Dreaming and Reality...

When you are dreaming, you believe that the dream is real until you awaken.. This is the dream that you call reality,, Awakening from this dream is called Enlightenment.. Why do you think that thousands of people have written books and started spiritual schools to speak of this experience.. The ego keeps you in the prison of belief in this illusion as being real, so that it may continue to survive.. the ego is energy and false intelligence that exists as the Anti-Christ.. It is the Temptor.. It is a necessary evil in the beginning of Awakening, as it provides You, the opportunity to overcome the temptations of ego and duality.. the ego provides the division between itself and God.. This provides the opportunity for God to See God.. Although the ego and the material plane are just an illusion, It is still filled with the Spirit of God.. Perhaps, when we finally Realize Non-Ego, we will understand that this whole experience of life,death,and non-reality was the Play of God...........namaste, thomas

What is Advaita Vedanta?...

Introduction: The fundamental knowledge is Atman is Brahman. The Atman being the "Self" and Brahman means the "All Soul" or the Universal Consciousness. Vedas speak of mystical union as the realization that Atman is Brahman.

Advaita is a Sanskrit word that literally means "not two". Modern interpretation of Advaita is sometimes presented as "Nonduality" and even revised as the end of the Vedas or "Nonduality beyond knowledge." Another name for the study of Advaita is Jnani (knowledge) Yoga. In the 20th century, modern Advaita masters Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj broke away from the traditional, scripture driven path and they spoke directly from their experience.

Among the variety of reinterpretations, to find the most common understanding, I searched Encyclopædia Britannica:

7th-century thinker Gaudapada, author of the
Mandukya-karika, argues that there is no duality; the
mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya
("illusion"); and only nonduality (advaita) is the
final truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance
of illusion. There is no becoming, either of a thing
by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There
is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only
the atman (all-soul).

The medieval Indian philosopher Sankara, (700?-750?),
builds further on Gaudapada's foundation, principally
in his commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, the
Sari-raka-mimamsa-bhasya ("Commentary on the Study of
the Self "). Sankara in his philosophy does not start
from the empirical world with logical analysis but,
rather, directly from the absolute (Brahman). If
interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanisads teach
the nature of Brahman. In making this argument, he
develops a complete epistemology to account for the
human error in taking the phenomenal world for real.
Fundamental for Sankara is the tenet that the Brahman
is real and the world is unreal. Any change, duality,
or plurality is an illusion. The self is nothing but
Brahman. Insight into this identity results in
spiritual release. Brahman is outside time, space, and
causality, which are simply forms of empirical
experience. No distinction in Brahman or from Brahman
is possible. (Encyclopædia Britannica).

Death is a Tax...

Death is a tax the soul has to pay for having had a name and a form.

Bowl of Saki, August 28, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:

All that is constructed is subject to destruction; all that is composed must be
decomposed; all that is formed must be destroyed; that which has birth has
death. But all this belongs to matter; the spirit which is absorbed by this
formation of matter or by its mechanism lives, for spirit cannot die.

That which the soul has borrowed he must give back when it has done its work; it
was borrowed for a certain time and for a certain purpose. When the purpose is
fulfilled, when the time is finished, then every plane asks for that which the
soul has borrowed from it, and one cannot help but give it back to that plane.
It is this process which is called assimilation. Since man is born greedy and
selfish he has taken all things willingly, enthusiastically -- he gives them
back grudgingly and calls it death. ...

Death is nothing but the taking off of one garb and giving it back to the plane
from which it was borrowed, for the condition is this: one cannot take the garb
of the lower plane to the higher plane. The soul is only released when it is
willing -- or compelled -- to give its garb to the plane it has taken it from.
It is this which releases the soul to go on in its travel. And as it proceeds to
a higher plane, after its stay there it must again give its garb back and be
purified from it in order to go further. ... This knowledge also throws a light
upon the question of death. Death is not really death; it is only a passing
stage, it is only a change, as changing clothes.

Awakening by Adyashanti...

Awakening is when you realize that what you thought you were was nothing more than a dream, and you perceive the reality outside the dream, what’s dreaming the dream of you. It’s not just a mystical experience. It is actually realizing the underlying unity of all things.
Simply because you’ve had an awakening, however, does not mean you stay awake. Enlightenment, in simple terms, is when you stay awake. If the awakening is abiding, that’s enlightenment. And most awakenings are not abiding — at least, not initially.
Enlightenment has nothing to do with the head or the heart. Certainly, the head and the heart tend to open up, but that’s a byproduct. Enlightenment is actually waking up from the head and from the heart. It’s waking up from the dream of “me” and seeing the oneness of all things. That’s what I mean by “reality”: that oneness. The truth is that you are that unity. You are not simply a particular person in a particular body with a particular personality; you are that one reality, which manifests itself as all these seemingly separate things.
Spiritual awakening doesn’t happen because you master some spiritual technique. There are lots of skillful meditators who are not awake. Awakening happens when you stop bullshitting yourself into continual nonawakening. It’s very easy to use disciplines to avoid reality rather than to encounter it. A true spirituality will have you continually facing your illusions and all the ways you avoid reality. Spiritual practice may be an important means of confronting yourself, or it may be a means of avoiding yourself; it all depends on your attitude and intention.
So life became my practice, and mistakes became my teacher. And once again I experienced failure after failure. It was humbling, even humiliating. I put myself in situations where my self-image would get crushed. Looking back I could easily say, “Boy, I made a lot of dumb mistakes.” But I needed to do it that way. I wasn’t going to let go of those identities on the meditation cushion. It would have been nice if it could have been contained in this safe environment — bowing and meditating and meeting with the teacher — but it often doesn’t work that way. Spirituality is much more of a bloody mess than we like to admit.

JOSEPH MURPHY: THE POWER OF YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS MIND:...

EXPERIMENTS BY PSYCHOLOGISTS: Innumerable experiments by psychologists and others on persons in the hypnotic state have shown that the subconscious mind is incapable of making selections and comparison which are necessary for a reasoning process. They have shown repeatedly that your subconscious min will accept any suggestion, however false. Having once accepted any suggestion, it responds according to the nature of the suggestion given. (Durbin: Note that Murphy writes "having accepted the suggestion". The subject will not accept any statement that is against his/her moral or personal standards. Exceptions to this would be consider "brainwashing" and therefore not a normal use of hypnosis.)

To illustrate the amenability of your subconscious mind to suggestion, if a practiced hypnotist suggest to one of his subjects that he is Napoleon Bonaparte, or even a cat or a dog, he will act out the part with inimitable accuracy. His personality becomes changed for the time being. He believes himself to be what the operator tells him he is.

A skilled hypnotist may suggest to one of his students in the hypnotic state that his back itches, to another that is nose is bleeding, to another that he is a marble statue, to another that his is freezing and the temperature is below zero. Each one will follow out the line of his particular suggestion, totally oblivious to all his surrounds which do not pertain to his idea. (The reactions are true but it has been my experience that there is a part of the mind that knows that it can step out of the situation whenever he/she wants to. I do not do stage hypnosis, but have been a subject on a few occasions. I remember being told that the air conditioning system had gone out and it was very hot, I got hot then he said that the air conditioning system had been fixed but now was getting cold and colder and I got colder and colder. Toward the end of the program, he told me that I was a male striper and that I would start to strip when the music started. I was just about to say, "O no, I am not", but before I could speak, he said, "But you will strip symbolically". I then when through all the motions of stripping.)

These simple illustrations portray clearly the difference between your conscious reasoning mind and your subconscious mind which is impersonal, non-selective, and accepts as true whatever your conscious mind believes is true. Hence, the importance of selecting thoughts, ideas, and premises which bless, heal, inspire, and fill your soul with joy. (p 32)

Your subconscious mind cannot argue controversially. Hence, if you give it wrong suggestions, it will accept them as true and will proceed to bring them to pas as conditions, experiences, and events. All thinks that have happened to you are based on thoughts impressed on your subconscious mind through belief. (p 34) (Durbin: The subconscious can not tell the difference between imagination and reality. Whatever the subconscious accepts as true, it directs you to act as if it is true whiter it is or not.)

The dictionary says that a suggestion is the act or instance of putting something into one’s mind, and the mental process by which the thought or idea is entertained, accepted, or put into effect. You must remember that a suggestion cannot impose something on the subconscious mind against the will of the conscious mind. In other words, your conscious mind has the power to reject the suggestion given. A suggestion has no power in and of itself except it is accepted mentally by you. (p 35)

You must make certain to give your subconscious only suggestions which heal, bless, elevate, and inspire you in all your ways. Remember that your subconscious mind cannot take a joke. It takes your word. (p 36) How she restored her memory: A woman was in the habit of saying to herself, "I am losing my memory." She reversed the procedure and practiced induced autosuggestion several times a day as follows: "My memory from today on is improving in every department. I shall always remember whatever I need to know at every moment of time and point of space. The impressions received will be clear and definite. I shall retain them automatically and with ease. Whatever I wish to recall will immediately present itself in the correct form in my mind. I am improving rapidly every day, and very soon my memory will be better than it has ever been before." At the end of three weeks, her memory was back to normal, and she was delighted. (p 37)

The suggestions of others in themselves have absolutely no power whatsoever over you except the power that you give the though your own thoughts. You have to give your mental consent; you have to entertain the thought. Then, it becomes your thought and you do the thinking. Remember, you have to capacity to choose. Choose life! Chose love! Choose health! (p 40-41)

Think good and good follows. Think evil and evil follows. You are what you think all day long. (p 43)

The power of your subconscious mind is enormous. It inspires you, it guides you and it reveals you names, facts and scenes from the storehouse of your memory. Your subconscious starts you heartbeat, controls the circulation of your blood, regulates your digestion, assimilation and elimination. When you eat a piece of bread, your subconscious transmutes it into tissue, muscle, bone and blood. This process is beyond the ken of the wisest man who walks the earth. Your subconscious mind controls all the vital processes and functions of your body and knows the answer to all problems.

