Robert Samples in his book The Metaphoric Mind describes a radio talk show where an author, speaking about his intuitive sense of a larger wholeness, asked anyone in the listening audience who had such an experience to call in and share it.
Finally the phone rang, and a woman began to describe a powerful and spontaneous experience of the interconnectedness and unity of all life. When she tried to share this understanding with her family, their response was disappointing… She had simply stopped talking about her experience then, although she could remember it vividly and felt profoundly changed by it…
Samples said… “All at once the board lit up. It became apparent that such glimpses are commonplace… normal… (D)ozens of people were willing to call in and talk about it.”— From My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
Q: Have you had such an insight or experience of unity?
From Edith Tipple (Nalini):
There are innumerable types of experience of a subtle reality beyond the gross – some fleeting glimpses, some lifealtering. Swami Prabhavananda used to say that some people have them and they are signposts that he or she is on the right path, but that not all people have them and they are not necessary; all that is necessary is simply the plodding and unceasing effort to reach the goal. One day early in my acquaintance with the swami, I reported an experience. His response was a snort: “Hmphh. Honeymoon. Honeymoon. Is that all you want?!”
In a lecture in Hollywood on December 7, 1969 titled “Mysticism and Mystic Experience” the swami said: “A mystic can describe some of these experiences – and they are true spiritual experiences and visions – but they are not the supreme truth. If we stop and do not move onward, we miss the ultimate reality. That often happens: mystics having some visions or experiences think they have seen God, have realized the ultimate, and they do not study anymore. But my Master [Swami Brahmananda] told me this truth: ‘Light, more light, more light, more light! Is there any end to it?’”
Again, I remember his advising his disciples not to tell of their experiences because such sharing was apt to lead to pride. Further than that, he advised us to refuse ourselves the comfort of holding onto the memory of an experience, for such attachment would keep us from moving forward. He clarified what he meant by relating that a disciple of Ramakrishna was asked by Swami Vivekananda if he had had any visions or experiences: the disciple answered, “Brother, I don’t know anything about your vision and experience, but this much I know: my heart has grown big.” [Mysticism and Mystic Experience, Santa Barbara 3/13/1966]
Swami Prabhavananda would tell us that we must be constantly vigilant that we do not become attached to a vision or experience in even the subtlest manner, that we must become so free, that an attachment forward becomes so great, that we want to break through all barriers, for that is the only way to become one. His urgent exhortation still rings in my ears: “Never lower the ideal!”