Self-transcendence (Sunday morning sermon)

The history books are littered with the tales of Saints, nuns, sufi poets, mystic ascetics, desert wanderers, mountain men, peregrinating nomads, prophets and other such enlightened persons, who managed to achieve the impossible. They managed to escape from the beastly squalor and miserliness of life, into a state of self-transcendence (escape from self). It was as if a divine light was shining from within them, lighting up the world and the people around them. As if god was immanent within.

Such people with the spark of god within, we’re capable of channelling that spark into others. To wake others up from their sleepwalking life dream.

I sometimes, for brief moments – lasting no more than 5 mins, can attain such a state. Well, I think I can! Having read the records of witnesses to these people, I think I know what is going on.

How presumptuous of me! I know, but I firmly believe that the secret to these mystic experiences lies firmly in the workings of the brain, and that one can try and attain such states. The thing is though you cannot lie or pretend yourself into such a state. The source must be true and you must believe in it.

Self transcendence is usually characterised by a feeling of detachment. Detachment from all personal interests, by the absence of passion, by indifference to acquired opinions and prejudices, by an indifference to the opinions of others, a veritable lack of passions and pride and covetousness and attachment to perishable things (including humans).

We worry. We worry about our lives, where we’re at, where we want to go. We worry constantly. Life is a vale of worries. Yet, to worry is a pointless endeavour. For life is vanity. Our lives are short illuminations in an infinity of nothingness on both sides. To spend that all too brief interlude in the light, worrying – is tantamount to madness. And that’s a clue into a trick to achieving self-transcendence: To see yourself in context. In the context of time and space and the infinite distances in-between.

And when you see your life as a sand grain amongst an infinity of sand grains enveloped in an infinity of nothingness…then, what is there to worry about?! When nothing ultimately matters, what is there to be attached to? What are others opinions of you? Merely electrical neuronal storms in the brains of others! An opinion is merely a pattern of nerve connections inside another’s brain.

Such lucidity of thought sometimes renders me incapacitated in a state of self-transcendence. And then my stomach grumbles, and I wake up, and I head off to grab a bite to eat!

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