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Mysticism

An Overview

Humanity has always wanted to find its source. Mysticism is a spiritual quest for hidden truth or wisdom - the goal of which is union with  the sacred or transcendent realm. Forms of mysticism are found in all major religions, by analogy in the shamanic and other ecstatic practices of non literate cultures, and in secular experience. The word Human in Greek means "The being that looks upwards". The word "Greek" means "One with God," so both together create "The being  that looks upwards to become one with God". The Orphic Scripts offer a wealth of information to the researcher of Religions and Science. Written 2000 years BC prove that the Ancients knew things that we rediscovered.

Life in the material world exists as a polarity. The physical world of the body and the perceived world of the mind. Whether the physical or mental is more real or primary has been a central issue of philosophy and religion. Yin and Yang are the Chinese dualistic concepts. Yin is the light, passive, feminine, positive element. Yang is the dark, active, masculine, negative element. Everything in creation is seen as a result of the interplay between two elements.

The form, shape and individuality we express are recognizable by our selves and by others as our identity. Among primitive people almost everyone evidently believed in spiritualism, or the survival and continuation in some fashion of this identify beyond the death and discarding of the physical body, or "passing over."  Only in fairly recent times has there apparently been any real questioning of this idea. The scientific paradigm introduced the somewhat arrogant assumption that only whatever can be measured or quantified by the mind could be considered real. One of the big problems with this paradigm is that it is fairly evident that there are things we can know without being able to explain them.

On the one hand we have the material world (physics) and on the other the mental world of hopes, dreams, and aspirations (metaphysics). The first represents survival and procreation, while the second represents all transcendent experience. From this duality arises a third possibility, the spiritual. The single characteristic distinguishing humans from deities is immortality. In most antique cultures when an individual achieved enough wealth or power some assumed the mantle of a god by declaring themselves or their lineage to be immortal. More often than not these demi-gods used oppressive force to prohibit the individuation of others. Until the Renaissance the average person was often forbidden even to read or write.

Mythology is the account of larger-than-life heroes and archetypes who embody universal values and ideals. Mysticism is traditionally associated with certain forms of religion, as it has been described as a union with the Collective Spirit. Mysticism differs from religion in that the mystic desires to be as close to the Collective Spirit as possible, whereas most religions teach obedience of God's will and rules.

On this Earth, there are all too many restrictions, rules, oppression, sadness, bitterness, tears, disappointments, suffering, pain and death. It would seem that the need to earn money, pay rent, buy food and clothes precedes any spiritual considerations. But the fact is that the more vulnerable, the more superstitious a person or culture proves to be. History reveals that religious institutions power over men has caused no little human suffering. Dogma and bigotry are the result of the separation of the psyche into a good and worthless portion. In fact, Alan Watts went so far as to say that religion too often has operated through guilt and fear, by "forbidding every natural act." From this has come considerable distrust and disdain of religion.

The biblical term "fear God" is a mistranslation of "revere God." Fear is an emotion that is expressed as anxiety and dread by the expectation or recognition of danger. So fear is an emotion disconnected with the actual event. Man is endowed with the power of reason. He has the ability to be inspired by higher forces from a larger life and to utilize wisdom and knowledge to banish all that belongs to the darkness and ignorance.

Many religious leaders preach fear, which directs their energy into dis-harmony. These so called leaders generate tension, hostility and insecurity in others. This type batters people's self-esteem, frightening them just as (s)he is frightened. They destroy creativeness and any incentive in the very people they should motivate in order to achieve their prescribed goals. A fearful boss often cripples a company or group, and is a leader in rank only. Fear corrodes, rusts, and blocks the channels through which help can come. Fear can cause us to be subservient, dominant, possessive, and obsessive. It prevents us from experiencing love. Where fear is the problem and love is the answer. Love dispels fear. New Age ideas are more concerned with harmony.

Unification is the business if institutions. Ram Dass said that it is your business not to surrender your individuation and be consumed. We may grow weary of attachments to greed and power, to disappointment and suffering. Acetsicism would have us believe these are very valuable for our souls. Through suffering we learn compassion. It is in that spirit that the character is evolved and strengthened and we learn detachment. As awareness increases, one gradually realizes that there is more to be attained.

