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The mystics offer us their personal testimonies that this hunger can be satisfied through a direct experience of the mystical dimensions of life


The Complete Guide To World Mysticism
"Each mystical tradition has gone through different high points and low points. Jewish mysticism reached its heights with the Kabbalists of the Middle Ages and the Hasids of the eighteen century. Christian mysticism was most vibrant among the early Gnostics of the first century AD and the Friends of God of the thirteen and fourteen centuries. Islamic mysticism flowered with the Sufis of the tenth to twelfth centuries. All traditions have had their great saints and sages, who directly experienced the eternal truth and left a legacy of spiritual inspiration for those who followed. However, it is only India, The Mother of mysticism, which has continually produced numbers of great enlightened masters. India's influence has once again been felt in the modern West."- Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

"Mysticism begins with the extraordinary experience of the ancient shamans of the primal people who, through the use of ritual and psychedelic plants, began an exploration of the mysteries of consciousness. In India this wisdom flowered into a profound philosophy which gradually influenced the whole of the ancient world. Ancient Egypt also developed a similar mysticism, which gave birth to the Mystery Schools — spiritual 'universities' for mystical initiation. The philosophies of India and Egypt came together in ancient Greece. Here, the Mystery Schools flourished as a religion for a thousand years, and left a legacy that would inspire all subsequent Western mystics.

The relationship of mysticism to religion has been characterized by a cycle of living revelation bringing life to dead tradition, only to fall in turn into religious orthodoxy. In sixth-century BC India, the Buddha experienced enlightenment and challenged the authorities of the Hindu religion, becoming the founder of a new mystical faith. In China, his contemporary Lao Tzu revitalized the Taoist tradition with profound mystical ideas. In the first century AD the Jewish mystic Jesus challenged the spiritual authority of the religious hierarchy in Israel, and initiated the Christian religion. Whilst the mystical spirit can still be found in all these faiths up until the present day, they have all to a greater or lesser degree slipped into the dogma and superstition of religion.

Each mystical tradition has gone through different high points and low points. Jewish mysticism reached its heights with the Kabbalists of the Middle Ages and the Hasids of the eighteen century. Christian mysticism was most vibrant among the early Gnostics of the first century AD and the Friends of God of the thirteen and fourteen centuries. Islamic mysticism flowered with the Sufis of the tenth to twelfth centuries. All traditions have had their great saints and sages, who directly experienced the eternal truth and left a legacy of spiritual inspiration for those who followed. However, it is only India, The Mother of mysticism, which has continually produced numbers of great enlightened masters. India's influence has once again been felt in the modern West. After the explosive increase in the use of mind-altering drugs in the 1960s, huge numbers of people looked again to the East to find spiritual context for their strange experiences, inspiring the new wave of mysticism we are experiencing today.

In the modern world, there is growing disillusionment with orthodox dogmatic religion and scientific materialism: neither can satisfy the deep inner yearning of the soul. This has led to a profound spiritual hunger. The mystics offer us their personal testimonies that this hunger can be satisfied through a direct experience of the mystical dimensions of life. This vision may be glimpsed through the window of any one of their accounts of rapture and their inspired insights. These are the gifts of wisdom that we have inherited from those great souls who have pierced the veil of everyday reality, and beheld the timeless mystical truth."

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Complete Guide to World Mysticism
Piatkus Books; New Ed edition (October 1998) pp. 16-17




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