Your subconscious mind never sleeps, never rests. It is always on the job. You can discover the miracle working power of your subconscious by plainly stating to your subconscious prior to sleep that you wish a certain specific thing accomplished. You will be delighted to discover that your forces within you will be released, leading to the desired results. (p 45)

(While lecturing in India, Dr. Murphy states) I chatted with a visiting surgeon from Bombay. He told me about Dr. James Esdaille, a Scotch surgeon, who worked in Bengal before ether of other modern methods of anesthesia were discovered. Between 1843 and 1846, Dr. Esdaile performed about four hundred major operations of all kinds. Such as amputations, removal of tumors and cancerous growths, as well as operations on the eye, ear and throat. All operations were conducted under mental anesthesia only. This Indian doctor at Rishikesh informed me that postoperative mortality rate of patients operated on by Dr. Esdaile were extreme low, probably two or three percent. Patients felt no pain, and there were no death during the operations.

Dr. Esdaille suggested to the subconscious minds of al his patients, who were in the hypnotic state, that no infection or septic condition would develop. You may remember that this was before Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister and others who pointed out the bacterial origin of disease and causes of infection due to unsterilized installments and virulent organisms.

The Indian surgeon said that the reason for the low morality rate and the general absence of infection, which was reduced to a minimum, was undoubtably due to the suggestions of Dr. Esdaille to the subconscious minds of the patients. They responded according to the nature of the suggestion. (p 46) Just keep your conscious mind busy with the expectation of the best, and make sure the thoughts you habitually think are based on whatsoever things are lovely, true, just and of good report. Begin now to take care of your conscious mind, knowing in our heart and soul that your subconscious mind is always expressing, reproducing and manifesting according to your habitual thinking. (p 51)

"What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believed that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Mark 11:24. Note the difference in tenses. The inspired writer tells us to believe and accept as true the fact that our desire has already been accomplished and fulfilled, that it is already completed and that its realization will follow as a thing in the future. (p 56) The most wonderful thing to know is this: Imagine the end desired and feel its reality; then the infinite life principle will respond to your conscious choice and your conscious request. This is the meaning of "believe you have received, and you shall receive." (p 67) In prayer therapy you consciously choose a certain idea, mental picture or plan which you desire to experience. You realize your capacity to convey this idea or mental image to your subconscious by feeling the reality of the state assumed. As you remain faithful in your mental attitude, your prayer will be answered. Prayer therapy is a definite mental action for a definite specific purpose. (p 68)

You avoid all conflict between your desires and imagination by entering into a drowsy, sleepy state which brings all effort to a minimum. (Durbin: This the state of Self-Hypnosis) The conscious mind is submerged to a great extent when in the sleep state. The best time to impregnate your subconscious is prior to sleep. (Durbin: The time frame just before you go to sleep is a natural state of hypnosis) The reason for this is that the highest degree of outcropping of the subconscious occurs prior to sleep and just after you awake. In this state the negative thoughts and imagery which tend to neutralize your desire present acceptance by your subconscious mind no longer present themselves. When you imagine the reality of the fulfilled desire and feel the thrill of accomplishment, your subconscious brings about the realization of your desire. (p 102)

When your mind is relaxed and you accept an idea, your subconscious goes to execute the idea. Imagination is your most powerful faculty.(p 103) Imagine what is lovely and of good report. You are what you imagine yourself to be. You avoid conflict between your conscious and subconscious in the sleepy state. Imagine the fulfillment of your desire over and over agin prior to sleep. Sleep in peace and wake in joy. (p 104)

Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman philosopher and sage, "A man’s life what his thoughts make of it." (Ralph Waldo) Emerson, American’s philosopher, said, "A man is what he thinks all day long." The thoughts you habitually entertain in your mind have the tendency to actualize themselves in physical conditions. (p164)

The kingdom of happiness is in your though and feeling. Too many people have the idea that it takes something artificial to produce happiness... The truth is that happiness is a mental and spiritual state. (p 164)

Your subconscious mind is a recording machine which reproduces your habitual thinking. Think good of the other, and you are actually thinking good of yourself. A hateful or resentful thought is a mental poison. Do not think ill of another for to do so is to think ill of yourself. You are the only thinker in your universe, and your thoughts are creative. (p 177)

The other person cannot annoy you or irritate you except you permit him. Your thought is creative: you can bless him. If someone call you a skunk, you have the freedom to say to the other, "God’s peace full you soul." Love is the answer to getting along with others, love is understanding, good will, and respecting the divinity of the other. (p 179)

Forgiveness of others is essential to mental peace and radiant health. You must forgive everyone who has ever hurt you, if you want perfect health and happiness. Forgive yourself by getting your thoughts in harmony with divine law and order. You cannot forgive yourself completely until you have "forgiven others firs. To refuse to forgive yourself is nothing more or less than spiritual pride or ignorance.

In the psychosomatic field of medicine today, it is being constantly stressed that resentment, condemnation of others, remorse, and hostility are behind a host of maladies ranging from arthritis to cardiac disease. They point out that these sick people, who were hurt, mistreated, deceived, or injured, were full of resentment and hatred for those who hurt them. This caused inflamed and festering wounds in their subconscious minds. There is only one remedy. They have to cut out and discard their hurts, and the one and only sure way is by forgiving. (p 186)

Whatever mental picture, backed by faith, you behold in your conscious mind, your subconscious mind will bring to pass. (p 199)

It is said that fear is man’s greatest enemy. Fear is behind failure, sickness, and poor human relations. Millions of people are afraid of the past, the future, old age, insanity, and death. (p201) Fear is a negative thought in your mind. Supplant it with a constructive thought. Fear has killed millions. Confidence is greater than fear. Nothing is more powerful than faith in God and the good. (p 209) Love cast out fear. Love is an emotional attachment to the good things in life. Fall in love with honesty, integrity, justice, good will, and success. Live in the joyous expectancy of the best, and invariably the best will come to you. Normal fear is good. Abnormal fear is very bad and destructive. To constantly indulge in fear thoughts results in abnormal fear, obsessions, and complexes. To fear something persistently causes a sense of panic and terror. (p 210)

The Soul...

I believe as does the author Joseph Murphy that the soul is the sub-conscious
mind.. It records everything and forgets nothing.. It is neither good or bad..
It accepts every thought that enters the conscious mind and forms the
personality of the person..It is our duty to train the sub-conscious mind to
accept only thoughts of Love and Unselfishness.. these thoughts are non-ego and
create the personality that is called "Holy".. Holiness is simply Humility or
what is called non-ego.. Jesus taught humility by washing the feet of His
Apostles.. The training of the sub-conscious mind (soul) begins through
Awareness of Thoughts and Actions.. Just by Watching the mind, we eliminate the
thoughts of ego.. Who is doing this Watching?.. The ego is not watching itself
and does not want to eliminate itself.. So, the Watcher is the Real You, Divine
Consciousness.. The ego dissolves because it cannot survive within the Presence
of Divinity.. This is how Jesus was able to cast out evil spirits (egos') from
other humans.. Once You have left this illusion of reality and have entered
complete Reality without any trace of ego , then the soul is no longer needed
and is dissolved within Divine Consciousness...........namaste, thomas

Known as Thomas...

The person known as Thomas is not my Self, It is only a nomenclature or an identification number as a means of division from others and God.. This individuality is an illusion of the false ego and belief in this individuality keeps us from the Truth that We and God are One.. Once this false belief is eliminated by dissolving the belief in the false self, We may proclaim as Jesus did;" I and the Father are One".. your personality is a reflection of the treatment of you by others , the teaching that you receive from others, and your thoughts and memories.. As Gautama said;" You are your thoughts".. God is Spirit and Unselfish Love.. These two main qualities are experienced by those that surrender the belief in the false ego and return to Reality.. This experience is called Enlightenment or Unity with Divine Consciousness.. This is also called "Being Born Again", as You experience the feeling of just being born at that moment of Realization of non-division of Reality.. The image of God is Spirit and Love.. Since God is everything that does Exist, there is nothing that is not God.. Therefore, We and God are One and have always been One, but, our free will can counteract this Truth and leave us in the state of ignorance and pain, which is called the belief in the separate ego............namaste, thomas

Oil and Water...

Oil
and water do not mix.. Ego and Non-ego do not mix.. You must be One or the
other.. Since you can dissolve and even eliminate the ego means that the ego is
not everlasting.. you cannot dissolve or eliminate God means that God is
everlasting.. Which are You?.. that which is able to be dissolved or that which
cannot be dissolved..................namaste, thomas

Fear Prevents Divine Unity...

Fear is what prevents you from surrendering your very life to God, which is what
you must do to Enter Enlightenment or what is called Mystical Union, it is the fear
of the ego not existing.. This is the Greatest Fear that prevents you from Union
with God.. This is why the Mystical Path Requires the most Courage that you can
ever muster.. "This is called the "Dark night of the Soul".. It is the struggle
between the ego and God..The Anti-Christ against The Christ.. you feel comfort
in communing with God within , as long as the ego stays alive. but, this is not
possible.. The ego must be offered in sacrifice to God if you wish to Know and
Feel God.. There is no other way..The ego is anti-love and cannot enter the
Divine Love that is called God....I desire that you succeed in this
Truth........namaste, thomas

Was Jesus a Mystic?...

Exploring the the Relationship Between Mysticism and Religion

A Story
by Laura Ellen Shulman


A young man has his own very special relationship with God - an internal mystical connection with his Source and the Source of all. This is a relationship through which wisdom, knowledge and insight is gained regarding the nature of God, human nature, life in this world and how human beings are related to and ought relate to God and each other. This young man puts this understanding into practice in his own life. He loves others as he loves himself because he knows everyone is united as one in God. He has a unique and refreshing view on life. He is happy and at peace and this shows in his very being.
People are attracted to him by the love he shows for them and the insightful things he has to say. They listen and try to understand but very few of them have the benefit of the same relationship he has with God. It is this relationship that makes the difference between hearing what he has to say and truly understanding it. ("He who has ears, let him hear")
People try to act as he acts. They take his verbal lessons and the example of his life as guidelines for living a moral life and as practices that will lead to spiritual enlightenment. They too wish to relate to God as he relates to God. What these people do not realize is that acting as if one has this relationship/experience with God does not necessarily result in the experience. What they do not realize it that the way this man acts and what he knows is a result of the special relationship he has with God; it is not what caused that relationship.

How did our young man acquire his "very special relationship with God" in the first place? Was it initiated by God or by this man? Was it accidentally stumbled upon? Approached gradually? Was it perhaps just in his nature? Any or all combinations of these or other methods? Who knows. Maybe even the mystic does not understand how it all came to be. But it is something wonderful that he wishes others might share in and so he tries to share with others what he does know.
However, try as he might, the mystic cannot transfer his relationship with God to another through words and deeds. He is constrained by the words and imagery familiar to those of his culture. He can do little more than speak in metaphor and parable. But the folks he is speaking to cannot know where metaphor leaves off and literal explanation begins so they become confused and debate what it is the mystic meant.

"I and the Father are one"
- a simple statement of mystical union with God.

Folks cannot conceive of such a thing as humanly possible. These mystics are so rare that no one he meets has even encountered another like him before and so they begin to think he is unique, that he is not really human, that they cannot possibly become like him. He must have been born like this. Rumor and misunderstanding spread and he is turned from being a simple "carpenter's son" into a teacher and then into a potential king, a prophet and finally, a God. "We cannot hope to be like him," they say, "because we are mere mortals and he is divine, a god incarnate."

When this man dies, all that is left of this relationship between a single human being and God is words and deeds - creed and ritual practices. This religion is all the outside manifestations of an inner experience. But it is an empty shell with no guarantee of becoming the real religion of the heart - the original religion of the mystic who unintentionally started it all. One person's personal religion becomes the religion of a community but something is missing from it. Practices and creed can be passed down from generation to generation, from person to person, but mystical experience cannot be passed down. Mystical experience can only be born anew within each heart. ("You must be born again")

"You are not far from the Kingdom of God"

"The Kingdom of God is within you"

But you are either there or not. No one else can get you there. Ultimately it all lies within you to be open to it. No minister, no guru, no ritual does it for you. These are only catalysts for those who are already "not far from the Kingdom of God." How to get "not far from" it? There is no universal formula. Some things work better for some folks, others for others. And most times none of it works at all because the majority of people pursue the externals of their religion without any notion that there is something more before and beyond the surface. Even if they do realize there is something missing from their religious life, they have no idea what it is. No words of explanation from someone who does know can tell them because that missing bit is all internal, beyond words to express. It is ineffable. To understand what it is one must know for oneself what it is.

Mystics are human but what most humans do not realize is that humans are one with God - that it is in the nature of all humanity to know this special relationship with God. It is, however, not a relationship found in the practice and creed of superficial ritual and religion. It is a relationship found only in the heart.
The practice of religion is a result of the mystical relationship, not the cause of it. External religion develops out of our internal relationship with God, not the other way ‘round. Religion is the way of life of one who knows God - the way of life of the mystic - and it can take any form. Religion without that mystical connection to God is not true religion. The externals of religion - that which can be observed in the world - have little to do directly with religion of the heart, with the direct cognition of God - the Source and Unity of all that is.

Responsibility...

In the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence....
Thomas Merton

Christian and Non-Christian Mystics of the West...

CHRISTIAN MYSTICS AND MOVEMENTS
(1) Early Church

Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-c.107): Christocentric mystic. For him Christ's death
and resurrection take on mystical significance.

St. Polycarp (c.69-c.155): Had a mystical vision which foretold his martyrdom by
fire.

Justin Martyr (c.105-c.165): First Apology. Used Greek philosophy as the
stepping-stone to Christian theology. The mystical conclusions that some Greeks
arrived at, pointed to Christ. Influences: Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus,
Aristotle, Stoicism.

Irenaeus (c.125-c.202): Revolution and Overthrow of False Knowledge (or Against
Heresies). Irenaeus' work was directed against Gnosticism. He emphasized John's
gospel, particularly the Logos, which became the voice of God that revealed
itself to all people.

Tertullian (c.155-c.222): To Martyrs, Apology, Against the Valentinians, Against
Marcion, On the Soul. Emphasized a faith that was a contradiction to reason. "I
believe because it is absurd." First to use trinitarian (three-in-one)
formulation for God.

Origen (c.185-254): On Principles, Against Celsus. Studied under Clement of
Alexandria, and probably also Ammonius Saccus (Plotinus' teacher). He
Christianized and theologized neo-Platonism. Each soul has individually fallen
(emanation), and must find its way back to God (return) through the help of the
Logos, Christ. Origen looks quite Gnostic at times.

St. Antony (c.251-356): The Letters of St. Antony the Great. Early hermit or
solitary monk, and a model for later monasticism, particularly of his eremetical
type.

St. Athanasius (c.296-373): Against the Gentiles, Apology Against the Arians.
Bishop of Alexandria (328-73), wrote a Life of Antony, and was an influence on
later Eastern Orthodox mysticism.

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389): Forty-five Sermons. One of the Cappadocians,
early church fathers.

Basil the Great (c.330-379): Longer Rules, Liturgy of St. Basil. One of the
Cappadocians, early church fathers. He gave a mystical orientation to the
monastic movement.

Gregory of Nyssa (c.335-c.398): Dialogue with his Sister Macrina concerning the
Resurrection. Believed that the universe existed as a harmonious order emanating
from God. One of the Cappadocians.

Augustine (354-430): De Trinitate, Confessions. Important source for much
mediaeval mysticism. Brings Platonism and Christianity together. He emphasizes
the soul's search for God, made possible by the illumination of the mind of God.
Influences: Plato, Plotinus.

(2) Mediaeval (Catholic and Orthodox) Church

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (writing c.500): The Celestial Hierarchy, the
Mystical Theology, and The Divine Names. Originates the distinction between
kataphatic and apophatic theology. Influences: Plotinus.

John Scotus Eriugena (c.810-c.877): Periphyseon. Eriugena translated
Pseudo-Dionysius from Greek into Latin. He holds that humans are a microcosm of
the universe. That which is shared, the essence of all things, is God.
Influences: Plotinus, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153): Sermons, De diligendo Deo, On the Love of God.
Cistercian mystic. Promoted a mystical vision of rhapsodic love, in which the
Church is described in erotic terms as the bride of Christ. His love-mysticism
had the tendency to be anti-intellectual, as in his disputes with Abelard.

William of St.-Thierry (c.1085-1148): Golden Letter, On the Contemplation of
God, On the Nature and Dignity of Love. A Cistercian contemporary of Bernard's,
William also emphasized love-mysticism, but with subtle differences from Bernard
in his use of Augustine.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179): Scivias, The Book of Divine Works, Letters.
Early German speculative mystic, reminiscent of Isaiah or Ezekiel at times. She
was greatly respected in her time, both for her writings as well as for her
music and art. Influences: Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux.

Victorines: Hugh of St. Victor (c.1096-c.1142), Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173):
On Sacraments. Hugh is the more important of the two. He argues for a close tie
between reason and mysticism.

Francis of Assisi (John Bernardone) (1182-1226): Canticle of the Sun. Founder of
the Franciscan order, which emphasized self-renunciation and poverty. Francis
approaches nature mysticism at times, particularly when he sees God in all
living things.

Albertus Magnus (1206-1280): The teacher of Thomas Aquinas. In the tradition of
Pythagoras, emphasized the essential unity of science and mysticism. Influences:
Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius.

Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268): The Seven modes of Sacred Love. Belgian
Cistercian mystic. Associated with the Beguines. Influences: Augustine.

Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207-1282): The Flowing Light of the Godhead. Strongly
feminine images in mysticism. Devotional mystic. Associated with the Beguines.
Influences: Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard, Gregory the Great.

Bonaventure (John Fidanza) (1217-1274): The Mind's Road to God, The Tree of
Life, The Life of St. Francis. Franciscan monk, and the architect of the
philosophical, theological, and mystical side of Francis' thought. Mysticism in
the Augustinian tradition. Influences: Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi,
Victorines.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1275): Summa Theologica, De Anima, many others.
Dominican monk and the greatest Catholic theologian and philosopher. Late in
life, he had a mystical experience which caused him to question his scholastic
past. Influences: Aristotle, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Eriugena.

Ramon Llull (c.1235-1315): Great Art, The Book of the Lover and the Beloved.
Franciscan. Legend has it that Llull wrote 200 works, was an alchemist and a
magician. He also worked on the logic of science. The "Great Art" is the
scientific and mystical calculation of the interrelations of all things.
Influences: Bonaventure.

Angela of Foligno (c.1248-1309): The Book of Divine Consolations of the Blessed
Angela of Foligno. Mysticism is based on the facts of Christ's life and death.
Influences: Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure.

Marguerite Porete (d. 1310): The Mirror of Simple Souls.

Meister Eckhart (1260-1327/8): Sermons, Parisian Questions and Prologues. [Some
English-language selections from his writings are available.] Dominican monk.
One of the most important early German speculative mystics. Eckhart is the first
of the so-called "Rhineland" mystics. The Sermons were in German, the academic
works in Latin. Influences: Pseudo-Dionysius.

Hadewijch (Adelwip) of Brabant/Antwerp (13th century): Letters, Poems in
Stanzas, Visions, Poems in Couplets. Belgian Beguine. One of the greatest
exponents of love mysticism. Influences: Plato, Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius,
Gregory of Nyssa, Richard of St. Victor.

