WAS SHAKESPEARE A MYSTIC?

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on: and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest (Prospero, Act 4 Scene 1)

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POETRY AND MYSTICISM By Colin Wilson

IN REVIEW

Poetry and Mysticism by Colin Wilson is published by City Lights Books in Paperback and PDF.

COMMENTARY

I have experienced profound “peak experiences” when writing and writing poetry. I also experienced spontaneous mystical experiences of Reality several times a year from the age of about 15 to late 30’s.

These experiences did not reach the same levels by any means. The creative “peak experiences” from writing were emotional, human, very limited by comparison.

I think the distinction is important enough to be noted before reading Goodreads’ introduction to the book.

EXCERPT from Goodreads

“The mystic’s moment of illumination shares with great poetry the liberating power of the deepest levels of consciousness. In the words of William Blake, If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite.

“Poetry, Wilson argues, is a contradiction of the habitual prison of daily life and shows the way to transcend the ordinary world through an act of intense attention-and intention. The poet, like the mystic, is subject to sudden “peak experiences” when “everything we look upon is blessed.”

“W.B. Yeats, Dostoevsky, Gautama Buddha, Kazantzakis, Van Gogh, Rupert Brooke, Arunja, Nietzsche, A.L. Rouse, Jacob Boehme, Suzuki, Edgar Allan Poe: their visionary understanding can generate an awareness in each of us of our potential to open the floodgates of inner energy that creates mystic experience.

“Colin Wilson first received international acclaim in 1956 for The Outsider. “”Ever since I was thirteen, I have been obsessed by the question of the nature of mystical experience,””he writes, and from that time he has been on a quest of the mystical in poetry, religion, and psychology.”

Mysticexperiences.net

BECOMING A MYSTIC: Marooned

A Follower asks where he can find an account of my mystic experiences on this Blog. There are hints and affirmations throughout the Blog but no whole, progressive narrative account, so here it is:

I had spontaneous yearly experiences of mystical reunions with Reality from about 15 to 35 years of age. I kept them to myself for nearly 50 years.

They recreated me from a who to a what and gave me a sense of having existed from the beginning of all things to the end of all things; of belonging; and of “everything belonging to me” that others describe as “oneness”; an overwheming liquifying of my matter into pure joy; a profoundly thankful humility; a disappointment in not finding “God” there; a sense of knowing everything; of not existing anywhere but in the experiences; of knowing real reality of existence is the Reality I was experiencing; the frantic helplessness of desolation, of abandonment as each of the experiences ended.

As each of my experiences dissolved me back into my humanity I felt a keenness of loss, outcries of alarm, a profound, wrenching desperation of catastrophic bereavement. I scrabbled against it in futility. I felt marooned, a feeling that taints my human existence to this very second.

I was infused rather than taught or shown or guided. I remember there was nothing to see, hear, smell, physically feel, or think.

In one of my experiences a voice told me quite clearly and emphatically, ALL IS WELL. I was dumbfounded so the message was repeated three times …

The reason I was dumbfounded and deeply disappointed was I thought the message came for someone else. I looked around but there was no one else to see.

I was baffled for years over that message because I had not asked or thought of a question to which that might be the answer.

Another time, I was levitated out of my body. It happened without me noticing. When I did notice it seemed quite natural. I was overjoyed that God was ridding me of my body to take me up. Then I was bitterly betrayed on looking down to see my body still there about 15 feet below.

My conclusion now is there seems to be a Process into which I have been drawn, rather than “God”. This Process is nowhere near as limited as the human word “God” implies. It is benign, caring of all creation, guarding, guiding, aiding and comforting, a constant seemingly natural state of unending contentment, peace, tranquility, humility, gratitude, awe and joy. But it is not about making me a better human, though that, I think I can presume, is automatic, axiomatic. We are all more than merely human.

My sense of personality, character, body, mind, intelligence, intellect, did not exist in my MERs, nor did I miss them, expect them or need them.

I came away with the impression human bodies and brains die, but their spiritual knowingness become absorbed, added into this non-material Process of Reality beyond infinity that never dies. Reality seeks, but does not seek body, brain or mind it seems.

