Learn from your great-grandfather Adam!
When he lost the union, the tears
that fell from his face made every valley in Ceylon full of
    fragrant spices and herbs.
And you still say you cannot choose the road?
When a human being has experienced the ecstasy, he knows.
He doesn't say, "Please lay out your system of proofs for me."
From the outer layers of the unconscious, logic;
from the inner man, love.

Rumi, quoted in: Helminski, Kabir (2000). The Rumi Collection. P.93.

Mysticism is man's long, loving look at reality to which he is united by love. It is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life. Its activity is its own end. Mysticism has no utilitarian purposes: just looking, loving, being utterly, magnificently, wildly useless. It is life itself fully awake and active and aware that it is alive. Mysticism is awe and wonder at the sacredness of life and of being and of the invisible, transcendent and infinite abundant source of being. It knows the source obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude beyond reason. It is a veritable vision of the Godhead - in the human, earthly context. This act by which man sees who he is - not in isolation, but against the background of eternity - and so simultaneously and
experientially sees who God is - this is genuine mysticism. William McNamara, Christian Mysticism, P. 8

Many words can be used to describe mystical experience - which in the end is ineffable.  I have used all kinds of symbols.  I have called it "a small flame of love," and "a determination to follow the ox."  But perhaps in the last analysis it is best described as a "being in love." For "being in love" is different from plain loving.  I may love many people; but if I am in love with a woman, the thought of my loved one is always on my mind and heart like the small fire or the murmuring stream.  She dwells in me and I in her.   Mysticism is like that; and the mystics are men and women in love, in love without restriction.  William Johnston, The Inner Eye of Love, PP. 45, 46. Submitted by Gary Horn

The place of the mystic and the prophet in the twentieth century is not totally outside of society, not utterly remote from the world. Spirituality, religion, mysticism are not an unequivocal rejection of the human race in order to seek one's own salvation without concern for the rest of men. Nor is true worship a matter of standing aside and praying for the world, without any concept of its problems and its desperation. Merton, Thomas. Faith and Violence. P. 67. Submitted by Gary Horn <>

Having got rid of all impediments to the spiritual quest, he must now acquire or develop in their stead the characteristic mystical qualities, or Three Aids of the Pilgrim; which are called consciousness of the mutual desire existing between man's spirit and the Divine Spirit: of the link of love which knits up reality and draws all things to their home in God.  This is the universal law on which all mysticism is based.  It is St. Augustine's 'Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts can find no rest except in
Thee."  This 'natural magnetism,' then, once he is aware of it, will draw the pilgrim irresistibly along the road from the Many to the One.  His second aid, Devotion, says the 'Remotest Aim' in a phrase of great depth and beauty, is 'the prosecution of the journey *to* God and *in* God.'  It embraces, in fact, the whole contemplative life.  It is the next degree of spiritual consciousness after the blind yieldings to the attraction of the Real, and the setting in order of man's relation to his source.
Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism. P.130.

1. Mystics are those who have largely dropped the desire to become, and who are able to be with life as it is.  John of the Cross put it succinctly when he wrote, 'To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing.' 2. The goal of the spiritual life is to discover that there is in fact no goal, that we are to be 'that which, in God, we have always been,' in the words of Meister Eckhart. 3.   As Thomas Merton once said at an Asian conference of Christian and non-Christian monks, 'My dear brothers, we are
already one.  But we imagine that we are not.  What we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are.' 4. When we're no longer trying to become somebody, when we've ceased struggling to be anything, we are able to rest in the truth of what we already are. Grant, Terence. The Silence of Unknowing:  The Key to the Spiritual Life. P.5

As in the interior castle of Teresa of Avila there are many mansions or dwelling places, so in the world of the spirit there are many levels or realms.  The deepest realm I call mystical.  This is the center into which no one enters by human effort but only by the call of God.  To enter the world of mysticism is a gift.  And God, who shows no partiality, offers this gift to people of all religions or of no religion. Wm. Johnston, Arise, My Love. Submitted to Merton-L Discussion Group by Liz Stewart.

Mysticism keeps men sane.  As long as you have mystery, you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.  The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic.  He has permitted the twilight.  He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. (...) G. K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy. P. 23

Last updated: 2003/11/28

See the related subjects: Contemplation, Meditation, Mystery, Mystical Union, Paths to God, Prayer, Presence, Reality, Saints, Silence, Stillness, Transcendence.