My first memorable “mystical experience” was on the toilet. I was very young and it was an ordinary day. I don’t remember being in anything but a normal mood. I was in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet doing the normal bathroom thing. The door to the bathroom was just a little ajar to the hallway. Occasionally someone in my family walked by the door and I thought to myself ,
“Gee, I didn’t close the door — this is a little embarrassing. But wait, no one seems to know I am in here. That is good.”
But as I thought about no one knowing I was in the bathroom, I started thinking more generally:
“Wow, this is what it would look like if I weren’t here. Gee, but what if they don’t know I am in here because I don’t really exist? What if I never existed? What would this family be like now if I never existed? What if all memories of me disappeared? Who would I be if all these memories were gone, even my own?”
Then, bang! Suddenly nothing was normal. I had an abrupt flood of feelings and insights. I suddenly felt like “I” disappeared and yet it was a rich, peaceful, buzzing feeling — my whole body felt it. It was a little scary, but still exciting and happy. And I felt secure in a deep understanding that was settling in.
Then the feeling faded. That all lasted about 3 minutes and I would never forget it. In fact, over then next two months, when sitting on the toilet I would try to think the same thoughts and ask the same questions in order to trigger the experience but it would not return. About a half a year later, in the same setting but without trying, the epiphany came upon me again but with much less intensity. And after that day, that experience would never return.
The hum of change from this rather simple and naive experience of a young boy has lasted as fuel for his understanding of reality since then. Have any of you had similar experiences? Or have you had positive inner experiences that hum for years and inform your life? What is an atheist suppose to call these? I could probably explain them neurologically but how do I convey them? So, can you see why I call myself a “sympathetic Atheist“?