It’s been more than two years since I had the experience that I call “the suck” or “the empty holodeck.” Although the experience really lasted just a moment, in some ways its consequences have been far lasting. Because of my own attachments, I’ve probably resisted describing it as honestly as I could have.
What really changed most is that I no longer experience God as a felt Presence. This was jarring and unsettling to me, because for well over thirty years, I did. After a brief agnostic period in my youth, I had a born-again experience that left me incapable of doubt. I knew God was there, because I felt that Presence with me. I was never alone, and I knew it. It was like I had an invisible Companion who was always there.
I took me a long time to realize (in fact, it still amazes me) that most people, including most Christians and other religious people, don’t have a continuous experience of Presence. As a consequence, for most, religious conviction is based on belief rather than a knowing based on lasting experience.
It would be an exaggeration to say that “God left.” However, for a short while, I felt utterly alone, and although it was jarring, it wasn’t entirely bad. For example, for the first time in my life, I felt like I had privacy! And in addition, I was able to understand other people’s groping in the dark for a belief to give them a sense of the Ultimate, and I was even able to really understand the skeptics who dismissed it all out of hand.
I don’t want to go back, and earIier this year I even rejected the idea of returning to a previous view. Now I’m beginning to realize what really happened was that I was blessed with a spiritual experience that lasted so long, I couldn’t even recognize it as an experience. Now it’s over, and I’m having a different spiritual experience. Everything changes, even experiences of the Changeless.
Keeps it interesting, nicht wahr?