Mysticism claims of its logical scheme that it is Euclidean, that from its first axiom or principle the remainder of its doctrine follows, but it makes this claim in so many languages and in such a variety of obscure and self-contradictory ways that it is difficult to discern how this could be possible, and it is rarely considered a plausible claim in metaphysics. I believe it is plausible, and in this essay I try to explain why.
Are mystical experiences primarily formed by the mystic's cultural background and concepts, as modern day "constructivists" maintain, or do mystics in some way transcend language, belief, and culturally conditioned expectations? Do mystical experiences differ in the different religious traditions, as "pluralists" contend, or are they identical across cultures? Twelve contributors here attempt to answer these questions through close examination of a particular form of mystical experience, "Pure Consciousness"--the experience of being awake but devoid of intentional content for consciousness. The contributors (...) analyze pure consciousness and other mystical experiences from historical Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Jewish sources, as well as from modern mystics. They demonstrate that pure consciousness poses serious conceptual problems for a contructivist understanding of mysticism. Revealing the inconsistencies and inadequacies of current models, they make significant strides towards developing new models for the phenomenon of mysticism, breaking new ground for our understanding of mysticism and of human experience in general. (shrink)
In his sixth seminar, Desire and Its Interpretation (1956–1957), Lacan patiently elaborates his theory of the ‘phantasm’ ($◊a), in which the object of desire (object small a) is ascribed a constitutive role in the architecture of the libidinal subject. In that seminar, Lacan shows his fascination for an aphorism of the twentieth century Christian mystic Simone Weil in her assertion: “to ascertain exactly what the miser whose treasure was stolen lost: thus we would learn much.” This is why, in his (...) theory, Lacan conceptualizes the object of desire as the unconsumed treasure—and, in that sense, the “nothing”—on which the miser’s desire is focused. But the more Lacan develops his new object theory, the more he realizes how close it is to Christian mysticism in locating the ultimate object of desire in God, in a sevenfold “nothing” (to quote the famous last step in the ascent of the Mount Carmel as described by John of the Cross). An analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet allows Lacan to escape the Christian logic and to rearticulate the object of desire in an ‘unchristian’ tragic grammar. When he replaces the miser by the lover as paradigm of the subject’s relation to its object of desire, he substitutes a strictly Greek kind of love—eros, not agape—for the miser’s relationship to his treasure. Even when, in the late Lacan, “love” becomes a proper concept, its structure remains deeply “tragic.”. (shrink)
This is a sequel to Forman's well-received collection, The Problems of Pure Consciousness (OUP 1990). The essays in this previous volume argued that some mystical experiences do not seem to be formed or shaped by the language system--a thesis that stands in sharp contrast to the constructivist school, which holds that all mysticism is the product of a cultural and linguistic process. In The Innate Capacity, the same scholars put forward a hypothesis about the formative causes of these "pure (...) consciousness" experiences. All the contributors agree that mysticism is the result of an innate human capacity, rather than a learned, socially conditioned constructive process. They look at mystical experience as it is manifested in a variety of religious and cultural settings, including Hindu Yoga, Buddhism, Sufism, and medieval Christianity. Taken together, the essays constitute an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the nature of mystical experience and its relation to the social and cultural context in which it appears. (shrink)
In all the current alienating discourse on Islam as a source of extremism and fanatic violence this new publication takes a timely and refreshing look at the traditions of Islamic mysticism, philosophy and intellectual debate in a series of diverse and stimulating approaches. It tackles the major figures of Islamic thought as well as shedding light on hitherto unconsidered aspects of Islam utilizing new source material. The contributors are impressive list of scholars and experts.
