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Spiritual Mystic


Mysticism is a process. Spirituality is a sensitivity.

Mysticism is movement. Spirituality is an awareness of the reality in which mysticism moves.

Mysticism is life. Spirituality is our ability to recognize that life we seek, the bits of life we’ve found and are finding.

Mysticism is something we do. Spirituality is our growing inner and outer vision, a guide for this doing.

Mysticism is a state of being. Spirituality is our sense of that state.

Mysticism is a place. Spirituality is the intuitive knowledge of that place we seek, that place we’ve found, that place in which we abide.

Mysticism is our continued journey toward full identification with God. Spirituality is a kind of knowing of the world behind the world in which we live, an awareness of the real world that undergirds and envelops the physical world, the tangible world, the visible world. That awareness of the world behind the world gives us the space we need to grow toward one-ness, toward consummation, into identification.

Mysticism is “living union with” God. Spirituality may be a partly-intellectual realization of the delights we seek. Spirituality may be “acute emotional longings.” Spirituality may be informed by the psychological, the conscious, the intuitive. Spirituality may be physical, a kind of ecstasy in the presence of God. But spirituality is not the thing we seek. It is the tool or ability or sense with which we seek.

Mysticism is not a kind of awareness or higher being. It is, according to Evelyn Underhill, actual union: “the true goal of the mystic quest.”

Hannah More pushes her readers toward something similar in her description of Christianity as a transformation “into the image of God . . . being like-minded with Christ.”

Phoebe Worral Palmer never seems to have experienced this kind of unity. Or if she did, she lacked language to express it, for the closest she comes to an expression of union is the claim that she has learned to present and keep “all upon the hallowed altar,” a phrase that suggest she has put herself both beneath and before God (but no closer).

Walter Rauschenbusch seeks unity with “the mind of Jesus.” And he suggests that close study of the Lord’s prayer is the key to knowing that mind. Living out the Lord’s prayer, then, is to experience a kind of unity of purpose with God.

Mysticism is movement. Spirituality is an awareness of the reality in which mysticism moves.

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