Reflections on Spiritual Experience

By George A. Boyd ©2018

Q: How do people have a spiritual experience?

A: They focus their attention on a spiritual essence. There are several layers of experience: the way you have an experience at any particular layer is to focus your attention there. These layers include:

  1. Sensory experience – This type of experience is the most common level of experience. It occurs when your attention is focused at the waking state of awareness. In this level of your experience, you are aware of the environment around your body.
  2. Astral or dream experience – You experience this when your attention is drawn into the astral body during the dream state, hypnosis, or after ingestion of psychoactive drugs.
  3. Attentional experience – You begin to experience this level when you collect your attention into a sphere and become present and conscious in the present time. This initial phase of attentional experience is called mindfulness. With further practice of meditation, attention begins to travel along the thread of consciousness and view the different levels of the mind.
  4. Attentional principle experience – When attention moves along the thread of consciousness to the presence of the intentional consciousness, which we call the attentional principle, it unites with this essence. Once this occurs, you become aware of the independent experience of the attentional principle, which can objectively witness the activity of the mind, and can also us intention to perform a variety of “conscious inner work.”
  5. Individual spirit experience – When the attention moves yet further along the thread of consciousness, it encounters the loving spiritual heart, which we call the spirit. This essence, when activated gains the ability to travel in the channels of light and sound that connect it with its Source. The capacity for spiritual experience enables you to witness the many dimensional Planes that are contained in those channels.
  6. Self experience – When attention focuses on the core of the personality, it discovers the Self. The Self is the director of all personal activity. It creates personal destiny through its choices. It sets up the experiences of human life.
  7. Soul experience – When attention follows the thread of consciousness upward through the Superconscious mind, it gains union with the Soul. As the Soul “wakes up” within, you experience Gnosis, knowing the Soul in its essence; and enlightenment, knowing all levels of the mind and consciousness from the Soul’s vantage point.

Those of you who wish to learn how to focus your attention on your attentional principle, your spirit, your Self, and your Soul can acquire key techniques in our intermediate courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

Most people just keep their attention in type 1, the sensory experience of their environment, and type 2, dream and hypnotic states. They never break through into spiritual states of awareness.

With the new popularity of mindfulness, more people are breaking through into type 3, and at least come to the experience of the present time. This is at the entrance to the path to spiritual experience.

People who do coaching, or humanistic or transpersonal psychology learn to focus their mind on the Self at the nucleus of the personality—this is type 6. This is the aspect of your personality that can take charge of your life and your mind and create change through choice.

Types 3 (in its more advanced practice of traveling along the thread of consciousness), 4, 5, and 7 comprise the spiritual experiences that you have in meditation. So if you want to have spiritual experiences, you need to focus your attention on one of these essences.

Once you have mastered the rudiments of attentional travel, you can learn to focus on a wide variety of objects of meditation—nuclei of identity, spiritual guides, and spiritual Masters, and the Divine at different levels of the Continuum.

So to recap, you have a spiritual experience by placing your attention at one of these strata of the mind, and focus on the essence—the attentional principle, the spirit, the Self, or the Soul.

  • To have an experience of the environment, maintain your attention in the waking state of consciousness. This is the ground state of the attention at the bottom of the thread of consciousness.
  • To experience the subconscious mind, the world of dreams, you place your attention in your astral body.
  • To experience the layers of the mind, you move your attention along the thread of consciousness.
  • To experience what the attentional principle is sensing and intending, you put your attention on your attentional principle.
  • To experience what your spirit is sensing or feeling, you contemplate your spirit.
  • To experience what is going on in your life and what you are creating through your choices, you focus your attention on the Self.
  • To experience the fullness of your Soul’s existence, consciousness, and bliss, you merge your attention with the Soul in the Superconscious mind.

People only encounter a fraction of their potential spiritual experience because they don’t fully withdraw their energy and awareness into the object of meditation. So if you are focusing your attention on your attentional principle, but your energy is still locked in the physical body—you are having maybe one tenth of the experience you could be having.

It takes time for this energy to begin to awaken. If you are spending 20 minutes in meditation, this may not be sufficient time for this energy to fully awaken. For example, if you focus on the attentional principle as it’s traveling through the Superconscious mind, and your energy is not fully awakened, you might:

  • Feel something is moving
  • Hear a subtle change in frequency
  • Detect the essence at a new location
  • See some random flashes of light

But will you touch the attentional principle’s actual experience? No: it will be fuzzy and vague.

Focusing your attention on the object of meditation is the first step.

Allowing your awareness to open into this object of meditation is the second step.

Fully withdrawing your energy into union with the object of meditation is step three.

Uniting your energy with the object of meditation is called samadhi. You actually become one with the essence. At his stage, you have the full experience.

If gaining this complete experience is important to you, you will need to fully withdraw your energy to become one with the essence upon which you are meditating. If you are serious abut this, you will need to free up your time to have the longer mediations you need to extract you energy and have these deeper experiences.

Without this full withdrawal, you may do the spiritual work of transformation or open the channels of light and sound, but your experience will be dream-like, distant, vague, and mysterious.

If you penetrate into the core of that experience, it will be crystal clear, immediate, palpable, and unmistakable. You will not guess at what your attentional principle is… your spirit is… your Self is… your Soul is… You will know without a shadow of a doubt.

We train our students who have completed the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation to enter the higher levels of Samadhi in our Samadhi Week Program. Any of you who have completed the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation and have facility of the three core techniques of Integral meditation are eligible to take this course.

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