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Magyar

Is There Any Value To Mysticism

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In every major religious movement, runs a trend towards so-called mysticism. Ecstatic movements and some forms of monasticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Kaballah in Judaism, etc.

Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism? Or should it all, like seances and ouija boards, be left alone as utterly incompatible with our faith?

I ask because my personal study of history and literature has now brought me to the Middle Ages, when Christian mysticism was all the rage, and I would like to understand its foundations. I read 30 pages of Dionysus the Areopagite's "The Divine Names" today and understood virtually nothing of it -- it seemed as bizzare and contradictory as the Tao philosophy of China. Clearly, some mental effort will be required to gain even a basic understanding. Is it worth it?

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In every major religious movement, runs a trend towards so-called mysticism. Ecstatic movements and some forms of monasticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Kaballah in Judaism, etc.

Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism? Or should it all, like seances and ouija boards, be left alone as utterly incompatible with our faith?

I ask because my personal study of history and literature has now brought me to the Middle Ages, when Christian mysticism was all the rage, and I would like to understand its foundations. I read 30 pages of Dionysus the Areopagite's "The Divine Names" today and understood virtually nothing of it -- it seemed as bizzare and contradictory as the Tao philosophy of China. Clearly, some mental effort will be required to gain even a basic understanding. Is it worth it?

I see no correlation between Ouija boards or séances and Christian monasticism. The Eastern Orthodox seems to have a more of a mystical influence than in the West, but the West has more than its fair share. I recently read a book on the Way of the Pilgrim translated by French. I was motivated to read it because I find there is value in pilgrimage and I am trying to learn about how it was done in the past. This particular book not only talked on pilgrimage, but on the Jesus Prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner", which is used as a constant form of prayer. Personally, I stumble on prayers that are not directed to God the Father, however, there is still something intriguing about a prayer that is repeated constantly throughout the day. I am not advocating trite phrases for prayers, but this is one book that I would recommend. If anyone reads it I would enjoy discussing it.

Now that I have gone around my elbow to get to my thumb; murmuringng spirits hold no value to the LDS and should be strongly shunned. Take the advice of Joseph Smith about the Apocrypha, follow the spirit for the nuggets of truth.

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Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism?

Yes, there is a lot that can be learned, such as symbolism in all sorts of things

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In every major religious movement, runs a trend towards so-called mysticism. Ecstatic movements and some forms of monasticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Kaballah in Judaism, etc.

Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism? Or should it all, like seances and ouija boards, be left alone as utterly incompatible with our faith?

I ask because my personal study of history and literature has now brought me to the Middle Ages, when Christian mysticism was all the rage, and I would like to understand its foundations. I read 30 pages of Dionysus the Areopagite's "The Divine Names" today and understood virtually nothing of it -- it seemed as bizzare and contradictory as the Tao philosophy of China. Clearly, some mental effort will be required to gain even a basic understanding. Is it worth it?

The best way to answer that question for yourself is to study the writings of famous mystics.

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In every major religious movement, runs a trend towards so-called mysticism. Ecstatic movements and some forms of monasticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Kaballah in Judaism, etc.

Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism? Or should it all, like seances and ouija boards, be left alone as utterly incompatible with our faith?

I ask because my personal study of history and literature has now brought me to the Middle Ages, when Christian mysticism was all the rage, and I would like to understand its foundations. I read 30 pages of Dionysus the Areopagite's "The Divine Names" today and understood virtually nothing of it -- it seemed as bizzare and contradictory as the Tao philosophy of China. Clearly, some mental effort will be required to gain even a basic understanding. Is it worth it?

The first essay on Mysticism I read was Nibley's chapter "Prophets and Mystics" in The World and the Prophets. It's interesting but takes a dim view of mysticism. I've read several others since then, and my favorite remains Mark Koltko's Sunstone Essay here (one of my all time favorite Sunstone essays):

https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/070-13-19.pdf

When I was at San Jose State, for an American Literature class, I wrote a long comparison of Joseph Smith and Ralph Waldo Emerson, comparing, among other things, Joseph's experiences with Emerson's mysticism.

