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Mystics and Mysticism

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  • rwr
    Mystics and Mysticism Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem
    Message 1 of 14 , Apr 1, 2011

      Mystics and Mysticism 

      Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

       rwr



       

    • James McKinnon
      RWR,   This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.   Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate
      Message 2 of 14 , Apr 2, 2011


        RWR,
         
        This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
         
        "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
         
        To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

        “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

        He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

        In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

        Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

        So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
        Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
         
        To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
         
        Salus,
        James
         
         
        --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
         

        From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
        Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
        To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

         

        Mystics and Mysticism 

        Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

         rwr



         

      • Andrew Rizzardo
        In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea. But
        Message 3 of 14 , Apr 2, 2011
          In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

          But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

          The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







          On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

           



          RWR,
           
          This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
           
          "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
           
          To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

          “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

          He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

          In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

          Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

          So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
          Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
           
          To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
           
          Salus,
          James
           
           
          --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
           

          From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
          Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
          To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

           

          Mystics and Mysticism 

           

          Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

           rwr


           

           

        • Andrew Rizzardo
          For the benefit of the uninitiated, Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values,
          Message 4 of 14 , Apr 2, 2011
            For the benefit of the uninitiated,

            "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

            "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

            "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

            "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

            "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

            Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.


            "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages.. ... The etymology of the term, the persons designated by it, their origin, their doctrines, the rule or rules under which they lived and the limits of their authority and privileges have all been matters of controversy... From the 12th century Scottish and Irish Christianity was regulated on the Roman pattern and in the process the Culdees also lost any distinctiveness they may formerly have had and were brought under canonical rule."

            Kabbalah/Kabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ lit. "receiving"; usually transliterated with a 'K' to distinguish from other, derivative traditions outside Judaism) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism."

            http://en.wikipedia.org

            You may notice that most (except Philosophy) convey an idea of membership in a community... and you may already know, no matter what anyone tells you, that many books on these subjects, particular the Eastern ones, do say that YOU COULD HURT YOURSELF IF YOU ATTEMPT THE PRACTICES WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A TEACHER...

            Caveat emptor... 


            On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

            I'm not so bold as to argue with wikipedia however, and I submit to the fact that, academically, words mean whatever the reference books say they do.   But maybe a question like "What is the difference between mysticism and philosophy?" would break some additional ice...



            On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

            In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

            But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

            The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







            On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

             



            RWR,
             
            This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
             
            "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
             
            To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

            “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

            He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

            In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

            Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

            So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
            Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
             
            To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
             
            Salus,
            James
             
             
            --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
             

            From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
            Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
            To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
            Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

             

            Mystics and Mysticism 

             

            Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

             rwr


             

             

          • James McKinnon
            Andrew,   First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I ll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best.  I intended to
            Message 5 of 14 , Apr 3, 2011
              Andrew,
               
              First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I'll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best. 
              I intended to write, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis instead of Theoria, Henosis and Theosis.  (That probably caused a lot of confusion)  Anyway, these, (theoria, kenosis and theosis), are distinct concepts from the Areopagite's purification, Illumination and perfection, which correlate better with the three traditional mystical training stages, purgative, illuminative, and unitive mentioned by Hierocles and varioius Christian monastic writers.  They are, as you said, very consistent with the three degrees of Masonry.  The Hindu counterparts of those would be Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakti Marga.
              The distinction between these and Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and likewise, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis is that purgative, illuminative, unitive refer to training approaches which are sometimes set up as successive training stages.  A training approach being something that houses a practice or set of practices the mystic does to achieve certain developmental goals.  For instance the Fellowcraft studies the seven liberal arts in order to strengthen his Dianoic powers, like his analytical ability and his ability to recognize logical relationships. 
               
              Theoria, kenosis and theosis refer directly to developments that take place in the context of meditation.  Meditation, to give Patanjali's definition, is "the restriction of mental modifications."
               

              To explain, the meditator, passes through three generally recognized stages, in Sanskrit, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, in Greek, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis.  The words dharana, dhyana, and theoria even have an etymological relationship because they are based on a root that means, to see. 

                          Dharana is described as the meditative state wherein the meditator focuses his concentration on a meditation object.  In the dharana stage, however, the meditator cannot continually maintain his focus and has to refocus his attention again and again.  Dhyana is the meditative state where the meditator has become strong enough to maintain a constant steady stream of attention on the meditation object because he has become strong enough to empty himself of all other thought.  Samadhi is described as the meditator becoming the meditation object.  (The meditation object is usually a divine name, phrase or diety)

                          Theoria is likewise the general state of attempting to maintain the attention on the object of meditation.  Kenosis is the state where the meditator becomes empty of any thought but the object of meditation.  Theosis is the state wherein the empty meditator becomes full of the divine presence.  He becomes Culu De, which is ancient Gaelic for God's Chariot.  These definitions, Sanskrit and Greek, though having semantic differences, are essentially the same process. 

                      As to your definitions, These days it is very much the case that philosophy is generally understood to be nothing more than dialectic applied to topics.  However, it's also pretty clear from studying practices and approaches demonstated in Pythagorean and Platonic literature that at the time its name was coined philosophy was the same as mysticim.   

              The definition given of Buddha Dharma is, at best, misleading.  Buddha Dharma is really nothing more than a set of practices (mostly mystical in character) designed to help the practitioner permanently escape suffering.  It is easily summed up with, "suffering, origen, cessation and path." There is suffering, the origen of suffering is desire, cessation of suffering is possible, and an eightfold method to achieve the same.

              The definition of religion is, at best, a guess.  For instance Buddhism is something so different from penticostalism that calling them both religions begs the question of what we could possibly mean by religion. 

              The definition of Sufism will have to do becasue it at least gives some idea of Sufi practice.  One thing that makes Sufism unique in the Islamic community is that it is totally tolerant of other types of religious practice.  (I'm not saying this because I read it in a book, I'm saying it from personal experience.  I speak Arabic and I lived in the middle east for some years.)

              The diffenition of Benedictine is as broad as possible.  Many Benedictines follow the purgative, illuminative, unitive methods, and there have historically been groups that fell under the general title of Benedictine whose practices were in some ways distinct from other groups.  An example might be the Tironensian Benedictines.  (The Tironensian Benedictines, under Culdee influence, are thought to have played an important role in the formation of Freemasonry.)

              The writer of the Culdee definition clearly never spoke to or corresponded with an actual Culdee.  My family ran the Iona monastery from 563 to 1565.  In 1565 we were forced to transfer everything to the Scottish monastery at Regensburg, Germany so it wouldn't be destroyed by reformers.   Knowledge of actual Culdee tradition survives in the Familia.

              The usefulness of looking at the similarities of various mystical traditions and practices is simply becasue some practices work better for some persons.  If it is acknowledged that they're working toward the same goals it broadens the scope of choices for an individual, and sometimes another tradition might explain a concept in a way that helps a student understand more clearly.  My wife, for instance, is a practitioner of a very traditional form of Gelugpa Buddhism.  She could never feel very comfortable practicing my tradition.  However, she can come to me to gain some clarity and understanding about some of her practices because seeing the same thing explained from a western standpoint is sometimes easier. 

              So, perhaps New Age paste isn't all bad.

              Salus,

              James

               
              --- On Sat, 4/2/11, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

              From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
              Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
              To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 8:17 PM

               
              For the benefit of the uninitiated,

              "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

              "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

              "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

              "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

              "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

              Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.

              "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages.. ... The etymology of the term, the persons designated by it, their origin, their doctrines, the rule or rules under which they lived and the limits of their authority and privileges have all been matters of controversy... From the 12th century Scottish and Irish Christianity was regulated on the Roman pattern and in the process the Culdees also lost any distinctiveness they may formerly have had and were brought under canonical rule."

              Kabbalah/Kabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ lit. "receiving"; usually transliterated with a 'K' to distinguish from other, derivative traditions outside Judaism) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism."

              http://en.wikipedia.org

              You may notice that most (except Philosophy) convey an idea of membership in a community... and you may already know, no matter what anyone tells you, that many books on these subjects, particular the Eastern ones, do say that YOU COULD HURT YOURSELF IF YOU ATTEMPT THE PRACTICES WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A TEACHER...

              Caveat emptor... 


              On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
              I'm not so bold as to argue with wikipedia however, and I submit to the fact that, academically, words mean whatever the reference books say they do.   But maybe a question like "What is the difference between mysticism and philosophy?" would break some additional ice...



