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Matt Flickstein is an insight meditation teacher and the director of With One Voice, a documentary about mystical experience. With One Voice is the second film showing at the Tricycle BuddhaFest Online Film Festival, and will be available for streaming starting tomorrow. Below is a short Q&A with Flickstein about the film.
Join the Tricycle Community to watch With One Voice and five other Buddhist films. With One Voice is distributed by Alive Mind Cinema.
In the film it's said the mystical experience is beyond words. What prompted you to make this film given the challenges of describing mystical experience? I had a mystical or "awakening" experience thirty-five years ago. From that time I felt compelled to share the understanding that there is a reality beyond what the senses can perceive and what the mind can understand. I wanted to expose a greater number of people to the mystical perspective and have them hear it from mystics who represent the world's great spiritual traditions.
What is the relationship between the mystical experience and ordinary experience? The mystical or non-dual perspective of life expresses itself through our ordinary experience. It means learning to say "yes" to whatever unfolds in our lives. It manifests as a sense of profound contentment and happiness. It opens our hearts to everyone and everything.
How did you get interested in the varieties of mystical experience? Was it from your own practice? I was immediately drawn to Buddhism after I began to awake spiritually. As I continued my practice, I began to see that individuals from all traditions had similar experiences. They were just using different vocabularies and metaphors to express the same thing. I subsequently studied and practiced teachings from various religious traditions and saw for myself that they ultimately led to the same mystical perspective.
What were the challenges of making this film? The entire experience was a joy. The only challenge that presented itself early on was not understanding the filming process. Fortunately, I worked with a very experienced crew who mentored me through every stage of the production of With One Voice.
What would you say to someone who challenges the idea that we're all "climbing the same mountain"? I would say that there is no mountain to climb. The ultimate mystical vision is to realize that we are already inherently free.
What is the relationship between the enlightenment experience and a mystical experience? This is a difficult question to address. There is no enlightenment or mystical experience as such. For there to be an experience there must be an experiencer. The outcome of our practice is to discover that there is no "one" who becomes enlightened or has a mystical experience. The sense of being an independent "self" is what ultimately disappears.
Is the goal of Buddhist practice to experience a transcendent or mystical state? As long as there is a goal, the reality of life will elude us. We simply practice because we have a love of truth.