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Those Moments………………..

by on October 1, 2014

                                                        Those Moments………..

                                                           by Marco M. Pardi

Note: All comments are appreciated, read, and responded to accordingly.  The COMMENTS sections for all previous articles have been opened for use.  I will certainly look forward to your comments.  Comments that do not specifically address content will be trashed as SPAM.

“He must dare to leap into the Origin, so as to live by the Truth and in the Truth, like one who has become one with it.” Eugen Herrigel. (1885-1955) Zen in the Art of Archery, p.109. 1953.

The quote above, and its context, is in the active voice.  Yet, every mystic and every student of philosophy with whom I am familiar cautions that transformative experiences, known by several titles, almost always come unbidden.  Or perhaps, to use a miserably loose concept, one is simply ready for them know it or not.  This seems to run counter to the untold numbers of meditation centers, ashrams, and various marketers out there making a living by convincing people to put themselves in agonizing positions for hours.  Among the very worst offenders I have seen were two individuals in Atlanta who claimed to be “past life regression hypnotherapists.” (Note: Medical hypnotherapy is a bona fide field with valid applications and often remarkable results.)

But,  the validity of the subject aside, this man and woman (separately) conducted group sessions I observed.  Okay, I have extensive training and experience in interrogations; I’m not easily given to “going along” and am more than aware of measures to encourage people to do so. 

Each of these “hypnotherapists” used a profoundly transparent technique called “guided regression.”  Simply put, they attempted to implant the imagery they wanted you to see.  I subsequently interviewed several of the participants, and heard from the rest that the consensus of each of the two groups was that these individuals may have believed in what they were doing but they were miserably simple minded “Woo woo artists” despite their “degrees and certifications.”  No doubt there’s no shortage of equally simple minded marks lining up to hand over their money.  If a reader does wish to pursue honest meditation, a truly vital tool for any curious mind,  I can recommend authentic, first class monastic institutions.  And, they do not sell “enlightenment”.

What I am referring to as “those moments” are the truly spontaneous experiences often described as mystical, transcendent, transformative, and downright “indescribable”.  I will describe one.  Yes, I get the contradiction.

But first I will state my intellectual and visceral response to the current term ISIS.  The self proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has two major flaws:  1. The brand of Islam fomented by this group is commonly called Wahhabism, named after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792).  It’s adherents prefer the name Salafi, or Salafiyeh.  An ultra-extreme interpretation of Sunni doctrine, it bears relation to Islam in the same way Westboro Baptist Church, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, or the Family Research Council relate to Christianity.  2.  An armed mob bears no authority as a geo-political State, especially as their intent is not a State but a Caliphate.  A suitable corollary would be the relation of the Vikings (robbers, murderers, rapists, and slavers) to the contemporary Scandinavians in their day.

My visceral reaction is to the besmirching of the concept Isis.  The name Isis is Greek, derived from the Egyptian Iset and tracing back to the 5th Dynasty.  The name translates as “Throne”, implying a concept of universal support more than an actual person.  The early personification of Isis as archetypal mother/wife and protector of Nature, however, quickly led to widespread cults of worship, with a centralized hagiography leading, as many would say, to the Mary (mother of Jesus) figure in Christianity and enduring in religions, sects and movements throughout history and numerous cultures down to the present.  Few figures in mythology elicit the mystique of Isis.  Although depictions of her abound through the Old World, she is, as Joseph Campbell would say, The Face Behind All Faces.  In fact, the depictions, the personifications, the faces, alluring or comforting as they may be,  distract us from her fullness.

In July of 1962, having traveled to Roman era sites along the North African coast, I decided to visit Sabratha, a former Numidian Kingdom site absorbed into Roman rule.  Twenty years later it would be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Halfway between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, it lies directly on the Mediterranean coast and was a significant seaport and fishing center.  Greatly expanded by the Romans, it was badly damaged by earthquake in 365 C.E. and later by invading Vandals.  The Arab conquest of the Maghreb in 700 C.E. returned it to its fishing village roots.