              On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
              In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

              But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

              The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







              On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:
               

              He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

              In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

              Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

              So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
              Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
               
              To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
               
              Salus,
              James
               
               
              --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
               

              From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
              Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
              To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

               

              Mystics and Mysticism 

               

              Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

               rwr


               

               



              RWR,
               
              This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
               
              "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
               
              To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

              “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

            • Andrew Rizzardo
              I see nothing to argue with in any of that, but let me only say that I recently took a class on Pseudo-Dionysius with a professor who, through unrelated
              Message 6 of 14 , Apr 3, 2011
                I see nothing to argue with in any of that, but let me only say that I recently took a class on Pseudo-Dionysius with a professor who, through unrelated circumstances, was ordained about a month later as a Russian Orthodox priest... and he'd have stared down his classes at like you were an insect for even *suggesting* that a man like Patanjali and a man like Pseudo-Dionysius could have had anything in common.  And that's just something an aspirant should keep in mind, when philosophizing in the real world.

                Anyway, Patanjali wrote an EIGHTFOLD not a THREEFOLD system.  You're making it sound very neat and tidy, but the first part and second part encompass the MORAL training, which a non-Hindu, or even a Hindu removed by a few hundred years either way from Patanjali, might not even recognize as MORAL training, having very different standards for that sort of thing.

                If your wife is a Gelugpa, I assume she does her practices in Tibetan, instead of her native language... but if it's all essentially the same... why?  (If Tibetan IS her native language please excuse me.)  Everyone to whom I've ever asked a similar question has said something like "[...] Tradition [...]", but I still don't understand.  IF the same methods and the same realizations are being practices and realized everywhere, then EITHER the methods are inherent, somehow, in human consciousness, and have arisen independently and probably MUST arise independently in every generation of practitioner, OR they may all have a common ancestor, in the way you say the Culdees influenced the Tironensian Benedictines, who influenced the Freemasons, etc., (with probably some Knight's Templar thrown in just to keep all our bases covered).  If the former, the latter is maybe just mythology...  but if the latter, then I'd love to know who that common ancestor was. 

                 





                On Apr 3, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                 

                Andrew,
                 
                First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I'll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best. 
                I intended to write, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis instead of Theoria, Henosis and Theosis.  (That probably caused a lot of confusion)  Anyway, these, (theoria, kenosis and theosis), are distinct concepts from the Areopagite's purification, Illumination and perfection, which correlate better with the three traditional mystical training stages, purgative, illuminative, and unitive mentioned by Hierocles and varioius Christian monastic writers.  They are, as you said, very consistent with the three degrees of Masonry.  The Hindu counterparts of those would be Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakti Marga.
                The distinction between these and Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and likewise, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis is that purgative, illuminative, unitive refer to training approaches which are sometimes set up as successive training stages.  A training approach being something that houses a practice or set of practices the mystic does to achieve certain developmental goals.  For instance the Fellowcraft studies the seven liberal arts in order to strengthen his Dianoic powers, like his analytical ability and his ability to recognize logical relationships. 
                 
                Theoria, kenosis and theosis refer directly to developments that take place in the context of meditation.  Meditation, to give Patanjali's definition, is "the restriction of mental modifications."
                 

                To explain, the meditator, passes through three generally recognized stages, in Sanskrit, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, in Greek, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis.  The words dharana, dhyana, and theoria even have an etymological relationship because they are based on a root that means, to see. 

                            Dharana is described as the meditative state wherein the meditator focuses his concentration on a meditation object.  In the dharana stage, however, the meditator cannot continually maintain his focus and has to refocus his attention again and again.  Dhyana is the meditative state where the meditator has become strong enough to maintain a constant steady stream of attention on the meditation object because he has become strong enough to empty himself of all other thought.  Samadhi is described as the meditator becoming the meditation object.  (The meditation object is usually a divine name, phrase or diety)

                            Theoria is likewise the general state of attempting to maintain the attention on the object of meditation.  Kenosis is the state where the meditator becomes empty of any thought but the object of meditation.  Theosis is the state wherein the empty meditator becomes full of the divine presence.  He becomes Culu De, which is ancient Gaelic for God's Chariot.  These definitions, Sanskrit and Greek, though having semantic differences, are essentially the same process. 

                        As to your definitions, These days it is very much the case that philosophy is generally understood to be nothing more than dialectic applied to topics.  However, it's also pretty clear from studying practices and approaches demonstated in Pythagorean and Platonic literature that at the time its name was coined philosophy was the same as mysticim.   

                The definition given of Buddha Dharma is, at best, misleading.  Buddha Dharma is really nothing more than a set of practices (mostly mystical in character) designed to help the practitioner permanently escape suffering.  It is easily summed up with, "suffering, origen, cessation and path." There is suffering, the origen of suffering is desire, cessation of suffering is possible, and an eightfold method to achieve the same.

                The definition of religion is, at best, a guess.  For instance Buddhism is something so different from penticostalism that calling them both religions begs the question of what we could possibly mean by religion. 

                The definition of Sufism will have to do becasue it at least gives some idea of Sufi practice.  One thing that makes Sufism unique in the Islamic community is that it is totally tolerant of other types of religious practice.  (I'm not saying this because I read it in a book, I'm saying it from personal experience.  I speak Arabic and I lived in the middle east for some years.)

                The diffenition of Benedictine is as broad as possible.  Many Benedictines follow the purgative, illuminative, unitive methods, and there have historically been groups that fell under the general title of Benedictine whose practices were in some ways distinct from other groups.  An example might be the Tironensian Benedictines.  (The Tironensian Benedictines, under Culdee influence, are thought to have played an important role in the formation of Freemasonry.)

                The writer of the Culdee definition clearly never spoke to or corresponded with an actual Culdee.  My family ran the Iona monastery from 563 to 1565.  In 1565 we were forced to transfer everything to the Scottish monastery at Regensburg, Germany so it wouldn't be destroyed by reformers.   Knowledge of actual Culdee tradition survives in the Familia.

                The usefulness of looking at the similarities of various mystical traditions and practices is simply becasue some practices work better for some persons.  If it is acknowledged that they're working toward the same goals it broadens the scope of choices for an individual, and sometimes another tradition might explain a concept in a way that helps a student understand more clearly.  My wife, for instance, is a practitioner of a very traditional form of Gelugpa Buddhism.  She could never feel very comfortable practicing my tradition.  However, she can come to me to gain some clarity and understanding about some of her practices because seeing the same thing explained from a western standpoint is sometimes easier. 

                So, perhaps New Age paste isn't all bad.

                Salus,

                James

                 
                --- On Sat, 4/2/11, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

                From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 8:17 PM

                 
                For the benefit of the uninitiated,

                "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

                "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

                "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

                "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

                "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

                Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.

                "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages.. ... The etymology of the term, the persons designated by it, their origin, their doctrines, the rule or rules under which they lived and the limits of their authority and privileges have all been matters of controversy... From the 12th century Scottish and Irish Christianity was regulated on the Roman pattern and in the process the Culdees also lost any distinctiveness they may formerly have had and were brought under canonical rule."

                Kabbalah/Kabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ lit. "receiving"; usually transliterated with a 'K' to distinguish from other, derivative traditions outside Judaism) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism."

                http://en.wikipedia.org

                You may notice that most (except Philosophy) convey an idea of membership in a community... and you may already know, no matter what anyone tells you, that many books on these subjects, particular the Eastern ones, do say that YOU COULD HURT YOURSELF IF YOU ATTEMPT THE PRACTICES WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A TEACHER...

                Caveat emptor... 


                On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                I'm not so bold as to argue with wikipedia however, and I submit to the fact that, academically, words mean whatever the reference books say they do.   But maybe a question like "What is the difference between mysticism and philosophy?" would break some additional ice...



                On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

                But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

                The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







                On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:
                 


                RWR,
                 
                This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
                 
                "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
                 
                To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

                “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

                He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

                In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

                Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

                So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
                Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
                 
                To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
                 
                Salus,
                James
                 
                 
                --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
                 

                From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
                Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

                 

                Mystics and Mysticism 

                 

                Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

                 rwr


                 

                 

              • Andrew Rizzardo
                For what it s worth, I attended a Kagyu lineage Chenrezig practice one week ago, one week ago to the day. I almost went back again (they do it every Sunday at
                Message 7 of 14 , Apr 3, 2011
                  For what it's worth, I attended a Kagyu lineage Chenrezig practice one week ago, one week ago to the day.  I almost went back again (they do it every Sunday at 5:30), about 4 or 5 hours ago... but decided that I just felt *weird* praying in a language I didn't understand and invoking several hundred years worth of the gurus/lamas of an unbroken lineage that I don't actually belong to, and, after reflection, do not necessarily feel like joining.

