"Cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research" and "the most important function of art and science [is] to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are capable of it." Albert Einstein 
Sometime in the year 2003, during the Easter holidays, I had a series of powerful "mystical" experiences, what I now call Connection Experiences. From a phenomenological, theological, psychological, and sociological perspective, these experiences completely blew me away. The experiences were totally unexpected, and, I have to say, initially unwelcome. Like many scholars who have these experiences, I neither expected nor anticipated the events. Although raised a Catholic, I had observed the hypocrisy and violence at an early age and rejected it. Even though I fiddled around with alternative systems throughout adolescence (Eckankar, Buddhism, Zen, etc.), I eventually entered university where I gradually accepted the dogmatic truths--God was a stupid idea, and human spirituality was, at best, a remnant of a more primitive time, and at worst, a delusion, oedipal regression. I neither wanted, needed, expected, or accepted anything religious to happen. But then, "it" happened. I had a powerful Connection Experience, and then I had more.
At that time the initial experiences occurred, I had three choices. One, I could pretend they didn't exist and that I didn't have them. Two, I could attribute the experiences to psychosis. Three, I could embrace them and try and figure out was going on. Since there was a certain amount of dis-ease in the first connection event (frankly, it was a terrifying Clearing Experience, pretending it hadn't happened and continuing on with my career was an attractive option. On the other hand, the experiences were literally mind-blowing, providing deep insight and opening up entirely new realms of thought, conception, and experience to me. Clearly, there was more to it than self-delusion or some kind of psychosis.
Ultimately, as you will gather as you browse through this online lexicon/textbook of human spirituality and connection, I didn't attribute the experiences to psychosis, nor did I try to pretend them away. I just couldn't. The experiences, which were easily repeatable, were obviously real, and had real and verifiable outcomes for me and, as I learned later when I began the literature review, others as well. The initial experience, which was a Nadir Experience characterized by deep Catholic rooted fears and profound Nadir Experience, blew my socks off and totally changed me and my life. Later on, I began to see the initial experience as a successful Clearing Experience, which is an experience where a deep-seated fear that prevented connection, in this case, a Catholic fear, was suddenly and permanently cleared. I'll go into the details of this experience at some other point. Here I will just say that once the fear was cleared, my mind began to develop and expand beyond the Normal Consciousness I had lived within until there. I started a journey of discovery that challenged my scientific materialism and started me on a two-decades-long path of discovery, analysis, and synthesis. I was like Michael Harner, Oscar Ichazo, Agehananda Bharatati, Ram Dass, and other scholars who had "crossed over" into the mystical realms and had come back excited, interested, and wanting to talk.
It was this "wanting to talk" that was a problem. I did want to talk. I broached the subject with colleagues here and then but was never really able to break the ice, so to speak. The problem was two-fold. On the one hand, the language that was available to discuss the experiences was imprecise, tainted by all sorts of bias, misconception, and outright Nomenclature Confusion confusion, and consequently often simply dismissed out of hand. You couldn't talk "mysticism" and "mystical experience" without being called a space cadet, or being told it wasn't "serious" scholarship. People simply did not want to understand, and this was a problem. I knew that what I had experienced was important, even at the time, and I knew we (and by "we" I mean scholars) should be talking about it. The question was, how to do it.
My solution was to try develop a new nomenclature, a new lexicon, that would allow everybody to talk about these ubiquitous human experiences in a psychologically, sociologically, and spiritually meaningful, but neutral fashion. I wanted words that would neither trigger immediate skepticism, or lead one-off into ungrounded realms of mystical musing, like can sometimes happen to those who spend a lot of time engaged in Connection Practice. I also wanted to bring some unity to the field. Humans have been having these experiences for centuries and as a consequence, every culture has at least one, sometimes more, set of terms to describe Connection and what one experiences and learns. It became clear as I read that these people were all talking about the same things, but that none of these people were talking to each other. I wanted to change all that.
