Blogs by David Arthur Walters
Note on the Nature of Mysticism
10/21/2007 2:36:37 PM
Unity with God presumes Man is God
A British philosopher by the name of John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart, a mystic who did not think that time is real, wrote a dry-bones paper on the real meaning of 'mysticism.' (2) Yours truly does not like what patriotic McTaggart did to his pacific protege Bertrand Russell during the 'first' world war; but never mind, I shall quote him on mysticism so that the reader may be certain of what it is in respect to the mystical downtown revitalization plan.
"It is essential to mysticism that it asserts a greater unity in the in the universe than that which is recognized in ordinary experience, or in science.... It is possible to be conscious of this unity in some manner which brings the knower into closer and more direct relation with what is known that can be done in ordinary thought.... Thus what is asserted by mysticism is firstly, a mystic unity; and secondly, a mystic intuition of that unity."
Mr. McTaggart refers to the "admirable" lecture of one Dr. Inge on the subject as it appertains to Christian mysticism. According to Dr. Inge, "mysticism seems to rest on the following... articles of faith: First, the soul (as well as the body) can see and perceive.... Second..., man, in order to know God, must partake of the divine nature. Thirdly, without holiness no man may see the Lord.... Sensuality and selfishness are absolute disqualifications for knowing the things of the Spirit of God. Further... our guide on the upward path, the true hierophant of the mysteries of God is love."
Unity with God presumes that man is similar to god or is god - a few thinkers even claim there would be no God without man. God is reputedly omniscient, hence unity with God would no doubt provide the mystic with divine intelligence or foresight on real estate plans - the Mosaic mystic would certainly know whether or not the Promised Land would be realized on Earth or not. However, Professor McTaggart, although he admires Dr. Inge's Christian view, believes God is irrelevant or even impossible where mysticism is concerned. For instance, there may be no unity with a one-god standing alone over and against the Universe; that is, the ordinary conception of God conceives "Him" as a particular god or one definitely existing in contrast to something else, a conception that destroys unity. Furthermore, Cordish Blake, our developer for example, in order to be a mystic, would not have to be holy, unselfish, filled with love, or be upwardly mobile in an ethical or divine sense, in order to be a mystic or to possess a mystic intuition that would provide him insight into the feasibility of entertainment districts.
Indeed, says Mr. McTaggart, mystics may believe God is fundamental, or that there is no God at all. A mystic may be a hedonist or an ascetic. She may believe that man has free will or that he is totally determined. Neither does the mystic have to believe that the world is either good or bad. In fine, mysticism by strict definition is incompatible with ethical considerations, or ontological considerations as to the reality of man or God. In fact, some gurus teach that sin itself is an irrelevant illusion because it comprises particular deeds and not the Absolute Universal, the One; that is, evil does not exist, is the absence of good, is simply nothing at all. On the other hand, synthetic thinkers allow for both unity and diversity at once, for unity in diversity. Whatever.
(2) John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart, Philosophical Studies, New York: Longmans, Green 1934
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