Perennialists regarding the phenomenology of mysticism, like Walter Stace, feel that all Christian mystical experiences are fundamentally similar to each other and to experiences described by mystics across religious traditions, cultures and ages. In his seminal work, Mystic Union: An Essay in the Phenomenology of Mysticism, Nelson Pike convincingly argues that this extreme position is inadequate for capturing the breadth of experiences described by the canonical Medieval Christian mystics. However, Pike may have leaned too far away from perennialism (...) in claiming that all the experiences of (Christian) mystic union are essentially theistic. Here, I argue that Pike did not successfully establish this point and that union without distinction, often described as the pinnacle of union by Christian mystics, remains a viable candidate for an instance of a trans-traditionally type-identical mystical experience. (shrink)
Throughout his authorship, Kierkegaard appears remarkably uninterested in the tradition of Christian mysticism. Indeed, in the only two places in the authorship where he broaches the topic directly, the discussion is disclaimed in such a way as to suggest that Kierkegaard really has nothing to say about it at all. However, attending to the successive incarnations of the character(s) named “Ludvig” throughout the authorship – an appellation that harbors an especially self-referential dimension for Kierkegaard – the present paper attempts (...) to elucidate what may, with due reservation, be referred to as the mystical element in Kierkegaard’s thought. The ultimate yield of this endeavor is a vision of “mysticism” that is more act than thought oriented, and a vision of the author “Kierkegaard” that is more delightful than melancholy. (shrink)
Are mysticism and morality compatible or at odds with one another? If mystical experience embraces a form of non-dual consciousness, then in such a state of mind, the regulative dichotomy so basic to ethical discretion would seemingly be transcended and the very foundation for ethical decisions undermined. Venturing Beyond - Law and Morality in Kabbalistic Mysticism is an investigation of the relationship of the mystical and moral as it is expressed in the particular tradition of Jewish mysticism (...) known as the Kabbalah. The particular themes discussed include the denigration of the non-Jew as the ontic other in kabbalistic anthropology and the eschatological crossing of that boundary anticipated in the instituition of religious conversion; the overcoming of the distinction between good and evil in the mystical experience of the underlying unity of all things; divine suffering and the ideal of spiritual poverty as the foundation for transmoral ethics and hypernomian lawfulness. (shrink)
Abstract Whether extrovertive, introvertive, or some further hybrid, the process of the soul touching the fullness of its divine origins is itself undergoing transformation in the twenty-first-century cultural matrices of Israel. A remarkable exemplar of devotional Hebrew cultures can be found within the hybrid networks of haredi worlds in Israel today. R. Yitzhaq Maier Morgenstern, author of Yam ha-okhmah, Netiv ayyim , and De'i okhmah le-nafshekha , is arguably the most innovative mystical voice in Israel. Why are his works resonating (...) so strongly both inside and outside their haredi communities of origin? How is his innovative thinking affecting the devotional praxis of Devekut both inside and outside the unfolding Hasidic networks? This exploration of mystical apperception through Devekut builds upon studies of Garb, Huss, and Meir, while challenging the idea that Morgenstern's expanding impact is solely a function of his mystical-magical charisma and hypernomian spiritual practice. This study argues that it is Morgenstern's hybridized thinking through key theoretical issues in Kabbalah and Hasidism as they apply to the lived practice of a devotional life of Devekut that will likely remain his strongest innovation and contribution to contemporary Jewish mysticism. (shrink)
This essay focuses on Julia Kristeva’s recent volume Thérèse mon amour: Sainte Thérèse d’Avila (2008) , describing and placing this blend of novel, play, psychoanalytic cultural theory, and case history in the context of her work. I argue that the volume contributes to an understanding of religion’s impact—especially Catholic mysticism--on Western categories of women. I address in particular Thérèse ’s mysticism and modernist use of a feminine figure to subvert practices threatening the vitality of the psyche and of (...) social relations. As in Kristeva’s earlier writing, her psychoanalytic approach to Catholicism’s influence continues to raise questions concerning the apparent stereotypes the approach may feed, especially that of the masochistic woman. (shrink)
The editorial stance of this book is that mysticism and science offer a way forward here, but only if they abandon the idol of a single logical synthesis and acknowledge the diversity of different ways of knowing. The contributors from disciplines as diverse as music, psychology, mathematics and religion, build a vision that honours diversity while pointing to an implicit unity.
