Sunday, May 4, 2008

Are You Experienced? "Mysticism is the Art of Union with Reality"

If the doors of perception were cleansed,
Everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things
Through the narrow chinks of his cavern.
~~ William Blake


Evelyn Underhill wrote an essay to persuade readers that each of us can experience what are called mystical experiences, that many of us have had mystical experiences -- and perhaps even that we can be mystics. In her book, _Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People_, she defines mysticism with the phrase we have made the title of this blog:

"Mysticism is the art of Union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or lesser degree; or who aims at it and believes in such attainment." (p.3)

I am attracted to this simple phrase as a way of exploring mysticism, both in experience and scholarship. First Underhill invokes the term "art." This analogy or perhaps literal description implies the mixture of skill, inspiration, experience, study, and observation that mysticism and art share. (In a May 2 post on my blog http://emeraldshunlight.blogspot.com I examine mysticism especially as presented by Annmarie Schimmel who applies another aspect of Underhill's work.)Art and mysticism are related in the sense also that Underhill writs, "contemplation is ... the essential activity of artists." (p. 27)

Underhill presents us with the practice and achievement of union as phenomena we all have experienced in some way or degree:

"We know a thing only by uniting with it, by assimilating it, by an interpentration of it and ourselves...The great Sufi who wrote that 'Pilgrimage to the place of the wise, is to escape from the flame of separation,' spoke the literal truth. Wisdom is the fruit of communion." (p.4)Real knowledge, she asserts always involves an "intuitive sympathy." (p. 4) In this sense we have all had experiences of union with some phenomenon. Possibly what we achieved "communion" or "intuitive sympathy" with became what Paul Tillich, attempting a comprehensive and inclusive definition of religion called our "ultimate concern."

I find it helpful that she frequently takes up the case of America's 's great mytsic poet, Walt Whitman. "We see that the claim of a poet as Whitman to be a mystic lies in the fact that he has achieved a passionate communion with deeper levels of life..." (p. 9)

Underhill's ability to invite us into this reality reminds me of moments with Thich Nhat Hanh's presence though his writings and record presentations and meditations:

"It would mean that we should receive from every flower, not merely a beautiful image to which the label 'flower' has been affixed, bu the full impact of its unimaginable beuaty and wonder, the direct sensation of life having communion with life..." (pp. 23-24)

Reality she encourages us is within the reach of each of us. Taking her lead from Blake, Underhill writes:

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, said Blake, everything would appear to man as it is -- Infinite. But the doors of perception are hung with the cobwebs of thought; prejudice, cowardice, sloth. Eternity is with us, inviting our contemplation perpetually, but we are too frightened, lazy and suspicious to respond: too arrogant to still our thought, and let divine sensation have its way." (p.19) Using a metaphor from practical experience, she calls this a "spring-cleaning of the soul." (p. 19)

Reality can belong to anyone because, as Underhill writes:

"As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone -- those these can find it in more poignant depths of meaning than other men -- so the world of Reality exists for all; and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire." (p. 12)

The understanding of mysticism as art of course extends to music. As a musician who feels and reflects on the link between the musical and the mystical, I especially appreciate this passage:

"The 'Simple Ear' [i.e., pure and clear] which discerns the celestial melody, hears that Tone in which all music is resumed [i.e. has its source and re turn]; this achieves that ecstatic life of 'sensation without thought' which [the poet John] Keats perceived to be the substance of true happiness." (p. 37)

