Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 22: Inspiration and the Overself > Chapter 6: Experiencing a Glimpse
Experiencing a Glimpse
How a glimpse comes in
These glimpses come at the most unexpected of times and in the most unexpected places. It is not possible to be dogmatic about their appearance and be correct at the same time. Reports have been received which reveal that they may come abruptly during the strain and pressure of business or professional activity, as well as during the relaxation of leisure hours, at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the day, during pleasurable periods or amid great suffering.
The Overself's take-over is not always the same but changes with the time and the occasion, the person and the place. It may be gentle, quiet, almost unmarked at first, or it may be like a tremendous force, commanding and irresistible.
The experience may come on gently in moods of relaxation or flash abruptly after a period of emotional or intellectual tension.
Sometimes he will definitely feel that he is being led into an experience, a mood, or an idea. At other times he may feel himself being drawn inward quite deeply as if the very roots of his egoic being were penetrated; more rarely as if he has been drawn beyond the ego itself.
When this consciousness takes hold of a man, it takes him by surprise. Infinity is so utterly different from what he was experiencing a few minutes earlier that its wonder, its truth, its beauty, its love fill him abruptly, as if in descent from the skies.
The element of surprise and the delight of novelty are present and give the Glimpse its rapturous turn.
The glimpse may come to him with a suddenness which makes the surrounding circumstances quite incongruous.
The glimpse takes you unawares.
When the humour of a particular situation or scene, happening or idea strikes a person he may burst out into sudden laughter. It is not long-forming but explosive, not built-up like a wall brick-by-brick but flashed across the darkness like lightning. His mind has this possibility of an abrupt move, an unexpected leap. Just so does it still possess this same possibility with regard to the discovery of truth.
Enlightenment is always "sudden" in the sense that during meditation or reverie or relaxation the preliminary thought-concentrating gestatory period usually moves through consciousness quite slowly until, at some unexpected moment, there is an abrupt deepening, followed by a slipping into another dimension, a finding oneself alive in a new atmosphere.
A passing sign of progress in arousing latent forces and a physical indication that he is on the eve of noteworthy mystical experience may be a sudden unexpected vibratory movement in the region of the abdomen, in the solar plexus. It usually comes when he has been relaxed for a short time from the daily cares, or after retiring to bed for the night. The diaphragmatic muscle will appear to tremble violently and something will seem to surge to and fro like a snake behind the solar plexus. This bodily agitation will soon subside and be followed by a pleasant calm and out of this calm there will presently arise a sense of unusual power, of heightened control over the animal nature and human self. With this there may also come a clear intuition about some truth needed at the time and a revelatory expansion of consciousness into supersensual reality.
These moods descend without invitation and depart without permission.
This is the crucial point when ordinary compulsive mental activity fades away and stillness supervenes, perhaps very briefly, perhaps for some minutes.
For some time he is tense with the feeling of being about to receive a new revelation.
Each glimpse is not just a repeat performance; it is a fresh new experience.
Each time the glimpse comes, it is as if it had never come before, so fresh, so sparkling is its never-failing wonder.
The higher awareness comes on imperceptibly and little by little. But as it silently gathers itself, like a cloud, it also breaks like a renovating cloud--vehement, sparkling, and splashing.
The belief, which prevails in Japan, China, and other lands, in a sudden abrupt enlightenment when one thinks quietly or says aloud, "Ah! so this is IT," has a factual basis. This satori, as the Japanese call it, may be either a temporary or a permanent glimpse.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, "The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek." Such is the coming of a glimpse--at the moment of arrival, unsought.
Although such glimpses come mostly when a man is alone, come in quiet solitude, they need not do so. They have sometimes come to him in a crowded street or on a well-filled ship.
The signs of this visitation are not always the same. It may delicately brush him with the feeling of its presence or forcefully stimulate him with the strength of its being.
The beginner usually has to go through an emotional experience in order to receive a mystical experience, but the proficient is under no necessity to do so.
It comes into the orb of his awareness as an unstruggled and unsensational happening, so easily, so smoothly, that there is no dramatic emotion.
The sensitive informed and experienced person may get intimations, may feel the glimpse coming even before the actual joyous event.
In that moment he feels on the very verge of eternity, about to lose himself in its impersonal depths.
When the opportunity to gain a glimpse of his Overself draws near, it will be foreshadowed by certain happenings, either of an inward or an outward nature, or both.
The glimpse often comes unexpectedly and suddenly. If it comes while he is outdoors and walking a city street, he will automatically and unconsciously slow his pace and sometimes even come to a complete standstill.
They may come quite abruptly, those intensely lived moments of true vision, those spasmodic glimpses of a beauty and truth above the best which earthly life offers. The mind then rests and there is a gap in its usual activities, a Void out of which these heavenly experiences come to life as they overcome our ordinary feelings.
In those earlier days when I was struggling to get established, the glimpse would come upon me in the most incongruous as well as the most likely occasions. One of these frequent but strange times was when I bent down to tie or untie the laces of my shoes.
The Overself takes over his identity not by obliterating it but by including it through its surrender.
The glimpse state may come on in different ways. Sometimes it disinclines the man from moving. But if he must attend to some matter which requires him to go across a room or out of the house, his feet will seem to move of themselves, but very, very slowly.
Before the glimpse can occur, the aspirant may have to pass through a major crisis of his inner life, sometimes of his outer life too. The mental pressure and emotional strain may leave him feeling utterly confused, perhaps even utterly forlorn. But its sudden culmination in the glimpse will replace darkness by light, chaos by direction, and blindness by sight.
It comes unexpectedly in relaxed moments, when enhanced physical or mental ease suspends the ego's activity.
Caught by the grace, and drawn into its stillness, he may find the physical body reproducing the same conditions by becoming quite immobile.
It may give him a catch of the breath, if not of the heart, when the stillness is first felt if it comes unexpectedly and abruptly.
The Divine Power is without shape, is pure Spirit; so the worshipper who accepts or creates any concept of it, or who sees it in spectral celestial vision, himself furnishes a vehicle for it. In the case of the concept, it arises from association of ideas: in the case of the vision, by expectancy or familiarity. In both cases, mind speaks whatever language, assumes whatever aspect appeals to the man thinking about God!
The idea, ideal person, inspired prophet, or human redeemer whose image is best established in a person's mind by custom and familiarity is in most cases the channel used by the Overself when bestowing the glimpse.
Little by little the stress dissolves, the clamant duties to do this or that fall away as the recognition that this is a benedictory visitation comes closer.
The glimpse may move so gently into awareness that the beginning is hardly noticed. Or it may move in with a rush that overwhelms him. With it, knowledge, understanding, meaning, nobility, and divinity fill the aura around him at the moment.
It is the awareness of a Presence, a felt but hushed benignity, which signals this kind of entry, this glimpse; but there are other kinds, more forceful yet not more superior.
If the glimpse comes unexpectedly in most cases, it comes unaccountedly in others.
It is the beginning of what he really wants to happen, this feeling of an inward-drawing presence. This awareness is a new experience so it flickers on and off, unadjusted.
Who knows? It may come to you so quietly, so devoid of sounds and expectations, that so many smile at what begins to happen to you. But then it may come like a cloudburst.
