Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mysticism

"Mysticism is nothing but an overwhelming concentration of religious feeling." - Agus Salim, or Agus Hadji

"Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics." -

"Mysticism is nothing but an overwhelming concentration of religious feeling." -

"God is love, and the object of love: herein lies the whole contribution of mysticism." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"All mysticism teaches that the depths of man are more than human, that in them lurks a mysterious contact with God and with the world. The true escape from oneself, form one’s self-imprisonment and separation from the world, is hidden within one’s own self, rather than outside." - Nikolai Berdyaev, fully Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev, also spelled Nichlas Berdiaev

"Mysticism is undoubtedly at the origin of great moral transformations. And mankind seems to be as far away as ever from it. But who knows?" - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"In mysticism… the attempt is given up to know God by thought, and it is replaced by the experience of union with God in which there is no more room – and no need – for knowledge about God." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"This incommunicableness of the transport is the keynote of all mysticism. Mystical truth exists for the individual who has the transport, but for no one else." - William James

"Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics." - Charles Pierre Péguy

"The view of Reverence for Life is ethical mysticism. It allows union with the Infinite to be realized [through] ethical action." - Albert Schweitzer

"There is an inevitable tension between mysticism and religious orthodoxy… For the mystic, whatever his professed creed, final authority lies in his own experience." - Sidney Spencer

"Mysticism is the art of union with Reality." - Evelyn Underhill

"What does mysticism really mean? It means the way to attain knowledge. It’s too close to philosophy, except in philosophy you go horizontally while in mysticism you go vertically." - Elie Wiesel, fully Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel

"The view of Reverence for Life is ethical mysticism. It allows union with the Infinite to be realized [though] ethical action." - Albert Schweitzer

"Without mysticism man can achieve nothing great." - André Gide, fully André Paul Guillaume Gide

"By mysticism we mean, not the extravagance of erring fancy, but the concentration of reason in feeling, the enthusiastic love of good, the true, the one, the sense of infinity of knowledge and of the marvel of the human faculties." - Benjamin Jowett

"Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by means of thought, has been developed, from the first, by the union and conflict of two very different human impulses, the one urging men towards mysticism, the other urging them towards science... But the greatest men who have been philosophers have felt the need both of science and mysticism: the attempt to harmonize the two was what made their life, and what always must, for all its arduous uncertainty, make philosophy, to some minds, a greater thing than either science or religion." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Mysticism is, in essence, little more than a certain intensity and depth of feeling in regard to what is believed about the universe." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"What the world, which truly knows nothing, calls “mysticism” is the science of ultimates… the science of self-evident Reality, which cannot be “reasoned about,” because it is the object of pure reason or perception." - Coventry Patmore, fully Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore

"The central aim of Eastern mysticism is to experience all the phenomena in the world as manifestations of the same ultimate reality. This reality is seen as the essence of the universe, underlying and unifying the multitude of things and events we observe. The Hindus call it Brahman, The Buddhists Dharmakaya (The Body of Being) or Tathata (Suchness) and the Taoists Tao; each affirming that it transcends our intellectual concepts and defies further explanation. This ultimate essence, however, cannot be separated from its multiple manifestations. It is central to the very nature to manifest itself in myriad forms which come into being and disintegrate, transforming themselves into one another without end." - Fritjof Capra

"The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism — the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem." - Gilbert Keith "G.K." Chesteron

"Worshiping the Devil is no more insane than worshiping God...It is precisely at the moment when positivism is at its high-water mark that mysticism stirs into life and the follies of occultism begin." - Joris-Karl "J.K." Huysmans, pseudonym for Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans

"I think, here is your emblem to hang in the future sky; not the cross, not the hive, but this; bright power, dark peace;Fierce consciousness joined with final disinterestedness; Life with calm death; the falcon’s realist eyes and act married to the massive mysticism of stone, which failure cannot cast down nor success make proud." - Robinson Jeffers, fully John Robinson Jeffers