                  Here, there is a very clear distinction between initiates and non-initiates.  In all Indian/Tibetan tantric lineages that I am aware of, before reciting a particular mantra or performing a particular practice, it is customary to receive the mantra or to receive an "empowerment" for the practice from the guru/lama.  If you don't, then tradition teaches that either it won't work at all, or you're taking a risk with your physical, emotional, and mental health.

                  This is not by any means unusual, as these things go, and is comparable to the initiatory rites of Freemasonry and to the initiatory sacraments of the Catholic Church (baptism, etc.)  Or at least no one seemed to think it was unusual until about a hundred years ago, when just IGNORING any and all initiation requirements became the defining characteristic of the "New Age paste" that I referred to earlier...

                  I'm not saying that anyone who wants to can't begin a meditation practice, or learn one from a book...  but there's obviously a lot more going on here than that.



                  On Apr 3, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                   

                  Andrew,
                   
                  First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I'll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best. 
                  I intended to write, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis instead of Theoria, Henosis and Theosis.  (That probably caused a lot of confusion)  Anyway, these, (theoria, kenosis and theosis), are distinct concepts from the Areopagite's purification, Illumination and perfection, which correlate better with the three traditional mystical training stages, purgative, illuminative, and unitive mentioned by Hierocles and varioius Christian monastic writers.  They are, as you said, very consistent with the three degrees of Masonry.  The Hindu counterparts of those would be Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakti Marga.
                  The distinction between these and Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and likewise, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis is that purgative, illuminative, unitive refer to training approaches which are sometimes set up as successive training stages.  A training approach being something that houses a practice or set of practices the mystic does to achieve certain developmental goals.  For instance the Fellowcraft studies the seven liberal arts in order to strengthen his Dianoic powers, like his analytical ability and his ability to recognize logical relationships. 
                   
                  Theoria, kenosis and theosis refer directly to developments that take place in the context of meditation.  Meditation, to give Patanjali's definition, is "the restriction of mental modifications."
                   

                  To explain, the meditator, passes through three generally recognized stages, in Sanskrit, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, in Greek, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis.  The words dharana, dhyana, and theoria even have an etymological relationship because they are based on a root that means, to see. 

                              Dharana is described as the meditative state wherein the meditator focuses his concentration on a meditation object.  In the dharana stage, however, the meditator cannot continually maintain his focus and has to refocus his attention again and again.  Dhyana is the meditative state where the meditator has become strong enough to maintain a constant steady stream of attention on the meditation object because he has become strong enough to empty himself of all other thought.  Samadhi is described as the meditator becoming the meditation object.  (The meditation object is usually a divine name, phrase or diety)

                              Theoria is likewise the general state of attempting to maintain the attention on the object of meditation.  Kenosis is the state where the meditator becomes empty of any thought but the object of meditation.  Theosis is the state wherein the empty meditator becomes full of the divine presence.  He becomes Culu De, which is ancient Gaelic for God's Chariot.  These definitions, Sanskrit and Greek, though having semantic differences, are essentially the same process. 

                          As to your definitions, These days it is very much the case that philosophy is generally understood to be nothing more than dialectic applied to topics.  However, it's also pretty clear from studying practices and approaches demonstated in Pythagorean and Platonic literature that at the time its name was coined philosophy was the same as mysticim.   

                  The definition given of Buddha Dharma is, at best, misleading.  Buddha Dharma is really nothing more than a set of practices (mostly mystical in character) designed to help the practitioner permanently escape suffering.  It is easily summed up with, "suffering, origen, cessation and path." There is suffering, the origen of suffering is desire, cessation of suffering is possible, and an eightfold method to achieve the same.

                  The definition of religion is, at best, a guess.  For instance Buddhism is something so different from penticostalism that calling them both religions begs the question of what we could possibly mean by religion. 

                  The definition of Sufism will have to do becasue it at least gives some idea of Sufi practice.  One thing that makes Sufism unique in the Islamic community is that it is totally tolerant of other types of religious practice.  (I'm not saying this because I read it in a book, I'm saying it from personal experience.  I speak Arabic and I lived in the middle east for some years.)

                  The diffenition of Benedictine is as broad as possible.  Many Benedictines follow the purgative, illuminative, unitive methods, and there have historically been groups that fell under the general title of Benedictine whose practices were in some ways distinct from other groups.  An example might be the Tironensian Benedictines.  (The Tironensian Benedictines, under Culdee influence, are thought to have played an important role in the formation of Freemasonry.)

                  The writer of the Culdee definition clearly never spoke to or corresponded with an actual Culdee.  My family ran the Iona monastery from 563 to 1565.  In 1565 we were forced to transfer everything to the Scottish monastery at Regensburg, Germany so it wouldn't be destroyed by reformers.   Knowledge of actual Culdee tradition survives in the Familia.

                  The usefulness of looking at the similarities of various mystical traditions and practices is simply becasue some practices work better for some persons.  If it is acknowledged that they're working toward the same goals it broadens the scope of choices for an individual, and sometimes another tradition might explain a concept in a way that helps a student understand more clearly.  My wife, for instance, is a practitioner of a very traditional form of Gelugpa Buddhism.  She could never feel very comfortable practicing my tradition.  However, she can come to me to gain some clarity and understanding about some of her practices because seeing the same thing explained from a western standpoint is sometimes easier. 

                  So, perhaps New Age paste isn't all bad.

                  Salus,

                  James

                   
                  --- On Sat, 4/2/11, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

                  From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                  Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                  To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 8:17 PM

                   
                  For the benefit of the uninitiated,

                  "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

                  "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

                  "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

                  "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

                  "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

                  Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.

                  "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages.. ... The etymology of the term, the persons designated by it, their origin, their doctrines, the rule or rules under which they lived and the limits of their authority and privileges have all been matters of controversy... From the 12th century Scottish and Irish Christianity was regulated on the Roman pattern and in the process the Culdees also lost any distinctiveness they may formerly have had and were brought under canonical rule."

                  Kabbalah/Kabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ lit. "receiving"; usually transliterated with a 'K' to distinguish from other, derivative traditions outside Judaism) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism."

                  http://en.wikipedia.org

                  You may notice that most (except Philosophy) convey an idea of membership in a community... and you may already know, no matter what anyone tells you, that many books on these subjects, particular the Eastern ones, do say that YOU COULD HURT YOURSELF IF YOU ATTEMPT THE PRACTICES WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A TEACHER...

                  Caveat emptor... 


                  On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                  I'm not so bold as to argue with wikipedia however, and I submit to the fact that, academically, words mean whatever the reference books say they do.   But maybe a question like "What is the difference between mysticism and philosophy?" would break some additional ice...



                  On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                  In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

                  But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

                  The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







                  On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:
                   


                  RWR,
                   
                  This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
                   
                  "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
                   
                  To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

                  “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

                  He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

                  In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

                  Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

                  So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
                  Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
                   
                  To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
                   
                  Salus,
                  James
                   
                   
                  --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
                   

                  From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
                  Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                  To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                  Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

                   

                  Mystics and Mysticism 

                   

                  Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

                   rwr


                   

                   

                • leslie greenhill
                    Any comments on these remarks by Plotinus?   “The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged already and not like those others, in need of
                  Message 8 of 14 , Apr 3, 2011

                     

                    Any comments on these remarks by Plotinus?

                     

                    “The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged already and not like those others, in need of disengagement, stirring of himself towards the supernal but doubting of the way, needs only a guide.  He must be shown, then, and instructed, a willing wayfarer by his very temperament, all but self-directed. 

                     

                    Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very easily, will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to faith in the unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he must be led to make his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he must be put through a course in Dialectic and made an adept in the science.”   (The Six Enneads - first Ennead.) 


                    Les


                    P.O. Box 314
                    Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
                    Email: neoplatonist2000@...
                  • Andrew Rizzardo
                    I haven t read much Plotinus, but I remember that. He describes three kinds of souls, or three degrees of attainment... but you ve only quoted the part about
                    Message 9 of 14 , Apr 3, 2011
                      I haven't read much Plotinus, but I remember that.  He describes three kinds of souls, or three degrees of attainment...  but you've only quoted the part about the last.  It might be more traditional to start with the first :)



                      "The first degree is the conversion from the lower life; the second — held by those that have already made their way to the sphere of the Intelligibles, have set as it were a footprint there but must still advance within the realm — lasts until they reach the extreme hold of the place, the Term attained when the topmost peak of the Intellectual realm is won.

                      But this highest degree must bide its time: let us first try to speak of the initial process of conversion.

                      We must begin by distinguishing the three types. Let us take the musician first and indicate his temperamental equipment for the task.

