Re: MD quality religion

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 22:48:25 BST

  • Next message: David Morey: "Re: MD The Individual in the MOQ"

    Dear David B.,

    You wrote 3 Apr 2004 16:42:32 -0700:
    'I just doubt that we have the same idea about what constitutes a mystical
    experience. ... mystical experience ... utterly dissolves the self. ...
    That's where I'd like you to go into some detail about the experience

    Mystical experience for me as for you is experience of unity, unity with
    whatever may seem disconnected. The experience can only be expressed in
    metaphors of which Quaker parlance is very rich: Source, Seed, Light. In a
    culture that stressed the experience of sin and disconnectedness with God
    early Quakers testified to their experience of directly experiencing God, of
    being 'in the Light', resulting in the possibility to 'live in the life and
    power that takes away sin'. Nowadays verbal expressions resulting from such
    an experience -at least among the Quakers with whom I worship- will not
    usually be directed at negating 'sin', but injustice and war (disconnected
    people) or ecological disaster (people disconnected from nature).
    'Who or what guides?' Well, 'God', if that metaphor has some positive
    connotations for you. Every Quaker has his own way of referring to it in
    metaphors (and is free to do so). Quite a few avoid the word 'God'. My
    favourite description (expressed in this discussion list before) is 'that
    which connects everyone and everything'. In the end the question is just as
    meaningless as asking about Dynamic Quality: 'who or what provokes changes'.
    'What kinds of things are said [in a Quaker meeting for worship]?' Lots of
    different things, but usually personal, centering on experience or on (new)
    meaning found in something. Bible quotes, poems, news items, anything can
    come in. Discussion or other too direct comments on something someone else
    said are not done. Additions or continuing a line of thought are quite
    common however.
    Quaker religious experience, both in meetings for worship and outside (after
    enough practice inside), runs up and down the whole gamut from full
    dissolving of ego to getting a good, new idea that cannot easily be
    experienced as an outcome of one identified with before.
    I hesitate to describe that experience, because it cannot be fully described
    and gets new meaning, gives new direction in every situation. It can best be
    known by its fruits, by the 'guidance' it gives for one's life, both in big
    and in small issues.

    The goal of Indian mysticism which Pirsig describes in chapter 3 of 'Lila'
    ('the Great Spirit reveal[ing] itself to him and tak[ing] over his life') is
    mirrored in the opening advices from 'Quaker faith and practice' which I
    partly quoted before here: 'Take heed .. to the promptings of love and truth
    in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our
    darkness and brings us to new life. Bring the whole of your life under the
    ordering of the spirit of Christ. Are you open to the healing power of God's
    The outcome is the same as for American Indians (as Pirsig describes in
    chapter 9 of 'Lila'). What Quakers call 'living in the Light' is the same as
    what Pirsig described with:
    'American Indians are exceptionally skilled at holding to the ever-changing
    center of things. That is the real reason they speak and act without
    ornamentation. It violates their mystic unity. This moving and acting and
    talking in accord with the Great Spirit and almost nothing else has been the
    ancient center of their lives.'
    Substitute 'Great Spirit' with 'Divine Guidance' or any other favourite
    metaphor of a Quaker and you get a perfect summary of 'Quaker faith and

    With friendly greetings,


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