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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Seven - Intuition and Illumination
Evelyn Underhill quotes Father Malaval as follows: [168]

"The great doctors of the mystic life teach that there are two sorts of rapture which must be carefully distinguished. The first are produced in persons but little advanced in the Way, and still full of selfhood; either by the force of a heated imagination which vividly apprehends a sensible object, or by the artifice of the Devil... The other sort of Rapture is, on the contrary, the effect of pure intellectual vision in those who have a great and generous love for God. To generous souls who have utterly renounced themselves, God never fails in these raptures to communicate high things."
- Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism, page 431.

The same writer goes on to tell us what, psychologically, is ecstasy.

"The absorption of the self in the one idea, the one desire, is so profound - and in the case of the great mystics - so impassioned that everything else is blotted out."
- Underhill, Evelyne, Mysticism, page 434.

It will be noted how the idea of desire, of feeling and of duality characterizes the ecstatic condition. Passion, devotion and a rapturous going-out to the source of the realization are ever present, and a careful distinction has to be made by the experiencer or they will degenerate into morbidity. With this condition of sensory awareness, we have basically nothing to do. Our goal is the high one of constant intellection and steady mental control, and it is only in the early stages of illumination that this condition will be found. Later it will be seen that true illumination automatically rules out all such reactions. The soul knows itself to be free from the pairs of opposites - pleasure as well as pain - and stands steadily in [169] spiritual being. The line or channel of communication eventually is direct and eliminative from the soul to the mind, and from the mind to the brain.

When we arrive at the physical level of consciousness and of the reaction to the illumination which is streaming down into the brain, we have two predominant effects, usually. There is a sense or an awareness of a light in the head, and frequently also a stimulation to an activity which is abnormal. The man seems driven by the energy pouring through him, and the days are all too short for what he seeks to accomplish. He finds himself so anxious to cooperate with the Plan which he has contacted that his judgment is temporarily impaired and he works, and talks, and reads and writes with a tireless vigor which does, nevertheless, wear out the nervous system, and affect his vitality. All who have worked in the field of meditation, and who have sought to teach people along these lines are well aware of this condition. The aspirant does enter the realm of divine energy, and finds himself intensely responsive to it; he senses his group relations and responsibilities and feels as if he must do his uttermost to live up to them. This registering of a constant pouring in of vital force is eminently characteristic, for the coordination between the soul and its instrument, and the subsequent reaction of the nervous system to the energy of the soul is so close and exact that it takes the man quite a little time to learn the necessary adjustments.

A second effect, as we have seen, is the recognition [170] of the light in the head. This fact is so well substantiated that it needs little reinforcing. Dr. Jung refers to it in the following manner:

"...the light-vision, is an experience common to many mystics, and one that is undoubtedly of the greatest significance, because in all times and places it appears as the unconditional thing, which unites in itself the greatest power and the profoundest meaning. Hildegarde von Bingen, a significant personality quite apart from her mysticism, expresses herself about her central vision in a quite similar way. 'Since my childhood,' she says, 'I always see a light in my soul, but not with the outer eyes, nor through the thoughts of my heart; neither do the five outer senses take part in this vision... The light I perceive is not of a local kind, but is much brighter than the cloud which bears the sun. I cannot distinguish in it height, breadth, or length... What I see or learn in such a vision stays long in my memory. I see, hear, and know at the same time, and learn what I know in the same moment... I cannot recognize any sort of form in this light, although I sometimes see in it another light that is known to me as the living light... While I am enjoying the spectacle of this light, all sadness and sorrow disappear from my memory..."

"I know a few individuals who are familiar with this phenomenon from personal experience. As far as I have ever been able to understand it, the phenomenon seems to have to do with an acute condition of consciousness as intensive as it is abstract, a 'detached' consciousness... which, as Hildegarde pertinently remarks, brings up to consciousness regions of psychic events ordinarily covered with darkness. The fact that, in connection with this, the general bodily sensations disappear, shows that their specific energy has been withdrawn from them, and has apparently gone toward heightening the clearness of consciousness. As a rule, [171] the phenomenon is spontaneous, coming and going on its own initiative. Its effect is astonishing in that it almost always brings about a solution of psychic complications, and thereby frees the inner personality from emotional and imaginary entanglements, creating thus a unity of being, which is universally felt as a 'release'."
- Wilhelm, Richard, and Jung, C. G., The Secret of the Golden Flower, pages 104-105).

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