what is it about mystics?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by bananabrain, May 17, 2005.

  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    i yield to nobody in my admiration for and espousal of the jewish mystical tradition. in fact, in my experience it is the mystical traditions of all belief systems that are generally the most open-minded and accepting of practical diversity through their attempt to speak to universal human values. as the sufis say, "there are many roads up the mountain".

    karen armstrong always says, "mystics tend to agree". what is specifically getting my goat at the moment is the *way* that mystics tend to agree and what they say when they do.

    in short, why is it that people who are "into mysticism" spout such utter BILGE? such utter CODSWALLOP? why is so much of it indistinguishable from the platitudinous ullage and hogwash that emanates from the uncritical and uneducated peanut gallery of the so-called "new age"?

    if i hear one more disciple of enlightenment talk about us being "beings of light", "love to all" or other such feculent, bloodless gobbledigook, i shall do me raving nana. does anyone remember the dilbert.com "mission statement generator"? i swear, we should build one for new-age mystics.

    does anyone else feel like this? how do we tell the enlightened from the merely light-of-intellect? the meta-rational from the irrational? the untrammelled from the untroubled-by-coherence? the free from the content-free?

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  2. brucegdc

    brucegdc Moderator

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    Sounds like the marketing types I have at work. Equally content-free. I think the problem in this case (mystics, not marketing) is that mysticism is inherently personal, and focusses on an internal connection to deity that's not fully explainable until the other person has "got it". Thus to someone who has not "got it", a true mystical experience cannot be described in terms that make sense, so it *is* content-free to the recipient.
     
  3. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Good point, brucegdc. As a mystic, I definitely have a lot more content to my beliefs than "beings of light" and "love to all" (though I'm certainly all for loving people). However, I have found that it is not uncommon in conversations with folks who don't have mystical experiences as part of their spirituality to come to an impass in the discussion. I try desperately to describe what is extremely difficult to express and is beyond words, while they look at me like I'm crazy.

    I think it's a function of mystics' spirituality being based on a direct connection to or experience of the Divine, which is itself beyond comprehension and expression. So it is very difficult to put that into a format that is readily understandable as content to others. Kind of like asking a seeing person to describe color to a blind person- the two are having fundamentally different experiences of their universe. I don't see either as better, but just different. I believe we were all created unique and different folks have different ways they connect with God/Spirit/Universe/whatever.

    That said, I do find offense at the plethora of New Age "mystics" and "mystical traditions" from whom/which you can buy wisdom and powers for $19.95. I feel like the mystical traditions of all religions have been cheapened by being marketed like a commodity, and I know the association of mysticism to the drivel that one buys at expos and in bookstores everywhere has made it very difficult for me to explain mysticism to my Christian friends, many of whom believe Christianity is incompatible with mysticism. This belief rests on the pervasiveness of New Age mysticism as a commodity. I find it sad that that is the image people have, rather than the old Christian mystics, the true followers of Kabbalah (who do more than buy a red string), etc.

    Like everything else in the U.S., many seem to think a connection to God and spiritual growth is for sale.
     
  4. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Peace to everyone here--

    Perhaps the problem lies in trying to "define" mysticism. Since it takes place for different individuals (and groups) in different ways. Language tends to be inadequate in explaining the spiritual, and as it also varies between cultures, it becomes even more difficult. (Going now to look up "bilge" and "codswallop"--while I may intuitively know what these terms mean, they are rather "content-empty" for me until I actually investigate them further.):)

    Bananabrain--I have been reading the Judaism boards for days now, and there are tons of things on there that I don't understand, because I do not understand the language. I would love to ask questions, but I have to study in great depth to join in there! Maybe that makes me a "non-intellectual" in the eyes of some.

    But obviously, I do share your frustration in trying to understand the explanations I receive from others when I am trying to learn what it is they believe.

    So--and I ask this in the Spirit of Love and enlightenment (heh)--is your beef just with New Age mysticism, or does it extend to those who call themselves Christian mystics (and others). I notice you have respect for Jewish mysticism--perhaps because you understand it better?

    (Hi, Path of One--we must have been posting simultaneously--imagine that!)

