“Where a philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks, and speaks the disconcerting language of first hand-experience.” – Evelyn Underhill
Having worked intimately with thousands of people, it is vividly clear to me that each person is so incredibly unique and distinctly different in how spiritual awakening and expression arises in its fullness for that particular person.
Sometimes, we can (and do) waste enormous amounts of time trying to awaken in a path that may be ancient and powerful but innately has nothing to do with who we are and how we are designed. Worse, we can judge ourselves for not being surrendered enough, having enough will and commitment, and feeling a failure, when, in fact, it’s just not the right match for us. It’s not so different from being in the wrong relationship, where no amount of effort and good intentions can create the right harmony and chemistry that would allow for love to flourish.
As we more accurately understand and align ourselves to our particularities, we discover how to give ourselves fully to a path that will actually give us direct access to our full potential.
It’s a blessing to be alive in an era where we are exposed to a plethora of techniques, teachers, and spiritual paths. As we try things out, practice, and expose ourselves to various influences, the most important point is to attune to yourself and see what is actually worth your full commitment and energy. You should look at what actually resonates and gives you real results and traction and what really doesn’t.
Evelyn Underhill published her classic book, Mysticism: the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness, in 1911.
She makes some interesting distinctions between Magic, Mysticism, Philosophy, and Science. The purpose of this blog is to deepen the distinction of what a mystic is – so I will contrast some of the elements of ‘magic’ (which is a curious word for something you will recognize) and leave philosophy and science to those who have more knowledge in those domains.
My intention in sharing this with you is to illuminate a clearer resonance with your own truth for those of you who are actually mystics.
Mystics peer into deeper realities that lie hidden beneath our ordinary experience. They passionately long for being close to something they can’t explain, an ultimate reality, the Divine Beloved – no words really capture this illusive but compelling ‘One’ that is all consuming.
Magic is the desire to ‘know more’ in relationship to the phenomenal world, to know the deeper realities so that the knowledge can be used for its purposes in the world. These could be having supernatural abilities for healing, or worldly pursuits of abundance, love, and power. Magic has to do with accessing the deeper spiritual laws, understanding other planes of existence in order to GET something.
Mysticism has to do with surrendering, wanting to GIVE yourself so completely that you dissolve in union with the Divine. Passion is needed and selfless. Mystics intensely give everything, their full Self, only to be close. Mysticism is the science of ultimate union with the Absolute. It’s practical and not theoretical. It’s based on love, surrender, and ‘supreme perception’.
Magic uses will and the intellect to aggressively obtain what can be used to extend one’s field of consciousness and knowledge. It is self-seeking transcendentalism. It wants to transcend all limitations and obtain for itself or others something beyond what it already has. It is seeking the nature of Reality for its own purposes or for the world. Vulnerability, passion, and love are not necessary for magic. The techniques, spiritual laws, and accomplishments of ‘Magic’ are vast, can be useful, and are readily available to us everywhere these days. It’s helped individuals and the world in ‘creating the lives we want’, etc., but it’s important to see the difference and find for yourself what resonates.
The mystic rides the edge of what is unfolding and becomes skillful at staying right where the unknown is emerging. Magic is about discovering something and breaking it down and using it – so one visits the realm beyond and then leaves to use what has been discovered. A mystic wants to live in never ending contact with Reality. As a mystic dissolves and true union is achieved, the mystic is used powerfully in the world to bring the Divine into existence, but it is being ‘used by’ – a vehicle for – rather than being determined by the individual’s ideas and plans.
There are 4 qualities of mystical experience that William James wrote about in his book,“The Varieties of Religious Experience.” He was a friend and contemporary of Evelyn Underhill.
In the dictionary, ineffable means ‘too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words, too sacred to be uttered.’ Its synonyms include unspeakable, inexpressible, nameless.
A mystic’s focus is remaining close to the experience, open, available, and intimate. When they do express themselves, it arises more as a kind of poetry that’s meaning is felt beyond the words. The influence is felt through the transmission of feeling and consciousness. Contrast that with the necessary exactness of philosophy and science or the spiritual laws, practices, and rituals of magic (as we are using it in this discussion).
“Noesis is the soul’s capacity to be aware of itself not only as pure awareness and not only as the content of experience, but to be aware directly of forms arising in the field of consciousness.” A.H. Almaas
The quality of a Noetic experience is one of certainty and direct knowing, not something learned from the outside. Famous mystics would often express that the experiences they were having were in fact a contradiction to what they had expected or believed.
Unpredictable & Uncontrollable:
One can only surrender, be open, vulnerable, willing to risk anything, and be humble. Of course, practice and exerting effort is within our control. We can become ready and prepare ourselves to be ‘accident prone’ in this domain. But, like all truly precious aspects of our human experience (like falling in love, cosmic orgasms, pure creativity, birth, and revelation) it is in the end a gift, pure grace. We can’t even claim to ‘deserve’ the blessing.
Magic is about having control, reliable steps and techniques, and predictability as an important part of its fascination.
So…… are you a mystic?
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.” ― Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart
I know who you are, I know who I am
I know the truth and the meaning of love.
God is singing within your heart, breathing inside your breath
more close than a hand within a glove
or a thought within the head.
If you listen, my friend, with an open heart,
you will know this declaration’s true
You forgot some time ago,
the surprise – the revelation’s you
you wrote this poem yes, you
back then when your heart was filled with ecstasy
blind drunk on the clear wine of love.
My work with the evolutionary collective has been a discovery of additional qualities that are allowing a profound mystical awakening to occur in the space between us. That’s how I began to discover that there is a new domain of mystical experience called We-Mysticism.
In (R)evolutionary love,
PS. Please join mystics from all over the world on November 19th for a 3 hour live virtual retreat devoted to WE-MYSTICISM – check it out here: http://evolutionarycollective.com/4-pillars/