The Totality Experience
The second basic philosophical expe-rience that forms the starting point for the maieutics school is noticeably less profane than the experience of doubt and therefore not immediately recognizable for everyone. It concerns the totality experience – a term introduced by the Dutch metaphysician Herman Berger (1924-2016), among others.
During the totality experience one often discovers that one is not identical to the physical body. The actual ‘I’ is spiritual and resides in what could be called a higher dimension. The consciousness at that time is much greater than the consciousness we usually possess. Sometimes one meets deceased loved ones and beings of light. At this deeper, metaphysical level of existence one learns that all separate beings are interconnected and therefore there is no real distinction between people, animals and things, but rather a unity or totality.This exceptional experience is a kind of mystical experience and can in principle happen to anyone. A well-known variant is the so-called near-death experience (NDE). Since the seventies of the 20th century, starting with the American philosopher and psychiatrist Raymond Moody (*1944), this experience has been the subject of scientific research on an international scale – in the Netherlands mainly by cardiologist Pim van Lommel (*1943). As a result, we now know quite a lot about it.
Often during and also after a totality experience one starts to evaluate the life lived. As a result, concrete life often takes on a different meaning. One often changes jobs, interests, friends and even partners. One begins to think more intensely about life and consequently becomes interested in philosophy and science, so that the totality experience, like the experience of doubt, also becomes a kind of motor behind philosophizing. Therefore it too is a real, philosophical foundational experience.By far the most important lesson learned from the totality experience is that everything consists of and arises from love. Love, therefore, turns out to be much more than just a human emotion. The primordial principle (archè) which traditional theology calls ‘God’ is a reality which in ordinary language can best be described as Unconditional Love.