Either gently and slowly the ego is taken over or violently and quickly the "I" is seized. This may happen during meditation or at any time when he is somewhat relaxed, out of it.
The glimpse may come in the depth of meditation where expectancy places it. But it may also come at unexpected moments.
And then the long looked-for event will happen. A presence, nay a power, will suddenly make itself felt and control him out of himself by an irresistible impetus moving like a tidal wave.
It will come to him as quietly as the moon comes into the sky.
The glimpses are not controllable. They come or go without consulting us.
The glimpse may come only once or twice in a lifetime to one quester yet repeat itself twentyfold to another person.
There are scattered moments of inner rapture underived from earthly things, although they may be started off by earthly things.
The beauty of these glimpses is heightened by the delight of their unexpectedness.
Bartolommeo della Gatta, fifteenth-century painter, who was himself a monk, made a picture (for a Confraternity in Castel-Fiorentino) of Saint Francis in which the latter appears half-standing, half-squatting, caught in mystical rapturous adoration.
The coming of a glimpse is not predictable, although it may be encouraged by contact with Nature, appreciation of art, or practice of meditation. It is less predictable than the clearing of haze which so often hovers over the nearby Swiss lake. "The wind bloweth where it listeth," said Jesus in this connection.
There are moments when all his acutest thought-movement is stilled and he finds himself bereft of power, forced into utter submission to the divine Overself.
If it starts with a faint awareness of being caught in a still moment, it ends in a full experience.
The glimpse shows up something of his higher identity. What is interesting also is that its advent is unpredictable, its form changeable: but it is always fascinating.
I do not know the name of the ancient Chinese poet who wrote these lines but they refer to the glimpse:
For about thirty years I wandered
Searching for the real Tao everywhere . . .
But at this moment, seeing the peach blossoms,
I am suddenly enlightened, and have no more doubts.
They come in their own mysterious seasons, stay with us in all their brief beauty, and depart as mysteriously and as elusively as they came.
Characteristics of glimpses
The glimpse is what the name purports to be and should not be regarded as something more, as the fullest opening of the mind to divine truth. But naturally, because there are different capacities and temperaments in different persons, one glimpse may be wider than another, or take a less similar form.
The Glimpses are not completely uniform in their details. In each one there is different emphasis on a particular aspect, such as its Beauty, Power, Impersonality, or Emptiness.
Since no two human beings are exactly alike, whether in body or mind, the kind of glimpse which each one gets, the way in which he or she feels and finds the Overself's pressure, is entirely according to personal needs and not according to a fixed stereotyped pattern for all.
All men who win through to the world of their higher self, enter the same world. If their reports differ, as they do, that is not because the experiences differ but because the men themselves differ. Nevertheless a comparative examination of all available reports will show that there is still a golden thread of similarity running through them, a highest common factor of perception.
The first occasion when this happens brings a thrill of wonder. This is of course due in part to the tremendous nature of the Overself's discovery, but it is also due to its novelty, to the fact that it was never previously experienced. Hence the thrill cannot come again, cannot be repeated even though the experience itself may be repeated several times; but the wonder will always remain.
There is the deepest feeling in the glimpse, but this does not at all mean it is hysterical. It may be extremely quiet. It may be strongly passionate, in which case it will be completely under control--not by the ego but by the higher power.
When he begins to know himself as he really is, when he experiences this wondrous touch of the Untouch, he feels truly alive.
The amazing clearness of the whole revelation and the certainty beyond all possible doubt which accompanies it are only two of its features. An extraordinary inspired elation--emotional, intellectual, and intuitive--is a third feature, with a diffused sense of well-being as its consequence or its corollary.
The points of this experience are the difficulty of describing it precisely, the joy it yields and the peace it brings, the feeling of a finer self and the sense of a higher presence, the appraisal of its preciousness and the fading away of worldly desires.
In that blessed moment he finds himself free in a way never before felt. For he finds himself without the perplexities of the intellect and without the schemings of the ego.
When the two are one, when ego and Overself no longer remain at a distance from one another, man experiences his first illumination. What will happen thereafter is wrapped in mystery.
In this brief interval when he feels himself to be in the presence of the Overself, when goodwill, peace, and wisdom become living eternal realities rather than mere mocking words, the littleness vanishes from life and a sacred grandeur replaces it.
In extreme cases, he may even feel as if this is the first time in human history that anyone has had such a glowing experience.
The tremulous happiness of these contemplative moments attains its zenith with an inarticulate breathless stillness.
He feels elated, lifted up beyond his normal self, intensely happy without having any particular physical cause to account for his happiness. He feels too that there is goodness at the heart of things and an urge to share this goodness with all others. And lastly, the burden of past sins and ancient errors falls from his shoulders. He has become cleansed, purified, made whole.
These splendid moments, so filled with flashes of beauty and goodness, so tremendous in meaning and perspective, are like peeps into Paradise.
All through his spiritual career he has dreamt of this first blissful and unique moment when he would enter the Overself's awareness.
In these blessed moments he loves God and knows that he is loved by God.
The experience is feeling blent with knowing, but the feeling is as delicious as peach-blossom and the knowing is as certain as sunrise.
In finding the godlike within himself, he finds also the Good. And from that stems forth goodwill toward all. It is really love active on a higher plane, love purified of self and cleansed of grossness.
Glimpses vary much in their nature. Some are soft, mild and delicate, quiet and restrained; others are ecstatic, rapturous, and excited. All give some sort of uplift, exaltation, enlightenment, or revelation and also to varying degrees.
I remember the first time I had this astonishing experience. I was fond of disappearing from London whenever the weather allowed and wandering alongside the river Thames in its more picturesque country parts. If the day was sunny I would stretch my feet out, lie down in the grass, pull out notebook and pen from my pocket--knowing that thoughts would eventually arise that would have for me an instructive or even revelatory nature, apart from those ordinary ones which were merely expressive. One day, while I was waiting for these thoughts to arise, I lost the feeling that I was there at all. I seemed to dissolve and vanish from that place, but not from consciousness. Something was there, a presence, certainly not me, but I was fully aware of it. It seemed to be something of the highest importance, the only thing that mattered. After a few minutes I came back, discovered myself in time and space again; but a great peace had touched me and a very benevolent feeling was still with me. I looked at the trees, the shrubs, the flowers, and the grass and felt a tremendous sympathy with them and then when I thought of other persons a tremendous benevolence towards them.
In this mysterious moment the two are one. He no longer abides with the mere images of reality. He is now in the authentic world of reality itself.
There are three stages in each glimpse. The initial one brings a soft feeling of its gentle approach. The second carries the man to its peak of upliftment, enlightenment, and peace. The final one draws him down again into a fading glow which occupies the mind's background and later survives only in memory.
It is a state of exquisite tenderness, of love welling up from an inner centre and radiating outward in all directions. If other human beings or animal creatures come within his contact at the time, they become recipients of this love without exception. For then no enemies are recognized, none are disliked, and it is not possible to regard anyone as repulsive.
The mood is exhilarative without being excitable, centered in reality without losing touch with this pseudo-real world.
