Mysticism is a pathway towards the realization of the Supreme. The collection of essays in the volume “Facets of Mysticism” falls in this line of thought. The essays explore different aspects of Mysticism. They delve into mystic expressed in scriptures viz; Vedas, Upanisads, Tantra texts, Puranas, Yogavasistha, etc. This volume incorporates Mysticism in Saiva, Vaisnava, Dattatreya traditions, saintly tradition represented through Alvars, Kabir, Dnyanesvara, Basavesvara, Sufi saints as well as modern mystics like Aurobindo and Gurudev Ranade. Mystic thought is expressed without any religious barriers. This volume examines Mysticism in Indic religious as well as in Christianity and Islam.
About the Author
Dr. Madhavi R. Narsalay is the Assistant Proffessor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai. She has designed the Post-graduate Diploma Course in Mysticism of two levels. She specializes in Veda, Vedanta and Puranas. She has published one book and more than thirty research papers in National and Internationals Journals and Seminar Proceedings. She has been felicitated with the Performance-based incentive Award of the University of Mumbai and Samudramanthan and Maharashtra Maritime Board for her Maharashtra Maritime Board for her contribution towards betterment of the society.
Mysticism is an attempt to transcend the sense-world, so that the Self may experience communion with the divine. It represents the transcendental consciousness of humanity. Pure mysticism and no mystic can be other than religious in psychological if not in the theological sense of the word.
It implies indeed the abolition of individuality; of that hard separateness that I, Me, Mine which makes of men a finite isolated thing. The individual transcend the limitations of individuality and surrender itself to Ultimate a Real essentially a movement of the heart of the heart, seeking to transcend the limitations of the individual standpoints and to surrender itself to Ultimate reality; for no personal gaine, to Satisfy no transcedental curiosity, for no personal gain, to satisfy trans no transcendental curisosity, to obtain no other-worldly joys , but pure an instinct of love.
Then hints of a marvelous truth, a unity whose note is ineffable peace, shine in created thing; awakening in the Self a sentiment of love, adoration and awe. It is enhanced, the barrier of personality is broken. A person then escapes the sense-world, ascends to the apex of his spirit and enters for a brief period into the more extended life of the All.
This finds place in Arts: poignant emotions, half torment, half joy, they baffle interpreters. Painting as well as music and poetry exist and exult in immortal thoughts. That life enhancing power which has been recognized as the supreme quality of painting, has its origin in this contact of the artistic mind with the archetypal or transcendental world.
Definition of Mysticism:
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Mysticism as ‘a religious practice based on the belief that knowledge of spiritual truth can be gained by praying or thinking deeply.
Full Definition of mysticism 1. the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality reported by mystics
2. the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or Ultimate Reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)
3. a. vague speculation: a belief without sound basis
b. A theory postulating the possibility of direct and intuitive acquisition of ineffable knowledge or power
Douglas Shrader mentions the ‘American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language for defining Mysticism
1. a. A spiritual discipline aiming at union with the divine through deep meditation or trancelike contemplation.
b. The expression of such communion, as described by mystics. An interesting alternate, is it not, given the supposed ineffability of such experiences?
2. Any belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.
3. Confused and groundless speculation; superstious self-delusion.
Meaning #2 is less committal as regards experience, but more so as regards conceptual consent: “any belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.” And, lest we forget, the following usage is sufficiently widespread to warrant inclusion in the dictionary as meaning #3: “confused and groundless speculation; superstitious self-delusion.”
The etymology of the term “mysticism,” which parallels that of ‘mystery,” illustrates the historical centrality of James’ second characteristic: notice quality. The term “mysticism” comes from the Latin mysterium, which in turn comes from a Greek term meaning “secret rites” (musterion). That term comes from muein, to intiate to close the eyes or lips, hence to keep secret (as in religious initiation). Etymologically speaking, a mystic is a person who has been initiated into secret rites (Latin mysticus, from Greek mustikos, from mustes).
According to William James, it is not possible to define Mysticism in clear-cut terms. It is not phase of throught, or rather perhaps of feeling, which from its very nature is hardly susceptible of exact definition. Mysticism is a combination of both; theory and practice. When we theorise mysticism, it stands for scientific and rational investigation. In experiencing the Divine. As James called it ‘a heart-religion’, he laid down four marks or characteristics of mystic experience a) Ineffability b) Notice quality, which means knowledgefulness, c) Transiency and d) Passivity.
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