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September 24, 2011 on 10:43 am

Dear Spiritual Explorer: What is a mystic and how does mysticism differ from other spiritual beliefs?
Georgia R., Nashville, TN


Art of Mysticism

Dear Georgia: Simply stated, a mystic is a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into whatever deity or absolute she chooses. A mystic is also one who believes in the possibility of understanding spiritual truths beyond the intellect. In the Art of Mysticism, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, spiritual teacher at Kashi Ashram, in a question and answer protocol and Jean Houston, PhD, one of the pioneers of the human potential movement in the 70′s, explore direct revelation of spirit and mystical experience through Ma’s own guru Neem Karoli Baba. Explaining and dissecting mysticism in these times considering the many skeptics and believers in rationalism is quite a feat, although some, including myself, might argue that this is the age of irrationalism.

I remember reading about mysticism in the renowned book The Varieties of Religious Experience by Williams James at the tender age of about 17. I remember marveling at the many stories of the famous mystics that James recounted. That there are varieties of religious experience inspires me because it points out a truth that I have always known to be real, and that is, that we as individuals have the ability to experience our spiritual connection in our own inimitable way. In Hinduism those of us who are drawn to loving kindness can embrace bhakti or karma yoga which renders loving service to others. Then there are those, who consider themselves more intellectually drawn and call themselves jnani yogis. A jnani yogi is one who aspires to a spiritual apprehension of the truth through his intellect/mind. Similarly, we are all familiar with the Zen koans which by a comprehension of the riddle contained within the koan, one may experience a form of “satori” or what is known as “enlightened mind.” Of course, there are many mystical experiences recounted, to name a few, throughout all of Jewish, Christian and Muslim tradition.

Within The Art of Mysticism Ma Jaya speaks of her own awakening to spiritual life, the interfaith movement, the path of service and the Chidakash, first brought to awareness through the teachings of Swami Bhagawan Nityananda. Ma in her own enticingly personal way shows herself to be the non pareil teacher for those who need spirituality to be practical as well as exalted. Ma Jaya is a true down-to-earth mystic who is also divinely inspired. Ma Jaya does not aspire to live in an ivory tower. She uses her spirituality not only as a conduit for others to the divine, but also in a very practical, service to humanity mode. Ma Jaya is a very unique teacher in our time.

Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

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