Jan van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381): The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage
(Spiritual Espousals), The Sparkling Stone, The Book of Supreme Truth. Flemish
mystic, sometimes considered one of the Rhineland mystics. Outlines the stages
of the mystical life. Influences: Eckhart, Hadewijch.

Henry Suso (1295-1366): The Little Book of Truth, The Little Book of Wisdom
(Horologium Sapientiae). A Rhineland mystic. Influences: Eckhart.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): Eastern Orthodox mystic. Influences:
Pseudo-Dionysius, Athanasius.

Johannes Tauler (1300-1361): Sermons. Rhineland mystic and Dominican. Tauler
emphasized the inner person rather than outer works, and because of this became
popular in Protestant circles in the Reformation, and later Pietism and
Romanticism. He was part of the same community that produced the Theologia
Germanica. Influences: Eckhart, Mechthild of Magdeburg.

Anonymous (c.1350-1400): Theologia Germanica or Theologia Deutsch. Important
influence in the German mystical tradition. Luther rediscovered and popularized
it. Influences: Augustine, Eckhart, Tauler.

Richard Rolle (1300-1349): The Fire of Love. Part of the "English school" of
late mediaeval mysticism. Emphasizes the "physicality" of the mystical
experience (feeling heat, seeing colours, etc.).

Birgitta (Brigida) Suecica of Sweden (1302-1373): Ascetic mystic. Heavily
involved in political activity. Influences: St. Francis of Assisi.

Anonymous (c.1349-c.1395): The Cloud of Unknowing, [as modernized, see also
early text] The Book of Privy Council. Part of the "English school" of late
mediaeval mysticism. The emphasis on "unknowing" God is part of
Pseudo-Dionysius' apophatic theology. Influences: Pseudo-Dionysius.

Walter Hilton (d. 1395): The Scale (Ladder) of Perfection, Epistle to a Devout
Man. An Augustinian monk, Hilton was an English mystic.

Julian of Norwich (1342-1413?): Showings or Revelations of Divine Love. Julian
was part of the "English school" of late mediaeval mysticism. Mystical
experience that came at the point of death. The experience came with healing,
and she devoted her life to understanding her vision. Influences:
Pseudo-Dionysius, Aquinas (?).

Margery Kempe (c.1413): Mainly known as the biographer of Julian of Norwich.

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380): Il Dialogo. Italian. Mystic; advisor to Pope
Gregory XI. Influences: Augustine.

Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): The Imitation of Christ. Augustinian monk. Finest
expression of devotio moderna, modern spirituality, which downplays the
Rhineland mystics' concern with contemplation and speculative theology, and
stresses the practice of simple piety and asceticism. Influences: Eckhart.

Nicolaus of Cusa (Cusanus, Nikolaus Krebs) (1401-1464): The Vision of God
(1453), De Docta Ignorantia. German mystic. Part of the revival of Platonism in
the Renaissance. Cusanus was a speculative mystic who emphasized the
incomprehensibility and paradoxicality of God. Influences: Plotinus,
Pseudo-Dionysius, Eckhart.

St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510): Life and Doctrines, Treatise on Purgatory.
Mysticism spurred in part by the abuse and neglect by her husband. Her trauma
becomes mystical as she argues that purgatory is a stage on the mystical path,
the final purification of the effects of self-love.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582): Life, by Herself; The Way of Perfection; The
Interior Castle. Spanish Carmelite nun. Formed the Discalced (Barefoot)
Carmelites, with St. John of the Cross. Is very important for describing the
stages of the mystical journey. Influences: Augustine.

St. John of the Cross (Juan de Yepes) (1542-1591): Dark Night of the Soul and
Ascent of Mt. Carmel. Spanish mystic. (Discalced Carmelite) Both John and Teresa
emphasize mysticism as union with God, attainable only in the denial of the
self. Influences: Teresa of Avila.

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600): Hermetic philosopher, one of the most important
philosophers of the Renaissance. Bruno advocated a kind of nature mysticism
which had a strong scientific component to it.

St. Francois de Sales (1567-1622): The Introduction to the Devout Life
(Philothea), Treatise on the Love of God. French mystic. Devout Life is a
classic of French spirituality.

Louis Claude de Saint Martin (1743-1803): Theosophic Correspondence. While
technically Catholic, St. Martin's mysticism follows much closer in the
tradition of Boehme and other nature mystics. Influences: Boehme, Swedenborg,
Weigel, Law.

(3) Non-Catholic Christian Mystics (16th-18th century)

Martin Luther (1483-1546): While Luther had a well-known antipathy to mystics,
it is also true that there is the foundation of mystical life in his theology of
the heart, particularly in his early thought. Influences: Augustine, Theologica
Germanica.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535): De Occulta Philosophia
(1533). It is not clear whether to call Agrippa Catholic or not. He did not
embrace the Reformation, yet many of his themes are much closer to Weigel and
Boehme than to any Catholic mystic. His was a speculative mysticism, as much
interested in magic and alchemy as in spiritual life.

Paracelsus (Phillipus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim)
(1493-1541): Another speculative mystic more interested in medical alchemy,
astronomy, and natural philosophy.

Valentin Weigel (1533-1588): Know Thyself (1572). Weigel begins in the tradition
of Rhineland mysticism, and moves to the speculative nature mysticism of
Paracelsus. Influences: Eckhart, Tauler, Theologica Germanica, Paracelsus.

Jacob Boehme (1575-1624): Aurora (1612) [in German], Mysterium Pansophicum
(1620), Signature Rerum (1622), Mysterium Magnum (1623). Lusatian Lutheran. A
major figure in German mysticism. Influences: Eckhart, the Jewish Kabbalah,
Valentin Weigel, Renaissance alchemy, Paracelsus.

Christian Knorr von Rosenroth (1636-1689): Kabbala Denudata: The Kabbalah
Uncovered. A Christian Kabbalist. Influenced by the Kabbalah, Jacob Boehme.

Angelus Silesius (Johannes Scheffler 1624-1677): The Cherubic Wanderer
[Hungarian version] (1657-on). Mysticism in epigrammatic couplets.

George Fox (1624-1691): Founder of the Quakers. Influences: Boehme.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646-1716): Monadology. Usually thought of as a
rationalist philosopher rather than a mystic. However, while it may be too much
to call him a mystic, it is certainly possible to see the affinities between his
thought and that of Cusanus, Weigel, Boehme, and other nature mystics. His most
important contribution is to blend inner life with rationality; most Pietists
(and most scientists) assumed them to be mutually exclusive.

William Law (1686-1761): The Spirit of Love (1752-1754). English mystic. Law is
most famous for his devotional works (like A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy
Life), but later in his life he became interested in Jacob Boehme, and wrote
several mystical treatises.

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772): Many works, including Arcana Coelestia, Heaven
and Hell, The Heavenly City, Divine Love and Wisdom, etc. Swedenborg worked out
a detailed understanding of nature mysticism, applying it to everything from the
animal world to the spiritual world. He is one of the few mystics to have an
active following to the present.

Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702-1782): Nature mystic, Pietist. Influences:
Boehme, Weigel, Swedenborg.

Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803): Another person who is often not counted as
a mystic, but who followed Leibnitz in attempting to blend science and mysticism
into a kind of vitalism. Influences: Cusanus, Boehme, Leibnitz.

NOTE: After the 18th century, the influence of mysticism explodes in the
Romanticism of Germany, England, and America. True mystics, however, remain few.

JEWISH MYSTICS AND MYSTICISM

Kabbalah [See also links maintained by Colin Low.]

Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia (1240-1291): One of the founders of the Spanish
Kabbalah.

Moses ben Shem Tob de Leon (1250-1305): Zohar (The Book of Splendor). The most
important writer of the most important Kabbalist document.

Moses Cordovero (1522-1570): Pardes Rimmonim, Elimah Rabbati, Palmtree of
Deborah. Spanish Kabbalist. Cordovero laid the groundwork for the Kabbalist
ethical literature that proliferated in the 16th-18th centuries.

Isaac Luria (1534-1572): Founder of the Lurianic Kabbalah, which is the modern
version. Most modern Kabbalists follow Luria's version.

Hasidism

Israel ben Eliezer, Ba'al Shem Tov (Besht) (1700-1760): Founder of the Hasidim,
the sect appearing during the final stages of the Kabbalah's development.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the Ukraine (1772-1810): Martin Buber, the author of
I and Thou (Ich und Du), calls him the last Jewish mystic.

ISLAMIC MYSTICS AND MYSTICISM

Sufism has sources in sacred texts, the remembrance of Allah, and respect for
those who exemplify the straight path of Islam through and beyond explicit
injunctions of the law.

Hasan of Basra (d. 728): Early advocate of ascetic piety. Hasan emphasized the
Koran or Qur'an as the standard of right and wrong, which in turn emphasized the
fear of God.

al Hallaj (d. 922): The Ta wa-sin Tried and executed for claiming that God had
come to dwell in him.

al Farabi (ca. 873-950): Important philosopher as well as a mystic. Influences:
Plotinus.

al Ghazali (d. 1111): First-rate Aristotelean philosopher, who extended
Aristotle's theory of perception to argue for a kind of mystical perception that
goes beyond reason. Influences: Aristotle.

ADDENDUM: TERMS, TRENDS, AND MOVEMENTS WORTH KNOWING ABOUT

Alchemy: Alchemy, as often as not, assumes a Hermetic world view. Most people
know alchemy as the search for the principle of transmutation of baser metals
into higher (e.g., lead into gold). It is really broader, and represents the
attempt to understand the connections in the world. Paracelsus practiced a
medical alchemy, in which the body was a collection of balancing principles, and
illness meant that the balance was off. If you take away the spiritual
assumptions behind the alchemical forces, you have something remarkably close to
Newtonian physics.

