Rachel Novak (rnovak@SIUE.EDU)
Thu, 29 Aug 1996 22:19:32 -0500

I have been reading passages of St. Theresa of Avila's accounts of her
awakening. She breaks her experiences down into four parts: the prayer
of recollection, the prayer of quiet, the prayer of union, and the
rapture. I just finished reading a couple of autobiographical accounts
of modern Zen Buddhist experience with zazen and enlightenment. These
accounts correspond well with St. Theresa's description of the prayer of
recollection. Perhaps the initial awakening the Buddhist women achieved
corresponds to the prayer of quiet. If so, do Zen Buddhists also go
through stages which would eventually be comparable to Theresa's
rapture? I also wonder if the shamanistic trances, vision quests, etc.
of tribal people with animistic religions are comparable to the prayer of
quiet. I must admit that I find the phenomenon to be much more
understandable from the Zen Buddhist perspective, as it is difficult for
me to relate to St. Theresa's extreme love for and faith in God. My
current frame of mind is that this mystical experience must be the
same play with different actors. Next week I will read some Nelson Pike and
Walter Stace on the phenomenology and W.P. Alston on the epistemology of

Sharing my late night musings...

Rachel Novak
Dept. of Anthropology
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville