Mysticism in World Religions
Sunday, January 25, 2015, 2:22 PM
Many people, including some leaders of Western religions, think that mysticism is either nonsense, heretical or both. They are only partially correct, may just misunderstand, or refuse to accept it.
Mysticism is non-sense; the experiences of mystics can neither be perceived nor measured. The empirical certainty of divine union can neither be verified nor refuted by current science. Many scientists today have no doubt that ultimate Reality does exist, although they are unable as yet to confirm it. Proven or unproven, Reality is what it is, whether we would rather believe, think or desire otherwise.
To say the soul is united with the divine does not deny supremacy of the divine, any more than a ripple can reject the greatness of its ocean. Mysticism may seem pantheistic “The divine is in all,” theistic, “but all are not yet in the divine,” polytheistic, “It is called by many names,” and non-theistic, “but One underlies the many.” Most of the mystics were panentheistic: the divine is within and beyond all, both immanent and transcendent. That view is not total heresy.
Mystics are not demigods, even when they are in oneness with the divine. Most of them felt that miracles were distractions, although some have been attributed to them. Mystics occasionally appeared to be psychic, though that was frequently wordless communication between teacher and student. A few of them had seemed to instruct by their mere presence; many others had never taught at all.
Mysticism is not the supernatural occult. Divine Love, absolute Truth and ultimate Reality are not found in tea leaves, tarot cards or crystal balls. Mystics do not try to communicate with departed souls; they concentrated on uniting with their own soul. Meditation trances seek the divine, not past lives or the future. Neither palm readers nor numerologists can foresee your success in encountering it. In mystical consciousness, revelation is always here and now.
Divine union is not magic. Magicians may create illusions; mystics seek to remove them. The wizards of legends used magic for selfish gain; mysticism is a path to self(less) realization. Wicca uses high magic to connect a person’s soul to a Goddess; mystics are neither warlocks nor witches. They do not belong to covens, cast evil spells nor perform sacrifices...except their self. Their repetition of sacred words is for spiritual awareness, not for worldly powers.
All mystical traditions, among all religions, in all eras, have had many common themes and beliefs, still they were not identical. Just as no two witnesses will testify to the same event in the same way, mystics’ accounts of divine consciousness quite often differed. They usually interpreted spiritual input through their historical, cultural and personal situation. Similar or different, it changed their lives.
A few mystics seem to be always in divine union, many of them do return to it frequently, while most had unforgettable moments of oneness. As humans, all of them were subject to the limitations of words to express that for which no words are adequate. Each mystic had to form those inadequate words into the symbols and concepts which could be understood by people of their faith. Some may have modified their words to meet the personal needs of their followers, to avoid a conflict with their orthodox religion, and/or to clarify previous misunderstandings. Their experiences surpass any words.
Mysticism can be a bridge between religions. The search for the absolute and ultimate divine may be defined differently in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and other faiths, but the Reality itself is the same. Divine essence is universal; we must be aware of it.
(4 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
Sunday, January 18, 2015, 5:47 PM
Every person lives in different worlds at various phases of their life. Our feelings, conceptions and perceptions may vary in each of those worlds. Parents look at many situations unlike their children; a reversal of their own much earlier experiences. In youth we saw things from simpler points of view than we do in our later years. Our level of awareness, tastes, needs, and desires evolve as we progress through stages of our lives. In mundane living, priorities are not constant.
Within each stage of life people move between diverse worlds. Our roles and behavior at home and among family might deviate greatly from those at work and with our associates. Our position as an expert or, at least, an experienced person in certain aspects of life may be reversed in other areas. Hobbies and other personal interests bring people into enjoyable worlds outside work requirements and family obligations. Also, shifting moods and concerns, ours and others’, can modify the same worlds from day to day. Situations do change, like it or not.
Our worlds can also be affected by fluctuating states of our being. When we are emotionally balanced our vision of life is better than during, or after, traumatic experiences. A person with a sound mind may become delusional during mental illness; even our imagination can take us into different worlds. When our bodies are healthy our outlook is usually brighter than during a sickness or after an injury. Many other individual factors affect our experiences in each world, too. The physical world itself alters from day to day.
Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims - as well as most Buddhists in daily life - accept continuity of self, while acknowledging changes in the emotions, mind and body of each person. Also, to a greater or lesser degree, they do accept presence of a soul* in each human. They do not all agree,however, that the soul has the essence of the divine, as most mystics believe. Most people live in their immediate emotional, mental and physical self, but some include various levels of spirituality to make life more meaningful for them.
