“Over and over again the great mystics tell us, not how they speculated, but how they acted. To them, the transition from the life of sense to the life of spirit is a formidable undertaking, which demands effort and consistency. The paradoxical ‘quiet’ of the contemplative is but the outward stillness essential to inward work. Their favorite symbols are those of action. … ‘That we may attain to this true light and perfect knowledge … by hearsay, or by reading and study, … is not enough’ says Gerlac Petersen. ‘To know by estimation merely: but we must know by experience.’ so Mechthild of Magdeburg says, … ‘I see it with the eyes of my soul, and hear it with the ears of my eternal spirit.’ … True mystical achievement is the most complete and most difficult expression of life which is as yet possible to man.” ~Evelyn Underhill
By Harold Boulette
The Active Mystic
Most people today visualize a mystic as some guru sitting on a mountain top in deep meditation doing virtually nothing but thinking and praying. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mystic, or spiritual adept, is a person of action. They don’t just contemplate things, they do them. They don’t wonder what they would be like if they awakened their innate, but dormant, spiritual faculties, they awaken them and experience a new life foreign to most of us.
Thinking and meditating isn’t Enough
Several decades ago, Positive Thinking was made popular. After a while, it faded away because many people found—to their horror and surprise—that think about it just wasn’t enough to make it real. One had to act also. In more recent times, we have what is essentially the same concept with new names. There was visualization where studies showed that athletes could learn new things faster if the sat quietly and visualized themselves doing the thing properly before practice. Some grabbed onto this and again thought they could get rich just by visualizing it, get skinny just by visualizing it, and so on. They once again learned that contemplating the desired result wasn’t enough, they had to actually act on it to make it happen. Now it is called “the Law of Attraction”. The same thing in a new wrapper. The results will be the same as always: contemplation without action will rarely accomplish anything. Of course, acting, without thinking about what you are doing, is also unwise and tends to be unproductive.
Study is also Limited
Of course reading and studying the writings of great mystics and spiritual leaders is a good start, but just as reading the financial news won’t make you wealthy, reading about mystics won’t make you one. You have to get up and act, do things.
The Acts of Mystics and Adepts
Now it get tricky. How do we know what actions a mystical or spiritual student should undertake to achieve a true awakening, and ultimately, complete enlightenment. In the quote, Mechthild tells us that she sees and hears “it” with her spirit and soul. The “it” is spiritual knowledge, spiritual wisdom, Gnosis. That is indeed how the mystics experience truth and learn what to do, but how to get to that point? The answer is that you must awaken those dormant spiritual faculties and develop them. This is the primary activity of the mystic; driving a car or playing baseball may be active, but it is pointless activity for the mystic. The mystic doesn’t just wish to have an awakened soul, or to be one with God and the Beings of Light, he takes in the energy needed to awaken those faculties. That energy comes to us from the spiritual sun, so the mystic and spiritual adept spends time regularly observing the spiritual sun (not the physical one) and taking in that energy. The mystic or adept is also active by seeking out others who desire to do the same, and helps teach them or assist them in whatever way he can. The mystic also seeks to help improve the physical world by being involved in it to a degree, but without becoming attached to it.
This post was previously published on the Solar Wind blog.