Can mysticism be realistic?
I believe that realists also need mysticism, but a realistic mysticism. Over the years, I have collected a series of departure points, which have been important for me in finding my own path within mysticism. I will simply list them one by one below.
Realistic departure points
- Mysticism is an exploration of the intangible. It is, in fact, a collection of personal stories about a brush with a level of existence that the conscious
mind cannot perceive, let alone comprehend, but within which we subconsciously recognize something.
- Realistic mysticism requires an appreciation of one’s own human limitations with regard to perception and the process of creating consciousness.
- Every story about a mysterious phenomenon remains subjective. These are stories about somebody’s personal experience with something nobody else can know is true or not. Indeed, there is no need for others to attribute any truth to the story.
- One’s mystical experience can – at least to a certain degree – be recognizable for others, yet this recognition proves nothing. It still remains a subjective experience.
- Every explanation regarding mysticism is what somebody’s opinion and not fact.
- Realistic mysticism does not dismiss explanations as a rule. However, when people explain something to others, they do so with the understanding that their explanation is merely a suggestion.
- Personal conviction is not a valid criterion when it concerns mystical experience.
- Realistic mysticism is mysticism with an awareness of imagery. The touch of the intangible sparks images and much of the substance for these images comes from the subconsciousness, a shadowy area of which we know very little.
- Realistic mysticism avoids naming a ‘source of reference’ for images, inspiration, or visions.
- Realistic mysticism attributes value to a vague and limited transcendental experience, but rejects its exaggeration.
- A mystical experience does not make one different from any others, although such a feeling may arise. Everybody can have a transcendental experience because such an experience is inherent to the potential and limitations of human consciousness.
- Realistic mysticism requires detachment from images, and particularly to the strong images that affect one’s inner equilibrium.
- Realistic mysticism requires accurate use of language. One must not say “it is” but “it seems” or “it feels like”. One does not ask, “Do you believe it?” but rather “Can you recognize anything in this?” or “Does this mean anything to you?”
- Realistic mysticism sees through the fog of exaltation; it is what remains after the hard confrontation with doubts and scrutiny, one’s own reservations and questions as well as those of others. Realistic mysticism does not evade doubts or questions.
I think that, for realists, mysticism can be challenging. Similarly, realism can be a challenge for mysticism.
Perhaps realists can help us arrive at a more realistic form of mysticism.