This online resource, this SpiriWiki, is an attempt to bring a grounded coherence to the study of Connection Experience. This is an online textbook and spiritual lexicon. It is my attempt to sort out the initial experiences, and the Connection I have been practicing for well over a decade, in a sensible and scholarly fashion and to contribute towards a "more sophisticated religious language coordinated with the scientific data," as suggested as necessary by Timothy Leary. The SpiritWiki is not here to "conceal meanings," as is sometimes the case, but to clarify and reduce Nomenclature Confusiom, encourage discussion, teach and, dare I say, liberate from the shackles that bind and disconnect us.
At this time, this online resource is very much still in development. New concepts and ideas are flowing in, definitions and discussions are being refined, and new research, resources, and backing citations are being added all the time. The reader should bear this in mind. There are many rough sections, many sections that consist of little more than notes and ideas, and many areas that need supporting research and discussion. The resource is progressing, however, and it is, with moderate haste, I feel, becoming a useful distillation of Human Spirituality and a modest contribution (I hope) to connecting the dots and moving the discussion forward.
To use this resource, simply choose one of the points of entry below. These points of entry are the top-level concepts in the SpiritWiki. They are all linked together in a semantic web under the heading of Related Terms. I am also making an effort to link the various cultural discourses (shamanic, Judaic, Christian, Buddhist, etc.) together in a web of Syncretic Terms. Syncretic terms are simply terms with similiar, often identical, meaning to the SpiritWiki terms I've developed. By browsing the syncretic terms, you can see that despite cultural and religious differences, humans the world over have been talking about Connection and Connection Experience for thousands and thousand of years. As Harner suggests, paleolithic cave paintings may be the first records of early Shamanic style Connection Experiences.
Let's face it, these hidden laws [of mysticism] are hidden, but they are only hidden by [your] own ignorance. And the word mystical is just arrived at through people's ignorance. There's nothing mystical about it, only that you're ignorant of what that entails" ― George Harrison
As noted above, this SpiritWiki is all about Connection and Connection Experience. Connection is my word for mysticism, and connection experience is my word for mystical experience. Connection is a common and ubiquitous human experience that happens to everybody at least once in their lives, but that some people actually pursue, through various forms of Connection Practice, using various types of Connection Appliances, and often using powerful Connection Supplements.
When you engage in Connection Practice, you inevitably have Connection Experiences. These experiences, which may be classified as either Zenith Experiences or Nadir Experiences, lead to various Connection Outcomes, some better documented than others. Connection Experiences may be analyzed using the five Connection Axes. Note that connection can be corrupted and even subverted by Connection Obstacless, and various forms of Connection Pathology may result.
Connection is an ongoing human concern and through the centuries, many Connection Manuals have been written, from various cultural, scientific, and religious perspectives, to guide and help purify The Flow. The LP offers the LP Connection Framework to help guide folks towards stronger, cleaner, uncorrupted, and healthy connection.
The Physical Unit
Connection to Consciousness requires a healthy mind and, ideally, a healthy body. I use the term Physical Unit to refer to the body and mind as a whole. The Physical Unit consists of the muscles, organs, and various energy flows that make life possible.
The goal of Human Development and human evolution is to create and develop a body capable of strong and persistent Connection. Connection is like turning an electrical switch on. When you do, powerful (Consciousness) flows through the body and mind. If the physical unit, in particular the mind, is not prepared and healthy, the experience can be foreshortened, impermanent, and even negative.
In order to develop a healthy Physical Unit, all Seven Essential Needs must be met throughout the lifespan. A socialization process that emphasizes satisfaction of all essential needs is a Healthy Socialization process. Healthy socialization and satisfaction of the Seven Essential Needs puts the physical unit into Growth Mode. Unfortunately, the human species currently endures a Toxic Socialization Process. Toxic socialization damages and Disconnects the physical unit and puts it into Defense Mode.
- Einstein, Albert. The World as I See It. Kindle. Samaira Book Publishers, 2018. https://amzn.to/2NR8B6z.
- Zaehner. Mysticism Sacred and Profane. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969. https://amzn.to/2LcdkCl.
- Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton, 1961. https://amzn.to/2STCpQT.