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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You may find this video, from our good brother, Kerry Shirts, of value.

If you want to know more, Volgadon knows a great deal about this kind of mysticism. I know a little about some other systems.

Yours under the magical oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Yes, definitely, there is value to Mysticism!

Jesus, & Joseph Smith were both Mystics... "A person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect."

As mentioned, symbolic meaning is enhanced through Mysticism. The scriptures take on more exciting meaning, when one contemplates & believes spiritual truths beyond the intellect & superficial literalness.

In Psychology Erikson described stages of development.

Similarly, Jim Marion (former Catholic monk, mystic & attorney) described stages of spiritual development in "Putting on the Mind of Christ."

He explained how all growth in consciousness is a death to the old way of looking at the world & a simultaneous rebirth into new perspective (thus being born again & again).

I'll summarize what I've gathered (admitting I have more to learn)...

1. Archaic Consciousness of Infants...

A child needs to learn emotional boundaries otherwise co-dependency or narcissim.

2. The Magical Consciousness of Children...

At this stage a person is unable to distinguish between the contents of its mind & those of the external world.

3. Mythic Consciousness-Pre-Adolescence...

A time of conformity... Mom & Dad represent God & can do no wrong.

Adults at this stage see their religious rules & beliefs as the only way & want to convert the whole world. (Religious wars are based on this mental level.)

4. Rational Consciousness...

Starting to analyze & even criticize conventional rules of society, including religion.

They begin to find rationality within - through both intellect & faith & less on external rote.

5. Vision-Logic Consciousness (Highest of the mental levels)...

Ability to think abstractly & from many different perspectives.

It can be a difficult time trying to find meaning.

6. Psychic Consciousness... (Healing, laying on of hands)

Being in tune with the "still small voice within" (Pray always) & also being in tune with others' energy (as Jesus was).

Power can be used for good or bad.

7. The Dark Night of the Soul & Senses

Infusion of energies from the higher self - time of pain & healing.

All feelings buried, resurface to be dealt with so we are more pure & compassionate & less judgemental since we realize we all have "issues."

8. Christ Consciousness

True compassion & free from neurotic projections & emotional addictions, so with a purer heart, we love better.

9. Nondual Consciousness - Kingdom of Heaven

All humans realize nondual & truly loving consciousness, creating heaven on earth.

Edited by HeatherAnn

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This is a pretty good description of Dionysius' "The Divine Names."

Dionysius’s arguments are paradoxical, luxuriously thick, labyrinthine.

And so is his language, with its incantatory rhythm, meandering syntax, and profusion of rare words and neologisms in which it is so easy to lose your way. That difficulty is, I believe, deliberate, and very much part of the theological project of the corpus.

The reader’s effort to understand the text is meant to approximate the experience of being in God’s presence, and it aims to cultivate a particular state of mind: not only receptivity, but also responsiveness—by deed as well as words—to a divinity beyond being, beyond language and comprehension.

It should not surprise us, therefore, that almost every generation of Christian thinkers has felt compelled to revisit Dionysius and find new treasures of meaning and insight in his works.

This is from "All the Names of the Lord : lists, mysticism, and magic" by Valentina Izmirlieva.

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Where mystics go wrong is assuming that THEIR mysticism is for anyone but themselves. Preaching or promoting an individual's mystical/spiritual experiences is entertaining but in no way binding on anyone but the recipient. Imho, the only "doctrine" that makes sense is that received by the individual. Masses of people can adhere to organized religions for the "common good" that they do. But to be bound by their dogma is surely counter to free will. Rules applying to everyone, that are based on control and tradition, are the stuff that drive mystics to seek "a better way" in the first place: they cannot abide limited learning through conformance. So mysticism is both liberating and dangerous; one can get waylaid by enthusiasm and a subconscious agenda (conscious agendas do not allow excuses for misbehaving; subconscious agendas are driven by temptation to give into weakness)....

