Last modified on 3 November 2014, at 11:42

Mysticism

True mystics simply open their souls to the oncoming wave. Sure of themselves, because they feel within them something better than themselves, they prove to be great men of action, to the surprise of those for whom mysticism is nothing but visions, and raptures and ecstasies. ~ Henri Bergson

Mysticism (from the Greek μυστικός, mystikos, an initiate of a mystery religion) is the pursuit of communion with, identification with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate Reality, Divinity, spiritual Truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Mysticism usually centers on a practice or practices intended to nurture those experiences or awareness. Mysticism may be monistic, dualistic, nondualistic, or ontologically pluralistic. Differing religious, social and psychological traditions have described this fundamental mystical experience in many different ways. The words "mystical" and "mysticism", though commonly used by mystics to affirm extraordinary insights beyond all expression, and thus impossible to communicate to others, have also sometimes been used in a presumptive sense which insists that others must believe and accept what aspects of the experiences can be communicated, or in an entirely pejorative sense, strongly related to rejection of such authoritarian claims.

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AEdit

Mysticism witnesses nothing but love; mysticism is nothing but love. … Art shows how it loves, philosophy what it loves; mysticism knows only that it loves. ~ Constantin Brunner
Mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both. ~ Fritjof Capra
Alphabetized by author or source
Men talk of the extravagances and frenzies that have been produced by mysticism; they are a mere drop in the bucket. In the main, and from the beginning of time, mysticism has kept men sane. ~ G. K. Chesterton
A mystic is a man who separates heaven and earth even if he enjoys them both. ~ G. K. Chesterton
As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. ~ G. K. Chesterton
The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. ~ G. K. Chesterton
The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. ~ Albert Einstein
The explicable requires the inexplicable. Experience requires the nonexperienceable. The obvious requires the mystical. ~ Buckminster Fuller
When you study natural science and the miracles of creation, if you don't turn into a mystic you are not a natural scientist. ~ Albert Hofmann
Deliberate provocation of mystical experience, particularly by LSD and related hallucinogens, in contrast to spontaneous visionary experiences, entails dangers that must not be underestimated. ~ Albert Hofmann
  • From each a mystic silence Love demands.
    • Attar, in "Intoxicated by the Wine of Love" as translated by Margaret Smith from "The Jawhar Al-Dhat" and Readings from the Mystics of Islām : translations from the Arabic and Persian (1950) by Margaret Smith, p. 85
    • Variant translation: From each, Love demands a mystic silence.
      • As translated in Essential Sufism, by James Fadiman and Robert Frager

BEdit

  • By inner experience I understand that which one usually calls mystical experience: the states of ecstasy, of rapture, at least of meditated emotion. But I am thinking less of confessional experience, to which one has had to adhere up to now, that of an experience laid bare, free of ties, even of an origin, of any confession whatever. This is why I don’t like the word mystical.
  • We are dealing with mystic experience. I mean mystic experience taken in its immediacy, apart from all interpretation. True mystics simply open their souls to the oncoming wave. Sure of themselves, because they feel within them something better than themselves, they prove to be great men of action, to the surprise of those for whom mysticism is nothing but visions, and raptures and ecstasies.
    • Henri Bergson, in Deux sources de la morale et de la religion [The two sources of morality and religion] (1935), Ch. 3 : Dynamic Religion
  • Religion is to mysticism what popularization is to science. What the mystic finds waiting for him, then, is a humanity which has been prepared to listen to his message by other mystics invisible and present in the religion which is actually taught. Indeed his mysticism itself is imbued with this religion, for such was its starting point. His theology will generally conform to that of the theologians. His intelligence and his imagination will use the teachings of the theologians to express in words what he experiences, and in material images what he sees spiritually. And this he can do easily, since theology has tapped that very current whose source is the mystical. Thus his mysticism is served by religion, against the day when religion becomes enriched by his mysticism. This explains the primary mission which he feels to be entrusted to him, that of an intensifier of religious faith.
    • Henri Bergson, in Deux sources de la morale et de la religion [The two sources of morality and religion] (1935), Ch. 3 : Dynamic Religion
  • In point of fact there are two kinds sorts of mysticism, differing from one another as the ranting of drunkards from the language of illumined spirits. There is the muddled, stammering mysticism, and there is the mysticism luminous with truly ultimate ideas. On the one hand there are the empty dimness and darkness, the barren, chilling sentimentalism and mental debauchery, the foolishly grimacing but rigid phantasms of the Cabbala, of occultism, mysteriosophy and theosophy. We cannot draw too sharp a dividing line between these and the brightness, the simple sincerity, and healthy, rejuvenating strength of genuine mysticism, which takes the most precious gems from philosophy's treasure chest and displays them in the beauty of its own setting. Mysticism is in complete accord with the result, with the sum of philosophy. In fact, mysticism is precisely the sum and the soul of philosophy, in the form of that rapturous, passionate outpouring of love.... We are concerned with an understanding of this serious mysticism, and its meaning could be stated in three words... godlessness... freedom from the world... blessedness of soul.
    • Constantin Brunner, in Our Christ : The Revolt of the Mystical Genius (1921), as translated by Graham Harrison and Michael Wex, edited by A. M. Rappaport
  • In mysticism, everything is thrown at us directly, without discursiveness and ratiocination, as if it were a matter of course, and we are challenged to follow an unrestrainable will to love, arising out of a tremendously agitated, indiscriminate feeling. … Mystics will — rather than know — their thoughts. … Mysticism witnesses nothing but love; mysticism is nothing but love. … Art shows how it loves, philosophy what it loves; mysticism knows only that it loves.
    • Constantin Brunner, in Our Christ : The Revolt of the Mystical Genius (1921), as translated by Graham Harrison and Michael Wex, edited by A. M. Rappaport

