Some people, as they move and grow along the spiritual path discover that their’s is the unique path of the mystic. The mystic’s path is a profound gift, but at the same time in a world that might label the mystic as “just plain nuts,” it can sometimes seem like a curse. This special edition of “Your Spiritual Truth” came about as I realized that yet again, my body was somehow reacting to the volatile weather patterns of Mother Earth – this time in honor of the hurricane’s currently hammering the East Coast. ARGH!
In searching for a concise and valid definition of mysticism (at least as I have experienced it), a found a great one in all places, The Catholic Encyclopedia:
Mysticism, according to its etymology, implies a relation to mystery. In philosophy, Mysticism is either a religious tendency and desire of the human soul towards an intimate union with the Divinity, or a system growing out of such a tendency and desire. As a philosophical system, Mysticism considers as the end of philosophy the direct union of the human soul with the Divinity through contemplation and love, and attempts to determine the processes and the means of realizing this end. This contemplation, according to Mysticism, is not based on a merely analogical knowledge of the Infinite, but as a direct and immediate intuition of the Infinite.
What seems to set mysticism apart from other philosophical of religious paths is the piece about DIRECT EXPERIENCE. What this means is that the mystic knows the Divine not just as an intellectual construct based on theologies, thoughts, ideas, etc. but that the mystic has experienced the gift of a direct, intimate, emotional experience of Oneness with that which we might call “God.” As such, the mystic’s experiences are those of the heart, the soul and the intuition and are not limited by the constructs of the mind. In a rational, logical, pragmatic, intellectual world, this path is often perceived as irrational (because IT IS!) maybe even bordering on insane. It is this tension between the “real” world and the world of the mystic that creates what I have come to refer to as “the Mystic’s curse.”
The First Signs of the Mystic
You know, it is never really much fun to be the “weird kid.” As early as I can remember, I had what I can now define as “mystical” experiences. Knowing truths I should not have known, sensing other people’s emotions, feelings, thoughts. Being able to read “the energy” of a room. Knowing there was something bigger, greater, kinder, more loving that what I had observed in the human condition. Finding myself confused over the fear-based and often violent ways of humankind. Not understanding certain “institutions” and their “laws.” Finding comfort and inspiration in fairytales, magic, mystery, fairies and witches on broomsticks. The “world” that I inhabited within myself bore a marked contrast to the world I saw “out there.” Thanks to my Catholic upbringing, I found the perfect vehicle through which I could indulge these mystical tendencies, quietly, in private and just between me and God…and that was the mass, along with the spiritual practices of my Catholic faith. I was the weird kid who actually liked going to mass and praying the rosary. Weird, insane, irrational? Right?
You can run but you can’t hide!
So, as long as I had the mass and the rosary, I got to keep those direct experiences of the Divine just to myself. Me and God had lots of conversations, private moments and tender revelations. Ah….but then I had to grow up and when I grew up I found the mystical part of myself wanting to come out of the closet (in spite of my protestations). So, I found myself guided along many pathways, through many theologies, always finding myself at the doorstep of the world’s mystical practices – ecstatic dance, meditation, contemplation, yoga, Lectio-Divina, mantra prayer, chant, etc. etc. etc. Little did I know that this pathway would break open the doors to my own heart and mind, while making me look even MORE insane to the outside world. What? You can heal with your hands? You can feel when a major weather event will hit the earth (like today’s hurricane for example)? You will weep tears of heartbreaking pain over the fear in the world that toppled the Twin Towers? You can look into someone’s eyes and energy field and tell if they are lying? Really? Are you sure you don’t just have a vivid imagination or might just be nuts? Come on, there’s no room for that in our logical, practical world. HHHMMMMM
Crazy but not alone!
As a young adult, I might have been tempted to agree with these kinds of sentiments….but now that I am a grow up….I protest! In fact, I think as a species, we are more in need of the mystic than we ever have been before! And the good news is that I am not alone in these mystical tendencies. For this I give thanks to my favorite Catholic saints: Bernadette, Francis and Clare, Teresa and John, Hildegard, Joan of Arc. And then there are the Eastern Mystics: Kabir, Rumi, Yogananda, etc. etc. etc. Oh yea…not to mention Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. And what kind of friend would I be if I did not also give thanks to my circle of crazy mystical brothers and sisters (you know who you are!!!). HMMMM Maybe being a mystic isn’t so bad afterall….even if hurricanes on the East Coast make you go loopy!
Authentic Freedom Ministries