The concept of unity consciousness can be difficult to understand. But as I addressed in the last post: It’s at the core of the mystical experience.
And there are ways to make it easier to understand! Don’t think that unity experienced in meditation is the only type of unity you can experience!
Now, you’re wondering how to make sense of unity consciousness.
The first step is to differentiate between the two essential components of mystical experience: (1) content and (2) process.
As I have addressed, the content component (i.e., “what” the experience is about) is about unity.
The process component (i.e., “how” the experience occurs in space and time) has two interacting parts: (a) symbolism, and (b) ego-dissolution.
Figure 1 shows how these components interact to increase the intensity of the experience.
Figure 1. The intensity of mystical experience increased when more factors appear together: 1 = no or mild mystical experience, 2 = moderate mystical experience, 3 = intense mystical experience.
The most essential characteristic of the mystical experience is unity.
The subject or observer no longer feels the usual separation between themselves and the world. Yet the subject still knows on another level, they are separate from objects (i.e., they are not delusional).
In a mystical experience a person feels that they are a part of everything. This can be perceived with the physical senses through the external world.
A sense of underlying oneness is felt in the multiplicity of objects in the world.
Mystical experience also involves a process of “ego-dissolution.”
There is a loss of the common sense of self while becoming one with the external world or cosmos.
This ego-dissolution involves anxiety, panic, and a sense of unreality. Often the feeling of dreaminess is the most frightening aspect of anxiety or panic.
Negative life events often occur prior to mystical experiences because they disrupt the ego. Because the ego no longer exists as an organizing force the person enters the “unknown.”
Mystical experience also involves signs and synchronicity.
That’s the conclusion of Alister Hardy’s study of the written responses of more than 5,000 persons, who found the most common spiritual experiences included: “a patterning of events in a person’s life that convinces him or her that in some strange way they were meant to happen.”
Another large survey of religious-like experiences they revealed the “commonest of all the categories” referred to “extraordinary coincidence(s) or to a sense somehow one’s life has an unfolding pattern to it.”
The mystical experience is not explainable within the conventional natural order of our everyday world. Thus the term “supernatural” is helpful in this context.
Carl Jung originated the concept of synchronicity, the view the structure of reality includes a principle of non-causal connection.
Synchronicity explains the sense of “wholeness,” “connectedness,” and “unity” in mystical experience.
However, a persistent theme in the study of mystical experiences is the lack of attention given by theorists to the concept of synchronicity.
In my opinion, most researchers neglect just what is essential to the phenomena of mysticism.
So there you have it. I hope I have convinced you why three features (e.g., unity, ego-dissolution, and symbolism) make up the mystical experience content and process!
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