What Mystical traditions really are about

Obviously the title is a misnomer. Who can dare to speak and say with a definitive gesture that this is what a mystical tradition is for. That would be a terrible case of misappropriation. However hopefully as I get into the title you will see why I chose it.

The Science of States

It is quite easy to get caught up reading, for example a lot of Sufi literature with the idea of states and stations of the way. Sufism has been said to be a science of states. But there is much more to the story. One cannot step foot on the path, I remember being told, if one is concerned about one’s own enlightenment, one’s own journey. The words of Shaikh Llewellyn Vaughan lee come to mind where he says that the New Age Movement never held much for the shaman (I am paraphrasing horribly) because the shamans work wasn’t for himself but for his people.

Treating Others Well

One of the criticism of many new age movements is that they make enlightenment or spiritual teaching a commodity, something to be bought which is contrary to the sentiment at the core of (for me at least me) many mystical traditions which is to endure hardship for the sake of all creation.

From the inside of a tradition I cannot stress how much attention is paid to treating others with real respect and love. I don’t mean respect and love superficially. I am talking beyond outward appearances. If we cannot treat each other well from an inward space of peace and love then the path from what I have been told isn’t for us.

To illustrate there is a story of the Prophet Mohammad much used in the Sufi and of course Islamic traditions. The companions of the Prophet Mohammad asked him:

O Messenger of Allah, what are the most excellent of actions?

The Prophet replied:

To gladden the heart of human beings,
To feed the hungry,
To help the afflicted,
To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and
To remove the sufferings of the injured.


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