MysticismMysticism is meditation, prayer or theology focused on the direct experience of union with divinity, God, or Ultimate Reality, or the belief that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge.
Perspectives of mysticism
A wide range of perspectives occur among spiritual traditions and beliefs which embrace direct experiential knowledge of God, Divinity, or Ultimate Reality. Different traditions adopt a range of intellectual or rational assessments of what is likely, possible, provable, approvable or factual. Among these the idea of union or interrelationiship of oneself and of all mortal beings with the ultimate imperishable being is often declared to be something that can be experienced in profound, definite and personally undeniable ways, rather than something that is merely conjectured. It is often asserted that the triggering of such experience can involve ritual prayer and contemplations focused on such union, or may sometimes occur spontaneously with some individuals.
Subjectivity and mysticism
In theistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic classical pantheist/cosmotheist metaphysical systems, mystical experience is most often understood as individual communion with a god or goddess. These experiences are very subjective, and they may be experienced as visions, dreams, revelations, prophecies, and so forth.
St Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic mystic from the 13th century, defined it as cognitio dei experimentalis. In Catholicism the mystical experience is not sought for its own sake, and is always informed by revelation and ascetical theology. This causes the subjectivist tendency of mysticism to be curtailed, as experiences not aligned with truths otherwise known are discarded.
In philosophy, the term Perennial Philosophy is used, and relates to a primary concern:
Some mystics use the term to refer to a manner wherein the mystic plumbs the depths of the self and reality in a radical process of meditative self-discovery to discover the true nature of reality experientially. This can happen with or without the use of mind-altering substances.
- "[W]ith the one, divine reality substantial to the manifold world of things and lives and minds. But the nature of this one reality is such that it cannot be directly or immediately apprehended except by those who have chosen to fulfill certain conditions, making themselves loving, pure in heart, and poor in spirit." — Aldous Huxley
Mysticism and syncretism
Mystics of different traditions report similar experiences of a world usually outside conventional perception, although not all forms of mysticism abandon knowledge perceived through normal means. Based on extraordinary perception, mystics may believe that true unity of religion and philosophy can be found in mystical experience.
Elements of mysticism are present in most religions and many philosophies. Some mystics perceive a common thread of influence in all mystic philosophies that they see as traceable back to a shared source. The Vedic tradition is inherently mystic; the Christian apocalyptic Book of Revelation is clearly mystical, as with Ezekiel's or Daniel's visions of Judaism, and the Koran is thought by Muslims to have been inspired by the angel Gabriel in a mystical manner. Indigenous cultures also have cryptic revelations pointing toward a universal flow of love or unity, usually following a vision quest or similar ritual. Mystical philosophies thus can exhibit a strong tendency towards syncretism.
Some systems of mysticism are found within specific religious traditions and do not relinquish doctrinal principles as a part of mystical experience. For example, Christian mystics, through the centuries, have not decided that Jesus is not God after all: in other words, not all mysticism results in syncretism. In some definite cases, theology remains a distinct source of insight that guides and informs the mystical experience. For example, St Thomas Aquinas' mystical experiences all occurred squarely within the love of the Catholic Eucharist.
On the difficulty of defining mysticism
Seemingly open-ended statements are frequently encountered among studies of mysticism, throughout its history, for example in Taoist thought and in studies of Kabbalah. In his work, Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, a prominent 20th century scholar of that field, stated: The Kabbalah is not a single system with basic principles which can be explained in a simple and straightforward fashion, but consists rather of a multiplicity of different approaches, widely separated from one another and sometimes completely contradictory.
In Catholic traditions, mystical theology is informed by revelation, which averts an apparent tendency to become lost in formless thought. Christian mystics, too, are obligated to obey the forms of ascetical and moral theology, as following Christ is their primary objective, rather than seeking mystical experiences for their own sake. 
Theosophy and "the occult"
The late 19th century saw an significant increase of interest in mysticism in the West that was combined with increased interest in Occultism and Eastern Philosophy. Theosophy was a major movement in the popularization of these interests. Madame Blavatsky and Gurdjieff were central figures of the theosophy movement. This trend was later to become absorbed in the rise of the New Age movement. At the end of the 20th Century books like Conversations with God (a series which describes the author's experience of direct communication with God) hit the bestseller lists, and films like The Matrix reached an audience not unfamiliar with its philosophical themes.
