John Wren-Lewis lent a fresh perspective to contemporary spirituality because, 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.
Along with Ann Faraday, John Wren-Lewis wrote The 9:15 to Nirvana. Several years have passed since I heard any news of plans to publish it.
I highly recommend you read the following article:
Many more articles are available at the John Wren-Lewis Archive on the Capacitie.org website.
Here is an excellent interview of John Wren-Lewis by Caroline Jones:
And here are a few notes I took from the interview above:
The identification with the role is what causes all the trouble.
“…so I would say that the thing we’ve got to look for is a means of enabling us all to wake up to the fact that we’re acting the role consciously. That the role is our very being and that it isn’t something we’re identified with. We’re doing it because we are god wanting to do it, and I think the moment that happens all the nasty roles vanish.”
“I am myself in a sense a direct expression of god who is there to be grateful to and yet gratitude is the very name of the game. William Blake who is one another poet I greatly admire actually said once that gratitude is heaven itself, meaning that as I now understand it, it’s not one is grateful for heaven, heaven is being grateful. And for that reason one of the things that I would suggest to anyone who wants to try to get close to this, that’s what I think everybody’s got to do, I think everybody’s got to become a scientist. They’ve all got to experiment, experiment like anything.
“One of the experiments that I would suggest trying is catching moments of gratitude. And seeing in fact that this is more than just being grateful for a specific thing that’s happened to you. The energy that is manifesting itself in those moments of gratitude is the energy that is actually keeping you going all the time. and I think that might be one route to beginning to awaken from the dream, but I don’t know how to awaken from a dream without a shock.”
11 thoughts on “John Wren-Lewis: The skeptic’s mystic”
whats happening with the book The 9:15 to Nirvana.?
We wake for the book but only Silence! Well they do they enlightenment is given in Silence don’t they.
I said I would not eat until 9:15 was available. I now weigh 2oz
From a search on the web it seems that the book was published in Oct 2006, by Larsons Publications in the US.
I’ve just emailed them, and am awaiting a reply. Will update this info when I have the reply.
It was never published by Larson.
You are correct Shawn.
Larson Publications advised that they were going to publish it, but had some thigs that still “hadn’t been worked out”.
From what I can see on the web, they were going to publish in Oct of 2006. Unfortunately, as I understand it, John died around June/July of 2006. This may have been what stalled publication.
It seems now that it has never been published.
any part of
9:15 to nirvana
Hi Don. I haven’t heard any updates in years and don’t even know if Ann Faraday is still alive.
….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.”
I am experiencing exactly this. Is there anyone else who got there? Perhaps we can talk.
Yes. And we can talk.
Your question is exactly the Question John Wren-Lewis asked in his magazine article. I answered, and we wrote back and forth for a while. We “talked.”
Sombody I can talk to about these experience –