In my view, no list of Universalist mystics would be complete without George De Benneville (1703-1793). Plotinus (c. 205 – 270 AD) provided the non-Christian, neo-Platonic basis for much Christian, Jewish and Islamic mysticism. The great contemporary Universalist theologian, John Hick… notes that he too has had mystical experiences that convinced him, “we know the Transcendent Holy Presence to be profoundly good to exist and in which the unknown future holds no possible threat.”. For instance, Richard Rolle heard heavenly music and felt a fire in his chest. Then after the fraction of a second — I became myself again, still standing beside the open drawer putting knives and forks away. The Eastern Christian tradition speaks of this transformation in terms of theosis or divinization, perhaps best summed up by an ancient aphorism usually attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria: "God became human so that man might become god. Ten years later, Hardy published a book based on the first 3,000 responses he had received to this question. Mysticism, the practice of religious ecstasies (religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness), together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be … I was enveloped in golden light, I was conscious of a presence, so kind, so loving, so bright, so consoling, so commanding, existing apart from me but so close. Even the most active reformers can be linked to Medieval mystical traditions. By Russell Heimlich. The following mystical experience occurred to her in 1923 at the age of 48 years and is at the time of her centering on Christianity. On this topic, almost 40% of Americans report contact with the dead, according to the National Opinion Research Center. Biblical Christianity focuses on knowing God through His Word (the Bible) and communion with the Holy Spirit through prayer. In Chapter 22 of her book, The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It, she relates two mystical religious experiences of Universalism. This dark night of the soul is not, in Underhill's conception, the Divine Darkness of the pseudo-Dionysius and German Christian mysticism. My second mystical experience occurred during my mid-forties while teaching at the University of Houston: “I was at a football game in the Astrodome, waiting in the concession line. Bernard McGinn defines Christian mysticism as: [T]hat part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of [...] a direct and transformative presence of God. In Christian mysticism, the knowledge of God may be informed by the Bible, but there are other means of knowing Him, too. The most famous example of occult practices is found in the Book of 1st Samuel (I Sam 28:3-16) in which King Saul asks the medium of Endor to perform necromancy and conger up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel in order to foresee the outcome of the next day’s battle. In this chapter, I hope to offer some personal and social science evidence which will help to expand the understanding of this phenomenon. For Christians, Jesus is the one who most perfectly became One with God (Jn 10:30). Such experiences often include visions of angels or a sense of oneness with the absolute.
Prof. Hay notes that studies on mysticism and mental health refute Sigmund Freud’s hypothesis that religion was symptomatic of neurosis and religious experience was perhaps temporary psychosis. My experiences were what scholars of mysticism call “extravertive” or “eyes open” mystical experiences (the other type is “introvertive” or “eyes closed”). One of the best‐known research studies of mysticism an… Amen. Some years ago I was watching a television interview of Mother Theresa who related that she had only one mystical experience — a vision of Jesus telling her to go to India and serve the poor! But were you aware that religious mystics are still among us today? , The Late Middle Ages saw the clash between the Dominican and Franciscan schools of thought, which was also a conflict between two different mystical theologies: on the one hand that of Dominic de Guzmán and on the other that of Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Bonaventure, Jacopone da Todi, Angela of Foligno. Mysticism is not so much a doctrine as a method of thought. They range from ecstatic visions of the soul's mystical union with God and theosis (humans gaining divine qualities) in Eastern Orthodox theology to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e. It is said to be the core spiritual experience underlying all religions (2,3,6,16). In addition to those named in the Bible, “saints”, “sages”, and “mystics” blessed with this intimate knowledge of God have existed from the beginning of time, and we are fortunate to have the writings of many who were emboldened to act in their societies following their experiences. Recorded in her book, The Enochian Walks with God, she states that God’s love triumphs, that punishment is for reforming, and that all are reconciled with God in the end. Although John does not follow up on the Stoic notion that this principle makes union with the divine possible for humanity, it is an idea that later Christian writers develop.  