I wandered throughout what had so far been uncovered and partially restored, looking at the meticulously laid mosaic floors of the well to do and fending off young boys hawking Roman and Greek coins they had supposedly dug up.  The sun was brutal and cunning, rushing down close enough to set your clothes alight when you turned your back to it and dashing back to its place in the sky when you turned to look.  Even the ubiquitous yellowish-translucent scorpions were in hiding.

My first impression was of how much it differed from other sites, such as Leptis Magna on the Misrata road to Egypt.  Sabratha was almost blinding in uniform whiteness,  an oddity among the sandstone and granite blocks of other cities.  Even the floor tiles were white. This was marble imported from Greece.

Through noon and early afternoon my wanderings brought me away from the modern road on the southern edge and closer to the sea.  Although feeling near the end of what was a reasonable time to spend in 115 degree weather, my eyes were drawn to a row of slender white marble columns standing upright, their capitals holding up the deep blue sky.  I went there and, according to my Italian site map, found myself standing in the Temple of Isis.  These columns were tall, but nowhere near the massive height and diameter of those dun colored columns at the Temple of Amun (Egyptian: “hidden”) in the vast complex at Thebes.  One might be forgiven for thinking of these comparatively diminutive white spires as “feminine”.  Situated on a rock promontory directly overlooking the sea, the temple drew you in from the south and ushered you up its roofless center aisle to a sudden view in which Sabratha played no part.   

As I approached and stopped at the northernmost point, looking out over the placid expanse of the blue Mediterranean, I experienced a cooling updraft coming off the sea and up the cliff.  Many parts of the North African coast, having little to no continental shelf, are free of decaying vegetation;  the air is fresh and cooled by the sudden and dramatic depth of the sea.  Appreciating this infusion,  I experienced a sense of the deep blue sky meeting the deep blue sea, the horizon becoming irrelevant to all but humans, bound as we are by our obsession with distinctions.  Indeed, the sensation As Above, So Below spread throughout me.  I sensed Isis, not merely in her common depiction as a woman nursing the infant Horus on her lap – the model for the later Mary with Christ Child, but as the throne (her headdress) joining that which is above with that on which it stands.  Isis was no particular woman – Isis Smith or Isis Jones; she was the archetype of the life which sprang from her drawing nourishment from her.  She was the Hsiang Sheng, the Mutually Arising implicit in what Westerners call the “Yin-Yang” symbol, the sun’s heat on my back and the sea’s coolness on my front.  Joseph Campbell’s words, “There was never a Time when there was no Time; there will never be a Time when there is no Time” rang true on their face but also in the realization of now being beyond the relevancy of Time.  No overflight of pterodactyls, no nudge from a Homo erectus, no challenge from a returning space traveler would be either relevant or irrelevant; they each had their context within a closed sphere, the arbitrary boundaries of which I now perceived.  Where the blue sky met the blue sea was only a fold in her robe, the blue robe later reserved exclusively for Mary by Christians everywhere.  But there was no Her there, for the act of generating gender was an act of reduction, a Fall from transcendent Mindfulness to the profane and compartmentalized world in which we inchworms measure our daily lives. 

I have no idea how long I stood there, nor do I care.  I turned and made my way back through the ruins of Sabratha,  the young coin hawkers taking only a step toward me before stopping on their own.  Even the sun seemed to realize the curtain had been pulled aside and the Wizard exposed.  

Many people are born in the shadows, and live there.  Some sell themselves for the promise of Light, invented and marketed by others.  A few come to realize the light within and in doing so experience, for those moments, the omnipresence of light beyond space and time.  For those moments………………..    

 

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13 Comments
  1. Almost from the first day we met, I have wanted to see the world as you have seen it. Today is not the first time you have given me this gift, but it is certainly the finest example; it was truly as if I was there with you as you walked through the ruins of the old city, feeling the heat on my back, and perhaps seeing it as it must have been in its days of glory. I walked with you through the temple, seeing the limitless vista of sea meeting sky and feeling the coolness of the sea breeze. As you walked back through Sabratha, I heard my bated breath being released softly, as I exhaled a breath I was not aware I had been holding.

