I no longer believe that chasing after spiritual experiences is a good use of my time. I’ve come to this conclusion because many of my encounters with this kind of event occurred when I wasn’t doing anything in particular to bring them on. In fact, the most profound event of all occurred at a time in my life when I would have considered myself to be an atheist; a time when I’d lost interest in things like meditation. It seems that chasing after spiritual experiences might be like running around on a nice day in the hope of being hit by lightning.
I do feel confident that practices like meditation have real benefits, but I’m no longer sure that chasing after mind altering experiences is a good reason to meditate. There are also plenty of examples of people who meditate regularly but claim never to have any type of mystical experience. There are other examples of people who are apparently doing all the wrong things, yet they somehow fall into a life changing encounter with the universe. A good example of this would be an addict who experiences a sudden and intense shift in their consciousness that allows them to see the world in a completely different way – this experience is so intense that they are able to break free of addiction.
What I Mean By Spiritual Experience
Here I am banging on about spiritual experience, yet I haven’t even bothered to explain what I mean by this term. I would define a spiritual experience as an altered state of consciousness that often turns out to be life changing. It is common for people who have this experience to feel a sense of complete oneness with the universe, or to be convinced that they have been contacted by God or some other supernatural entity.
I’ve had a number of spiritual experiences over the years, but the one that was most intense occurred when I was in my mid-twenties. I was sitting on top of a double-decker bus in London, minding my own business, when everything around me suddenly developed this yellow tint. I then felt my consciousness expand as if were a balloon that was being rapidly pumped with air. I immediately felt at one with everything in the universe, and I knew that everything was perfect – it was like every cell in my body was vibrating with joy. I’m not sure exactly how long this event lasted, no more than a few minutes, but I experienced a sense of bliss for days afterwards, and it still impacts my life today.
I spent years trying to recapture that wonderful experience of pure oneness with the universe, but I’ve never managed to recreate it fully. It felt like I came close to it a few times during intense meditation practice, but these altered states of consciousness just weren’t the same – although they were extremely blissful. I also had an intense spiritual experience at Thamkrabok temple that allowed me to break away from my alcohol addiction, but the change in consciousness then was less dramatic than the time on the London bus.
Chasing after Spiritual Experiences can be Life Denying
These spiritual experiences have been a wonderful gift, but there is danger if I become obsessed with them like I have done in the past. It is a trap to believe that there is something out there that is better than what I have now – it leaves me feeling dissatisfied when there is absolutely no reason to feel this way. It was the seeking of pleasant states of consciousness that led me into the life of a drunk, and this urge to experience states of bliss can be another form of escapism.
Normal everyday life is more than enough. It sort of feels ungrateful to have this wonderful experience of being alive, yet go looking for something better. For all I know, this is the best that I’m ever going to have, but I’ll miss out on what I have by chasing after something different. It is so obvious to me that it is appreciation of the mundane where the real joy of life is to be found. It is just so unnecessary to seek something better because life is already wonderful the way it is. If the universe decides to send another extraordinary experience my way that’s great, but I really don’t need it. I’ve got everything I want in everyday life, and I want to enjoy what is here right now.