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Hmm, some great food for thought here. I guess my concern was that the God of mysticism seems to be a Supreme nothing, utterly unknowable, beyond feeling, beyond sense, beyond comprehension, completely alien to the LDS perception. Could there be any value to reading writings which try to teach this concept? You have all convinced me that I will find elements of edification in studies of mysticism even if my perception of God is something different.

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Mysticism is the real meat of religion, IMO. It can lead to a very deep experience of God. Makes all of the rest seem very superficial.

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Love listening to Kerry!

I have been enjoying the Kabbalah for many years. And I have received MANY confirmations from Heavenly Father that my efforts to learn and absorb much of it are approved by Him. YMMV.

HiJolly

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A great little book is Joseph Dan's anthology "The Heart and the Fountain." Brief, useful overview of Jewish mysticism, and then a beautiful selection of texts, running from Talmudic times down to the 1970s. Best of all, it can be found for fairly cheap at amazon.

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Mysticism is like Harry Potter, its nice as long as you don't take it too seriously or to the detriment of other more important things.

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Unquestionably mysticism has its place in LDS worship.

The temple is totally devoted to symbolic learning- which really is mysticism. Mystical experiences are called "revelations" and after all, we are encouraged to receive testimonies. I can't see how one can separate mysticism from the Mormon experience.

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I definitely see a value in mysticism. I'm both a Freemason (blue lodge, york, and scottish rite) and Rosicrucian (AMORC), though I've only been one for the last two years. Not only has it helped me be more spiritual, but it has increased my testimony in the church, especially the temple. Many points of our doctrine make more sense to me now. I don't see any conflict between the two either. The mystical teachings I've received have strengthened me spiritually and have helped me learn more than I could have ever imagined.

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Unquestionably mysticism has its place in LDS worship.

The temple is totally devoted to symbolic learning- which really is mysticism. Mystical experiences are called "revelations" and after all, we are encouraged to receive testimonies. I can't see how one can separate mysticism from the Mormon experience.

Exactly. Mysticism is about direct relevation and communication with God. True religion cannot exist without the mystic.

mysticism n. Immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality or God. The experience of such communion as described by mystics.

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Hmm, some great food for thought here. I guess my concern was that the God of mysticism seems to be a Supreme nothing, utterly unknowable, beyond feeling, beyond sense, beyond comprehension, completely alien to the LDS perception. Could there be any value to reading writings which try to teach this concept? You have all convinced me that I will find elements of edification in studies of mysticism even if my perception of God is something different.

Totally worth it, Magyar, IMO.

I have come to realize that the LDS view of God is primarily that of the Manifest God within the created/formed Universe. There is more to Him(& Her) than this, but as Mormons we don't emphasize that, with brief exceptions in D&C 88 and 93 and a bit more here & there.

The reason for this is beautiful and useful for us in the world as we are. As we need it to be.

HiJolly

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....In Psychology Erikson described stages of development.

Similarly, Jim Marion (former Catholic monk, mystic & attorney) described stages of spiritual development in "Putting on the Mind of Christ."

He explained how all growth in consciousness is a death to the old way of looking at the world & a simultaneous rebirth into new perspective (thus being born again & again).

I'll summarize what I've gathered (admitting I have more to learn)...

1. Archaic Consciousness of Infants...

A child needs to learn emotional boundaries otherwise co-dependency or narcissim.

2. The Magical Consciousness of Children...

At this stage a person is unable to distinguish between the contents of its mind & those of the external world.

3. Mythic Consciousness-Pre-Adolescence...

A time of conformity... Mom & Dad represent God & can do no wrong.

Adults at this stage see their religious rules & beliefs as the only way & want to convert the whole world. (Religious wars are based on this mental level.)

4. Rational Consciousness...

Starting to analyze & even criticize conventional rules of society, including religion.

They begin to find rationality within - through both intellect & faith & less on external rote.

