Plunging into Ecstasy ...

kerrya's picture

"Ecstasy is not something separate from fear. Ecstasy is something that includes fear in the price of being human."
~ Jason Shulman, The Instruction Manual for Receiving God

The American Heritage Dictionary offers 3 meanings for ecstasy:
1) Intense joy or delight.
2) A state of emotion so intense that one is carried beyond rational thought and self-control: an ecstasy of rage.
3) The trance, frenzy, or rapture associated with mystic or prophetic exaltation.

Its origin is from the Latin word for "terror".

I, like perhaps many others, have only considered the first, more upbeat, definition for ecstasy. Which is why I have spent several days on my teacher's passage above and could not make the connection to fear coupled with ecstasy. As I see that the meaning is not limited to intense joy and includes emotion beyond the rational and trance and terror, I am standing at attention with eyes wide open.

Jason goes on to say in this passage about ecstasy the following:
"Don't be afraid, my friend,
of anything for too long a time.
God is in the middle of darkness,
just as darkness is in the middle of the Divine."

I understand in this moment that I have experienced being ecstatically irrational, frenzied and in terror. I just thought it was plain old crazy. And, as Jason states, we don't have to be afraid of anything for too long a time, just as the timeless quote goes: "This too shall pass."

What I am aware of now that I was not before is that God is in the middle of manic-like excitement and passion, right in the throws of thinking we're going mad or surely about to die or even when we believe our world will crumble apart. Ecstasy INCLUDES fear. This offers yet another window into the MAGI process phrase: "There are sunlit roads woven in the dark places. Both are needed."

When I had, what I considered at the time to be, debilitating panic attacks in my early 20's, I had absolutely no sense of God or anything remotely Divine being present amid the terror of impending doom. I was convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was either going insane or about to die. So frightened I was, that I doused these intolerable feelings with large quantities of alcohol. It would soon become a vicious cycle that grew into full blown alcoholism, not knowing truly which came first -- the panic or the bottle.

Since I have been sober, I have had perhaps 2 occurrences that resembled the former panic symptoms. One such instance resulted from an anxiety-type side effect of an antibiotic. In that moment of the onset of symptoms, I can look back now and say that God was surely present. So much so that I was "guided" to recognize that what was happening to me was medication-induced and allowed me the presence of mind to call the pharmacist. I was able to listen to the voice within -- what I know now is also God -- to remind myself that I was okay and that I was not going to die and that this would eventually pass. This event occurred during my second year of the non-dual healing program. While I didn't fully understand the Divine presence in that situation then, I surely do in this moment.

I venture to say that I will not look at the word ecstasy the same way ever again. Just as I continue to not see myself as the same person from one moment to the next.