This work will examine the concept of soul developed in mysticism of abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). For this, I will analyze extracts of five writings namely the Third Series of Sentences, three of his Liturgical Sermons, and the parabola The Three Children of the King.
Several contemporary philosophers have charged that there is a conceptual tension between nondualistic types of mystical awareness--an awareness of some particular conception of the divine as an all-pervasive unity within which there are no distinct substances--and the social character of morality. However, some nondualistic mystics have conceptualized enlightenment not only as being compatible with moral virtue--specifically, compassion and care--but as providing a foundation for it. I here offer a conceptual model for this grounding, at least according to DÅgen Zenji and (...) Meister Eckhart. Briefly, the model suggests that some forms of nondualistic mystical awareness are accompanied by the mystics' prudential concerns extending to include the well-being of "others" under their scope. Finally, utilizing this model, I suggest possible responses to two common arguments for the claim that nondualistic mysticism is essentially amoral. (shrink)
Este texto apresenta algumas reflexões sobre os elementos poéticos presentes no discurso místico, ressaltando quais as características fundamentais destes textos, desde um ponto de vista da poesia. Ao fazer isso, o texto também pergunta quais seriam os elementos místicos da poesia. Se se pode falar de uma poética da mística, poder-se-ia também considerar uma mística da poética? Considerando-se que o discurso místico é resultado de uma experiência com o sagrado, haveria uma experiência transcendente também expressa na poesia considerada profana? O (...) procedimento adotado para a depreensão desta poética da mista é a análise literária de alguns poemas da tradição mística, de um salmo bíblico e de um texto de um poeta não comprometido com uma tradição religiosa específica. O resultado desta análise é percebido como uma possível poética da mística. Por outro lado, o aspecto transgressor da linguagem presente na poesia é apontado como sendo expressão da mística da poesia. Palavras-chave : Poesia. Mística. Teologia Negativa. Literatura. Sagrado.: This paper reflects on the poetical elements present in mystical discourse. The idea is to highlight the poetical characteristics of mystical texts. In doing so, the article asks which the mystical elements of poetry are. Another question is also raised: if it is possible to talk about poetics of mystic, is it possible to consider the existence of a mystical poetic? Considering the mystical discourse as the result of an experience with the Sacred, is there a transcendental experience expressed in poetry considered profane? For the establishment of this poetic of mysticism, the texts analyses some mystical poems: a psalm from the Bible and a poem from a Brazilian poetry that does not belong to a specific religion tradition. The result of this analysis is presented as a possible poetic of mysticism. Furthermore, the aspect of transgression of the language, present in poetry, is shown as an expression of the mystic of poetry. Keywords: Poetry. Mysticism. Negative Theology. Literature. Sacred. - DOI: 10.5752/P.2175-5841.2012v10n25p53. (shrink)
The authors review the profound and diverse ways in which mysticism is embedded in and influences belief, lifestyle, identity and politics in Jewish life in Israel and North America. They outline some existential and cultural dimensions of the conditions in which this phenomena flourish, specifically relating to the condition of post-modernity. The seeming dominance of mysticism over more rational forms of religious belief and behavior is explored. The opposite ideational and historic trends within Jewish mysticism as they (...) relate to national lifestyle, being alternatively closed and parochial or open and universal are reviewed. The authors suggest that, in light of the current situation within and outside of the Jewish people, the latter approach needs to be strengthened. (shrink)
800x600 Normal 0 21 false false false RO X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 The dominant approaches to Kabbalah in modern scholarship are basically historical and philological. This is the manner in which the founder of modern scholarship in the field, Gershom Scholem, described his school. Though he also embraced more phenomenological analyses, this approach is less represented in the first stages of Kabbalah scholarship, though it becomes more evident in the last decades. In the writings of Schlomo G. Shoham, an existential approach (...) to Kabbalah - as to humanities in general - has been offered, one in which the experiential dimensions of this lore have been put in sharp relief. In the following pages I shall attempt to underscore some existential interpretations of the concept of Paradise in Jewish mysticism, emphasizing the different spiritual structures that informed the various schools. In a manner reminiscent of Shoham's emphasis on different structures that explain human spiritual life and behaviour, the following remarks will juxtapose the divergences between the ecstatic and theosophical-theurgical schools of Kabbalah. (shrink)
Some recent version of mysticism -- Empty epiphanies in modernist and postmodernist theory -- The gender of human togetherness -- Histories of modern selfhood -- Meister Eckhart's anthropology -- Becoming God in fourteenth-century Europe -- The makings of the modern self -- Taking leave of Sigmund Freud -- Everyday acknowledgments.