5. Vision-Logic Consciousness (Highest of the mental levels)...

Ability to think abstractly & from many different perspectives.

It can be a difficult time trying to find meaning.

6. Psychic Consciousness... (Healing, laying on of hands)

Being in tune with the "still small voice within" (Pray always) & also being in tune with others' energy (as Jesus was).

Power can be used for good or bad.

7. The Dark Night of the Soul & Senses

Infusion of energies from the higher self - time of pain & healing.

All feelings buried, resurface to be dealt with so we are more pure & compassionate & less judgemental since we realize we all have "issues."

8. Christ Consciousness

True compassion & free from neurotic projections & emotional addictions, so with a purer heart, we love better.

9. Nondual Consciousness - Kingdom of Heaven

All humans realize nondual & truly loving consciousness, creating heaven on earth.

And of course these become perfect examples of the "redefinition" we are/have been discussing!

Psychology can only see God as the "Higher Self" which oddly is very appropriate when discussing the Father within us, especially when we understand the basic humanity of God.

Our critics who are Scientistic Fundamentalists will be stuck on "Yes but which is REAL- God or the Higher Self?? Are you talking about something REAL or not?"

Of course we understand that even asking the question is ill-founded confused, much like my favorite example 'What color is virtue?'

Just framing the question presents a false dichotomy which then might lead folks who have not thought about it much down the wrong road, thinking that maybe virtue really does have a color, or that if you can't see him God might not be "real".

Another danger I think is that those who are scriptural fundamentalists- Mormon or otherwise- might not understand that attacking those of us who see these things differently than they do might actually drive us farther from what they see as "true" and is not helpful.

We all need to be willing to work with what light others have and help it grow rather than extinguishing it with a solemn declaration that the others are "wrong" because their perspective is a little different than ours. Some of us are in the valley looking up at the climbers above, and some of us are climbers looking into the valley, but we are all aware of the same mountain.

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In every major religious movement, runs a trend towards so-called mysticism. Ecstatic movements and some forms of monasticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Kaballah in Judaism, etc.

Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism? Or should it all, like seances and ouija boards, be left alone as utterly incompatible with our faith?

I ask because my personal study of history and literature has now brought me to the Middle Ages, when Christian mysticism was all the rage, and I would like to understand its foundations. I read 30 pages of Dionysus the Areopagite's "The Divine Names" today and understood virtually nothing of it -- it seemed as bizzare and contradictory as the Tao philosophy of China. Clearly, some mental effort will be required to gain even a basic understanding. Is it worth it?

I just re-read your OP and see that I might have not fully understood your question.

I have studied Taoism and you might not understand that the object of many of their writings is to understand what we Mormons call "opposition in all things"- that cold implies hot, love implies hate, etc- ie that to measure one extreme, one must understand it's opposite just as well. You don't know how much you miss something until you don't have it anymore. Go out in the wilderness and live without radio cell phones games or the internet for a while and you will understand if you don't already! So the absence of the thing helps you see it better. They might say that "nothingness helps you see what is" or some such statement which really is just saying something like what I said about cell phones- yet of course that kind of statement may sound "bizarre and contradictory" if you aren't familiar with speaking that way.

Also, the objective in some cases, is to strip the mind of rationality and see a meaning beyond words- to get into wordless, pure experience where you are not trying to make "sense" of anything, but simply have your mind open to the chaos of undefined experience.

That is the basis of mysticism and meditation, and honestly, it is worth trying to see that. So what may appear to be "bizarre and contradictory" is definitely worth studying, precisely because it will get your mind out of continuous verbal, logical thought patterns, and leave you more open to the Spirit, who can often communicate with us wordlessly- through pictures and just raw ideas flooding our minds.

If our minds are continuously occupied with other "stuff" we might not perceive those subtle impressions; by being still and listening we open ourselves up to allow God to fill the void.

