‘If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him,’ the Zen master Rinzai once said . In other words, watch out for images, especially holy images. Whatever image you may receive, it always remains your imagination. Human consciousness certainly does not operate as a calm, clear mirror.
In spirituality and in mysticism in particular we are confronted by an immense range of images. Symbolic images, universal images, collective images, personal images, holy images, inspiring images, strange images, fantasies et cetera. Everybody has his own image factory and his own image collection. It is a bit strange for me when I hear people talk about ‘the right’ and the ‘wrong’ images. For me that is just as ridiculous as right or wrong dreams. In my opinion, mysticism revolves around recognition. You experience something. The feeling is strong, exciting and ecstatic. You see that which other do not see, you hear – only you – a sound, music or a voice. You talk about it with somebody else and he recognizes something in your story in his own experience. Either that, or it is completely alien. There is, in all likelihood, not much more to it than that, unless one includes faith. That is my conclusion after many meetings with spiritually active men and women, and as a result of my own mystical experiences.
As far as faith is concerned, the possibilities are endless. People can believe in anything they like, with all the accompanying advantages and disadvantages. Yet realistic mysticism goes no further than the ‘recognition line’. It looks at the range of beliefs without venturing into this field in order to find its own place.
What should you say as a realistic person when confronted by an enthusiastic story about an entity that wishes to say the world from its own downfall? A story which you do not believe? When the person say “it is” instead of “it seems” or “it feels like”. In other words, when the narrator lacks all understanding of images? In the past I used to listen like so many others with nods of understanding for everything I was told. I spared his or her feelings. Spiritually oriented people do not criticize each other.
Until one day I asked myself exactly whose feelings I was actually sparing. I started to ask the people who approached me with tales of ‘messages from the spiritual world’ personal questions.
Along with the emotions which arose when touched by the elusive and numinous, I also sensed the need in my conversation partners to be able to label and explain these experiences. I wished to know why it was that they so wished to define that which defies definition. But when I posed this question I received very few satisfactory answers. Such an answer would have entailed a thorough self-examination by the channelers and mediums. I have still to meet one that has ever performed such a self-examination. On the contrary, all the channelers that I have spoken with had without question taken it upon themselves to function as intermediary immediately once they had heard the “wise voice”. I began to suspect that this was the rule.
I also noticed that there was no need to spare the personal value of the mystical experience, because its impact is stronger than any doubt. As for the rest, like the messages which are all too familiar to you as listener, a source of reference which can never be confirmed, details which seem unreal… Why should we not be honest with each other in spirituality?