Little Pink Spoon #10 from The Wheel of Creativity
This post is part of a series of excerpts from my forthcoming book. You can read them all in the Little Pink Spoons category. You can get advance notice of the book by subscribing to my Creative Adventure Journal over there to your right.
The Mystic Creative
Religious traditions of every culture seek to answer the same fundamental question, “What’s it all about?” While I grew up in the Christian tradition, I have long been in awe of the unintentional parallels between different religions’ elaborately distinctive answers. Since stepping out of the obligatory exclusivity of my childhood religion, I have found in this vast array a beautiful testament to the creative diversity of Life. I have sought to find the common ground—deeper than ideology and belief—among them all. For me, this ground is the creative process, and it is a mystical path through life.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The term ‘mysticism’ comes from the Greek μυω, meaning ‘to conceal.’ In the Hellenistic world, ‘mystical’ referred to ‘secret’ religious rituals. In early Christianity the term came to refer to ‘hidden’ allegorical interpretations of Scriptures and to hidden presences, such as that of Jesus at the Eucharist. Later the term began to denote mystical theology, including direct experience of the divine.”
Typically, according to Stanford, mystics seek to know the deeper truths of life through their direct experience, and they interpret these mystical experiences not as the end goal but as participation in the larger process of human transformation.
Every major religion has a mystical tradition deep within it or on its fringes, depending on your point of view, where believers seek to know the deeper hidden aspects of God through personal and direct experience.
Judaism’s mystical tradition is found in the Kabbalah, a set of scriptures outside the biblical set. These esoteric teachings explain the nature of an eternal God (the Creator), God’s relationship with the finite world (the creation) and the way life creates a path to spiritual attainment.
In Islam, the mystical knowledge is held in the Sufi Way, defined in the 15th century by Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq as “a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.” Sufism teaches the seeker, or Dervish, how “to travel into the presence of the Divine, purify one’s inner self from filth, and beautify it with a variety of praiseworthy traits.”
Mysticism is also a core tenet of Hinduism. Most Hindus believe that the soul is eternal and that the goal of life is freedom through merging your soul with the Supreme Soul. Hindu texts and wise men teach followers to attain this by seeking awareness of God in everyday life. Practices including yoga, singing hymns, chanting mantras, reciting scriptures and worshiping through daily chores are the very heart of the religion.
In general, Christian mysticism teaches that this direct awareness of God can be cultivated through interpretation of scriptures and the practices of prayer, meditation, purification and contemplation on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, mysticism was an important part of life within the Christian community and led the human community to higher consciousness.
Mystics Among Us All
The one tenet that all mystical religious traditions share is that knowledge of God, spiritual truth or ultimate reality is possible through direct personal experience. A common tenet is the ultimate oneness of the individual and all of reality. Mystical practices have as their goal to experience that oneness by shifting focus away from the physical experience of separation.
For as many years as I could frame the thought, I have experienced Life itself inviting me to know it through my own experience and to dance with it through my response to it. Life invites us all, whatever our culture, creed or belief system, to step outside the box of our conditioning, to come closer, to know it in this way.
Q: What does your direct experience of life tell you about its deeper meaning?
Start where you are. Share your story with other readers. Leave a comment.
Continued next Monday…
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