                      The musician we may think of as being exceedingly quick to beauty, drawn in a very rapture to it: somewhat slow to stir of his own impulse, he answers at once to the outer stimulus: as the timid are sensitive to noise so he to tones and the beauty they convey; all that offends against unison or harmony in melodies and rhythms repels him; he longs for measure and shapely pattern.

                      This natural tendency must be made the starting-point to such a man; he must be drawn by the tone, rhythm and design in things of sense: he must learn to distinguish the material forms from the Authentic-Existent which is the source of all these correspondences and of the entire reasoned scheme in the work of art: he must be led to the Beauty that manifests itself through these forms; he must be shown that what ravished him was no other than the Harmony of the Intellectual world and the Beauty in that sphere, not some one shape of beauty but the All-Beauty, the Absolute Beauty; and the truths of philosophy must be implanted in him to lead him to faith in that which, unknowing it, he possesses within himself. What these truths are we will show later.
                         

                      On Apr 3, 2011, leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...> wrote:

                       

                       

                       

                      Any comments on these remarks by Plotinus?

                       

                      “The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged already and not like those others, in need of disengagement, stirring of himself towards the supernal but doubting of the way, needs only a guide.  He must be shown, then, and instructed, a willing wayfarer by his very temperament, all but self-directed. 

                       

                      Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very easily, will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to faith in the unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he must be led to make his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he must be put through a course in Dialectic and made an adept in the science.”   (The Six Enneads - first Ennead.) 


                      Les


                      P.O. Box 314
                      Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
                      Email: neoplatonist2000@...

                    • James McKinnon
                      Andrew, Frankly I have to confess a certain amount of ignorance about New Age anything.  For instance I didn t know that they don t bother with initiation. 
                      Message 10 of 14 , Apr 4, 2011
                        Andrew,
                         
                        Frankly I have to confess a certain amount of ignorance about New Age anything.  For instance I didn't know that they don't bother with initiation. 
                         
                        My wife has been through a variety of empowerments, both in Sutra and in Tantra ,and naturally all of her practice is tied to those initiations.  And, yes, she does it all in the Sanskrit language.  It's a no joke program.  She just finished a seven week retreat where she was meditating many hours per day under the guidance of a nun. 
                         
                        In my first response to the question about mysticism I didn't intent to subvert the initiatory process, because It's, as you've pointed out, indispensable. 
                         
                        In my tradition we have a series of initiations that clearly have some relation to Masonic initiations but in some ways take things a bit further. 
                         
                        As to your question of why do the training in the original language if everything is essentially the same, it's an issue of experience, tradition, and the psychological impact on the meditator of chanting the mantra in a sacred language.  Some languages like Sanskrit are considered holy.  In the Auraicept na n-Éces, a primer for Gaelic bards, Hebrew, Latin and Greek are declared to be three holy languages, and are set apart from the other 72 languages that emerged from the destruction of the Tower of Babel.  Sanskrit is also considered sacred by Tibetans and other Buddhists, as is Classical Koranic Arabic by the Arabs.  Chanting mantras in a "sacred" language has a certain psychological effect during meditation.  Understanding that effect is a matter of experience.  The intent of the meditator, along with the altered consciousness state associated with chanting a dead or sacred language help to deepen the experience and improve the progress of the practitioner.  Intent, also,  is more important than what is said.  there's and story about a Japanese monk who mispronounced  the mantra that translates as "The Jewel in the Lotus" as "The Jewel in the Latrine" all the way to realizing nirvana. 
                         
                        As far as how it comes about that these different traditions are performing essentially the same function, I compare it to weight lifting.  The essential process of becoming stronger is generally the same from one person to the next given variables of genetics.  So, a man in China and a man in Germany will develop similar techniques if they both set about to develop 18 inch biceps.  So, the development process for each person is essentially the same, so the methods developed will naturally be the same at a fundamental level.
                         
                        Salus,
                        James


                        From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                        To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Sun, April 3, 2011 8:38:04 PM
                        Subject: Re: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism

                         

                        For what it's worth, I attended a Kagyu lineage Chenrezig practice one week ago, one week ago to the day.  I almost went back again (they do it every Sunday at 5:30), about 4 or 5 hours ago... but decided that I just felt *weird* praying in a language I didn't understand and invoking several hundred years worth of the gurus/lamas of an unbroken lineage that I don't actually belong to, and, after reflection, do not necessarily feel like joining.

                        Here, there is a very clear distinction between initiates and non-initiates.  In all Indian/Tibetan tantric lineages that I am aware of, before reciting a particular mantra or performing a particular practice, it is customary to receive the mantra or to receive an "empowerment" for the practice from the guru/lama.  If you don't, then tradition teaches that either it won't work at all, or you're taking a risk with your physical, emotional, and mental health.

                        This is not by any means unusual, as these things go, and is comparable to the initiatory rites of Freemasonry and to the initiatory sacraments of the Catholic Church (baptism, etc.)  Or at least no one seemed to think it was unusual until about a hundred years ago, when just IGNORING any and all initiation requirements became the defining characteristic of the "New Age paste" that I referred to earlier...

                        I'm not saying that anyone who wants to can't begin a meditation practice, or learn one from a book...  but there's obviously a lot more going on here than that.



                        On Apr 3, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                         

                        Andrew,
                         
                        First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I'll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best. 
                        I intended to write, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis instead of Theoria, Henosis and Theosis.  (That probably caused a lot of confusion)  Anyway, these, (theoria, kenosis and theosis), are distinct concepts from the Areopagite's purification, Illumination and perfection, which correlate better with the three traditional mystical training stages, purgative, illuminative, and unitive mentioned by Hierocles and varioius Christian monastic writers.  They are, as you said, very consistent with the three degrees of Masonry.  The Hindu counterparts of those would be Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakti Marga.
                        The distinction between these and Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and likewise, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis is that purgative, illuminative, unitive refer to training approaches which are sometimes set up as successive training stages.  A training approach being something that houses a practice or set of practices the mystic does to achieve certain developmental goals.  For instance the Fellowcraft studies the seven liberal arts in order to strengthen his Dianoic powers, like his analytical ability and his ability to recognize logical relationships. 
                         
                        Theoria, kenosis and theosis refer directly to developments that take place in the context of meditation.  Meditation, to give Patanjali's definition, is "the restriction of mental modifications."
                         

                        To explain, the meditator, passes through three generally recognized stages, in Sanskrit, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, in Greek, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis.  The words dharana, dhyana, and theoria even have an etymological relationship because they are based on a root that means, to see. 

                                    Dharana is described as the meditative state wherein the meditator focuses his concentration on a meditation object.  In the dharana stage, however, the meditator cannot continually maintain his focus and has to refocus his attention again and again.  Dhyana is the meditative state where the meditator has become strong enough to maintain a constant steady stream of attention on the meditation object because he has become strong enough to empty himself of all other thought.  Samadhi is described as the meditator becoming the meditation object.  (The meditation object is usually a divine name, phrase or diety)

                                    Theoria is likewise the general state of attempting to maintain the attention on the object of meditation.  Kenosis is the state where the meditator becomes empty of any thought but the object of meditation.  Theosis is the state wherein the empty meditator becomes full of the divine presence.  He becomes Culu De, which is ancient Gaelic for God's Chariot.  These definitions, Sanskrit and Greek, though having semantic differences, are essentially the same process. 

                                As to your definitions, These days it is very much the case that philosophy is generally understood to be nothing more than dialectic applied to topics.  However, it's also pretty clear from studying practices and approaches demonstated in Pythagorean and Platonic literature that at the time its name was coined philosophy was the same as mysticim.   

                        The definition given of Buddha Dharma is, at best, misleading.  Buddha Dharma is really nothing more than a set of practices (mostly mystical in character) designed to help the practitioner permanently escape suffering.  It is easily summed up with, "suffering, origen, cessation and path." There is suffering, the origen of suffering is desire, cessation of suffering is possible, and an eightfold method to achieve the same.

                        The definition of religion is, at best, a guess.  For instance Buddhism is something so different from penticostalism that calling them both religions begs the question of what we could possibly mean by religion. 

                        The definition of Sufism will have to do becasue it at least gives some idea of Sufi practice.  One thing that makes Sufism unique in the Islamic community is that it is totally tolerant of other types of religious practice.  (I'm not saying this because I read it in a book, I'm saying it from personal experience.  I speak Arabic and I lived in the middle east for some years.)

