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At first she slowly filled my vision, as if I were floating toward her or her toward me.

The Mystic Experience

Then with increasing speed she came closer and closer, followed by trees, rocks, the field, and then the entire universe, whirling in a giant vortex that funneled into me. As everything literally became one with me, I perceived a bright light inside rather than outside of me. This light can best be described as white, but it was all colors simultaneously, and it was bright beyond the brightest light imaginable.


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I, the universe, began to fly faster and faster toward the light. Somehow, I recognized what was happening. I sped into the light and dissolved in an immense flood tide of joy.

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Later — it could have been a quarter of an hour or an hour or more — I regained awareness. At first I was aware of a blissful nothingness; that is, the first awareness was simply of being aware while awash in the afterglow of bliss.

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Slowly, these components took on specific qualities, took on names and meanings. I had gone from an area where I was a despised minority — in several ways — to…one of the finest and most metropolitan cities in the world. I had left behind a place into which I could not fit, a dead marriage, and a deadening scholarly direction for a vibrant artistic world, new social opportunities, and a return to the only scholarly direction that excited me — religious studies.

I was physically fit…[and] had returned to a semivegetarian diet. I had no emotional entanglements.

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Zaehner, Agehananda Bharati, and Elliot Wolfson—as well as relating his own mystical experiences. The result, Kripal finds, is seven "palaces of wisdom": the religious power of excess, the necessity of distance in the study of mysticism, the relationship between the mystical and art, the dilemmas of male subjectivity and modern heterosexuality, a call for ethical criticism, the paradox of the insider-outsider problem in the study of religion, and the magical power of texts and their interpretation. An original and penetrating analysis of modern scholarship and scholars of mysticism, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom is also a persuasive demonstration of the way this scholarly activity is itself a mystical phenomenon.

Palaces of Wisdom. Droits d'auteur. Kripal is the Vira I.


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