He may find himself lost at times in short periods of absent-mindedness. It may be in the sound of a bubbling brook or some lovely music or some striking lines of memorable prose. With that he forgets cares and peace wells up within him. Such an experience comes close to the mystical glimpse, only the mystic's consciousness moves on a higher level. He seeks a diviner life, a finer soul, inner peace.
For a fraction of the hour, time suddenly and uniquely steps aside, Isis is unveiled and the real beauty of Being exhibits itself: All is suspended in this glimpse, all is stillness and grace.
The memory of a first glimpse is imperishable. It is a love-experience along with a birth of knowledge, all under an enchanter's spell.
When the highly personal egocentric attitude is first displaced by the Overself, there is a sense of sharp liberation and utter relief.
In those glorious experiences, he seems to live a charmed existence, above all that distressed him before, beyond all the hideous negatives which the world obtrudes on his notice, secure in a spiritual ivory tower shimmering with inner light all around.
It is an experience which happens deep inside the heart.
The glimpse is fresh and direct, it is both a vision and an experience and above all it is spontaneous, for it comes by itself.
There is the peace which comes from having a well-filled stomach. There is the peace of the graveyard. But a glimpse gives us the highest peace, the Shanti of Indian sages, that which passeth understanding of the New Testament.
The world's dirt seems so remote from these moods of complete goodness as to seem non-existent, or a mere vaporous mist at most.
With the glimpse a feeling overspreads his heart of benevolence towards all living creatures--not only human but also animal and not only animal but even plant. He would not, could not knowingly harm a single one. The Christians call this love, the Buddhists compassion, the Hindus oneness. My own term is goodwill, but all are right. These are different facets, as seen from different points.
In this wonderful state he becomes keenly aware of the love that is at the core of the universe, and therefore at his own core too. But he not only absorbs it, he also radiates it. It is not something to be held selfishly, like a material possession. As it is received, so is it given.
There is no possibility here of feeling stagnant, mediocre, ordinary. It is their very contraries that he feels.
There are exquisite moments when all existence seems elevated to a higher plane, when one's individual being is absorbed in a harmony with all things.
The feeling which comes over him at this stage is indescribably delightful. He recognizes its divine quality and rightly attributes it to a transcendental source. No vision accompanies it. Yet the certitude and reality seem greater than if one did.
The common youthful experience of falling in love bears some of the leading characteristics of this uncommon mystical experience of awakening to the divine reality. But of course it bears them in a grosser and smaller way. Some of them are: a feeling of "walking on air," a frequent recollection of the beloved at unexpected moments, a glowing sense of deliverance from burdens, a cheerful attitude towards everything and everyone, intense satisfaction with life, rosy expectations about the future, expanded sympathies, dreamy absent-minded lapses from attention to the prosaic everyday round, and new appreciation of poetry, music, or Nature's beauty.
There is a self which he feels within him yet it is not himself. Something unknown yet joy-giving.
Some dynamic force streams though the blood in his veins, the feeling in his heart, and the will in his innermost being. It is no ordinary force, for he knows that never or rarely has he experienced its like before. There is magic in its movement, enchantment in its effect.
The things of the world fall far away from you and a great spell will seemingly be put upon the leaping mind till you remember little of name, or kin, or country, and care less. You lie in the lap of a shining mood, granted respite from heavy cares and given relaxation from corrosive thoughts. You become aware of the secret undercurrent of holy peace which flows silently beneath the heart.
Although his general experience of it will be of its gentleness, there will be times when he will feel only an authoritative and commanding force in it, when tremendous power will manifest and rule in some episode or event.
He may have a vague feeling of some immaterial presence around or within himself, a presence uplifting, ennobling, unworldly.
Not only is the kingdom of heaven within us but we are ourselves within the kingdom. We may discover this as a psychic and visual experience, as some do, or simply as a feeling-and-knowing experience that All is God.
It is a transparence because he feels open, letting in a rare mood. It is also a transcendence, because he feels lifted out of his ordinary "I" and put down again on a higher level.
Reverence for the divine presence filled my heart, awe at the divine wonder permeated my mind.
He will feel spontaneous peace that comes from he knows not where, intellectual conviction that the right path has been found, mysterious detachment that takes hold of him during worldly temptations and worldly tribulations alike.
When you are in this wider consciousness you are at home. Outwardly you may be without a roof to shelter your head but still you will feel protected, secure, and provided for. Your feeling and your trust are not groundless. For the outward manifestation of this inward care will follow.
You will comprehend that while the Overself thus enfolds you, you can never again feel lonely, never again find the sky turned black because some human love has been denied or been withdrawn from you.
It is there, in the deep centre of himself, that he finds holiness and liberation.
From the physical standpoint, the ego first becomes aware of the Overself as being located in the heart. But in higher mystical experience, this awareness is free from any bodily relationship.
A feeling of lightness and freedom, of songlike well-being and perfect harmony, comes with this disidentification from the body.
. . . I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
He feels a rightness about the world-plan and a loveliness in some deeper part of himself. It may remain for a little while only but its memory will remain for long years.
In this lofty mood, bringing so much goodwill and insight with it, as it does, he is inclined to ignore misunderstanding and hostility from any quarter which caused him resentment or even suffering in the past.
The illumination falls into the mind suddenly and I neither will it nor expect it. There is nothing of the "me" in it. That falls off my shoulders as if it were an extremely heavy and uncomfortable garment.
In that great light all his ego's affairs and concerns seem of small dimension; beside that ethereal beneficence all the world's evil and madness seems like a quickly receding nightmare.
This is his first thrilling discovery of the Overself's existence, his first incontestable evidence of its power. No later experience can equal it in emotional feeling. It is one of the really momentous points of his life.
It is a glimpse of heaven, lifting the mind out of this world and liberating the heart from all that ties it down.
With the Glimpse comes a trailing glory of loveliness and enchantment, and a vast freedom.
This it is to be "born again," to transcend ordinary experience and become aware of a layer of being within the self which is neither sensual nor rational. Nor is it even emotional in the narrow sense except that egocentric feeling is quite definitely and quite richly present. But it is calm, quiet, deep, detached, and elevated.
It is an ennobling experience, shaking out for a few minutes or hours all that is base in a man, all that is mean, small-hearted, and narrow-minded. But perhaps even more marvellous than that is the enormous contentment with which it fills him. Desires dissolve, and with them the frustration, the anxiety, the hopelessness, and the expectancy that accompany them when they remain unfulfilled.
For a short time he loses himself in this beautiful consciousness and lets go of the continual routine which makes up his usual day. He gains a healing rest in nerve, mind, feeling, and even body. Such a glimpse comes of itself--"The wind bloweth where it listeth," declared Jesus.
These glimpses are encounters with divinity. There is a quality about them which separates them from all the other contacts and encounters of life.
This Stillness is called, in the New Testament, "the peace which passeth understanding." It is perhaps the chief feature of the glimpse.
That memorable moment when he first opens the door of Consciousness will clear doubt, sanctify feeling, and balance the entire life.
This new sense of being liberated from the confining measurements of his own ego, unimpeded by attachments and embroilments, carried beyond the vicious passions to inward equipoise, is unimaginably satisfying.