Those people who believe in the soul usually also believe that it provides the vital or spiritual energy needed to make all aspects of our self function. The more prominent is our soul, in theory, then the better person we will be. The soul, however, is elusive; it cannot be specifically identified. Mystics intuitively know we can transcend our self to live through the soul, reunited with the essence of the divine. This is the wonderful world of divine union in this life.
Our worldview depends, then, on our perspective. The material world may be the same, but our discernment of it can transform its meanings. Some people approach many activities and events from outlooks beyond their self. Their personal world may include their social group, community, nation, or, rarely, all humankind. A few can see beyond the impact on humanity; they might consider the world of all living beings and, perhaps, all of Nature itself. Mystics approach life from the perspective of the divine: as the divine does.
The world of mystics is broader in scope than of those who have not reunited with their soul. True mystics are able to see oneness in All: everything is interrelated, existing at the spaceless here, in the timeless now. They deny accepted limits of experiencing the world and the boundaries of this life. Their worldview has expanded to a universal vista, in a divine panorama, into a focus from wholeness embracing all emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of every activity and event beyond any specific feelings, conceptions or perceptions. Each person is capable of this all-encompassing vision, but must first be dedicated to realizing it. It might happen suddenly.
In apparent realities, we all seem to live in different personal worlds, while within the same material world. In true Reality our worlds are always One: interpenetrating, inseparable and divine.
*In Buddhism “self/soul” are false beliefs, mental projections; “anatman” is no self/soul.
(3 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
Sunday, January 11, 2015, 2:36 PM
There are matters which are important within most religions’ orthodoxy, to their leaders and to many followers, but are viewed differently by mystics. Mysticism often interprets them based on their effects in aiding or impeding search for union with the divine.
Evil and Deliverance: Many orthodox religions personify evil as Satan, the Devil, Iblis, Mara, or other demonic forces. Most mystics hold us responsible for our own evils, not an external source. Some say that evil exists only in rejection or lack of awareness of good, or to balance good in the apparent dualities of this life...not in unitive eternal life. Deliverance comes by overcoming the selfishness of our egos, ignorance of our minds and stubbornness of our senses.
Sin and Atonement: Christianity believes humans are born in sin because of the fall of Adam. Sin within Islam is an offense against God; in Judaism it is rejecting God’s will. Buddhism and Hinduism believe that the consequences of sin can be carried over from our past life. Most mystics say that each of us is born with the essence of the divine; sin is our separation from the divine, ignoring or not seeking our soul. Mystics view atonement as accepting at-one-ment; it is reuniting with our soul and the One divine essence in All.
Prophets, Messengers and Incarnations: Buddhist mystics may venerate Buddha, bodhisattvas, arhats, or others who had realized or neared enlightenment. Christian mystics are devoted to Jesus Christ and admire the apostles who spread his Word. Hindu mystics adhere to teachings of Krishna, Rama and/or other manifestations of Brahman. Islamic mystics said that Muhammad was the Perfect Man, who taught the secret of true Reality underlying Allah. Jewish mystics are in awe of Moses as their paragon and honor many other biblical prophets. Although mystics revere these perfect exemplars, most believe that each person must seek their own unity with the divine, perhaps with guidance from teachers in this life.
Allah, Buddha, God, ha-Shem, Ishvara: Most religious people worship a personal deity, a non-theistic ideal or an intermediary. Unlike most of those in the mainstream, faith alone is not sufficient for mystics. They expanded to a search for oneness with the divine essence. Mystics, and later their followers, sought an underlying Reality, or divine ground, which some may call al-Haqq, Brahman, Dharmakaya, Ein Sof, Godhead, or other words. It is One: transcendent to and immanent in all existence; the absolute nature of being itself. Their “faith” is that union is possible during this life.
Grace: Divine grace is spiritual assistance not specifically earned by its recipient. Most mystics believe that divine grace is offered at all times, in all places and to all beings, but the sentiments, thoughts and actions of the ego self, and individual isolation, block its entry. Everyone has received divine grace during selfless periods of their life. Mystics who gave up their ego and individuality were in a state of grace and may share it. Most mystics say that grace is essential to realize oneness; some seem to equate divine grace, love and spirit.
Note: This is just a consensus to indicate some differences between approaches of mystics and that of their orthodox religion. These statements do not represent all schools of mysticism or every division of each faith. Whether mystical experiences vary in their cultural context, or are similar for all true mystics, is less important than that they transform each one’s sense of being to a transpersonal outlook on life.
(2 of 30 quotations from "the greatest achievement in life," my free ebook on comparative mysticism)
Source : www.suprarational.org/gail2012.pdf