    I love your final paragraph; there could not be a better description of those rare few who find the light within themselves. Thank you for sharing…and for being you. Rose

    • Dana permalink

      Rose, you write what you are feeling so very beautifully.

      I must “unplug and request quiet,” and this was a lovely way to end my day.

  2. Thank you, Rose. Your thoughts and feelings are most meaningful to me. I’m so happy my thoughts were meaningful to you. Marco

  3. Dana permalink

    Marco, I read this account of your mystical experience covered in head to toe goosebumps. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    I’ve always wondered if more of us would share our own experiences in a public forum, then more people would realize this is within all of us.

    I’m too tired to write what I’m really thinking, but one of the keys to my unlocking the mystical experience is to stop “doing” and start “being.”

    I hope this inspires more conversation and others sharing their experiences.

    • Thank you, Dana. I REALLY LOVE your comment “to stop doing and start being”! This is so truly beautiful. Thank you.

      • Dana permalink

        Thank you, Marco. I have so much gratitude that I was finally able to find out from you what these experiences are, and am now fully able to enjoy them.

      • Me too Dana, I couldn`t talk about it for the first 8 years ! Now after finding the right books and information and a lot of like-minded people with same experiences it has become so much easier. You are so lucky you had Marco around you !! 🙂

        Feel free to share whenever you feel like ! I can wholeheartedly say that we are all ears (and hearts )for sure !

  4. Exquisite ! so very full of beauty and light, light from the sun and light from your inner self.
    At every new post I keep saying `This is the best` , so I find myself embarrassed in saying it again, and yet !!!

    Marco, you have a mesmerizing prose full of touches of poetry , which I love so much ! Just as
    ” The sun was brutal and cunning, rushing down close enough to set your clothes alight when you turned your back to it and dashing back to its place in the sky when you turned to look. ”
    Sublime ! I can almost feel the heat on my back !

    I must say that for reasons I still don`t understand , I feel a profounf Love for Isis. In fact, and again for other unfathomable reasons, whenever I talk to the Moon, I call her Isis. 🙂

    I think it is profound and meaningful that your `moment` of enlightenment came in her sacred temple.
    As you know, I had my big moment of momentary `enlightenment` at 21, and some minor ones during dreams and out of body experiences.
    It is quite unbelievable to me that now I feel so comfortable in talking about it, while I actually couldn`t for so many years.
    There are more and more people now `coming out of the closet` , and I think it was high time.

    Why would human beings feel comfortable speaking of the most atrocious things, but not of these indescribable `MOMENTS` ….
    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR MAGICAL EXPERIENCE WITH US !

    • Thank you, FOAL. Coming from an author of your quality, your words are truly humbling. Perhaps we are changing. Perhaps more people will allow themselves, as Dana so beautifully said, to stop doing and start being.

      I, too, have always appreciated the Moon, a quiet reassurance of a loving friend. Of course, many still view it as a rock pile in the sky. Perhaps that, too, will change.

    • Dana permalink

      FOAL, I didn’t tell anyone about my mystical experiences. You are so correct in that people feel comfortable speaking of atrocities, rather than the mysterious.

      Marco was the first to know. I felt like a freak for most of my life. Some of them have been so otherworldly that they made me feel uneasy, almost as though someone might have drugged me. I had no explanation for the experiences until I told Marco about them (and of course felt no hesitation to tell him).

  5. Sounds like you found a thin place. I’m not sure I would agree with all the author’s assessments but he does a good job describing thin places. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/travel/thin-places-where-we-are-jolted-out-of-old-ways-of-seeing-the-world.html?_r=0&pagewanted=2

    Red Rocks amphitheater here is a thin place. I love sitting at the entrance and hearing people see it for the first time. All are mesmerized. For me, Ireland holds the most thin places.

    • Excellent article, Mary. Thanks very much. One of the more interesting sites I’ve been to in Ireland is Newgrange. Have you been?

  6. I’ve only been to southern Ireland. You’ve given me a good excuse to return.

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