By Chief (Dr.) Kenneth Idiodi, FRC
It has been a matter of concern, though not debatable, that Nigeria is classified as a developing country. This classification implies that the country has an underdeveloped industrial base, and a relatively low life expectancy, low educational level, and low per capita income of its citizens when compared to other countries. Clearly, the development of a nation is tied to the development of the individuals that reside therein.
Nigeria is blessed with more than her fair share of human and material resources. Obviously, several factors have been and are responsible for suppressing the potential of our great Nation. Most persons will agree that the 6 major factors militating against the development of the Nation are corruption, religious intolerance, tribalism, overpopulation, and last but not the least, a lack of seriousness.
I have on several occasions said that Nigerians need to be more serious about directing their everyday affairs and by extension the affairs and future of the Nation. And I can assure you that the path of mysticism is a “serious business” that can only produce serious minded individuals. This is because the practice of mysticism bestows upon the mystic, a perspective that touches on the very fundamentals of human existence, purpose, and evolution.
In a world where everything around us is perpetually in a state of transformation, there will ever remain an aspect of our deeper selves that is constant and unchanged. This deeper immaterial aspect is the most intimate part of our being, yet the material world has so distracted our attention from its existence that it is now shrouded in mystery. It is ironic that the most intimate part of the self remains largely unknown to the generality of persons. Nelson Mandela referred to this mystical aspect of the self when he said “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered”.’
Mysticism is the practice of gaining direct knowledge of our Divine nature, receiving illuminating truth, or an understanding of ultimate reality through subjective experiences such as intuition, insight and inspiration. In other words, mysticism enables us to acquire uncommon knowledge. And it is this kind of knowledge that has raised the human species far above every other living creature on Earth. In fact, man has accumulated so vast a knowledge of things that academic knowledge has acquired a status that has now even overshadowed its mystical source in the minds of many.
The sciences have continued to develop, producing many new discoveries, a greater understanding of phenomena, and the development of new technological applications. With the spate of new developments that we have witnessed in recent years, it is odd that some scientists had in the past declared that man had finally discovered all that could be known.
In 1900, Lord Kelvin, a renowned British physicist and engineer, declared that “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement”. Needless to say, great discoveries have occurred since then and will continue to occur as long as man permits the expression of his inherent power of intuition. Albert Einstein was quoted to have said: “The only real valuable thing is intuition. The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why”.
The spiritual truths that we can gain through mysticism relate to all fields of human endeavor, whether in the arts or in the sciences. The application of these, have led to personal development as well as the development of society. When we dedicate ourselves to the regular practice of contemplation, concentration, and meditation we awaken inherent powers hitherto unknown to us.
In contemplation we dwell on ideas and the relationship between things that we experience or observe in order to arrive at an understanding of them. Those who dare to ask and contemplate the unsettling questions of life will begin the path that leads to an awakening of the mystical nature. A session of contemplation sets into motion counterpart mental activity in the deeper recesses of our minds, such that even after we have ceased our mental effort, subconscious activity continues. Solutions to problems that we have been dwelling on can be presented to our conscious mind from our deeper selves at a time we least expect it. This could be on issues relating to our health, a financial matter, a social difficulty or any other matter. By diligently applying the received solutions, we can immensely improve our lives in all directions.
The mind can be made to focus on an object or a subject to the exclusion of everything else. The simple concentration of the mental force is required to carry out many basic activities such as reading a book, listening to a lecture, or dancing to music. However, the more complete our concentration, the greater will be the mental force generated. By a deliberate application of concentration, we can direct our mental forces towards evoking a definite response from our inner being. Through our deeper self, we can bring the great constructive forces of Nature to our aid in attaining our needs or in overcoming challenges. This is practical mysticism.
Meditation brings us into close rapport with the subconscious aspect of the mind in a passive and receptive manner. A few minutes of meditation offers many benefits at all levels of our being. At the physical level, we will experience a general improvement in health. Mentally, we will experience an improvement of our creative abilities and psychological balance. Emotionally, meditation prepares us for the life changing experience of mystical illumination. The experience of mystical illumination is still relatively rare. However, the serious practice of mysticism inevitably leads us to this sublime reunion of self with the Divine.
From the personal experiences of ancient and modern Rosicrucians and the research findings of our International Research Council, there are seven characteristics associated with the mystical experience. These are:
1) Ineffability; which is the inability to capture the experience in ordinary language.
2) Noetic quality; which is the notion that mystical experiences reveal an otherwise hidden or inaccessible knowledge.
3) Transiency; which is the simple fact that mystical experiences last for a relatively brief period of time.
4) Passivity; which is the sense that mystical experiences happen unexpectedly to someone. Even when the experiences are being sought after, they remain somehow beyond the range of human volition and control.
5) Unity of opposites; which is a sense of Oneness, Wholeness or Completeness.
6) Timelessness; which is a sense that mystical experiences transcend time and even
7) A feeling that one has encountered “the true self”; which is a sense that mystical experiences reveal the nature of our true cosmic self: one that is beyond life and death.
As individuals and as a Nation we need mysticism to lead us to a revelation of our true self. Nigeria must strive towards expressing its true national character and rich cultural heritage in the most positive way possible. In this way we will be contributing our quota to the development of the world and the evolution of the human race.