In discussing the subject of mysticism, certain questions immediately arise:
How do we define mysticism?
What is its meaning?
How is a mystical philosophy applied in life?
Mysticism is simply 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.
Throughout history there have been personalities who have been considered to be great Mystics.
Akhnaton, Plotinus, Plato, Clement of Alexandria, Francis of Assisi, Francis Bacon
These and other famous individuals are recognised today for their mystical outlook and philosophy.
In fact, every person who awakens to a consciousness of a reality which transcends the objective senses is a Mystic at heart.
Plotinus, the Neoplatonic philosopher, said that Mysticism is “the marriage between soul and God.”
In other words, the personal realisation 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 mental 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 transiency.
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 or her 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 techniques, both Eastern and Western.
Yet the technique, whatever it may be, is merely the means – 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.
Meditation plays a particularly important role in a Mystic’s life as it allows the Mystic to discover more about the Self.
In other words, it becomes apparent that there is more to our conscious being than we ordinarily realise.
Self is more than just one phase of consciousness, much as electricity is not the 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 from the speculative and intellectual point of view.
Mysticism, however, makes ontology a personal experience.
With ontology, the Mystic senses a union of all reality. One is 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 or her 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 his deeds are related.
Therefore, the pantheist sees divine manifestation in all the phenomena of nature. But he or she realises that no one thing, whatever it may be, is completely representative of the Cosmic, the Divine.
As the Dutch philosopher Spinoza said, neither is the totality of nature the whole of the Divine.
This is true because the Divine is potential with being more than what already exists.
For this reason the mystical pantheist experiences his or her concept of God in every natural phenomenon.
They endeavour to understand nature. They seek 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 a soul, but manifest it to a lesser degree.
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 realise universal brotherhood, that is, the brotherhood of the Cosmic Force pervading all things.
Another practical application of mysticism is its understanding of 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 mankind should strive?
The only absolute value 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 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. We should use it practically, that is, efficiently. We should idealise personal constructive creativity in some form.
We need not be a genius to add value to our lives – a helpful suggestion, a comforting thought, listening to others in need – these are all worthy values.
If inspired through mystical study, these values are then examples of the practical application of mysticism.
Adaptation of “The Practical Application of Mysticism” Imeperator Thought of the Month, RC Digest 1988