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The Awakening of the Self

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  • medit8ionsociety
    This is an excerpt from Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill, [1911] ... First in the sequence of the mystic states, we must consider that decisive event, the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 22, 2010
      This is an excerpt from Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill, [1911]
      First in the sequence of the mystic states, we
      must consider that decisive event, the awakening
      of the transcendental consciousness.

      This awakening, from the psychological point of
      view, appears to be an intense form of the
      phenomenon of "conversion"; and closely akin
      to those deep and permanent conversions of the
      adult type which some religious psychologists
      call "sanctification." It is a disturbance of the
      equilibrium of the self, which results in the
      shifting of the field of consciousness from lower
      to higher levels, with a consequent removal of
      the centre of interest from the subject to an object
      now brought into view: the necessary beginning of
      any process of transcendence. It must not, however,
      be confused or identified with religious conversion
      as ordinarily understood: the sudden and emotional
      acceptance of theological beliefs which the self
      had previously either rejected or treated as
      conventions dwelling upon the margin of consciousness
      and having no meaning for her actual life. The
      mechanical process may be much the same; but the
      material involved, the results attained, belong to
      a higher order of reality.

      "Conversion," says Starbuck, in words which are
      really far more descriptive of mystical awakening
      than of the revivalistic phenomena encouraged by
      American Protestantism, "is primarily an unselfing.
      The first birth of the individual is into his own
      little world. He is controlled by the deep-seated
      instincts of self-preservation and self-enlargement—instincts
      which are, doubtless, a direct inheritance
      from his brute ancestry. The universe is organized
      around his own personality as a centre." Conversion,
      then, is "the larger world-consciousness now pressing
      in on the individual consciousness. Often it breaks
      in suddenly and becomes a great new revelation. This
      is the first aspect of conversion: the person emerges
      from a smaller limited world of existence into a
      larger world of being. His life becomes swallowed
      up in a larger whole."
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