Mysticism: Gain Greater Clarity and Insight
By: J. Marlando
There are basically two kinds of people when it comes to the so-called civilized world and what is called spiritualism. (1) Those who grasp it and (2) those who don't. This article is primarily written for those who don't, while those who do may find interest here also.
There are also a lot of people who believe that Spiritualism rejects traditional religion and religious practices. They are generally right in that those into the mystical and therefore the esoteric do not begin their spiritual journey by looking outside themselves but rather they do this by going within.
I have met a great number of people over a great many years who simply believe that folks, like me, who are into the spiritual/mystical are mere Dharma freaks like the old beatniks of the late 1940s and early 50s or into mind-altering drugs as the hippies
In any case, I have both friends and associates that believe anyone who practice spirituality and so supports mysticism of any kind are into mind games and the nonsense of magic. This is why many years ago I used to lecture the subjects wanting to inform and teach people what mysticism really is. After all, there are subjects such as meditation, reincarnation and much more that tend to confuse a lot of folks. For example, there are methods of meditation that are known to assist people in the task of retreating into one's potential of joining Universal Mind but we'll go further into this on a later page. In fact, it is my intent to answer all the most common questions I've been asked during my old workshop days but also in private by dubious and/or curious friends.
With the above in mind, it is hoped that the reader here will find the following interesting and informative even if not inspirational. We will begin the journey.
Common Inquiries and Answers
Q: What exactly is mysticism and can a devoted Christian practice it?
A: Yes, devoted Christians can practice mysticism and many do. Most certainly Francis of Assisi was a Christian mystic. But note: there is Jewish mysticism (read the Kabbala) just as mysticism is found in Hinduism, Sufism, Taoism and even in Islamic Sufism. A major goal of all mysticism is merging with the divine reality sometimes called God.
Q: What the heck is "the divine" anyway?
A: This is not such a simple question but I will attempt to give an answer as thoroughly as I can: First of all the Divine is undivided wholeness. This corresponds with the Buddhist observation that All is One and One is All. This can also be interpreted in the Jesus saying,, The Father and I are One.
Wayne Teasdale tells us that the Divine is "boundless compassion."
I believe that it can also be said that the universe is as the Native American observed it, an undivided whole without making any distinction between the spiritual and the secular.
In fact, most of the world saw itself in this light until Rene Descartes, the so -called father of modern philosophy, took God out of Nature and placed him in a distant observation post. Incidentally, many physicists such as Frijof Capra and David Bohm are agreeing in the connectivity of everything Including you and me.
Q: How might I connect with the Divine?
A: I believe that most people into mysticism would tell you to meditate as a conscious act of your seeking the Divine.
Q: What exactly is meditation and how do I do it?
A: First of all, meditation is a discipline. The ultimate goal of meditating is to achieve union with the Absolute or, in other words, the Divine as talked about earlier.
There are many ways to meditate but I favor the traditional way of sitting
To accomplish this goal some people who meditate concentrate on their breathing, some object or candle flame
Never confuse meditation with concentration. Concentration is deepened, targeted thought. In metaphor, a caged bird. Meditation is about freeing that bird!
Q: Don't most people meditate to reach what is called, enlightenment?
A: Yes, what we call enlightenment, the Japanese call "satori" and if you're interested, the ancient Sanskrit for enlightenment is "bodhi."
Q: Exactly what is enlightenment?
A: I believe that I am in safe territory when I say that true enlightenment is awakening to your being in oneness with the universe. That is to grasp your consciousness as being in connectivity with consciousness itself.
I personally do not believe that a person can reach this state through prayer or conceptualization or contemplation of any kind. To reach enlightenment one must empty the mind in order to connect with the Divine sometimes called Universal Consciousness and sometimes called, God.
Q: Is it best to have a Guru (an instructor?)
A: Yes, in the beginning, at least for most people but beware: There are as many phony gurus as phony T.V. Evangelists.
Q: What about reincarnation, is it part of spiritualism and what is it really?
A: Reincarnation is not a belief that is specifically spiritual or mystical at its core in that many Christians and members of all kinds of religions accept the idea of rebirth. Nevertheless, when talking about mysticism the topic comes up regularly and so I have added it here. On the other hand, the belief fits into most spiritual philosophy because it suggests the dance of the universe--death, life, life, death, death, life, as can be witnessed in Nature.