- ———. The Future of an Illusion. New York: Anchor Books, 1964. https://amzn.to/2EZqqgZ.
- William James notes "The simplest rudiment of mystical experience would seem to be that deepened sense of the significance of a maxim or formula which occasionally sweeps over one. "I've heard that said all my life," we exclaim, "but I never realized its full meaning until now. James, William. Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature (p. 332). Kindle Edition. https://amzn.to/2SQZ7Jv
- As time passed I collected the various Connection Outcomes that people who experience Connection enjoy, I became even more convinced that it is important to talk about these experiences.
- Sosteric. “Everybody Has a Connection Experience: Prevalence, Confusions, Interference, and Redefinition.” Spirituality Studies 4, no. 2 (2018). https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume4-issue2-fall2018/files/assets/common/downloads/files/4-2-sosteric.pdf.
- Spiritual lexicons are a thing in the spiritual literature of this planet. See for example Ernst, Carl W. “Mystical Language and the Teaching Context in the Early Sufi Lexicons.” In It’s Not Just Academic! Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies, 181–200. California: Sage, 2018. https://www.academia.edu/4416944/Mystical_Language_and_the_Teaching_Context_in_the_Early_Sufi_Lexicons.
- Leary, T. “The Religious Experience: Its Production and Interpretation.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 3, no. 1 (1970): 76–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.1970.10471364. p. 341.
- Ibid. p. 184.
- As Ernst says, "...the fundamentally transcendental orientation of the symbols and terms of mystical teaching is liberating.... The model suggested by the Sufi lexicons condenses mystical experiences in terms designed to reveal the experiential possibilities to those prepare for them." Ernst, Carl W. “Mystical Language and the Teaching Context in the Early Sufi Lexicons.” In It’s Not Just Academic! Essays on Sufism and Islamic Studies, 181–200. p. 196. California: Sage, 2018. https://www.academia.edu/4416944/Mystical_Language_and_the_Teaching_Context_in_the_Early_Sufi_Lexicons.
- Harner, Michael. Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2013.
- Why call mystical experience connection experience? For two reasons. Reason one, because the word "mystical" is useless as a descriptor and referent. It doesn't add anything to our understanding of the experience. Its use actually confuses the issue and contributes to a basic spiritual prejudice that we can't really understand these experiences because they are mystical and ineffable. The second reason I call mystical experiences connection experiences is because that is exactly what they are. When an individual has a connection experience they are making a connection to something more than their day-to-day Normal Consciousness. What is this "something more?" The "something more" is either a deep and powerful neurological level of our brain we don't normally tap into, or it is a powerful Consciousness independent of the Physical Unit, and much bigger and more powerful than the consciousness we normally associate with that. You can find scholars who sit on both sides of the fence here. My personal view is that when we have a Connection Experience we are connecting to a Consciousness that exists independent of the [[Physical Unit] and that is much bigger than the consciousness associated with the Bodily Ego. In my BOL, I call this independent Consciousness The Fabric of Consciousness. To be perfectly clear then, Connection means connecting to The Fabric of Consciousness, as I say, or to a “non-local mind,” as physician Dossey suggests. When we connect we connect to an “Old One” of vast intelligence, as Einstein said when he allowed himself to speculate about these spiritual things. See Sosteric, Mike. “The Science of Ascension: A Neurologically Grounded Theory of Mystical/Spiritual Experience,” 2017. https://www.academia.edu/28919294. and Dossey, Larry. “Nonlocal Mind: A (Fairly) Brief History of the Term.” Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing 11, no. 2 (2015): 89–101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2014.12.001. Hermanns, William. Einstein and the Poet. Boston: Branden Books, 1983. https://amzn.to/2n8MjnC.
- Sosteric, Mike. “Everybody Has a Connection Experience: Prevalence, Confusions, Interference, and Redefinition.” Spirituality Studies 4, no. 2 (2018). https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume4-issue2-fall2018/files/assets/common/downloads/files/4-2-sosteric.pdf.
Contact the author at michael [ @ ] lightningpath.org