Seven Pillars of Wisdom Review Mysticism / Part I and II January 2009 The Garden of Mysticism The garden of mystical

teachings has many flowers, each unique in beauty and each offering a nuance and variation on the possibilities of the mystical life. The flower that attracts, the specific form, delicacy, and brilliance of a particular blossom, indicates a path whose attributes are shared by other members of that species. While there are many varieties of mysticism, a multitude of paradigms within the Hermetic garden, there are also many shared traits, clusters of characteristics, that give an aire de famille to various realizations. The tendency in discussing these similarities is to look toward the tradition or mystical school, to the discourses and mystical writings within those traditions. However, as Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote, we must learn to distinguish the perfume from the flower, to perceive the deeper subtlety or scent that creates the intoxication of deep mystical awakening. It is not the flower that represents the goal of the mystical life, it is something more profound, flowing out of Mystery through an endless variety of forms, creating each unique realization, uncontainable in any flower. The teaching is the form, the flower, but the elusive realizations cannot be contained in the forms. Always, the fertile ground gives birth to more variations. When we see all the flowers of the garden, the tremendous diversity and range, from the simple forest white to the multicolored hybrids, we can imagine that only through this diversity is it possible for us to see the ground from which all these forms emerge. The sacred ground of this diversity is our own human, spirit-given capacity for creative realization and subtle innovation in spiritual practices or mystical perceptions. It is not the tradition or the teaching which is the ground of these realizations, but the sacred human, the soul gifted with illumination seeking to give expression to the Inexpressible. All creatures, all life, participate in this sacred source, each gifted according to an inner capacity for transformation. Within the sacred human, we can touch the shared fields of cocreative relations from which the newness and uniqueness flowers. This ground is deep and vast, beyond any single summary or condensation; it is fertile beyond imagining, vivid and alive with a surplus of potency that overflows every being, every soul, every creature and created being to fill the world with a profound vitality so valued in the mystical life. What we learn from a path or teaching is a way to direct our thoughts, an explanation that offers moral direction, cosmological interpretation, prophetic pronouncements and guided instructions for the next stage. Formal teaching can provide

the necessary, crucial catalyst for genuine spiritual awakening. The path can also offer community, shared concerns and goals in a context of striving and aspiration. It can give a center and a sense of purpose beyond simply pursuing collective goals or habits. However, the ground of the sacred human is uncontainable, it overflows toward ever greater depths, always revealing the yet unknown and unrealized aspects of possible spiritual realizations. Thus there is a balance between what is received and transmitted and what is discovered and yet unknown. The past is not a collection of final templates but of patterns of possible transformation; we should honor and revere these teachings, paths, traditions incarnational or transcendental - and the All between them. Yet Spirit overflows, sometimes shattering the vessels that would contain it, pouring itself out on to the simple and unsophisticated as well as on to the adept and master. There are no limits in Spirit and the mystical life is not bound by any human rules or teachings; it is like a vast symphony of which we hear only a narrow band, a harmony whose resonance is perceptible only on the creative occasion of our own ability to attune to the Mystery, beyond limitation and ideology, beyond authority and hierarchy. The paradigms of the mystical life are transglobal and cannot be limited to a romanticized past nor to an idealized image of the spiritual life. All the flowers have not yet been seen and the perfume of these flowers, as it melds and mixes, will without doubt expand the palate of the sacred human. Perhaps we are like bees in the holy garden of revelation - the activity of Beeing is found in the distillation of essences, the various nectars drawn from the flowers of spiritual traditions can produce a sweetness of soul most profound. But like a jar of local honey, it carries the taste of its ingredients, a flavor created by purity of soul, the subtlety of distillation, the abundance or poverty of its sources. No tradition can guarantee the purity of all its members and no individual can represent all possibilities of the community. Each person, each sacred human, is a path, a way toward a more complete realization, a testament of spiritual possibility - now, in the present, today. The sacred human today is not the sacred human of a thousand years ago, we have changed, discovered, found new paradigms, struggled and conflicted. The mystical life is emergent and we are challenged to discover new ways of thinking, believing, practicing. But our roots sink deep into our collective history, the ground of being is preserved in Spirit, does not disappear or dissolve. Our shared histories remain as substance and soil for the work of transformation, the home or the planetary soul, which offers us both the stability of the past and the innovations of the future. We stand between paradigms, honoring the realizations of great-souled beings, seeking to constitute a similar realization fully in accord with our present, our real world of contested being. Thus we are called to the work of fully actualizing the sacred human through dedicated efforts, inward reflection, unique spiritual intuition, and a creative adaptation of those insights to real world problems and challenges.

