Some Things to Note

As you’re reading this blog, please bear in mind a few things.

First, the words “contemplation” and “meditation” have opposite meanings in the Eastern and Western traditions. When most Americans say, “meditation,” they are referring to sitting and stilling the mind or in some cases in mostly stilling the mind and focusing on one particular thought, feeling, impression, and what not. When a Westerner says “contemplate,” they mean to mull over or consider something- think deeply, in other words.

Traditionally in Christianity, these words are opposite. Contemplate means to focus the mind and to still it- this is what is meant when references are made to “contemplative prayer.” Meditation, on the other hand, is a focus on specific ideas, mulling them over, and so on.

Because my own background contains references both to Christianity and a very Hindu-influenced version of Sufism, I sometimes switch between the words and use them interchangeably. This may put the reader at a disadvantage in some cases, but I’ll do my best to remember to clarify.

Second, when it comes to mysticism, we need to consider some important things that can be overlooked. The first important thing is that many of our mystical experiences may happen perfectly within a paradigm or a religious context, and just as many come happen outside of said context and defy what we understand as established dogma, doctrine, and revealed truth, whether according to Tradition, Scripture, Reason, Magisterium, a Teacher, you name it. These things are all part of what we might consider the “map.” But the map is not the territory, and so we have to be careful to distinguish between the two while making the journey.

Another important thing to consider about mysticism is that there are, as far as I can tell, two major parts of the journey- the journey towards the unitive state, enlightenment, or the union of the Higher Self with God (or at least the ego’s awareness of the union of the Higher Self with God) which culminates in the falling away of the ego, and THEN the part that often gets ignored, misrepresented, misunderstood, or forgotten, in which the the Higher Self, too, goes, and we are left with no ego and no Self. Confusing at best and generally inconceivable, this is precisely what the traditions all point to ultimately.

Also, consider that the two major traditions to which I will refer are Christianity, specifically Gnostic Christianity and the modern Gnostic Churches as well as the mystical aspects of Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Eastern Orthodoxy, and Sufism, which is ultimately another form of Gnosticism (albeit influenced, in my case, highly by Islam and Hinduism) that focuses largely on longing, love, and beauty.

While I am aware of the various Protestant, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Emergent varieties of Christianity, I am not aware of any truly substantial mystical framework, transformative capacity, or sacramentality present within them and therefore cannot comment or relate to them in my journey.

Yet another definition of which you should be aware is my own personal usage of the word “Catholic.” For the sake of convenience, instead of listing all the Catholic-like traditions each time, “Catholic” will become a catch-all term for Gnosticism, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism. While many people would want to debate with me on whether Anglicanism is Protestant, Catholic, both, or neither, the fact is that the Anglican Communion considers itself BOTH Protestant and Catholic, and I personally find that Anglicanism falls more in line with Catholicism and traditional Christianity than Calvinism, which I happen to highly despise. The reason I have not included Lutheranism here is because Lutheranism necessarily requires a theological rift with Catholicism, whereas Anglicanism is not so much a theological rift as a political one: Anglo-Catholicism is quite prevalent, though I’ve never truly heard of “Luthero-Catholicism.”

That being said, dear reader, I hope you enjoy this blog, because it’s my gift to you and contribution to the volumes of mysticism that have been written over the course of human history- and the best part is that it’s on-going, in real time, and everything is documented so that you can see what happens step-by-step. Who knows, maybe even one day it’ll all be published together in a handy-dandy book.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Thistle Brown
    Mar 08, 2012 @ 07:12:47

    Excellent! Speaking only for myself, my experiences have not been sought, but thrust upon me. I was never a seeker, happy to believe in a simple Augustana Synod Lutheran church. Oh, sure! God, the Baby Jesus – you know. My particularly history will probably not be seen in a public forum and I expect those reading my blog will wonder what, exactly, does she actually believe? Doesn’t it matter?

    I don’t know yet.

    Reply

    • enamouredslave
      Mar 14, 2012 @ 21:55:17

      Perhaps it does; the faith journey of the individual is of intrigue to me personally and perhaps to many other people as well.

      Reply

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