Beghards: male counterparts to the Beguines. Fewer, and less of an issue for the
church at the time.

Beguines: group of female contemplatives, some of whom were mystics. They were
condemned as heretics because they represented a challenge to the church's
authority. Many important female mystics were associated with the Beguines,
although the group was not necessarily mystical (some thought that mystical
visions got in the way of practical life).

Gnosticism: Derived from Greek gnosis, knowledge. The Gnostic is one who claims
esoteric knowledge about God and the metaphysical structure of the universe.
There is a strong distinction between spirit and matter, God and the world. This
position sometimes resulted in asceticism (the spirit must be liberated from the
bonds of the flesh), and sometimes antinomianism (the material world is
inconsequential, so there is no point in resisting carnal impulses). Some later
mysticism (e.g. quietism) has the world-denying aspects of gnosticism.

Hermeticism: Followers of the legendary figure Hermes Trismegistus, or
thrice-great Hermes, reputed to be an Egyptian writer. Much nature mysticism of
the Renaissance found hermetic thought useful, because both understood the world
to be intrinsically interconnected, and only understandable once those
connections were understood. Hermes mixed with Pseudo-Dionysius was common fare
in Renaissance Italy, until Isaac Casaubon showed that Hermes was not who he
said he was.

Kabbalah: Jewish mysticism that has its roots earlier than Christianity, but
which flourishes in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The Kabbalah struggles with
the problem of how the human person can relate to a God who is totally other,
and how that God relates to creation.

Monasticism: Although the tendency to live apart for spiritual devotion has a
long history, it is closely tied to mysticism in the Middle Ages. The
disciplines associated with mysticism have their most rigorous application
there. The most famous orders are the Franciscans (St. Francis of Assisi,
Bonaventure), the Dominicans (Thomas Aquinas, Meister Eckhart), the Carmelites
(Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross), the Benedictines (St. Benedict), and
the Jesuits (St. Ignatius of Loyola). The orders exist to this day, and continue
to be places that encourage mysticism and contemplation (Thomas Merton was a
Trappist monk, for instance).

Rhineland Mysticism: The Rhineland mystics were German mystics that follow the
influence of Meister Eckhart. They tend to emphasize the search for the inner
ground of the soul.

Sufism: The mystical bent in Islam is supported by passages from the Koran (or
Qur'an) and is represented by the Sufis. Because there is a dominant emphasis on
prophetic activism and legalism in Islam, Muslim tradition may be misunderstood
as entirely inhospitable to mysticism. But the Sufi way, mainly transmitted
through "lay orders" that trace their origin to some influential spiritual
teacher, preserve a distinctively Islamic mysticism. Among these Sufi
subtraditions are the Naqshbandi and the Nimatullahi, but there are several
others. A few modern organizations (such as the International Sufi Movement led
by Hidayat Inayat Khan) claim descent from traditional Sufis but do not require
their followers to be Muslims. And recently the great Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi
has been rediscovered as a source of inspiration by poets Robert Bly and Coleman
Barks. However, most practicing Sufis affirm that they are Muslims.

IMPORTANT SECONDARY SOURCES

The secondary sources in mysticism are quite varied. Sometimes whole works are
devoted to the subject; sometimes chapters of quite unexpected works will be on
mysticism. More general reflections on mysticism can be found as introductions
or appendices to works on particular mystics or chapters in philosophies or
psychologies of religion. And, many works on mysticism that seem to be
reflections on the nature of mysticism turn out to be anthologies of writings of
various mystics. Compounding the problem is the fact that the word "mysticism"
has been used for all sorts of experiences, philosophical positions, personality
types, writings, or whatever. Where to go?

Well, here are my favorites. Of course, this is highly selective, not to mention
somewhat idiosyncratic. I will start with the good general bibliographies first
-- consulting these will lead you to other things. You will have to find
bibliographies for individual mystics yourself (come see me on this; I might be
able to help). In the "General Secondary Sources" section, I have not included
several fine works that reflect on mysticism in general from the point of view
of a particular mystic (except for von Huegel's work, that is). Most of these
you can find by looking for the particular mystic.

(1) Bibliographies

Bowman, Mary Ann. Western mysticism: A guide to the basic works. Chicago:
American Library Association, 1978. ~~ A very good work, to 1978. It is well
organized, and has a good index. It is better than Sharma & Arndt, although both
are quite old.

CD-ROM Indices -- Modern Languages Association (MLA) Index, Philosopher's Index,
PsychLit Index, Religion Index. ~~ All of these will produce more references
than you can use, if you look either under "mysticism" or under a particular
mystic's name, or under the name of a movement (e.g. "Beguine"). These indices
have the virtue of also giving you abstracts. . . .

Jones, C., Wainwright, G., Yarnold, E., eds. The study of spirituality. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1986. ~~ Each entry comes with a short bibliography.
This is a good place to start if you want information on a particular
individual.

McGinn, Bernard. The foundations of mysticism. New York: Crossroad Press, 1991.
~~ McGinn has a great bibliography in the back of this book. More on McGinn
later.

Sharma, Umesh and Arndt, John. Mysticism: A select bibliography. Waterloo, Ont.:
Waterloo Lutheran University, 1973. ~~ This bibliography goes well beyond
Western mysticism. At over 1500 entries, it is quite good (although of course,
still selective, given the immense amount of material they could have included).
There are only two real drawbacks: it is hard to find . . . , and it is over 20
years old (a lot has happened in theory of mysticism since 1973). While the
entries are not organized under headings, there is an index at the back. A good
resource.

Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism, 12th edition. New York: Meridian Books, 1955. ~~
Underhill lists texts, translations, and studies for many different mystics,
quite a number not included in my list.

(2) Biographies

Encyclopedia of philosophy, Macmillan and Free Press, 1967. ~~ It will not have
all the mystics listed above, but only those that are clearly philosophically
significant. However, what it does have is well done.

Ferguson, John. An illustrated encyclopedia of mysticism and the mystery
religions. New York: Seabury Press, 1977. ~~ Although sometimes a bit sloppy
about its characterizations (I think it buys into the hype a bit too much), this
is a good quick reference for people, movements, and ideas.

Jones, C., Wainwright, G., Yarnold, E., eds. The study of spirituality. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1986. ~~ A good resource on the history of
spirituality, with dozens of entries by major writers on important people,
movements, and concepts.

Reese, W. L., Dictionary of philosophy and religion. Humanities Press, 1980. ~~
Very brief entries on virtually all the people mentioned here.

(3) General Secondary Sources

Almond, Philip. Mystical experience and religious doctrine: An investigation of
the study of mysticism in world religions. Berlin and New York: Mouton, 1982. ~~
Almond focusses on the interpretation of mystical experience, and does a good
critique of different thinkers.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus as mother. Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1982. ~~ A classic on mysticism and women in the High Middle Ages.

Carmody, Denise L. & John T. Carmody. Mysticism: Holiness east and west. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1996. ~~ A breezy overview of mysticism around the
world. As with most works of this sort, the further the term mysticism is
extended, the harder it is to maintain the commonalities. Still, not a bad
introduction.

Certeau, Michel de. The mystic fable. Volume 1: The 16th and 17th Centuries.
Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992. ~~ de Certeau is chiefly known for his
work in post-modern and post-colonial circles, mainly on embodiment. This is one
of his final works, and is an excellent rethinking of early modern mysticism as
the "attempt to represent the unrepresentable."

Ellwood, Robert. Mysticism and religion. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall,
1980. ~~ Long used as a basic introduction to mysticism in religion departments.
Also available in a slightly revised second edition ~ New York: Seven Bridges
Press, 1998.

Evans, Donald. Spirituality and human nature. Albany, New York: SUNY Press,
1992. ~~ A philosopher/mystic teaching at the University of Toronto gives a
defense of the rationality and respectability of mystical experience.

Forman, Robert K. C., ed. The problem of pure consciousness: Mysticism and
philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. ~~ A good compilation of
essays on the debate between perennialists and constructivists, as Forman calls
them, or those who regard mystical experience as pure, and those that argue that
it is mediated through language, tradition, culture, religion, and other
factors.

Happold, F. C. Mysticism: A study and an anthology. London, England: Penguin,
1963. ~~ One of the first attempts to place mysticism in the modern world.

Horne, James. Beyond mysticism (1978). The moral mystic (1983). Waterloo,
Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. ~~ Both these books deserve more
attention than they receive. Horne identifies and tackles several issues in
philosophy and mysticism.

Huegel, F. von. The mystical element of religion. 2 vols., London: Dent, 1908;
New York: Dutton, 1923. ~~ The grand-daddy of modern scholarship on mysticism.
Working from the writings of Catherine of Genoa, Huegel concludes that the
mystical or experiential element is an essential component of true religion.

Idel, Moshe. Kabbalah: New perspectives. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University
Press, 1988. ~~ The best recent discussion of the Kabbalah.

Idel, Moshe & Bernard McGinn, eds. Mystical union and monotheistic faith: An
ecumenical dialogue. New York: MacMillan, 1989. ~~ An investigation of the unio
mystica in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. ~ Reprinted as Mystical Union in
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam : An Ecumenical Dialogue. New York: Continuum,
1996.

James, William. The varieties of religious experience. New York: Mentor Books,
1958. ~~ One of the first Gifford Lectures ever given (1901-1902), James' book
has a long section in which he gives examples of mystical experience and
outlines a rudimentary phenomenology of mysticism. This is the starting point
for many later writers. His (1897) essay "The will to believe" raises questions
that complement rather than contribute directly to the study of mysticism.

Jones, Richard. Mysticism examined. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 1993. ~~ A
collection of Jones' essays from the previous 15 years, he takes an analytic
philosophical approach to the questions of mysticism.

