Sunday 11 April 2021

Notes on mysticism of thinking

I would describe myself as 'a mystic'; despite that I probably strike other people as mundane in the sense that I don't do anything very noticeably mystical - like meditating in the lotus position, using magical technologies (tarot, astrology etc) - and I don't claim to have had anything that would strike other people as spectacular spiritual or religious experiences (like overwhelming visions, near death experiences or striking paranormal events). 

This is because I take mysticism is be synonymous with regarding intuitive experience as the bottom line, and a conviction that mystical experiences are intended for the person who experiences them - and not for general public consumption. 

I have, like everybody, experienced many everyday miracles, and synchronicities - inspirations and the like. But it is immensely liberating Not to feel I need to convince anybody else that they were spectacular or of general relevance. 

One big difference between the mysticism I practice versus that which has become enshrined in the mainstream - is that I strive-for and value conscious experiences in thinking. I neither seek nor much value the usual (so-called) 'mystical' state of non-thinking, death-of-the-ego; of being blissed-out/ unaware of time/ convinced of being literally transported elsewhere... 

I do not want to be overwhelmed-by something that seems objective and external; nor to have visions that I believe to be real; nor to hear voices speaking to me - telling me things or conversing...

Yet some (most?) definitions of mysticism insist that these are what mysticism is. 

For example, that a mystic is unaware of time - more exactly that the mystic perceives that in reality there is no time ('all time is present'). In total contrast, the mysticism I seek is more like a 'process', it is a situation of things happening, a flow of life. 

In a nutshell, it is a kind of thinking that I regard as a higher state - I have called it primary thinking, heart thinking, and direct knowing - the state of Final Participation; and it simply amounts to a conscious and chosen thinking in the divine way; with and from that which is divine in me; and aligned-with/ in-harmony-with God's divine motivations and purposes.

It is me, my-self, joining-with God in God's work. It is therefore a creative state, and not merely a contemplative state. In it I add-to divine creation (I do not merely become aware of it, nor do I immerse in it.) 

For me, creativity is what we are meant to do, we are meant to active participants in God's creation - that' for me, is what the mission of Jesus was all about.  

Now, it is often said (and by writers I respect) that we ought to be striving to engage in this kind of thinking all the time - and any lapse from it is a failure. The idea is that we are supposed to be primary thinking at every moment, whatever we are doing; and that when we aren't, it is a lapse and a failure. 

But this assumption makes every human life a failure, and a tragedy - since nobody ever has achieved this unbroken continuity of mystical thinking (except for Jesus, in the last three years of his life). 

I cannot believe (I mean this literally - I mean the idea is incoherent) that our loving-parents God (who I know, in this state of mystical thinking) created his mortal children on earth to fail. 

Indeed, for mortal life to make any sense, for it to have a necessary reason for happening, we cannot regard it as being set-up to attain any kind of perfect, continuous state --- since here in mortal earthly life we are ruled by entropy, subject to change/ disease/ degeneration and death. 

Jesus's ministry described by an eye-witness in (only) the Fourth Gospel, is a joyous, not tragic, message - 'Good News' indeed. So we ought to realize that Jesus brought a positive gift - and not merely the negation of a negative situation. (As with the doctrine that Jesus came to save us from original sin: i.e. Jesus came to negate a negative deficit.) 

And indeed Jesus did bring a positive gift - as repeatedly described in that Gospel: the positive gift of resurrected life eternal in Heaven.

That is the essence of Christianity. Clear and simple. 

Therefore I am not supposed to be a full-time and permanent Mystic in this life on earth - the evidence for which is that it is impossible. But I am supposed to value mystical thinking above all else, because that is what is on-offer in Heaven. 

More exactly (since each person has an individual destiny) anyone like me who knows and values mystical states, is meant to strive for them on the permanent and continuous basis offered only by resurrection into life everlasting. 

So - since mystical thinking cannot be done all the time on earth, then we are not meant to do all the time it on earth. But our valuing of mystical thinking is what provides the correct framework for that learning from personal experience that is the main point of continued-living in this mortal life

We can see immediately that there is a potential problem here; in that we are essentially intended to learn from personal experience - whereas the mainstream modern world supplies us with a merely secondhand and abstract experience. 

Indeed, as of 2021; The System does not provide genuine experience, but a form of non-experience. 

The System intends that we live abstractly, vicariously, and as guided by The System. This is the opposite and inversion of learning from personal experience.  

One thing I used to worry about (and many others worry about - to the point of paralysis) is the matter of self-deception concerning mysticism. 

The question of 'how can I tell?' when I really am 'doing' mystical thinking - or when instead I might be pretending to myself, or engaging in wishful thinking (merely relabeling ordinary mundane and manipulated thinking as 'mystical'). 

But most of this is dealt with when one regards the significance of mystical thinking as being personal rather than public

Self-deception becomes a problem among actual or would-be spiritual leaders, people trying to get power, make money, gain status, influence people, make-a-better-world, heal people, create or administer a movement/ cult/ institution/ religions (etc) from their own spirituality. 

All such objectification seems to create self-deception. Even great mystical thinkers such as Rudolf Steiner fell (deeply) into this trap of self-deception by striving for objectification, abstraction, generalization... 

But intrinsically, it is not difficult to know when one is, or is not, engaged in mystical thinking. 

The state is self-validating - as must be intuition in general. That is what intuition must be - if it is to serve as the bottom line. 

We need to assume that there is a divine self in us

And we must further assume that when our consciousness, our awareness, is motivated by Love; then conscious awareness can know the divine self. 

It is Love that distinguishes divine-thinking from any other kind of thinking. We can therefore consciously know when we are (here and now) thinking mystically, from our divine self; and when we are not

That's all there is to it. That is direct knowing.