Atonement is the central idea of western philosophies. Atoning means undoing and correcting errors. When an individual can truly forgive, they essentially atone. The miracle that ensues is the personalized experience of revelation (experience of higher love). This is the feeling of being at-one (atone) with the source of such love. Atonement presupposes a kind of dismemberment of the psyche into a good and worthless portion. This idea of duality may have its roots in the harsh geography of the cradle of western civilization.

Unitive consciousness is the central theme of oriental philosophy. "All things are one." Oneness is the quality or state of being of wholeness; holiness, beyond illusions of separation. The idea of the Buddhist void is that when all is lost or surrendered, then all is gained. Zen Buddhism is an oriental school of Mahayana Buddhism, that maintains awareness, enlightenment, and a higher perception can be achieved through meditation, self contemplation and intuition, rather than through sacred texts or scriptures.

Tao literally means "Way." (Tao is pronounced Dow.) Those who follow the Tao are called Taoists. Taoism is a Chinese form of spiritual philosophy based on the teachings of Lao Tze (from Tao Te Ching, or Book of Tao), in the sixth century BC. Taoists were referred to as the "cloud people" because of their serenity. Spirit is believed to be the energy out of which every manifestation of life is formed, whether it be a plant, a bird, a tree, an animal, or a human. Similarly, Qi or Chi is the mainstream of existence. Chi is similar to the idea of Spirit, the dynamic, the essence, the vitality that is life, has always existed.

Nirvana is similar to the idea of perfection. It is the final state when all things come into there own and there are no flaws, no weaknesses, no faults at all, and perfect peace. It is what we seek to spiritually achieve, which in actuality, is an infinite process. We cannot achieve perfection, as there is no limit to knowledge, wisdom, understanding or truth. As the mind and spirit grows, their capacity is increased. Meditation is thought to be the most direct path.

Meditation is the spiritual exercise that allows the mind to be clear in order to focus on a specific idea. When initiating meditation, one must learn to detach from the norm of life (eliminate anxieties, distracting thoughts, and the presence of others). Many meditation schools provide symbolic techniques for this. Preparation involves the ability to center the higher self, often through affirmations such as being protected by white light, blessing yourself, your environment, and your aura. It is important not to force anything, simply allow higher conscious states to be one's guide.

Meta means change, transformation, and beyond. Physics is the science dealing with the properties, changes, interactions, etc., of matter and energy. Metaphysics therefore, examines things beyond matter and energy. It also refers to the branch of philosophy that seeks to explain the nature of being and reality. The term "Metaphysical" came into common usage during the late 1800's along with New Thought Churches.

Spiritual healing assumes that good health involves getting above or beyond the physical. The Universe is thought to be perfectly balanced by natural laws. Order is maintained by regulatory vibrations. When mankind works closer to the natural laws we can be assured of an eventual positive outcome. However, we do not always need to search and attend to the letter of the law, rather, we should understand and conform to its meaning. It is not necessary for the Collective Spirit to create new laws, for all the laws are in existence. All that is necessary for the universe is here now, it always has been, and always will be. Being aware of and guided by our higher self, as soul, allows us to break the bonds of the physical world and return back to higher essences of the Collective Spirit.

A Psychic is an individual who can tap into higher planes and receive impressions, vibrations, which are beyond those normally received by the five senses. Perhaps all people are psychic in varying degrees, but the term tends to have greater value to those who can actually relate and process occult information. Like all psychic abilities, some are endowed with certain gifts, while others need to focus more on its development. A psychic is not necessarily a medium and a psychic is not always the same as the spiritual. What is termed "extra-sensory-perception" may have no relationship to ones spiritual nature, but is merely an extension of the physical senses.

 An individual who is both priest and medium is called a shaman. For thousands of years there was no science or medicine, or religion as we know it. Only the shamen stood between the known and the unknown. Certain shamanic cultures require the development of internal vision as a prerequisite for becoming a shaman. A Druid is a Celtic priest and shaman who inhabited the ancient Breton area (Gaul, southern England, Wales, Ireland), with legendary abilities of prophecy and sorcery. Wicca is also a ancient religious cult based on love, worshipping a Goddess, and rituals of witchcraft and wizardry. Most of the rituals involved in Wicca are based on Celtic, Norse or Druid magickal practices. A ritual, or rite is a prescribed act, or series of acts, conducted during a religious or solemn ceremony. Rituals are generally formulated as a route to knowledge.

Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) was a mystic who belonged to the Order of the Dominicans. He was admirer of Thomas Aquinas, and was convinced that for the soul which goes down into its depths, in these depths a perfect morality will appear, that there all logical understanding and all action in the ordinary sense have an end, and that there an entirely new order of human life begins.  Eckhart had a profound influence on the development of the German language, as he wrote in German as well as in Latin. The German idealists looked to Eckhart as a forerunner of their movement, and modern scholars have traced his influence in the development of Protestantism and existentialism.

In late 19th-century, when Darwinism, biblical criticism, and other secularizing influences were undermining the supernaturalist structure of Protestant orthodoxy.  Freud, Pavlov, and James had begun to formulate the secularized and materialist theory of mind that has so far dominated modern Western thought.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) and her fellow Theosophists were rescuing from occult tradition and exotic religion a forgotten psychology of the superconscious and the extrasensory. Soon after its  establishment in New York the Theosophical Society moved its headquarters from New York to India.  She "stands out as the fountainhead of modern occult  thought, and was either the originator and/or popularizer of many of the ideas and terms which have a century later been assembled within the New Age Movement".

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) was a German physician whose system of  therapeutics, known as mesmerism. He was the forerunner of the modern  practice of hypnotism. His dissertation at the University of Vienna (M.D., 1766), which borrowed heavily  from the work of the British physician Richard Mead, suggested that the gravitational attraction of the planets affected human health by affecting an invisible fluid found in  the human body and throughout nature. His theory of "animal magnetism," claimed that an invisible fluid in the body acted according to the laws of magnetism.  Disease was the result of "obstacles" in the fluid's flow through the body, and these obstacles could be broken by "crises" (trance states often ending in delirium or convulsions) in order to restore the harmony of personal fluid flow. Mesmer devised  various therapeutic treatments to achieve harmonious fluid flow, and in many of these treatments he was a forceful and rather dramatic personal participant. The idea of mind-over-matter  and the New Thought movement gained an audience partly through his great popularity.

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff  (1872?-1949) was a Greco-Armenian mystic and philosopher who founded an influential quasi-religious  movement.He is thought to have spent his early adult years traveling in northeast Africa, the Middle East, India, and especially Central Asia, learning about various spiritual traditions. He established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man (reestablished at Fontainebleau, Fr., in 1922). Its members, many from  prominent backgrounds, lived a virtually monastic life. A disciple named P.D. Ouspensky introduced Gurdjieff's teachings to Western readers in an understandable intellectual form. Gurdjieff's basic assertion was that human life as ordinarily lived is similar to sleep; transcendence of the sleeping state required work, but when it was achieved, an individual could reach remarkable levels of vitality and awareness.

Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) She founded Christian Science with her book, Science and Health is based on the premis that God is not the cause of pain and suffering, and that by aligning our thoughts with Divine Principle we come into health and fullfillment. She rebelled against the hellfire determinism of her father's stark Calvinist theology, yet she retained from that stern Protestant heritage a Bible-centred, though  somewhat unorthodox, piety that prevented her from accepting the attenuated Christianity characteristic of liberal Unitarianism and, later, of Transcendentalism.

Ernest Holmes (1887-1960) published The Science of Mind (1927) established the United Church of Religious Science and the Religious Science International. The individual  human mind is seen an expression of the Universal Mind, and the universe is its material  manifestation. Man and nature are, therefore, like the God who is their true being,  considered to be fundamentally good, and apparent evil stems from ignorance of the  highest identity. The mind, working with creative faith and knowledge of its identity  with the infinite, draws on infinite resources in what is called "affirmative prayer."  When directed to a particular end, such as healing of mind or body, this employment of  mind is called "spiritual mind treatment" and its results a "demonstration." Religious Science trains both ministers and practitioners, who are qualified to give spiritual mind  treatments. Services are generally similar in format to those of mainstream Protestant  churches, but with an especially affirmative, optimistic tone.

Alice Bailey was one of the early authors who "channeled" her writings from an "an ancient spiritual entity" named Djwhal Khul. HerLetters on Occult Meditation (1920) bore some similarities to Blavatsky in the many references to Hindu concepts that have influence the New Age movement.

The Veda which literally means sacred knowledge. It is also used in reference to any of the early sacred writings and rituals associated with Hinduism. The core of Vedic teachings supports a philosophy that "life-form" and life-force" are two separate things. Life-form refers to the temporary physical body, whereas life-force refers to the eternal. These teachings state that the life-force energy which empowers all living things is equal, but the mental state associated with a physical body does have lower and higher states of understanding, experience and ability.

