Today we are all living at a historical time and cultural juncture where a massive transition and transformation is taking place, both at the quantitative and the qualitative level. This involves, among many other things, a massive expansion and heightening of human consciousness, which is bound to bring about major psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual transformations. Practically all social institutions worldwide - from education to health care and from politics to religion and involving all aspects of our lives, both individual and collective - are presently in a state of crisis, which implies real and great dangers and just as real and great opportunities.
At this time, the passage from the "horizontal" (external, physical) dimension to the "vertical" (internal, psycho-spiritual) dimension is required of all of us, whether we know it and like it or not, and mysticism holds the key to that fundamental passage. This is the reason why some of the greatest thinkers of our times have declared:
"The 21st century will be spiritual...or will not" (Andre Malraux)
"Below (in lower states of consciousness) there are no more solutions, while above (in higher states of consciousness ) there are no problems" (Roberto Assagioli)
"The greatest challenge and newest frontier of the future can no longer be the physical one, they must become the spiritual one" (Arnold Toynbee)
These incisive and perceptive statements actually repeat and highlight, in different words, Jesus' long-ago statement: "What shall profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?" which I translate to mean "What will happen to me if I gain everything - money, power, position - in the outer world but can no longer perceive meaning, purpose, beauty, and value in what I am, in what I have, and in what I live?"
Certain events in my own life led me towards religion as a possible source for such an answer. Todayt, I am convinced that religion does in fact, hold the solutions to the most important problems of human life and to suffering in particular. I am not speaking of the "exoteric" (official, external) side of religion, but rather it's "esoteric" (internal and personally lived) aspects.
What I call the "esoteric" side if religion is what is generally known as the "mystical side" or mysticism, which is based upon the direct personal observation and experience of the deeper aspects of Reality with which one has united or become "at one" with. Hence, it is in the domain of mystical spirituality and direct personal experience of the deeper aspects and laws if the universe and of oneself where one must look for such answers and for the real key to human life.
Hence, the vital and timely importance of this series and of its present volume, Christian Mysticism and related texts
What is mysticism, or the esoteric side of religion? Let us briefly turn to Evelyn Underhill, a world recognized expert in this area for the first half of this century:
To be a mystic is to simply participate here and now in the real and external life in the fullest, deepest sense which is possible to man. It is to share, as a free and conscious agent - not as a servant, but as a son - in the joyoys travail of the Universe: its mighty onward sweep through pain and glory to its home in God.
.......In the greatest mystics we see the highest and wildest development of that consciousness to which the human race has attained....But the germ of that same transcendent life, the spring of the amazing energy which enables the great mystic to rise to freedom and dominate this world, is latent in all of us: an integral part of humanity.
Finally she concludes that:
..Their passion appears to be the prosecution of a certain spiritual and intangible quest: the finding of a "way out" or a "way back" to some desirable state in which, alone they can satisfy their craving for absolute truth.
To become a mystic, to enter the esoteric side of religion, one must undergo a general and progressive training leading to the purification and consecration of one's being and to the transformation and expansion of one's consciousness. This is best acheive by proceeding gradually from the "exoteric" to the "esoteric" aspect of religion. To fly, a bird (which has ong been the symbol of human consciousness, or the soul in many cultures and traditions) need two wings.
One wing represents tradition, the long and time tested experience of many men and women under appropriate supervision, the other direct personal vision and exeperience in higher states of consciousness. The great world religions have always provided an authentic tradition if, at times, the "direct and personal vision and experience" remained hidden and latent because external circumstances were quite dangerous for this type of adventure or because of lack of genuine "spiritual fathers and mothers," proper guides who can lead the serious aspirant on the path to spiritual illumination in a safe and effective way.
Obviously, mysticism, spirituality, and the esoteric aspect of religion cannot be adequately described and understood in intellectual terms. They ,ust neceesarily, be a personally lived experience which only the spiritual Self, the Christ-within, can provide in His own time, when a person is ready. But one must begin somewhere and have tools with which to do the inner work. This book provides such opportunity and tools for the serious candiate.
Life on Eartg is a great and very complex adventure comprised of many different "adventures". The greatest and most important of these is unquestionably the spiritual adventure, because it is the only quest and the way that leads one to the very heart and core of Reality and of oneself.
Today, with all the incredible transformations and developments that are taking place on earth and in the human psyche, the spiritual adventure has become more important than ever as it may well be our last "living Source" of authentic meaning and comprehension (for the mind), motivation and appreciation (for the heart), and energy and strength (for the will.
Peter Roche de Coppens, October 1997 from Introduction of "Christian Mysticism" by Manueka Dunn Mascetti
Peter Roche de Coppens, "Christian Mysticism" by Manueka Dunn Mascetti
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