A talk by Sri Chinmoy at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.
May 7, 1969
Study mysticism if you want to. It will give your heart joy, your mind inspiration
and your life a true, fulfilling and soulful assurance. But do not try to define it.
Do not try to interpret it. If you try to define mysticism, you are bound to fail. If
you try to interpret mysticism, you will most deplorably fail.
We get experiences: from science, scientific discoveries; from history,
historical revelations; from philosophy, philosophical data; from religion,
religious doctrines. In these experiences, we see the presence of subject and
object, essence and existence, vision and reality. But a mystic experience,
which is immediate oneness, transcends all such distinctions. This
experience is the constant oneness with the Beyond, the ever-transcending
Beyond that always remains ineffable. Mysticism, poor mysticism! When it is
oversimplified and underestimated, it comes down from its original sphere
and stands beside religion. But even here if a person is sincere, he will
realise that his highest religious experience is nothing more than an
uncertain, obscure and faint perception of Truth; whereas, no matter what kind
of mystical experience he has, he will feel the intensity, immensity and
certainty of Truth.
We have also to learn that religious ecstasy and mystical ecstasy do not play
the same role in our inner life. Religious ecstasy deals mostly with the human
in us. This ecstasy is confined to the body-consciousness, the disciplined or
undisciplined vital, the illumined or unillumined mind, the pure or impure
heart. But the mystical ecstasy transports us at once into the Beyond, where
we are embraced by the eternal Life, fed by the all-nourishing Light and
blessed by the transcendental Truth. Primitive religion offered ecstasy to the
vital in the physical mind and in the desiring heart. Mysticism fully advanced is
now offering its ecstasy in infinite measure to the liberated souls and in
abundant measure to the souls who are on the verge of liberation.
Poor Hinduism. Whenever and wherever mysticism is looked down upon,
Hinduism is considered the main culprit. There are many sophisticated
Westerners who not only fail to understand the lofty Hindu mysticism, but
badly misunderstand it. To them I want to say that Hindu mysticism is not, as
they think, self-hypnotism or self-deception, but rather soulful oneness with
Immortality's Life, Infinity's Heart and Eternity's Breath. To know Hinduism
well, one has to practise Yoga, usually under the direct guidance of a spiritual
Mysticism in Buddhism has been considerably inspired and influenced by
Hindu mysticism. Hence, far from being diametrically opposed, the two
traditions practically come to realise the same Truth. Nirvana transcends pain
and pleasure, birth and death. The blessedness of Nirvana is the highest
mystic oneness with the Liberator. A Hindu mystic, on the strength of his self-
realisation, also becomes one with the Absolute and is freed forever from the
snares of pleasure and pain, birth and death.
The Sufi mysticism of Islam expresses itself in the strongest intoxication of the
inner vital and in the truth-laden symbolic love between bride and
bridegroom. This kind of mysticism perhaps brings one considerably closer to
the actual possibility of experiencing oneness with the One. Yet it also wants
to tell us that the Allah of the Koran demands a strict self discipline and a self-
controlled life. According to its adherents, this mysticism eventually leads to
free access to Him, which is a very rare achievement.
The glowing mysticism of Judaism is the Kabbalah. This mystic lore is
founded on the occult interpretation of the Bible and it has been successfully
handed down as an esoteric doctrine to the initiated.
Christianity owes its mystical urge not to Judaism, but to the Greek world.
Some scholars are of the opinion that the New Testament is wanting in
mystical experience. I find it difficult to agree with them. I wish to say that the
New Testament is replete with mystical experiences. What they are actually
missing in the New Testament, because of their inability to enter into the
depth of its messages, is the key that opens the mystical door that leads to
union with God.
In Spain, Teresa of Avila offered to the world something profoundly mystical.
Her mystical experience is the most successful culmination of the divine
marriage between the aspiring soul and the liberating Christ, and it is here
that man's helpless crying will and God's omnipotent all-fulfilling Will embrace
Mysticism is not the sole monopoly of Hinduism. Christianity and other
religions also discovered the Wealth of mysticism.
Found at http://www.srichinmoy.org