The fact that it is based in the motivation of love is exactly why mysticism fails when made objective, when the attempt is to harness mystical thinking for 'use' in this mortal world.

We do not love The World; love is not abstract - indeed we love only some, specific beings - sometimes a person loves only one being. 

That defines the scope of mystical thinking. One can think mystically only about that which is loved

Love must come first. So we cannot 'use' mystical thinking by a forced application of love to that which we merely wish to know!   

(Lack of real love is where public mystics go badly wrong. The give-away is that they always claim to have a lot of love, for a lot of people. The engage in a lot of promiscuous love-talk... They try to operationalize love, by equating it with some kind of 'altruistic' or sacrificial action. Doing so, they are trying to control love; which manipulation is intrinsically putting second that which must be first. Abstract, generalized loving is a snare - and a lie.) 


William Wildblood said...

Speaking as someone who in his younger days had certain mystical type experiences but has not for many years I would agree the the real mystic is not someone concerned with his feelings (blissful or psychic experiences and the like) but his thought. Now it seems to me that the real mystic is someone who just seeks to live intuitively and in doing what he perceives as God's will regardless of whether that brings joy or suffering in his present life.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Very interesting points!

In the context of what you say here, I wonder what you make of the idea that "Jesus loves everyone." It seems that in order to love me, Jesus would have to know me, and that -- since we've never met in the flesh -- that knowledge can be only mystical in origin. (But mystical knowledge requires loves, which requires knowledge, and so on.)

Of course we can assume that Jesus and I have met, in the premortal state, but access to those premortal memories is also a kind of mystical knowledge, isn't it?

Francis Berger said...

You have shared many thoughts and insights about primary thinking and creativity on this blog, but this post sums up the essentials very lucidly and meaningfully, and I sincerely hope those who read it take the post's message to heart and really think about it.

"For me, creativity is what we are meant to do, we are meant to active participants in God's creation - that' for me, is what the mission of Jesus was all about."

Yes! Though essential, salvation does not mark the limit of Christ's mission. Salvation provides the "from" aspect of the mission, while creativity contains the potential "for".

Christianity has been wary of this "mystical" aspect of the faith - this potential "for" - for far too long, but given the way circumstances have unfolded in the world in the past year or so, the "mystical" aspect you have described so well here is the only viable way forward for Christianity as far as I'm concerned (and this very well may be an example of God organizing things to bring something good out of something inherently bad).

What other options do Christians have at the moment? Go back to "normal" church life? Become a System Christian? Abandon the faith altogether?

Creativity, primary thinking, heart-thinking, divine thinking - however it is called - all affirm the divinity within man. God is waiting for us to answer his call, but this necessitates us meeting him half way. This requires a shift in consciousness - a different way of thinking about and understanding God, ourselves, and others.

When we approach this shift in thinking, God reveals Himself to us - but more importantly, we have the chance to reveal ourselves to God as active co-Creators.

Sorry for the rambling comment, but this post really fired me up (positively)!

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Yes. The difficulty is that I think most people would recognise your earlier life experiences as mystical; but not the kind of thing I am talking about. But your experience with The Masters is (and has been, for some centuries) been unusual, uncommon; and restricted even in the lives of that kind of mystic. It was only in a phase of your life; and some accounts of such mystical episodes describe a single episode in a life - which the mystic then seeks to live-from the memory of. I am arguing (and you agree!) that there can be more to mysticism than that, it is much commoner, more frequent, more pervasive - but it needs to be recognized and valued.

@Wm - I think that - for me - the strongest convictions about Jesus come from here and now experience, which I attribute to the Holy Ghost, which I understand to be the spirit of the ascended Jesus active in the world - accessible by his followers everywhere and at all times. I agree that Jesus will have known of us and we of him in the premortal state - and this enables us to orientate towards each other; but I feel this is probably swamped by the current and ongoing knowing, of the Holy Ghost.

@Frank - Thanks, I'm pleased it worked for you! I decided to develop this piece organically, in a more active and experiential way of writing, to see where it led. The subject is such that it needs to be approached repeatedly from different angles, and connecting the elements in different ways (plus a few 'new' details as they arise), in order it to help it 'catch' for different people (and also in order to keep renewing my own understanding, which otherwise fades).

William Wildblood said...

I wasn't actually meaning that experience with the Masters, Bruce, since that was an external thing. I meant more the sort of timeless experiences of blissful oneness with life that you alluded to. But these also are more in the realm of feelings and don't really change what you fundamentally are.

Geir said...

I occasionally manage to read your blogposts and share many of your ideas. Indeed I cannot call them your opinions because I find they are true statements. I 'feel' (in the lack of a better term) exactly the same way about being a mystic - I would say that mysticism in the sense of the world doesn't exist as anything else than an abstract notion, a label, on what most people regard from the outside and don't understand. I am inside, and know it is 'only' thinking, trying to find out about phenomena in an unselfish way. 'Trying' is not the right word either, because it all comes to me intuitively, it is like a huge structure of thought that I navigate within and it expands continuously. I can't live without thinking and there is so much to find out about. Therefore I haven't read mainstream media since I was a child or watched television since I was a teenager. This is because my reading already as a child made me realize that you couldn't trust the media, and that they would rob you of valuable time. I am continuously grateful for God's creation and for men's subcreations, indeed religion is organized gratefulness. Therefore I have always had Christianity as the ultimate measure for everything that happens. My whole life I have been surprised by the motives of others and tried to find out why they did what they did. I have indeed realized that our civilization is very vulnerable and what we have around us may disappear much quicker than we can think. So I am grateful for all we have got and watch the decay of our institutions with horror - the churches, the universities, all that once were held to be prestigious are being taken over by people whose main motive is prestige.