After MER, humans have no need of the anthropmorphic falsehoods of faith, hope or belief – after MER they KNOW. They are one with the Process, no longer needing gods or “God”. The experiences are fulfilling and keep being fulfilling after they’ve gone.

I was never given to believe humanity or individuals can invoke or influence this Process of Reality, either. In fact, being only human might be the reason so many humans have not yet had the experience of MER. Human attachment and egos are two strong deterrents among the many human attributes that come between us and this fulfillment.

The experiences were fulfilling beyond all ordinary human experience, imagining or knowledge. Reality seems to be the alpha and omega of everything, all knowing, a fundamental existential of being that just is, a given that can be taken for granted, does not need to be named. In Reality there are no names: everything just is and all is well. And I was and am that.

Between these experiences I toiled privately at the agony of being partly human despite the experiences’ development and continued effect on me – the continuingly joyous but alienating illumination of Reality and my true nature.

The stress of this growing alienation from “manmukh” – all things human – affected me severely.

The energy of the world, of the human spirit, is not compatible with the development of the spirituality of the ultimate reality of the Mystical Experience of Reality, (MER), in my experiences.

This struggle ruined my life, thankfully …

Now if I’m asked what I have especially taken away from my experiences I would say: Reality is a process. It is in charge. It never fails and is utterly benign …

Neverthless, at times the process got so desperate I developed and finalised the following secret plea to be rescued.

(At the time, I didn’t know how serious the act of writing can be, I just thought I was writing a poem. Later, the answer to this plea came by writing too and is also recorded here):

MAROONED

Divinity’s insouciant servants of the Light

Fly beneath my fears, over my plight,

Indifferent to my day as to my night.

Marooned in the humanity of my time,

Tired by glimpses of the divine,

Save me soon Lord, make me thine.

THE REPLY:

Marooned to solitude is your story;

Its contemplation leads you to my glory.

Love, understanding and compassion

Are the lessons of your life, your grace, your passion.

From the other side of Night,

I am your glory, your rescue Light …

1985.

(Nowadays I wouldn’t use the words “God”, “divine”, “faith”, “Divinity” or “Lord”. And I would call “the light” Reality, such a Light being a unique part of Reality.

(PS: The word “faith” has been bothering me. It signifies lack of real spiritual experience. So as I returned to this poem with my doubt about the rightness of the word the real word arrived. So I have deleted “faith” and as you will see, have inserted the more meaningful word “grace”).

Mysticexperiences.net

“THE BURIED LIFE” by Matthew Arnold

 

(Excerpt)

 

Fate, which foresaw

How frivolous a baby man would be—

By what distractions he would be possess’d,

How he would pour himself in every strife,

And well-nigh change his own identity—

That it might keep from his capricious play

His genuine self, and force him to obey

Even in his own despite his being’s law,

Bade through the deep recesses of our breast

The unregarded river of our life

Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;

And that we should not see

The buried stream, and seem to be

Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,

Though driving on with it eternally.

 

But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,

But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire

After the knowledge of our buried life;

A thirst to spend our fire and restless force

In tracking out our true, original course;

A longing to inquire

Into the mystery of this heart which beats

So wild, so deep in us—to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.

 

And many a man in his own breast then delves,

But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.

And we have been on many thousand lines,

And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;

But hardly have we, for one little hour,

Been on our own line, have we been ourselves—

Hardly had skill to utter one of all

The nameless feelings that course through our breast,

But they course on for ever unexpress’d.

 

And long we try in vain to speak and act

Our hidden self, and what we say and do

Is eloquent, is well—but ‘t is not true!

And then we will no more be rack’d

With inward striving, and demand

Of all the thousand nothings of the hour

Their stupefying power;

Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!

 

Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,

From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne

As from an infinitely distant land,

Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey

A melancholy into all our day.

Only—but this is rare—

When a belovèd hand is laid in ours,

When, jaded with the rush and glare

Of the interminable hours,

Our eyes can in another’s eyes read clear,

When our world-deafen’d ear

Is by the tones of a loved voice caress’d—

A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,

And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.

The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,

And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.

A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,

And hears its winding murmur; and he sees

The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

 

(Excerpted).