Belief in mysticism is the underlying premise for many religions. So, can you be a mystic without following a religion? Is life as mystic possible in this day and age?
What is mysticism, and what is a modern mystic? Mysticism is the study of the unknown. Those who explore these things are called mystics. There are many kinds of mystics. Some are good communicators like Rumi, Hafez, and Evelyn Underhill. Other mystics are warriors, sorcerers and like Carlos Castañeda and Paulo Coelho, and some are guides and teachers like Joseph Campbell.
Is Life as a Mystic Possible?
Consciousness is mysterious. How do we become a singular point of awareness? Life is mystical, so mysticism is the underlying premise or truth of existence. It is only natural to want to understand its mysteries. (1)
“The difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” ― Carlos Castaneda
“The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.” ― Joseph Campbell, Psychology of the Future: Lessons from Modern Consciousness Research
“I believe in mysticism, with an interior goal, and you are your own temple and your own priest. I don’t believe anymore in religions, because you see today there are religious wars, prejudice, false morals, and the woman is despised. Religion is too old now; it’s from another century, it’s not for today.” ― Alejandro Jodorowsky
Mysticism is the underlying premise for myths. That’s the problem. Organized religion substitutes myth for mysticism. They are not the same thing. Mysticism is about exploring and gaining inner knowledge, whereas the myths of organized religion are just stories, legends, and cultural folklore. Religion uses myths to make customers. Are you one?
What is a Modern Mystic?
Think about it this way: we are born without any religious beliefs, just an innate desire to seek the unknown. You don’t need a religion to delve into the unknown. We are born with the mindset of a mystic. But social programming makes us forget our natural state. When we undertake inner work, we often discover we are merely uncovering our true nature.
Inner work are the tools and techniques which help us identify negative thinking and break the unhealthy boundaries of our beliefs. Examining our thoughts, beliefs and values is the way to understand how these boundaries hold us back.
A modern mystic is a freethinker and non-conformist, someone who can see through the status quo of the cultural folklore. How do you do this? It takes some serious inner work to get back to our original state, because there’s a lot of negative thinking and values which need to be changed. Are you up to the challenge?
Mysticism is the Underlying Premise of Spirituality
Spirituality is also about exploring the unknown. So it our mystical quest includes the things we call supernatural or paranormal. If we are to live life as a mystic, we cannot ignore these opportunities to explore the unknown.
We have an innate desire to explore the unknown, which is the driving force behind our quest of exploration and the need to find answers. That’s it. If you are researching the mysteries of awareness and consciousness, you are on the mystical path. You don’t need religious mythology and superstition to be a spiritual explorer and a mystic. All you need are the proper tools.
Organized religion lacks tools exploring consciousness and the boundaries of their myths and superstitions are a hinderance to the spiritual quest. For people in these religions, the question is living life without religion possible? Or can be a mystic and still fit with this narrow belief system? Are you ready for this journey? Here are some starting questions for this inner work.
- Do I have an insatiable hunger for the unknown?
- Can help me overcome religion’s critical mass in my culture?
- Do I embrace the concept that I am divine apart from religion?
- Do I need religion or religious leaders to guide me in finding my divinity?
- Is the path of organized religion correct for me, or is it unnecessary?
- Do I believe some ancient traditions are still viable and valuable in awakening my spiritual gifts?
- Am I already a mystic?
Four Divisions of Mystical Thought
The following four categories are just one way to look at mysticism: use it as the stimulus for thought-provoking discussions and your inner work.
1) The Religious Devotee
The religious devotee is the first level of mystical thought. Here, religion acts as a filter to limit the boundaries of thinking. The religion often becomes their identity. Life is an act of devotion to the belief system rather than to seeking truth.
Their leader controls the direction of their spiritual journey. Followers of the Western organized religion are limited by the boundaries of their sect. Here, they learn to treat the metaphors of their holy texts as factual events and real people. They have no tools within these systems to explore consciousness. Many fall into this trap of faith over reason and common sense. Life as a mystic is only possible if you color within the lines they draw. Otherwise, you become a heretic and subject to a range of punishments.
