By Bholanath 2003
There are many ways to argue that every experience is a mystical experience.1 For one, the adept2 (whether he is versed in Qabala, Buddhism, or another mystical tradition) understands that duality is an illusion. Therefore, "mystical is mystical" and "not mystical is mystical." If we are to say that "not mystical is not mystical," then we must also say "mystical is not mystical." This leaves us with only three possible options: A) Everything is mystical, B) Everything is not mystical, or C) There is no difference between mystical and not mystical. The adept will assert that all are true.
It is possible via the many methods of the Qabala to declare that everything is mysticism through logical arguments, but these arguments may seem somewhat abstract to someone who is not initiated. For example, "experience" (in Hebrew) is "nachash" (NChSh). "Nchsh" is also Nechesh, the Serpent that initiated Eve by tempting her to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (OTz HDOTh). "Otz HDOTh" (Tz=90) equals 639. 639 is also "Esrim we-Echad" (OShRYM WAChD [M=40]), meaning twenty-one. Twenty-one is "Ehyeh" (AHYH), meaning "I AM," the name of God associated with Kether. Kether is the first Sephira, the ultimate unity which gives rise to and contains all of existence. In other words the experience of the mystic is the experience of Kether. Kether is initiation into knowledge. Initiation into knowledge is experience. Through the transitive property we can see that mysticism is experience.
"Experience" is also (in Hebrew) "raah" (RAH). "Raah" is also the 69th name of Shem Hamphorash. His angelic name is "Raheal" and he is the angel by day of the Three of Cups. The Three of Cups is "the Lord of Abundance" and represents "the fulfilment of the Will of Love in abounding joy" (Aleister Crowley The Book of Thoth 196). "Love" (AHBH) is thirteen; thirteen is also "Echad" (AChD), meaning "One" or "Unity." Thus, this card represents the "fulfilment of the Will of Unity in abounding joy." The experience of unity in joy is the mystical experience. Again, we see experience is mysticism.
In Greek, "Experience" is "dokime." This has a value of 152. 152 is also "Benjamin" (BNYMN [N=50]). "Benjamin" is also 802 (N=700). 802 = 2 X 401. 2 is the second sephira, "Wisdom" (In Hebrew, Chokmah). 401 is "Eth" (ATh), meaning essence. Thus 802 is "Wisdom of the essence", again the mystical experience, so, once again, we see experience is mysticism.
Other logical arguments can be made to show experience is mysticism without so much abstraction. The best argument for declaring that "every experience is a mystical experience" comes from understanding the relationship between magick and mysticism, which appears to be one of polarity.
First, I shall demonstrate this polarity. The magus seeks to expand the Self eliminating the external universe, where the mystic seeks to eliminate the Self, leaving only the external universe (both ultimately seeking to make themselves one with the universe). The magus concerns himself with the universe as he seeks to make it, while the mystic concerns himself with the universe as it is. The magus seeks to create and manipulate illusions, while the mystic seeks to annihilate illusions (the magus recognizing the reality of illusions and the mystic recognizing the illusion of reality). While the magus desires to leave nothing undisturbed, the mystic wishes to disturb nothing (Since everything is ultimately Nothing, it is actually the magus who disturbs Nothing and the mystic that leaves Nothing undisturbed). The magus believes "whatever is, is wrong," contrary to the mystics "whatever is, is right" (both realizing Nothing is; but it is actually the magus who affirms the reality of illusion, thus affirming "whatever is, is right," while the mystic affirms the illusion of reality, and therefore "whatever is, is wrong"). The magus sees unity as the goal, while the mystic sees it as the process. From an esoteric standpoint, Magick is called the Will-to-Live and Mysticism is called the Will-to-Die (In the occult, death rarely is considered a final ending. Instead, it is recognized as change: the death of something old, but simultaneously the birth of something new [which fits in nicely with the scientific axiom: "Matter and Energy can not be created or destroyed, only transformed"] and thus, while you must be living to be dying, you must also be dying to be living).
