What is Mysticism?

What is Mysticism?
stars(from Mystic Path to Cosmic Power by Vernon Howard)

We want to settle for an accurate definition of mysticism. As used and abused as the term is, we must clarify our thinking for the purposes of our study. We can state our definition in several different ways, realizing that they all describe the same essential thing. Mysticism is: a. An advanced state of inner enlightenment. b. Union with Reality c. A state of genuinely satisfying success. d. Insight into an entirely new world of living. e. An intuitive grasp of Truth, above and beyond intellectual reasoning. f. A personal experience, in which we are happy and healthy human beings.

This describes genuine mysticism. Pseudo-mysticism seeks to evade reality; authentic mysticism wants to live it. Because it is real, it ultimately bears the fruits of love, understanding, and compassion within the individual. It has nothing to do with counterfeit claims resulting in individual turmoil and worldwide calamity. Fraudulent mysticism gives rise to self-deception, neurosis, unhealthy emotionalism. Our concern is with intelligence, normalcy, wholesomeness.

The authentic mystic is the sanest of sane men. Alfred Tennyson credits him with “absolute clearness of mind.”

The Mystic Path is bright with cheer. Even if something goes wrong, the mystic-man remains peaceful. He is like a perched bird who feels the branch give way. Why worry?  He has wings!

Is it philosophical, or psychological, or religious? It is all and none, for these are only verbal descriptions. It makes no difference what you label it, or whether you label it or not. Reality is beyond words. You can think of the Mystic Path as a spiritual journey, or as a practical experiment, or simply, as a means for a rich and purposeful life.

Some of the teachers and systems mentioned in this book represent the religious approach, such as Meister Eckhart and the New Testament. On the other hand, a Zen master instructs, “Stop wasting your time with theological speculations. Forget the fancy phrases that are supposed to indicate spirituality—whatever that word means. Get down to business with yourself. Find out why your life is such a mess and clear it away. Stop fooling around; get to the point.”


Inner Life Exercise
(from Vernon Howard’s Practical Exercises for Inner Harmony)


Start your day in an upward direction and the rest of the day will follow the uphill path.  Here are three methods:

A.  When you begin to awaken do not let yourself fall back into another minute or two of sleep.  Do the opposite.  Stay awake and deliberately force yourself out of bed.   This will give you a mild but healthy jolt.

B.  As you slide out of bed be conscious of the exact moment when your foot touches the floor.  Feel the weight of your foot against the rug.  This is an interesting experience that will help keep you conscious of other small daily events.

C.  As you walk away from the bed, notice everything possible about yourself.  Notice that you might feel drowsy or depressed or uncertain.  Then actually shake your head as an act of shaking the sleepinss from your life.

These methods instruct body and mind and emotions to wake up spiritually.  They make your whole nature conscious.  And conscious action is true power.

If it seems difficult to work against your usual habits, remember this spiritual law:  Do things the easy way and you perpetuate the hard life.  But do things the hard way and you finally come to the easy life.


One kind of enthusiasm that will always be rewarded is enthusiasm toward Higher living.