When was the last time you said to yourself “a-ha! I get it!” What did you get? How did you feel?
I know for me that such moments are some of my “personal highs”. They are the times that I have some new insight, understand something at a deeper level, consciously see connections that I never perceived before. I really love such moments!
I still recall an undergraduate economics class where the professor summed up all of the semester’s material in his final lecture – flowcharting and diagramming on the blackboard starting in the front of the room and encircling us on the boards on all four walls, culminating his presentation by linking his final point back to his first one in the front. I sat there flabbergasted, recognizing a total interplay of all of our economic social systems. Everything was connected!
Certain books such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance have created that experience within my awareness. I remember many a-ha moments both times I read the book! Such highs have come from reading philosopher Ken Wilber as well as spiritual teachers Sri Aurobindo and Ernest Holmes. Listening to The Great Courses audio class on Big History has unlocked some connections for me. In addition, I’ve gotten some new insights from watching the recent History Channel show by the same name.
These are just a few of the sources that come to mind that have opened my awareness to seeing connections and understanding this universe just a little bit better. You probably have your own list, I suspect.
The classic example of the “a-ha moment” comes from the tale of how the Greek mathematician Archimedes invented a method for determining the volume of an object with an irregular shape. As he lowered himself into his bathtub, he noticed the water being displaced and recognized how to solve his problem. As the story goes, he was so elated that he ran through the streets naked yelling “Eureka”. His “invention” was really just the perception of a previously unknown “connection”.
Why are these moments so special and so meaningful to us?
These moments which can also be termed “insights” or “epiphanies” have been studied by psychology. There are a number of theories as to what creates these moments. For example, some say that it relates to our feelings of being at an impasse as to how to solve a particular problem, that we get some spontaneous insight that shows us the answer which leads us to a feeling of joy, accomplishment and satisfaction. That’s all true to a point.
Yes, I’ve struggled with a particular problem and had some immediate answer come to me which allowed me to feel satisfaction. But most of my epiphanies don’t come at the hands of any mental challenge. In most cases, I’m just knocking around in life and all of a sudden something – be it a book, a lecture, TV program or simply some immediate life experience – opens my eyes to an awareness of some connection that I never realized before. I wasn’t struggling to find this connection, the awareness just came out of the blue.
In my opinion, why such moments are special are because they grow our awareness in the oneness of life. It’s like mentally interlocking two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and realizing at a greater awareness how everything is connected. If these two previously unconnected things are now seen as connected, then that opens our minds to the possibility that everything else “out there” which I may currently see as unconnected may really be linked after all.
One of the common denominators of mystical experiences is that they lead a person into a direct experience of universal oneness. Sometimes such mystical moments occur spontaneously. In most cases, a regular and routine practice of quieting the mind and meditating prepares the person for deeper and deeper levels of conscious awareness of oneness. Enlightenment can come in a flash or it can be a slow evolving process over a period of time. Either way, enlightenment is linked to the awareness of a divine oneness.
I have written many times about the power of love and how it’s more than just that sense of romantic attachment to another person. Love is a power that draws us out of our sense of separation for one another and calls us to a deeper sense of connectedness to that other person. Love can be felt for those significant romantic others in our lives as well as many other people. The feeling of love can be brought about by many other experiences – our pets, nature, great food and so on. The common denominator is that in every case our sense of love is connecting us as individuals with something which we previously perceived as being outside of us. Love is a force that is drawing us towards enlightenment.
The joy we feel with mystical experiences, loving experiences and those “a-ha” experiences is all tied to that same sense of oneness. Somehow life and its experiences are drawing as away from separation and towards unity. It’s almost like some kind of divine conspiracy!
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!