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Published Collections of Mystical Experiences

An Experience of Enlightenment

Flora Courtois (Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 1986)


The late Flora Courtois followed her own path to mystical experiences. Not part of any group or school, she struggled as a student to shed the unnecessary to find reality. Leaving the daily concerns of most others behind, she immersed herself in meditation and study.

In addition to writing this book, Courtois went on to co-found the Los Angeles Zen Center and was an officer in an organization that studied the similarities between the major religions.

Experience 1

"When I was sixteen, minor surgery had to be performed. An ether cone was placed over my face and as I breathed in deeply, a great whirling spiral of light approached from an enormous distance and at great speed. At the same time, a voice of unmistakable authority seemed to say that when the center of the spiral reached me I would "understand all things." Just as the center reached me I blacked out, but after recovering there remained an unforgettable conviction that what I had heard and seen was in some inexplicable way the deepest truth." (pp. 18-19)

Experience 2

"Standing at the kitchen window one day, and looking out at where a path wound under some maple trees, I suddenly saw the scene with a freshness and clarity that I'd never seen before. Simultaneously, as though for the first time, I fully realized I was not only on the earth but of it, an intimate part and product of it. I was as if a door had briefly opened. I stood there transfixed. I remember thinking: "Distant places on the map such as Tibet and North Africa are extensions of right here, all interrelated!" (pp. 24 - 25).

Experience 3

"Standing in April, Easter vacation arrived and I went home to Detroit to spend a week with my parents. There, about three days later, alone in my room, sitting quietly on the edge of my bed and gazing at a small desk, not thinking of anything at all, in a moment too short to measure, the universe changed on its axis and my search was over.

The small, pale green desk at which I'd been so thoughtlessly gazing had totally and radically changed. It appeared now with a clarity, a depth of three-dimensionality, a freshness I had never imagined possible. At the same time, in a way that is utterly indescribable, all my questions and doubts were gone as effortlessly as chaff in the wind. I knew everything and all at once, yet not in the sense that I had ever known anything before.

All things were the same in my little bedroom yet totally changed. Still sitting in wonder on the edge of my narrow bed, one of the first things I realized was that the focus of my sight seemed to have changed; it had sharpened to an infinitely small point which moved ceaselessly in paths totally free of the old accustomed ones, as if flowing from a new source.

What on earth had happened? So released from all tension, so ecstatically light did I feel, I seemed to float down the hall to the bathroom to look at my face in the mottled mirror over the sink. The pupils of my eyes were dark, dilated and brimming with mirth. With a wondrous relief, I began to laugh as I'd never laughed before, from the soles of my feet upward.

Within a few days I had returned to Ann Arbor, and there over a period of many months there took place a ripening, a deepening and unfolding of this experience which filled me with wonder and gratitude at every moment. The foundations had fallen from my world. I had plunged into a numinous openness which had obliterated all fixed distinctions including that of within and without. A Presence had absorbed the universe including myself, and to this I surrendered in absolute confidence. Often, without any particular direction in mind, I found myself outside running along the street in joyous abandon. Sometimes when alone I simply danced as freely as I did as a child. The whole world seemed to have reversed itself, to have turned outside in. Activity flowed simply and effortlessly, and to my amazement, seemingly without thought. Instead of following my old sequence of learning, thinking, planning, then acting, action had taken precedence and whatever was learned was surprisingly incidental. Yet nothing ever seemed to go out of bounds; there was no alternation between self-control and letting go but rather a perfect rightness and spontaneity to all this flowing activity.

This new kind of knowing was so pure and unadorned, so delicate, that nothing in language of my past could express it. Neither sense nor feeling nor imagination contained it yet all were contained in it. In some indefinable way I knew with absolute certainty the changeless unity and harmony in change of the universe and the inseparability of all seeming opposites.

It was as if, before all this occurred, "I" had been a fixed point inside my head looking out at a world out there, a separate and comparatively flat world. The periphery of awareness had now come to light, yet neither fixed periphery nor center existed as such. A paradoxical quality seemed to permeate all existence. Feeling myself centered as never before, at the same time I knew the whole universe to be centered at every point. Having plunged to the center of emptiness, having lost all purposefulness in the old sense, I had never felt so one-pointed, so clear and decisive. Freed from separateness, feeling one with the universe, everything including myself had become at once unique and equal. If God was the word for this Presence in which I was absorbed then everything was either holy or nothing; no distinction was possible. All was meaningful, complete as it was, each bird, bud, midge, mole, atom, crystal, of total importance in itself. As in the notes of a great symphony, nothing was large or small, nothing of more or less importance to the whole. I now saw that wholeness and holiness are one. " (p.43, 47-51)

 

 

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