                        The diffenition of Benedictine is as broad as possible.  Many Benedictines follow the purgative, illuminative, unitive methods, and there have historically been groups that fell under the general title of Benedictine whose practices were in some ways distinct from other groups.  An example might be the Tironensian Benedictines.  (The Tironensian Benedictines, under Culdee influence, are thought to have played an important role in the formation of Freemasonry.)

                        The writer of the Culdee definition clearly never spoke to or corresponded with an actual Culdee.  My family ran the Iona monastery from 563 to 1565.  In 1565 we were forced to transfer everything to the Scottish monastery at Regensburg, Germany so it wouldn't be destroyed by reformers.   Knowledge of actual Culdee tradition survives in the Familia.

                        The usefulness of looking at the similarities of various mystical traditions and practices is simply becasue some practices work better for some persons.  If it is acknowledged that they're working toward the same goals it broadens the scope of choices for an individual, and sometimes another tradition might explain a concept in a way that helps a student understand more clearly.  My wife, for instance, is a practitioner of a very traditional form of Gelugpa Buddhism.  She could never feel very comfortable practicing my tradition.  However, she can come to me to gain some clarity and understanding about some of her practices because seeing the same thing explained from a western standpoint is sometimes easier. 

                        So, perhaps New Age paste isn't all bad.

                        Salus,

                        James

                         
                        --- On Sat, 4/2/11, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

                        From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                        Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                        To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 8:17 PM

                         
                        For the benefit of the uninitiated,

                        "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

                        "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

                        "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

                        "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

                        "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

                        Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.

                        "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages.. ... The etymology of the term, the persons designated by it, their origin, their doctrines, the rule or rules under which they lived and the limits of their authority and privileges have all been matters of controversy... From the 12th century Scottish and Irish Christianity was regulated on the Roman pattern and in the process the Culdees also lost any distinctiveness they may formerly have had and were brought under canonical rule."

                        Kabbalah/Kabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ lit. "receiving"; usually transliterated with a 'K' to distinguish from other, derivative traditions outside Judaism) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism."

                        http://en.wikipedia.org

                        You may notice that most (except Philosophy) convey an idea of membership in a community... and you may already know, no matter what anyone tells you, that many books on these subjects, particular the Eastern ones, do say that YOU COULD HURT YOURSELF IF YOU ATTEMPT THE PRACTICES WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A TEACHER...

                        Caveat emptor... 


                        On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                        I'm not so bold as to argue with wikipedia however, and I submit to the fact that, academically, words mean whatever the reference books say they do.   But maybe a question like "What is the difference between mysticism and philosophy?" would break some additional ice...



                        On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                        In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

                        But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

                        The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







                        On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:
                         


                        RWR,
                         
                        This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
                         
                        "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
                         
                        To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

                        “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

                        He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

                        In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

                        Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

                        So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
                        Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
                         
                        To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
                         
                        Salus,
                        James
                         
                         
                        --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
                         

                        From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
                        Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                        To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                        Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

                         

                        Mystics and Mysticism 

                         

                        Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

                         rwr


                         

                         

                      • James McKinnon
                        Les, I think it s a pretty accurate observation.  Everyone I ve ever met who seriously pursued these studies was naturally predisposed to them.  I ve also
                        Message 11 of 14 , Apr 5, 2011
                          Les,
                           
                          I think it's a pretty accurate observation.  Everyone I've ever met who seriously pursued these studies was naturally predisposed to them.  I've also observed that it's virtually impossible to get a person who isn't predisposed to these studies to take an interest without using some kind of Upaya.
                           
                          The Masonic writer George Oliver once wrote, "Never enter into a dispute with a cowan. Like the deaf adder he will stop his ears, and refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. No matter how clear are your facts, or how convincing your arguments, still he will turn an incredulous ear to your reasoning. Though you anxiously cry out, Oh, Baal, hear us, and even cut yourself with knives and lancets to bespeak his attention, there will be neither voice nor any answer, nor any that regardeth. You may as well endavour to extinguish the sun by pelting it with snowballs, or to cut rocks in pieces with a razor, as to make any genial impression on the mind of a professed cowan.."
                           
                          Salus,
                          James


                          From: leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...>
                          To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Sun, April 3, 2011 9:31:20 PM
                          Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism

                           

                           

                          Any comments on these remarks by Plotinus?

                           

                          “The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged already and not like those others, in need of disengagement, stirring of himself towards the supernal but doubting of the way, needs only a guide.  He must be shown, then, and instructed, a willing wayfarer by his very temperament, all but self-directed. 

                           

                          Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very easily, will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to faith in the unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he must be led to make his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he must be put through a course in Dialectic and made an adept in the science.”   (The Six Enneads - first Ennead.) 


                          Les


                          P.O. Box 314
                          Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
                          Email: neoplatonist2000@...

                        • Andrew Rizzardo
                          Concerning the difference between traditional Tantra and its New Age offshots, because you re familiar with the tradition already, I can make the point in one
                          Message 12 of 14 , Apr 5, 2011
                            Concerning the difference between traditional Tantra and its New Age offshots, because you're familiar with the tradition already, I can make the point in one word: chakras.

                            But that said, there are still many stories of saints who were just born already enlightened, or become enlightened easily, having supposedly, in this context, done the work already in previous lives.  In the stories, some of them go through the motions of initiation anyway to set a good example for others... some don't.  I have great respect for initiatory traditions... but if someone seems to know what they're talking about, I'll probably listen, and I don't necessarily check their resume first.  :)

                            The people of that time, not being so wise as you young folks, were content in their simplicity to hear an oak or a rock, provided only it spoke the truth. But to you, perhaps, it makes a difference who the speaker is and where he comes from…” -Plato, Phaedrus 275b-c

                            I don't want to get too deeply into it, but since you brought up that you and your wife practice DIFFERENT initiatory traditions, but seem capable of communnicating about them, "Is initiation one or many?" is probably a relevant question.  Pythagoras, by tradition, was said to have been initiated into the Egyptian, Hebrew, Babylonian, Greek, etc., etc., etc., Mysteries, all at different times... Proclus has a similar story.

                            I don't think you meant to say that sacred languages had a purely psychological, placebo effect, but maybe you did.  That might be right, but I think that many practictioners might tell you that mantras work whether you believe in them or not.  That Sanskrit is sacred FOR REAL, and THAT'S why the practices are dangerous without guidance from a teacher.  (Are you acquainted with Enochian, by any chance?)

                            Magical Words of Power are a little bit outside the scope of contemporary Western thinking... I admit... but since maybe the whole point of *mathematics*, etc., is that it works for any rational creature, objectively, whether they want it to work or not (disagreement? get your calculators out), it's not such an out-there idea.






                            On Apr 4, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                             

                             

                            Andrew,
                             
                            Frankly I have to confess a certain amount of ignorance about New Age anything.  For instance I didn't know that they don't bother with initiation. 
                             
                            My wife has been through a variety of empowerments, both in Sutra and in Tantra ,and naturally all of her practice is tied to those initiations.  And, yes, she does it all in the Sanskrit language.  It's a no joke program.  She just finished a seven week retreat where she was meditating many hours per day under the guidance of a nun. 
                             
                            In my first response to the question about mysticism I didn't intent to subvert the initiatory process, because It's, as you've pointed out, indispensable. 
                             
                            In my tradition we have a series of initiations that clearly have some relation to Masonic initiations but in some ways take things a bit further. 
                             
                            As to your question of why do the training in the original language if everything is essentially the same, it's an issue of experience, tradition, and the psychological impact on the meditator of chanting the mantra in a sacred language.  Some languages like Sanskrit are considered holy.  In the Auraicept na n-Éces, a primer for Gaelic bards, Hebrew, Latin and Greek are declared to be three holy languages, and are set apart from the other 72 languages that emerged from the destruction of the Tower of Babel.  Sanskrit is also considered sacred by Tibetans and other Buddhists, as is Classical Koranic Arabic by the Arabs.  Chanting mantras in a "sacred" language has a certain psychological effect during meditation.  Understanding that effect is a matter of experience.  The intent of the meditator, along with the altered consciousness state associated with chanting a dead or sacred language help to deepen the experience and improve the progress of the practitioner.  Intent, also,  is more important than what is said.  there's and story about a Japanese monk who mispronounced  the mantra that translates as "The Jewel in the Lotus" as "The Jewel in the Latrine" all the way to realizing nirvana. 
                             
                            As far as how it comes about that these different traditions are performing essentially the same function, I compare it to weight lifting.  The essential process of becoming stronger is generally the same from one person to the next given variables of genetics.  So, a man in China and a man in Germany will develop similar techniques if they both set about to develop 18 inch biceps.  So, the development process for each person is essentially the same, so the methods developed will naturally be the same at a fundamental level.
                             
