Here is an excerpt from Mysticism
"There are three main types of experience which appear again and again in the history of mysticism; nearly always in connection with illumination,
rather than any other phase of mystical development. I think that they may fairly be regarded as its main characteristics, though the discussion of
them cannot cover all the ground. In few forms of spiritual life is the spontaneity of the individual so clearly seen as here: and in few is the
ever-deadly process of classification attended with so many risks.
These three characteristics are:—
1. A joyous apprehension of the Absolute: that which many ascetic writers call “the practice of the Presence of God.” This, however, is not to be
confused with that unique consciousness of union with the divine which is peculiar to a later stage of mystical development. The self, though
purified, still realizes itself as a separate entity over against God. It is not immersed in its Origin, but contemplates it. This is the
“betrothal” rather than the “marriage” of the soul.
2. This clarity of vision may also be enjoyed in regard to the phenomenal world. The actual physical perceptions seem to be strangely heightened, so
that the self perceives an added significance and reality in all natural things: is often convinced that it knows at last “the secret of the
world.” In Blake’s words “the doors of perception are cleansed” so that “everything appears to man as it is , infinite.” 491
In these two forms of perception we see the growing consciousness of the mystic stretching in two directions, until it includes in its span both the
World of Being and the World of Becoming; 492 that dual apprehension of reality as transcendent yet immanent which we found to be one of the
distinguishing marks of the mystic type.
3. Along with this two-fold extension of consciousness, the energy of the intuitional or transcendental self may be enormously increased. The psychic
upheavals of the Purgative Way have tended to make it central for life: to eliminate from the character all those elements which checked its activity.
Now it seizes upon p. 241 the ordinary channels of expression; and may show itself in such forms as (a) auditions, (b) dialogues between the surface
consciousness and another intelligence which purports to be divine, (c) visions, and sometimes (d) in automatic writings. In many selves this
automatic activity of those growing but still largely subconscious powers which constitute the “New Man,” increases steadily during the whole of
the mystic life.
Illumination, then, tends to appear mainly under one or all of these three forms. Often all are present; though, as a rule, one is dominant. The
balance of characteristics will be conditioned in each case by the self’s psychic make-up; its temperamental leaning towards “pure
contemplation,” “lucid vision,” or automatic expression; emanation or immanence, the metaphysical, artistic, or intimate aspects of truth. The
possible combinations between these various factors are as innumerable as the possible creations of Life itself.
In the wonderful rhapsodies of St. Augustine, in St. Bernard’s converse with the Word, in Angela of Foligno’s apprehensions of Deity, in Richard
Rolle’s “state of song,” when “sweetest heavenly melody he took, with him dwelling in mind,” or in Brother Lawrence’s “practice of the
Presence of God,” we may see varied expressions of the first type of illuminated consciousness. Jacob Boehme is rightly looked upon as a classic
example of the second; which is also found in one of its most attractive forms in St. Francis of Assisi. Suso and St. Teresa, perhaps, may stand for
the third, since in them the visionary and auditory phenomena were peculiarly well marked. A further study of each characteristic in order, will help
us to disentangle the many threads which go to the psychical make-up of these great and complex mystic types. The rest of this chapter will, then, be
given to the analysis of the two chief forms of illuminated consciousness: the self’s perception of Reality in the eternal and temporal worlds. The
important subject of voices and visions demands a division to itself."
edit on 20-9-2011 by Student X because: (no reason given)