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Last night I walked outside like I do often late at night, and I was awestruck by the beauty of the universe.

I was in a good mood, and getting a little tired, and the first thing that struck me is that it was much cooler than it usually is this time of year. Then I gazed upward and caught the clear sky.

It was as if the sky was twice as big as usual. The moon was bright, the stars were clear and sparkling, and Mars was so damn big and red that I kept looking at it in wonder.

I literally got chills as I stood there taking in this special moment. I felt at once like I had connected with the universe and how vast and incredible it was.

The only way I can explain it is something akin to a religious experience.

I can remember having that feeling on other occasions, like when I walked into the Coliseum in Rome through one of the entrances the gladiators used (that’s a whole other weird story, actually). Or when I got my first cup of cappuccino in San Diego and sat outside enjoying the amazing weather and good times.

Mistress Ruby Marks, a friend on Twitter, caught my tweet about what I was feeling and she said,

So, I did a little more research on “yugen” and this is what I found on The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

“Kamo no Chōmei, considered yūgen to be a primary concern of the poetry of his time. He offers the following as a characterization of yūgen: “It is like an autumn evening under a colorless expanse of silent sky. Somehow, as if for some reason that we should be able to recall, tears well uncontrollably.” Another characterization helpfully mentions the importance of the imagination: “When looking at autumn mountains through mist, the view may be indistinct yet have great depth. Although few autumn leaves may be visible through the mist, the view is alluring. The limitless vista created in imagination far surpasses anything one can see more clearly”

Japanese Aesthetics

This is unquestionably a description of what I experienced last night. So thanks to Mistress Ruby and ancient Japanese philosophers for nailing that down for me.

The thing is that after this experience I’ve awakened with a renewed spirit. I’m calmer, and happier, and anxious to be creative. Hell, sharing this with all of you is very much a result of what happened last night, and I’m going to follow up with some work on a novel this afternoon.

I wish it was easy to duplicate this feeling, and that I could give you some simple instructions to make it happen for you. If I knew for sure I’d tell you, but I’m still figuring it out myself.

In the previous examples I gave, I was on vacation in exotic places, calm, and reflective. But I just walked outside last night. The moment wasn’t particularly special… until it was.

What I can say for sure is that I was in a calm, happy, reflective state of mind, brought about by working exceptionally hard over the past few months through meditation, and reading, and diet, and being creative, and reconfiguring what’s important to me. If I wasn’t in this mood, there’s no way that would have happened. The mysteries of the universe would have been closed to me.

The combination of whatever it is that I’m doing, opened up a wonderful experience on the driveway last night. I’m going to be looking for my next encounter with yugen soon, and I’d like to encourage you to join me.

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