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  5. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    inlove - i have a particular beef with imbeciles, hippies and con artists. the internet brings out the worst in all three. however, ignorance (or lack of knowledge if you like) is not the same. i am ignorant about many things, including many religious subjects, but i do recognise that ignorance can be remedied by knowledge - albeit nobody can know *everything*. and, just so you know, "some of my best friends are mystics" - and most of them aren't jewish.

    ignorance is not necessarily something that annoys me unless it's combined with a bad attitude and/or no sense of humour. for example, you're not going to know the name of, say, my auntie if i've never told you. and ignorance is no reason not to ask questions. this is not to say that i am particularly interested in answering jewish FAQs in detail myself - there are plenty of sites out there which do that and i am more than happy to direct people to them and then answer further questions they might have afterwards.

    i hope i'm not being too scary about it, or making people feel that they're not intellectual enough. i just don't suffer fools gladly - and i have encountered too many of them recently.

    path_of_one: i think the main problem is *tone*. the internet doesn't do tone very well. mysticism is the quintessential personal experience - the people i have encountered with true presence are those i have encountered in real life. it takes a very special person to convey something extraordinary - and the web does not lend itself to this sort of hyper-personal encounter. attempts to do the personal experience justice through typing are inevitably flawed and usually irritating.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2005
  6. earl

    earl ?

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    Bananabrain, you mentioned the religion writer Karen Armstrong. I recently read a quote of hers related to mysticism:
    "Like 'mysticsm' amd 'myth', the word 'mystery' comes from the Greek verb 'musteion:'to close the mouth and the eyes.'"
    I think mysticism is an element to nearly all of the world's religions-the element wherein an individual attempts to get beyond knowledge of the "word," conceptual knowledge, to a deeper, more personal, more "felt" experience that cannot come from book learning alone. Such learning seems ironically to require embracing the darkness and silence of unknowing as in the quote above. Realizations that might stem from that might as path-of-one said be rather ineffable and it does seem that mystics from different religious traditions often di speak similar if not the same language.
     
  7. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    actually, in judaism, "mysticism" is not a word that should really be used in the strict sense. the word "kabbalah" denotes the receipt of knowledge from an authentic and authorised teacher. the general word that ought to be used within judaism is "nistar", or "that which is hidden". very often, it's not a matter of a "mystical experience" per se at all!

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  8. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    So, if I hide God's Word within my heart, as revealed to me through His Spirit, then I am relying on something much bigger than myself, but which still comes from inside because He gives me this understanding.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  9. farhan

    farhan Active Member

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    Well if U ask me , New Age mysticism is a risky business . Better to stick with some age old tradition of Mysticism than new age . Why ?? the problem with mysticism is that there is no degree for it . U cant differentiate an actual mystic teacher from an imposter . In Sufism , the sufi teacher is authorised by his teacher to teach people , after a long time of following the syllabus . And that teacher by his teacher , & the list goes on . So there is atleast a chain of well known people , & if some imposter comes , claiming he was authorized , then others can kick him out .



    Secondly , enlightment for $19.95?? this thing is completely against the ethics of mysticism . Enligtment might have different meanings for different people , but for me it means freedom from the lust of materialism , & entrance into the world of spirit . If a man asks money for providing enlightment , it means he hasent eradicated lust for money from himself . If that man's mind is filled with worldly carvings , then how can he enlighten me ?? I dont think any zen master or kabbalist or sufi teaches for money . Why ?? b/c if U cant empty your mind from materialistic pleasures , U cant enjoy the spiritual pleasures . This doesnt mean U have to leave the worldly pleassures , just that dont make achieving the world your sole aim of life . There is a huge world out there , not seen by many . And its for free .



    I think every body has the right to enquire the hidden realms ( & powers ) of mind . People try different things , some lead to the right path , some dont . Age old traditions R much authentic b/c they R time tested , & available for free . When commercialized, they become a commodity , a part of the material world , like plasma displays & cell phones .



     
  10. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Salaam, Farhan,
    Peace to all here.

    I agree with most of what you say. I am just very careful of adhering to tradition. I must investigate tradition before I accept it. I believe that some traditions have value, but some are dangerous. Just as I believe that there is an ancient truth, I also believe that truth can still be found today. And I really do believe that it may be the same thing.

    So glad to see you here. And thank you for your kindness and insight on another board. I hope you are shown the same here.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2005
  11. earl

    earl ?

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    Hi farhan. Certainly you raise a good and valid point-that at least some traditions we associate with a more mystical inclination, such as Sufism or Buddhism, have always had their own well-tested processes for identifying authentic teachers and processes for instilling the teaching. On the other hand, there have been some traditions of mysticism, such as mystical Christianity, where that hasn't been the case. I'd assume, of course, that historically that was because traditions such as Sufism and Buddhism were just that, "traditions," whereas the mystical element of Christianity seems to have been tolerated at best by Church authorities over the centuries and certainly not given the support that would perhaps have lent itself to that sort of structuring. What those traditions can only do, though, is to teach the methods that might lead to individual realization(s) and can only perhaps authenticate both the methods and the outcome via comparison to their own experiences-like the "mind-to-mind transmission" tradition in zen buddhism. But, it also seems as if mysticism, being an experience, isn't something you can standardize and reliably produce either. These methods can only say,"plow your field like so, throw seeds in like so, water like so...and see what blooms." If/when mystical flowers bloom, they may very well bloom in many colors and fragrances and be simultaneously individual and universal.