The essays collected in this volume explore some of the themes that have been at the centre of recent debates within Wittgensteinian scholarship. In opposition to what we are tentatively inclined to think, the articles of this volume invite us to understand that our need to grasp the essence of ethical and religious thought and language will not be achieved by metaphysical theories expounded from such a point of view, but by focusing on our everyday forms of expression.
This paper surveys the key terms śaktipāta and samāveśa (both of which refer to religious experience) in the primary sources of Tantric Śaivism over several centuries of textual development, building up a theory as to their range of meanings. It specifically focuses on their usage by Abhinavagupta (Kāshmīr, 10th century) by presenting a complete translation of chapter 11 of his Tantrasāra. The paper thus serves to (a) illuminate the nature of spiritual experience and the qualifcations for religious praxis in Śaivism, (...) (b) give insight into the worldview of the Tantric Śaivas, and (c) help in pinpointing a specific and significant issue in the phenomenological study of religion generally. (shrink)
This article combines the disciplines of textual/linguistic analysis, anthropology, and perceptual psychology to examine selected ancient Jewish mystical texts that claim to describe the praxis for ascents into heaven and encounters with angelic spirits in order to reconstruct the psychosocial context of these literary works. Specifically, the article examines Hekhalot or "Divine Palaces" texts that deal with hydromancy, giving attention to their mythic–symbolic assumptions, their described preparatory and triggering rituals, and their accounts of the ASC (altered states of consciousness) visions (...) resulting from these rituals that are experienced by the practitioners. The article suggests that these accounts correlate with ASC practices identified in the literature and additionally suggests that although the mystical texts are written to resemble biblical accounts of revelatory experiences, the texts under consideration are more than works of fabulous imagination; they are literary artifacts of an actual ecstatic ASC praxis among the Jews of Late Antiquity. (shrink)
There is a well known debate between those who defend a traditional (or classical) concept of God and those who defend a process (or neoclassical) concept of God. Not as well known are the implications of these two rival concepts of God in the effort to understand religious experience. With the aid of the great pragmatist philosopher John Smith, I defend the process (or neoclassical) concept of God in its ability to better illuminate and render as intelligible as possible mystical (...) experience. (shrink)
Georges Bataille agrees with numerous Christian mystics that there is ethical and religious value in meditating upon, and having ecstatic episodes in response to, imagery of violent death. For Christians, the crucified Christ is the focus of contemplative efforts. Bataille employs photographic imagery of a more-recent victim of torture and execution. In this essay, while engaging with Amy Hollywood's interpretation of Bataille in Sensible Ecstasy, I show that, unlike the Christian mystics who influence him, Bataille strives to divorce himself from (...) any moral authority external to the ecstatic episode itself. I argue that in his attempt to remove external authority he abandons the only resources that could possibly protect his mystical contemplation from engendering sadistic attitudes. (shrink)
The paper continues the model I began in a previous issue of Sophia . It is argued that the predominance of purely ascending or ‘top down’ forms of spirituality which stemmed largely from the axial period and have been carried forward into modern, transpersonal theories of evolutionary spirituality is a mistake and that there exists a lost or largely ignored form of spirituality—which I name somatic—which was the predominant domain of early Neolithic and Palaeolithic experience. Aspects of what I call (...) somatic mystical experiences have certainly been acknowledged at times to a limited degree, though they have rarely been fully explored, and have usually been considered as basic to other kinds of mystical experience, rather than fully developed forms in their own right. This article offers a fuller exploration and places such states more accurately within a detailed developmental framework than has previously been the case. Other issues relating to the horizon model across the two papers are also expanded. (shrink)
