Thursday, October 21, 2010

One Last Question for the Week Because I liked this one and wish I knew who it was from

Do you think mystical experiences are possible? Ever had one? I'm not particularly neurotic (or religious, for that matter) but I think I just had one. It's left me at a bit of a crossroads. Do I shrug it off and have a beer, or change my life posture?

I'm not religious. I don't believe in ghosts or fates or curses or all the invisible creepy stuff that goes bump in the night. I don't believe in some higher power that gives our lives meaning or direction. I think we're pretty much on our own, and because some people find that a terrifying thought, our imaginations invent things to help us cope. Myths give us a sense of control, naming what we don't understand. And they're sort of fun because everyone likes fear that isn't mortal. It gives us drama, death and blood and afterlife, good and evil.

I do, however, believe in psychology and the power of the brain. I think the brain is an insanely complicated wonderful tool, and we are just chimps beating it against rocks. Well no, I don't think we're really that primitive, but we aren't even close to understanding how it works. I believe in biology though.

So when someone tells me they have seen a ghost, or have had a religious experience, I don't automatically think they are full of shit. I just think we don't know what electric-chemical cascade caused it. Okay, maybe sometimes I think they are full of shit.

Mystical experience is an open ended term. Is it a chain of coincidences so bizarre you find it hard to believe there isn't a reason behind it? Or did you see something glowing and shadowy? Did you see the word Cat written on a cat? I think the mind has to process a lot of data constantly, and that there are thoughts you are having beneath the thoughts you are consciously aware of. Dreams are sort of like that, your mind cleaning up the debris from the day before, having wild freakouts based on tenuous memories of stress. So I think, and yes this is guesswork, that mystical experiences are the waking equivalents of dreams. Or you had a seizure. Or you have a tumor. Or maybe something just tripped up in your circuitry. OR, in the far more conscious area of our fucked-up-ness, sometimes we see things because we want to see them. I mean, sometimes it's good to glimpse the narrative.

If it pointed you towards god, well, whatever, that's your choice. But I think a desire for god is indicative of a desire for something else in your life, and if you just name it god, then you're missing the real point. I don't know what it is you're missing, or what you're scared of, or what you want. Obviously though , whatever the stimuli was, your brain is trying to make a connection between A and B, and there is no reason to ignore that. But don't just write it off as a mystical unexplainable thing. Find out what it is about yourself that makes you want to interpret the event this way.

As for changing your life posture? Take every opportunity to reevaluate that, whenever possible. Cause most of the time we are wrong about everything. Right now, for instance, I was wrong about trying to make rice and beans without an onion. You just have to move on.

Ask Me Anything


  1. So... what was your supernatural otherworldly freaky-joe experience?

  2. I don't think I've ever had one,
    but when I was little, I used to get feelings of deja vu frequently, like every day. I almost convinced myself when I was 8 that I was having precognitive dreams, but I've always been really full of myself, even as a little kid. Then I joined Young Astronauts, and learned that knowing how something really works is just as miraculous as magic. Also, there was this time on a night hike in the Metroparks, where they made us chew the wintergreen lifesavers in the dark? That was pretty life changing too.

  3. Right...ANY kind of experience is possible, because perception is modular & illusory. QED.

  4. It's fun that we have this specific difference of opinion - Mulder and Scully.

  5. So you're Mulder then? I'm totally okay with that.

  6. We are def wrong about a lot, and I hate it when people are wrong about really important things and claim it's because "god" believes it to be true. Like whether homosexuality is this horrible horrible thing. Or eating shellfish is a horrible horrible thing. Or the worst--being a gay person eating shellfish. God totally hates that. (thank you Leviticus for the entertainment)


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