In those moments of inward glory all his life expands. His intelligence advances and his goodness perceives new vistas of growth. Heaven opens out for a while in his emotional world.
When he steps forth from the ego's timed life into the Overself's liberating timelessness, the feeling of confinement falls away like a heavy cloak. He enjoys an unimagined exhilaration.
Just as a blind person suddenly recovering his sight is carried away by a rush of joy, so the mystical neophyte suddenly recovering his spiritual consciousness is carried away by emotional ecstasy. But just as in the course of time the former will become accustomed to the use of his sight and his joy will subside, so the latter will find his ecstasies subside and pass away. His endeavours to recapture them prove fruitless because it is in the nature of emotion that it should suffer a fall after it enjoys a rise.
This wonderful and exquisite feeling is really within himself, only he transfers it unconsciously to the scenes and persons outside himself and thus perceives goodness and beauty everywhere.
If it begins quietly and unassumingly, it ends deeply--with the sensation of having entered briefly and memorably a higher world of being.
If the intercourse of man and woman is the most intimate act in the lives of both, the conscious contact of a human being with the Overself is even more intimate still.
His consciousness is lifted up into another world of being; his little self is in communication with the Overself; his perception of truth is instantly translated into power to live that truth.
It is as if one climbed to a high observation post and from there saw what was before utterly unexpected and incredible.
The peace of these moments, whether achieved by meditation or received by grace, yields a rich satisfying happiness. Why? Because all those thoughts, desires, attachments, and aversions which compose the ego fade away and leave consciousness free.
In this experience he loses consciousness of his own personal identity, a state which begins with a kind of daze but passes into a kind of ecstasy.
These first experiences of feeling raised to transfiguring peaks should not be expected to reproduce themselves often. They are necessarily rare sensations. Nor, when they do repeat themselves, can they come in precisely the same form and with the same initial intensity.
Something of the rapturous emotional reaction is lost by repetition of this experience, but nothing of the wonder and awe is ever lost.
At such moments he is filled with a flowing inspiration, a splendid hope, a vivid understanding.
With both the brief Glimpse and the lasting Fulfilment comes a strong feeling of release. This refers to release from all the various kinds of limitation and restriction which have hemmed and oppressed him heretofore.
Like a prisoner emerging from a gloomy cell after many years or an invalid liberated from long confinement in a hospital bed, he will feel an overwhelming sense of relief as the glimpse deepens and all cares, all burdens, fade away.
There is an air of effectiveness in the experience which accompanies the glimpse, a feeling that here is real power ready for use and easy to use, in the way that the Overself directs, of course.
It is like the feeling of returning to a well-beloved home after long absence, a joy whose arisal is spontaneous and unavoidable.
When the glimpse is at its most, he hears within him the harmony of things like a joyous song.
The Stillness made him feel as religious and reverential as could be, yet he remained unpraying, even unthinking.
The base, the mean, the unworthy, and the low seem alien and far from him: the noble, the high, the true, and the ideal seem to become his own very nature. From this rare contact he draws an unspeakable peace, a divine upliftment.
Too many lives have a hard grey colour about them. The glimpse changes this, for an hour or a day, and puts a delicate pastel beauty in its place.
All that is negative in his character fades away for the time of this glimpse, as if it had never existed. For he feels that there is pure harmony at the heart of things, within the universe's Mind, and that he has momentarily touched it.
In these enchanted moments, all life takes on the shadowlike quality of a dream.
The gulf between the impersonal calm of his present state and the egotistical emotion of his earlier one, is immense.
The sudden Olympian elation which the glimpse gives, the unfamiliar feeling that it is like looking through a window on an entirely different and wholly glorious world of being, the inner knowing that this is reality--these things make it a benediction.
When he is in that consciousness, there is nothing either in place or time which he wants. For his mind is in peace.
It is a strange paradox that in this experience although a man becomes infinitely humbler--for he has to be passive to surrender, if it is to happen at all--he finds at the same time an immense dignity within himself.
In these glorious moments the awareness of evil in the world fades out; by contrast the continuity of original goodness stays unbroken.
The sense of well-being which comes with a glimpse spreads into the body, lights up the mind, glows in the emotions.
In its enfolding peace, he will lose his earthly burdens for a time; by its brooding wisdom, he will comprehend the necessity of renunciation; through its mysterious spell, he will confer grace on suffering men.
As its beauty seeps into him and affects his entire feeling-nature, all his grievances against other men, against life itself, dissolve.
All regrets for the past, complaints about the present, and grumbles over the future, pass away. Even more, all contempt or hatred for other men passes too.
The glimpse brings a feeling of enchantment. It is the opening of a secret door. The effect is a magical release from burdens and a flooding by hope.
With the discovery of this higher self, there comes a conviction of truth gained, a sense of perfect assurance, and a feeling of happy calmness.
The glimpse will affect each individual in a different way, although the feeling of stepping out of darkness into light will be common to all.
It is not merely feeling to which he gives himself up, but being into which he settles.
The conception alone of a peace which is out of this world is simply daring: its realization is utterly gorgeous in beauty and joyous in remembrance.
Mostly as a result of meditation, but sometimes during an unexpected glimpse, a mystical experience of an unusual kind may develop. He feels transparent to the Overself; its light passes into and through him. He then finds that his ordinary condition was as if a thick wall surrounded him, devoid of windows and topped by a thick roof, a condition of imprisonment in limitation and ordinariness. But now the walls turn to glass, their density is miraculously gone, he is not only open to the light streaming in but lets it pass on, irradiating the world around.
Those mysterious divine moments are as the sudden arisal of a bridge flung from time into eternity.
He feels the presence within him of the mysterious entity which is his soul.
This wonderful experience bathes him in wonder, penetrates him with deliciousness, and swings him out into infinity.
In those moods he will journey far from bodily conditions and environmental influences, far from human sins and social strife, to a place of sanctuary, peace, blessing, and love.
He touches the Permanent, feels that his true self is part of eternity and this other self is a foolish thing he is glad to be rid of.
It is an ecstasy which takes complete possession of him for the time; even after it leaves him, there is a kind of twilight glow.
There is a presence at such times which lovingly holds the heart and serenely rests the mind. In human relations its effect is towards harmony with others, and in moral relations towards selflessness. If he will only respond to it, even a bad man will feel its goodness and be good accordingly while the spell lasts.
There are several causes of this joyful feeling, but the primary one is that the prodigal son has returned to his father. Each is exceedingly happy to see the other again.
Something of the quiet joy with which one greets the first faint swelling of green buds on bare trees, comes into the heart with these moods.
There is something in man which does not belong to this world, something mysterious, holy, and serene. It is this that touches and holds him at certain unforgettable moments.
The inner glow is unique, the emotional transport sublime, the intellectual enlightenment exceptional.
Such exalted moments give a man the feeling of his ever-latent greatness.
There is no experience in ordinary life equal to it, no joy so perfect.
Such are the sweeter moments which come as the "herald of a higher Beauty which is advancing upon man!"
A full glimpse gives a self-free experience and a stilled mind.