Katz, Steven, ed. Mysticism and philosophical analysis (1978). London and New
York: Oxford University Press.
___________, ed. Mysticism and religious traditions (1983). London and New York:
Oxford University Press.
___________, ed. Mysticism and language (1992). London and New York: Oxford
University Press.
All these volumes have important essays in them, not the least of which is Katz'
own "Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism" in the first book. That essay set
the stage for a debate over the nature of mystical experience that continues
today.

Louth, Andrew. The origins of the Christian mystical tradition. Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1981. ~~ Just about anything Louth writes is worth reading (he
also did a very good introduction to Pseudo-Dionysius, called Denis the
Areopagite, and several essays on patristic-age mystics); this was the best on
this topic before McGinn's work.

McGinn, Bernard. The foundations of mysticism. New York: Crossroad Press, 1991.
~~ The first of a promised 4-volume series on the history and theory of
mysticism, this is a spectacular beginning. It is wide-ranging, sympathetic to
mysticism without being blind to its problems, very well researched, and easy to
read. Besides that, it gives intelligent critiques of many other recent writers
on mysticism. It is already orders of magnitude better than anything else out
there. (Do I sound enthusiastic?). Volume II, The growth of mysticism, continues
the strong tradition of scholarship. It covers the period from Gregory the Great
to the 12th century.

Otto, Rudolf. The idea of the holy. London: Oxford University Press, 1958. ~~ As
the subtitle says, "an inquiry into the non-rational factor in the idea of the
divine and its relation to the rational." Technically not mysticism, but Otto
(1869-1937) has major implications for mysticism. His later book, Mysticism east
and west, which may from the title seem more relevant to a discussion of
mysticism, is a seriously flawed attempt to compare Meister Eckhart and Acharya
Sankara.

Scholem, Gershom. Major trends in Jewish mysticism. New York: Schocken Books,
1961. (First published in 1941.) ~~ Scholem is the most famous modern
interpreter of Jewish mysticism. This provides a good, if somewhat breezy
overview.

Scholem, Gershom. Kabbalah. New York: Dorset Books, 1974. ~~ Much more indepth
on this important type of Jewish mysticism, although Idel's book is more
scholarly.

Staal, Frits. Exploring mysticism. London, England: Penguin, 1975. ~~ Staal
argues that mystical experience can be studied in the same way that we would
study any other object of scientific investigation, as long as there is some way
of inducing actual mystical states in the researcher.

Stace, W. T. Mysticism and philosophy. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippencott, 1960. ~~
Stace makes some classic distinctions here that have become part of the language
of theory of mysticism.

Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism, 12th edition. New York: Meridian Books, 1955. ~~
First published in 1910, Underhill tries to consider mysticism from both the
outside and the inside. This is an old classic, and worth consulting, even
though later works fulfill this project better.

Underhill, Evelyn. Practical mysticism. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1915. ~~ Despite
the odd title, this is a good introduction to the life and practice of
mysticism. Underhill intends this as a kind of primer to the mystical life.

Weeks, Andrew. German mysticism. Albany, New York: SUNY Press, 1993. ~~ After
work on Jacob Boehme, Weeks provides solid treatment of mysticism through about
800 years of German history. Weeks is an historian, and as such contextualizes
mysticism in the political, social, and intellectual worlds very well.

Woods, Richard, ed. Understanding mysticism. New York: Image Books, 1980. ~~ A
very good collection of essays on mysticism, from a variety of points of view
and disciplinary commitments.

Zaehner, R. C. Mysticism: Sacred and profane. London: Oxford, 1961. ~~ Zaehner
argues for a difference between theistic and monistic (nature) mysticism, the
latter of which is induced by (among other things) drugs.

Mysticism...

Mysticism in general refers to a direct and immediate experience of the sacred, or the knowledge derived from such an experience. In Christianity this experience usually takes the form of a vision of, or sense of union with, God; however, there are also nontheistic forms of mysticism, as in Buddhism. Mysticism is usually accompanied by meditation, prayer, and ascetic discipline.

It may also be accompanied by unusual experiences of ecstasy, levitation, visions, and power to read human hearts, to heal, and to perform other unusual acts. Mysticism occurs in most, if not all, the religions of the world, although its importance within each varies greatly. The criteria and conditions for mystical experience vary depending on the tradition, but three attributes are found almost universally. First, the experience is immediate and overwhelming, divorced from the common experience of reality. Second, the experience or the knowledge imparted by it is felt to be self - authenticating, without need of further evidence or justification. Finally, it is held to be ineffable, its essence incapable of being expressed or understood outside the experience itself.
Many mystics have written of their experiences, and these writings are the best source for our knowledge of mysticism. Poetic language is frequently the vehicle of expression. Fire, an interior journey, the dark night of the soul, a knowing that is an un - knowing - such are the images or descriptions used for communicating the mystical experience. In the Christian tradition mysticism is understood as the result of God's action in persons, an unmerited grace they receive from union with God. Other religions allow for the human achievement of the mystical states through certain methods of contemplation, fasting, and breathing. Only those whose lives are marked by penance and emotional purification achieve mystical states, however, and the experience itself is always of an Absolute that transcends the human efforts or methods of achieving it.

Modern philosophers and psychologists have studied the occurrence of mysticism. William James suggested that it may be an extension of the ordinary fields of human consciousness. The philosopher Henri Bergson considered intuition to be the highest state of human knowing and mysticism the perfection of intuition. Today scientists are interested in the ways in which certain drugs seem to induce quasi - mystical states. Recent studies have added to the understanding of mysticism without fully explaining it in psychological terms.

Among the many Christian mystics who have documented their experiences are Saint Francis of Assisi; Saint Teresa of Avila; Saint John of the Cross; Jacob Bohme; George Fox, founder of the Quakers; and Emanuel Swedenborg. For information on mysticism in Islam, see Sufism; in Judaism, Hasidism and Kabbalah; in the Eastern religions, Taoism, Upanishads, Vedanta, and Zen Buddhism.

Joan A Range

Bibliography
H Bridges, American Mysticism: From William James to Zen (1970); E C Butler, Western Mysticism (1967); W H Capp and W M Wright, eds., Silent Fire: An Invitation to Western Mysticism (1978); J M Clark, The Great German Mystics (1949); W James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902); D Knowles, The English Mystical Tradition (1961); J Marquette, Introduction to Comparative Mysticism (1949); E O'Brien, Varieties of Mystical Experience (1964); G Parrinder, Mysticism in the World's Religions (1977); G G Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1959); E Stevens, An Introduction to Oriental Mysticism (1974); D T Suzuki, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (1957); R C Zaehner, Mysticism (1961).



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Mysticism
Advanced Information
As recognized by all writers on this subject, whether they claim direct personal mystical experience or not, both the definition and description of the mystical encounter are difficult. It is clear, however, that mysticism is not the same as magic, clairvoyance, parapsychology, or occultism, nor does it consist in a preoccupation with sensory images, visions, or special revelations. Nearly all Christian mystical writers relegate these phenomena to the periphery. Nearly all Christian mystics avoid the occult arts entirely. Briefly and generally stated, mystical theology or Christian mysticism seeks to describe an experienced, direct, nonabstract, unmediated, loving knowing of God, a knowing or seeing so direct as to be called union with God.


History
A brief historical survey of Christian mysticism is essential to an understanding of the varied ways in which it is explained and defined. Although the terms "mystery" and "mystical" are related etymologically to ancient mystery cults, it is doubtful that NT and patristic writers were dependent theologically upon these sources. A distinct mystical or mystery theology emerged in the Alexandrian school of exegesis and spirituality with Clement of Alexandria and Origen and their search for the hidden meaning of Scripture and their exposition of the mystery of redemption.
The Cappadocian fathers, especially Gregory of Nyssa; leading monastics, especially Evagrius of Pontus (346 - 99) and John Cassian (c. 360 - 435); Augustine of Hippo; and the obscure personage known as Dionysius the Pseudo - Areopagite created the formative legacy for medieval mysticism. The term generally used until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to describe the mystical experience was "contemplation." In its original philosophical meaning this word (Gr. theoria) described absorption in the loving viewing of an object or truth.

Only in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, with the writings of Richard of Saint Victor and Thomas Aquinas, do systematic descriptive analyses of the contemplative life appear. Late medieval concern with practical and methodical prayer contributed to a turning point in the sixteenth century Ignatian and Carmelite schools (Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross). Spiritual writers from these traditions were concerned primarily with empirical, psychological, and systematic descriptions of the soul's behavior in order to assist spiritual directors.

Protestants generally rejected mystical theology. Despite his acquaintance with medieval mystical writings, Martin Luther cannot be called a mystic, recent attempts to arrange his theology around a mystical center notwithstanding. Some Protestants in most periods retained an interest in the mystical tradition, although they should not necessarily be considered mystics. But mainstream Protestantism has generally mistrusted or been openly hostile toward a mystical dimension of the spiritual life.

In Catholic circles mystical theology was virtually submerged under a tide of enlightenment rationalism in the eighteenth century. A mystical reaction to rationalism and naturalism, aided by the development of psychological science in the later nineteenth century, is still bearing fruit in the late twentieth century. A controversy over the relation of mystical theology to "ordinary" prayer and the Christian striving for holiness or perfection dominated the early decades of the twentieth century.

In general, whereas many Catholic theologians reacted to the challenge of rationalism, naturalism, and modernism with renewed attention to mystical and liturgical spiritual theology, many Protestant evagelicals have responded with a generally rational theology of the letter of Scripture. Others have given renewed attention to spirituality in the 1970s but still prefer a "Reformation faith piety" or "prophetic spirituality" to mystical contemplation, partly because of the rejection of mystery in liturgical and sacramental theology and practice. But contemporary evangelical antipathy toward mysticism is also partly the result of Barthian influence that reduces mysticism (and pietism) to a heretical subjectivity and anthropocentrism that denies the utterly transcendent reality of God.


