I was quite “blown away” to read Marcus J. Borg’s wonderful statement on Mircea Eliade this morning as he was mentioning some names that described, in the past century, the not so common “mystical experiences”.
Reading James (William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience) and other writers on mysticism was amazing. In colloquial language, I was blown away. I found my experiences described with great precision. Suddenly, I had a way of naming and understanding them. Moreover, they were linked to the experiences of many people. They are a mode of human consciousness. They happen. And they are noetic: something is known that one did not know before.
I also learned other ways they have been named. Rudolf Otto (1869–1937) called them experiences of “the numinous,” that which is behind and sometimes shines through our experience of phenomena. Abraham Heschel (1907–1972) called them moments of “radical amazement” when our domestication of reality with language falls away and we experience “what is.” Martin Buber (1878–1965) spoke of them as “I-Thou” or “I-You” moments in which we encounter “what is” as a “you” rather than as an “it,” or an object. Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) called them “peak experiences” that involve “cognition of being”—knowing the way things are. Mircea Eliade (1907–1986), one of the most influential twentieth-century scholars of comparative religions, called them experiences of “the golden world,” referring to their luminosity. Others have referred to them as moments of “unitive consciousness” and “cosmic consciousness.”
Marcus J. Borg, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most