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Mysticism

Mysticism is the supposed experience or exploration of a transcendental realm beyond our Universe. In theistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic metaphysical systems this is understood as direct relation with God/Goddess. Mysticism is also defined as a process whereby the mystic plumbs the depths of the self and reality in a radical process of meditative self-discovery to discover the true nature of reality experientially. The sayings of mystics of different traditions show that they have known very similar experiences. Therefore it is argued that the true unity of religion can be found in mystical experience. Another term for this view is Perennial Philosophy.

Elements of mysticism are present in many religions and philosophies. Some mystics claim that there is a common thread of influence in all mystic philosophies that is traceable back to a shared source. Many mystical philosophies thus exhibit a strong tendency towards Syncretism.

Examples of major traditions and philosophies with strong elements of mysticism are Vedantic Hinduism, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, the Christian Gnostic sect(s), the Eastern Orthodox hesychasm, the Sufi school of Islam, the Judaic Kabbalah and many aspects of the New Age movement. Quakerism also has a strong mystical element to its theology.

The 19th Century saw an increase of interest in Mysticism linked to an interest in Occultism and Eastern Thought. Major figures in this movement were Madame Blavatsky and Gurdjieff. See Theosophy for more information on this movement which had a later influence on the New Age.

Some examples of Christian mystics are:

Clement of Alexandria,
St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Gregory I[?]
St. Anselm
St. Hildegard of Bingen
Hugh of Saint Victor[?]
St. John of the Cross
St. Teresa of Avila
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Bridget of Sweden
St. Joan of Arc
St. Gregory Palamas
Thomas Merton
Margery Kempe[?]
Julian of Norwich
Mechtild of Magdeburg[?]
Sarah Wight[?]

Examples of Muslim mystics (also called sufi) are

al-Ghazali, (d. 1111)
al Hallaj[?] (d. 922)
Jalal ad-Din Rumi,
Hafiz,
Sadi[?]
Yunus Emre
 
Examples of Jewish mystics
Shimon bar Yochai[?] (c.200 AD )
Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia[?] (1240-1291)
Moses ben Shem Tob de Leon[?] (1250-1305)
Isaac Luria (1534-1572)
Moses Chaim Luzzato (1707-1746)
Nachman of Breslov[?] (1772-1810)
Abraham Isaac Kook (1864-1935)
Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994)
   
Other mystics:
Rufus Jones[?] (Quakerism)
Sage Starwalker[?] (Goddess Mystic)
Reference: Who's Who in the History of Mysticism by Professor Bruce B. Janz http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/mys/whoswho.htm



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