The initiation into mystical experience may come dramatically and convulsively through ecstasy in the case of one aspirant but unobtrusively and gently through quietude in the case of another. Because individuals differ so widely in the personality and the history with which they meet the experience, no general rule may be affirmed in the matter, no dogma laid down. When aspirants and their half-grown teachers constantly confuse these ecstasies with the highest and fullest enlightenment, it is necessary to protest and point out the error. That this is an error is shown by the fact that the ecstasy passes away, the emotions subside, and the man quickly recedes from these high levels and begins to revert back to his prosaic everyday condition once again. He soon discovers that these holy experiences, alas! cannot be kept up for long. They are as ephemeral as the colours of sunrise. Saint Bernard complained that the clear vision of the Divine is only for a moment. Jacob Boehme compared his mystic ecstasy to lightning which flashed and vanished. Such emotional ecstasies are always transient; they come and go simply because it is the nature of emotion to do so. Nature never intended mystical raptures to be anything more than weekend guests, as it were. She has not made the man who can enjoy them forever at the same pitch of passionate intensity which they possess at the start. In his ignorance the mystic desires to cling to his ecstasy but always fails. Consequently the experience is always succeeded by either a mood of depression or of frustration. He does not perceive that this very desire to hold on to it is something which must be conquered, as much as any other possessive desire, if he is ever to attain a lasting inner peace. The foregoing may prompt the question, "Why then is inward joy one of the accompaniments of mystic experience?" In the early stages it comes to make easier his revaluation and overcoming of outward and earthly joys. Hence it is then highly emotional and tempestuous. In the advanced stages it is to tell him what the divine Overself is like. Hence it is then profoundly mental and tranquil.
The bliss which accompanies a mystical experience is not only accounted for by these causes but also by a further one, or by all in combination. And this is that every such experience is a renewed discovery of the glorious fact that he is not engaged on an impossible quest. That the latter can be successfully completed by conscious union with the Overself is joyously evidenced anew by each such temporary union. It is through such momentary glimpses or vivid intuitions of the transcendental reality that he is encouraged to continue with this long-drawn quest. The heavens have opened for him and closed again. Whoever has once had this vivid experience cannot go on again as though it had never been. He will be uneasy, restless, alternately fascinated and haunted by its memory, tantalized into seeking how he may recapture it again. And it is well that such gleams of encouragement do come to him. For there are times when he realizes the Himalayan altitude of the road he has undertaken to climb. With this realization there arrives despair, even the desire to withdraw from it altogether.
The conclusion from all these considerations is that if blissful psychic experiences or rapt ecstasies come to him, he ought not let his attitudes and utterances be too jubilant; if they fail to come, he need not be too sad. It is interesting to hear about them and pleasant to have them but they are not essential to the higher life.
-- Notebooks Category 16: The Sensitives > Chapter 2: Phases of Mystical Development > # 63