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Mysticism

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Mysticism is a belief in or the pursuit in the unification
with the One or some other principle; the immediate
consciousness of God; or the direct experience of
religious truth. Mysticism is nearly universal and unites
most religions in the quest for divinity. It can also be
a sense of mystical knowledge. Dionysius the Areopagite
was the first to introduce the concept "unknown knowing"
to the Western World. In areas of the occult and psychic
it denotes an additional domain of esoteric knowledge and
paranormal communication. Even though it is thought that
just monks and ascetics can become mystics, mysticism
usually touches all people at least once in their lives.

The term "mysticism" comes from the classical Greco-Roman
mystery cults. Perhaps it came from myein meaning "to
close the lips and eyes, and refers to the sacred oath of
the initiates, the mystes, to keep secret about the inner
workings of the religion." In Neo-platonism "mysticism"
came to be associated with secrecy of any kind. The term
mystica appeared in the Christian treatise, Mystica
Theologia, of an anonymous Syrian Neoplatonist monk of
of the late fifth or early sixth century, who was known pseudonymously as Dionysius the Areopagite. In this work
mysticism was described as the secrecy of the mind.

Despite the various approaches to mysticism it seems to
possess some common characteristics. Such were the
findings of the philosopher W. T. Stace, who discovered
seven common themes of mysticism when studying Roman
Catholic, Protestant, ancient classical, Hindu, and
American agnostic mystical experiences. They were (1) a
unifying vision and perception of the One by the senses
and through many objects; (2) the apprehension of the One
as an inner life; (3) and objective and true sense of
reality; (4) feelings of satisfaction, joy, and bliss;
(5) a religious element that is a feeling of the holy and
sacred; (6) a paradoxical feeling; (7) and inexpressible
feelings.

From the above is can easily be seen that mysticism is
not the same to every person experiencing it. Therefore,
there are various kinds or types. Various mystics
subscribe to one of two theories of Divine Reality:
emanation or immanence. In the emanation view, all things
in the universe are overflowing from God. In the
immanence view, the universe is not projected from God,
but is immersed in God.

Mysticism is usually thought of as being of a religious
nature, which can be either monistic or theistic. The
objective of monistic mysticism is to seek unity and
identity with a universal principle; while theistic
mysticism seeks unity, but not identity, with God.

The ultimate expression of monistic mysticism is perhaps
best displayed in the Upanishads of India, as in the
concepts of "I am Brahman" (the all-pervading principle)
and tat tram asi "that thou art," meaning that the soul
is the eternal and Absolute Being. Monistic mysticism is
also found in Taoism,, which seeks unity with Tao, the
ineffable way. Theistic mysticism, unity with God,
characterizes Christianity, Judaism (in the Kabbalah),
and Islam (the Sufi sect), and is also found in Hinduism.

There are other forms of mysticism throughout the world.
Many assume a religious nature according to the beliefs
and practices of the practitioners. Most of these states
of mysticism commonly possess what is deemed a mystical
communion with what is considered sacred which varies
from group to group, even subgroup to subgroup, and
includes dance, song and chant, the sacred pipe,
purifying sweats (a preliminary for undertakings), fasts,
dreams, vision quests, and the occasional use of
psychotropic drugs.

Apart from religious mysticism, but not entirely
separated from it, is nonreligious mysticism. This is
more of an experiencing mysticism through, or from,
Nature, although some have discovered God or the Absolute
of Nature through such experiences. An authentic
experience of mysticism derive from Nature is essentially
the unity of the subject and the object. In other words,
the person becomes one with Nature; all boundaries or
separation between the person and Nature disappears. The
person becomes part of nature and is not separate from
it.

This is clearly seen in the Goddess religion, which
includes neo-Paganism and neo-Pagan Witchcraft, which
worships Nature. Such worship includes love where the
separation between the subject and object vanishes.
Starhawk, in The Spiral Dance, defines it as immanence.
Immanence is one of the three core principles of the
Goddess religion, the other two being interconnection and
community. "Immanence means that the Goddess, the Gods,
are embodied, that we are each a manifestation of the
living being of the earth, that nature, culture, and life
in all their diversity are sacred. Immanence calls us to
live our spirituality here in the world, to take action
to preserve the life of the earth, to live with integrity
and responsibility."

A similar point was made in the description of Gaea,
previously called Terrebie, or the planet Earth by Otter
Zell (formerly Tim Zell), founder and high priest of the
Church of All Worlds in Ukiah, California. He redefined
divinity and deity as the fulfillment of potential as
"the highest level of aware consciousness accessible to
each living being, manifesting itself in the
self-actualization of that being." So, the cell is
thought of as God by its components; the tissue is God to
the cells, and so on. The human being manifests a whole
new level of awareness, organization, and "emergent
wholeness." When describing this level of organization
Zell wrote, "We find it appropriate to express
recognition of this Unity in the phrase: 'Thou art God.'"
And as all things are connected biologically, all
eco-systems express a new level of awareness. Therefore,
Mother Earth is seen as God. Of this, Zell wrote:

Indeed, even though yet unawakened, the embryonic
slumbering subconscious mind of Terrebria is experienced
intuitively by us all, and has been referred to
instinctively by us as Mother Earth, Mother Nature (The
Goddess, The Lady.)

Instinctively every one has done what the neo-Pagan
openly admit doing, calling Earth, Mother. This
recognition of Earth as our Mother is justified because
we all are dependent on her for our survival. Just as the
child comes to love the mother who cares and nurtures
him, so too, we love Mother Earth who we know loves and
nurtures humankind as her children. By definition, this
is mysticism.

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