Purity of heart was especially important given perceptions of martyrdom, which many writers discussed in theological terms, seeing it not as an evil but as an opportunity to truly die for the sake of God—the ultimate example of ascetic practice. The Protestant Reformation downplayed mysticism, although it still produced a fair amount of spiritual literature. ... We offer ancient Christian sacraments combined with spiritual practices that integrate cutting edge applications of modern science. In the Hellenistic world, a "mystikos" was an initiate of a mystery religion. A spiritual experience is an encounter with something or someone other than yourself that is not based upon material phenomena. Jane Lead, who founded a society of Universalists called the Philadelphians in 17th Century London, described her mystical experience in which the nature of post-mortem punishment was revealed to her. Everybody will be all right.’. I remember the child looking everywhere for the source of this happy wonder, and at last she questioned — ‘God’ — because it was the only awesome word she knew.  Alexandrian mysticism developed alongside Hermeticism and Neoplatonism and therefore share some of the same ideas, images, etc.  (This understanding of gnosis is not the same as that developed by the Gnostics, who focused on esoteric knowledge that is available only to a few people but that allows them to free themselves from the evil world. Suddenly, without warning, I was flooded with the most intense blue-white light I have ever seen. Our God is a living God! George De Benneville — physician, preacher, and mystic — wrote of his Universalist mystical religious experience and his in-depth near-death experience in his book entitled, The Life and Trance of Dr. George De Benneville. The experience leaves a person with a new and profound … McGinn's emphasis on the transformation that occurs through mystical activity relates to this idea of "presence" instead of "experience": This is why the only test that Christianity has known for determining the authenticity of a mystic and her or his message has been that of personal transformation, both on the mystic's part and—especially—on the part of those whom the mystic has affected. You should have received our email newsletter over a week ago. When I teach, I often make the analogy that some of us received a candle of light while Jesus received a beacon! The following account is from a 56-year-old British female, one of the modern cases from Alister Hardy’s Religious Experience Research Unit at Oxford University that appeared in his book, The Spiritual Nature of Man: On this occasion I found instead that I was overtaken by an intense feeling of affection for and unity with everyone around as they ran to catch buses, took children shopping, or joyfully met their friends. There are many different kinds of mystical experiences which have been recorded by people since the beginning of human history. Most importantly, mystics never “let go” of their experience, and it permanently alters their perspective on life. Thus, private spirituality was strongly influenced by the liturgies and by the scriptures (e.g., the use of the Psalms for prayer), and individual prayers often recalled historical events just as much as they recalled their own immediate needs.. This account is from Armstrong’s biography of her: Such lights as one gets are now different in type: all overwhelming in their emotional result: quite independent ‘sensible devotion’, more quiet, calm, expansive, like intellectual intuitions yet not quite that either. EXPERIENCE AND INTERPRETATION (AUTO- AND HETERO-) That some distinction must be made between experience and interpretation is clear. I wanted this thread to be a place where people of all faiths speak about their various kinds of mystical experiences. Large-scale surveys on mystical experience began in 1969 when Alister Hardy founded the Religious Experience Research Unit at Oxford University. , Purification, which grounds Christian spirituality in general, is primarily focused on efforts to, in the words of St. Paul, "put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 8:13). Deep inside like the murmurous swinging of a bell she heard the answer, ‘God, God.’ How long this ineffable moment lasted I never knew. This stage, experienced by the few, is one of final and complete purification and is marked by confusion, helplessness, stagnation of the will, and a sense of the withdrawal of God's presence. Two, related, senses of ‘mystical experience’ will be presented, one a wide definition reflecting a more general usage, and the second a narrow definition suiting more specialized treatments of mysticism in philosophy. The big news today in the study of mystical religious experiences is sheer numbers! The next significant step taken by social scientists to objectify research on this topic was in 1977 by David Hay and Ann Morisy. Teresa's uninterpreted experience is the same as Eckhart's, but she is incapable of distinguishing between experience and interpretation so that when she experiences the divisionless oneness of the mystical consciousness she jumps at once to its conventional interpretation in terms of Christian … , The texts attributed to the Apostolic Fathers, the earliest post-Biblical texts we have, share several key themes, particularly the call to unity in the