Mysticism comes from the Greek word meaning, "to conceal." It is the pursuit of achieving communion with or conscious awareness of Ultimate Reality, the Divine, Spiritual Truth, or God through direct, personal experience rather than rational thought. It is an experience of the existence of realties beyond perceptual or intellectual comprehension. This is usually out of one's ordinary experience and is a direct embodied experience. "Embodied" means to make the experience concrete in the body-mind-spirit self, not just an idea in our minds.
Many of the well-known spiritual teachers had these direct embodied mystical experiences with God. Some of the great religions were formed as these spiritual teachers related their connection and experiences with the vastness of God. What is interesting is to notice how the various mystical traditions have teachings that are almost identical to one another. Much of the world is seeking what could be called "faith in God." There is a difference between faith in something distant from you and an embodied experience of this vastness. In today's world, mysticism seems to have a bad name, denoting magical spells and scary ritual dances. Mysticism actually is a continuum in every religion.
Although the Kabbalah, the Jewish mysticism, has been touted by celebrities like Madonna as being a "set of rules and a life-plan," study of the early Kabbalistic text charts a beautiful path to follow our yearning for an ever-present God. The numerous Christian mystics were all monks and priests who took the time, energy, and focus to achieve this connection, experiencing the oneness with God. Following is a verse from the Old Testament, if you are Christian, or the Jewish prayer, called the Shema, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, "Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One," speaks of God being "One." Hindus and Buddhists also speak of the experience of being one with everything that ties the universe together. In science, physicist David Bohm, speaks of the same, describing the manifest world as the "unfolded world," and the unseen world as the "enfolded world."
A poem by the Islamic mystic and teacher Mevlãnã Jalãludd)n Rumi expresses the love that is experienced as we learn to embody the experience of this oneness with God..
The Meaning of Love Both light and shadow are the dance of Love.
Love has no cause; it is the astrolabe of God's secrets.
Lover and Loving are inseparable and timeless.
Although I may try to describe Love when I experience it I am speechless.
Although I may try to write about Love I am rendered helpless; my pen breaks and the paper slips away at the ineffable place where Lover, Loving and Loved are one.
Every moment is made glorious by the light of Love.
Posted: 6/6/2010 5:03:36 PM
Thanks Jennifer, nice article. Mysticism is "concealed" for the very reason that it is impossible to accurately describe - it concerns our journey into our aspects that are beyond the physical. It is every person''s journey, given a bad rap because it is ultimately liberating.
Best regards, Gerald, Auckland, New Zealand.
Posted: 7/15/2010 11:38:35 PM
Anyone who has not reached out and touched or been touched by what is beyond description is living blind.
Posted: 11/9/2011 10:08:44 AM
Wonderful article Dr. Jennifer! I especially enjoyed reading about how you tied "mysticism" in with the major religions of the world. I believe the spiritual path is a mystical path. Thank you for sharing and confirming my beliefs!
Light and Love, Ayana