Mystic Experience, The
A Descriptive and Comparative Analysis
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: State University of New York Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Concerning the topic of this book, the mystic, zero, or void-experience, over many years much has been written about essentially nothing. But paradox is generally acknowledged to be one of the features of the experience, which is the ecstatic disappearance of self along with everything else. Rather than a nihilistic experience, it is one that invariably is considered by those who have...
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As with any study that is based on decades of research and reflection, it would be impossible to acknowledge all those who have, in various ways, contributed to this work. Particularly influential on my understanding of the phenomenology and hermeneutics of the mystic experience are conversations with the late anthropologist and tantric Hindu...
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In 1972, the most momentous event of my life took place on a perfect summer day at an ideal summer occasion, a weekend folk music/jazz festival on the beautiful park-island that forms the outer boundary of Toronto’s harbor. I was assisting a newly befriended couple who crafted leather bags and were selling them from their pushcart, and had met through them that morning a female...
2. Phenomenology of the Mystic Experience
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The most common publications on the mystic experience are anthologies of selections from the mystical literature. There are a number of good compilations available, as well as thematic works that incorporate excerpts from the writings of well-known mystics. Perhaps the work that raised the greatest general interest was Aldous Huxley’s 1946 thematic...
3. The Varieties of Ecstatic Experience
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Reading through the thousands of self-reports contained in the Religious Experience Research Centre’s archives, described in the preceding chapter, one encounters a panoply of ecstatic religious experiences, virtually all the types of experiences had by those of British and related cultures in the twentieth century. The following sketch of these experiences is but...
4. Previous Studies
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Most studies of mysticism in general, as well as the mystic experience in particular, have been theologically oriented. Accordingly, they have tended to privilege the Western European Christian perspective (see chapter 6) and assume the mystic experience is limited to the “higher religions,” meaning the monotheistic ones, with an evolutionary culmination in Christianity. Some...
5. Ethnohermeneutics I: Non-West
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Little is available on the incidence of the mystic experience in most of the religions of the world—including the indigenous religions of sub-Saharan Africa, Native America (North and South), Australia, and far northern Eurasia— for a number of reasons. First, many of these traditions were, until modern times, nonliterate, and actual oral spiritual traditions are difficult to...
6. Ethnohermeneutics II: West
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The Western religious traditions, predominantly the Religions of the Book—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—share a commonality that distinguishes them from all other religions: monotheism, in its various guises. The focus on a single deity, even if a Trinity, creates a predilection toward singularity. Hence, the ultimate and God must be identical; whereas, the...
7. Conclusions: The Mystic Experience and Human Nature
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My earliest set of memories consists of images surrounding a bout of acute appendicitis and resulting peritonitis at the age of three, which I barely survived. But the earliest vivid memory took place at the age of four, and it is the strange one that I related in chapter 2, the one in which I am leaning against a jeep facing the low-rise apartment building in which my...
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Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: SUNY series in Religious Studies
Series Editor Byline: Harold Coward