face of internal divisions and perceptions of persecution, the reality of the charisms, especially prophecy, visions and Christian gnosis, which is understood as "a gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to know Christ" through meditating on the scriptures and on the Cross of Christ. , The link between mysticism and the vision of the Divine was introduced by the early Church Fathers, who used the term as an adjective, as in mystical theology and mystical contemplation. Mission: The mission of Christian Service Charities is to glorify God by facilitating the inclusion of Christian charities you know and trust in charitable giving opportunities.CSC raises funds to support work of America's most effective Christian … IV. Can you donate just an hour or two per month to the CUA? Given the importance of reason, Clement stresses apatheia as a reasonable ordering of our passions in order to live within God's love, which is seen as a form of truth. Mystical experiences are often cited as proof of various Religious and Philosophical beliefs, though what is experienced varies widely. The Christian Mystic rightly desires to experience union with God and to become a “partake of the divine nature” (2 Pet. The three aspects later became purgative, illuminative, and unitive in the western churches and prayer of the lips, the mind, the heart in the eastern churches. Like Jesus, Christian mystics have often been at odds with the church leaders when those leaders have put authority, church business, and theological interpretation above the compassion of God. Nevertheless, Protestantism was not devoid of mystics. Now came a period of rapture so intense that the Universe stood still, as if amazed at the unutterable majesty of the spectacle! Fortunately, at the time Freud was making unsupported claims (that would later be refuted), a champion arose to counter his flawed theories. We need a recording secretary to type-up minutes of the CUA board meetings. If we are to understand anything about mysticism, it is essential that we should make a similar distinction between a mystical experience and the interpretations which may be put upon it either by the mystics themselves or by nonmystics [emphasis ours]. Less traditional triggers—ones that are less socially legitimate—include sex and psychedelic drugs. For Christians, this human potential is realized most perfectly in Jesus, precisely because he is both God and human, and is manifested in others through their association with him, whether conscious, as in the case of Christian mystics, or unconscious, with regard to spiritual persons who follow other traditions, such as Gandhi. In studying the accounts of mystics from Biblical times to the present, it is easy to hear the recurring themes of 1) The continuity of God’s love, and 2) The Oneness with God and the Universe. The … All men were shining and glorious beings who in the end would enter incredible joy. Suddenly, heaven blazed upon me. , William James popularized the use of the term "religious experience" in his 1902 book The Varieties of Religious Experience. Mystical religious experiences are not limited to Christianity and are Universal, as expressed by the early 20th Century mystic and researcher Evelyn Underhill (Anglican): “This unmistakable experience has … He is unusual, as most people alter their beliefs when confronted with their own personal experience. This is hardly surprising, as in the West the Catholic Church had condemned Origen’s form of Universalism as heretical, and Universalism had to go underground until the Reformation. In fact, in a sermon some years ago, Rev. I knew only a sense of infinite dimension, and a knowledge that this was the Spirit of God Almighty, which was the hidden Life-Light-Love in all men, all life and all creation. The practice of Lectio Divina, a form of prayer that centers on scripture reading, was developed in its best-known form in the sixth century, through the work of Benedict of Nursia and Pope Gregory I, and described and promoted more widely in the 12th century by Guigo II. the hiddenness of God, which comes from our inability to survive the full revelation of God's glory and which forces us to seek to know God through faith and obedience; Apophatic (imageless, stillness, and wordlessness) -- e.g.. Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright and Edward Yarnold, eds. Quite suddenly, after a moment of quietness there, earth and sky and tree and windblown grass and the child in the midst of them came alive together with a pulsing light of consciousness.  Arndt influenced Spener, who formed a group known as the collegia pietatis ("college of piety") that stressed the role of spiritual direction among lay-people—a practice with a long tradition going back to Aelred of Rievaulx and known in Spener's own time from the work of Francis de Sales. It broke like a bubble at the sudden singing of a bird, and the wind blew and the world was the same as ever, only never quite the same. Broadly … The feeling was so strong that I wanted to leave my silent vigil and join them in their urgent living. Be sure to join the CUA so you won't miss anything!