"Mysticism intends a state of "possession," not action, and the individual is not a tool but a "vessel" of the divine. Action in the world must thus appear as endangering the absolutely irrational and other-worldly religious state. Active asceticism operates within the world; rationally active asceticism, in mastering the world, seeks to tame what is creatural and wicked through work in a worldly "vocation" (inner-worldly asceticism). Such asceticism contrasts radically with mysticism, if the latter draws the full conclusion of fleeing from the world (contemplative flight from the world). The contrast is tempered, however, if active asceticism confines itself to keeping down and to overcoming creatural wickedness in the actor's own nature. For then it enhances the concentration on the firmly established God-willed and active redemptory accomplishments to the point of avoiding any action in the orders of the world (asceticist flight from the world). Thereby active asceticism in external bearing comes close to contemplative flight from the world. The contrast between asceticism and mysticism is also tempered if the contemplative mystic does not draw the conclusion that he should flee from the world, but, like the inner-worldly asceticist, remain in the orders of the world (inner-worldly mysticism). In both cases the contrast can actually disappear in practice and some combination of both forms of the quest for salvation may occur. But the contrast may continue to exist even under the veil of external similarity. For the true mystic the principle continues to hold: the creature must be silent so that God may speak." - Max Weber, formally Maximilian Carl Emil Weber

"Let it be stated clearly that mysticism is an a-rational type of experience, and in some degree common to all men. " - Paul Brunton, born Hermann Hirsch, wrote under various pseudonyms including Brunton Paul, Raphael Meriden and Raphael Delmonte

"Ideational culture, has these characteristics: The defining principle is that true reality is supersensory, transcendent, spiritual. The material world is variously: an illusion (maya), temporary, passing away (“stranger in a strange land”), sinful, or a mere shadow an eternal transcendent reality. Religion often tends to asceticism, or attempts at zealous social reform. Mysticism and revelation are considered valid sources of truth and morality. Science and technology are comparatively de-emphasized... Economics is conditioned by religious and moral commandments (e.g., laws against usury). Innovation in theology, metaphysics, and supersensory philosophies. Flourishing of religious and spiritual art (e.g., Gothic cathedrals)" - Pitirim A. Sorokin, fully Pitirim Alexandrovich (Alexander) Sorokin

"There is one God and one truth, one religion and one mysticism; call itSufism or Christianity or Hinduism or Buddhism, whatever you wish. AsGod cannot be divided, so mysticism cannot be divided. " - Inayat Khan, aka Hazrat Inayat Khan, fully Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

"Is Humanism a religion, perhaps, the next great religion? Yes, it must be so characterized, for the word, religion, has become a symbol for answers to that basic interrogation of human life, the human situation, and the nature of things---which every human being, in some degree and in some fashion, makes. What can I expect from life? What kind of universe is it? Is there, as some say, a friendly Providence in control of it? And, if not, what then? The universe of discourse of religion consists of such questions, and the answers relevant to them. Christian theism and Vedantic mysticism are but historic frameworks in relation to which answers have in the past been given to these poignant and persistent queries. But there is nothing sacrosanct and self-certifying about these frameworks. What Humanism represents is the awareness of another framework, more consonant with wider and deeper knowledge about man and his world. The Humanist movement is engaged in formulating answers, with what wisdom it can achieve, to these basic questions. It would be absurd to expect complete novelty in either framework or answers. Many people throughout the ages have had a shrewd suspicion that established beliefs were insecurely based. Humanism at its best represents a growth and a maturing of its perspective...I fear that the orthodox idea of religion is something static and given---once for all. The Humanist thinks of his answers as responsible ones, that is, responsible to the best thought and knowledge on the subjects involved. He [they are] is always ready for honest debate... I want to contrast the perspective of Humanism with that of traditional rationalism...There is no Humanist who does not appreciate with respect and admiration the moving story of the Gospels. Seen as one of the culminations of Judaism in the setting of the Roman Empire, it speaks to us of nobility of soul, human love, pity, and comradeship; and this among everyday people fired by moral and religious leadership of high quality. The heroic and the earthly touch meet, and mingle; and so it has been ever since... What have the intervening centuries made possible? The gradual disentangling of ethical principle and example from both the early framework of belief and the later ecclesiastical development of power and dogma which supervened. But the notes of love and self-sacrifice remain as perennial chords. This also, is greatly human. The older rationalism was on the defensive. And so it expressed itself too often in negative terms: not this; not that; not God; not revelation; not personal immortality. What Humanism signified was a shift from negation to construction. There came a time when naturalism no longer felt on the defensive. Rather, supernaturalism began, it its eyes, to grow dim and fade out despite all the blustering and rationalizations of its advocates." - R. W. Sellars, fully Roy Wood Sellars

