Thursday, August 7, 2014

Michael Eigen - Variants of Mystical Participation

Chapter excerpt from Michael Eigen (2014). Variants of Mystical Participation, Chapter 5 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.

"Mystical participation - is it a state that underlies experience? Can we better say it is a dimension of experience or sets of dimensions, rather than situate it below-above or earlier-later? What you and I might mean by mystical or participation or related terms may not be the same. I am not sure what I mean but loosely refer to something sensed. It may occur in varied affective keys: dread, awe, love, heaven, hell, joy, ecstasy, horror, hope, hate. Yes there are hate frenzies, hate ecstasies, hate unions. Destructive as well as creative mystical participations.There are those who say that destructive union is part of creativeness.

Dimensions plural. Mystics speak of going through many doors, worlds, gates. Beatrice in Dante’s heaven goes from one heaven through another. Heaven keeps opening. Invagination is often an implied image. In my early twenties, after a physical intervention by a somatic therapist he asked how I felt and I spoke the truth: "I feel like a vagina." My whole body became vaginal. His paranoid aspect came to the fore and said, "How do you know how a vagina feels?" At that moment, in my experience, I was one.

A vaginal self - a vaginal body. A Lacanian might say imaginary vagina. One could give a gender analysis and rake me over the coals for my biases. What can I say? In my mind, my body vagina. Hallucination? Can the body hallucinate? Yes, it can. Was it hallucinating then? At the moment, I didn’t care. It was wonderful.

Winnicott speaks of positive aspects of illusion and puts in that category much art and religious experience. Beneficial, enriching illusions. Not at all divorced from truth. They enlarge the domain of emotional or perceptual truth. In my case, to experience my body that way stayed with me the rest of my life. More it opened a gate of experiencing that has grown since then. Once touched, such moments make you aware of possibilities that can undergo development." (pp. 130-131)

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