Personal experience lends a person knowledge of a subject in the same way as reading a book only gives him an idea about it. For this reason, person experience is always granted the greatest significance on the spiritual or mystic path. Nothing you have ever read can ever give you the same knowledge that comes from experience—this is an incontrovertible Truth of spiritual Work. By reading mystical texts multiple times, you will raise your level of understanding to new heights, it’s true, but this can never compare to the level of understanding of someone who has gone through everything I have described in their own personal experience.
Personal experience on the spiritual Path may be true or false. Of course, one may call it false relatively speaking, because thinking about awareness is not awareness, but may be perceived by a person as the attainment of some new level of being. The mind may make several such substitutions in error, releasing its own imaginings into the true reality, and for this reason alone this experience should be called false in relation to real experience. Although, those who are aware of this self-deception and the traps the mind lays for the seeker, will gain a real and useful experience. But at the same time they will acquire the habit of differentiation, through which they will be able to distinguish activity of the mind from the phenomena that come about through correctly performing the spiritual practices. Below I shall be writing mainly about true experience only.
Generally speaking, the first experience comes while performing the practices. Inasmuch as every practice has its own fairly specific effect—both immediate and remote—by trying out the latest practice, a person may learn through experience, how it works. It must be said that every spiritual practice without exception works on people in exactly the same way; the fact that it may take one person two months of performing a particular exercise to get a particular given result and another two years, is a different matter. That is the only difference.
By doing the practice for a long enough period of time, you will get to know its effects and begin to understand what you can and cannot achieve with its help. This is how you get experience, which is converted into knowledge. Every practice will give you new experience and new knowledge, which you will be able to share as you wish. Although most seekers all too often prefer to think of their experience as being true and other people’s experience as false. This is how their distrust, jealousy and pride manifest themselves.
Experience of another level is connected to different kinds of transformations taking place. For example, when you consciously work through fear for the first time and feel liberated from it, this is the experience of a change in your internal situation, which will influence your being in one way or another. Passing through “death” at the different levels of your own being enriches you with valuable experience, which allows you to be unafraid of anything and enter into every new stage of Work calmly. Every transformation makes your experience more profound and you yourself stronger and more mature.
Further along the spiritual Path comes the experience of growth in awareness, when after you reach a particular level, no effort is required to remain there. It is also a specific experience that bears a specific kind of knowledge. There is then the experience of revealing the centers, the experience of one’s individual efforts and participation in group work... One gains the most varied experience on the spiritual Path.
On the mystic path, things are not so straightforward when it comes to experience. Firstly, interacting with God makes the whole process profoundly individual, which is also reflected in the experience one gains—everyone gets what they are ready for right now, and also what is closer to them in terms of the possibilities of their Pattern and their destiny. In other words, there is experience, too, of course, but it is harder to categorize, and even harder to determine its truth or falsity. This, perhaps, is something that only people who know some part of the Truth are capable of. Others may only guess at the madness or holiness of someone recounting some mystical experience of their own. Although sometimes madness and holiness go hand in hand. And therefore there is no point in engaging in mystical practices without preliminary preparation in the way of performing spiritual practices. Without the abilities of differentiation and awareness, one may get caught in the traps of the subtle world, compared to which the traps of the mind are like the playthings of preschool kids.
Secondly, things like transcendental experiences and mystical revelation are always there. As a rule, these cannot be explained and are therefore beyond critique. One may believe in descriptions of the next world or the seven heavens, or not believe in them; in fact this is all that we have to do. A number of religions have been based on revelations, but in most of them they have no value in practical work. Such experiences have a particular value for those who experience them, however if you remember in what conditions interaction with the Ultimate takes place (the degree of preparation and level of possibility), for everyone else the value of the revelation received may be non-existent due to its lack of development.
In any case experience is the most important thing a person acquires as he travels along the Path. With experience, understanding grows and wisdom comes. And in line with this, without having experience, for example, of group work, a person will not have adequate knowledge of it. Such is the law of our being and there is nothing you can do about it. However we witness all too often how something can push a person internally to a make a judgement on something in which they do not have the slightest experience. In these times of information overload and false narratives, this has become practically the norm.
The experience that we have acquired is the one thing we take from this life and does not disappear when we die. Metaphorically speaking, we gladden the Creator with the uniqueness of our experience and what beauty it possesses when we return to Him. Mystics live for and in the name of God, and gaining knowledge of Truth comes to be the most important experience that they bring with them to the Source. Their experience is both unique and, in its own way, invaluable—for those who seek the Path and the Truth. Although every seeker must take this Path themselves and gain their own no less invaluable and unique experience upon it. And this is also a law.