Rosicrucian Writings Online

The Life of a Mystic

By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest June 1934]
Many have asked just what advantage there is to the individual himself and to humanity generally in devoting one's spare time to the study of mysticism, and an attempt to comprehend and understand the great mysteries of life, and especially the deeper and more significant spiritual values affecting and determining the real course of our existence. Such persons evidently have in mind the direct results of the one who studies law, art, music, engineering, or other practical subjects. Looking at the matter broadly these persons wonder whether the time and effort put forward in the fascinating though arduous study of mysticism and its allied subjects repays the individual and contributes to the advancement of civilization to the same degree as in the case of these other students.
In the first place, it is not fair to compare the student of mysticism and of life's problems with the student of any of the sciences or arts. In the one case the student is seeking to contribute to the spiritual and cultural development of himself, and others, while in the other case the student is seeking to employ his abilities and services in a practical, conservative manner making for the more material and human development of our earthly existence. Furthermore, in the one case the student finds relaxation and personal inspiration and pleasure in his studies, while in the other case the student is very often sacrificing pleasure and personal interest in an attempt to prepare the way for a more successful position in life. But the interesting fact also remains that a great many of the students of one class are also students in the other class, thereby proving that a comparison is impossible on the assumption that students of mysticism constitute a distinct class separated from all other students. An examination of our own records shows that the more inclined a person is to study any subject, the more inclined he is toward delving into the mysteries of life, and trying to understand himself and his relation with the universe to a better degree. It has been clearly proven through the statistics we have kept over a number of years that we or our members individually may safely approach any real student and quickly interest him in the study of the Rosicrucian subjects. We do not have to argue with such a person regarding the fascination and attractiveness of good reading, the attainment of new knowledge, and the benefits to be derived from the acquirement of a broader view-point in all fields of wisdom. The real student--that is, one who has developed the hobby of study along any line--soon learns the power of knowledge. In his contacts with others in business and social conversations, in his comprehension of activities around him, in all the fields of human effort, the casual indulgence in the enjoyment of moving picture travelogues or historical plays, he is impressed from time to time by a keener enjoyment of the things being said or revealed because of his additional studies.
An eminent linguist once said that once a person acquires a good working knowledge of a second language he becomes a potential linguist inasmuch as there is always present the temptation to acquire a third language which is facilitated by the knowledge of the second language; and that once having acquired a third language the acquirement of a fourth, fifth, sixth is a pleasant temptation and a simple matter. The man or woman who has taken up as a hobby the study of astronomy, which is today one of the most popular of the hobby studies among the younger and older generations, is one who is ready to take up the study of Cosmogony, followed perhaps by the study of ontology and biology. These would naturally lead into the study of psychology, and the combination would bring the student constantly so close to the borderline of the Rosicrucian teachings that when approached in this regard there would be a ready response. The student of chemistry or physics is easily tempted into listening to any revelation regarding the mystery of being, and the mysteries of one's own hidden talents and abilities. The fact that there is resident in the human body certain forces and energies which are made manifest in the laboratory of physics or chemistry in other ways, is sure to attract the interest of any student in these subjects.
It is the one who is not a student or inclined to study, investigation, inquiry or search for new knowledge or greater light that is the most difficult to approach in this regard. It is not the inactive mind continuously at rest and unburdened with deep thoughts that will find inspiration and personal pleasure in the study of mysticism, or the analysis of the human spiritual and physical powers. Unfortunately for the world there are too many men and women in it who take the attitude that life is a mystery that cannot be solved, and that there are great problems and veiled facts regarding man and his possibilities which God did not intend man to comprehend, and therefore man should not attempt to lift the veil or peer behind it. Many of these persons are quite self-satisfied with their position in life, and yet that is not the real reason for their indifference in regard to the pose that is given it. They are anxious to acquire anything and everything in life if this can be done without effort, but they are not anxious to know about those things that are not of immediate and material benefit to their earthly, worldly existence. Emphasis here should be put upon the word "worldly". There are more persons, perhaps, interested in the law of averages that manifests in a game of poker or in the turning of the roulette wheel, than would be interested in the law of averages as it relates to the coincidences of life generally. There are more men and women reading the scandals that appear in the feature section of the Sunday papers than those who read the more constructive and beneficial matter that appears in some of the truly intellectual papers and magazines.
The person inclined toward mysticism and study of the mysteries of life, however, is not essentially a fanatic or extremist. He is generally a wide-awake individual keenly appreciative of the fact that he can make the utmost of his life only through knowing the utmost about it. Such a person need not be firmly convinced of the fact that he is the captain of his own ship and the creator of his own destiny. These facts may still be doubtful to him, but he is, nevertheless, convinced that a broader knowledge and a more intimate understanding of his personal prowess and usable abilities will change the course of his life to a degree commensurable to the amount of time and energy spent in acquiring that knowledge. Even when such studies are relegated to the purely pastime periods of the day and classified solely as studies for relaxation, such students believe that the time devoted and the effort expended in such studies brings a rich reward, often much richer than any other form of amusement or relaxation.
