Types of Mystical Experience
Also see What is Mysticism?

Mystical experience generally falls into one of three classes.

Theistic Mysticism

Theistic mysticism involves seeing or feeling the presence of a personification or a named force which intones the highest power. This can take human form (i.e. Jesus), a semi-human form (i.e. Krishna, Kali), an animal form (i.e. Bear spirit), or a more general form such as an element of nature (i.e. the wind).

The experience is frequently described this way: "I felt that I was in God's arms. I could hear what God was saying to me. God was there to help guide me in my life."

Monistic Mysticism

Here, the person states that the whole world evolves around a central point. Everything, internal and external to the person, is some how attracted to or comes out of that central point.

Many describe the monistic mystical encounter this way: "I saw everything fall away and be absorbed. I saw an infinite becoming and an infinite disappearing in every moment."

Pantheistic Mysticism

Here, one feels that the totality of the external world is the greatest power and that one can see themselves as part of that totality. The term pantheism has been selected to label this experience because the Greek word combines the words pan ("all") and theo ("god"), a very apt choice of words.

Many describe the pantheistic mystical encounter this way: "I felt myself one with the grass, the trees, birds, everything in Nature."

Mystical Unions And Visions

The above descriptions of mystical experiences have a common element about them. They each, in their own way, provide the feeling of union---union with a divine figure, with singularity, or with the world. Union tends to become the most central point of the multifaceted, powerful experience because it provides the beholder with something rarely felt, completion.

Mysticism is also frequently marked with experiences just as powerful but typically ranked below mystical union. Visions can occur that capture a person's awareness, pointing the way to a grander world. Visions typically take these forms:

1. Corporeal Visions
A divine figure (i.e. Jesus, Buddha) or spirit laden object (i.e. a burning bush) is seen as if it is part of everyday existence. This vision is seen with the physical eyes.
2. Interior Visions
In this case, a divine figure or object is seen not with the sensory eyes but with the mind's eye. The person experiencing this type of vision clearly knows that they are seeing this vision within their imagination and not in the exterior world.
The above discussion of unions and visions is based on an excellent book written by Dan Merkur Gnosis: An Esoteric Tradition of Mystical Visions and Unions (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993).

Also see What is Mysticism?







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