Early in her career, she described herself as a “passionate amateur of experience” and was very much interested in comparative religion. Throughout the history of Christianity, mystics not identified formally as Universalists have nevertheless advocated Universalist ideas. , An example of "scientific reason lit up by mysticism in the Church of England"is seen in the work of Sir Thomas Browne, a Norwich physician and scientist whose thought often meanders into mystical realms, as in his self-portrait, Religio Medici, and in the "mystical mathematics" of The Garden of Cyrus, whose full running title reads, Or, The Quincuncial Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the ancients, Naturally, Artificially, Mystically considered. In order to research mystical religious experience within the general population, Sir Hardy made an appeal to the general public via newspapers and pamphlets which asked the question, “Have you ever been aware of or influenced by a presence or power, whether you call it ‘God’ or not, which is different from your everyday self?” Readers were invited to send him their responses. Mystical Encounters for Christians When I sensed that believing in Jesus wasn't enough and yearned for more, I turned to older forms of prayer. , Jewish spirituality in the period before Jesus was highly corporate and public, based mostly on the worship services of the synagogues, which included the reading and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures and the recitation of prayers, and on the major festivals. Additionally, Universalism is recorded in the Eastern Church’s 13th century Book of the Bee (Chapter LX). Moreover, there was the growth of groups of mystics centered on geographic regions: the Beguines, such as Mechthild of Magdeburg and Hadewijch (among others); the Rhenish-Flemish mystics Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, Henry Suso and John of Ruysbroeck; and the English mystics Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich. The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied. AIPR Information Sheet: Mystical Experiences. Please limit your responses to ONLY mystical experiences and discussions about said experiences. When Finnish researcher Kalevi Tamminen asked children ages 7 to 20, “Have you at times felt that God was particularly close to you?”, 84% of the first-graders acknowledged the presence of God.  Martyrdom could also be seen as symbolic in its connections with the Eucharist and with baptism. , Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish Hellenistic philosopher who was important for connecting the Hebrew Scriptures to Greek thought, and thereby to Greek Christians, who struggled to understand their connection to Jewish history. Some touch the heart or teach a moral lesson. Thanks to Jesus, we can, right now, enjoy rich and deep … Mystical experiences have been the cornerstone of religious and spiritual practices for millennia. The 9th century saw the development of mystical theology through the introduction of the works of sixth-century theologian Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, such as On Mystical Theology. Near-death experiences (NDEs) corroborate ancient accounts of other realities ; 3. Purgation and illumination are followed by a fourth stage which Underhill, borrowing the language of St. John of the Cross, calls the dark night of the soul. Some evidence supports an increase in mystical experiences. My heart was at rest about it forever. Dreams – our everyday connection to the mystical; 2. 16:11). Generally, a person’s attention becomes fully absorbed in an experience before it triggers a mystical experience. (Epistle to the Philippians 1:6). , Mystical Contemplative Prayer is the blessing for which the Christian mystic hopes. Literally, "God became man so that man might become god." That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation by David Bentley Hart (2019, Yale University Press — hardcover, audio, kindle) Orthodox theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart makes... We need a scribe! , Similarly well-versed in the mystic tradition was the German Johann Arndt, who, along with the English Puritans, influenced such continental Pietists as Philipp Jakob Spener, Gottfried Arnold, Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf of the Moravians, and the hymnodist Gerhard Tersteegen. I was not thinking of anything, apart from vague attention to the job I was doing. Deification or Divinization of the Soul is Central. Interestingly, some “Christian” publishers delete this chapter on Universalism. There is no one clear path for Christian mystical experience, no maps as such. Worlds, systems, all bended in one harmonious whole. A religious experience (sometimes known as a spiritual experience, sacred experience, or mystical experience) is a subjective experience which is interpreted within a religious framework. This period also saw such individuals as Catherine of Siena and Catherine of Genoa, the Devotio Moderna, and such books as the Theologia Germanica, The Cloud of Unknowing and The Imitation of Christ. The more traditional and socially legitimate triggers of mystical experience include prayer, meditation, experiences of nature, church attendance, viewing art, hearing music, and undergoing significant life events such as birth or death. 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