The Nature of Mysticism
Beyond a general descriptive definition as offered above, explanations of the nature and characteristics of the mystical experience vary widely. Throughout Christian history and especially since the sixteenth century many Roman Catholic authors have distinguished ordinary or "acquired" prayer, even if occurring at a supraconceptual level of love, adoration, and desire for God, from the extraordinary or "infused" contemplation which is entirely the work of God's special grace. Only the latter is mystical in a strict sense, according to this view. Other writers, both Catholic and Protestant, would apply the term "mystical" to all communion with God. In the twentieth century some Catholic theologians (e.g., L Bouyer, A Stolz), in conjunction with the movement for liturgical renewal, have sought to locate mystical theology in a scriptural and liturgical context, emphasizing the believer's participation in the mystery of God's reconciliation with his creatures in Christ, especially in the sacraments.
Many attempts have been made to describe the fundamental characteristics of mystical experience. Traditionally it has been asserted that the experiential union of creature and Creator is inexpressible and ineffable, although those who have experienced it seek imagery and metaphors to describe it, however imperfectly. As noted above, it is experienced union or vision, not abstract knowledge. It is beyond the level of concepts, for reasoning, ideas, and sensory images have been transcended (but not rejected) in an intuitive union.

Thus it is suprarational and supraintellectual, not antirational or anti - intellectual. In one sense the sould is passive, because it experiences God's grace poured into itself. Yet the union is not quietistic, because the soul consents to and embraces the spiritual marriage. Although some authors also stress the transient and fleeting nature of mystical union, others describe it as lasting for a definite, even prolonged period of time. More recent theological and liturgical understandings of mystical theology, unlike the systematic phenomenological and "empirical" manuals of the early twentieth century, define characteristics less precisely and seek to fit mystical theology more centrally into an ecclesial and soteriological framework.

The various stages of the mystical way have also been described in immensely varying manner. Virtually all writers agree, however, that purification (purgation or cleaning) and discipline are prerequisites. Each of the three classic stages, the path of purification, the phase of illumination, and the mystical union itself (not necessarily occurring in a fixed sequence but rather in interaction with each other), may be described as consisting of various degrees or graduations. It should not be forgotten that the monastic life, the standard path of ascetic purification throughout much of Christian history, has served as the foundation for much Christian mysticism. Unfortunately, this foundation has been overlooked by some modern scholars who consider mystics to be individualistic seekers after noninstitutional, extrasacramental religious ecstasy.

Teachings about the mystical union have often brought charges of pantheism upon their exponents. Although most mystics seek to transcend the limits of the (false) self, they have been careful to insist on the preservation of the soul's identity in the union with God, choosing such imagery as that of iron glowing in the fire of unitive love, taking on fire in union with the fire, yet without loss of its properties as iron. Indeed, one should rather stress that, far from losing itself, the sould finds its true identity in the mystical union. Many Protestants have found palatable only those mystical writers who are thought to have limited mystical union to a "conformity of human and divine wills," rather than those who teach an ontological union, a union of essence or being. This distinction is problematical, since the meaning of either "ontological union" or "conformity of will" depends on the presuppositions about human nature held by the author in question.

Those who stress a "prophetic faith piety" or "Reformation" alternative to supposed pantheistic or panentheistic mysticism (e.g., Heiler, Bloesch, in part under the influence of Brunner and Barth) have circumscribed mysticism so narrowly and connected it so closely to Neoplatonism that few mystics would recognize it. They have also broadened the meaning of "prophetic religion" so much that most mystics would feel at home under its canopy.

Scriptural sources for Christian mysticism are found largely in the Logos - incarnation doctrine of John's Gospel, in imagery such as that of the vine and branches (John 15) or Christ's prayer for union (John 17), as well as in aspects of the Pauline corpus. The latter include the description of Paul's rapture into the third heaven (II Cor. 12:1 - 4) or statements such as that referring to a life "hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). In all of these the essential theological presuppositions involve belief in a personal God and in the centrality of the incarnation. For medieval mystics Moses' "vision" of God (Exod. 33:12 - 34:9) and his reflection of God's glory upon leaving Mount Sinai (Exod. 34:29 - 35; cf. II Cor. 3:7) served as proof texts, and the allegorized spiritual marriage of the Song of Solomon, together with the other OT wisdom literature, provided unlimited scriptural resources until the shift from spiritual to literal - grammatical humanist and Reformation hermeneutics took place.

Anthropologically, Christian mystical theology presupposes a human capacity or fittedness for God, drawing especially upon the doctrine of human beings created in the image of God and on the doctrine of God become human in Christ. Christian mystics have traditionally understood mystical union as a restoration of the image and likeness of God that was distorted or lost at the fall from innocence. The image of God, distorted but not destroyed, remains as the foundation for the journey from the land of unlikeness to restored likeness and union. Especially in the fourteenth century German Dominican school (Eckhart, Tauler) his teaching on the image of God in humans was expressed with terms such as the "basic will" or "ground" (Grund) of the soul or the "spark of divinity" in the human soul.

In any case, although it stresses union with God who transcends all human limitations, mystical theology is incompatible with either an exclusively transcendent or an exclusively immanent doctrine of God, the God who transcends also became incarnate in Christ and he is immanent in his creatures created in his image. For this reason many representatives of both the social gospel and neo - orthodox theology have been stridently antimystical.


Conclusion
Christian mysticism has often been portrayed as having modified and imported into Christianity the Platonic (Neoplatonic) doctrine of cosmological emanation in creation from the idea of the One and, in mystical union, a corresponding return to the One. While a concern to relate the Creator to creation both immanently and transcendentally has from the earliest centuries led Christian mystics to make use of Neoplatonic philosophy, equally prominent are those (especially in the Franciscan school) whose theology is Christocentric, ecclesial, and liturgical. One of the most cosmologically sophisticated medieval mystics, Nicolas of Cusa (1401 - 64), drew deeply from Neoplatonic and Eckhartian emanationism but was also profoundly Christocentric. The issue cannot be resolved solely with broad brushstrokes of metahistorical categories such as Neoplatonism.
Of the other issues that have recurred in mystical writings and studies of mystical writings, one of the most enduring is the question of the relation between cognitive, intellectual, or speculative elements, on the one hand, and affective, loving, or supraconceptual and suprarational elements on the other. The negative way that "ascends" by stripping off all cognitions and images until one "sees" God in a "cloud of unknowing" darkness differs from the philosophical systems that claim mystical knowledge to be the human reason (including will, intellect, and feeling) exploring the sphere above that of limited rationalism (Inge), as well as the simple clinging to God in love alone posited by some mystics. Such distinctions, however, are not absolute, and most mystics stress the interrelatedness of love and cognition.

The problem of the objective quality of mystical experience that so preoccupied the psychological - empirical writers of the early twentieth century has become less significant for Christians dealing with mysticism theologically in its scriptural, ecclesial, and liturgical contexts. At the same time, for students of the philosophy of religion the question of objective content has gained renewed attention as nineteenth century naturalism wanes and Western interest in Eastern mysticism and religions grows.

D D Martin
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

Mysticism and syncretism...

Mystics of different traditions report similar experiences of a world usually outside conventional perception, although not all forms of mysticism abandon knowledge perceived through normal means. Based on extraordinary perception, mystics may believe that one can find true unity of religion and philosophy in mystical experience.

Elements of mysticism exist in most religions and in many philosophies. Some mystics perceive a common thread of influence in all mystic philosophies that they see as traceable back to a shared source. The Vedic tradition is inherently mystic; the Christian apocalyptic Book of Revelation is clearly mystical, as with Ezekiel's or Daniel's visions of Judaism, and Muslims believe that the angel Gabriel inspired the Koran in a mystical manner. Indigenous cultures also have cryptic revelations pointing toward a universal flow of love or unity, usually following a vision quest or similar ritual. Mystical philosophies thus can exhibit a strong tendency towards syncretism.

Some systems of mysticism are found within specific religious traditions and do not relinquish doctrinal principles as a part of mystical experience. For example, Christian mystics, through the centuries, have not decided that Jesus is not God after all: in other words, not all mysticism results in syncretism. In some definite cases, theology remains a distinct source of insight that guides and informs the mystical experience. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas' mystical experiences all occurred squarely within the love of the Catholic Eucharist.

Fears...

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
US essayist & poet (1803 - 1882)

Fox's Religious Thinking...

A bit more of Fox's religious thinking (according to Rufus Jones)

Names Fox used for the "Inner Light": "The Christ Within"; "the Spirit of God
within us"; "the Light within"
Fox did not believe in predestination. Every person comes into the world from
the creative hand of God with the divine possibility of coming into the
condition of Adam before he fell. The individual himself must no doubt first
come up through the flaming sword, through struggle, temptation and suffering,
but the possibility of that victorious attainment lies within the sphere of the
will of everyone who is born. Nobody is doomed to go wrong. No one is fated for
evil in advance. No person's destiny is rolled off without the consent of his
own will. The key to all doors that open into life or into death for man is in
his own hands.
It is the guiding principle of the light within that makes a man able to choose
rightly. He cannot be religiously effective unless there is a seed of spiritual
life within him. On this Fox rests his claim that man is the only possible type
of temple that really has a true holy place in it. Outward buildings and, books
and priests are insufficient. Scripture texts do not work by magic, nor as
fetishes. They can be used effectively only as they are spiritually applied.
Spiritual authority, though, is not infallible. Fox was humble about the quality
and range of his own revelations. He does not claim that they are on a level
with the revelations given in Scripture. But he did insist that God spoke to him
and through him and he is confidently certain that God sends him forth to speak
prophetic messages to the world.
The Friends' form of worship then was designed as an outgrowth of Fox's belief
in and his experience of this close, intimate inward relation between God and
man. The problem is never one of going somewhere to find a distant or a hidden
God. The problem rather is one of human preparation for meeting and communing
with a God who is always near at hand but cannot be found and enjoyed until the
soul is ready for such an exalted experience.
Similar to the personality of George Fox, the Friends religion is both an inward
religion and a call to action. George Fox spoke out against slavery, for women
in the ministry, he saw the Light within the Indians and Africans, and wanted
both boys and girls to study everything practical and useful under creation. He
was against war, and refused to fight. He believed in treating all men as
deserving equal respect, be they king or beggar, since all have that of God in
them.