CEdit

  • If physics leads us today to a world view which is essentially mystical, it returns, in a way, to its beginning, 2,500 years ago. … This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.
    • Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics : An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (1975)
  • Both the physicist and the mystic want to communicate their knowledge, and when they do so with words their statements are paradoxical and full of logical contradictions.
    • Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics : An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (1975), Ch. 3, Beyond Language, p. 46
  • The mystic and the physicist arrive at the same conclusion; one starting from the inner realm, the other from the outer world. The harmony between their views confirms the ancient Indian wisdom that Brahman, the ultimate reality without, is identical to Atman, the reality within.
    • Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics : An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (1975), Epilogue, p. 305
  • Mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both.
    • Fritjof Capra, in The Tao of Physics : An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (1975), Epilogue, p. 306
  • Men talk of the extravagances and frenzies that have been produced by mysticism; they are a mere drop in the bucket. In the main, and from the beginning of time, mysticism has kept men sane. The thing that has driven them mad was logic. ...The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.
  • A mystic is a man who separates heaven and earth even if he enjoys them both.
  • The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake.
    • G. K. Chesterton, in Heretics (1905), Chapter XX : Concluding Remarks on the Importance of Orthodoxy
  • 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. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus, he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus, he believes that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.
  • It is something to have smelt the mystic rose,
    Although it break and leave the thorny rods
    ,
    It is something to have hungered once as those
    Must hunger who have ate the bread of gods.
  • There is a single main definition of the object of all magical Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of Mysticism, Union with God.

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EEdit

  • The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion. Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning.
  • The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties — this knowledge, this feeling … that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in After Einstein : Proceedings of the Einstein Centennial Celebration (1981) by Peter Barker and Cecil G. Shugart, p. 179
  • I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in The Private Albert Einstein (1992) by Peter A. Bucky and Allen G. Weakland, p. 86

FEdit

  • Jesuits were and still are the leavening — not the only one but perhaps the most effective — of Catholicism: culture, teaching, missionary work, loyalty to the Pope. But Ignatius who founded the Society, was also a reformer and a mystic. Especially a mystic. … They have been fundamental. A religion without mystics is a philosophy. … I love the mystics; Francis also was in many aspects of his life, but I do not think I have the vocation and then we must understand the deep meaning of that word. The mystic manages to strip himself of action, of facts, objectives and even the pastoral mission and rises until he reaches communion with the Beatitudes. Brief moments but which fill an entire life.

