In yesterday’s DM, citing Jose Andres, we asked that the best of humanity please stand up. 

“The tree hugger: Settler attacks on Palestinian farmers and their olive trees,” Al Jazeera English. Satellite analysis indicates Israeli bombing has destroyed roughly 50% of tree crops and 42% of greenhouses within Gaza. (The Cradle)

What is the best in humanity?  Carl Jung says, “it is to the mystics that we owe what is best in humanity.”  It seems important then that we learn more about the mystics.  This will be a common theme in our forthcoming daily meditations.

My most succinct definition of a mystic is this: The lover in us. 

The mystic is a lover.  Lover of self; and God; and Earth; and being; and Life; and the universe wherein life and consciousness dwell with its 13.8-billion-year amazing journey.  A lover of being and becoming, of beauty and of surprises Nature and the Holy Spirit bestow on us daily.

Many of these surprises are marvels and marvelous.  Therefore, they are rightly called miracles (the core meaning of miracle is the marvelous).

Ordinary miracle: nature photographer Jerry Lockett films a monarch butterfly in the act of eclosing (emerging from their chrysalis).

A mystic is in touch with his or her curiosity and reaches out regularly to be inspired, to breathe in, the gifts of life beginning with air and breath itself. The mystic is one who does not take for granted.  Not air or water or existence or things.

The mystic is one who falls in love at least three times per day. A mystic recognizes self and others as Original Blessings. “Blessing” is the theological word for “goodness.”  A mystic recognizes goodness and is hungry and attuned to goodness. 

Real mystics, trustworthy mystics, talk a lot about goodness and blessings therefore and recognizes the originality of things.  Thomas Aquinas talks about “primal goodness,” “original goodness,” and “original freshness.”  

“Original Blessing: The Golden Tent” in Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, plate 9.

Hildegard of Bingen talks about “original wisdom” and describes it as a “golden tent” folded up inside every child when they are born.  She describes our life journey as setting up that tent of original wisdom. 

She paints a picture of the process itself that is not easy.  We encounter many obstacles while setting up that tent–there are rivers to fjord and mountains to climb and demons to confront along the way. 

But eventually, in her story, the tent is raised and even then, there are bad spirits continuing to attack us from outside the tent.  And good angels assisting us as well.

To be continued.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, pp. 76-82.

See also Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 45-52.

Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth, pp. 18f., 29-31

And Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations.

Banner Image: Contemplative love of the Earth: “Mystic Existence.” Collage by Daniel Arrhakis on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you see yourself as a mystic along with the other mystics we invoke?  Do you too represent “the best in humanity”?  How are we doing?

Recommended Reading

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

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6 thoughts on “The Mystic in Us: The “Best in Humanity”?”

  1. Avatar

    We all reside in a mystical, mysterious existence. It is all ours to experience and revel in its glory. What we do with that experiential invitation is ours to choose. How often do we go to that ‘well’ as an event and not a full life? Do we immerse ourselves and see the experience as an ever-flowing stream of consciousness and awareness? Again, this is our choice whether or not to reside in the realm of love, joy, peace, faith, mercy, suffering and grace. When we say ‘Yes’ to the invitation, there is always ‘the Way’ to guide us in its wondrous and unimaginable experience. Does the best ‘to come’ not happen until we allow the best of humanity and divinity to ‘collide’ in cataclysmic glory? — BB.

  2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, I just wanted to thank you for all that you have done to uphold the mystic before us. It is true, as Meister Eckhart said: “Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” You have always taught us the same. Thank you!

  3. Avatar

    Thank you soooo much for the video of the olive tree hugger and spectacular beauty of the butterfly. The first broke my heart and the second elated my Spirit. ❤️ Kristal Parks

  4. Avatar

    Yes! Mystics and our universal mystical traditions have inspired my faith and spiritual journey since young adulthood. My faith in Our Co-Creator~Source’s Spirit of LOVE~WISDOM~PEACE~JUSTICE~HEALING~CREATIVITY~BEAUTY~JOY~COMPASSION~
    DIVERSE ONENESS… Being SACREDLY UNIQUELY PRESENT within All of Us and All Living Evolving Sacred physical and non physical Creation in Our COSMOS always inspires and deepens my spiritual journey with others daily….

  5. Avatar
    Joseph Piccione

    Here in the Midwest USA we had a remarkable experience of eclipse on the cosmic and human level.

    For many, the inner gift of mystical awareness awakened and shared with joy on the streets and gathering places. As St Francis named them, thank you Brother Sun and Sister Moon for the invitation to awe you gave us!

  6. Avatar

    Am I a mystic?
    Do I represent “something good in humanity?”

    The designation of “mystic” is modern.
    And it often implies an assumed status/requirement of “worthiness for sacred revelations of the author,” the “mystic/saint.”
    But we don’t really know much about all the “mystics” because very few mystical texts exist, and those that do were usually narrowly selected to stay within imposed guidelines. Very few mystics were “approved.”

    Eckhart didn’t have to label his texts “mystical” because he wrote (in Latin) for an audience of similarly-trained theologians who recognized his message of the Church’s official doctrine, i.e., “Neoplatonic” mysticism. He dared to share some of those traditionally-hidden (from-“peasants” and especially from women) ideas in sermons, but cloaked them in biblical parallels. Even so, he shared too boldly, and was condemned for potentially “leading people astray.”
    Mystics had to express their ideas VERY carefully, for a number of (sometimes valid) reasons. The Church knew this, and enforced it. Violently. They destroyed any mystics and texts they didn’t like.

    Very few mystical texts survived.
    Those that did were carefully coded.
    Now we have to DE-code texts to find authors we can label “authentic” mystics.

    I’ve been writing here about mysticism for over 2 years, so there’s plenty to choose from.

    YOU decide:

    Am I a mystic?
    A trustworthy mystic?

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