This paper deals with the interrelation between mystique and prophecy in the Christian spirituality. It intends to face dualisms, observed in the past and also in the current Christianity, between these terms. It presents Saint Teresa of Avila’s testimony as a way for overcoming the dichotomy between mystique and prophecy by means of a procedural integration. The foundation for the needed relation between the terms concerned is the existence of Jesus of Nazareth itself, which may be regarded as prophetic-mystic. It (...) means that there’s an interrelation between prayer and action, contemplation and mission. However, the modern and postmodern subject has difficulties in this integration, such as letting himself be transformed by prayer, overcoming the tendency to control and effectiveness. Saint Teresa of Jesus, in this context, is a testimony to mystique and prophecy, mediated by a discretion which goes through daily perceptions. The book Foundations contributes to illustrate this discretion. Keywords : Mystique. Prophecy. Discretion. Saint Teresa of Jesus. Resumo Este artigo trata da inter-relação entre mística e profecia na espiritualidade cristã. Pretende enfrentar dualismos, observados no passado e também no presente do cristianismo, entre esses termos. Apresenta o testemunho de Santa Teresa de Ávila como caminho de superação da dicotomia entre mística e profecia através de uma integração processual. O fundamento da necessária relação entre os termos em questão é a própria existência de Jesus de Nazaré, que pode ser considerada profético-mística. Isso significa que há uma inter-relação entre oração e ação, contemplação e missão. No entanto, o sujeito moderno e pós-moderno apresenta dificuldades nessa integração, como o deixar-se transformar pela oração, superando a tendência ao controle e à eficácia. Santa Teresa de Jesus, nesse contexto, é testemunho de mística e profecia, mediadas por um discernimento que passa por percepções cotidianas. O livro Fundações contribui para ilustrar esse discernimento. Palavras-chave : Mística. Profecia. Discernimento. Santa Teresa de Jesus. (shrink)
After a quarter of a century in print, Capra's groundbreaking work still challenges and inspires. This updated edition of The Tao of Physics includes a new preface and afterword in which the author reviews the developments of the twenty-five years since the book's first publication, discusses criticisms the book has received, and examines future possibilities for a new scientific world.
Sufism - spiritual practice, intellectual discipline, literary tradition, and social institutionhas played an integral role in the moral formation of Muslim society. Its aspiration toward a universal kindness to all creatures beyond the requirements of Islamic law has added a distinctly hypernomian dimension to the moral vision of Islam, as evidenced in a wide range of Sufi literature. The universal perspective of Sufism, fully rooted in Islamic revelation, yields a lived (and not just studied) ethics with the potential to view (...) and embrace all creatures through a single ethical vision, regardless of religious or other affiliation. This side of Islam, both acknowledging and surpassing the outlook of the legal heritage, offers important insight into understanding the nature of Muslim society as both Islamic and metaIslamic in religious orientation. Sufism, still significant in today's Islamic world, thus offers important material for locating Islam as part of an international order with principles and standards that resonate deeply with the moral vision of Islam itself. (shrink)
Introduction : the middle is everywhere -- Towards an ideal limit : linguistic authority in the work of Iris Murdoch -- From apophasis to aporia : William Golding and the indescribable -- Verbal sludge : the ethics of instability in Patrick White's prose -- Bliss from bricks : Saul Bellow's moral phenomenology -- Conclusion: drawing circles in the sea : un-defining the 'mystical novelist' -- Endnotes.