Taken with permission from Ron Krumpos’ book, The Greatest Achievement In Life. This free ebook has been downloaded over 70,000 times and is being republished as a printed book.
Ron has degrees in philosophy from Northwestern University, Lucknow University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a long time follower of this Blog:
Many contemporary mystics are laypeople who seldom speak about religion, although most are quite religious. Mysticism, for them, is considered a mode of being, not a question of their faith.
These people are not trying to convince you or asking you to agree with what they say. They are merely attempting to explain their own direct awareness. They have no desire to describe their mystical experiences. Application to living is far more important. It is all-embracing discernment.
Almost every person feels that their life is lacking in some way, although they are seldom able to define it. There always seems to be something missing. True mystics feel wholeness often. It is not a temporary absorption in divine union. Rather, it is identifying with the divine essence everywhere. Living, for them, usually expands beyond their own immediate sentiments, thoughts and sensing.
“Just let it be.” Many mystics today have said that, in various ways. We frequently do try to control our lives. To some extent that is possible. Much of what happens, however, is beyond our control. Acceptance is a positive spin on surrender. We must accept what is, or actively change it to something better. Mark Twain said “the worst things in my life never happened,” yet caused needless worry. Conversely, the best things in life often occur without any planning or expectations. Dealing with what is should be our priority. We must live in the present, rather than dwell on the past or the future.
Existence is not just a mental exercise, despite what some Eastern schools of mysticism may seem to imply. There are emotional and physical factors of equal importance, which might be stressed too much in the West. For mystics, mind and body, and their emotive interaction, are less significant than the spiritual essence underlying them. A mind without spirit would be lethargic; a body without spirit would be ailing; lacking spirit in both can actually cause physical death. Life is not only becoming, it is being here and now.
Rebirth is conceived as being born in another body, after death in this life. For “born again” Christians, it is reaffirmation of their faith while still alive. Contemporary mystics sometimes speak of being born again. After absorption in oneness, they view existence from a broader perspective. The universal essence, which had engulfed them, is later felt as background to everything they experience. Living has greater purpose*, even if they cannot explain it in words. Realizing eternal life is present currently, they do not fear death.
Religions today usually concentrate on earthly being, within the confines of space and time. They seldom mention either mysticism or eternity. Many books about Judaism, Christianity and Islam omit their mystical tradition. Much current literature by Buddhists only touch on the Dharmakaya or Nirvana. The mystical quest for unity is still a vital part of Hindu movements, but most people in modern India are now more concerned with secular interests.
Many mystics disassociate themselves from orthodox beliefs and practices, which is resented by many of their religion’s members. Some reinterpret the scriptures and prophesies of their faith, which upsets some of its leaders. The priorities of mystical traditions are frequently at odds with the mainstream of their institutional faith. They concentrate on the eternal here and now, partially manifested in space and time, yet also transcendent to each and both.
“What about eternal life?” Most people who even consider it may regard it as after passing on. It can, however, be realized both consciously and presently. What we call this life might be just like watching and performing in a play on stage. The concluded acts we call the past. The following acts, termed the future, have yet to be presented. For true mystics, here…now…this moment is Reality. It is not merely an intermission. It is truly boundless and endless.
Many of these essays use symbolic terms, as did most quotations of mystics. “How do they relate to everyday living?” If you looked at a movie film (not digital), frame by frame, you would not grasp the meaning of the complete picture. When you look at this life, hour by hour, day by day, you cannot see it in its whole context. Even if you could review one mortal life in its entirety, its greater spiritual significance would be missing. Life is all of existence.
“How can one person possibly relate to all of existence, let alone to the spiritual essence which underlies it?” That is what mystics are conscious of, sometimes momentarily and, rarely, throughout every day. “Can you believe in a personal God and be a mystic?” Most of them do. “Can you be an atheist and a mystic?” A few are. God is the supreme concept of that essence which is God beyond God.
“God is a concept and not a reality?” God is as real as you want God to be. The divine essence is Reality, even if you do not believe in God. It is another mystical paradox. “Why can’t it be simple?” It is simple…it simply is. It is our minds which add the complexity.
*Their feeling, thinking and actions become for the soul, the whole and all, not for “I, me” and “my.” Their sense of being reaches beyond limited personal concerns.