“Silence is God’s first language. Everything else is poor translation.” -Thomas Keating
Mystics and mysticism have always been a part of religion and spirituality. In fact, it would be accurate to say that they are the foundation of these things. In the Bible Abraham, Moses, the old testament prophets, Jesus, Paul, and John could all be considered mystics. Other well known Christian mystics include Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, and modern day names such as Thomas Keating, Thomas Merton, and Richard Rohr.
What is mysticism? Mysticism is the belief that truth is beyond words. It is the understanding that authority about God does not stem from an institution, religion, or holy book, but through the spirit which lives inside all life. Mystics goal is to be reunited with God in Oneness, to have an awareness that there is more than the duality we experience with our five senses day to day, but an underlying love fundamental to reality beyond our physical perception.
Early Christian mystics didn’t have the New Testament. And later one’s that did still understood that the New Testament was a tool to make sense of God, but falls short, as all words do. Mystics practice meditation and contemplation as a way of holistic surrender to bypass the intellectual mind and rest in deep resonance with the holy spirit so that throughout the day one may be led by God rather than our own ego.
Mysticism is not something easy to explain or to live by. That’s why it is an oft forgotten, seldom spoken about part of Christianity and other religions. In our age of materialism, its value is not understood. But we live in a time of excess. Excess of noise, of information, of activity, of things we own and pursue. Mystics focus on slowing down, silence, and getting to the heart of all things is needed to help balance our excess and misdirection today.
Mystics understand that while truth is eternal, human understanding of truth is partial. We all have perspectives and ways of explaining the truth. Mystics do not get caught up in legalism, in doctrines, in tradition. They try to see past that to see the spirit of God within all people. They work to have empathy and understanding for where each person is coming from and the underlying oneness between all things.
Mystics are not overly concerned with labels such as age, race, gender, religion, sexuality, semantics, etc. but understand that the body of Christ is a diverse work of beauty to be celebrated.
Mystics understand that the dogma of belief in separation, in duality, without an understanding of oneness underlying all things, produces ego and suffering. The path of growth is really one of surrender to our true essence of goodness at the core.
Modern mystics work to create a bridge between science and spirituality. To honor the duality we live, to let our experience of oneness with God overflow into our daily lives, but to also try to explain and lead others to the experience of oneness as well.
Mystical Christianity sees the benefits of the emphasis within Evangelicals and Progressive Christianity, but also fills in the gaps towards a deeper place of faith, mystery, and awe.