their access to that peanut butter, and their own names for the cabinet, the peanut butter, and the source of both. That would, of course, confuse people and perhaps push them toward removing the middle men.

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A subject for a later day: What is happening when people feel the ecstasy, peace, serenity, or blast coming from a religious (or poetic, artistic, musical) experience? Is it the merger of the conscious and subconscious minds? Is it truly a meeting with a divine being or force? Is it the meeting of humans and just one divine source, with just one name and one story?

Is it all in our heads, or is there some outside force involved?

For me, the universality of the experience rules out the possibility that any one religion is right and all others are wrong. I see that as physically and logically impossible. My questions then are mostly reduced to two possibilities.

(Of course, my questions are virtually endless, but these two are essential)

1. Is this experience simply the result of the power of suggestion, belief, or faith in something beyond us that actually does not exist . . . which causes, in some cases, for some people, a powerful physiological alteration?

2. Is there a divine force that works on those willing to believe, practice, strive for at-one-ness, but that makes no distinction based upon region, culture, or religion? As in, a divine being or force that couldn’t possibly care less about what it is called or the stories humans have developed about it in pursuit of explanation and understanding?

Again, to be continued . . . .


Practical Ecstasy
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