Collections of Mystical Experiences
Experience of Enlightenment
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.
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
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)
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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