Let’s take a look at the history of mysticism to find our roots and see how we had it, how and why we largely lost it, and to recognize that now we are in the midst of a rediscovery and new appreciation for the mystical, nondual, or contemplative mind (use whichever word you prefer; they are all pointing in the same direction).
Before 800 BC, it seems most people experienced their union with the Divine and Reality through myth, poetry, dance, music, fertility, and nature. Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) called this Pre-axial Consciousness. Although living in an often-violent world and focusing on survival, people still knew that they belonged to something cosmic and meaningful. They inherently participated in an utterly enchanted universe where the “supernatural” was everywhere. This was the pre-existent “church that existed since Abel,” spoken of by St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and the Second Vatican Council. Owen Barfield (1898-1997) called this state of mind “original participation.”  It is reflected in most of the indigenous religions to this day. As Pope John Paul II said, Native Americans have known from the beginning what it’s taking us Catholics a long time to realize: that the Great Spirit has always been available and loveable in the natural world.  Continue reading “Richard Rohr on The Evolution of Mystic Consciousness”
Here is a video presentation of one of Rumi’s amazing mystical poems.
‘December 17 is the 740th anniversary of the death of the Sufi poet Rumi, whose Persian writings are considered to be a pinnacle of mystical art that transcends religious, cultural and ethnic boundaries. Also known as Mevlana, he died on December 17, 1273 in Konya, Turkey, where he is entombed below the Mevlana Museum.
Rumi’s death anniversary is known in Turkey as Wedding Night, or Seb-i Arus in Turkish, which references the idea that when a Sufi saint dies, he or she is believed to have attained union with beloved God. Therefore, it is an occasion of celebration rather than mourning and Sufis gather together to recite poetry and prayers, and whirl in tribute.’
Read more about it on Huffington Post website.
Mystical moments may be described as a kind of emancipation. If it isn’t an experience of newfound freedom, I don’t think it is an authentic God experience. God is always bigger than you imagined or expected or even hoped for. When you see people going to church and becoming smaller instead of larger, you have every reason to question whether the practices or sermons or sacraments or liturgies are opening them to an authentic God experience.
Bernard McGinn says that mysticism is “a consciousness of the presence of God that by definition exceeds description and . . . deeply transforms the subject who has experienced it.” If it does not deeply change the lifestyle of the person—their worldview, their economics, their politics, their ability to form community—you have no reason to believe it is genuine mystical experience. It is often just people with an addiction to religion itself, which is not that uncommon.
Mysticism is not just a change in some religious ideas or affirmations, but it is an encounter of such immensity that everything else shifts in position. Mystics have no need to exclude or eliminate others precisely because they have experienced radical inclusivity of themselves into something much bigger. They do not need to define themselves as enlightened or superior, whereas a mere transfer of religious assertions often makes people even more elitist and more exclusionary.
True mystics are glad to be common, ordinary, servants of all, and “just like everybody else,” because any need for specialness has been met once and for all. Continue reading “Richard Rohr on Mystical Love”
The Christian History newsletter is dedicated to Brother Lawrence (1614-1691), un unlikely famous mystical writer. His book Practicing the Presence of God is read and appreciated by Christians in all traditions.
He was a simple brother in a Catholic monastery (he has never received the tonsure, as a monk, because he felt he is not worthy of that), serving most of his life in the kitchen of the monastery, although he hated cooking. However, he was happy and contented, because his life motto was “I pick up a straw for the glory of God”. His very holistic, down to earth type of spirituality is still very attractive to many Christians today. Please read HERE the feature article.
Continue reading “Brother Lawrence and the Practice of the Presence of God”
You are wisdom, uncreated and eternal,
the supreme first cause, above all being,
sovereign Godhead, sovereign goodness,
watching unseen the God-inspired
wisdom of Christian people.
Continue reading “A Prayer for Wisdom”