Mysticism means different things to different people. For some it’s an exciting and satisfying way of life. For others it’s a term of derision – practices that should be avoided by intelligent people in the modern age. Mystics are seen as people who either have obtained secret and powerful knowledge, ever in quest of truth; or as flaky people who just cannot handle reality.
The word itself is derived from the ancient Greek word “Mystikos” which refers to someone who has passed through an initiatory process and is part of a sacred, spiritual society. Many such societies or Mystery Schools flourished through the centuries. These included the Eleusinian, Dionysian, Orphic, Mithraic and other Mysteries. The ancient mystery schools inspired the Christian Mysteries connected to various ancient monasteries. They also led to the Masonic and Rosicrucian mysteries of the late Middle Ages – derivatives of which still exist today. The mystic, by undergoing certain challenges and training, gained knowledge of and especially personal experience of different states of consciousness and levels of being. The mystic came to know reality in a whole new way, one that went beyond normal human perception and involved the development of a direct connection with a supreme being.
Some famous mystics include Pythagoras, Plato, Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, St. Augustine, Nostradamus, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Franklin Roosevelt, and more – all initiated members of a mystery school of some kind.
Mysticism is both the practices that lead a person to become a mystic and also the practices developed by mystics to strengthen their connection to altered states of consciousness and to help others experience those states.
Almost all the founders of the world’s great religions were mystics (Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna, etc.), and elements of mysticism are apparent in religious activities. However, most religions rely on a structured, formalistic approach to their practices to maintain their organizations and thus, mysticism is often deprecated or persecuted. Mystics, in a religious context, need to be controlled or they might set up a competing organization.
One of the main criticisms of mysticism today is that mystics tend to gravitate towards certain questionable practices such as crystal gazing, palm reading, astrology, spirit contact and a variety of other divinatory or spiritual practices. In their highest forms these are worthy areas of study. However, popular practice of these activities has degraded them till it appears that only the less sophisticated students of mysticism are involved with these pursuits.
Authentic Mysticism represents the highest quest of human growth and awareness. It is the method by which the conscious or outer mind makes contact with Cosmic Intelligence through the avenue of the subconscious or inner mind. The main practice of mysticism is meditation – and this can be accomplished in a variety of ways including intellectual study, physical activity, interaction with people particularly in a charitable way, and various ritualistic programs – besides the common idea of sitting quietly and attempting to gain clarity of mind. The goal of mysticism is to prepare people to experience an awakening to cosmic reality – that is, an experience of absolute union with the universe or God.
The purpose of Authentic Mysticism is to:
- Discover the ultimate REALITY
- Discover the Supreme Universal Intelligence, or God
- Make direct, immediate contact with the Supreme Universal Intelligence
- Experience the PRESENCE of God and accept beyond doubt that Divinity exists and can be contacted
- Bring forth into daily life and awareness all the POWER, ATTRIBUTES and CREATIVITY of the SUPREME UNIVERSAL INTELLIGENCE
- Guide a practitioner, INTUITIVELY, through daily life and practical experience
- Connect and synthesize the creative intelligence of the Universe with the conscious mind for the manifestation of LIFE IN ABUNDANCE.
Mysticism today can be practiced by anyone. In the past it was relegated to certain, somewhat elite, individuals who had the dedication and resources necessary to travel to specific regions of the world and connect with some particular school. Although receiving instruction from a teacher or guide as part of a group of like-minded individuals has its benefits, it is no longer mandatory that a person go through a formal initiation to practice mysticism. There are enough books and internet sources of information available for anyone to learn about and use the techniques and methods of mysticism to expand their awareness and connect with universal intelligence. The key factors needed are knowledge, proper attitude and above all practice. Mysticism is something you do not just something you read about or think about. And as noted before, the main practice for mysticism is MEDITATION.