In a Time of Upheaval, Mysticism as Resurrection

In yesterday’s DM, was Rank’s call for the unio mystica so very different from Thomas Aquinas’ discussion of the “first resurrection” (which he describes as the awakening of the soul)?  I think not.  Both are talking about the power of communion, oneing, breakthrough, to awaken our species when it falls asleep.

Abert Einstein in 1947. Photograph by Orren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J.
Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein was asked toward the end of his life if he had any regrets. He answered: “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” This is a significant confession, coming as it does from one of the greatest geniuses of the twentieth century, a man who moved beyond the modern science of Newton and ushered in a postmodern science and consciousness.

In the West the modern age — meaning the sixteenth to mid-twentieth centuries — was not only ignorant of but actually hostile to mysticism. As Theodore Roszak has put it, “The Enlightenment held mysticism up for ridicule as the worst offense against science and reason.”

Still today, both education and religion are often hostile to mysticism. Fundamentalism by definition is anti-mystical or distorts mysticism, and much of liberal theology and religion is so academic and left-brain that it numbs and ignores the right brain, which is our mystical brain. Seminaries teach few practices to access our mysticism.

Setting sail into the depths. Photo by Chen YiChun on Unsplash

This is why many find religion so boring—it lacks the adventure and inner exploration that our souls yearn for. As St. John of the Cross said, “Launch out into the deep.”

This launching into the depths—into the deep ocean of the unconscious and of the Great Self, which is connected to all things and to the Creator — often gets stymied by Western religious dogma, guilt trips, and institutional churchiness. The mystic gets starved.

Patriarchal culture by itself is unable to tap into the deep feminine aspects of Divine Wisdom and Compassion and the heart. But the mystics, male and female, do not present a one-sided reality, as Patriarchy does. The yin/yang, female/male dialectic is alive and well in the mystical tradition. God as Mother is honored along with God as Father. Through this, mystics seek wisdom, not mere knowledge.

A yoga class in meditation. Photo by Erik Brolin on Unsplash

The West remains so out of touch with its own mystical tradition that many Westerners seeking mysticism still feel they have to go East to find it. While this can work for many brave and generous individuals, it cannot work for the entire culture. Carl Jung warned us that “we westerners cannot be pirates thieving wisdom from foreign shores that it has taken them centuries to develop as if our own culture was an error outlived.”  One gift from the East is to force Westerners to awaken to their own spiritual heritage.

Is Western culture an “error outlived”? Or is there wisdom deep within our roots that can be accessed anew and that can give us strength and understanding at this critical time when so much is falling apart the world over?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, pp. 1f.

Banner Image: Wisdom in the Roots. Ayutthaya Ruins, Thailand. Photo by Thewonderalice on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What does “launch out into the deep” mean to you?  How do you go about launching out into the deep?

Recommended Reading

Conversations On Aquinas: Caroline Myss

As Matthew Fox’s travels have been curtailed due to the coronavirus, he is sharing a series of conversations with revolutionary thinkers and spiritual teachers on the topics explored in his latest book, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times. In this video, he and Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit and Why People Don’t Heal And How They Can, discuss one of the greatest mystics and prophetic scientists of all time: What does Thomas Aquinas have to say to us today?

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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10 thoughts on “In a Time of Upheaval, Mysticism as Resurrection”

  1. Avatar
    Christine Olson

    I understand what you’re saying, but I would simply point out that the call at the end not to plunder the Eastern religions is impossible in that Christianity was itself once an Eastern religion that was brought West. ??‍♀️

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Christine,
      Thank you for your expansion on the influences of Eastern spirituality upon the West Your point is well taken as to the origins of Christianity in the Middle East (not what we awkwardly call the Far East.) As well as Judaism and Islam. Unfortunately, Christianity did not maintain the earthiness and mysticism of the Middle East as it rode the Roman Empire across Europe and sailed into the Americas. Now, finally, miraculously, we find that while using different words, we all share a similar mystical path. This moment would be a good time to follow those paths like spokes of a wheel, into our common mystical core.
      Gail Sophia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    Good morning and thank you for these wonderful insights as we launch in to the deep today. There is a certain momentum at the moment, similar to the momentum of a canoe pushed off from the shore before you even have to use your oars, a moment when its important to just take a deep breath and see how far you can go forward without rowing before dipping your oars in deeper. It can be a beautiful moment soaring into the lake with Mists of Avalon ahead, and trees getting smaller behind. It can be scary the unknowns, will you lose an oar, will there be a storm; or exciting the adventure, will you see a bird, will you find a treasure; will you feel one with the water and the sky as big as the apple of their eye, or tiny like your boat from the birds eye view above. I think we are in that moment now, it is time to take a deep breath, and then launch ourselves in to the deep. Thank you so much for the push from the shore. Goodbye comfort zones, hello Universe. Thank you and see you tomorrow.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Thank you, Laura,
      It is a very important time for humans. Will we grasp our spiritual potential and meet each other out on the lake? Will this time of quarantine teach us to slow down and care for each other justly? May the silences inside so many houses loosen our materialism and deepen our souls. I share your hope.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team,

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Leonard,
      Those markers are not walls, but more like touchstones to remember the times you stepped out in the deep and paid attention!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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