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Mysticism

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MYSTICISM ( from mystic, from Lat. mys tieus, from Gk. uuo-ruc6s, mystikos, relating to mysteries, from Ocrrns, myst(7s, initiate). The name given to certain forms of religions expe rience, in which man, transcending the ordinary limitations of time and sense, seems to hold direct communion with the Deity. Mysticism may be philosophical as well as religious, in which case its speculations are usually pantheistic in their tendency. Religious mysticism exhibits two wholly different qualities, curiously combined, viz. pure individualism and the sinking of per sonality. The mystic may have fervently striven to attain the exalted state of communion with God, yet when once it has been reached, con scious activity ceases, and through a sort of passive rapture the subject seems merged in the object of his yearning. Direct intuition super sedes reason. The mystic is not unconscious, yet he seems to be no longer self-conscious in the ordinary sense. The satisfaction which he feels is wholly different from that derived from ceremonial observances, for the true mystic is the opposite of a legalist. His attitude, indeed. is a protest against formalism. He feels himself to be Ildel Win lent of external authorities, whether of rite, creed, priesthood. or Scripture. though, of course, the religion of the Catholic mystic precludes this separation from externals.

In one or another of its forms, mysticism is a very aneient phenomenon. finding illustration in India both hi Brahmanism and Buddlikm, in Persia among the Sufis, and among the Greeks in Neo-Platonism. It passed over into Greek Christianity from Tlotio11', through the writings of pst'odQ-l'ioWysiits Arenpagita (see MON and his great commentator, Maximus Confessor (seventh century). .folin Seat us Erigena (ninth century) translated the pseudo-Dionysius into Latin, and thus introduced Greek mystical theology to Western Europe. where, superimposed upon the mysticism of Saint Augustine, it enjoyed inereasing popularity. Monasticism proved a eongenial soil for the eul tivat ion of the mystic spirit. and sonic of its most perfect types are found among the monks, e.g. in the Eastern Church the Hesyelmsfir of Mount Athos (see IlEsvcItAsrs). and in the Western, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of A.4sisi, and Ig natius of Loyola. The 'Monastery of Saint Victor, mar Paris, was a very influential centre cif mys ticism in the twelfth century. About the same time an Italian abbot, Joachim of Floris, prophe sied that the dispensation of the Spirit would soon begin. Several famous mystics appear

among the Schoolmen, some of whom were also members of monastic orders, e.g. Bonaventnra. a disciple of the Vietorines. Amalrie of Bette. a Paris doctor (died 1207), pushed his mysticism to a pantheistic extreme.

Among the Dutch mystics are Ruysbrocek, au thor of several spiritual tracts (died 1381). Ger hardt Groot. founder of the Brethren of the Common Life (died 1384), and Thomas 5 lcempis, author of the Imitation of Christ (died 1471). Eckhardt (died c.1327) stands in the front rank of German mystics. and among his disciples were Tattler (died 1361) and Suso of Constance (died 1360). The German Thruloyy, a popular book of devotion, was published by Luther in 1517. Ja kob Mime (died 1624) belongs to the Protestant school. Among more recent German mystics none perhaps is better known than Novel is. the disciple of Romanticism (died 1801). In Eng land we find George Fox (died 1690). Among his contemporaries, the Cambridge Platonists (q.v.), especially Cudworth, More. and Smith, were both rationalistic and mystical ; George Herbert (died 1633), Francis Quarles (died 1044). Henry Vaughan (died 1695), and later William Law (died 1761) were purely mystical. What is known as Quietism (q.v.) was a move ment of the same nature with whose earlier stages Saint Francis of Sales. Bishop of Geneva (died 1622), had some sympathy, and which the Spaniard Molinos (died 1696), F6nelon (died 1715). and especially Madame Guyon (died 1717) made more definite. Not a few of the most gifted and honored among mystics have been women. e.g. Saint Hildegarde (died 1178), Elizabeth of Sch6nau (died 1164), Saint Catharine of Siena (died 1380), and Saint Theresa (died 1582). Certain philosophical and scientific thinkers, including, for instance, Paracelsus. Giordano Bruno, Spinoza, 'Hegel, and Schelling, are less properly included among the mystics. But Im manuel Swedenborg (died 1772), eminent in ap plied science, but still more eminent for his reli gious allegorizing, deserves prominent mention. Consult Preger. Gesehichte (ler deutsehen Mys tik ( Leipzig, 1874-1881) : Vaughan, flours with. the Mystics (7th ed.. London, 1895) ; Inge, Chris tian Mysticism (ib.. 1899) ; .Tames. Varieties of Religious Experience (London, 1902) ; rtes, The christliehe ustik (Regensburg, 1836) ; Bigg, The Christian Platanists of Alexandria (London, : id., Neoplaionisth (ib., 1893). See the no tices of the individuals mentioned in this article.