The practice of mysticism can be beneficial if we learn how to balance it with a dose of common sense and stay grounded without giving in to delusions. I started practicing mysticism at sixteen and looking back now, I conclude that it wasn’t bad for me.
The rituals in mysticism can help to focus our minds on specific emotions by skillfully utilizing our senses to amplify the feelings that we needed most. To put it simply, it is like lighting candles, perfuming the air with rose and playing romantic music for romance?
In mysticism, our objective is more of a spiritual need. We wish to experience feelings that help to heal our wounded mind. In this post, I will like to share a practice that helped me tremendously as a teenager. At that time, I was experiencing an existential crisis.
The world would suddenly appear to be bleak and “cold” . There was this “chill” that was within my core of being and life would suddenly appear meaningless, “cold” and bleak. I live in the tropics and it is always sunny here but the “chill” was within. I would say a psychic “Chill”? A kind of sadness that was depressing and “chilly” I guess that is the best that I can describe it. Like nobody cares about you and the world is “black” and “cold”.
Okay, back to the simple ritual of “bathing in light”
Foremost, I closed all windows and doors before starting this practice. That prevents anyone from disturbing me. Next, set up a simple Buddhist shrine. I did not have a shrine when I was sixteen. So I printed a picture of Buddha and stick it to the wall behind my study desk. Light a stick of incense and said my refuge prayer. (refuge prayer is very beneficial if we have a good understanding of the Triple Gems) That image of Buddha serve as a focal point.
Next, you have to be mindful of fire hazard. Place eight candles around yourselves. You will end up being surrounded by a circle of eight candles. Be careful that your clothing and surroundings are not at risk of catching fire. You can use tealight candles. (Avoid black candles though, white or yellow colored candles would be good)
Light the first candle in front of you. Then invoke the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara by saying “Namo Avalokitesara” This is the great Bodhisattva of Compassion. Inspiring us to care more about others instead of ourselves
Light the second candle to the right of the first one. That way you will be rotating in a clockwise direction as you light all the eight candles. Say “Namo Manjushri Bodhisattva” This is the great Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Inspire us to make wise decisions in life.
Light the third candle and you would have covered the 1st quadrant of a protective circle. Say “Namo Samantabhadra Bodhisattva”. This is the great Bodhisattva of Virtuous Conduct. Inspire us to do the correct things in life.
Light the fourth candle and say “Namo Vajrapani Bodhisattva”. This is the great Bodhisattva of powerful energy. Inspire us to have zeal and positive energy in life. To be brave and face our troubles fearlessly.
Light the fifth candle and say “Namo Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva” This great Bodhisattva of limitless storage of all good things in life. Inspire us to have confidence that our spiritual practice will give us access to all the wonderful things in life. At this point, you should have completed a semicircle of candles surrounding you.
Light the sixth candle and say “Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva” This great Bodhisattva of compassionate vows that protect all beings within Samsara from treading the wrong path. Inspire us to have faith that Buddha is watching our back and keeping a lookout for us. We will be safe.
Light the seventh candle and say “Namo Maitreya Bodhisattva” This great Bodhisattva of loving-kindness will be next Samyaksam Buddha following Shakyamuni Buddha (founder of our current Buddhism) Inspire us to have confidence in our future.
Light the eighth candle and say “Namo Vajrasattva Bodhisattva” This great Bodhisattva of purification will purify our defilement and make us good again. Inspire us to not lose sight of our potential to be flawless. You would have rotated (clockwise) back to the starting point and will be facing your altar by this point in time.
Remember to take your time and there is no rush. When we took refuge in the Buddha at the beginning of the ritual, we are already in safe hands. When we invoke each Bodhisattva, we are also taking refuge in them and we should feel safe and easy. Each candlelight represents wisdom, auspiciousness and all things good.
Surrounded by the good energy of these great Bodhisattva, sit down in the centre. Be mindful of safety and make sure your clothing does not pose a fire hazard. Just make sure not to place the candles too close to yourselves. It should be spacious enough so that you do not catch fire!
Sitting in the centre and surrounded by the candle flames of the “Bodhisattvas”, I felt warmth and blessings. I imagined the Bodhisattvas radiating blessings upon me. I closed my eyes and simply focused my mind in chanting refuge prayers and gaining a strong faith, that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will protect me. It was a heartfelt wish for myself to be well and happy.
Very simple but amazing. Gradually, there was this brightness and warmth that drove away the “coldness” in my being. At one point, I felt like I was being enveloped by light and everything else, including that puzzling “trouble” or “coldness”, just melted away. Relaxed and happy in a “magical space” that is filled with lights.
I did this ritual twice and somehow that “coldness” within me just disappeared and never came back. Hope you do not experience that terrible feeling that I had experienced. By sharing this practice, I hope it may benefit someone positively too.
I chose those Bodhisattvas because they resonate with me. Feel free to invoke other Bodhisattvas that you feel more connection with.
You do not have to wait for the candles to burn out. If you decide to leave the light bath, simply repeat the above process. But this time round, take the candles and place it on the Altar. (One at a time) You will end up with a row of eight candles on the Altar.
Dedicate merits from this light bath practice to all sentient beings. There is tremendous merits in saying the refuge prayers and it is good to share it with sentient beings too.
May all be well and happy.