A summary reading of the history of myths teaches us how religious even the most atheist of us remains; how the religious lives on in us, in our imagination, ideas, impulses, emotions, motives, narratives of life, etc., irrespectively of what our rational mind believes. We remain worshipers in a temple we no longer believe in its existence. We remain idolators of a power in which we ceased to believe, at the very thought of which we cannot hold our laughter, our cynicism — and what is cynicism if not the pain of a wound? We may know a lot more, we moderns, but we feel a lot less and less profoundly, and the world of our feeling, intuition, and imagination has shrunk in proportion to the horizons which our minds have widened. We know no reverence; we are deeply irreverent. The sacred has been expunged from our rational world, and that is a direct correlation with the way we are handling our planet and ourselves.
I can only admit to a divinity that takes pleasure in heightening the individual and affirming difference, one that does not seek to dissolve him in oneness but understands him as an expression of that oneness. The individual grows in power and distinction the more his heart is open to the divine, the more he becomes its channel. He is its unique expression though he already lives in its heart.
With the poem the poets barter their way into eternity, and that is all the poets have ever done, consciously or not. But then again, eternity is the intuition for which the poem is the medium and conductor, the activity through which eternity expands inside the poet’s heart. So a moment comes where every poet wonders if the poem is in fact more than a poem, a poetry that goes beyond poetry and overflows into life, under and inside the very marrow of life. The poet intuits eternity as a force of life, or, rather, life as an expression of eternity. The poet, then, driven as if by instinct, wants his life lived in harmony with the eternal, as he begins to experience the true opening of the heart. His relationship with life or what life is for him must now come from his openness to eternity, from his intuition of the absolute. He wants to live the eternal as he relates to life. He glorifies being inasmuch as he feels that that is a state of flowering inside the eternal; being, for him, is a state of absolute openness, of total transparency and a life taken over by the eternal. So the images come of the moth and the flame, of the whirling dervish, the ocean, and the boundless sky, and underneath it all, the silence of God, the eternal.
Of all values and spiritual disciplines purity is the one at which all others converge. Purity is the kernel of love and truth, the very fire which flames must spread through the body and its inward layers, cleansing, if we are to be raised to God’s sacred altar, the dome of the dawn sky. Ultimately, to have one’s pulsing heart flowing with a water so pure that it is worthy to reflect the endlessly metamorphosing face of the divine—to become the vessel of the divine flame and wine.
In many a mystic I found a powerlessness so great that its resolution was in drowning the self in some absolute. The mystic’s powerlessness is felt more deeply than the normal man and that is why its resolution must come in more drastic and extreme forms. What is sought is losing the self since it is too great a burden to maintain. This mysticism is hung up on ecstasy and the ecstatic experience; it seeks ecstasy the way a drug is sought — for it wants the feeling of unity that ecstasy provides. And ecstasy comes under many headlines — the sexual, the ritualistic, the poetic, etc. Nothing bothers this mysticism more than its antipode — the rational mind that insists on its definitions and classifications and that approaches the world as if with armour and gloves. But these are two different reactions emanating from the same need. The fact that they hate each other so much gives them away easily.
There is, of course, another kind of mysticism — a mysticism that comes from the abundance of the spirit, one that is well set up on two feet and that realizes unity and completeness through excess of power. But this is to say that mysticism, as is everything in life, is not itself a given experience. In other words — it is a reflection of the man, his weakness and strength.
At bottom, it is about embracing the world as a unity without forfeiting the self and one’s individuality.
What enables or allows the mystical experience is not exactly an access into some higher reality, a revelation of the world’s unity, a penetration into the ground of Being or what is. What I mean to say, the mystical experience is not the affect of something that takes place on the outside, our perception of that outside: when one is happy the world becomes bright, and when sad gloomy, and thus with the mystical experience. Life and its fecundity arrive to such an excess within us that, completely self-oblivious and no longer struggling to maintain ourselves, we are carried with the tide and blend with everything around us. The experience itself is an amalgamation of drunkenness and clarity where the world becomes transfigured through and through. We hear the volcano rumbling within us and erupting, and at the same time envision the clarity and peacefulness of a sky in an autumn lake.
But let us beware of turning that into some ultimate truth — for truth is never a question here—, let us beware of submitting our reason and with it our personal will and individuality with our want to hem ourselves there once and for all. Let us not make the mistake of disvaluing our difference in the favour of some sameness that comes under the headline of oneness. Let us not dismantle the hierarchy of values, the inevitability of rule and obedience. Let us not paint our world colourless and pale by wanting to forfeit that which is peculiarly human — our taste.