Scholarly Read: Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness

Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
by Evelyn Underhill from Christian Classics Ethereal Library

We have now no means of knowing, for instance, the amount of true mysticism which may have existed amongst the initiates of the Greek or Egyptian Mysteries; how many advanced but inarticulate contemplatives there were amongst the Alexandrian Neo-platonists, amongst the pre-Christian communities of contemplatives described by Philo , the deeply mystical Alexandrian Jew (20 B.C.-A.D. 40), or the innumerable Gnostic sects which replaced in the early Christian world the Orphic and Dionysiac mystery-cults of Greece and Italy. Much real mystical inspiration there must have been, for we know that from these centres of life came many of the doctrines best loved by later mystics: that the Neoplatonists gave them the concepts of Pure Being and the One, that the New Birth and the Spiritual Marriage were foreshadowed in the Mysteries, that Philo anticipated the theology of the Fourth Gospel.

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In Europe the mystic curve is now approaching its highest point. In the East that point has already been passed. Sufi, or Mahommedan mysticism, appearing in the eighth century in the beautiful figure of Rabi’a , the “Moslem St. Teresa” (717-801), and continued by the martyr Al Hallaj (ob. 922), attains literary expression in the eleventh in the “Confessions” of Al Ghazzali (1058-1111), and has its classic period in the thirteenth in the works of the mystic poets ‘Attar (c. 1140-1234), Sadi (1184-1263), and the saintly Jalalu ‘d Din (1207-1273). Its tradition is continued in the fourteenth century by the rather erotic mysticism of Hafiz (c. 1300-1388) and his successors, and in the fifteenth by the poet Jámí (1414-1492).

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Technology of the Heart: Scholarly Read: Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
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