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Ecstasy(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Ecstasy is that higher state of consciousness common to all mystics in which the self is identified with God and, while different language is used, is seen as being united with God. During the state of ecstasy, the mystic is entranced and more or less oblivious to the external world, his or her attention being focused on the object of the original contemplation. Those who experience ecstasy find it a most enjoyable state. Ecstasy is the name given the psycho-physical state accompanying the mystical vision, and the quality of the vision will itself be relative to the spiritual state of the individual. Some people find moving into an ecstatic state relatively easy; others find it a rare occurrence.
Ecstasy is a trancelike state that may be more or less deep and last varying lengths of time. During the period of ecstasy, the body becomes somewhat rigid, retaining the position it was in when the ecstatic state was entered. Often, the body does not respond to outside stimuli, and sometimes observers will test mystics by sticking them with pins or attempting to burn them with a candle flame. Accounts of such tests are common in the biographies and reports on many mystics and visionaries. The ecstatic state usually includes a period of awareness of the object of contemplation, and even communication. It may also be followed by a state of unconsciousness not unlike a cataleptic state, in which the body remains rigid but the mystic feels great joy. The phenomenon of the rigid body is common not only to mystics, but to various people who might go into trance, such as Spiritualist mediums.
In evaluating the mystics, especially those who have later been canonized in the Roman Catholic tradition, ecstasy forms an interesting aspect of their spiritual life, but more concentration is placed upon the piety accompanying such states, the quality of any communications received from God, Jesus, or the Virgin Mary while entranced, and the life that flows from having experienced such states. It is noted that many people who have experienced multiple apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been seen to enter an ecstatic state, and their ecstasy (and the tests performed while in those states) have been put forth to credential them. While doubts about visionaries being in ecstasy have been used to discredit them, the substantiation of their ecstasy has been one of the lesser criteria in the church offering its approval of them. In the case of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the quality of the messages received from Mary and the evaluation of the life of the seer have been far more important.
It has been noted that ecstatic states have not been exclusive to the religious, or to the religious of just a few religious traditions. Besides being ubiquitous to all religions, it is also found among artists of various stripes (composers, singers, painters, etc.), suggesting that some people are born with a tendency to ecstasy or an ability to enter trance states that may be expressed in a variety of ways. Such approaches to the mystical life tend to judge it more a product of biology and social training than any particular spirituality. That is, entrance into an ecstatic state is much more a product of the body and psyche than of any particular supernatural or divine force in operation.
Those who experience ecstasy describe it in the most superlative terms. They also describe in a variety of languages their ultimate union with a Divine Transcendent Reality, and their attempts to relate to others the nature of their experience almost always falls into vague abstractions or the theology in which they have been trained. They may also make fine distinctions between stages of the whole ecstatic experience. The scientific study of ecstasy with the same instrumentation that has been used to study the many other states of consciousness is, by the very nature of ecstasy’s appearances, still in a rudimentary state.