Examples in major traditions
Examples of major traditions and philosophies with strong elements of mysticism are:
Some examples of Hindu mystics:
- Sri Ramakrishna
- Ramana Maharshi
- Gopi Krishna
Some examples of Christian mystics:
- St. John the Apostle (? -101)
- Clement of Alexandria (? -216)
- St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
- St. Gregory I (590-604)
- Saint Anselm (1033-1109)
- Hugh of Saint Victor (1096–1141)
- St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
- Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1279)
- Meister Eckhart (c. 1260 - 1327/8)
- St. Gregory Palamas (1296 - 1359)
- St. Bridget of Sweden (1302-1373)
- Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416)
- Margery Kempe (c.1373-1438)
- Paracelsus (1493-1541)
- St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
- St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)
- Jakob Boehme (1575-1624)
- Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)
- Sarah Wight (1632-?)
- Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)
- William Blake (1757-1827)
- Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)
- Jakob Lorber (1800 - 1864)
- Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Some examples of Muslim mystics (also called sufi):
- al-Ghazali, (d. 1111)
- al Hallaj (d. 922)
- Jalal ad-Din Rumi
- Yunus Emre
Some examples of Jewish mystics:
- Shimon bar Yochai (c.200)
- Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia (1240-1291)
- Moses ben Shem Tob de Leon (1250-1305)
- Isaac Luria (1534-1572)
- Moses Chaim Luzzato (1707-1746)
- Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810)
- Abraham Isaac Kook (1864-1935)
- Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994)
Some examples of other mystics:
- Rufus Jones (Quakerism)
- Plotinus (Neo-Platonist)
Source | Copyright
Webmasters: Add your website here:
Readers: Edit |
Mysticism in World Religions
Explores the mystical literature of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Consists of quotations from various scriptures and the writings of individual mystics compared and contrasted by topic.
Reality Shifts are changes which occur without any direct physical intervention; they are mysterious appearances, disappearances, transformations, and transportations that occur in and around us.
Guide to finding your own higher consciousness.
Articles on Pythagorean mysticism. Includes theology and practice.
Sumarah- A Study of the Art of Living
A description of the millenial Javanese culture and the theory and practice of Sumarah, a group practicing Javanese mysticism.
Exploring the question, "What is mysticism?" - a look at the research of top psychologists and scientists.
Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
Full text of the book by Evelyn Underhill.
Observations on how to be content and to enjoy life to its fullness
Thoughts and observations of Wally (Vladimir) Kuskoff on mysticism and living a fulfilling life.
The Sufism of the West
A comparison of Christian mysticism to Sufism. An instructive example of how cults are built and maintained, as well as an examination of the root similarities of all major world religions.
Researches the mystical and historical aspects of God and the universe. Includes links to others sites that research religious and mystical subjects.
Patterns of Spirituality
Landmarks on the spiritual journey, explaining major difficulties, crises and goals of spiritual development.
Journey through an unknown land
An outline of a preparatory stance for a mystical outlook, citing conventional literary and religious sources.
Zeitgeist Cowboy Manifesto
A periodically published collection of literature, definitions, orginal thoughts, poetry and prose all presented to the public from widely varying and spontaneous points of view.
Mystical Union Online
A student organization that provides a way to share the glory of mysticism and eliminate all myths regarding mysticism, teaching mysticism as a way of life.
the Mystical Site: mysticism and spirituality
Essays on mysticism and knowledge, biographies of mystics and a discussion forum.
A searchable collection of links to online texts, journals, and resources. Includes an index of mystics.
Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation
The PBPF prints and distributes the works of Paul Brunton (1898-1981). Includes information about Paul Brunton, the Foundation and their programs.
Center for Sacred Sciences
Teachings, practices, and resources based on the teachings of the mystics from the major religious traditions, presented in a form compatible with our modern scientific culture.
Mystic seed : Echoes of the sages:
Contains mystical poetry and links.
Essential Information on the Mystical Experience
An introduction to mysticism, and information on the major types of mystical experience. Includes a place to register mystical experiences and read those of others.
A somewhat commercial offering of teachings, principles, techniques of mysticism from around the world and across centuries of time. Stated goals: discover potential, gain peace of mind, overcome stress, awaken mystically.
Mystic Sayings Collection
Mystic collection of sayings to uplift, inspire, enjoy, laugh, pass on.
Mystical texts from around the world, meditation aids, visionary art, entheogens, and music.
Golden Mean contains essays on Rational Mysticism from members of the Golden Mean discussion group, which combines spiritual intuition and common sense to define the nature of reality.
Mystical World Wide Web
Large searchable archives of articles and information relating to mysticism.
Soon You Will Understand... The Meaning of Life
A brief generic guide to the meaning of life.
A survey of present day Javenese mystical movements. Translations of age-old Javanese mystical texts.
Rational Mystic Sanctuary
A site devoted to reclaiming one's own lived experience through meditative, phenomenological reflection. phenomenology, existentialism, existential phenomenology, pure phenomenology, embodiment, meditation, reflection, psychotherapy, somatics, Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty