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Mysticism. I. Definition of Mysticism (Evelyn Underwood, Practical Mysticism: Mysticism is the art...

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  • Slide 1
  • Mysticism
  • Slide 2
  • I. Definition of Mysticism (Evelyn Underwood, Practical Mysticism: Mysticism is the art of union with Reality, The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment But
  • Slide 3
  • A. What is Reality? From this definition only a mystic can answer and in terms which only other mystics can understand B. What is Union? From the mystics perspective it is not an operation but an activity which is being done, every conscious moment of time with great intensity and thoroughnesswe can know a thing by unity with it
  • Slide 4
  • Marks of Mysticism ( James, Varieties of Religious Experience)
  • Slide 5
  • I. Ineffabilitya negative A. Mysticism defies expressionno words are adequate its content B. It must be directly experienced C. It cannot be imparted or transferred to others
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  • II. Noetic Quality A. Mysticism is a state of insight into depths of truth unknown through discursive intellect B. The areas of knowledge are illuminations or revelations
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  • III. Transiency A. Mystical states cannot be sustained for any great amount of time B. At times, when faded, their quality can be imperfectly reproduced in memory
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  • IV. Passivity A. The mystic will feel that his/her own will were in abeyance, sometimes as if grasped and controlled by a superior power B. The control factor will lead at times to secondary phenemena 1. prophetic speech 2. automatic writing 3. mediumistic trance
  • Slide 9
  • Characteristics ( Underwood, Mysticism)
  • Slide 10
  • I. Mysticism is practical, not theoretical II. Mysticism is an entirely spiritual activity III. The business and method of mysticism is lovelove is: A. The active, connotative, expression of ones will and desire for the Absolute B. Ones innate tendency to that Absolute, ones spiritual weight
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  • IV. Mysticism entails a definite psychological experience V. As a corollary to the four rules, emphasis should be made that true mysticism is never self-seeking
  • Slide 12
  • Generic Experiences (OBrien, Varieties of Mystical Experiences)
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  • I. The object confronted in mystic experience is thought by the mystic to be somehow ultimate A. A belief that a mystical experience is the ultimate experience one can have on earth 1. Richard Rolle--the object is the fire of divine consolation 2. St. Bernard--comparable to the Beatific Vision in Heaven
  • Slide 14
  • B. It is asserted that the object is the ultimate experienced possible to human awareness because it is the ultimate reality--the deity 1. St. Catherine of Siena--the Sea Pacific in which she felt herself immersed in God 2. Origen-It is the Word; the second person of the Trinity
  • Slide 15
  • II. The manner of confrontation is always immediate and direct A. It can an intuitive one-to-one cognitive relation between subject and object, as found in St. Augustine B. It can an insight--the unmediated perception of a higher coherence--St. Ignatius Loyola or St. Teresa of Avila
  • Slide 16
  • III. The confrontation is always different from the familiar exercises of either sense perception or of reasoning A. Differing backgrounds of mystics will cause the mystical experience to be explained in different terms B. Yet, there are similarities which go beyond religious beliefs, for example, the self, itself, becomes awareness
  • Slide 17
  • Three Rules for Determining the Truth of an Experience
  • Slide 18
  • I. The reputed experience does not follow as a doctrinal conclusion from a persons basic philosophic or theological position, but is counter to it. A. In writings of Pseudo-Dionysius or Meister Eckhart, the experience which is so highly extolled is the last logical step in a rigid speculative system
  • Slide 19
  • B. Either of them may have been authentic mystics, but one cannot come to that conclusion from their writings only C. When the experience does not fit in at all with the persons speculative suppositions, the chances are that it was a genuine experience
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  • II. The reputed experience is not an instance of wish fulfillment, but is counter to ones wishes III. The reputed experience alone gives consistency to the speculation A. In Gregory, the experiences will be seen to be to the luminous center in the light of which Bible and philosophy and current theological controversies are understood B. In St. John of the Cross, everything takes its coloring from the experience
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  • Three Phrases of Life Agreed On By Mystics
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  • I. Life as it concerns God II. Life as it concerns the creature III. An intermediate life, a mixture of the former two IV. Examples A. Plotinus3 descending phases or principles of Divine Reality 1. The Godhead, the Absolute, and Unconditioned One 2. Gods manifestation as the nous, the Divine Mind or Spirit which inspires the intelligible and eternal world 3. Psyche, the Life or Soul of the physical universe
  • Slide 23
  • B. The Upanishads 1. Brahma is the heart of reality; other then the known, and above the unknown 2. Ananda, (being) that spiritual world which is the true object of aesethetic passion and religious contemplation 3. The world-process as we know it, which represents Ananda taking form
  • Slide 24
  • C. Richard of St. Victor 1. Dilation of mindenlarging and deepening our vision of the world 2. The elevation of the mind in which we behold the realities which are above ourselves 3. Ecstasy, in which the mind is carried up to contrast with truth in its pure simplicity
  • Slide 25
  • D. Jacopone da Todiuses symbolism of three heavens 1. When the mind has achieved self- conquest, the starry heaven of multiplicity is revealed to it; its darkness is lit by scattered lights (points of reality which pierce the sky 2. The crystalline heaven of lucid contemplation, where the soul is conformed to the rhythm of the divine lifeby its loving intuition it apprehends God under veils 3. The hidden heaven or ecstasylifted up that ineffable state where it enjoys a vision of imageless reality and enters into possession of all that is God
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  • E. Ruysbroeck 1. The natural world, theatre of our moral struggle 2. The essential world, where God and Eternity are indeed known by intermediaries 3. The super-essential world, where without immediary, and beyond all separation, above reason and without reason, the soul is united to the glorious and absolute One
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  • F. Jacob Boehme 1. The deepest Deity, without and beyond Nature 2. The Eternal Light-world, the manifestation of Deity 3. The outer world in which we dwell according to the body, which is manifestation, image or similitude of the Eternal
  • Slide 28
  • G. Dionysius the Areopagite 1. The way of purification, in which the mind is inclined to learn true wisdom 2. The way of illumination, in which the mind by contemplation is kindled to the burning of love 3. The way of union, in which the mind by understanding, reason, and spirit is led up by God alone
  • Slide 29
  • Forms of Mystical Literature
  • Slide 30
  • I. Pastoral Homilies--the writings of the mystics intimate communion with the Divine, sometimes the writings are written from sermons preached II. Theological Treaties--directed to an analysis of the mystical experience
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  • III. Personal Advice--written to meet the need for instruction in the mystical of some definite person or persons A. The advice is personal in two ways at once B. Author-mystic, in the light of personal experience C. Reader-mystic, counseling for personal need
  • Slide 32
  • D. This category has many anonymous works which are considered to be classical 1. The Book of the Poor in Spirit 2. Theologia Germanica 3. The Cloud of Unknowing
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  • IV. Confessions A. Most famous practioner of this type is Augustine of Hippo in his Confessions B. William of St. Thierry, in his On Contemplating God
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  • V. Spiritual Accounts--direct and to the point; purpose is simply to tell what occurred A. St. Ignatius Loyola B. Marie of the Incarnation C. St. Paul of the Cross
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  • Sampling of Mystics
  • Slide 36
  • I. Meister Eckhart (1260-1329 CE) A. The process of reality is a series of emanations 1. From the Godhead to the Unspoken Word (the Father) 2. From the Unspoken Word to the Spoken Word (the Son) 3. The Spoken Word to Love (the Spirit) 4. From Love to ideal creation
  • Slide 37
  • B. Humans return to the Godhead in a reverse order C. The practical spirit of Eckhart 1. The first stage of the souls return is regression from phenomenon, that is, from creatures in their actual state because they are not merely nothing, they are annihilating 2. The second stage is the beholding of the uncreaturely in creatures; that is, of creatures in the ideal state 3. The third stage is introspective; that is, one meditates upon the purely spiritual faculties of the soul, the trinity o
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