It was the late President Woodrow Wilson who laughingly admitted on one public occasion that he, too, was a rather systematic reader of the light and frothy stories called Detective Tales, and he challenged any eminent business man or politician of his acquaintance to claim that he had not found relaxation at times in such extraordinarily childish indulgences. Yet, he added, there is always much to be gained through such simple pleasure for he found his mental abilities taxed at times by the weirdness of the plots and the deliberate entanglements which held the reader spellbound physically and enlivened mentally in a determination to see the thing through to the bitter end. The same degree of fascination and allurement is true in regard to the study of mysticism and life's mysteries. One cannot approach a single outline of Cosmic manifestation or Cosmic law throughout the universe without feeling that one is approaching a great mystery, an almost unsolvable problem, and an inspiring bit of illuminating wisdom. I often think of my own personal approach to any new field of mystical thought or Cosmic law as I feel when I am on the upper deck of an ocean-going steamship, on a dark clear night with my face turned upward and looking into the heavens. Unconscious of the invisible borderline between the sea and sky I seem to feel that I am floating in space in the midst of the dark blue starry-filled space, and as I look at the groups of stars and the isolated ones and notice those which form the various constellations and those which form the familiar symbols of the dipper and the lion, for instance, I wonder what the mystery of their grouping really is, and of their usefulness and purpose in the scheme of things. No one can look into such space with a thinking mind and not be inveigled into speculation. Then there comes the desire to know and the desire to search for the answers to the many questions. This is the attitude in which many--thousands upon thousands--approach the subject of mysticism or the study of the Rosicrucian teachings, for instance.
And what is the result to the individual student? Is it the attainment of a special prowess, or a special degree of spirituality that shifts him above the average being and makes him more religiously devout? Not at all! Does it tend to make him a master in the field of religion, or a preacher, or a holy and wise man leading and guiding the multitudes? Not necessarily! I am sure that our Christian members and friends will understand what I mean when I say that John, Paul, Matthew, Mark and Luke must have found something in their study of the Christian doctrines that warranted their devotion and their unselfish service and even their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the wisdom and the better understanding that came to them as a result of their interest and devotion. They did not hope to emulate Jesus in all of His Divine magnificence for Jesus precluded any possibility of a precise imitation. But even though Jesus announced that they, too, might raise the dead, heal the sick, and do even greater things, I doubt very much whether the followers of Jesus were tempted to listen with awe and astonishment to His teachings, and to journey with Him from place to place and absorb so devotedly every lesson he taught with the hope or desire or ambition to become miracle workers. Essentially it was their desire for knowledge, and secondarily the desire to apply that knowledge for the good of all mankind, that was the big inducement which influenced them to become Christian students. It would be wrong and wholly unfair to assume that these Disciples thought only of their own salvation and that in proclaiming Jesus as their personal savior they had no greater thought than that of being worthy of possessing the key to the Kingdom of Heaven. They wanted to be savior of men and a light among men as was Jesus, and they wanted to spread the Gospel--the Good News--the wisdom which He possessed and revealed. They were willing to sacrifice their earthly and worldly power for the still greater power that came from knowledge. In a worldly sense most of the Disciples made supreme sacrifices of their worldly ambitions if they had any, for ambitions that were noble and unselfish.
The student of mysticism is one who loves knowledge and who believes that he is steeped and lost in the sin of ignorance without that knowledge which is available. Concealed facts are the magnetic attractions which quicken his mind and fire his spirit, and lead him into the bypaths of investigation.
It is said that man never fears that which is known, but lives constantly in dread of the unknown. Great psychoanalysts, the greatest legal and spiritual advisors have agreed in saying that the troubled man who is face to face with an unsurmountable or unconquerable problem finds relief and peace, and the power to proceed the moment he understands his problem. It is not the problem as a thing in itself that is the great torment to the master minds of the world, but the lack of knowledge of the problem, of its nature, and of the very elements that compose it. Many who have sought confidential advice from the greatest advisors in regard to perplexing problems have found themselves being asked but one question: "What is your problem?"
In the attempt to explain the very nature of the problem the solution is discovered. The mysteries of life are the essential elements which are holding more men and women in slavery so far as their progress in personal evolution and attainment are concerned than any other facts aside from wilful sin and deliberate rejection of the Fatherhood of God. The mystic, therefore, finds his life becoming happier and more contented. It is not true, as the unthinking person says with triteness, that the mystic attempts to gild over his troubles with a false air of contentment. It is because the mystic in comprehending the laws of the universe understands the real nature of the problems which have confronted him, and he finds peace and contentment not simply in the fact that he has learned of some ways whereby to overcome these problems, or to meet them, but because he is so thoroughly acquainted with their real natures that the unknown and mysterious qualities in them no longer worry the subconscious part of his being.
The mystic finds happiness in the fact that he can give happiness through knowledge and helpfulness to others. He finds strength in the fact that he can avoid that which will weaken him mentally or physically and can attract that which will bring him physical, mental, and spiritual fortitude. He finds increased prosperity in worldly things because he learns to value all things by a higher standard, and he places upon material life not a lesser value as some believe, but a greater value, and he finds in consciousness itself and in the very privilege of being alive a richer blessing than he ever realized before. He finds in every morsel of food a rich reward that others have overlooked. He finds in the benediction of sunshine and in the baptism of rain that which he knows to be of ineffable value to his earthly existence. He attracts to himself not possessions but the stewardship of the richest gifts of God, and learns how to apply these not only to his own advantage and helpfulness, but to the advantage of others at the same time so that he shares equally the kingly blessings granted to the royal realm.
It is all this that makes the mystic assertedly happy in his studies and willing to continue his devotion and investment of time and thought, and it is all of this that will make life of value to you as you enter on the path and proceed with the studies that bring heaven and earth, God and man closer to you.

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