Such is the overpowering effect of its beauty that, when we are admitted to its presence, every egoistic thought is dropped--even the search for truth, since that too is self-centered.
The sense of ever-continuing being into which he has been drawn and with which he is now identified overwhelms him.
The glimpse is an experience in fascination. The man's mind is allured, his attention firmly fastened, his feelings captivated.
The glimpse puts him for a while--a moment or a day--beyond melancholy, misery, fear, and the other negative emotions.
There are certain intervals when the mind drifts into a kind of half-reverie, its attention diverted to some high theme, its most delicate feelings gently engaged in it. The common world is then far away. An ethereal rarefied atmosphere has taken its place.
Life is halted, time is stopped, mind is stilled, imagination is caught and held.
Time is absolutely still. Mind is absolutely at peace. He feels in the midst of a miracle, one which embraces the whole world.
The discovery of timelessness, of its reality and factuality, is both a thing to wonder at and a joyful experience.
To call it an eternal moment may loosely describe it, but to call it timelessness does so more accurately.
It is in these moments when the glimpse happens that we find new strength, new inspiration, and are able to put our weaknesses, for the moment, at least at a distance.
The glimpse gives a person, for the short period while it exists, a different way of thought, a different attitude towards others, and a different measure for what the world cherishes or despises.
As his inner self is illumined he feels the nearness of God, experiences a loving relationship with God, knows the deathlessness of his own being, and accepts the rightness of all that is throughout the universe.
One feels gathered into the depths of the silence, enfolded by it and then, hidden within it, intuits the mysterious inexplicable invisible and higher power which must remain forever nameless.
Its coming is an emotional, intuitive, non-physical, intellectual, and spiritual event. It happens, this experience of a transcendental Presence, here, in the place that Jesus mentioned--the Heart.
It is an experience of complete security--so rarely found among people in the world today.
As he sinks inside himself, his inner being seems to open out into ever-receding depths.
When the impeccable peace of the Overself inundates a man's heart, he finds that it is no negative thing. It must not be confused with the sinister calm of a graveyard or with the mocking immobility of a paralytic. It is a strong positive and enduring quality which is definitely enjoyable. We actually get a momentary and much-diluted sample of it at such times as when a hated object is suddenly removed from our path, when a powerful ancient ambition is suddenly realized, or when we meet a greatly beloved person after long absence. Why? Because at such moments we are freed from the infatuation with the hatred, the ambition, or the love simply because they have achieved their object and the desire-thoughts become still. The freedom passes almost in a flash, however, because some other infatuation replaces it in the heart within a few moments and thoughts begin their movement again.
Whatever negative ideas and destructive feelings, whatever harassing doubts and muggy confusions he may have had before the Glimpse comes, disappear in its great joyous peace and vast buoyant certitude.
It is not a merely abstract concept in the brain but a piercing experience in the heart.
When these rare moments come quietly upon him, he feels himself humbled and subdued.
In these moments the air seems warm and pleasant, the universe charged with friendliness.
These moments of divine glorification exalt us like moments of hearing fine music. They come with the force of revelations for which we have been waiting. They hold us with the spell of enchantment made by a wizard's hand. Their magical influence and mystical beauty pass all too soon, but the memory of them never does.
The ecstasy of that state is rare, the abundant happiness it yields is unforgettable.
Those who have lifted themselves up at times into the higher Mind know the paradox of the air in which it dwells. For if beneficent gentle peace is there, so too is invigorating immeasurable strength.
The Glimpse comes as a benediction and as a grace. The heart should be grateful, immensely grateful for its visitation. It possesses a beauty which is not of this world, which gives joy to the heart.
Psalms 16:11 "In Thy presence is fulness of joy."
It is a feeling of unearthly and unlimited peace.
The world stands still, the sense of time passing and events happening is suspended. Nothing exists but this Oneness.
Some are ready to enter the light and when--through the mediumship of Nature or Art, a man or a book--that happens, the experience is as enjoyable as entering an orchard of ripened apricots.
The joy comes upon him out of the unknown, gently, mysteriously, and sunnily.
As this wonderful feeling steals over him, there is a clear and unmistakable sense that the Overself is displacing the ego. Hitherto he has obeyed the rule of the flesh and the brain and consequently has shared their pitiful limitations. Now he becomes acutely aware that a new sovereign is taking his place on the throne.
As he approaches nearer to awareness of the Overself, he approaches nearer to a cloistral inward stillness.
He feels that he has reached the very edge of another self, another world of being.
In its newly discovered presence, we are relieved of cares, immune to anxieties about the future, and liberated from regrets about the past.
It is not the unspeech of morbid taciturnity but a mysterious hush which falls on the soul.
If he or she is fortunate there may come to the waiting seeker a sense of uplift, an exalted mood, a feeling of support from a vast mysterious source.
There is a unique bliss in this new-found freedom of the second self, a sublime peace in this dissolution of old restraints.
He feels something of that sacred presence within him and around him. Its effect upon the mind is to leave a glow of benign goodwill to all beings.
It hovers on the edge of indefinable awareness.
What is the mystery of that state when the body sits, stands, or reclines without moving, when the thoughts come to rest and the feelings enter an exquisite calm? It has been given a variety of names, for it takes a man out of this familiar common world and puts him into a most mysterious one.
The ego slides from off his shoulders like a heavy overcoat and he feels delightfully free.
At the ordinary level he has the ordinary outlook, the habitual desires; but there are times when he finds himself at another and higher level where he is unsympathetic to both.
No theological difficulties can trouble this happy state, no religious doubts can enter into it.
The glimpse is like a first airplane ride. Looking down at the earthly scene far below, with its patch-like landscape dotted with black specks called houses and autos, and thinking of those millions of living creatures who live in one and drive in the other, one is overcome with humility.
It is the glorious moment when Adam re-enters Eden, even though he is only a visiting guest and not a permanent dweller therein.
The Glimpse operates to cast an actual spell over him. He is enchanted not merely poetically but literally.
Hours that are so far from the common ones, so timeless in their quality, make him feel like an ageless Sphinx.
Time itself is suspended, and with it go the fears and worries, the unhappiness, which beset living in this world at this hour of its history.
It is a feeling of being right with the universe, with Life itself.
It is as if years spent living in a dark cellar are abruptly ended by moving to a bright sunny apartment.
In this beautiful mood he becomes possessed of perfect leisure. He has all the time now that he needs. There is no need ever for hurry, strain, anxiety.
For a moment or a morning, a day or a week, the confusions of life vanish.
During these wonderful glimpses ordinary existence seems suspended.
He finds a new joy deep within himself, a new and higher meaning deep within life.
Whether he thinks that he has strayed by chance into this starry world or believes that God's grace has fallen upon him, he feels its beauty and peace.
The encounter with the Overself may be hushed and gentle or thrilling and dramatic. But it will certainly be absorbing.
In that beautiful mood, he is wafted upward because his mind turns away from the earth, its interests and desires which ordinarily hold him down.
The glimpse is unquestionably a sort of spell put upon the mind and encircling the self, benign and healing and protective. It imparts a feeling of well-being.
How inadequate are constructed sentences to tell anyone the total wonder of a glimpse, of the I's departure and the Overself's arrival!