Religious devotees have three main concerns:
The above three doctrines operate via the process of mystical, magical, mental appropriation. One reaches out with mentally with the mystical power of the mind to and makes a divine connection. This gives gets them membership in the afterlife club where they can receive forgiveness to justify their actions. They say I will believe in mysticism as long as it fits within my religion.
Many people did not have a choice. Children rarely have a choice. They are victims of systematic indoctrination. Families brainwash their children to accept the same biases and prejudices. But you don’t have to stay with counterfeit spirituality. Once you begin to see the facts from the fiction, you can create a path. You don’t have to believe in imaginary beings to be a mystic. You already are one.
2) Living Life as a Mystic
The second group is are people that reject the dogma of religion. Sometimes they refer to themselves as Atheists or Agnostics, but they may not identify with any group — they focus on professional, personal and social interests.
The mystical aspect of life only arises as a topic of concern when someone dies or suffers from a major illness or trauma. They say I consider mysticism when life forces me to acknowledge death’s unknown existential crisis.
This fear could open the door. A skeptical mindset is needed if you want to be a mystic. When you ask, what is a modern mystic? you are also asking if mysticism in the modern world is possible.
3) The Part-Time Religious Observers
The third group represents the largest growing segment of the world population. Some are fringe believers of Western organized religions and the others are those who do not follow any spiritual practice. Unlikely bedfellows. They live somewhere in the middle, between the religious devotee and the atheist. Some follow religious dogma because of family or cultural tradition. They state I believe in mysticism to the extent it quells my fear of death.
Their beliefs come from childhood indoctrination. They are followers because of the programming, not because they made an informed choice. Their beliefs comfort them and provide a social bond to a community. Concerns center on acceptance in the community and afterlife beliefs. Are you a victim of this child abuse?
But someone from this group could become a mystic if their existential fear leads them to seek their personal truth. Life as a mystic is just out of reach but within their possibilities.
4) The Spiritual Explorer
The fourth group is the spiritual explorer. This group is not anti-religion; they are merely interested in the mystical journey without religion. They might say believe in mysticism because they have hands-on experience. I don’t define it. I am a mystic because I seek answers on my own. Mysticism is the underlying premise of my path.
The people in this group do not follow an organized religion and use at least one spiritual technique. Independent research and study are the heart of their practice. These spiritual pioneers learn to meditate and delve into Shamanic practices. People in this group are often involved in healing arts, and showing concern for the less fortunate and the environment. These people are explorers of both the outer and inner worlds.
Belief in Mysticism
Your belief or disbelief is a matter of your programming and ability to reason. The programming for this is in two distinct forms. One is our innate desire to explore the unknown. Some call this the life of the mystic. The second comes from those who program your cultural narrative. This latter element is typically the domain of religion.
Religious devotees and part-time religious observers of Western organized religion have over 4 billion members. They say I could believe in mysticism under my belief’s conditions and boundaries, and for those following Western organized religion, this is enough. But they are distracted by myths and superstition and never question the boundaries. They are programmed to resist anything that challenges their sacred ground.
Then, on the other side of the continuum are people content to live life without religion. They resist the urge to entertain thoughts about the unknown. They will tell you I believe in mysticism to the same extent as the tooth fairy. Not at all.
People in the last group are the freethinkers and explorers. They embrace the challenge of the unknown. The creed they follow is science. The god they worship is nature. Their doctrine is logical reasoning and comparative analysis. But they were also explorers of consciousness. They practice science by experimenting with spiritual technologies. So, they can say I believe in mysticism as I discover the evidence in my practical experiments of life.
Life as a Mystic in the Modern World
Living life without religion is not only possible, but it is also the preferred state of mind because it is the source of freedom. A mystic is someone who is not afraid to say, I don’t know. They are continually discovering new things, which opens up more questions. What is a modern mystic to you? Does the question spark positive or negative emotion? Is it out of the realm of possibility for you? Or are you on your way to becoming one?
(1) Can Mysticism Help Us Solve the Mind-Body Problem?: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/can-mysticism-help-us-solve-the-mind-body-problem/