The mystic path

From:  "kriptodanny" <>
Date:  Tue Feb 15, 2005  5:14 am
Subject:  The mystic path
Mystics and mysticism have occurred in all religious cultures and
times. Mystics have experiences and then give reports that describe
direct experience of the divine. Mysticism can be defined as an
altered state of consciousness. But Mysticism is not merely a
psychological state. If we trust the reports, the mystic state is
filled with knowledge of the divine that is both from within and
without the mind of the mystic. The core of the mystic experience in
report after report is the sense of an identity between the deepest
part of the self, and the creative, binding force of all that is.

The content of the reports are usually filled with references to the
mystic's own religious tradition. That is, Christian mystics usually
have "Christian" experiences that include Mary and Jesus, and God as a
trinity. Buddhist mystics have Buddhist-colored experiences. Hindu
mystics have Hindu-colored experiences. But it's interesting to note
that many mystics get in trouble with their religious tradition
because their experiences slip outside their respective orthodoxy.

A Christian mystic who was solely concerned with furthering the
Christian system would always have experiences that supported the
Christian story. Likewise an Islamic mystic would uphold the Islamic
system, and the Hindu the Hindu. But this is not the case. Mystic
experiences from all cultures and times often have more in common with each other than they do with the religion they arise from.

While emerging from a specific religion, and in most cases wishing to
affirm the truth of their religion, the mystics nonetheless tend to
describe a reality separate from the world of church organizations,
and rituals, and scripture, and teaching. It is a universal religion
behind the religions. It is, in the words of Aldous Huxley, who
collected hundreds of mystic accounts from diverse sources, the
"Perennial Philosophy" that arises again and again in all soils and

The essence of the mystic experience, common to mystics of all
religions and times, is this feeling of unity with the divine.
So what should we do if we are intrigued by the mystic experience but
have not had it ourselves? Or what if we have had the feeling some
time in the past, in a flash, but do not have it now or reliably?

There is a mystic path. And furthermore the mystic encourages people
to undertake the path because they admit that the mystic experience is not fully communicated in words. You must feel it for yourself. And
finally, feeling the experience yourself is essential, because the
mystic experience is the truth of reality. Having the experience, is
enlightenment, in Buddhist thought, and it is the only way out of the
sorrow of worldly existence. Having the experience is salvation in
Christian thought. Through the experience the soul finds again its
alignment with God that was lost due to original sin.

The mystic path is characterized by achieving a state of pure
consciousness. This is being awake but not thinking. Our normal
thinking lives are filled with constantly running thoughts. One
thought and then another rapidly moves across our minds in a whirlwind of activity. Mysticism holds that this incessant mental activity obscures the core reality that lies subtly underneath. By removing the thoughts that distract us, we reveal our divine core. The mental state required is consciousness without content.

Achieving that state is both entirely simple, and extremely difficult.
The mental state is easy to achieve, because all of us already have
it. It is there beneath all our mental activity. There is nothing to
achieve. There is no need to strive after it. Indeed striving only
adds one more distraction to the distractions we're trying to get rid
of. The mental state is so immediately available to us that many
people have the feeling in a flash, all of a sudden, as in our opening
hymn. This is a sense of rapture. It is the sudden enlightenment that
comes at the oddest moment. Some religions encourage the use of drugs or trances to jump the brain into the rapture state. Many of us can describe one or two rapture experiences in our lives that came upon us unexpectedly and that perhaps led to our interest in religion. Mystics tell us that this sudden rapture is the real experience, but they also say that rapture achieved this way is rarely permanent.

The extremely difficult, but more reliable path, is to slowly,
deliberately, quiet the mind from its distractions. Both the Buddha,
and Meister Eckhart, refer to the distractions of the mind as
attachments. We are filled with attachments to the world. To have the
mystic experience we must lose the attachments. The Buddhists and
Hindus teach varieties of meditation techniques to achieve this.
Christian mystics advocate prayer. It is not easy.

Giving up attachments is possible, because people report they have
done it. Once the state of pure consciousness is achieved, or
recovered I should say, the hard part is over. Mystics tell us that if
we keep our minds alert and empty there is a divine element of the
universe that rushes in to fill us. With Pure Consciousness we attune
ourselves to the divine hopes and dreams. We are now able to act in
the world, but self-lessly. Our will becomes the will of the universe.
Our every action is the most advantageous for all creation, because we
act with the desire of creation itself.

And then finally, this divine will that is now our will returns to
itself, and we merge with the eternal undifferentiated oneness. The
Buddhists teach us not to call this one-ness "God" because to give it
a name reduces it to a thing. The Taoists caution that to give it any
qualities, or even to speak of it, is to miss what our talk is trying
to describe. Moses said the name of God is simply "I am that I am."
Paul Tillich, the Christian theologian called it, "Being itself."

The Mystic Path
By Rev. Ricky Hoyt


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