The “Unio Mystica,” Mystical Union & Humankind’s Survival

We meditated yesterday on what Otto Rank, recognized as the “father of humanistic psychology” who died young in 1939, had to say about the loss of cosmos in the West and the price we have paid for that. 

Thomas Berry (1914 – 2009) recites his poem, “Earth’s Desire,” then engages his audience in call-and-response.

A cosmic and earth-based consciousness is what aboriginal Eddie Kneebone and indigenous teacher Black Elk and others as well as pre-modern creation mystics teach us is so essential.  A psychology not of ego but of microcosm/macrocosm brings psyche and cosmos, humans and earth, into alignment.

Rank says that human beings—including us today–seek “an identity with the cosmic process.” And that our deepest woes stem from our separation from the cosmos.  Maybe the earth crisis is calling us back to these truths since “ecology is functional cosmology” (Thomas Berry).

Rank calls this the unio mystica (the mystical union) or “being one with the All” and “in tune with” the cosmos.

The earliest humans knew intimacy with the cosmos.  Says Rank:

“The Plight of the Sockeye,” photo by Cheryl Stahl, via Flickr.

This identification is the echo of an original identity, not merely of child and mother, but of everything living—witness the reverence of the primitive for animals. In man, identification aims at re-establishing a lost identity with the cosmic process which has to be surrendered and continuously re-established in the course of self-development.

Rank instructs us to look to indigenous peoples—in this instance, to the wisdom and the “reverence” they derive from animals.  Reverence is born of awe.  With reverence comes respect.  How grounded are we in awe, reverence and respect at this time in history? 

Regarding our lost cosmic awareness, Rank says:

Snorkeling promotes an appreciation for grandeur and quenches the thirst for connection. Photo by Stuart Pritchards from Pexels.

Psychology is searching for a substitute for the cosmic unity which the man of Antiquity enjoyed in life and expressed in his religion, but which modern man has lost—a loss which accounts for the development of the neurotic type.

Much of the neurosis of our time, Rank feels, is due to the loss of our connection to the cosmos. Anthropocentrism, or species narcissism, fails to satisfy or fulfill the immense human soul.

For Rank, the world “bears the mark of infinity.” French philosopher Gaston Bachelard, in his moving book The Poetics of Space, describes what living in a cosmos is like and thereby expands on Rank’s insight. For him, the soul experiences immensity and grandeur in the context of the cosmos.

Canning the cosmos in a glass jar. Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels.

We are at home with solitude, and great things well up in the soul because of solitude.

Immensity is within ourselves. It is attached to a sort of expansion of being that life curbs and caution arrests but which starts up again when we are alone… We are elsewhere; we are dreaming in a world that is immense.

Our soul is vast and full of hidden grandeur. In our experiences of unity or grace,

we discover that immensity in the intimate domain is intensity, and intensity of being, the intensity of being evolving in a vast perspective of intimate immensity.

Intensity, immensity, intimacy—in the human, they all occur at once. That is what mysticism is.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times, pp. 145f.
Banner Image: “Heaven,” photo by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr.

Do you agree that “modern man and woman” has lost a connection with the cosmos and the result has been great neuroses?  And that there are ways to reconnect to the whole?  And that our present earth crisis is part of that neurosis?

Recommended Reading

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

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Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
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7 thoughts on “The “Unio Mystica,” Mystical Union & Humankind’s Survival”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Part of the neuroses of humanity is its delusion of what connection really means and is. This delusion of connection often expressed through possession of and domination over has put all of creation on earth in a condition and state of crisis… to the point of possible self-destruction. Connection is an ultimate reality that needs to be awakened within the hearts, minds and souls of humanity… which is all about relationship with
    the active living presence of the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit, God…in all that exists and lives, and the powerful essence of this unconditional love towards the inherent goodness incarnate within the all and the everything of creation. The sacred vision of the Divine Creator is for humanity to be and live, (which believe means) in this ultimate reality… acknowledging and responding to all of creation as a good gift to be respected, valued, cared for, tended to, and nurtured as a precious treasure… with gratitude not only for the beauty of each one’s giveaway to the whole, but also for the very real interconnections, interreliabilty, and interdependability that binds together the web of our very existence founded in relationship with, which is rooted in unconditional love for all.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Connection, relationship, interdependence–these are words I hold dear, and I like how you conclude your comment about how when we have gratitude for the gift of creation we know “the very real interconnections, interreliabilty, and interdependability that binds together the web of our very existence founded in relationship with, which is rooted in unconditional love for all.”

  2. Avatar

    I am in agreement with the words and point of view expressed by Rev. Fox. I think that somehow in the Christian tradition things got turned around and upside down and backwards. The bible teaches that creation with all its elegance was first, and humankind came last and presumed there was the right and privilege of “Domination”.
    Domination has us in the LOST place that our souls are experiencing now. Had the authors of the story possessed the appropriate wisdom, there would have been the awareness that everything that was FIRST in creation was SO in order for humankind (LAST) to observe and learn about that creation and itself. Thus, humans have separated themselves from the cosmos. I would add to Rev. Fox’s concluding comment….”intensity, immensity, intimacy—in the human, they occur at once—‘THIS IS THE UNIFYING COSMIC ORGASM.’ That is what mysticism is.”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Eternity, thank you so much for your comment and vote of confidence! For more on Matthew’s vision and work for the earth–for the “anawim” the voiceless ones, read: ORDER OF THE SACRD EARTH: AN INTERGENERATIONAL VISION OF LOVE AND ACTION. I think you’ll like it!

  3. Avatar

    If we are truly waking up, maturing, realizing, growing up; it would be beautiful if we took the coming year to think about and contemplate the significance of greeting everyone next year on the 4th of July with the words:
    “HAPPY INTERDEPENDENCE DAY” instead of Happy Independence Day or Happy 4th of July. The change that is necessary will not happen until WE make the necessary changes and put them into action. I see this as moving us toward the “Unico Mystico” that Rev. Fox is teaching. It can move US toward a more harmonized and balanced
    country, world, universe, cosmos. Think about it over the next couple of months.

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