vision Mon, Jan 25, 2016 - 06:56 PM
What should a humanist do with a mystical vision?
What should a secular humanist do with a mystical vision?
I had a vision. I don’t know if I should call it mystical or spiritual, but perhaps it was. What should I do now?
About a year ago, I woke up in bed as usual on a weekend morning with my wife at my side. I had a dream unlike any other. In my dream, I had been in Nirvana, perhaps Heaven. Or, more precisely, I had been part of Nirvana or Heaven. It was a state of bliss, of pure joy and light, of knowing an understanding everything. I did have my senses, but in expanded form, perhaps even extra ones. I could see and hear, but I cannot tell you what I saw exactly. If I said that there was color, that would be an understatement. There was no self or other. There were no beings (I did not meet dead relatives or Jesus), no dichotomies, no story, no time, no thought, no words, no communication, no shapes, and no messages. Who knows how long the vision lasted, but I felt immersed for eternity until I woke up with a start.
I had done nothing to trigger the vision. I no longer mediate (I was an undependable practitioner about a decade ago). I do not take drugs, alcohol, or medicine. I’m sound of mind with no personal or family history of delusions. I was not injured or sick. I’m a bit of a health nut. This is my first and last vision, although I must admit that when I was a kid sitting in Catholic mass I tried my best to emulate an image in a church pamphlet. I tried to conjure up the image of Jesus when the priest raised the goblet of wine/blood. I wanted so to see God, but that was decades back and I became a different person altogether. Indeed, as if to anticipate a question posed elsewhere on this website, I concluded a few years back that even meeting God wouldn’t make me believe in him. Lawyers (I am one) learn that the senses lie and only capture a tiny sliver of reality. My decades as a humanist/Unitarian Universalist/atheist/agnostic had long given me peace with the reality that I perceived. I no longer sought nor believe in the holy.
Then I came face-to-face with God, with my vision, my thought experiment. But I didn’t believe what I saw. This was not the God that everyone around me seems to pine for. I did not experience the anthropomorphization of the mystical. I would have laughed if that had happened. What I experienced was perhaps something more profound and maybe more logical. I was part of the stream of pure energy and consciousness.
When I awoke with a start, I was angry, dismissive. I was angry because the vision came to me in a dream, perhaps humanity’s least trustworthy medium. Maybe it was this realization that actually forced me to open my eyes. As I sat up in bed my anger grew. It was impossible me to interpret what I just experienced and, anyway, why send this vision to me, the worst receptacle for divine instruction on this earth. To top it off, I am also the worst purveyor of any profound insights because I had none. Other than to talk about it some with my wife and child, I chalked it up to a some random misfirings of my synapses. To quote Scrooge, “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
But the experience lingers. I do not think it has changed my views. I don’t think I’ve adopted new philosophies, and I certainly haven’t undergone a religious conversion. I fear death just like most humans, but nothing like when I was a kid. Then I believed in Hell (funny how much lovelier life became after I banished Satan from the universe).
What has made me think about this vision is that my daughter is about to go off to college, leaving my wife and I with an empty nest, a circumstance I abhor. I am reminiscing like crazy about my daughter’s childhood, about family, about old friends and experiences. I remember that when I was young I sought out the divine in vain. But recently I realized that I may have found late in life what I was looking for back then. But it left no impact, which is starting to trouble me some. I know that entire religions have been formed and created by visions. I can’t call mine “prophetic” because, again, there were no messages.
Recently I watched old Star Trek episodes. One recurring theme is to respect visions, which is something you wouldn’t expect from a science fiction show. Am I missing something here? Should I even care? I doubt that I’ll ever experience anything like this again and there is nothing about this vision that I can understand or interpret.