                            Salus,
                            James


                            From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                            To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Sun, April 3, 2011 8:38:04 PM
                            Subject: Re: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism

                             

                            For what it's worth, I attended a Kagyu lineage Chenrezig practice one week ago, one week ago to the day.  I almost went back again (they do it every Sunday at 5:30), about 4 or 5 hours ago... but decided that I just felt *weird* praying in a language I didn't understand and invoking several hundred years worth of the gurus/lamas of an unbroken lineage that I don't actually belong to, and, after reflection, do not necessarily feel like joining.

                            Here, there is a very clear distinction between initiates and non-initiates.  In all Indian/Tibetan tantric lineages that I am aware of, before reciting a particular mantra or performing a particular practice, it is customary to receive the mantra or to receive an "empowerment" for the practice from the guru/lama.  If you don't, then tradition teaches that either it won't work at all, or you're taking a risk with your physical, emotional, and mental health.

                            This is not by any means unusual, as these things go, and is comparable to the initiatory rites of Freemasonry and to the initiatory sacraments of the Catholic Church (baptism, etc.)  Or at least no one seemed to think it was unusual until about a hundred years ago, when just IGNORING any and all initiation requirements became the defining characteristic of the "New Age paste" that I referred to earlier...

                            I'm not saying that anyone who wants to can't begin a meditation practice, or learn one from a book...  but there's obviously a lot more going on here than that.


                            On Apr 3, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                             

                            Andrew,
                             
                            First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I'll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best. 
                            I intended to write, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis instead of Theoria, Henosis and Theosis.  (That probably caused a lot of confusion)  Anyway, these, (theoria, kenosis and theosis), are distinct concepts from the Areopagite's purification, Illumination and perfection, which correlate better with the three traditional mystical training stages, purgative, illuminative, and unitive mentioned by Hierocles and varioius Christian monastic writers.  They are, as you said, very consistent with the three degrees of Masonry.  The Hindu counterparts of those would be Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakti Marga.
                            The distinction between these and Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and likewise, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis is that purgative, illuminative, unitive refer to training approaches which are sometimes set up as successive training stages.  A training approach being something that houses a practice or set of practices the mystic does to achieve certain developmental goals.  For instance the Fellowcraft studies the seven liberal arts in order to strengthen his Dianoic powers, like his analytical ability and his ability to recognize logical relationships. 
                             
                            Theoria, kenosis and theosis refer directly to developments that take place in the context of meditation.  Meditation, to give Patanjali's definition, is "the restriction of mental modifications."
                             

                            To explain, the meditator, passes through three generally recognized stages, in Sanskrit, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, in Greek, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis.  The words dharana, dhyana, and theoria even have an etymological relationship because they are based on a root that means, to see. 

                                        Dharana is described as the meditative state wherein the meditator focuses his concentration on a meditation object.  In the dharana stage, however, the meditator cannot continually maintain his focus and has to refocus his attention again and again.  Dhyana is the meditative state where the meditator has become strong enough to maintain a constant steady stream of attention on the meditation object because he has become strong enough to empty himself of all other thought.  Samadhi is described as the meditator becoming the meditation object.  (The meditation object is usually a divine name, phrase or diety)

                                        Theoria is likewise the general state of attempting to maintain the attention on the object of meditation.  Kenosis is the state where the meditator becomes empty of any thought but the object of meditation.  Theosis is the state wherein the empty meditator becomes full of the divine presence.  He becomes Culu De, which is ancient Gaelic for God's Chariot.  These definitions, Sanskrit and Greek, though having semantic differences, are essentially the same process. 

                                    As to your definitions, These days it is very much the case that philosophy is generally understood to be nothing more than dialectic applied to topics.  However, it's also pretty clear from studying practices and approaches demonstated in Pythagorean and Platonic literature that at the time its name was coined philosophy was the same as mysticim.   

                            The definition given of Buddha Dharma is, at best, misleading.  Buddha Dharma is really nothing more than a set of practices (mostly mystical in character) designed to help the practitioner permanently escape suffering.  It is easily summed up with, "suffering, origen, cessation and path." There is suffering, the origen of suffering is desire, cessation of suffering is possible, and an eightfold method to achieve the same.

                            The definition of religion is, at best, a guess.  For instance Buddhism is something so different from penticostalism that calling them both religions begs the question of what we could possibly mean by religion. 

                            The definition of Sufism will have to do becasue it at least gives some idea of Sufi practice.  One thing that makes Sufism unique in the Islamic community is that it is totally tolerant of other types of religious practice.  (I'm not saying this because I read it in a book, I'm saying it from personal experience.  I speak Arabic and I lived in the middle east for some years.)

                            The diffenition of Benedictine is as broad as possible.  Many Benedictines follow the purgative, illuminative, unitive methods, and there have historically been groups that fell under the general title of Benedictine whose practices were in some ways distinct from other groups.  An example might be the Tironensian Benedictines.  (The Tironensian Benedictines, under Culdee influence, are thought to have played an important role in the formation of Freemasonry.)

                            The writer of the Culdee definition clearly never spoke to or corresponded with an actual Culdee.  My family ran the Iona monastery from 563 to 1565.  In 1565 we were forced to transfer everything to the Scottish monastery at Regensburg, Germany so it wouldn't be destroyed by reformers.   Knowledge of actual Culdee tradition survives in the Familia.

                            The usefulness of looking at the similarities of various mystical traditions and practices is simply becasue some practices work better for some persons.  If it is acknowledged that they're working toward the same goals it broadens the scope of choices for an individual, and sometimes another tradition might explain a concept in a way that helps a student understand more clearly.  My wife, for instance, is a practitioner of a very traditional form of Gelugpa Buddhism.  She could never feel very comfortable practicing my tradition.  However, she can come to me to gain some clarity and understanding about some of her practices because seeing the same thing explained from a western standpoint is sometimes easier. 

                            So, perhaps New Age paste isn't all bad.

                            Salus,

                            James

                             
                            --- On Sat, 4/2/11, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

                            From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                            Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                            To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                            Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 8:17 PM

                             
                            For the benefit of the uninitiated,

                            "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

                            "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

                            "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

                            "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

                            "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

                            Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.

                            "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and eremitical communities of Ireland, Scotland and England in the Middle Ages.. ... The etymology of the term, the persons designated by it, their origin, their doctrines, the rule or rules under which they lived and the limits of their authority and privileges have all been matters of controversy... From the 12th century Scottish and Irish Christianity was regulated on the Roman pattern and in the process the Culdees also lost any distinctiveness they may formerly have had and were brought under canonical rule."

                            Kabbalah/Kabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎ lit. "receiving"; usually transliterated with a 'K' to distinguish from other, derivative traditions outside Judaism) is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism."

                            http://en.wikipedia.org

                            You may notice that most (except Philosophy) convey an idea of membership in a community... and you may already know, no matter what anyone tells you, that many books on these subjects, particular the Eastern ones, do say that YOU COULD HURT YOURSELF IF YOU ATTEMPT THE PRACTICES WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF A TEACHER...

                            Caveat emptor... 


                            On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                            I'm not so bold as to argue with wikipedia however, and I submit to the fact that, academically, words mean whatever the reference books say they do.   But maybe a question like "What is the difference between mysticism and philosophy?" would break some additional ice...



                            On Apr 2, 2011, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:
                            In Pseudo-Dionysius the threefold division is Purification, Perfection, and Illumination, and the first three grades of Masonry contain a similar idea.

                            But while I appreciate modern syncretism, and do see similary processes in all the world's mystical traditions, just as there must be, by necessity, similar processes in all the world's agricultural traditions, thegeneral tendency is to gloss over the DIFFERENCES between Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, and mush it all into a shallow, New Age paste, without feeling any particular need to study ANY of them because we've admitted in advance that they are all the same thing anyway, all the while feeling very, very, very, proud of ourselves for embracing diversity and being oh so open-minded.  You may be aware of what Plato had to say about the coat of many colors that is the democratic soul...

                            The other problem is that if all mystics are equally profound and enlightened, all non-mystics must therefore be equally deluded and lost in the world of appearances.  And maybe that's true... but not an idea that makes you popular or comfortable when trafficking in circles which are *truly* diverse.







                            On Apr 2, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:
                             


                            RWR,
                             
                            This definition is from Wikipedia, but it works.
                             