The authentic mystical life is not about escape or world renunciation, it is about engagement, commitment to world transformation, and the presence of deep, abiding love. We cannot heal what we do not love and the illumined mystical heart is the center of this loving, healing transformation. [End part One Peace & Blessing Sirr al-Basir (Lee Irwin) Three Mystical Domains When we consider the diversity of spiritual paths, we can delineate three domains of mystical perception which each contribute to the fullness of the sacred human. These domains cut across multiple spiritual traditions and are not reducible to any particular path. The first domain is incarnational, the sensory mysticism of direct bodily perception. Every organ of the body is a perceptual basis for mystical intuition, a possible evolute whose range can extend into the subtle, interpenetrating Presence of Spirit. Touch, taste, sound, sight, smell and all the many other senses can be a base for direct mystical perception. This includes the sexual, erotic, and ecstasies of partnered love. Sexuality is a mystical ground, a joyful source of pleasure whose ontological depths support union, interpenetration, and a deeply shared love. The sexual is the very source of life and new birth; it is in many ways perhaps the most profound expression of spiritual life and vitality, the very mystery of cocreation. An emergent spiritual transformation, a present centered emphasis, requires us to develop more nuanced, sophisticated teachings that integrate sexuality and spirituality as profound reflections of the sacred human. The poverty of sexual teaching in many spiritual traditions is an indication of a bias that has not represented the feminine as fully sacred in her sexuality, not discovered the spiritual ground in the very matrix of the life force. The spiritualization of the sexual is one of the tasks we are called to in the emergent mysticism of the future. The sensory mystical life concerns the immediacy of perception, the value of nature, the power of the embodied and the dynamics of direct sensory perception. Mystical life in the world is fully embodied, fully incarnate in the specific, the physical, the material. The sacred ground is what supports all that is and all who are, every living being, every plant and lifeform, every element and atom. The presence of Spirit is all-pervasive, in the most minute sub-particle or vibratory string, in every atom, molecule, macrolife form, planet, moon, sun, star or galaxy. We all share this bounty as a gift of Spirit, an entire universe panentheist - filled with life in all aspects - even the subtle background energies between

cosmic domains, all, all is permeated with sacred life presence. Thus, sensory life, immediate sensory perception is participant in the mystical. Every sound, sight, smell, carries that presence and in the sacred human, it gives birth to deep appreciation, gratitude, and love for the creation. Sensory mysticism is the feeling that comes to you when you see the beauty of the sunset, the full moon, hear the wind in the trees, smell of flowers. In that moment when the distance between you and what is collapses into a single continuum of participant being, then you feel connected, alive, embraced by Spirit. A second domain is supersensory mysticism, that is perceptions that require a “higher” more subtle, penetrating awareness. Here we can enter into the Imaginal, the visionary realm of dreams, mythic encounter, manifestations of a wide range of possible beings, entities, angelic, deva-like presences. In Sufism this might be called the Alam alMithal or in the esotericism of Christianity, the Mundus Imaginalis. However, these are not necessarily hierarchical realms, not structures of being as much as metaphors of encounter. The supersensory is not a platform for fixed stages as much as an indication of multidimensionality, of possible domains of existence supplemental to the sacred human. These realms include the post-mortem realms of those who have passed over into other life; the presence of spirits or a diversity of beings ranging from every simple thought form and elemental to more complex and autonomous entities, to very powerful angelic, archetypal beings whose life and purpose reman mysterious and in many ways unfathomable. The supersensory also includes the “psychic and occult” capacities of the sacred human -telepathy, clairvoyance, distant viewing, psychokinesis, bilocation, reincarnational memory, psychic projection, and so on. The mystical life must incorporate these soul capacities into its paradigms of the sacred human; they are the natural gifts of Spirit and by no means secondary or insignificant. The challenge of the supersensory begins in dreaming and extends into waking, such that we can erase the artificial boundaries between the two for a more holistic view of our perceptual capacities. Dreams are a portal into deep soul life and deserve careful study, reflection, and consistent effort to fathom and comprehend. From dreams we move to visions and sacred encounters, into the prophetic and revelatory, where prophecy is not the domain of only select men of the ancient past, but a current domain of fully active visions in the lives of many, among women perhaps more than men. The shift in the prophetic aspect of the mystical is toward new teachings, relational and interactive within a community of discourses, not a privileged discourse within only one tradition or individual. This communal aspect of the prophetic and revelatory is consistent with a new spirituality that is global, co-gendered, and shared through multiple points of confirmation. It is not one prophet or one voice, but a network of prophetic insights resonant with an underlying collective transformation, an emergence that is not confined to any one tradition or path. Our dreams