The peace descends, the cares are gone, the fears are shed, the avid desires enfeebled.
The experience of liberation yields a peace which lifts him into a detachment from the world never felt before, untouched by sights, persons, incidents, which hitherto produced repulsions, irritations, or rage.
Joy glows quietly on the face of one who is experiencing a glimpse.
The experience will flood his whole day with sun.
He will experience a profound sense of release, a joyous exaltation of feeling, and a lofty soaring of thought.
It would not be wrong to use a word from gustatory experience and describe these moments as delicious.
It is almost entirely an intense and internal experience.
The glimpse carries either a quiet intellectual rapture with it or a seething emotional one.
In such a benignant mood, it is easy to forgive one's enemies their vile conduct or to look at faithless friends in a kindlier light.
It lifts the egoistic out of their egoism for a while, the fearful out of their fears.
When we turn inwards, we turn in the direction of complete composure.
It is the first streak of sunrise on his inner life.
The discovery of the soul's truth carries with it an excitement which only those who spend their lives seeking it know.
The glimpses have various qualities--religious, aesthetic, perceptive, and so on.
In such moments of intimacy with the Overself, as we let go of our pettiness, we feel enlarged.
It gives him, for a short while, an equanimity which he does not have at other times.
His heart is filled with the sense of this Presence and, for the few or many minutes this lasts, he is a changed person.
Some persons get their first glimpse by surprise, quite unexpectedly, and from then begins their quest. But others get it during the onward course of their quest, while searching or waiting for it, and hopefully expectant of it.
When the mind moves inward from everyday consciousness to mystical being, the benedictory change is both ennobling and sublime.
During these short glimpses no anxiety and uncertainty can affect him.
It is but a pause in the constant oscillation of life, a stilling of the ego's pursuits.
But first a hush of peace, a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breast--unuttered harmony
That I could never dream till earth was lost to me.
Then dawns the invisible, the Unseen its truth reveals;
My outward sense is gone, my inward essence feels--
Its wings are almost free, its home, its harbour found;
Measuring the gulf it stoops and dares the final bound!
In these hushed moments a happiness steals over him, a glory is felt all around him.
This is his real being. He sought for it, prayed to it, and communed with it in the past as if it were something other than, and apart from, himself. Now he knows that it was himself, that there is no need for him to do any of these things. All he needs is to recognize what he is and to realize it at every moment.
Overself displaces ego
He enters into a state which is certainly not a disappearance of the ego, but rather a kind of divine fellowship of the ego with its source.
There is still a centre of consciousness in him, still a voice which can utter the words or hold the thought "I am I." The ego is lost in an ocean of being, but the ego's link with God, the Overself, still remains.
He loses his ego in the calm serenity of the Overself, yet at the same time it is, mysteriously, still with him.
With this displacement of ego he enters into the very presence of divinity.
It is neither the ego thinking of the Overself nor the Overself thinking of itself. All thoughts are absent from this experience. It is rather that the Overself contemplates and knows itself in the moment that the ego is withdrawn into it.
A point may be reached at rare infrequent intervals where he retreats so far inwards from the body's senses that he is wholly severed from them. If this happens he will of course be wholly severed from the physical world, too. This throws the body into a condition closely resembling sleep, from the point of view of an outside observer, yet it will not be sleep as men ordinarily know it. It will either be more graphic and more vivid than the most memorable of all his dreams or else it will be entirely without visual incident or pictorial scene. In the first case, it will be perfectly rational and highly instructive yet unique, strange, mystical. In the second case, it will be conscious awareness of the Overself alone, with no personal self for It to inspire.
For the brief period in which it prevails, the glimpse destroys the ego's dominance.
His old centre in the ego has mysteriously gone. His new centre in the Overself has taken its place.
It is an experience without any awareness of an experiencer. There was no one present to note his own reaction to it. It was a state of non-ego.
The consciousness will deepen and, while vacating the personal ego, will take in the higher ego and feel a unity with it.
This is a new dimension of consciousness, where it is coming to itself, demesmerized from the limitation imposed upon it by the ego.
In that moment man has come to himself. Before then he has been dwelling in alien things, in his passions, his thoughts, his emotions, and his desires.
In this ecstatic mental silence, the personal will is given up, the impersonal Overself is given mastery.
His personal identity is taken away for a while, to be replaced by a higher one.
To be born again, in the sense that Jesus used this phrase when speaking to Nicodemus, means to leave the ego's limited and outward awareness for the Overself's infinite and inward awareness.
Within the ego's life there comes to birth another, utterly dissimilar and outwardly unnoticeable.
It is literally a going out of his little self into the liberating enlightening Overself.
The search is at an end. The Overself has come toward us even as we went blindly toward It.
In that blessed moment he sinks his identity into the Reality which he has reached.
Revelation, exaltation, confirmation
This glimpse of a state he has never before seen is an effective revelation. For he has now understood, felt, and experienced--lucidly--the exact meaning of that vague word "spiritual."
There is no confusion here of many different and differing cults; the intellect is not presented with contradictory theologies or rival organizational claims. The stillness lifts him to a stratosphere above all such nonsensical choices.
The glimpse gives a man either a revelation or a confirmation that something exists which transcends this ordinary life, that it is holy, beautiful, satisfying, and that he may commune with it.
The glimpse is a man's personal revelation of his divine possibilities. It is breath-taking and beautiful. He eagerly seeks its repetition.
He will see what he really is--the "I" of everyday experience with the mysterious being behind it.
Only when he knows his ego as it is known in the Overself can a man be truly said to know himself.
The Overself's light enters the understanding and enables him to perceive what men like Jesus really meant when they spoke.
The divine self reveals itself for a few thrilling moments and then draws back into the void where it dwells. But the glimpse is enough to tell him that a higher kind of life is possible and that there is a being beyond the ego.
The glimpse gives him a slight inkling of what the term Overself means. It shows him--not as intellectual idea but as realized fact--something of the ideal toward which he shall strive.
It is in these highest moments of indescribable bliss that a man may know what he truly is and how grand is the relationship that he bears to the Infinite Being.
It is from such paradoxical moments that man learns both how insignificant he is and how great he is!
It is a message of assurance, a communication of knowledge, and a whisper of trust in the Universal Mind.
In these few glorious and luminous moments the truth reveals itself, not to the intellect, but to the inner being.
With this experience of his own divinity, he discovers a meaning in life. Henceforth, he is able to take part consciously in the higher evolution which is inherent in it.
Life announces its divine intention only in the deepest, most secret, and most silent part of our being.
It is not felt as just another experience only but also as a truth, so illuminative is it.
The Glimpse provides assurance that the Soul exists, that God is, that the purpose of human life must include spiritual fulfilment to be complete, and that the Good, the Beautiful, and the True are more enduring and more rewarding than the Bad, the Ugly, the Lie.
Yes it is a wonderful feeling, this which accompanies a glimpse of the higher self; but when it is also merged with a knowing, a positive perception beyond the need of discussion, interpretation, formulation, or judgement, it gives the philosophical seeker a certitude which is like a benediction.
