My last semester in college I took a Religions of the East course. I had already had two other religion courses at school - Introduction to Christianity I and Introduction to Christianity II. (These classes don't preach Christianity, they teach the history of the religion.) At the time of these classes I didn't label myself as belonging to any certain religion or philosophy. In fact, I just didn't think about it. I took the classes because in order to get my math degree I needed so many electives. When I took the Religions of the East course, I started to feel something emerging from within myself, especially when we discussed Hinduism and Buddhism. I found out about the idea that we all form a great big "One". Basically, that I am you and you are me. In other words, there is a part of you in me and a part of me in you. We are each other. Thinking that we are separate entities is only an illusion.
To make a long story short, when this was brought-up in class and we began to study it, I started to feel a sensation of familiarity. I felt, "This is it! I believe this!" I couldn't help but smile to myself because I finally felt something real and believable, something that connected me to the rest of the universe.
It was at that point that I became interested in philosophy. Off and on from December of 2001 I dabbled a bit in Buddhism. In fact, if asked, I was a "Buddhist" for about three years. I liked knowing that I belonged to something. Only I didn't realize that this in itself was an attachment - something that Buddhists strive against. Buddhists believe that attachments get in the way of Nirvana, or enlightenment.
Last night I "met" a philosopher who I really like. His name is Plotinus, and he founded Neoplatonism. Central to Plotinus' work is the idea of this "One", from which we all emanate like sparks from a fire. Plotinus was a mystic and had several successful attempts at merging with God, or the One.
I have attempted quite a few times to have this experience myself, through meditation or astral projection. I wonder if the phenomenon known as "astral projection" is really a form of mysticism in which the soul merges with the Universe. I have not had any luck, yet, and I've been trying for months. This is one of the reasons I seek a teacher. I believe with a teacher I can learn the necessary techniques to reach this level of ascent.