GEdit

Mystics, contrary to religionists, are always saying that reality is not two things — God and the world — but one thing, consciousness. ~ Amit Goswami
  • Mystics, contrary to religionists, are always saying that reality is not two things — God and the world — but one thing, consciousness. It is a monistic view of reality based on consciousness that mystics claim to directly intuit. The problem with science has always been that most scientists believe that science must be done within a different monistic framework, one based on the primacy of matter. And then, quantum physics showed us that we must change that myopic prejudice of scientists, otherwise we cannot comprehend quantum physics. So now we have science within consciousness, a new paradigm of science based on the primacy of consciousness that is gradually replacing the old materialist science. Why? Not only because you can't understand quantum physics without this new metaphysics but also because the new paradigm resolves many other paradoxes of the old paradigm and explains much anomalous data.
    • Amit Goswami, in an interview with Suzie Daggett at Insight: Healthy Living (July 2006)

HEdit

  • There are experiences that most of us are hesitant to speak about, because they do not conform to everyday reality and defy rational explanation. These are not particular external occurrences, but rather events of our inner lives, which are generally dismissed as figments of the imagination and barred from our memory. Suddenly, the familiar view of our surroundings is transformed in a strange, delightful, or alarming way: it appears to us in a new light, takes on a special meaning. Such an experience can be as light and fleeting as a breath of air, or it can imprint itself deeply upon our minds. … Many persons also have visionary experiences in daily life, though most of us fail to recognize their meaning and value. Mystical experiences, like those that marked my childhood, are apparently far from rare.
  • The cultural-historical meaning of the Eleusinian Mysteries, their influence on European intellectual history, can scarcely be overestimated. Here suffering humankind found a cure for its rational, objective, cleft intellect, in a mystical totality experience, that let it believe in immortality, in an everlasting existence.
    This belief had survived in early Christianity, although with other symbols.
    • Albert Hofmann, in LSD : My Problem Child (1980), Ch. 11 : LSD Experience and Reality

IEdit

  • No word in our language — not even "Socialism"— has been employed more loosely than "Mysticism. … The history of the word begins in close connexion with the Greek mysteries. A mystic is one who has been, or is being, initiated into some esoteric knowledge of Divine things, about which he must keep his mouth shut…
  • The phase of thought or feeling which we call Mysticism has its origin in that which is the raw material of all religion, and perhaps of all philosophy and art as well, namely, that dim consciousness of the beyond, which is part of our nature as human beings. Men have given different names to these "obstinate questionings of sense and outward things." We may call them, if we will, a sort of higher instinct, perhaps an anticipation of the evolutionary process; or an extension of the frontier of consciousness; or, in religious language, the voice of God speaking to us. Mysticism arises when we try to bring this higher consciousness into relation with the other contents of our minds.

JEdit

Nature loves to hide her secrets, and she does not suffer the hidden truth about the essential nature of the gods to be flung in naked words to the ears of the profane. ~ Julian
The medieval mystics say the true image and the true real met once and for all on the cross: once and for all: and yet they still meet daily. ~ Madeleine L'Engle
The experience may lead occasionally to some insight into inner and less obvious processes, but it is also likely to lead to self-delusion. ~ Jawaharlal Nehru
What is Mysticism? Is it not the attempt to draw near to God, not by rites or ceremonies, but by inward disposition? ~ Florence Nightingale
What is the difference between a humanistic, monastic system of belief in which wisdom is sought by means of an apparently nonsensical system of questions and answers, and a lot of mystic gibberish made up on the spur of the moment? ~ Terry Pratchett
Wen considered this for some time, and at last said: "A fish!"
And Clodpool went away, satisfied. ~ Terry Pratchett


  • There are moments of sentimental and mystical experience … that carry an enormous sense of inner authority and illumination with them when they come. But they come seldom, and they do not come to everyone; and the rest of life makes either no connection with them, or tends to contradict them more than it confirms them. Some persons follow more the voice of the moment in these cases, some prefer to be guided by the average results. Hence the sad discordancy of so many of the spiritual judgments of human beings
  • I feel bound to say that religious experience, as we have studied it, cannot be cited as unequivocally supporting the infinitist belief. The only thing that it unequivocally testifies to is that we can experience union with something larger than ourselves and in that union find our greatest peace. Philosophy, with its passion for unity, and mysticism with its monoideistic bent, both "pass to the limit" and identify the something with a unique God who is the all-inclusive soul of the world. Popular opinion, respectful to their authority, follows the example which they set.
    • William James, in "Religion and Neurology" in The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), Postscript
  • The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers. … Happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity, I must leave to younger athletes to encounter and lop off the false branches which have been engrafted into it by the mythologists of the middle and modern ages.
    • Thomas Jefferson, in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1853-1854), edited by H. A. Washington, Vol. 7, pp. 210, 257
  • Nature loves to hide her secrets, and she does not suffer the hidden truth about the essential nature of the gods to be flung in naked words to the ears of the profane…
    • Julian, in "Oration VII": "To the Cynic Heracleios", as quoted in The Works of the Emperor Julian (1923) by Wilmer Cave France Wright, p. 105; also in Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism (2005) by Gedaliahu A. G. Stroumsa, p. 25

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LEdit

  • The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

    The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
    Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
    Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
    These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
    this appears as darkness.
    Darkness within darkness.
    The gate to all mystery.