Every man who passes through this experience and holds its memory, verifies for himself that there is an Infinite Life-Power pervading the entire universe--also that it is ever present, perfectly wise, and all-knowing. Its point of contact with him is his Overself.
In that sudden moment of spiritual awareness, or that longer period of spiritual ecstasy, he identifies himself no more with the projection from Mind but with pure Mind itself. In that severance from its projection, the shadow becomes the sun.
During such unforgettable moments the Soul will speak plainly, if silently, to him. It may tell him about his true relationship to the universe and to his fellow creatures. It will certainly tell him about Itself. It may separate him from his body and let him gaze down upon it as from a height, long enough to permit him to comprehend that the flesh is quite the poorest and least significant part of him. And perhaps best of all it will certainly fill him with the assurance that after his return to the world of lonely struggle and quick forgetfulness, It will still remain beside and behind him.
A glimpse may exalt the man and give him inspiration, but above everything else it attests for him the fact that he is fundamentally Spirit. This is the commonest kind of Glimpse but there is another kind which, in addition to doing these things, opens mysterious doors and provides inlooks to the working of secret laws and occult processes in Nature, the world and the life of man. This kind of glimpse may fitly be termed "a revelation."
He sees the universe as he might see a great mosaic picture opening before him.
This knowledge best comes to a man by interior revelation rather than by exterior instructions.
Thus the existence of a higher possibility for man, which our ethical sense demands and to which our metaphysical reasoning points, is confirmed at last by our best experience.
All that he now experiences will be seen by the glow of its better light, while the memory of all that he experienced in the past, however distressing or vile, will be transmuted into effective educational forms.
The light of truth removes the falsities in his world view, and diminishes the feebleness in his character. It brings him a new strength.
He knows that he has a place in the cosmos, that he is part of the World-Idea.
In this mood there is knowledge without thoughts, understanding without words.
What goes on within his ego could be better seen, and judged, if he could climb above it for a short time. This is just what the glimpse enables him to do. It clears the sight.
In some way that he cannot tell, or technically define, by pure intuitive feeling authoritatively transcending the intellect's action, he knows.
The experience explains a man to himself for the first time, lights up the fact that he lives in two planes at one and the same time. It reveals his ego as the illusion which envelops his consciousness and his Overself as the reality behind his consciousness.
The Real was not only always present but always known, but unconsciously. It was the "I-myself," the little ego, the separate person that he thought himself to be and ignorantly superimposed on the Real. All this he comprehends quite plainly now.
This world is the unreal dream, that is the real and substantial one. So the glimpse teaches him. He views this world temporarily as if he stands behind a theatrical stage and watches actors perform set roles in a play and sees properties which are merely painted representations. He is conscious how utterly illusory it all is and, in dramatic contrast, how the awareness by which he knew this was alone real.
The experience will either confirm what he has already vaguely felt or else it will contradict what he has wrongly believed.
Whatever religious belief it is made use of to confirm, it can only validate those beliefs which are universally held by everyone who is at all religious, not those which are found only in sectarian theology. The attempt to put into it previously held dogmas should be regarded as suspect. It can confirm the existence of a Higher Power, the fact of the soul, and the possibility of communion with it.
These glimpses are moments of truth in a life founded on a conception which is so narrow as to be actually misleading, or even false.
These are the only moments in life when we catch hold almost at once of truth as it is, unspoiled by implantations from the ego.
It is in those uplifted moments that one has the possibility of coming near to confirm the Pythagorean belief that the human soul is an emanation of the Universal Divine Mind.
He will understand the meaning of this beatific experience without need of formulating it into thoughts. There is no necessity for him to tell it to himself in words.
These short glimpses do not belong to ordinary life; indeed, they glaringly show up its pitiful meanness and confusion, its miserable aimlessness and unsatisfaction.
He needs no religious authority to interfere with, or interrupt this glorious glimpse, no theologian to bring it down to the intellectual level and probably lose it for him.
If he will compare those rapturous and illumined moments with his prosaic ordinary days, he will have an excellent clue to what his life's goal should be, what his true self really is, as well as how and where he should look for both.
There are some who, while reading inspired pages, may suddenly find that for a few brief instants the veil will fall from their eyes and the ideas which had formerly seemed so remote or so impossible will come alive with actuality.
As the light shines, showing the glory of the Overself, it also shows the inadequacies of the ego.
It tells him quite directly, quite intuitively, without the interference of logical thinking, what life is for and what man is here for.
He feels that he is absorbing the entire meaning of all human lives, all the world's operations, in one crystal-clear insight.
He feels that this is the fore-ordained moment of revelation, which is implied by the mystery of the quest, and must eventually be fulfilled.
When he reaches this high level, he feels that he is an integral part of the cosmos, rooted in and supported by the illimitable Reality. But the glimpse is only momentary for he is forced by some powerful attraction to return to his body and with it to his ordinary self.
He has come-to-life, an experience which reconciles all the contradictions of thought and faith and which explains some of the most puzzling enigmas of human destiny.
The Glimpse provides overwhelming confirmation of the belief in a divine principle, positive certainty that it rules the world, and renewed assurance that one day all men will obey its benign prompting towards goodness and wisdom.
These moments of spiritual insight give him more than much study could give him.
He learns then that there is another part of himself not the ego which has hitherto dominated his thoughts and days--a delightful beautiful unpressured part. He knows then what peace of mind really means. He sees that he has lived only as a fraction of himself, and even that has been made miserable by inner or outer friction.
It is a mysterious condition of the mind, when the normal doubts and hesitations vanish, when certitude is complete and understanding direct, when he knows that truth has visited him and feels that peace has held him.
He perceives that this is a new kind of experience, a new way of knowing, a new level of happiness, a new quality of life.
The proper use of mystic experience is as a counter to the merely intellectual and theoretical stages which usually come before such experience.
With the coming of this climax he may experience a profound sense of liberation, which later justifies itself, as the problems which had beset his mind slowly begin to dissolve and vanish under its wise tuition. He may think of Keats' joyful lines: "Then I felt like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken." For there will be present all the magnificent exhilaration, the intellectual intoxication which is born when the mind alights upon new-found truth guidance or inspiration.
He who has tasted the immeasurable joy of the Overself's peace will not care to shrink back again into the little self's confines. For he will know then that the Infinite, the Void, the Transcendent--call what he will the loss of his ego--is not a loss of happiness but an unlimited magnification of it.
Each glimpse generates afresh confidence in the existence and wisdom of the World-Mind.
He has now a revelation which throws its vivid light on humans, their lives, characters, and histories. There is now a spacious meaning in existence.
The Glimpse may be different from any experience he has known, as well as overwhelming in its several implications. But if he has been exposed to the full power, he will trust it, and can hardly do otherwise.
It is as if his inner being clears up, becomes transparent, and obscurities covering his essence roll away.
It is like light being enkindled in the mind.
It is the will to believe and the determination that backs up its belief. We need a vision of the things to be to light up the rough pathway of the things that are. Without it no great work would be done.
If the glimpse is accompanied by a revelation, then he will understand more on the particular subject or subjects it concerns than he has ever understood before.