"God created one human being, who was male and female. That means ultimately all of us are interconnected. That there is one God means we are all connected. Individual well-being depends on the greater well-being of everyone. There is no separation. This is a call for inclusion. Jews see it as including the weaker, the marginal, the orphans, the stranger. We were slaves in Egypt. Our task is not to replicate Egyptian power. We are free so we can operate differently, and not replicate slavery. Judaism is a complex, ongoing civilization, in which there is more than one view. Judaism is a religion of interpretation. We believe interpretation is part of the unfolding of creation and Divine creativity. Our interpretive tradition draws a connection between spirituality and social justice." - Sheila Peltz Weinberg

"We live in a society that is increasingly governed by science and technology, yet fewer and fewer young people want to go into science." - Stephen Hawking

"The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind." - Thomas Jefferson

"The most important, the central characteristic in which all fully developed mystical experiences agree, and which in the last analysis is definitive of them and serves to mark them off from other kinds of experiences, is that they involve the apprehension of an ultimate nonsensuous unity in all things, a oneness or a One to which neither the senses nor the reason can penetrate. In other words, it entirely transcends our sensory-intellectual consciousness. It should be carefully noted that only fully developed mystical experiences are necessarily apprehensive of the One. Many experiences have been recorded which lack this central feature but yet possess other mystical characteristics. These are borderline cases, which may be said to shade off from the central core of cases. They have to the central core the relation which some philosophers like to call "family resemblance."" - W. T. Stace, fully Walter Terence Stace

"The mystical theory of ethics is logically forced into the position of maintaining that all love (though not necessarily all kinds of appetition), whether in men or in animals, arises out of mystical experience either explicit or latent. The mystical theory can thus only maintain itself by supposing that mystical experience is latent in all living beings, but that in most men and in all animals it is profoundly submerged in the subconscious; and that it throws up influences above the threshold in the form of feelings of sympathy and love. To say that I love or sympathize with another living being is to say that I feel his feelings -- for instance that I suffer when he suffers or rejoice when he rejoices. The mystical theory will allege that this phenomenon is an incipient and partial breaking down of the barriers and partitions which separate the two individual selves; and if this breakdown were completed, it would lead to an actual identity of the “I” and the “he.” Love is thus a dim groping towards that disappearance of individuality in the Universal Self which is part of the essence of mysticism." - W. T. Stace, fully Walter Terence Stace

"We are biological energy systems, absorbing and producing energy from the environment in the form of air and food. This energy is fuels our life process and its movement and expression is experienced as sensation - love, anger, desire fear, longing. Surplus energy is discharged in work, play, thought and particularly sexually. If there are no permanent blocks to discharge we remain healthy, our vital life functions maintain themselves without disturbance. If our primary needs as children have not satisfied, we form armoring to cut off the awareness of the pain and distress caused by this frustration." - Wilhelm Reich

"Q. How can we change unpleasant facts about ourselves? A. By seeing and accepting them as unpleasant facts." - Vernon Howard, fully Vernon Linwood Howard

"The ideas gained by men before they are twenty-five are practically the only ideas they shall have in their lives." - William James

"Meditation practice is like piano scales, basketball drills, ballroom dance class. Practice requires discipline; it can be tedious; it is necessary. After you have practiced enough, you become more skilled at the art form itself. You do not practice to become a great scale player or drill champion. You practice to become a musician or athlete. Likewise, one does not practice meditation to become a great meditator. We meditate to wake up and live, to become skilled at the art of living." - Elizabeth Lesser

"Living in the present means squarely accepting and responding to it as God's moment for you now while it is called "today" rather than wishing it were yesterday or tomorrow." - Evelyn Underhill

"The first question here, then, is not "What is best for my soul?" nor is it even "What is most useful to humanity?" But--transcending both these limited aims--what function must this life fulfill in the great and secret economy of God?" - Evelyn Underhill