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Published Collections of Mystical Experiences

Zen Enlightenment: Origins and Meaning

Dumoulin, Heinrich (New York: Weatherhill, 1989)

Unfortunately this book gives very few clues as to the mystical experience stimulated by Zen practice. The most valuable material addressing this issue is found near the very end of the book. In chapter 12 we learn that some Zen students are guided through a variety of experiences on the way to "enlightenment". Any experiences short of enlightenment are labeled as: useless, destructive, and sometimes evil. These lower experiences include mystical visions and profound emotional openings.

In addition to these experiences comes a sensitivity to sense impressions. During advanced Zen practice, light reflections, colors, and sounds are perceived sharply and felt deeply. Next, the disciple can enter a state of mental clarity and physical tranquility.

Dumoulin reports: "The liberating experience is different from the feelings of exultation and sudden luminous insights that occur along the way of practice, particularly in the final phases. The accounts show Zen enlightenment to be a cosmic experience. In the sudden breakthrough of the mind, the universal unity of reality that includes or expands the self is experienced, and this is an indescribable---and hence nonarticulated---way. Experiences of so-called cosmic consciousness perhaps come closest to the Zen experience, but in the case of Zen enlightenment, the basic Mahayanist doctrine of universal Buddha-nature in all living beings gives this term a more precise sense: that of the holiness and original pureness of all reality, which is one.

pps. 142-143; 144-145.



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