Most people I know have experienced moments of spiritual experience or insight. My research sample of friends is too small to assert that everyone has experiences of being in the presence of spirit. But probably everyone has these experiences at different times in life. While some believe these are momentary flashes that come on their own, I’m convinced they can be encouraged and sustained.
I experienced spiritual moments when I was young. I didn’t think anything of them. They were simply moments of feeling that all was well. Usually I experienced this while I was in the woods or trudging through fields in search of snakes and toads. I was complete. The world was complete. And there was no difference between me and the world.
Later I experienced spiritual epiphanies during my late teens and early 20s during experiences with psychedelic drugs such as LSD, DMT, and psilocybin. The drugs delivered a much different holy instant. They produced spiritual sensations, but those experiences were laced with an edgy chemical feeling. When the drug wore off, so did the spirituality.
Shortly after that period, I met a girl who had a strong commitment to spirituality. We attended Self-Realization Fellowship classes at the Detroit Institute of Arts. She would have direct spiritual experiences with friends. She described this as “clicking.” She told she was waiting to click with me. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Then one evening as we pulled into the parking lot of my apartment, a feeling started coming over me. It was a strong physical feeling that was both light and comforting. There was nothing subtle about it. We were both looking straight ahead. Softly, she said, “This is it. This is clicking.” I had no fear, no anxiety, just a strong sense of love and presence.
I started to ask what it was. She said, “No, don’t disturb it.” The feeling lasted for about five or ten minutes. When it faded I finally asked her what it was. “That was clicking,” she said. When I pressed, she said, “I don’t know what it is. It’s clicking. I think it’s God.”
The clicking never happened again. She moved on to another boyfriend. I moved on to another girlfriend. I have felt the sensation again – though in a weaker strength – during meditation. As my spiritual commitment and activities increased in recent years, I’ve felt it again, many times, but not with the same intensity or the same mystery. These days, when I experience the presence of spirit, it’s not mysterious at all. I’ve become convinced it’s our natural state of being.
Holy instants sometimes last only seconds. They are precious moments when we finally see reality. They’re like a moment of sunshine on a cloudy day. When the sun pokes through, we know the sun is not being inconsistent. The sun is never diminished by the clouds that block it.
Likewise with spirit during a holy instant. Our experience of the presence may be brief, but that doesn’t mean spirit is any less complete. Spirit is never inconsistent, never brief. Celestial light is constant. It’s not distant. It’s present and complete at all times, in our heart, in our breath, in our very being. The holy instant is our true nature, our true identity. This waking life is the illusion. The holy instant is the truth, and it can be called forth to the center of our being, to the center of our experience of this world.