MEdit

  • The medieval mystics say the true image and the true real met once and for all on the cross: once and for all: and yet they still meet daily.
    • Madeleine L'Engle, in The Crosswicks Journal : A Circle of Quiet (1972), Section 1.5
  • There has always been a dance element in my mysticism. We just think ‘why not’. Music is imposing a state of consciousness by its very nature. If what this Tree of Life is is a hierarchy of different states of consciousness, would it be possible to simulate and stimulate those states of consciousness in the listener by producing the right sorts of music. Is it possible? We don’t know, but we’re working on it.
  • Sex is the mysticism of materialism and the only possible religion in a materialistic society.
    • Malcolm Muggeridge, BBC1 TV broadcast (21 October 1963), as quoted in "The American Way of Sex", in Muggeridge Through the Microphone (1967)

NEdit

  • Religion merges into mysticism and metaphysics and philosophy. There have been great mystics, attractive figures, who cannot easily be disposed of as self-deluded fools. Yet, mysticism (in the narrow sense of the word) irritates me; it appears to be vague and soft and flabby, not a rigorous discipline of the mind but a surrender of mental faculties and living in a sea of emotional experience. The experience may lead occasionally to some insight into inner and less obvious processes, but it is also likely to lead to self-delusion.
  • Does personality survive in the ultimate union with God? If personality means a conscious existence distinct, though not separate, from God, the majority of advanced Moslem mystics say "No!" As the rain-drop absorbed in the ocean is not annihilated but ceases to exist individually, so the disembodied soul becomes indistinguishable from the universal Deity. It is true that when Sufi writers translate mystical union into terms of love and marriage, they do not, indeed they cannot, expunge the notion of personality, but such metaphorical phrases are not necessarily inconsistent with a pantheism which excludes all difference. To be united, here and now, with the World-Soul is the utmost imaginable bliss for souls that love each other on earth. … Strange as it may seem to our Western egoism, the prospect of sharing in the general, impersonal immortality of the human soul kindles in the Sufi an enthusiasm as deep and triumphant as that of the most ardent believer in a personal life continuing beyond the grave. Jalaluddin, after describing the evolution of man in the material world and anticipating his further growth in the spiritual universe, utters a heartfelt prayer — for what? — for self-annihilation in the ocean of the Godhead.
  • What is Mysticism? Is it not the attempt to draw near to God, not by rites or ceremonies, but by inward disposition? Is it not merely a hard word for "The Kingdom of Heaven is within"? Heaven is neither a place nor a time. There might be a Heaven not only here but now...
  • Christ Himself was the first true Mystic. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish His work." What is this but putting in fervent and the most striking words the foundation of all real Mystical Religion? — which is that for all our actions, all our words, all our thoughts, the food upon which they are to live and have their being is to be the indwelling presence of God, the union with God; that is, with the Spirit of Goodness and Wisdom.

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PEdit

  • It was amazing, this mystic business. You tell them a lie, and then when you don't need it any more you tell them another lie and tell them they're progressing along the road to wisdom. Then instead of laughing they follow you even more, hoping that at the heart of all the lies they'll find the truth. And bit by bit they accept the unacceptable.
  • In the Second Scroll of Wen the Eternally Surprised a story is written concerning one day when the apprentice Clodpool, in a rebellious mood, approached Wen and spake thusly:
    "Master, what is the difference between a humanistic, monastic system of belief in which wisdom is sought by means of an apparently nonsensical system of questions and answers, and a lot of mystic gibberish made up on the spur of the moment?"
    Wen considered this for some time, and at last said: "A fish!"
    And Clodpool went away, satisfied.