    Oh, heck, enough babbling on my part-I keep plowin' & plantin' & awaitin' stuff to grow! By the way, while I don't know alot re Sufism, what I know I like as in the attitude of Ibn Arabi whose signature line I borrowed. Take care, Earl
     
  12. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Bananabrain,

    How do you define a hippy? I had a high school teacher who distinguished between hippies and flower children ("Hippies do drugs, wear beads, listen to the music. Flower children are involved in social, ecological, and political change, but there is overlap.") but I tend to just call em all hippies.

    Dauer
     
  13. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    best definition i've ever seen: http://hem.passagen.se/tufflan/youngones/indexy.html

    the hippy's the one at the back of the group. it's called "neil".

    hippies can also be identified by what they say. for example, in "south park", the ever-perceptive eric cartman uses the phrase "that's a load of tree-hugging hippy crap!" so it's very simple. if it spouts a load of tree-hugging hippy crap, it's a hippy - so do us all a favour, kick it in the nadgers and steal its astrological star chart.

    farhan - i'm really glad to see you contributing, but this isn't a text message. please write properly, you're hurting my eyes.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  14. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    BB,

    That link is to a non-English website. I can't read it.

    Dauer
     
  15. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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  16. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    {{InLove}}

    This is the most genuine post I have read by anyone in a long time. And I think it is in the finest mystical tradition. Thank you for your gift!

    Peace,

    Mark
     
  17. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    And if so, by your actions, that which is hidden will be observed by others. Mother Theresa was this way. She expressed her inner strength and the strength of God by her quiet, resolute deeds. She knew. But she knew not to speak, but to act (in her case). She was a woman of few words, but when she did speak...people (the Vatican) listened. So did India...

    A picture (an act or deed, or consistent actions) is worth more than a book of words. That is the lamp on the hill.

    As I see things, as i'm not too good at hearing. ;)

    v/r

    Q
     
  18. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Hi--Peace to All Here--

    Thanks for your comment, Paladin. I enjoy reading your posts as well. I have even borrowed an idea from you recently on another thread because the idea was so clear (it had to do with acknowledging the spiritual through things like music.) Hope you don't mind.

    BB--I took no offense at what you said--I hope I didn't offend you! Actually, I think your question was interesting, one of those kinds I could really chime in on, so I did.

    Q--Yes, Mother Theresa definitely found the way to put her faith to work in deeds, and she certainly did manage to quietly accomplish things "much bigger than herself". While I don't know what she would say, I am wondering, in your opinion, would you describe her as a Christian mystic? Hope that question doesn't offend...

    InPeace
    InLove,
     
  19. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    LOL :D Robert Bacon, the Knights Templar, Saint Francis of Assisi; Saint Teresa of Avila; Saint John of the Cross; Jacob Bohme; George Fox, founder of the Quakers; and Emanuel Swedenborg, and yes I think Mother Theresa would fit well with this "group" of known Christian Mystics.

    No offense taken. ;)

    v/r

    Q
     
  20. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Well, to tell you the truth, I never really knew what the term "mystic" meant. I have always known some things--I am not one who has a story about how I was "turned around" at the last minute--although I believe with all my heart that people are, all the time. I admit, I have been spiritually sheltered, and I praise God for it. I can only relate what I know. I will have to check up on and read about the folks you have listed here.

    If I ever get done with the editing I have been hired to do (huge sigh), then I will hopefully have some time to read about at least some of the people and books I have come across on this website.

    When I first came here, I tried to keep my beliefs a secret, just so I could communicate with anyone and everyone. But there is no way I could possibly continue to do that. I am so glad to have a place where I can just talk and talk, and listen and listen, and study and study--LOL--and when things get out-of-hand, I do not have to fix them.

    I come from a long line of strange and wonderful people. I am so glad that the witch trials are over--at least I hope they are. But even in my lifetime, I have seen my sweet Christian mother shunned just because she knew all about herbs. She knew all about Jesus, too. No wonder people are confused.

    Well, this is turning into essay and testimony. Oh well, I will leave it at that. Anyway, thanks, Q, and all.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     

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