A Quick Introduction to Mysticism

From an early post of this blog:

As this blog and many of my writings often refer back to the fact that I am a mystic, it would be helpful if some kind of working definition were provided to explain precisely what I mean by the word “mystic.”

To my own knowledge, there are several different uses for the word “mystic,” and this is precisely why it will help to explain what I mean when I say “mysticism” and “mystic.”

According to the dictionary on my computer:

mystic |ˈmistik| noun

a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect.

That definition resonates very well, as abstract as it may be. Contemplation as read above is defined more so in the Christian sense, whereby “contemplation” and “contemplative prayer” are analogous to what we Westerners now call “meditation” that comes from the East, e.g., clearing and stilling one’s mind.

Gladly I would admit the above definition at any time.

According to Dictionary.com:

mys-tic

-adjective

1. involving or characterized by esoteric, otherworldly, or symbolic practices or content, as certain religious ceremonies and art; spiritually significant; ethereal.

2. of the nature of or pertaining to mysteries known only to the initiated: mystic rites.

3. of occult character, power, or significance: a mystic formula.

4. of obscure or mysterious character or significance.

5. of or pertaining to mystics or mysticism.

–noun

6. a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.

7. a person initiated into religious mysteries.

Mysticism, from Dictionary.com:

Mysticism, noun

1. the beliefs, ideas, or mode of thought of mystics.

2. a doctrine of an immediate spiritual intuition of truths believed to transcend ordinary understanding, or of a direct, intimate union of the soul with god through contemplation or ecstasy.

3. obscure thought or speculation.

Definition 2 would resonate with what I mean, followed closely by definition 1, and I would outright reject definition 3 in terms of what I mean when I say “mysticism.”

These definitions, too, summarily tell us as much about mysticism as we can immediately tread within the confines on my own blog.

So what do I mean when I say “mysticism” if we go beyond the technical definitions? What do I mean in saying that I am a mystic?

I mean to say that it is my own experience, my own direct encounter with God, the Absolute, the Ultimate Reality, or whatever term you may like to use, that counts, that allows for Salvation, that allows for Freedom, and that is not the product of a book, of a ritual, or of the authority of some outside source.

That does not mean that I think outside references to God are completely and utterly worthless; time and time again I will repeat how the Sacraments and Sacred Scriptures of various traditions are extremely important if understood in the proper context, and I think the whole mess that Religion proves itself to be so often is that said the majority of people who practice those religions have no clue what’s really going on or supposed to be going on but smugly assume that they and their backwards interpretation of things constitute the entire Truth of Reality.

Typically I try to watch out for people who assume that they know everything and that they and they alone have the Truth, because those people are usually the ones who are the most dangerous and hateful. Mystically speaking, everyone is privy to the Truth and has the birthright of coming to God- but no one is forced or evangelized to be a mystic, and mystics, as a general rule, tend to be accepting of other people’s Faiths and Traditions and seek the underlying Reality that is God in every human being and in every practice.

Then again, I understand that I cannot speak for any other mystic, only this mystic! That doesn’t disqualify this as my general understanding of things, however.

I realize in writing all these things that it sounds incredibly abstract and ethereal, and the truth is that mysticism often works with a level of reality seemingly so subtle that the only way to even begin to express anything of it is to speak in extreme abstractions.

People often ask me what I “believe,” and in essence, they’re questioning my basic world view, wondering what it might be. Most of what I’ve written above counts for that, though it may be a little more detailed. The mystic world view is the basic, absolute core of how I view things, and even then I realize it’s subject to change depending on the situation. However, mysticism is often fluid enough to where such changes are not a terrible thing.

The problem is in trying to express mysticism in every day language and in finding an appropriate religious context in which to pour the energy. This is what has produced, in the minds of the people that I know, my apparent “changing of religions so often.” The reality is that my core “beliefs” never change, or rarely do, and that a different set of symbolism in a religion suddenly comes up to me and speaks to me.

My own conflict with religion is that so often the “orthodox” (from the Greek meaning “correct belief”) views constrict the mystery and life out of the religious experience, and then claim that whoever disagrees with them is a heretic and must be excommunicated. The other difference is that the orthodoxy of many religions requires you simply swallow whatever they teach you with no questions, and then go on your merry way just nodding your head in agreement.

Mysticism, on the other hand, provides the doctrines, rituals, and symbols as guideposts in a religion- they refer to the Living God, they symbolize the Living God, they speak and attempt to meagerly proclaim the Living God, but they are not the Living God in all His Absolute Glory; experience them, yes, but experience them in order to experience God.

Yes, it all goes back to the direct, one-on-one encounter with God, and I must say I’m quite fine with knowing for myself as opposed to putting my belief in someone else’s belief in someone else’s experience.

 

For those who are interested in more information, I highly recommend checking out the links on my Blogroll.

Also, you may want to consult Wikipedia’s entry on mysticism. The article does a great job as a preliminary introduction to mysticism, but make sure to head any kind of warnings Wikipedia lists at the top of its pages and to check the links and documentation out for yourself.

In Christ,

Beaux

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