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  • Writer's pictureAmir Freimann

What mystics value most

I'm ploughing ahead with the writing of a paper on "the experiential characteristics of the spiritual high plateau" and would like to share with you a text I found in Richard H. Jones' book "Philosophy of Mysticism: Raids on the Ineffable". It touches on the central question of my PhD research, which is "what's beyond spiritual / mystical / peak experiences?".

"Cultivating selfless awareness is central to mystical ways of life, but it should be noted that classical mystics actually discuss mystical experiences very little—how one should lead one’s life, the path to enlightenment, knowledge, and the reality allegedly experienced are more often the topics. Traditionally, the goal is not any momentary experience but a continuous new existence: the mystical quest is not completed with any particular experience but with aligning one's life with the nature of reality (e.g., permanently uniting one’s will with God’s)… Even when discussing inner mental states, mystics refer more to a transformation of character or an enduring state of alignment with reality than to types of “mystical experiences,” including any transitional “enlightenment experiences” that end a sense of self… [M]ystics value most the reality experienced and the long-lasting transformed state of a person in the world and not any state of consciousness or momentary experiences, no matter how insightful…

But mystics do claim that they realize a reality present when all the conceptual, dispositional, and emotional content of the mind is removed. Mystical experiences and states of consciousness are allegedly cognitive. Mystics claim to have a direct awareness of the bare being-in-itself—the “is-ness” of the natural realm of things apart from the conceptual divisions that we impose—or of a direct contact with a transcendent reality whereby they gain a new knowledge of reality. Both their knowledge and their will are corrected (since the individual will is based on the sense of an independent ego within the everyday world that is now seen to be baseless); and, free of self-will, mystics can now align their life with the way reality truly is and enjoy the peace resulting from no longer constantly trying to manipulate reality to fit our own artificial images and ego-driven emotions and desires." (pp. 11-12)

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