There are no guidelines for “normal” experiences of a higher Self.
The image we have of saints suddenly pierced by a shaft of divine light is far too simple; even the greatest spiritual attainments take place within the limits of daily mental life, with its doubts, fears, hopes, and denials. What people need is the same encouraging attention that parents give to a wobbly toddler.
Sadly, our society is bereft in this area, and each of us has to row alone to the foreign shore that is beckoning us across the waters. But what is even more disturbing is that the growing pains of self-awareness might get mistaken for the goal. We make this mistake, our self-doubt echoing a culture that feels profoundly suspicious of spiritual experiences.
I am not just meaning the accusations of insanity that surround anyone who breaks out of the normal ways of thinking, seeing, and behaving–that problem exists in all cultures, unfortunately.
The deeper worry is that our society is so fearful of the Self that we equate it with death and dissolution. When Freud was confronted with the fact that every psyche has a hidden longing for unboundedness, he coined the phrase “death wish” or “Nirvana instinct”–the two were more or less the same in his eyes.
Nirvana is not death, however. It is a Sanskrit word for Being, the primary state of the Self. By and large, psychiatry still ignores this clarification, and the fear persists that total self-awareness is a kind of annihilation. Many, perhaps most, psychiatrists might agree that life’s dilemmas have no solution, only they would not preface their opinion with the words “of course.”
Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).