Are You Over-thinking the Mystical Realm?

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  • The main problem modern thinking people have with the mystical realm is… over-thinking. We’re often not quite intelligent enough to realize that it’s the “logical” parts of our brains that insist on “logical” explanations for everything.

    This is like banks insisting on their own bailouts, to which I say: duh. Thus are many bright spiritual-minded folk calling for something smarter.

    Let us, for instance, follow the didactic brilliance of India’s old Brahman priests who used to debate the divine until there was nothing left to say, knowing full well that the real answer lay in what religious scholar Karen Armstrong calls the “luminous silence of unknowing.” Ms. Armstrong also knows that we can’t experience the divine in what she calls “everyday reality.”

    This is why all religions include transportive practices. Chanting, singing, burning incense, repetitive prayer, meditation, labyrinth walking, spinning in endless circles. All of it is designed to get us out of our thinking minds and into the realm of heaven-on-earth awareness… and the parts of our brains that let us experience it, which I like to think of as God’s tea party.

    When neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a “stroke of insight” (also the title of her book on the subject), she was catapulted fully into the right hemisphere of her brain. She couldn’t speak or think sequentially.

    But, she saw with crystalline clarity the seamless Oneness of all things. She saw “reality” as a whole and how every spiritual teacher in recorded history has told us it is, not a hodge-podge of separate parts.

    Later, when her brain mercifully healed, she went back to being a neuroanatomist, but with a twist: this academically brilliant thinker understood that the answer to our earthly problems lay in the Other Side of the human brain.

    “I believe,” she concluded, “that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will become.”

    And that little insight is worth its weight in nuclear armaments.

    Hinduism expresses this beautifully as the dance of Shiva, symbol of the eternal making, unmaking and remaking of Life as We Know It, much like the ongoing creativity of subatomic particles. The Jewish tradition remains so in awe of the divine it’s not Kosher to even speak God’s name.

    And my own spiritual teacher, the Holy Pig Farmer, is particularly fond of an African tribe that doesn’t even have a word for God, only a sound: “Whew!”

    Ms. Armstrong believes that the reason people in the West have such trouble with the concept of God is that we don’t have spiritual practices anymore. And you can’t have a relationship with anyone or anything without showing up. What we’re talking about is nothing less than your own relationship with this ephemeral, unlimited, stunningly original, joyful-beyond-measure Mystery we call God.

    Even if you balk at the weirdness of “believing in God,” you’re still stuck with another rather glaring mystery: right now, at this very moment, you are sitting on a rock in outer space staring at a computer screen. And it doesn’t get any weirder than that.

    The fact that I have been treated to a cascade of mystical events is not the point. I’m just the messenger, and Roll Around Heaven is not about me, it’s about you. Its clear and present message is: Yes You Can.

    Of course, tuning into the divine is optional. I’m simply suggesting that this is one tea party you might not want to miss.

    Jessica Maxwell

    Jessica Maxwell is the author of the double gold book award-winning memoir, Roll Around Heaven, An All-true, Accidental Spiritual Adventure (Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster). Readers call the book "RAH!", because its mission is to cheer them on their own paths, and early on demanded more. A modern mystic and devoted spiritual coach, Jessica now gives inspirational talks, healings and workshops on a regular basis, and has been invited to be a regular presenter at Ghost Ranch, Georgia O'Keeffe's former painting-grounds in Northern New Mexico. Please join Jessica for the first "Roll Around Heaven at Ghost Ranch" personal spiritual tune-up Nov 6 - 10, 2011. Details are posted on

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