THE MYSTIC SENSE
In his book on Zen Paganism (1), Tom Swiss has a chapter called The Mystic Sense. He includes Mystic, a poem by D.H. Lawrence.
They call all experiences of the
senses mystic, when the
experience is considered.
So an apple becomes mystic
when I taste in it
the summer and the snows, the
wild welter of earth
and the insistence of the sun.
Swiss notes, “one specific, wonderful deep type of beauty comes … from the perception of a relationship between our immediate subjective experience and the broader world”. He adds that depending on our social conditioning and religious training we may come to conceptualise this in terms like ‘cosmic consciousness’, ‘the presence of the divine’, ‘the perception of emptiness’, a feeling of ‘oneness with the universe’, or of ‘sacredness’ or an experience of ‘no-mind’. They are all expressions of the mystical sense, and we have entered a period in which we can let go of any residual belief that this sense is a rare possession, or the exclusive province of a few spiritual specialists and champions.
The way we make meaning and find a language for such experiences may still be heavily conditioned by culture and still be used to justify the truth of dogmas that have in reality “only provided a filter” and “determined what color glasses” we are wearing when we “behold the Clear Light”. But behold it we do, in many different ways, and “with practice we can develop this sense”. Indeed we can “even manage to perceive the mystical experience from multiple perspectives, to swap the glasses for a couple of different colors”. In this context, Swiss reminds us that “this is one of the goals of ceremonial magic, as practised by occultists and Pagans” and not at all confined to still, meditative states.
- Swiss, Tom (2013) Why Buddha touched the earth: Zen Paganism for the 21st. century Stafford, UK: Megalithica books