John Wren-Lewis: The skeptic’s mystic

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John Wren-Lewis lent a fresh perspective to contemporary spirituality john wren-lewisbecause, for many years, he viewed mysticism as escapism. Mystical beliefs were no better than religious or scientific beliefs — to believe was not the same as to know. When, in 1983, Wren-Lewis had a profound mystical experience, he was free to describe it in his own words and not in the terms of any spiritual tradition.

John Wren-Lewis’ description of his experience is so vivid and personal that you can feel the Truth that underlies it:

. . . it is all still here, both the shining dark void and the experience of myself coming into being out of, yet somehow in response to, that radiant darkness. My whole consciousness of myself and everything else has changed. I feel as if the back of my head has been sawn off so that it is no longer the 60-year-old John who looks out at the world, but the shining dark infinite void that in some extraordinary way is also “I.” And what I perceive with my eyes and other senses is a whole world that seems to be coming fresh-minted into existencemoment by moment, each instant evoking the utter delight of “Behold, it is very good.” Here yet again I am constantly up against paradox when I try to describe the experience. Thus, in one sense, I feel as if I am infinitely far back in sensing the world, yet at the same time I feel the very opposite, as if my consciousness is no longer inside my head at all, but out there in the things I am experiencing … .

The circumstances of Wren-Lewis’ enlightenment are equally unique. While travelling in Thailand, he was poisoned by a would-be robber. Upon awakening in the hospital, he became conscious of the “dazzling darkness” from which he has lived ever since. For years afterwards, he devoted himself to discovering how to pass this experience on to others. With no vested interest in any traditions, he was free to honestly evaluate their efficacy. He concluded that there was little or no evidence of any spiritual system offering a sure road to awakening. John Wren-Lewis called upon all spiritual teachers to share their findings in the spirit of scientific inquiry to uncover the factors that bring about awakening. To this task, he dedicated his life until his passing in 2006.

Ann Faraday is currently seeking a publisher for their book The 9:15 to Nirvana.

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Many more articles are available at the John Wren-Lewis Archive on the website.

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