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Teachings of the Mystics, Part Two

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  • santmat_mystic ( James )
    [TheDivineGroundOfBeing]: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDivineGroundOfBeing The Teachings of the Mystics, Part Two (In Part One, the first three qualities
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2005
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      The Teachings of the Mystics, Part Two

      (In Part One, the first three qualities of mysticism
      were discussed: 1. Consciousness, 2. Quiet, and, 3. Love.
      Today: 4. Union, and, 5. Transcendence......)

      Teachings of the Mystics, Part Two

      4. Union. The thirst for union is the natural outcome of this motion
      of love, if indeed they can be separated. The one central teaching
      of the mystics is, as Eckhart put it, that man through the divine
      spark within his soul may rise into union with the Godhead in an
      Eternal Now.

      "The Divine treasure lies hidden in thy own soul," wrote Walter
      Hilton in fourteenth-century England.

      The Absolute of the mystic is not cold, distant, and unapproachable.
      When found, it is something both lovable and living.

      Yet there are many testimonies to the difficulty of this discovery.

      "There was never yet pure creature in this life, nor never yet shall
      be, so high ravished in contemplation and love of the Godhead, that
      there is not evermore a high and wonderful cloud of unknowing
      betwixt him and his God," says the author of The Cloud of Unknowing.

      "Then will He sometimes peradventure send out a beam of spiritual
      Light, piercing this cloud of unknowing that is betwixt thee and
      Him; and show thee some of His privity, the which man may not, nor
      cannot speak. Then shalt thou feel thine affection inflamed with the
      fire of His love, far more than I can tell thee."

      The craving of the soul for its mate, often accompanied by a longing
      to achieve purity and perfection, breaks out in such a cry as this:

      "I would fain be to the Eternal Goodness what his own hand is to a
      man." (Theologia Germanica)

      Often the radiant awareness of the "otherness" in nature, of
      Wordsworth's "something far more deeply interfused" is the first
      sign of mystical illumination. The radiance, flooding the whole
      personality as if with a new Light, becomes apparent in the face and
      gestures of the enlightened. He is ready to cry with Angela of
      Foligno: "This whole world is full of God!"

      Images of Light inevitably come to the lips of those who have been
      enlightened. Paul, blinded with that Light on the road to Damascus,
      often speaks in images of Light: "God hath shined in our hearts."
      And John too: "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man
      that cometh into the world."

      5. Transcendence become Immanent. The theorizing of theologians
      about God as transcendent and immanent, the God beyond knowing and
      the God within, does not concern the mystic. He will admit with Paul
      that God has shined into his heart, but he knows that God was
      already there -- the divine seed, the inward Light.

      Rufus Jones says with all mystics, "God Himself is the ground of the
      soul, and in the deeps of their being all men partake of one central
      divine life."

      Is there anyone who has entirely escaped this feeling of inner joy
      and serenity? Perhaps it has come while watching a sunrise at sea,
      or upon stepping out into a bitter cold night and looking up at the
      stars, or as a fugue of Bach strides up to its noble climax. At such
      moments the larger presence is felt by any sensitive person, and by
      quiet meditation can be seized and held. Then we know that something
      is present in us beyond the ordinary self. In religious terms, we
      have felt the immanence of the divine: Emmanuel -- God with us.

      "God is near us," says Meister Eckhart, "but we are far from Him;
      God is within, we are without; God is at home, we are in a far
      country." (Pred. lxix.)

      When our motions are toward evil, the divine becomes distant -- not
      by removing itself from us but because we wrap and muffle it with
      our indifference. Yet it is still there, within. This is the faith
      of the mystic, and it is a knowledge based upon experience. Not upon
      doctrine, dogma, creed, encyclical, or church. It is as real as what
      you see through a microscope, what you grasp with your hands, what
      you chew and swallow and digest. The literature of mysticism is full
      of bright and memorable images because mystics see, hear and feel
      with an intensity which vibrates to spiritual overtones. Spirit has
      cleared their vision, sharpened their senses, toned up their
      awareness. If the divine is ever-present, one must be keen of sense
      and quick of eye to take it all in.

      Through the divine that is within and that has been experienced, one
      is led up to an intimation of the divine that is beyond knowing
      because if it were not beyond man's powers of understanding it would
      not be transcendent. Yet we are led to it by those inner leadings
      that are so real, we cannot doubt their authenticity. Like Moses, we
      may have to look on the promised land from a distance. But we know
      it is there; otherwise we would not be here.

      -- Bradford Smith, Meditation -- The Inward Art, Lippincott books
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