                            "Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, "
                             
                            To put this in a more strictly Pythagorean sense, Nicomachus of Gerasa wrote,

                            “The ancients, who under the leadership of Pythagoras first made science systematic, defined philosophy as the love of wisdom.  Indeed the name itself means this, and before Pythagoras all who had knowledge were called “wise” indiscriminately—a carpenter, for example, a cobbler, a helmsman, and in a word anyone who was versed in any art or handicraft.  Pythagoras, however restricting the title so as to apply to the knowledge and comprehension of reality, and calling the knowledge of the truth in this the only wisdom, naturally designated the desire and pursuit of this knowledge philosophy, as being desire for wisdom. 

                            He is more worthy of credence than those who have given other definitions, since he makes clear the sense of the term and the thing defined.  This “wisdom” he defined as the knowledge, or science, of the truth in real things, conceiving “science” to be a steadfast and firm apprehension of the underlying substance, and “real things” to be those which continue uniformly and the same in the universe and never depart even briefly from their existence; these real things would be things immaterial, by sharing in the substance of which everything else that exists under the same name and is so called is said to be “this particular thing,” and exists.”

                            In other words, Philosophy is the love of the knowledge of that which is truly real. 

                            Counterintuitively, Nicomachus is saying that what we normally consider to be real, like, “this particular thing” or “that particular thing,” is not real at all, but that the truly real is immaterial and apparently transcends the things we normally consider real. 

                            So since our Pythagorean philosopher is attempting to gain the "knowledge and comprehension of reality," and since our mystic is engaged in attempting gain the experience of ultimate reality through direct experience, and since the difference between these two is merely semantic, our Pythagorean philosopher, and the mystic are the same. 
                            Likewise, if we look at the fundamental actions, methods and approaches of Buddhists, Sufis, Yogis, Benedictines, Culdees, and Kabbalists, we see that the difference between these traditions is also semantic. 
                             
                            To give an example, Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras describes a threefold mystical progression of the yogic practitioner toward comprehension of ultimate reality, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  In the west there is also a threefold mystical progression of the practitioner, Theoria, Henosis, and Theosis.  An exploration of these terms shows that there is little difference between the Greek terms and the Hindu terms with regard to what the practitioner is actually doing and experiencing. 
                             
                            Salus,
                            James
                             
                             
                            --- On Fri, 4/1/11, rwr <dick.richardson@...> wrote:
                             

                            From: rwr <dick.richardson@...>
                            Subject: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                            To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                            Date: Friday, April 1, 2011, 9:48 AM

                             

                            Mystics and Mysticism 

                             

                            Hello, it would be interesting to find out what the general group here would define as Mysticism and being a Mystic. There does not seem to be a standard definition does there. What makes an experience a mystical experience as opposed to a psychic experience or any kind of normal daily sensory experience?  And who defines?  It is nice to hear about other peoples mystical and transcendent experiences though.

                             rwr


                             

                             

                             

                          • leslie greenhill
                            James    I think you may be right about disposition.  You have probably picked up on my interest in geometry and number.  At school I had no interest in
                            Message 13 of 14 , Apr 5, 2011
                              James 
                               
                              I think you may be right about disposition.  You have probably picked up on my interest in geometry and number.  At school I had no interest in such matters.  Years later after working with dreams from a Jungian perspective both subjects "awakened" in me.  I then remembered a dream I had when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old. (At this stage geometry was unknown to me.)  Here is the dream. 
                               
                              I am looking at the southern night sky.  In the stars I see a circle with an equilateral triangle inside.  A voice tells me I must find out why they are the same thing.  And how that is so.  I still have not achieved that.
                               
                              Les

                              P.O. Box 314
                              Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
                              Email: neoplatonist2000@...

                              --- On Wed, 6/4/11, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                              From: James McKinnon <metatron121@...>
                              Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                              To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                              Received: Wednesday, 6 April, 2011, 1:56 AM

                               
                              Les,
                               
                              I think it's a pretty accurate observation.  Everyone I've ever met who seriously pursued these studies was naturally predisposed to them.  I've also observed that it's virtually impossible to get a person who isn't predisposed to these studies to take an interest without using some kind of Upaya.
                               
                              The Masonic writer George Oliver once wrote, "Never enter into a dispute with a cowan. Like the deaf adder he will stop his ears, and refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. No matter how clear are your facts, or how convincing your arguments, still he will turn an incredulous ear to your reasoning. Though you anxiously cry out, Oh, Baal, hear us, and even cut yourself with knives and lancets to bespeak his attention, there will be neither voice nor any answer, nor any that regardeth. You may as well endavour to extinguish the sun by pelting it with snowballs, or to cut rocks in pieces with a razor, as to make any genial impression on the mind of a professed cowan.."
                               
                              Salus,
                              James


                              From: leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...>
                              To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                              Sent: Sun, April 3, 2011 9:31:20 PM
                              Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism

                               

                               

                              Any comments on these remarks by Plotinus?

                               

                              “The metaphysician, equipped by that very character, winged already and not like those others, in need of disengagement, stirring of himself towards the supernal but doubting of the way, needs only a guide.  He must be shown, then, and instructed, a willing wayfarer by his very temperament, all but self-directed. 

                               

                              Mathematics, which as a student by nature he will take very easily, will be prescribed to train him to abstract thought and to faith in the unembodied; a moral being by native disposition, he must be led to make his virtue perfect; after the Mathematics he must be put through a course in Dialectic and made an adept in the science.”   (The Six Enneads - first Ennead.) 


                              Les


                              P.O. Box 314
                              Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
                              Email: neoplatonist2000@...
                            • Cal
                              I ve written articles about the lack of male initiation in Western society and the impact of that. I ve been involved with initiations for the past 12 years,
                              Message 14 of 14 , Apr 14, 2011
                                I've written articles about the lack of male initiation in Western society and the impact of that.
                                I've been involved with initiations for the past 12 years, including:
                                - Initiations of the upper chakras (Brough Joy's heart initiation + throat and third eye)
                                - Initiation into shadow
                                - Initiation into the four elements
                                - Two male initiations (and two well-known men's weekends with "initiatory flavor").
                                I am familiar with many of the essential aspects that are common to all traditional male initiations, and have identified the various initiatory passages that men and women go through (women have one more than men).
                                More available upon request.

                                Yours,
                                Cal

                                On 4/5/2011 6:48 PM, Andrew Rizzardo wrote: Concerning the difference between traditional Tantra and its New Age offshots, because you're familiar with the tradition already, I can make the point in one word: chakras.

                                But that said, there are still many stories of saints who were just born already enlightened, or become enlightened easily, having supposedly, in this context, done the work already in previous lives.  In the stories, some of them go through the motions of initiation anyway to set a good example for others... some don't.  I have great respect for initiatory traditions... but if someone seems to know what they're talking about, I'll probably listen, and I don't necessarily check their resume first.  :)

                                The people of that time, not being so wise as you young folks, were content in their simplicity to hear an oak or a rock, provided only it spoke the truth. But to you, perhaps, it makes a difference who the speaker is and where he comes from…” -Plato, Phaedrus 275b-c

                                I don't want to get too deeply into it, but since you brought up that you and your wife practice DIFFERENT initiatory traditions, but seem capable of communnicating about them, "Is initiation one or many?" is probably a relevant question.  Pythagoras, by tradition, was said to have been initiated into the Egyptian, Hebrew, Babylonian, Greek, etc.., etc., etc., Mysteries, all at different times... Proclus has a similar story.

                                I don't think you meant to say that sacred languages had a purely psychological, placebo effect, but maybe you did.  That might be right, but I think that many practictioners might tell you that mantras work whether you believe in them or not.  That Sanskrit is sacred FOR REAL, and THAT'S why the practices are dangerous without guidance from a teacher.  (Are you acquainted with Enochian, by any chance?)

                                Magical Words of Power are a little bit outside the scope of contemporary Western thinking... I admit... but since maybe the whole point of *mathematics*, etc., is that it works for any rational creature, objectively, whether they want it to work or not (disagreement? get your calculators out), it's not such an out-there idea.






                                On Apr 4, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                                 

                                 

                                Andrew,
                                 
                                Frankly I have to confess a certain amount of ignorance about New Age anything.  For instance I didn't know that they don't bother with initiation. 
                                 
                                My wife has been through a variety of empowerments, both in Sutra and in Tantra ,and naturally all of her practice is tied to those initiations.  And, yes, she does it all in the Sanskrit language.  It's a no joke program.  She just finished a seven week retreat where she was meditating many hours per day under the guidance of a nun. 
                                 
                                In my first response to the question about mysticism I didn't intent to subvert the initiatory process, because It's, as you've pointed out, indispensable. 
                                 
                                In my tradition we have a series of initiations that clearly have some relation to Masonic initiations but in some ways take things a bit further. 
                                 
