Mystery and mysticism

Earlier I wrote about spirituality and gnosis. A subject that certainly belongs to that is mystery. The word comes from Greek and means secretive. The word is used for many things and can then have slightly different meanings. The broadest description is:

Something, a phenomenon, an event you don't understand.

It is used for unexplained and enigmatic things, hidden things and secrets. That mystical can be both something in nature and something created or experienced by humans. The derived word mysticism is mainly used for matters relating to faith. These are things that are incomprehensible to the human mind, supernatural, which are considered truths and constitute an article of faith.

Let's go back to the more general meaning. With the growth of scientific knowledge, many things that were previously considered mysteries have become scientifically explainable. In some cases, science can only explain part of a phenomenon. For example, one knows how something works but not why or what causes it. You can see that a lot in medical science, for example. The combination of science and religion or belief often collides with this, such as Creation Theory versus Evolution Theory.

The mystery is more attractive to many people than the cool scientific explanation. Crop circles, strange objects coming out of the air traps, unexplained archaeological finds, aliens, UFOs, large human-apesque creatures such as the Yeti and the Bigfoot continue to occupy man. The sudden disappearance of whole cultures and groups of animals is still a mystery.

As far as the human being is concerned, there are also many things that we have not (yet) been able to explain. Where do we come from, what is our destiny on earth, is there life after death, what is the soul, how do our brains work? These questions and the answers to them are an important part of many religions. Within a religion it can be “knowledge” that can be acquired by anyone or “knowledge” that is available or can only be acquired for a small group. Knowledge in quotation marks, because this is not a question of scientifically proving facts.

Mysticism and the mystical experience. There are two types of mystical experience, the natural and the religious. The natural mysterious experience, such as feeling one with nature, does not directly have to do with religion but is often felt by religious people as one with creation and the Creator. This is often a passive event. You're not looking for it, it happens to you.

The religious mystical experience is usually a more active evoked experience. The experience is evoked by prayer, meditation, mind-expanding means, contemplation, abstinence and other techniques. Means to come into contact and/or unite with the divine or the supernatural, the superterrestrial. In the Christian religion it is often a direct contact with God, Jesus or Mary. In addition, there are mysteries such as the Marian apparitions, bleeding or crying statues, the Shroud of Turin, etc. In other religions it is a kind of staircase to an ever higher stages of knowledge. In the article on gnosis we have already read that the gnostics believe that the path to mystical knowledge is essentially already present in man. Such a conviction is also found in the Hare Krishna movement, for example.

Within the Christian religion there is some double attitude towards religious mystical experiences where one can say that mystical experiences that endorse the doctrine of the church are accepted, the people who had the experiences were canonized and the phenomenon recognized miracle was exalted, whereas what did not fit in the doctrine was considered heretics, and was fought against fire and sword. A large part of the Catholic mystics were monastic inhabitants. Among them were many women such as Hildegard of Bingen, Theresa of Avila, Theresa of Lisieux and Elisabeth of the Trinity. All canonized by the Catholic Church. Female mystics are generally considered to be the first female writers. Some of these women sought spiritual and physical unification with Christ, Bride of Christ, which often resulted in sensual texts. A phenomenon that, by the way, can be found in various mystics from the eastern traditions.

Mystical experiences can also happen to “ordinary” people who are sometimes completely overtaken by it. These experiences are often difficult to describe, not to put into words. Often they retreat, do not talk about it. If they do, they are often thrown away as crazy, attentive, religious or imaginative. Still others try to turn their experiences into images or music. In painting, certain periods can be identified in which the depiction of mystical experiences or phenomena was in the ode.

This article is again verrre of complete because it is a subject with so many different facets and certainly also a topic that everyone looks at in their own way.

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