Rosicrucian Writings Online


What Is Mysticism?

A VERY LUCID EXPLANATION OF A MISUNDERSTOOD
SUBJECT
 
By Frater E. H. Cassidy
 
[From The Rosicrucian Digest November 1933]
 
 
AS SIMPLY stated as possible, mysticism is an attitude to truth. It implies a belief in, and the practice of a certain method of understanding reality and of broadening man's knowledge of his relation to the universe. What is this method? It is the practice of inwardness, the belief in what may be variously called attunement, intuition, inspiration; although all these words are used in so many different senses by exponents of divergent philosophical systems that the precise meaning intended eludes definition.
 
Mysticism is opposed to positivistic science, which is based on the worship of the physical senses. The positivist seeks to understand the universe through matter. He believes that the physical senses are capable of giving him a true contact with reality. The mystic does not despise the practical uses of his physical senses, but he does not believe that they can be trusted in the search for the reality behind appearances. They are to him merely useful tools in every-day existence.
 
Mysticism is not a system of beliefs, but a method of approaching life. There is no dogma essentially mystical except the belief in the mystical attitude to reality. It is true, however, that mystics tend to agree in their beliefs because in so far as their mystical inspiration, illumination, or revelation is reliable it must be the same for all, since it is an expression of the same reality. On the other hand, the essential agreement among mystics is often obscured by their different methods of expression. Their experience is really beyond all language, and when they attempt the communication of what they have learned all they can do is speak in figures. Their figures of speech will naturally be drawn from their educational background. Thus there are Christian mystics, Buddhist mystics, Hindu mystics, and so on. Each will use the terms peculiar to the religion which he happens to follow, or if he is fortunate enough to be fairly free from religious bias, he will choose figures from his general experience. In each case the expression of the same truth will differ so widely in form from others that it may appear to be a statement of a conflicting belief.
 
The greatest thing about the mystic is that while he respects the revelations of others, he is not satisfied until he has won his own illumination. The achievements of others are of value to him as guides, but he never forgets that they are but a means to an end. They show him what can be done, they suggest to him a course of action, but they do not relieve him from the necessity for personal effort and accomplishment.
   

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