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In every major religious movement, runs a trend towards so-called mysticism. Ecstatic movements and some forms of monasticism in Christianity, Sufism in Islam, Kaballah in Judaism, etc.

Can a Latter-day Saint gain any insight, learn any truth, from mysticism? Or should it all, like seances and ouija boards, be left alone as utterly incompatible with our faith?

I ask because my personal study of history and literature has now brought me to the Middle Ages, when Christian mysticism was all the rage, and I would like to understand its foundations. I read 30 pages of Dionysus the Areopagite's "The Divine Names" today and understood virtually nothing of it -- it seemed as bizzare and contradictory as the Tao philosophy of China. Clearly, some mental effort will be required to gain even a basic understanding. Is it worth it?

Of course, Joseph Smith was a classic ecstatic mystic.

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And of course these become perfect examples of the "redefinition" we are/have been discussing!

Psychology can only see God as the "Higher Self" which oddly is very appropriate when discussing the Father within us, especially when we understand the basic humanity of God.

Our critics who are Scientistic Fundamentalists will be stuck on "Yes but which is REAL- God or the Higher Self?? Are you talking about something REAL or not?"

Of course we understand that even asking the question is ill-founded confused, much like my favorite example 'What color is virtue?'

Just framing the question presents a false dichotomy which then might lead folks who have not thought about it much down the wrong road, thinking that maybe virtue really does have a color, or that if you can't see him God might not be "real".

Another danger I think is that those who are scriptural fundamentalists- Mormon or otherwise- might not understand that attacking those of us who see these things differently than they do might actually drive us farther from what they see as "true" and is not helpful.

We all need to be willing to work with what light others have and help it grow rather than extinguishing it with a solemn declaration that the others are "wrong" because their perspective is a little different than ours. Some of us are in the valley looking up at the climbers above, and some of us are climbers looking into the valley, but we are all aware of the same mountain.

Thanks for your insightful & encouraging thoughts. I like the analogy of the mountain.

There are many angles you can look at anything. Mysticism seems to attempt to see it from a more spiritual perspective.

What is real, depends on your idea of reality. Some say, we & all objects, if magnified enough, show to be mostly space.

Maybe at some point science & spirituality connect... maybe with the 95% of black (invisible) energy & matter that permeates everything... acounting for all the "space."

Reality is too encompasing to be 100% aware... from the trillions of microbes within us... to the infinity of space.

I realize that tradition is influential... for us all.

Sometimes, I get so annoyed when some take things literally instead of spiritually, yet I did that too not long ago.

And besides, what matters is the consequence of it all... "by their fruits (or nuts, lol) ye shall know them."

Lately I keep thinking about the commandment to love others AS we love ourselves. I've always known we're commanded to love others, but only recently did I realize we are also commanded to love ourselves. Not in selfish way - but in a loving - doing what's best for one - kind of way. Mysticism applies spiritual messages within... so we can heal, in body, mind & spirit... & then we can help others heal too.

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Thanks for your insightful & encouraging thoughts. I like the analogy of the mountain.

There are many angles you can look at anything. Mysticism seems to attempt to see it from a more spiritual perspective.

What is real, depends on your idea of reality. Some say, we & all objects, if magnified enough, show to be mostly space.

Maybe at some point science & spirituality connect... maybe with the 95% of black (invisible) energy & matter that permeates everything... acounting for all the "space."

Reality is too encompasing to be 100% aware... from the trillions of microbes within us... to the infinity of space.

I realize that tradition is influential... for us all.

Sometimes, I get so annoyed when some take things literally instead of spiritually, yet I did that too not long ago.

And besides, what matters is the consequence of it all... "by their fruits (or nuts, lol) ye shall know them."

Lately I keep thinking about the commandment to love others AS we love ourselves. I've always known we're commanded to love others, but only recently did I realize we are also commanded to love ourselves. Not in selfish way - but in a loving - doing what's best for one - kind of way. Mysticism applies spiritual messages within... so we can heal, in body, mind & spirit... & then we can help others heal too.

:good:

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