George Fox: A Christian Mystic... Founder of Quakers...

A bit more of Fox's religious thinking (according to Rufus Jones)

Names Fox used for the "Inner Light": "The Christ Within"; "the Spirit of God within us"; "the Light within"
Fox did not believe in predestination. Every person comes into the world from the creative hand of God with the divine possibility of coming into the condition of Adam before he fell. The individual himself must no doubt first come up through the flaming sword, through struggle, temptation and suffering, but the possibility of that victorious attainment lies within the sphere of the will of everyone who is born. Nobody is doomed to go wrong. No one is fated for evil in advance. No person's destiny is rolled off without the consent of his own will. The key to all doors that open into life or into death for man is in his own hands.
It is the guiding principle of the light within that makes a man able to choose rightly. He cannot be religiously effective unless there is a seed of spiritual life within him. On this Fox rests his claim that man is the only possible type of temple that really has a true holy place in it. Outward buildings and, books and priests are insufficient. Scripture texts do not work by magic, nor as fetishes. They can be used effectively only as they are spiritually applied.
Spiritual authority, though, is not infallible. Fox was humble about the quality and range of his own revelations. He does not claim that they are on a level with the revelations given in Scripture. But he did insist that God spoke to him and through him and he is confidently certain that God sends him forth to speak prophetic messages to the world.
The Friends' form of worship then was designed as an outgrowth of Fox's belief in and his experience of this close, intimate inward relation between God and man. The problem is never one of going somewhere to find a distant or a hidden God. The problem rather is one of human preparation for meeting and communing with a God who is always near at hand but cannot be found and enjoyed until the soul is ready for such an exalted experience.
Similar to the personality of George Fox, the Friends religion is both an inward religion and a call to action. George Fox spoke out against slavery, for women in the ministry, he saw the Light within the Indians and Africans, and wanted both boys and girls to study everything practical and useful under creation. He was against war, and refused to fight. He believed in treating all men as deserving equal respect, be they king or beggar, since all have that of God in them.
Final note: George Fox was not a polished or gifted writer. His several volumes of journals attest to this. Just in case thee is tempted to go peruse them, a word of warning...His autobiography is here and also here.

How Wonderful !...

But O how wonderful! I am the unbounded
deep in whom all living things naturally arise,
rush against each other playfully, and then
subside.

- Ashtavakra Gita
Chapter 2, verse 25

DIVINE VISION AND THE DEVOTEE...

Divine vision means acquaintance with, and crystalline understanding of, the universal energy. God and the devotee are one, in his very nature the devotee is identical with God. So long as one has not realised God, one does not know what justice and injustice are, but with realisation the devotee comes to know the distinction between justice and injustice, the essential and the contingent, the eternal and the evanescent, and this leads to his emancipation.

The divine vision eliminates individuality; the manifest is clearly distinguished from the unmanifest. When the sense of individuality is replaced by that of impersonal consciousness the devotee knows that he is pure consciousness. Manifestation is pure consciousness manifesting itself in all the different names and forms; the spiritually enlightened take part in it sportily, knowing that it is only the play of universal consciousness.

The name and form of the spiritually enlightened Saint experiences the pangs and sorrows of life, but not their sting. He is neither moved nor perturbed by the pleasures and pains, nor the profits and losses of the world. He is thus in a position to direct others. His behaviour is guided exclusively by the sense of justice.

The temporal life must continue, with all its complex interactions, but the Saint is ever aware that it is only the pure consciousness that is expressing itself in different names and forms, and it continues to do so, in ever new forms. To him, the unbearable events of the world are just a tame and harmless affair; he remains unmoved in world-shaking events.

At first people, through pride, simply ignore him, but their subsequent experiences draw them toward him. God, as justice incarnate, has neither relations nor belongings of His own; peace and happiness are, as it were, His only treasure. The formless, divine consciousness cannot have any thing as its own interest.

This is the temporal outline of the Bhakta......


Nisargadatta Maharaj

The Eternity of the Moment...

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
Henry David Thoreau

Know Thyself ...

At the end of his long life of selfless teaching, the Buddha said that you must strive on the path yourself—the Awakened Ones only point the way. Like the Buddha, all genuine mystics will tell you that the ultimate authority and touchstone of truth is not any scriptures or dogmas or teachers, but your own deepest experience. “Don’t take my word for it,” they will say, “find out for yourself!” Just as a scientist tests hypotheses using experiments, so you should test the teachings in the laboratory of your life using spiritual practices. It makes sense that you should be your own ultimate authority, because it is your own true nature that you must discover and know. As the oracle at Delphi commands: “know thyself.” And as Jesus instructs: “examine yourself, and learn who you are, how you exist, and what will become of you” (Jesus, Book of Thomas). The reason the genuine mystic directs your attention inward to seek your own true nature is because, as Jesus says, “He who has not known himself does not know anything, but he who has known himself has also known the depth of all” (Jesus, Book of Thomas). And Rumi tells you: “It’s you yourself that hide your own treasure” (Rumi, Mathnawi). So the genuine mystic will always point you to yourself, to discover the depths of your own true nature.
The mystical injunction to know yourself and look to yourself as your own ultimate authority, however, does not mean that teachers and teachings have no value in the mystical path. The point is that they only show the way, as the Buddha says. If you invest a particular teaching or teacher with ultimate truth, you will be implicitly separating yourself from the truth, and you will fail to realize the truth of your own nature. In the end, however, when you realize that the teachings and teachers—and indeed the entire world—is not separate from you, then you will see that your entire life is the truth of your own deepest being revealing itself to itself. Thus, to see truth in nothing reveals the truth in everything............. Thomas J. McFarlane

The Avadhuta Gita quote...

The principle of ego is not the truth, which is homogeneous, which is free from the cause of superimposition and distinctions of perceived and perceiver. How can the ego be That which is aware of itself....

The Avadhuta Gita
Dattatreya
Quoted in
One
Essential Writings on Nonduality
Jerry Katz
Sentient Publications

Prayer...

There is only one function in prayer, and that is to be quietly, gently peaceful where God is, in the silence within your own being....
~ Joel S. Goldsmith.

Happiness...

True happiness is uncaused and this cannot
disappear for lack of stimulation. It is not
the opposite of sorrow, it includes all sorrow
and suffering.

- Nisargadatta Maharaj

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
"I Am That"
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Acorn Press, 1973

Slow then Quick...

Nobody ever fails in Yoga. It is all a
matter of the rate of progress. It is
slow in the beginning and rapid in the
end. When one is fully matured,
realization is explosive. It takes
place spontaneously, or at the slightest
hint. The quick is not better than the
slow. Slow ripening and rapid flowering
alternate. Both are natural and right.

- Nisargadatta Maharaj

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

This quotation is from:
"I Am That"
Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Acorn Press, 1973

The Great Paradox...

The Great Paradox: There's nothing that's you
and, at the very same time there's nothing that's
not you.

Here's the height of spiritual irony: The Teacher
points directly to the Truth, but then the student
begins worshipping the Teacher.

Or, even worse, the student begins to worship
the pointer that the Teacher was using!

But, as Consciousness, Itself, you are really the
ultimate source of all of the great teachers.

You are really the ultimate Source of all of their
spiritual teachings.

You only created them in your personal drama
to remind you, again and again, about what you're
pretending to forget.

The teachers and their teachings both appear
...and disappear...within the heart of who you are.

- Chuck Hillig

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Seeds for the Soul
Chuck Hillig
Black Dot Publications, 2003

The Mirror of God...

To Truly Know wet is to first Know dry.. you must Know the opposite, to Truly Know.. Thus the ego was created, although it is just an illusion, it was created to be the opposite of God, so that God would better Know Self.. We are the Mirror of God.. We are here pretending to be Non-Divinity (ego), so that We can view Divinity.. We are here to experience the opposite of Unselfish Love so that we can learn to experience Unselfish Love and decide which we find more attractive (free choice).. This is a difficult task, as we have been raised to believe that we are the ego and that Divinity is somewhere above us and unaccessible to normal humans.. We are taught by those that we love and respect to believe that only one man could achieve this accessibity to God and have therefore made this man into God.. The fact is that we are All Divinity and have never been divided from God..But, the Mirror of God has become dusty through ignorance.. It is time to clean the Mirror through Knowledge of Truth so that we can once again see the Divinity Within..........namaste, thomas

Training the Sub-Conscious Mind...

"At first you must urge your mind forward with right ideas,
but later it flows by itself, easily, naturally."

Cosmic Command, # 1018
Vernon Howard

Was Jesus a Mystic?...

Every year I pose the question to Yahoo Questions and receive the same answers..
The question I ask is:" If Jesus was a Mystic, then why are not all Christians,
Mystics?"... Most Christians answer that He was not a Mystic.. This is why
Christians do not behave as Christians.. They have not understood the Teachings
of Jesus concerning the Path of Liberation and Unity with God.. Therefore, they
are content with reading stories from a book and singing once a week in a
building.. The wall of ego has blinded them from the fact that Jesus was a man
that conquered the illusion of the ego and became One with God..As He said;" I
and the Father are One".. This wall of ego prevents Christians from Realizing
that Jesus was teaching us that we must also walk the path that He did.. He gave
us a clue when He said;" They who come after Me will do greater works than I"..
you are the ones that He was speaking of.. How far will you travel into the Mind
of Jesus and Understand Him and His Teachings?..........namaste, thomas