What is Mysticism? – 5

To be a Christian mystic is to realize that we are always already one with God. Now, “realize” here does not just mean, “to bring to awareness.” “Realize” means, first, to make real for us what is already more real than what we take to be reality—it is to bring us into the Really Real, into Reality: divine oneness. John Tauler says it like this: “the purified and clarified spirit sinks completely into the divine darkness, into a still silence and an inconceivable unity. In this absorption all like and unlike is lost. In this abyss the spirit loses itself and knows neither God nor itself, neither like nor unlike. It knows nothing, for it is engulfed in the oneness of God and has lost all differences.”

Well that’s all well and good, but how? How do we live as Christian mystics? The call to live as Christian mystics requires deep, unbounded, and mysterious prayer: mystical prayer. Here’s how the mystics describe prayer: Wake up to reality: you are always already one with God; Immerse yourself in the Mystery of God; Allow God to absorb you; Melt into divinity; Let the Loving Mystery engulf you; Fade away into transcendent Love; Allow the Godhead to swallow you; Let the Hidden One consume you; Disappear into the Incomprehensible; Plunge into the infinite mercy of God; Sink into the Divine Silence; Lose yourself in God
Mystics live from the ground that has no ground, the eternal abyss, in such a way that they are not always thinking about God but, being submerged in the loving triune nothingness through prayer, they remain empty for God. Mystics stay open and free to receive and respond to God throughout the course of the day and in the various experiences, situations, and relationships that make up life. Mystics live, forever and ever more deeply, thrust into the incomprehensible mystery of the loving triune God who transcends being: the divine void of godless nothing.

Mystics usually belong to religious communities. Awakening to divine oneness occurs, typically, within these communities. A member overseas the community’s contemplative training and serves as arbiter and judge of what constitutes authentic awakening and what does not. This is a master-disciple dynamic present in Jesus’ relation to the disciples as well as the desert fathers and their monks.

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