The Chinese sage Lao Tsu is said to have warned, “Those who know don’t talk, those who talk don’t know.”
He was talking about MER, the mystical experience of Reality – the Tao. As a generalisation I think he was right. But as in most generalisations, there are exceptions.
But why blog about mysticism anyway?
Because as E.M.Foster, the English man-of-letters and many other writers have said in similar words – ‘How do I know what I know until I write it?’
My own mystical experiences were frightening, debilitating and inexplicable until I started writing about them 60 years later.
Writing about a subject can lead writers into vast areas of reading and research, into empirical facts they didn’t know existed – as well as into awareness of personal attributes like concentration, patience, passion, intuition, ‘knowing’, contemplation, meditation, transcendence, epiphany, certainty – these are all or just some of the multiple abilities writing can reveal.
The deeper their understanding, focus, integrity, truthfulness, precision and their prose develops in writers on mysticism the more their personal paths are revealed.
Finding and creating words that stick into readers’ hearts and minds like benign burrs, creates a serendipitious ripple of meaning for others too.
The more such writers lift veils, ignite unseeing stares of mindful enchantment in their readers, the more they sometimes wonder if they are doing the writing themselves or if something else is. (Always say yes when you’re prompted to write something – you never know what serendipities await your development).
So when I read a Follower’s web post asking Why Blog? I found myself prompted to write the following haiku, of all things:
Encore! Encore! to
To Ultimate Word?
Are those who attempt to express the inexpressible the Called Ones? Are they the exceptions to Master Lao Tsu’s rule?
That was an excellent explanation of the relevance of writing to better understand your own experiences and to convey your knowledge to other people.
Writing about mysticism is more difficult than most topics because you are trying to express the inexpressible, The few mystics I have met and the hundreds read recognize that they can never fully and adequately describe their own mystical experiences.
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Thank you Ron. A personal serendipity arising from my writing for mysticalexperiences.meet Is that my audience is just mystics and Seekers. I used to think scientists and academics should be included too but have come to the realisation that may be counterprodctive. Most of them may be sincere but are sincerely mistaken by groping their way through failing anthropomorphic experiments to discover what mystics already know by direct experience. Some scientific conclusions about mysticism are childishley legless and cannot stand … Such scientists come with such preloaded human narratives to their enquiry that they fail on starting.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.”
My favourite part of the film Blade Runner. I would very much like to see the face of the non existent god. But I suspect that the actual world, the multiverse around us is mysterious and wonderful and beautiful enough anyway.
Actually, I would love to have a mystical experience. But nothing as painful as St John of the Cross! Something more benign would suit me rather better.
The seminal work of Evelyn Underhill is well worth reading.
Have read it. Know it well. The whole thing collapses when Underhill links mysticism to a religion – “Christianity”. Religions are man made mythomanic collective authorities dependent on the collective expression of human faith, hope and belief in the absence of any mystical experience of Reality (MER) which clearly only adddresses individuals and does not have anything to do with humans, individually or collectively, in what It reveals. My understanding of the biblical Jesus, for instance, is that his mission failed because he mistakenly felt it could be, should be, evangelised. It can’t. Only Reality can do that. Underhill and books like it makes the same error.
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Religions are “collective delusions”. The interesting think about reading Underhill however is that the descriptions of the christian mystics she writes about are identical to the experiences described by mystics of all other “religions” or philosophies. So yes, I entirely agree.
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In “Mysticism / …development of spiritual consciousness” Evelyn Underhill includes many Sufis.
Do you know I had totally forgotten that? It much be a good twenty years since I read Underhill’s book. I read much Sufi poetry around the same time. Much as I love such works these days I would far rather enjoy mysticism experientially were I able. My idea of a modern mystic would be Frank Tipler, in an odd sort of way. His Omega Point rather appeals to me!
Yes Ron, but Sufism is not religious. Sufis as they’re known in Islam were in it because it was, to say the least, prudent. Ditto early mystics in Christianity. But Sufism existed long before religions and is itself in many of its purest ways ineffable, as religions are not. This is not an ant-religious comment. Those in religions will no doubt stay in them until they can’t. Others will be moved on …
To be honest I AM anti religious. I’m with Dawkins. Unlike Dawkins I have no desire to throw out the baby with the bath water and there is much I love about religion. Just not the belief. I’m never happier than reading a psalm or two in an isolated and ancient church.
But lets face it, we no longer believe in the gods of the Romans and ancient Greeks and I believe we will come to look at current religion in much the same way.
Zeus and his pals may not have been pleasant fellow in the same way Jesus was a good egg, but like christianity those ancient gods certainly inspired great beauty.
And in my book they are worth it for that alone.
A mystic reading the “Christian” Bible will find mysticism in it.
But to get to your suggestion Dr Tipler is a mystic, I don’t see anything in the little I saw in his extensive interview on You Tube that he has anything more than a materialist/constructivist view of cosmic existence. Perhaps its time to tell him he can cease his exploration by giving him the answer, ” it’s an elephant” (to quote a Sufi teaching tale)? Seriously, I saw nothing in his interview to suggest he posits his learning on having had any mystical experiences of Reality.