DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript

University of Metaphysical Sciences

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Newsletters you can trust

2012 predictions

2012 predictions

Are You On Fire?
Mysticism in Modern Times

Rev. Alesia Matson, D.D.

According to a poll published in December 1999 by USA Today, 30% of Americans say they consider themselves "spiritual but not religious." 45% say they rely on their own views, not religious teachings, to decide how to conduct their lives. Though religious hierarchies express concern that such beliefs "endanger immortal souls," these Americans are exemplary of the movement of spiritual and religious consciousness into the secular mainstream. Spearheading all such movements are Mystics, those for whom the idea of God is not enough, for whom the Reality of God is everything.

In its simplest sense, mysticism is a quest, the ultimate goal of which is complete submersion in the Absolute Mystery; direct communion with All That Is, the Divine Source—God, by any and all other names. Mystics are those who pursue the Unitive Experience the way a man whose hair is on fire pursues a bucket of water (the very definition of single-pointed meditation!).

Mystics come from every religious tradition, without exception. Where is found a Path to Heaven, Enlightenment, Nirvana, Mastery, there also the mystics have already gone, blazing the trail ahead of mainstream consciousness. Even more intriguing, mystics occur outside of religion altogether—poets, athletes, artists, warriors, musicians and scientists have their share of mystics, as do other pursuits which require similar levels of discipline, endurance and focus.

In an era where personal development is chic, and self-help gurus abound, it can be difficult to find a true mystic's signal amidst the noise generated across the band. Mystics seldom wear signs or labels declaring themselves as such; many don't even recognize themselves as mystics. As with their forebears, modern mystics tend to guard the details of their relationship with God quite closely, as the private and intimate dynamic it is, rather than risk judgment and exile.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, cloistered mystics could close themselves away from the world and its temptations. They were supported by religious organizations, cared for by the other monastics, and supported through the physical, psychological and emotional traumas that occur in some stages of the Mystic Way. Their journeys toward the Absolute were solitary, private quests, conducted in environments where they were rarely understood, often feared. They brought back from their direct communions with Deity messages that were poorly received politically; messages that often put them at personal risk within the very organizations meant to sustain and support them.

Today, the symptomology and stresses of the mystic way—voices, visions, inexplicable actions, automatic writing—have been and still are confused with mental psychosis rather than taken as signs of a soul enrapt in its communion with the Divine. Despite this, modern mystics survive and even thrive under the radically different demands of today's society. "Mysticism has gone mainstream," says noted author and medical intuitive, Dr. Carolyn Myss, in the audiobook version of her best-selling work, Anatomy of the Spirit. Mysticism has emerged from silence, mystery, and solitude to make inroads into the collective consciousness as an eclectic path to enlightenment.

What differentiates that path from so many others available to seekers today? How does one identify a mystic? What does that journey look like? Mystics through the ages have left behind their writings, poetic and detailed, describing the incredible heights and despairing depths of the Way. From that body of collected literature, their descendants have pieced together a composite portrait, or map, which serves as a useful guide to anyone who suspects they may have strayed onto that Path.

Active and Practical

First, the disciplines (and they are disciplines, make no mistake) involved in mysticism are active and practical. The Mystic Way to union with the Divine is a thing that pervades one's entire life. It is a driving force, a seductive desire; once one has tasted the sweet breath of the Beloved, nothing is ever the same again.

Mysticism is a whole-life process for cloistered and uncloistered mystics. Everything in their lives is rewritten under the higher and more intense energies needed to co-exist with Divine consciousness. Modern mystics juggle their fervent desire for enlightenment right along with careers, families, children, relationships, mortgages, traffic jams, and chest colds. A mystic quite practically uses that list of distractions and others like them in an active systematic way. They serve as reminders, challenges, and lessons on the path to higher consciousness. Mysticism is not a thing about which they hold an opinion. It is a holistic lifestyle, a way of approaching every thought, every choice, every action.

Transcendent and Spiritual

That said, the second characteristic of mysticism is its transcendent, spiritual nature. The ultimate goal of a mystic has nothing to do with adding, subtracting, rearranging, or improving anything in the physical world. Though she uses her life in the world to teach or remind herself what it is to be fully conscious of Divine Reality, she remains aware that her aims transcend her life and existence. She cannot neglect her duty to the illusory "many," but her heart and mind remain ever fixed upon the changeless and ever-changing One.

This characteristic distinguishes mysticism from the occult. A mystic knows the Divine by communion, a direct intuition of the Absolute. He "has God," and needs nothing more. Though a mystic will expend his personal energies profligately on behalf of his fellow men, he neither needs nor craves "power" in the sense the world has defined it. His ends are for the simple and profound state of being with the Divine.


The third characteristic of mysticism is also perhaps the most distinctive: The driving power of mysticism is Love. It is the true business of the mystic; it is the means and the end, the method and the manner which illuminates him and his activities. This is Love in the truest, fullest sense of that word. As Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) described it in her treatise "Mysticism," such Love is "the ultimate expression of the self's most vital tendencies, not as the superficial affection or emotion often dignified by this name. Mystic Love is a total dedication of the will; the deep-seated desire and tendency of the soul towards its Source."

The business of mysticism is all about Love, not power, glory, respect, riches, admiration, mundane relationships, or material possessions. Though the mystic may well experience any or all of those things, they are ancillary to the mystic experience. They are not at root cause.

Better Living Through Mysticism

Evelyn Underhill once more provides a clear, succinct analysis of this last distinguishable trait of the Mystic Way: "The end and object of this `inward alchemy' will be the raising of the whole self to the condition in which conscious and permanent union with the absolute takes place; and man, ascending to the summit of his manhood, enters into that greater life for which he was made."

A mystic has beheld the Divine, and strives ever-after to be worthy of communion with It. All negative moral judgments, all self-serving acts, all self-deceptions, all lies, all facades, all vanity, pride, egotism, greed, and doubt, to name but a few, must be cast off the personality in the same way a liberated prisoner casts off his chains. These are heroic acts which never make the headlines, and yet are the necessary and eloquent product of the mystical journey. Wishing does not make it so; there are no short-cuts. It is, truly and literally, a labor of Love.

Into Whose Hands...?

In conclusion, mysticism in its truest sense is not self-seeking. It is a "self-noughting," as Julian of Norwich once wrote. Those who enter into the quest for mere self-satisfaction, the ecstasy of Divine Union, supernatural powers, or an end to suffering are, according to St. John of the Cross, "spiritual gluttons," though we may identify them now as "occultists." The mystic enters the journey because he or she finds that he or she must, and that there is no arguing with that quiet, insistent call of the soul. It is discovered that there is seeking without certainty of success, and that the passion of such seeking defines the rest of one's life.

Rev. Matson is co-founder of Church of the New Renaissance, a Home for Modern Mystics. She is the author of Seven Steps to Higher Consciousness, A Modern Mystic's Meditation. Her Doctorate of Divinity was granted by the church for her work on modern mysticism. Her current work includes spiritual counseling, lifepath mentoring, and teaching classes on the many facets of mysticism. For more information, visit the church website http://www.vetl.org

Visit the Christine Breese website to read articles on consciousness and awakening, visit University of Metaphysical Sciences Video Satsangs to see talks on spiritual subjects. Read articles on Wisdom of the Heart Church. Visit Starlight Journal for blogs, newsletter, and forums on spiritual subjects. Visit Christine Breese's Metaphysical Sciences youtube channel to view free video satsangs.


2012 paradigm shift

2012 predictions

2012 predictions

©2004-2010 University of Metaphysical Sciences