“The first phase of Intellectual Contemplation, then, is a lifting of the mind to a swift and convincing vision of Reality: one of those sudden, incommunicable glimpses of Truth so often experienced early in the contemplative’s career. The veil parts, and he sees a ‘light and vision, which give to the contemplating spirit a conscious certitude that she sees God, as far as man may see Him in mortal life.’ that strange mystical light of which all contemplatives speak, a which Ruysbroeck describes in passage of great subtlety as the ‘intermediary between the seeing though and God,’ now floods his consciousness.” ~Evelyn Underhill
Rather than Intellectual Contemplation, I would say Spiritual Contemplation. The important difference is that this involves gaining higher level knowledge through the spiritual faculties rather than the brain-mind. One of the difficult tasks of the spiritual student is to open a link between the mind and soul so that some of that knowledge gained by the soul can be passed down to the mind. The brain-mind cannot understand much of it, so it receives only small amounts, and that often in a symbolic way. It is usually enough, however, to convince the mind of the need to continue o the path of spiritual enlightenment.
Ms. Underhill indicates that such glimpses of truth are “often experienced early in the contemplative’s career.” While that is true for some, it isn’t true for all. Some people don’t get such glimpses until after years of contemplation and spiritual practices. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get such glimpses of the Great Truth quickly. It will happen eventually. In many case, the spirit and soul have been awakened, and have had such glimpses, but have not passed such knowledge on to the conscious mind. Still, that knowledge is having an effect on you at a deeper level.
Light and Vision
Underhill says that when the “veil parts,” during spiritual contemplation we see a “light and vision”. This may give a person a certitude that he sees God, but it may not. It may give the person only an understanding of the universe, including the spiritual dimensions. It depends on the persons beliefs to some degree. Eventually, however, even the greatest non-believer will accept that these glimpses of Truth are indeed glimpses of God.
But just having glimpses of God is not what is most important in this. The important part is seeing our relationship to God, the spiritual universe, and to God’s Great Plan. We need to see how we fit in, how we play a role in that plan.
While Underhill and Ruysbroeck only hint at what this Mystical Light is, today we don’t have to be so coy. We can’t afford to be overly secretive about it because time is running out for all of us.
The mystical light that some experience during spiritual contemplation is the Light of the spiritual sun. Or perhaps more accurately, it is the Light of God that is channeled to us through the spiritual sun. Here is the catch-22 of it: in order to be aware of this Light, we must first awaken our spirit and soul. But this Light is the very thing we must use to awaken those spiritual faculties. We must gaze upon the physical sun using proper techniques so the physical eyes will not be damaged in the process. Then we must go beyond that level to the spiritual sun. In doing so, we will awaken the spirit and soul and awaken the path to the truth and knowledge that is a primary goal of spiritual contemplation.