I had a very difficult time believing in reincarnation. I thought the entire concept was nonsense. And yes, this is after I had been into meditation and other spiritual studies for some time. Then I met with a three year old who said things that no one knew but my wife and I about the past life he described. This included talking about roads once traveled and even shirts once worn. This accuracy kept up until the lad was four years old or so, when those memories he held seemed to have gone away or, if you will, were somehow veiled from his conscious mind.
After that encounter I began looking into reincarnation. As for scientific studies
Q: But doesn't reincarnation conflict with my religion?
A: We know that the belief in reincarnation goes back thousand of years and was certainly advocated by Buddha. Reincarnation was also taught by Pythagoras, the ancient mathematician and mystic who taught that he was once Hermotimus, who was burned to death two hundred years before his current birth. This also seems part of Socrates' belief since he taught that information is something we elicit from within ourselves.
Around 101 A.D. reincarnation was commonly accepted among the Jews . (Indeed, the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that reincarnation became a universal belief in the mystical Jewish Hassidic tradition). The early Christians believed absolutely in reincarnation as it was taught by Christianity until 543 A.D. when the Byzantine emperor Justinian condemned the belief. Interestingly enough, Catholic scholars are now reconsidering the legitimacy of reincarnation.
There is even reference to reincarnation in the Koran (2.28) where it is asked: How can you make denial of Allah, who made you live again when you died, will make you dead again, and then alive again, until you finally return to him.
Q: What about reincarnation and Karma?
A: The belief in both karma and reincarnation is grounded in Hindu thought but often misunderstood.
In mysticism, the spirituality of ancient wisdom does not accept a judgmental god that judges and condemns. And so, it is thought that all karma is good, even "bad" karma since the purpose is to lead the individual back to the Divine,; to a merging with God at the end of one's journey through many lifetimes.
Actually in Sanskrit the term Karma simply means "deed." For the Hindu, Karma includes deeds and the consequences of one's life and one's previous life. There are actually three types of Karma. (1) Agami-karma, concerning present causes and effect which effect our futures through the present. (2) Prarabdba-karma which has already been caused and (3) sanchita-karma which has been accumulated but not yet put into effect. Most basically the same ideas of cause and effect belong to Buddhism. However it is typically referred to as Kamma or Pali by Buddhists.
Q: You've mentioned dharma a few times. What is it?
A: Dharma, by any other name, is generally used to define truth and righteousness but also duty and ideals. The name also refers to the reason we individuals are born. That is dharma is the condition that karma permits us to obtain. It is the ultimate universal law. I believe it is safe to say that dharma is the life we are all seeking; a life of peace, joy and fulfillment.
For those who are interested, after a great many fighting men came home from World War Two, they turned to Eastern thought hoping to find a more loving and peaceful world; a world with purpose and meaning. They began searching for dharma and so, in a great many ways they were predecessors of the hippies and flower children of the 1960s.
Q: I have heard the term Chakras, what are they?
A: The meaning of chakras is not easily explained (at least by me). In Sanskrit the term means "wheel."
The picture below shows us the chakras of the body.
Mostly, these chakras wheels are referred to as the "health aura" and, according to some, may even refer to the electromagnetic field of our bodies. On the other hand, the chakras may only be metaphors for focusing points of concentration; a practice of serious yogis.
Q: Do people into spiritualism and mysticism believe in God?
A: I of course cannot speak for all those who are into the mystical and spiritual. I believe, however, it is safe to say that most, like me, believe rather in Universal Mind as opposed to an exalted human being who condemns and rewards.
Another word for mind is consciousness. It can probably be said with a certain amount of certainty that most of us who are into mysticism believe that [God's] consciousness exists in all things; that it is like the Confucian sage, Wang Shihuai, taught: The Universe is all mind and all phenomenon. This precept, incidentally, was shared by Americans such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Thoreau. That is, the belief that "spiritual unity" exists in all things.
In regard to this, I always turn to the words of Joseph Chilton Pearce who tells us that, "Mind mirrors the universe that mirrors man's mind. Creator and created give rise to each other.
Q: What of Creationism?
A: Re-read the above Pearce quote.
Actually, it is not far-fetched to say that it is here that mysticism and science meet: Not too many years ago the Princeton Engineering Anomales Research lab, did a lot of experimenting to find out if awareness played a role in establishing reality, the very thing that Quantum Mechanics has been saying for decades.
This goes back to Schrodinger's famous cat experiment: The physicist invented the following scenario to demonstrate his wave equation: A cat is placed in a box where there is a devise, constructed in such a way that if it is opened, it releases a toxic gas that can kill the cat. The box is then sealed and the guessing game begins (1) was the gas released or not and (2) is the cat dead or alive?
