This essay is largely in response to a commenter’s questions:
A. What if the PTSD allowed your mind to think in esoteric form and heightened empathy to where the weight of the world is on your shoulders and everyone’s pain makes you feel guilty and hopeless all the time?
B. What if because of the pain it allowed you to have premonitions?
C. Could these changes to the mind and soul take on a physical aspect of let’s say health issues?
In the discussion that follows, if words like God and Soul are troublesome to you, well, join the club. If you find they inhibit your ability to learn, then you can substitute words like Great Spirit and Identity. Either way, it works out if you let it.
We also need to sort out an unasked question concerning the causal connection between pain and esoteric experience. We will cover that topic before we get to the three questions, otherwise the three questions will be out of context…wouldn’t want that now!
Can We Self-Generate Esoteric PTSD Dimensions?
Before we can try to take on the specific questions laid out above we need to recognize that authentic esoteric experiences are not self-generated. I do this because I find a lot of people are more interested in the flashy side-effects of mysticism, such as levitation, displacement, or telepathy, but not the true experience of mysticism which is a better understanding of your authentic self and union with God. Focusing on those “flashy” elements of mysticism is like taking a medication and hoping you get the side-effects while you are indifferent to the actual healing power of the drug.
That all said: Yes, there can be an esoteric dimension to PTSD suffering. Trauma can inflict a soul wound upon us. The soul wound can possess ecstatic dimensions, but not by necessity, that is, it does not have to happen. Be aware that this also means trauma does not have to inflict a soul wound and a soul wound does not have to have an esoteric dimension. These are not mechanical relationships where X must always lead to Y. The relationship I am trying to describe is one of possibility, not necessity.
Just as we cannot mechanically force God to act in certain ways by reciting certain prayers or performing certain rituals, we cannot force esoteric experiences to occur from self-inflicted trauma.
God is not a gumball machine and neither is your soul.
Just because I stick in a quarter and turn the crank does not mean I will get a sugary gumball-like esoteric experience.
God remains the mysterious ultimate reality; we cannot force God to act in accordance with our desires. Neither can we squeeze ecstatic experiences from our soul on demand.
We cannot force the generation of a spiritual experience as if it were a mechanical relationship, as if individuality did not matter. In attempts to create an esoteric moment, some people will voluntarily engage in inauthentic traumas. Some of the inauthentic traumas are acted out by means of purposeful self-harm (self-cutting, burning, etc.) or thrill-seeking (bungee jumping, reckless driving or reckless sex). Those sorts of deeds will not generate valid esoteric experiences. Thus, while paying some New Age Clown a couple of thousand dollars so you can asphyxiate in his sweat lodge may just kill you, it does not automatically generate an ecstatic experience. It will generate a deficit in both your health and your bank account.
Self-inflicted thrills and/or trauma lacks the authenticity required for it to possibly become an authentic ecstatic moment.
For some people this subject can be easier if they approach it from a model of northern or western hemisphere shamanism. If so, the folloowing two links may be of some use to you.
- Click through this link for more on PTSD and Ecstatic Moments.
- Click through this link for other essays under the PTSD and Shamanism category.
We have covered the basics about what kind of trauma is viable to produce the conditions where we MIGHT have an esoteric or ecstatic outcome.
In Sum: Self-Generated trauma does not produce an authentic ecstatic moment or mystical experience. Externally generated trauma that is not pre-arranged or self-enabled might be grounds for an authentic ecstatic moment or mystical experience.
In our next post we can get to the first of the three questions about esotericism, premonitions, and pain (Hooray for our side!).
Semper Pax, Dr. Z