In India almost every aspect of daily life became ritualized or prescribed. Karma has to do with reactions arising from actions, or the natural law of cause and effect; reaping what you sow. Karma can be positive or negative as a result of interfering with, or promoting, someone else's free will choice. The effects are thought to extend to past and future lifetimes. Thus a person might be seen as paying for the sins committed in a previous life. Practically speaking, karma became an instrument of oppression. This resulted in a caste system where for many people, individualization became almost nonexistent. Those born into a low caste had little hope of ever escaping miserable circumstances.

Kundalini is another Sanskrit word meaning "circular power." Spiritual energy that is focused (or coiled) around the root chakra. An Eastern practice that when activated (or uncoiled), and channeled upward to higher chakras, produces certain forms of enlightenment. Without a controlled release, it can affect the physical, emotional or mental well-being of an individual. As such, special exercises are used to control and channel the Kundalini energy to assist in creating a more balanced life.

Psycho-Cybernetics (1960) became the best selling book ever published on self image therapy, self hypnosis, and self improvement, has sold over 30 million copies. Dr. Maxwell Maltz's experiences with some plastic-surgery patients experiencing increased self-esteem and confidence after their improved appearance while others did not. What made one group "see'' themselves in a better light while the other group continued to feel "inferior.'' Dr. Maltz's studies led to a program for personal fulfillment through mental -- not cosmetic -- self-image enhancement. This guide describes the steps to a more positive self-image, one that can actually alter your life's course to personal and career success. Dr. Maltz claimed to have discovered the ultimate link between the phyological and psychological processes and his success spawned numerous similar writings.

Visualization techniques can provide for self healing or creating something in one's life. Certain things an individual might request can often manifest in a literal fashion, due to a lack of preciseness, so it is important to learn good visualization techniques. Meditation visualization techniques are related to Hypnosis, a powerful tool which, in therapeutic hands, can be used for self help such as overcoming significant events and unwanted habits. Neuro-Linguistic-Programming  is a fairly recent form of therapy, used significantly in hypnosis, to correct certain behavior or feelings. For example, if fear is a predominant element for someone, a hypnotherapist could negotiate with the sub-conscious to reduce this and allow confidence to grow at levels the sub-conscious agrees to allow.

An affirmation is a declaration of that which one knows to be true or wish to aspire and maintain. Affirmations can provide the subconscious mind with an energizing thought process and may not work unless an effective focus is given to creating an identity to that which is being affirmed. There are many people who consider that affirmations should eliminate the word 'I' in order to remove any form of conflict. These techniques have become popularized to the extent that many if not most olympic athletes now have a visualization coach or some equivalent.

If the Earth is a place where we are presented with difficulties, frustrations, obstacles and handicaps, then the purpose of earthly existence can be seen as the opportunity to meet conditions that are a challenge to the evolving spirit. In this way the spirit can have a chance to express some of its latent qualities that can be called on in times of crisis. Spiritual mastery, then, involves conquering the problems we encounter, knowing that none are insurmountable. Being patient, meditating and praying for guidance can open the way.

The daunting task of converting destructive human activities to constructive and cooperative behavior is upon us. Making the necessary jump to planetary awareness implies a new sense of awe and wonderment about who and where we are. Economic means are available, and political means exist, but the moral means are at issue.

We are located in vastness. We come out of 15 billion years of unfolding, we are vital dust, a further development of the original fireball.  Try to locate yourself in our galactic neighborhood. This particular galaxy is only one of millions if not billions. It is 100,000 light years wide. A single light year is equal to six trillion miles. Our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, is 2.3 million light years away. The Earth is revolving at 900 miles an hour. It is orbiting the sun at 19 miles/ second. We are moving as a solar system at 40,000 miles/hour around the center of our galaxy, and our galaxy is expanding at 12 million miles/minute. Bacteria and photosynthetic algae began some 2.8 billions of years ago extracting the carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere and the evolution of life began.
 

"Before the creation, God was united with whatever exists in such a manner that in Him were contained all things that are, or have been, or shall ever be. All forms from all eternity being thus concealed within His Essence, and thus being compatible with the continual development of new forms, whether macroscopic or microscopic."    - From the principles of Orphic Theology, known to have been taught in Greece the 2nd Millennium BC.

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If it is true that the New Age will bring all the energy we want ~will we use it as a
weapon of our own self-destruction? Could this be the central issue of our lives?