Classical physics tell us that the cat is either dead or alive and the only way to find out is to open the lid and look inside.
Quantum Mechanics disagrees with this however. Quantum Mechanics teaches that the assumption that the cat inside the box is either dead or alive is wrong; that without an observer, the cat is rather in a kind of limbo state. That is, in a state of being between the two possibilities.
In other words, it takes an observer to create the reality of the cats physical presence and so, as soon as the cat is observed one state is actualized while the other vanishes. This incidentally is called, the wave function.
This takes us to the observation that tells us that the electron changes from wave to particle when observed. While there is a very long distance between an electron and a cat, what Schrodinger's experiment attempts to demonstrate is how awareness is intrinsic in creating reality. In other words, it's like the physicist, Fred Allan Wolf tells us, each of us are involved in creating the flowers in our yard.
This is far too complex for me to go into very deeply but hopefully it gives the reader some food for thought when it comes to the creative process and reality. Based on the above I believe it might be accurate to call God the First Observer. That is, in the sense that the observer and observed are one. As the reader can see, this topic could (possibly) carry on forever.
Q: What is the key to spirituality and so mysticism?
A: I have no idea how others might answer this question but I say that "the key" is twofold: (1) Become mindful and (2) through your mindfulness, becoming open. In metaphor imagine a closed flower that opens onto the world. When you open to the world you walk in love, forgiveness and tolerance. This is spiritual/mysticism made manifest in human action.
Q: What exactly is mindfulness
A: Mindfulness begins with self-awareness.
Be mindful of others, treat them as you would be treated--make kindness your goal; be mindful of your motives and so your actions.
Q: Because I am a firm believer in my religion is there a way I can devote myself to mysticism without changing my religious views?
A: Yes, there is a wonderful book with title, "The Science of Mind." It is a must for your home reading and will open doors for you that perhaps you never thought were possible to open.
Q: Is there one thing or one bit of information that can help me along my path of mysticism and so to the spiritual?
A: Yes, in view of all of this I think that Emerson makes the vital observation. He said:
These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones, they are for what they are; they exist with God today. There is not time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of existence....but man postpones and remembers. He cannot be happy and strong until he, lives with nature in the present, above time.
The basic meaning of "mysticism" is the belief in intuitive spiritual-revelation; that tells each of us we can communicate with the divine. This belief comes under many headings world around...Amid other titles it is also known as Tibetan Buddhism... Zen Buddhism...Taoism and in the U.S., Transcendentalism. Unlike other religions there is no gap or division between the individual and the church or temple; there is only you, the universe....and God!
As Emerson also said, "I am part and parcel of God." And so are you just as I am.
You need not say long prayers or do agonizing things to yourself or even die to see God. God's consciousness is in all things and all things are perfect. Look around you and there God will be. No, not watching you, keeping track of your sins and mistakes but rather in a perfect state of being just as the tree or flowers are outside your own window. Remember, All is One and One is All. (Such a beautiful reality once fully grasped).
What do I think the purpose of life is? I cannot know any more than you know but I believe a major purpose in life is to gain empathy. This is, above all else, a great virtue and a quality that belongs to love. Indeed, without empathy, there can be no love.
Today and everyday, walk in love. Recognize yourself in all others and all others in yourself. After all, the saint and sinner, the wealthy and the poor person are all you, only in different circumstances. so make it a habit to say "I love you" silently to yourself even to the stranger who passes by (to the drug store clerk, your friend, relatives and the bum on the street) and, beyond all else, refuse to speak at all until you do this easy exercise and see what happens in your own life.
Strive to rid yourself of conceptions and ideologies and attempt to see things as they are without judging them or desiring them to be different. Be as much like Emerson's rose as you can while making kindness your goal. If you wish to converse with God, go inside and you will always find him/her there. What else do any of us need to know?
Refferences and Additional Reading
Hanh, Nhat Thich * The Mircles of Mindfulness *Beacon
Meyer Marvin & Richard Smith (Eds) * Ancient Christian Magic * Harper San Fransico
Hayward, Jeremy w. * Letters to Vennessa *Shambhala
Goswami with Richard E. Reedand Maggie Goswami * The Self-Aware Universe *Tacher Putman
Mislove, Jeffery * The Roots of Consciousness *Council Oak
Muller, Ernst * A History of Jewish Mysticism * Barnes and Noble
Teasdall, Wayne * The Mystic Heart * New World
Obrstien, Robert E (Ed.) * The Nature of Human Consciousness * Viking
Zukav, Gary * The Dancing Wu Li Masters * Perennial
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