QEdit

REdit

In the mystic traditions of the different religions we have a remarkable unity of spirit. Whatever religion they may profess, they are spiritual kinsmen. ~ Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
The multiplicity is only apparent. ~ Erwin Schrödinger
The way to true mysticism leads up through rational thought to deep experience of the world and of our will-to-live. ~ Albert Schweitzer
  • In the mystic traditions of the different religions we have a remarkable unity of spirit. Whatever religion they may profess, they are spiritual kinsmen. While the different religions in their historic forms bind us to limited groups and militate against the development of loyalty to the world community, the mystics have already stood for the fellowship of humanity in harmony with the spirit of the mystics of ages gone by.
    • Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, as quoted in The Visva-Bharati Quarterly Vol. 5 (1939-1940); this is often misattributed to Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, who quoted it in an address during the Indian President's state visit to Ethiopia (13 October 1965); also quoted in Foreign Affairs Record Vol. 11-12 (1965-1966) by India Ministry of External Affairs, p. 266
  • Unless we proceed cautiously, there might well arise a few generations of mystics who conceive of the orgone metaphysically, divorced from non-living nature and who do not comprehend it from the standpoint of natural science. And it seems to me that we have more than enough mysticism as it is.
    • Wilhelm Reich, in Orgonotic Pulsation in International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone-Research, Vol. 3, No. 1, (March, 1944); Reich here and throughout his writings seems to use the word "mysticism" in the pejorative sense.
  • I was giving a reading at some university. Down in the front row of the auditorium was a young lady in a leather microskirt and a leather microbolero, tied with a leather bootlace, and nothing else whatever. I said, "I have an extremely wide repertory. What would you like — sex, revolution, or mysticism?" She looked up and said quietly, "What’s the difference?"
    • Kenneth Rexroth, in "The Libertarian Circle", in An Autobiographical Novel (1991)
  • He was a practical mystic, the most formidable and terrible of all combinations, uniting an aspiration derived from the celestial and supernatural with the energy of a mighty man of action; a great captain, but off the field seeming, like a thunderbolt, the agent of greater forces than himself; no hypocrite, but a defender of the faith; the raiser and maintainer of the Empire of England.
  • The place that Solomon made to worship in,
    called the Far Mosque, is not built of earth
    and water and stone, but of intention and wisdom
    and mystical conversation and compassionate action.
    • Rumi, in "The Far Mosque" in The Essential Rumi (1995) translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, A. J. Arberry and Reynold Nicholson, in Ch. 17 : Solomon Poems, p. 191

SEdit

  • Wit is the appearance, the external flash of imagination. Thus its divinity, and the witty character of mysticism.
    • Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, Aphorism 26, as translated in Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms (1968), by Friedrich von Schlegel, p. 151
    • Variant translation: Wit is the appearance, the external flash, of fantasy. Hence its divinity and the similarity to the wit of mysticism.
      • As translated in The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (1996) edited by Frederick C. Beiser, p. 131
  • Honour is the mysticism of legality
    • Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, Aphorism 77, of Ideas as translated in The Early Political Writings of the German Romantics (1996) edited by Frederick C. Beiser, p. 131
  • The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the way.
    • Erwin Schrödinger, as quoted in The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Mysticism and Science (1981) by Amaury de Riencourt
  • The mystics of many centuries, independently, yet in perfect harmony with each other (somewhat like the particles in an ideal gas) have described, each of them, the unique experience of his or her life in terms that can be condensed in the phrase: DEUS FACTUS SUM (I have become God).
    To Western ideology, the thought has remained a stranger... in spite of those true lovers who, as they look into each other's eyes, become aware that their thought and their joy are numerically one, not merely similar or identical...
    • Erwin Schrödinger, "The I That Is God" as translated in Quantum Questions : Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists (1984) edited by Ken Wilber
  • From an inner necessity, I exert myself in producing values and practising ethics in the world and on the world even though I do not understand the meaning of the world. For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me. I live my life in God, in the mysterious divine personality which I do not know as such in the world, but only experience as mysterious Will within myself.
    Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism. To relate oneself in the spirit of reverence for life to the multiform manifestations of the will-to-live which together constitute the world is ethical mysticism. All profound world-view is mysticism, the essence of which is just this: that out of my unsophisticated and naïve existence in the world there comes, as a result of thought about self and the world, spiritual self-devotion to the mysterious infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the universe.
    • Albert Schweitzer, in Kulturphilosophie (1923), translated by C. T. Campion as Philosophy of Civilisation (1949), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics, Preface
  • The way to true mysticism leads up through rational thought to deep experience of the world and of our will-to-live. We must all venture once more to be "thinkers," so as to reach mysticism, which is the only direct and the only profound world-view. We must all wander in the field of knowledge to the point where knowledge passes over into experience of the world. We must all, through thought, become religious.
    This rational thought must become the prevailing force among us, for all the valuable ideas that we need develop out of it. In no other fire than that of the mysticism of reverence for life can the broken sword of idealism be forged anew.
    • Albert Schweitzer, in Kulturphilosophie (1923), translated by C. T. Campion as Philosophy of Civilisation (1949), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics, Preface
  • The most important, the central characteristic in which all fully developed mystical experiences agree, and which in the last analysis is definitive of them and serves to mark them off from all other kinds of experiences, is that they involve the apprehension of an ultimate nonsensuous unity in all things, a oneness or a One to which neither the sense nor the reason can penetrate.