                                As to your question of why do the training in the original language if everything is essentially the same, it's an issue of experience, tradition, and the psychological impact on the meditator of chanting the mantra in a sacred language.  Some languages like Sanskrit are considered holy.  In the Auraicept na n-Éces, a primer for Gaelic bards, Hebrew, Latin and Greek are declared to be three holy languages, and are set apart from the other 72 languages that emerged from the destruction of the Tower of Babel.  Sanskrit is also considered sacred by Tibetans and other Buddhists, as is Classical Koranic Arabic by the Arabs.  Chanting mantras in a "sacred" language has a certain psychological effect during meditation.  Understanding that effect is a matter of experience.  The intent of the meditator, along with the altered consciousness state associated with chanting a dead or sacred language help to deepen the experience and improve the progress of the practitioner.  Intent, also,  is more important than what is said.  there's and story about a Japanese monk who mispronounced  the mantra that translates as "The Jewel in the Lotus" as "The Jewel in the Latrine" all the way to realizing nirvana. 
                                 
                                As far as how it comes about that these different traditions are performing essentially the same function, I compare it to weight lifting.  The essential process of becoming stronger is generally the same from one person to the next given variables of genetics.  So, a man in China and a man in Germany will develop similar techniques if they both set about to develop 18 inch biceps.  So, the development process for each person is essentially the same, so the methods developed will naturally be the same at a fundamental level.
                                 
                                Salus,
                                James


                                From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                                To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Sun, April 3, 2011 8:38:04 PM
                                Subject: Re: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism

                                 

                                For what it's worth, I attended a Kagyu lineage Chenrezig practice one week ago, one week ago to the day.  I almost went back again (they do it every Sunday at 5:30), about 4 or 5 hours ago... but decided that I just felt *weird* praying in a language I didn't understand and invoking several hundred years worth of the gurus/lamas of an unbroken lineage that I don't actually belong to, and, after reflection, do not necessarily feel like joining.

                                Here, there is a very clear distinction between initiates and non-initiates.  In all Indian/Tibetan tantric lineages that I am aware of, before reciting a particular mantra or performing a particular practice, it is customary to receive the mantra or to receive an "empowerment" for the practice from the guru/lama.  If you don't, then tradition teaches that either it won't work at all, or you're taking a risk with your physical, emotional, and mental health.

                                This is not by any means unusual, as these things go, and is comparable to the initiatory rites of Freemasonry and to the initiatory sacraments of the Catholic Church (baptism, etc.)  Or at least no one seemed to think it was unusual until about a hundred years ago, when just IGNORING any and all initiation requirements became the defining characteristic of the "New Age paste" that I referred to earlier...

                                I'm not saying that anyone who wants to can't begin a meditation practice, or learn one from a book...  but there's obviously a lot more going on here than that.


                                On Apr 3, 2011, James McKinnon <metatron121@...> wrote:

                                 

                                Andrew,
                                 
                                First I have to apologize for a typo.  Next, I'll make my comments in the context of Culdee training, the tradition I know best. 
                                I intended to write, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis instead of Theoria, Henosis and Theosis.  (That probably caused a lot of confusion)  Anyway, these, (theoria, kenosis and theosis), are distinct concepts from the Areopagite's purification, Illumination and perfection, which correlate better with the three traditional mystical training stages, purgative, illuminative, and unitive mentioned by Hierocles and varioius Christian monastic writers.  They are, as you said, very consistent with the three degrees of Masonry.  The Hindu counterparts of those would be Karma Marga, Jnana Marga, and Bhakti Marga.
                                The distinction between these and Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, and likewise, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis is that purgative, illuminative, unitive refer to training approaches which are sometimes set up as successive training stages.  A training approach being something that houses a practice or set of practices the mystic does to achieve certain developmental goals.  For instance the Fellowcraft studies the seven liberal arts in order to strengthen his Dianoic powers, like his analytical ability and his ability to recognize logical relationships. 
                                 
                                Theoria, kenosis and theosis refer directly to developments that take place in the context of meditation.  Meditation, to give Patanjali's definition, is "the restriction of mental modifications."
                                 

                                To explain, the meditator, passes through three generally recognized stages, in Sanskrit, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi, in Greek, Theoria, Kenosis, and Theosis.  The words dharana, dhyana, and theoria even have an etymological relationship because they are based on a root that means, to see. 

                                            Dharana is described as the meditative state wherein the meditator focuses his concentration on a meditation object.  In the dharana stage, however, the meditator cannot continually maintain his focus and has to refocus his attention again and again.  Dhyana is the meditative state where the meditator has become strong enough to maintain a constant steady stream of attention on the meditation object because he has become strong enough to empty himself of all other thought.  Samadhi is described as the meditator becoming the meditation object.  (The meditation object is usually a divine name, phrase or diety)

                                            Theoria is likewise the general state of attempting to maintain the attention on the object of meditation.  Kenosis is the state where the meditator becomes empty of any thought but the object of meditation.  Theosis is the state wherein the empty meditator becomes full of the divine presence.  He becomes Culu De, which is ancient Gaelic for God's Chariot.  These definitions, Sanskrit and Greek, though having semantic differences, are essentially the same process. 

                                        As to your definitions, These days it is very much the case that philosophy is generally understood to be nothing more than dialectic applied to topics.  However, it's also pretty clear from studying practices and approaches demonstated in Pythagorean and Platonic literature that at the time its name was coined philosophy was the same as mysticim.   

                                The definition given of Buddha Dharma is, at best, misleading.  Buddha Dharma is really nothing more than a set of practices (mostly mystical in character) designed to help the practitioner permanently escape suffering.  It is easily summed up with, "suffering, origen, cessation and path." There is suffering, the origen of suffering is desire, cessation of suffering is possible, and an eightfold method to achieve the same.

                                The definition of religion is, at best, a guess.  For instance Buddhism is something so different from penticostalism that calling them both religions begs the question of what we could possibly mean by religion. 

                                The definition of Sufism will have to do becasue it at least gives some idea of Sufi practice.  One thing that makes Sufism unique in the Islamic community is that it is totally tolerant of other types of religious practice.  (I'm not saying this because I read it in a book, I'm saying it from personal experience..  I speak Arabic and I lived in the middle east for some years.)

                                The diffenition of Benedictine is as broad as possible.  Many Benedictines follow the purgative, illuminative, unitive methods, and there have historically been groups that fell under the general title of Benedictine whose practices were in some ways distinct from other groups.  An example might be the Tironensian Benedictines.  (The Tironensian Benedictines, under Culdee influence, are thought to have played an important role in the formation of Freemasonry.)

                                The writer of the Culdee definition clearly never spoke to or corresponded with an actual Culdee.  My family ran the Iona monastery from 563 to 1565.  In 1565 we were forced to transfer everything to the Scottish monastery at Regensburg, Germany so it wouldn't be destroyed by reformers.   Knowledge of actual Culdee tradition survives in the Familia.

                                The usefulness of looking at the similarities of various mystical traditions and practices is simply becasue some practices work better for some persons.  If it is acknowledged that they're working toward the same goals it broadens the scope of choices for an individual, and sometimes another tradition might explain a concept in a way that helps a student understand more clearly.  My wife, for instance, is a practitioner of a very traditional form of Gelugpa Buddhism.  She could never feel very comfortable practicing my tradition.  However, she can come to me to gain some clarity and understanding about some of her practices because seeing the same thing explained from a western standpoint is sometimes easier. 

                                So, perhaps New Age paste isn't all bad.

                                Salus,

                                James

                                 
                                --- On Sat, 4/2/11, Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...> wrote:

                                From: Andrew Rizzardo <le_regard@...>
                                Subject: Re: Re: [Pythagorean-L] Mystics and Mysticism
                                To: Pythagorean-L@yahoogroups.com
                                Date: Saturday, April 2, 2011, 8:17 PM

                                 
                                For the benefit of the uninitiated,

                                "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument."

                                "Buddhism (Pali/Sanskrit: बौद्ध धर्म Buddha Dharma) is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one")."

                                "Religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values.[1] Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe."

                                "Classical Sufis were characterised by their attachment to dhikr (a practice of repeating the names of God) and asceticism. Sufism gained adherents among a number of Muslims as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 CE[6])"

                                "Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy."

                                Yoga (Sanskrit, Pāli: योग yóga) refers to traditional physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that originated in India.[1] The word is associated with meditative practices in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[2][3][4] Within Hinduism, the word yoga is used to refer to one of the six orthodox (āstika) schools of Hindu philosophy.

                                "Céli Dé or Culdees were members of ascetic Christian monastic and
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