What is Mysticism and
the Mystical Experience?
see Types of Mystical Experience
Mysticism is usually defined
in dictionaries and encyclopedias as a spiritual discipline
used to make contact with the divine. While this definition
is frequently correct, there have been many people who
have had mystical experiences without following a special
discipline. Conversely, many people have followed a
set of spiritual practices carefully and for a prolonged
period but have never contacted the divine.
The mystical event is a
personal experience during which one feels as though
one has been touched by some higher or greater truth
or power. This may occur inside or outside of a religious
setting, within or outside a religious tradition.
In some cases, mystical
experience is seen as an important component of a religious
tradition because it can offer validation of a tradition's
belief system. It also can be important in attracting
adherents because many people hope to have similar experiences.
However, because the mystical experience is so powerful
and has the capacity to provide moral, ethical, intellectual,
and emotional direction, it is frequently mistrusted.
Sometimes labeled as work of some corrupting power (i.e.
The Devil), those having mystical experiences have been
ostracized or even worse, been the targets of persecution.
most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical. He to whom this emotion
is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt
in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable
to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest
wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties
can comprehend only in their primitive forms - this
knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religion."
of Mystical Experience
Mystical experiences are
marked by all or some of the following feelings/insights.
- A sense of unity or
- A sense of timelessness
- A sense of having encountered
- A sense of sacredness
- A sense that one can
not adequately describe the richness of this experience
Most experiences can last
as short as a few seconds or up to a few days.
Mysticism defined by Evelyn
Underhill - Coming
Mysticism defined by Ralph
W. Hood, Jr. - Coming