This blog essay introduces Evelyn Underhill's simple, yet profound and comprehensive insight into the nature and meaning of mysticism. Her restatement is illuminating: "We said at the beginning of this discussion, that mysticism was the art of union with Reality: that it was above all a Science of Love." (p. 168)

~~~

Underhill, Evelyn. _Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People_. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 1915. (I thank Professor Gregory Spinner of Skidmore College, recently my colleague at CMU, for lending me a copy of this book that he had been given by University of Chicago History of Religions scholar Professor Joseph Kitagawa)

A recent paperback edition on Amazon [ISBN: 978-1-4346-9485-0] begins its chapter 1 on p. 15 (rather than in this earlier printing on p. 1]. My citations above come from the 1915 edition.

42 comments:

許願 said...

0204全裸網,777露點聊天室,Hiav潮吹聊天館,utlive脫衣秀聊天室,口交俱樂部,18禁聊天館,影音俱樂部,無碼俱樂部,uthome脫衣秀做愛聊天室,Hiav下載裸照聊天館,777口交自慰俱樂部,0204正妹淫叫俱樂部,uthome脫衣秀做愛,av辣妹大奶,777口交影音,0204正妹淫叫,utlive網,av聊天館,777俱樂部,0204俱樂部,0204全裸網,Hiav潮吹聊天館,777露點聊天室,utlive脫衣秀聊天室,口交俱樂部,18禁聊天館,影音俱樂部,無碼俱樂部,0204正妹淫叫俱樂部,777口交自慰俱樂部,Hiav下載裸照聊天館,uthome脫衣秀做愛聊天室,0204正妹淫叫,777口交影音,av辣妹大奶,uthome脫衣秀做愛,0204俱樂部,777俱樂部,av聊天館,utlive網

九份 said...

以簡單的行為愉悅他人的心靈,勝過千人低頭禱告。........................................

無尾熊可愛 said...

may the blessing be with you.........................................

葉雅慧 said...

^^~~輕輕鬆鬆的逛部落格,多謝有您的分享哦~~~..............................

志冠少菁伶義 said...

It is never too late to learn. ......................................................

逸凡逸凡 said...

很用心的blog,推推哦 ........................................

Phuong said...

thank you for you to make me learn more,thank you∩0∩

RooseveltHouchi嬌琪 said...

文章很棒~感謝!!..................................................

Glennie9654 said...

Cool blog網愛聊天室色情網站交友找啦咧免費影片成人笑話成人圖庫sexy女同志聊天室愛戀情人用品情趣爽翻天咆哮小老鼠入口85cc6k脫衣人妻sexy85c脫光光taiwansex淫女情色成人男女做愛美女做愛脫衣秀a片正妹淫蕩色情後宮040185c85c77p2p77p2p性幻想手淫18禁

佳瑩 said...

三更燈火五更雞,正是男兒讀書時 ..................................................

佳順 said...

85cc成人免費觀看 免費視訊影片 情色視訊聊天 免費av18影片 豆豆聊天交友論壇 女優光碟網 免費看性感影片 做愛影片! 偷拍實錄 UT視訊聊天室 女同志愛愛影片免費 色瞇瞇情趣用品網 18禁下載 少女脫衣秀遊戲 3d免費a影城 哪裡看a片 麗的情色網站 色情成人片 桃園一夜情留言板 383影音網 完美性交 玩美情人論壇 波波遊戲美女 動漫色辣妹 人妻 人妻熟女圖片 免費視訊 live173 a片分享區 巨乳美女寫真集 85cc倉井空 微風線上觀看區 ut聊天室 777成人 小魔女貼圖 援交電話 台灣情人網dvd 全裸鋼管秀 日本av免費 洪爺影城討論區 大奶美女圖貼 sex520貼片 情色電影下載 巨乳人妻 性愛光碟 後宮電影 成人圖庫 自拍0204貼圖 性愛貼圖自拍 模特兒走光圖

韋于倫成 said...

盛年不再來,一日難再晨;及時當勉勵,歲月不待人 ..................................................

筠銘 said...

憂能傷身,保重哦! ....................................................

DedeJ文辰_Fe said...

在你一無所有的時候 是誰在陪伴你 他便是你最重要的人 ............................................................

saa said...

活是一種鍛鍊靈魂的東西......................................................

RoseH_Huls21365 said...

出遊不拘名勝,有景就是好的..................................................................

林奕廷 said...

你真的很棒~謝謝分享囉~......................................................................

姿吟姿吟 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」......................................................................

黃怡 said...

君子立恆志,小人恆立志。.................................................................                           

貴寶 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

天花天花 said...

Hello~Nice meet you~~............................................................

婷珊 said...

今天心情很好..你心情好嗎?..................................................................

玉苓玉苓 said...

來幫推 你個blog影d相真係好靚,係我至愛~ ..................................................................

陳韋夏陳韋夏益東富益東富 said...

文章雖然普通,但意義卻很大~~^^~~ ..................................................................

穎翰翁穎翰 said...

感謝分享--每天都要快樂喔....................................................................

雲亨雲亨雲亨 said...

很不賴的分享!! 多謝啦!!◑0◐......................................................

楊儀卉 said...

很以有啟發性的故事阿~感謝大大分享^^......................................................

芳綠 said...

好東西要和好朋友分享--感謝您............................................................

琬安琬安 said...

閱讀您的BLOG文章,真是件快樂的事!!..................................................................

呂雅慧呂雅慧 said...

Many a true word is spoken in jest..................................................................

喜趙妤 said...

A crowd is not company.............................................................

李吳俊其彥柏 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

家唐銘 said...

享受你自己的生活,不要與他人相比。......................................................

偉曹琬 said...

婚姻對男人來說是賭他的自由,對女人而言卻是賭她的幸福。.................................................................

邱思吳佳順翰 said...

我在戀愛著?--------是的,因為我在等待著..................................................................

姿宥美岑軒英 said...

未來屬於那些相信他們美好夢想的人。......................................................

韋陳富 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。............................................................

柔于真于真于真林姍 said...

從來愛都不知它的深度,非得等到別離的時候.....................................................................

至馬馬馬馬玄馬馬馬馬 said...

用行動來支持你~~~不留言不行!............................................................

黃英吳思潔吳思潔邦 said...

你不能決定生命的長度,但你可以控制它的寬度..................................................................

159fsaf said...

愛看您的新文章!加油!.................................................................

骆雨康 said...

希望能常常看到你的更新..................................................