This is the last of the articles on the explanation/definition of Mysticism.
How to define mysticism? What is its meaning? Mysticism is the awakening of the self to a consciousness of a divine reality. The self for the first time becomes aware of cosmic beauty in contrast to its own finite imperfection. The self then attempts to emulate the divine beauty which it experiences. Mysticism is a final and personal experience.
Mysticism is the personal realization of unity with the Absolute, the One. The mystical experience consists of four elements. First is the ineffable. This means that the experience is difficult to explain – it is more of a feeling, just as difficult to explain as fine music. The second element of mysticism is the neotic quality. This means that the individual experiences a unique new knowledge which consists of an illumination of greater depth than the intellect can provide. The third element is transcendency.
This is the inability of the individual to sustain the mystical experience for long. The memory of the experience diminishes with time. The fourth element is passivity. One finds that the self is completely passive during the experience. There is no emotional or mental turbulence at the time.
An inner experience
Mysticism is an experience, not just a theory. But it is an inner experience. To apply mysticism, one must first work upon the self and then objectify his experience. Mysticism provides the substance, the material upon which we cogitate and then take action. Mysticism denies that knowledge is limited just to the peripheral, or sense, impressions. The mystical principle of knowledge asserts that man is essentially divine and therefore capable of immediate communication with reality, the One.
It is important that we do not confuse mystical technique with application. There are various eastern, or Oriental, and Western techniques. The technique, whatever it may be, is merely a mechanism. It is not the final objective of mysticism. For analogy, there is an obvious difference between learning to use tools, and constructing a building. One must relate the principle of mysticism to an understanding and a use of life.
Meditation is one of the principal techniques of mysticism. But it also has a practical application, which we shall consider. The particular importance of meditation is its role in the discovery of the expansion of self. In other words, there is more to our conscious being then we ordinarily realize. Self is more than just one phase of consciousness. For example, electricity is not a phenomenon of a single voltage. Inspiration, insight, and new vistas of reality are the rewards of contact with other levels of consciousness. Some wrongly conceive of meditation as being an escape from reality.
Meditation is not just a closing of a door to one kind of perception. Rather, it is an entering into different chambers of the psyche.
One of the first great benefits derived from mysticism is a broad view of ontology, which concerns the nature of being. “Being” refers to absolute reality, the One, the Cosmos. Ontology is a basic study of metaphysics, but metaphysics approaches ontology only form the speculative and intellectual point of view. Mysticism, however, makes ontology a personal experience.
In ontology, mysticism causes one to sense a union of all reality. One is to no longer confused by various theological divisions of the Cosmos. Simply, there no longer exist such subdivisions of reality as heaven, hell, natural, supernatural, or the Absolute, or time and space. Nor does the mystic find so-called matter completely separate and apart from what is called the immaterial world.
The true mystic is also a pantheist. To him the Divine, the spiritual essence, pervades all things. Further, the laws by which the Divine functions, that is, manifests, are also divine. There can be no distinction between the essence and its laws of manifestation, just as a man’s thoughts and deeds are related. Therefore, the pantheist sees divine manifestation in all the phenomena of nature. But he realizes that no one thing, whatever it may be is completely representative of the Cosmic, the Divine.
For this reason the mystical pantheist experiences his concept of God in every natural phenomenon. He endeavours to understand nature. He seeks a personal intimacy with it, resulting in a harmony of the self. The mystical pantheist does not accept the old theological idea that man alone has a spiritual essence. If the soul in man is an emanation of the Divine Consciousness, then all living things have soul, but with a lesser degree of manifestation. The consciousness of life is united, regardless of the form which the organism assumes.
Does such an abstract subject as mystical pantheism have practical value? Yes, because it opposes the many forms of superstition and ignorance of the past. It causes man to realize the universal brotherhood, that is, the brotherhood of the Cosmic Force pervading all things.
Another practical aspect of mysticism is the concept of equality which it expounds. Philosophically, the word equality can appear as a logical paradox, seemingly contradicting itself. For example, a thing which is equal in every respect to another thing loses its own separateness, for such equality would include equality in time and space as well. Therefore, there would be no plurality, because just a single thing or condition would exist.
From this point of view there is no absolute equality. There is only relative equality, that is, similarity. Mysticism shows that the is no absolute equality in mankind except in essence, and this essence is the Vital Life Force pervading all living things. Men vary in their intellect, emotions, and awareness of self. The only equality which we should strive for is the right to know ourselves. However, such a right carries an obligation that all men be able to think and express their thoughts. Only in this sense does mysticism accept the idea of equality.
Another practical application of mysticism is its understanding value. The mystic knows that value is primarily a relative term. What one person may accept as value, another may not. Are there then no absolute values toward which all men should strive? The only absolute values is life, for all else depends upon it. Yet, even this value must be qualified. To merely live is not the highest attainment of man. Life can be both used and abused by man. Life force in its pure state is creative, not degenerative. Man’s personal value in life should then assume the same order. Each of us has talents, some of which are still dormant, yet to be awakened. They may be mechanical, artistic, or intellectual skills, each varying in its degree of development. It becomes our duty to give value to our life, by creating something worthy or assisting others who have strive to do so. To neglect our creative ability, or to influence others to do so, is to place a wrong value upon life.
Mysticism provides techniques for learning one’s personal value in life. Intuition or insight is one of these techniques. The old mystical phrase, “the economy of life”, instructs that man should not waste life. He should use it practically, that is efficiently. He should idealize personal constructive creativity in some form.
Man need not be a genius to add value to his life. A helpful suggestion, a comforting thought, prevention of an ethical wrong are all worthy values. If inspired through mystical study, these values are then examples of the practical application of mysticism.
- Author Unknown