Each glimpse brings a grace. It may be a message or an awakening, a revelation or a warning, a reconciliation or a confirmation, a strengthening or a mellowing.
Sometimes the mind slips into a dazed beatitude as Jacob Boehme's did in those famous fifteen minutes of mystical enlightenment.
Here in the heart is He who witnesses to your divine identity, and in the head comes the confirmation.
Such mystical experiences will open to him the true meaning of his humanhood.
In these brief but glorious moments we discover that we are divine beings. If most of us are worse than the front we present to our neighbours, all of us are better than they think through our affiliation with divinity.
In these hallowed moments he learns his essential oneness with the Universal Mind.
The experience is neither an abstract supposition nor an intellectual series of thoughts. It is felt in a quite intimate and very personal way. It is immeasurably more convincing than any thought-series could be, however plausible and logical they were.
He knows of what divine stuff he is inwardly made, in what starry direction he is daily going, and on what self-transforming task he is constantly working.
It can only reveal to him one or two facets of its nature at each glimpse. The power can touch his will, and the grace can move his heart, but that is all.
Men are so wrapt up in themselves that even when the glimpse happens, they look at the experience as their own, in origin occurrence and result. They seldom look at it from the other side. For it is also an attempt by the Overself first to reveal Itself, second to communicate with them.
His outlook becomes more spacious, his understanding more lucid, his intuition more immediate.
In those revelatory moments the "I," the essence of personality, is found to be only the thought of itself.
It is the difference between trying to know and actually knowing.
To see this truth for the first time is to experience something which will be long remembered. To find some higher meaning in his personal existence is to fortify his will and to buttress his ideals; to ascertain the fact that there is a link between this universe of time and space with a Mind which is above both, is to experience an indefinable satisfaction.
With the glimpse there comes a curious feeling of absolute certitude, happy certitude, utter doubtlessness. The truth is there plainly before him and deeply sensed within him.
This experience of the ultimate oneness of all things and of one's own part in that oneness is, of course, well known in mystical experience--especially in nature mysticism but also in some kinds of religious mysticism, and certainly in philosophic mysticism. The first effect is to make one feel that one is not alone, that the universe is behind one and that one does not need to be crushed by anxieties, worries, and fears--all pertaining to the little self. Such an experience is indeed an excellent counter to them.
The fact is that all actual enlightenment is self-enlightenment; it is given to a man by himself, that is, by his own best self. It is generally brief, but enough to provide a glimpse of that self and a touch of its revelatory energy.
They are "glimpses of the eternal" and "peeps into timelessness," a development which we could not get as animals but only as humans. It is then only that man, interwoven with the World-Mind, deep in holy happy adoration, is sure.
A glimmering of what it means to see with the intelligence that there is a Higher Power and that it plays a role in human affairs not less than in the universe's, comes to him.
We read in the Bhagavad Gita of Arjuna's cosmic vision. He was given a glimpse of a part of the universal order, the World-Design, the World-Idea. Others who have had this glimpse saw other parts of it, such as the evolution of the centre of consciousness through the animal into the human kingdom, an evolution which is recapitulated in a very brief form by an embryo in the womb.
Consciousness may expand into infinity or contract into a point. Some have had this experience through mystical meditation and others through physical chemical drugs, but the point is that they are temporary experiences of the fact that we live in a mind-made world, that the time orders and space dimensions are mental constructs and are alterable, that consciousness is the basic reality, that it can assume many different forms, and that ordinary, average human consciousness is merely one of those forms. This tells us why the insights of the seers like Buddha differed so greatly from those of ordinary human beings.
With a glimpse comes revelation. He feels that he belongs to an immortal race, that there is an inner Reality behind all things, and that the ultimate source is a beneficent one.
By means of this light in his mind, he will begin to understand scriptures, all the world's scriptures, with a new ease.
With this awakening he begins to relate his own purposes in life to the universal purpose.
Like the falling of a bandage from the eyes of a blindfolded man, there will come plainly into his understanding the recognition of his past misdeeds, foolhardiness, and failings--all of them the consequences of his ignorant clinging to the ego. This is the vision which may come to him before he begins to purify himself.
A vivid, intense, and self-critical revelation of how "sinful" he has been may precede, accompany, or follow the glimpse. It may shake him to his core. But it cannot be said that he feels he has betrayed his best and higher being any more than it can be said a child has betrayed the adult it has not yet grown into. He understands this at the same time and so forgives himself.
That glorious glimpse wherein the All becomes bathed in the light of meaning, when the reality behind comes through and leaves him enriched: it is as if a web of illusion spun around the mind falls away.
From that time he will look out on the world with clearer eyes.
In short, he possesses a kind of double entity, harbouring at times within his breast a life and consciousness that seem higher than what was originally and still is normally his own.
In the sunlit tranquillity of such moments, he recognizes his true stature.
In the mystical happening of the Glimpse, the man gets the intuition that this is what he belongs to; here he can find rest.
In this moment of illumination he is able to look into the image of his own self, to see what is best and highest in it and accept that as his goal and ideal henceforth.
He will know only that he stands in the presence of authority and love, truth and power, wisdom and beauty.
The experience tells him vividly, luminously, and memorably that there is an existence beyond the physical one and a consciousness beyond the personal one.
Another reason why glimpses are given to man is to show him--as in a magic mirror--that there is such a thing as the Overself.
These brief enlightenments give us clues to both the true way and the true goal. They point within.
As the picture of the True comes forth, it obliterates the picture of the False which held him so long.
The glimpse gives him an untrammelled consciousness of this freer and higher self.
Disjointed fragments of comprehension may be picked up now and then, when the world-scene is lighted up by some grace.
The passing from hope to certainty comes with the glimpse.
As the glimpse lengthens, it draws the man to look into himself.
It is showing him what he is deep down--a vivid and personal demonstration!
From that time life is susceptible of a higher interpretation, and its situations of a psychological meaning.
The mind is irradiated with the light of a new understanding. The heart is lifted up into the joy of a new experience.
What he now knows, he knows outside all doubting, immovably and unshakeably.
He is now sure that there is a higher power behind this world.
When this felicitous glimpse comes to a man it brings him certitude. He knows now that God IS and where he is.
The glimpse not only throws a fresh impersonal light on all the episodes of his personal history that went before, but also on those which are happening now.
He who penetrates to this inner citadel discovers what Saint Augustine called "the eternal truth of the soul."
The glimpse confirms existing religious faith and so strengthens it.
At such times he feels the world mystery, for now that he knows so much esoteric truth he knows so little of THAT which is behind it all.
The rapture of finding truth comes because it is truth.
The revelation wells up slowly, quietly, deeply; it is unfaltering and continues so long as he does not interrupt or interfere with it by his own thoughts. It is really his own innermost guide and guru, his higher self.
It is in such moments of enlightenment that he comes to see that all these evils may be there, but they will go.
"Seeing the point" which solves the problem of existence, suddenly getting the glimpse of what all this means, and noting how it was there all the time staring him in the face, may cause a man to break out abruptly into laughter at himself.
He knows from this experience that he is incipient with a love that the world does not ordinarily know, with a goodness that it seldom sees in action, and with an understanding that lights up dark places in the course of life.
The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.