Mysticism, as the name suggests, is itself a bit of a mystery within both religious and indeed spiritual traditions.
Doctrine based religion and guru led packaged Spirituality often ignore the essential roots of the mystical experience.
What is mysticism and can it be connected to the person of Yeshua, the Jewish Nazarene prophet/teacher who proclaimed the ‘Kingdom’ within over two millennia ago.
Mysticism as a word derives from the Mystery cults of Ancient Greece. Secret societies/cults promised to initiate the recruit into the ‘deeper Mysteries’ of the cosmos.
However the mystical experience itself can be traced back into the mists of time as an altered state of consciousness that somehow connects one with Ultimate Reality behind the Universe.
Mysticism is, in its essence, an experience of such a connectedness and not primarily a belief in such a possibility. Hence it is rarely found within religious or spiritual groups of ‘believers’ who take their cue from sacred scriptures or holy writings rather than personal experience.
Strangely though, many such folk will at one time or another have experienced ‘something’ that takes them outside their normal state of rationalistic consciousness but hesitate to link it to their religious or philosophical belief system.
Simply put, mysticism can be placed into three main categories:
1) Nature mysticism
2) Monist or Oneness mysticism
3) Theist or God mysticism
As in most classifications these three types of mysticism can, at times, overlap and, indeed, lead into one another.
First I will examine the most commonly experienced form of mysticism ~ Nature Mysticism.
Which of us haven’t, at one time or another, had an experience of awe, wonder or connectedness when viewing a starlit sky or a glorious sunset. Even children when carefully asked, claim to have had such experiences, even if communicated in relatively simple language.
We are not talking here about a normal appreciative reaction to the wonders of Nature but a rare and higher graded experience that seems, for a split second, to reveal our connection to what we are observing. It is, if you like, an outer awakening that may in time lead onto the more inner experiences of Monist or Theist mysticism.
Such unexpected experiences were the initial driving force behind the Nature poetry of Williams Wordsworth and Blake, in 18th & 19th century England. The poet’s attempt to recapture, and indeed replay, the momentarily showing of connection with the Nature object in their vision, through the use of verse is, at it’s most profound level a mystical channeling of sorts; a re-enactment of the unitive ‘knowing’ of the poet.
‘And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,And rolls through all things.’
Nature mysticism and its moment of intense awareness can be the spark that leads the newly birthed seeker further along the mystical Way or the explosion of psyche that sends the rationalistic believer running back for cover into the safety shell of his ‘known world’.
Before my next post on Monist mysticism why not join me in finding ourselves a mystery of Nature that we can take some time simply observing. If we open our hearts who knows what might happen!