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Observations placeholder

Daumal, Rene - A Fundamental experiment - Part 8



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

A Fundamental Experiment – Rene Daumal [translated by Roger Shattuck – 1987]

Little by little I discovered in my reading accounts of the same experience, for I now held the key to these narratives and descriptions whose relation to a single and unique reality I should not previously have suspected.

William James speaks of it. O. V. de L. Milosz, in his Letter to Storge, gives an overwhelming account of it in terms I had been using myself. The famous circle referred to by a medieval monk, and which Pascal saw (but who first saw it and spoke of it?) ceased to be an empty allegory for me; I knew it represented a devouring vision of what I had seen also.

And, beyond all this varied and partial human testimony (there is scarcely a single true poet in whose work I did not find at least a fragment of it), the confessions of the great mystics and, still more advanced, the sacred texts of certain religions, brought me an affirmation of the same reality. Sometimes I found it in its most terrifying form, as perceived by an individual of limited vision who has not raised himself to the level of such perception, who, like myself, has tried to look into the infinite through the keyhole and finds himself staring into Bluebeard’s cupboard.

Sometimes I encountered it in the pleasing, plentifully satisfying and intensely luminous form that is the vision of beings truly transformed, who can behold that reality face to face without being destroyed by it.

I have in mind the revelation of the Divine Being in the Bhagavad-Gita, the vision of Ezekiel and that of St John the Divine on Patmos, certain descriptions in the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo thodol), and a passage in the Lankavatara-Sutra.

Not having lost my mind then and there, I began little by little to philosophize about the memory of this experience. And I would have buried myself in a philosophy of my own if someone had not come along just in time to tell me:

'Look, the door is open-narrow and hard to reach, but a door. It is the only one for you.'

The source of the experience

Daumal, René

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Inhaling volatiles and gases