and visions all contribute to the emergence of the sacred human, the Sophianic heart of this revelation is shared by many, as a non-exclusive call for diverse spiritual sharing. The revelatory ground is the hypersensory domains of the Imaginal in which new forms and possibilities are birthed and sustained through dedicated ways of living and caring for others. The third domain is transcendental mysticism in which the seer and the Seen collapse into a single revelatory Now. In this luminous mystical union, the sensory and supersensory domains retain their vital contents but are momentarily dissolved into the very ground that sustains their arising. Here we move into a domain beyond form but not beyond energy or presence, not beyond knowing or being known. While this union incorporates both body and soul, it also extends far beyond the ordinary boundaries of mind, thought, memory and self. In a participatory way, this knowledge is emergent in and of itself - every mystical, deep transcendental encounter is a new revelation. It is not simply a confirmation of what was or even what should be, but of what truly IS in the very moment of emergence. The I am of this IS, emerging in creative immediacy, is through its complete presence in the Now, as a revelatory moment beyond form and essence. It is not “one thing” or “one essence” but a deep ocean of currents and depths so profoundly beyond the sacred human as to hold us in thrall to a Mystery whose fullness cannot be fathomed. Blessed is the mystery and all those who embody that blessing for the good of all and not simply for the ecstasy of the moment. The call of the transcendental mystery is always to return, to embody, to contribute to the processes of life affirmation and co-creative partnership. We are not commanded, but offered a tremendous gift, to be partners in the creation of life in all its beauty and fullness, to be flowers in the garden without celebrating uniqueness at the expense of diminishing the beauty and perfume of others. The return to sobriety is part of the task, to sink deep into ecstatic communion, to Be in the Now, but also to come back into the world-work of collective transformation, to offer our gifts, however great or small. These three domains are all important and in a fully integral mystical life; all three are active and fully alive. There is no hierarchy of development, no right order of precedence, no graded and required series of steps that all might follow. There is instead the burning challenge of the Fire Rose, to ignite the loving heart such that its illumination offers a multitude of pathways, a diversity of teachings, and a sensitivity to the needs of each person in his or her struggle to share that fire and illumination for the benefit of others. Each person has his or her distinctive gifts, each brings that gift to the altar of everyday life as a testimony and as evidence offered in support of a sincere dedication. Each must discover how best to develop those gifts that Spirit may flow freely through each individual creating new possibilities for spiritual growth and development. The warmth and sweetness of the gift, the capacity to heal or teach or to

imagine, spreads its influences through the heart, through loving kindness, care for others, and receptivity to continual inspiration. The perfume is the subtle effect, carried by Spirit; the consequence, new revelation offered as a gift; the result, continued development of the sacred human. Peace & Blessing Sirr al-Basir (Lee Irwin)

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