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Mysticism

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The term mysticism has a wide variety of meanings.

In ancient Greece an initiate (mystes) was lead into a mystery, a highly esoteric process where initiates swore to secrecy.

Today mysticism generally refers to surpassing worldly sensations, thoughts and desires, which are temporarily replaced or infused with otherworldly experiences, knowledge or graces.

However, this kind of definition falls short because we also have romantic or nature mysticism.

Perhaps at its highest level mysticism refers to an intimate spiritual relationship – others say union – with God or the divine.

Although not appearing in the Bible or in the writings of the Church Fathers, the related terms “mystical,” “mystagogy” and “mystagogue” explain one’s initiation into the essentially mysterious sacraments of the Christian Church.

It’s often said that Christian mysticism differs from Eastern mysticism in that Christianity emphasizes a relationship between the individual and God, rather than a loss of individuality and absorption into, or total identification with, the divine.

But this difference, in practice, is likely one of degree, character, or perhaps a developmental difference.

There seem to be exceptions, at least on the conceptual level, to a general distinction between the ideas of Christian relationship and Eastern absorption.  For example, some Christian saints request in their prayers to be entirely immersed in Jesus’ divine glory. This idea of immersion sounds very Eastern.

And the Hindu school of Visistadvaita (founded by Ramanuja) maintains that a sense of individuality rests within the ultimate and eternal, and idea which sounds very Christian.

To further complicate matters, , even within a given tradition mystics talk of a diversity of realms and numinous experiences. So it seems unlikely that the experiences accessed by mystics within different traditions are identical.

Some writers and pop gurus try to condense different kinds of mysticism into a simple formula, such as “union with the divine.”

In fact, most spiritual seekers usually try to fit very different ideas about mysticism into their own particular belief system.

Filipmoroz adds:

In my opinion mystics, who always need the adjective of religion they came from while described, did achieved such level of union with divine that does not need religion anymore. Religion needs words meanwhile their level of union does not. » Source

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3 thoughts on “Mysticism

  1. “it seems highly unlikely that the mystical realms accessed by mystics within different traditions are identical in character.”

    In my opinion mystics, who always need the adjective of religion they came from while described, did achieved such level of union with divine that does not need religion anymore. Religion needs words meanwhile their level of union does not. I don’t know where does this definition came from but it would take two mystics of different traditions talking or being present next to each other to prove whether this sentence is wrong or right.

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  2. My view is that a mystic might believe he or she has achieved the ultimate when still more – or perhaps something different – could be experienced. By way of analogy, imagine going to a big city like London. If we were naive we might think it was the only great city in the world. But later, we go to Paris and it’s different. Both are cities. Both are great. But they are different.

    Critics of my analogy might say, however, that it doesn’t apply because God – or the Divine – is the one and only Ultimate Reality… not just one among many (like a city). Still, I think it’s possible that some mystics achieve a level of awareness that they believe is ultimate when it might not be.

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  3. There are many ways and they are different when one first begins on the spiritual journey, but all the paths eventually merge in the end.

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