What is Mysticism and the Mystical Experience?
Also 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.

"The 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." - Albert Einstein

General Characteristics of Mystical Experience

Mystical experiences are marked by all or some of the following feelings/insights.

  • A sense of unity or totality
  • A sense of timelessness
  • A sense of having encountered ultimate reality
  • 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.

Related Information:
Mysticism defined by William James
Mysticism defined by W.T. Stace
Mysticism defined by Walter Pahnke
Mysticism defined by David Lukoff
Mysticism defined by D. T. Suzuki
Mysticism defined by Evelyn Underhill - Coming
Mysticism defined by Ralph W. Hood, Jr. - Coming
Mysticism defined by Charles S. Grob
Mysticism defined by Rudolph Otto
 

 

 

 


 

 

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