Wednesday, August 12, 2009


From Wikipedia

Mysticism (from the Greek μυστικός – mystikos, an initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries; μυστήρια – mysteria meaning "initiation") is the pursuit of achieving communion, identity with, or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, or insight. Traditions may include a belief in the literal existence of dimensional realities beyond empirical perception, or a belief that a true human perception of the world goes beyond current logical reasoning or intellectual comprehension. A person delving in these areas may be called a Mystic.

In many cases, the purpose of mysticism and mystical disciplines, such as meditation, is to reach a state of return or re-integration with the Godhead. A common theme in mysticism is that the mystic and all of reality are One. The purpose of mystical practices is to achieve that oneness in experience, to achieve a larger identity and re-identify with the all that is. The state of oneness has many names depending on the mystical system: Illumination, Union (Christianity), Irfan (Islam), Nirvana (Buddhism), Moksha (Jainism), Samadhi (Hinduism), to name a few. Unio Mystica is a term meaning 'Mystical Union' describing the concept common to all mystical traditions - Kabbalah, Sufism, Vedanta, Esoteric Christianity etc - that of the union of the individual human soul with the Godhead.

The term "mysticism" is often used to refer to beliefs which go beyond the purely exoteric practices of mainstream religions, while still being related to or based in a mainstream religious doctrine. For example, Kabbalah is a significant mystical movement within Judaism, and Sufism is a significant mystical movement within Islam. Gnosticism refers to various mystical sects of classical / late antiquity that were influenced by Platonism, Judaism and Christianity. Some have argued that Christianity itself was a mystical sect that arose out of Judaism. Non-traditional knowledge and ritual are considered as Esotericism, for example Buddhism's Vajrayana. Vedanta, the Naths (North India), the Natha (South India), Siddhar, Nagas are considered the several mystical branches of Hinduism. Hinduism, being an ancient religion and a rather broad 'all-paths' embracing philosophy, has many mystical branches.

Mystical doctrines may reference religious texts that are non-canonical, as well as more mainstream canon (Christian example of the former, Dark Night of the Soul, and the latter Book of Revelation), and generally require a more committed intellectual, psychological and physical approach from spiritual devotees. Most mystical teachers typically have some history or connection with a mainstream religious branch — controversial or otherwise, but gather followers through reinterpreting sacred texts or developing new spiritual approaches from their own unique experience.

Another version:

Mysticism (from the Greek μυστικός, mystikos, an initiate of a mystery religion) is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Mysticism usually centers on a practice or practices intended to nurture those experiences or awareness. Mysticism may be dualistic, maintaining a distinction between the self and the divine, or may be nondualistic. Differing religious traditions have described this fundamental mystical experience in different ways:

  • Nullification and absorption within God's Infinite Light (Chassidic schools of Judaism)
  • Complete non-identification with the world (Kaivalya in some schools of Hinduism, including Sankhya and Yoga; Jhana in Buddhism)
  • Liberation from the cycles of Karma (Moksha in Jainism and Hinduism, Nirvana In Buddhism)
  • Deep intrinsic connection to the world (Satori in Mahayana Buddhism, Te in Taoism)
  • Union with God (Henosis in Neoplatonism and Theosis in Eastern and Catholic Christianity,
  • Brahma-Prapti or Brahma-Nirvana in Hinduism)
  • Innate Knowledge (Irfan and fitra in Islam)
  • Experience of one's true blissful nature (Samadhi Svarupa-Avirbhava in Hinduism and Buddhism)

Enlightenment or Illumination are generic English terms for the phenomenon, derived from the Latin illuminatio (applied to Christian prayer in the 15th century) and adopted in English translations of Buddhist texts, but used loosely to describe the state of mystical attainment regardless of faith.

Mystic traditions generally form sub-currents within larger religious traditions—such as Kabbalah within Judaism, Sufism within Islam, Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism within Hinduism, Christian mysticism within Christianity—but are often treated skeptically and sometimes held separately, by more orthodox or mainstream groups within the given religion, due to the emphasis of the mystics on direct experience and living realization over doctrine. Mysticism is sometimes taken by skeptics or mainstream adherents as mere obfuscation, though mystics suggest they are offering clarity of a different order or kind. In fact, a basic premise of nearly every mystical path, regardless of religious affiliation, is that the experiences of divine consciousness, enlightenment and union with God that are made possible via mystical paths, are available to everyone who is willing to follow the practice of a given mystical system. Within a given mystical school, or path, it is much more likely for the mystical approach to be seen as a divine science, because of the direct, replicable elevation of consciousness the mystical approach can offer to anyone, regardless of previous spiritual or religious training.

Some mystic traditions can exclude the validity of other traditions. However, mystic traditions tend to be more accepting of other mystic traditions than the non-mystical versions of their traditions. This is based on the premise that the experienced divinity is able to bring other mystics to their own tradition if necessary. Some, but not all, mystics are even open to the idea that their tradition may not be the most practical version of mystic practice.

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