Mysticism in World Religions
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 2:16 PM
When we feel good—healthy, happy, successful—we are then more likely to do good for other people. Similarly, when we do good for others it frequently makes us feel good. That should not be the primary reason for helping, even if it often is an aftereffect. Both psychotherapists and religions agree that we should to “do good,” the former because it makes patients feel better about themselves and the latter because it is part of the moral creed of every faith. Good intentions, alone, are not enough.
The capacity for doing good is seldom an objective of therapy, yet therapists recognize that the inclinations to do bad can be signs of a disturbed person. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not just a teaching of the sacred scriptures, it is also common sense. It might be simply summarized as “what goes around, comes around,” an idiomatic expression of the laws of karma. Morality is one foundation for almost all of the traditions of mysticism, too.
Those who pursue the mystical quest to “feel good” are deluding themselves from the outset. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of not feeling too good on the path to spiritual awareness. There will be much confusion: Which way to follow, how best to practice, what pitfalls to avoid, many false preconceptions, and some equally false experiences. The good feeling of being in the divine essence is only incidental to the conscious union with it. It is often felt later.
There are some who believe that “doing good” will hasten their progress toward enlightenment. No and yes. If doing good actually enhances your self-image, satisfying your ego and ennobling you as an individual, then all of your acts of goodness will not advance your quest. If your good deeds are sacramental, done in hopes of obeying the divine will*, and you have no other selfish motivations, they can lead you to realizing oneness with the divine.
When you feel good while doing good, or after, then it is probably not selfless action. When you do what is right because it is right, even if it requires personal sacrifice and may not feel very good at the time, you might be on the way to, for and of the divine. “I just want to be happy” is not an objective of mystics. “I want everyone to be happy” is an unrealistic goal. Happiness can result from feeling good and doing good, but should not be the motive by itself.
Learning how to “feel,” deeply, is good. The feeling of divine Love, a profound emotion which can never be expressed, drives you forward on the path. Intuitive insight into divine Truth, that is felt as certainty in your mind, removes all your doubts about unity. Absorption in divine Reality, which is felt in the soul, lifts you beyond self. You feel good, yet not simply because it feels good.
Learning how to “do,” ardently, is also good. It motivates you to respond to the divine will which the soul, through your conscience, tells you is right. Doing, even with the best of intentions, might not achieve good results. A do-gooder is an idealist, although sometimes naively so. You must consider that others may not agree with your concept of “good” or your sense of timing. Selfless action is a path to realization which must be tread carefully. Goodness is relative.
*Interpreting divine will is clouded by egos; people often disagree on what “God wants.”
Note: In their usage, correctly defined, good and right can have different applications.
(14 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
Source : www.suprarational.org/gail2012.pdf
Saturday, March 21, 2015, 6:21 PM
Seekers of spiritual knowledge might ask, “What’s love got to do with it?” Devotees of devotion reply, “Divine love is everything.” In mystical “marriage,” divine union, you can’t have one without the other. Divine Love and divine Truth are One in divine Reality.
In Sufism of Islam, knowledge is the key which opens the lock of love. Ma`rifa, spiritual knowledge, is essential to properly guide those who are intoxicated with mahabba, love for the divine. They are two of the last stations on the mystical path. Sufism often uses exquisite poetry to convey our longing for the divine. Some of the verses were considered too erotic by orthodox Muslim clerics. Sufis say that they are just allegories to express the inexpressible.
In Hinduism, bhakti is our devotion in love and adoration of the divine. Jnana is knowledge of the way to approach the divine. Both are considered paths to realize divine union and to be released from samsara, the cycle of birth and rebirth. The way of devotion is the preferred path of most Hindu movements, as in many orthodox religions; the way of knowledge is emphasized in Vedanta; preferred and emphasized, perhaps, but they are not mutually exclusive.
