Whiteman, J H M meets the Old Man
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Mystical Life – J H M Whiteman
(May 1947) I became reflectively conscious of flying over the countryside, about twenty feet above the ground. It was suggested to me that I was travelling from Wynberg to Rondebosch, and the trees on Rondebosch Common (or something very like them) were clearly visible in the evening light. As I approached, my form was lowered to the ground and I began to walk, without knowing, however, the purpose of the journey.
Seeing the shadow of a small person like a dwarf approaching from behind, I felt a touch of fear, but managed to control it at once, refusing to turn round. Looking down, then, in front and a little to the right, I saw a baby lying on the ground at my feet. The face was like that of an old man, wizened and wrinkled, and the skin on the body looked hard and dry like parchment. But the creature nevertheless seemed like a baby, and its dreadful appearance filled me with a deep compassionate consciousness of the need to do something for it.
Without any more thought, I spontaneously sat down on the ground and put the baby to my breast (I seemed to be quite naturally without clothes). The creature, now rather more baby-like, made some attempt to suck, pulling at the breast; but although I could see it quite clearly I hardly felt anything. These appearances, indicating by their comparative lack of beauty and rightness some spiritual deficiency on my part, caused enough sorrow to bring me back to the physical world.