The madeleine moment

Further thoughts on the usages of Memory and attunement with Nature

Guest article by A. S.

Introduction by Occult Mysteries

Readers who have been puzzling over the questions posed in the final paragraph of our contributor's previous article—Divine duty to Remember—should find plenty of food for thought in this conclusion she has written for us.

I ended my previous article with three questions prompted by the extraordinary change a cup of tea and a piece of cake wrought in Marcel Proust, which caused him to ask: "Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it?" These are questions which have challenged humanity since time immemorial. This sudden and deep experience that touched the author in what is known in literature as the "madeleine moment" left him lost in wonderment, puzzling over the source of the inner spiritual joy that a simple sensory experience triggered within his innermost being.

If you were hoping that this concluding article would answer the three important questions posed by Proust, I will have to disappoint you, as it won't; at least not in the way you were perhaps expecting. You see, I no longer belong to that portion of humanity which subscribes to the popular notion found in books, tales, romance and the mainstream media that one must question, doubt and speculate about everything and anything in order to expand one's understanding and further one's spiritual growth.

Franz Kafka, the great Czech writer (who like Proust was a great explorer of the human psyche) once said that: "But the questions that don't answer themselves at the very moment of their asking are never answered." By which he meant that our unaided intellect is incapable of arriving at the truth about anything. It needs help. And that help can only come by means of Intuition, as the authors of this website tell us in their article about Intelligence. And this is exactly what happened in the case of our French author. Proust came to realize that the cause of the transcendental joy arising from his "madeleine moment" did not come from drinking a cup of tea and eating a morsel of cake, but rather from his own innermost being, which in that moment, conveyed to his waking consciousness something of its own, innate transcendence over all mundane thinking. In that revelation lay all the answers needed to understand his spiritual experience.

Repeatedly asking questions and speculating on the facts and experiences we encounter in our inner and outer lives is one of the most exhausting and frustrating exercises of our human intellect. When we lack faith in, and are ignorant of the powers possessed by the Higher Self, we are like blind men in a dark cellar looking for a cat that isn't there.

When we are blessed by an inspiration, as Proust was, it is a Divine revelation. To interrupt or question the experience by analysing it intellectually is at best to distort the revelation and at worst to lose it entirely. This is the trap of duality so many seekers fall into, who, by allowing their lower mind to constantly speculate on the revelations their Higher Self communicates to them prevent themselves from comprehending the truth about anything. In short, the Higher Self knows the questions and our Soul knows the answers, if we will only learn to recognise and tune in to its inner voice. I suspect that the reason so many people don't do this is due to their own insecurity. They lack the confidence to use the immediate knowledge that comes from revelation and intuition. If we allow the desire of the lower mind to find things out to take precedence over the Higher Mind's duty to remember, it is not surprising that, like Proust, we are continually asking questions we already know the answers to.

We must resist the desire to explain our own personal "madeleine moments"—however they may come to us—by taking refuge in the arms of intellectual speculation and rationality. To truly understand such transcendental experiences we must suspend all intellectual thinking and simply wait, watch and listen, without anticipating anything. I am not suggesting that intellect is not important or that we should not ask questions or entertain doubts. What I am suggesting is that we should not allow them to take precedence over the Higher Mind's duty to remember. The Creators gave us a brain and material senses for a reason, and that reason is to think. But they also gave us our Higher Self and it is this which should be the driver of our thoughts and not our intellect and senses. Otherwise we are putting the cart before the horse and that, as we all know, is not the best way to get anywhere!

Some might regard these as provocative statements, but I am not writing this for the average intellectual who looks to the material sciences to provide answers to everything and believes that if something cannot be explained rationally it does not exist or merit their attention. I am writing this for the few who intuitively recognise that the mystery and wonder of the "madeleine moment" represents a higher and truer reality than the illusions our materials senses and intellect reveal to us in the world around us.

In the higher realms of Being, such as we find described in the afterword to my article, these moments of wonder and inner revelation are the norm, not the exception. You will recall from the first part of this article that Proust asked himself: "Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?" It is this joy that I would like you to experience for yourself. Joy which comes from the discovery of the Divine Power which is concealed within all things, both animate and inanimate. Whether we call it the Power of Creation or the Power of Nature it is the same Divine Principle which desires us to share in the sheer Joy of Being.

And so in the next days or weeks I invite those of you that have the good fortune to live in the country, near a park, a forest, or by the sea or the mountains, to make time to merge with the joyful elements of Creation. But don't limit your enjoyment to the mere observation and appreciation of the beauty you encounter in the landscape, the colours of the sky, the singing birds or the cheerful flowers smiling up at you. Instead try to merge with the sky, became one with the birds, be absorbed in the flowers, stream or sea, participate and interact with the life around you as if it were you and you it. When you look at a tree; become that tree, observe its branches, leaves and roots; be those roots. Experience a joyful sense of Divine unity with Nature but never question why.

NOTE: If you have found this article interesting you may find further food for thought in part six of our occult studies course which discusses intellect, instinct, intuition and memory


Article © A. S. Commentary © Copyright All worldwide rights reserved.
Published 1 February 2017.

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