The Other I

February 4, 2013

Why I’m not a mystic

Filed under: Just Stuff,Psychology, Philosophy & Personal Nonsense — theotheri @ 3:57 pm

It suddenly occurred to me today why I’m not a mystic, and why I don’t even want to be one.  I don’t want to close my eyes to everything this world has to offer and retreat to some deep meditative practice, concentrating on finding the transcendent Truth deep within myself.

I am a thinking, sensing, living human being, and I find this world totally fascinating, exhilarating, energizing.  Yes, I also find it infuriating, exhausting, puzzling.

But I was born into this world with the body that I have, the needs and capacities that I have, and I have no desire whatsoever not to be what I am, and to use my abilities to the full.

No, I don’t want to drown in acquiring things, and I certainly do not want to be any kind of celebrity.  Too many things, too much celebrity only get in the way.

But I love this world and I want to drink it in in every possible way.  I love trying to solve problems.  I love discussions about the meaning of life, I love people who come up with new inventions, I love beautiful music.  I love those small acts of kindness or understanding one sees in ordinary exchanges in places as prosaic as the grocery store.

No I’m not a mystic.

And I don’t even ever want to be one.



  1. On the other hand, there are so many times i feel i am suffering from sensory overload and my database has failed to file the information in the proper place for retrieval. I find that more and more often someone will say to me “I told you that last week” or “Don’t you remember?” I make the excuse that with the TV on, the ticker tape scrolling across the bottom, news bites flashing across the screen as a newscaster is yammering about another news bite, the house phone is ringing the cell phone is ringing, instant messaging, emails coming in, doorbell ringing, tweeting, texting, poking, linking. Then there is the need to multitask – cut up the vegetables for the stew while on the phone waiting to get connected with the insurance company that puts you on an endless push this button if you are under 120# or that button if you live in buffalo, while you are making a mental shopping list for your next trip to the grocery store all while kugelling. truly, i get your point, but there are times i envy the anchorites.


    Comment by kateritek — February 6, 2013 @ 1:04 am | Reply

    • Oh yes, thank you for this! I identify wholeheartedly. I even said the other day that I was beginning to understand the value of a cloistered life – not as a way from running away from the world, but as a way of listening to it. One of the things about modern life is the overload of stimulation made possible by our increasingly pervasive communication systems. Just as we need to learn that celebrity has a dark side, and that happiness does not lie in acquiring more things, we also need to learn to be quiet, to listen, to contemplate. I do not exclude myself from needing to keep practicing this. It’s too easy to let myself be engulfed by noise. And that is not at all what I mean about not being a mystic.


      Comment by Terry Sissons — February 6, 2013 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

  2. Terry,
    I think your response to kateritek should have been your blog. I’m not sure what you were describing in you post as “mysticism,” but your reply was great. “The value of a cloistered [mystical] life – not as a way from running away from the world, but as a way of listening to it” hits the nail on the head. Your point was exactly that of Thomas Merton—contemplative life is not about withdrawing from the world but engaging with it.

    Tony Equale, too, had something to say about it in a recent post of his about “material mysticism”

    “… I am trying to introduce a configuration of ideas meaningful to human beings that constitute a one-world “mysticism” rooted in the transcendent energies from which our material organisms have evolved.

    I’ve used the word “mysticism.” I want immediately to define what I mean by it and distinguish it sharply from other uses and meanings, especially the popular dualist belief in another world, the “spirits” that inhabit that world and the privileged access to arcane know¬ledge of its existence and character. I mean none of that. Here, I use mysticism to signify a way of relating to reality that consciously minimizes the perception of entities as separate individuals and promotes an “awakening” that sees them as science tells us they really are — integral parts of an overarching super-entity . . . ”

    This is a new way of being mystical, and you are that!


    Comment by Margschu — February 8, 2013 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your enriching comment, as well as your suggestion that I have grasped the essence of “mystical” as a form of listening. I hope you are ‘t as off the mark as my cluttered, clattering life sometimes seems to feel.

      As you know, I’m a regular reader of Tony’s blog (, and many of my ideas are distilled (or should I say watered down?) versions of his posts. For those with sufficient background or perhaps sheer need to come to grips with Christian Platonic dualism and the unfortunate secular power bestowed on Christianity by Constantine’s conversion, reading Tony’s posts are often simply liberating.



      Comment by Terry Sissons — February 9, 2013 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

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