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WEdit

For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak. ~ Max Weber
This isn't instant coffee. ~ Elie Wiesel
Is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? ~ Ken Wilber
  • Mysticism intends a state of "possession," not action, and the individual is not a tool but a "vessel" of the divine. Action in the world must thus appear as endangering the absolutely irrational and other-worldly religious state. Active asceticism operates within the world; rationally active asceticism, in mastering the world, seeks to tame what is creatural and wicked through work in a worldly "vocation" (inner-worldly asceticism). Such asceticism contrasts radically with mysticism, if the latter draws the full conclusion of fleeing from the world (contemplative flight from the world). The contrast is tempered, however, if active asceticism confines itself to keeping down and to overcoming creatural wickedness in the actor's own nature. For then it enhances the concentration on the firmly established God-willed and active redemptory accomplishments to the point of avoiding any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from the world). Thereby active asceticism in external bearing comes close to contemplative flight from the world. The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also tempered if the contemplative mystic does not draw the conclusion that he should flee from the world, but, like the inner-worldly asceticist, remain in the orders of the world (inner-worldly mysticism).
    In both cases the contrast can actually disappear in practice and some combination of both forms of the quest for salvation may occur. But the contrast may continue to exist even under the veil of external similarity. For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak.
  • What I don't like today is, to put it coarsely, the phony Hasidism, the phony mysticism. Many students say, "Teach me mysticism." It's a joke.
    • Elie Wiesel, in interview with John S. Friedman, published in The Paris Review 26 (Spring 1984); and in Elie Wiesel : Conversations (2002) edited by Robert Franciosi, p. 86
  • Miracles in mysticism don't occupy such an important place. It's metaphor, for the peasants, for the crowds, to impress people. What does mysticism really mean? It means the way to attain knowledge. It's close to philosophy, except in philosophy you go horizontally while in mysticism you go vertically. You plunge into it. Philosophy is a slow process of logic and logical discourse: A bringing B bringing C and so forth. In mysticism you can jump from A to Z. But the ultimate objective is the same. It's knowledge. It's truth.
    • Elie Wiesel, in interview with John S. Friedman, published in The Paris Review 26 (Spring 1984); and in Elie Wiesel : Conversations (2002) edited by Robert Franciosi, p. 87
  • I believe mysticism is a very serious endeavor. One must be equipped for it. One doesn't study calculus before studying arithmetic. In my tradition, one must wait until one has learned a lot of Bible and Talmud and the Prophets to handle mysticism. This isn't instant coffee. There is no instant mysticism.
  • Are the mystics and sages insane? Because they all tell variations on the same story, don't they? The story of awakening one morning and discovering you are one with the All, in a timeless and eternal and infinite fashion. Yes, maybe they are crazy, these divine fools. Maybe they are mumbling idiots in the face of the Abyss. Maybe they need a nice, understanding therapist. Yes, I'm sure that would help. But then, I wonder. Maybe the evolutionary sequence really is from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, each transcending and including, each with a greater depth and greater consciousness and wider embrace. And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual's consciousness does indeed touch infinity — a total embrace of the entire Kosmos — a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It's at least plausible. And tell me: is that story, sung by mystics and sages the world over, any crazier than the scientific materialism story, which is that the entire sequence is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing? Listen very carefully: just which of those two stories actually sounds totally insane?
    • Ken Wilber, in A Brief History of Everything (1996)

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