The “Song of Songs” in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, are a series of love poems which may appear to be secular. Both Jewish and Christian mystics, however, interpret them as love between God and us. The “mystical marriage” is mentioned frequently in the Kabbalah of Judaism and by Christian mystics, although the latter often allude to love between Jesus and his faithful. Divine union is the joining of the lover and beloved; it is also the unity of knower and known. Love and knowledge are coequal and complementary.
All Buddhists are devoted to the Buddha; many may also worship celestial bodhisattvas and/or devas (deities).* They do not “love the divine” in the common, theistic sense, but that which is found in highest spiritual experience. Sanskrit prajna, the direct awareness of sunyata, emptiness of self, is the perfect wisdom. Love is usually expressed as loving kindness, universal love for all beings...a concept and virtue shared by the traditions of mysticism in all religions.
*Deities adopted from native religions, or transformations of Buddhas or bodhisattvas.
(11 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
Sunday, March 15, 2015, 3:10 PM
An “upside” of this life might be a “downside” for mysticism. Some ideals that many people were taught are to be independent, to gain self-confidence and be self-sufficient. Yet, the very independence of our individuality, augmented with assuredness and autonomy, can minimize our interdependence on one another and may lead us away from both full spirituality and consciousness in divine union. It can build our egos into blinders, closing out the true Reality.
Mysticism seeks to remove the blinders of this life, to expand our horizons beyond usual and accepted norms, to surpass restrictions of conditioned sentiments, ideas and sensations. Diffusion of the One into the many, which the Kabbalah calls the “breaking of the vessels,” is a cause for the sufferings of humans which the Buddha strove to overcome. Attachment to the fictions of this life, which Hindus call maya, prevents the compassion and mercy of the divine, sought by Muslims, from entering our lives. Seeking to satisfy our superficial ego ignores the “kingdom of God” within us which Jesus urged us to discover. Each of us create the barriers to our own spiritual realization.
There seems to be a paradox to mystics’ vision. On the one hand, they say that we must find our own inner self, or soul, a true self-realization which discovers the divinity inherent within us. On the other hand, they also say that all souls are One, that there is unity to all existence beyond multiple and individual manifestations. This paradox exists only in rational consciousness, which tries to explain everything with reason, logic or images. That limits our experience.
Suprarational consciousness, complete intuitive insight realized in divine grace, is aware that our soul and all other souls are divine and that the spirits of the many are united in the Spirit of the One, without contradiction. Certainty of oneness overcomes most of the uncertainties of this life; liberation from ego and individuality leads to a freedom seldom experienced in worldly existence. Many of the downsides of ordinary living become upsides during divine living.
Opening up our self, which is an act of courage or faith, allows the divine Love, Truth and Reality to enter. We typically close them out in a desperate attempt to hold on to our sense of uniqueness. Divine Love is constant and never ending, unlike ups and downs of loves in daily lives. Divine Truth does not change as some apparent truths in this life do. Divine Reality is eternal; too many mundane realities seem to be replaced just as we grow accustomed to them.
Faith is entering an intersection of life on a green light, expecting that the crossing traffic will stop. Belief is after looking both ways before proceeding, sure that no one will hit you. By your studying of mysticism, learning from teachings of sages throughout the ages, you can gain faith in the possibility of divine union. By looking deep into your inner self, toward the divine in your soul, you may attain a belief in oneness with the divine which can spur you onwards.
Throughout this life we try to gratify our personal cravings. We might desire comforts and pleasures, adoration and recognition, and/or wealth and possessions. Pursuit of mortal satisfactions leave little time for seeking the divine. Most mystics say that even praying to see God or asking for entry into heaven are misguided. We must completely surrender ourself, our separate self, to the divine will; in a paraphrase, it is to “go with the universal flow.”
Note: Here, “faith” is what is taught to be correct; “belief” is what is personally felt to be true. In their usage, correctly defined, each word may mean the reverse.
(12 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
Source : www.suprarational.org/gail2012.pdf