The accepted definition of Magick3:
Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur [in the Universe] in conformity with Will [of the Self].4
(Illustration: It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take "magical weapons", pen, ink, and paper; I write "incantations" -- these sentences -- in the "magical language" i.e. that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth "spirits", such as printers, publishers, booksellers, and so forth, and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of MAGICK by which I cause Change to take place in conformity with my Will) (Crowley, Aleister Magick in Theory and Practice XII - XIII).
While I have not seen it done, I feel justified in declaring:
Mysticism is the Science and Art of allowing Change to occur [in the Self] in conformity with Will [of the Universe].5
Crowley goes on to say that "Every intentional act is a Magical Act," adding in a footnote "By 'intentional' I mean 'willed'. But even unintentional acts so-seeming are not truly so. Thus, breathing is an act of the Will-to-Live" (Ibid.). Just so, I can say that every intentional experience is a mystical experience. Every time you have an experience, it is because factors outside of yourself (or at least seemingly) have worked upon you to change you (regardless of the quantity or quality of this change). Even unwanted experiences are experienced only because we allow them to be (i.e. They may be ignored, trivialized, or repressed -- but then you experience these behaviours in relation to the experience). Also, from the view point of solipsism (the philosophy which states "The world is that which you think it is"), we Will our experiences on ourselves so we may learn from them and obtain true knowledge thereby.
If we declare that mysticism is only an experience of the God, we must define what God is. The act of defining God limits God; by saying what God is, you imply what God is not. Only if we limit God may we limit what can be considered a mystical experience. This limited definition of God may suite a neophyte, however an adept will tend to take a monistic or pantheistic view of God (the adept having experienced the Oneness of all things). The universe, by definition is everything and (from the view of a pantheist or a monist) God is everything. Therefore, every experience of the universe must also be an experience of God (and visa versa). Thus, an adept will not take a limited view of what may be construed as a mystical experience. In fact, higher magickal adepts must take a magickal oath to interpret every experience as a direct dealing with their Self emanating from God (At yet higher levels they take an oath that they shall not distinguish any one thing from any other thing6, which means that every action or experience is a way in which their own Self deals with their own Self; God only enters into the picture in recognizing that their own Self is God. This is a very important key in transcending the duality of magick and mysticism).
If we argue that mysticism must be an experience of the ineffable, then we must consider what is ineffable. Two hundred years of scientific reasoning and analysis have lead us to the following dilemma: we do not know why we see what we see; hear what we hear; or otherwise experience what we experience. If there is something out there beyond ourselves, we do not know its real nature. If what we experience is not a creation of our own imagination, then we do not know why we experienced it, or what it really was that we experienced. The smallest leaf is a miracle, and the act of seeing it miraculous: filled with wonder and awe. The experiencing of anything is, therefore, the experiencing of the ineffable. The experiencing of the ineffable is, by definition, the objective sought by all would-be mystics. Ergo, all experiences are mystical.
Continuing with my illustration of a book as a mystical experience, I can show that obtaining and reading this book illustrate unity. Obtaining this book demonstrates a unity between myself and the book, as well as between myself and all other owners of the book (i.e. I am now a member of the subset of all people who own this book). Similar unions are entered into upon reading this book. Also, this book illustrates a union between abstract letters, put together to form abstract words, compiled again to form abstract terms, abstract sentences, abstract paragraphs, abstract pages abstract sections, abstract chapters, abstract parts, abstract books, abstract volumes, etc. The fact that I can understand these abstract ideas illustrates a unity between myself, the book, and the author, as well as between the abstract ideas and the real concepts they represent. My application of the ideas presented in this book illustrates a unity between this book, myself, and the world.
The tangibility of the book, gives rise to my experience of its objectivity or reality. Furthermore, real experiences (accounting for the reality of illusion) gave rise to the inspiration of the author to write the book, the publisher to publish it, the distributer to distribute it, and the book seller to sell it (this also illustrates the union between all of these).
Feelings of blessedness, joy, happiness, satisfaction, peace, and the like are all subjective. There are plenty of people who enjoy a good kick to the head. I may enjoy this book intensely while many others may hate it, or the reverse may occur.
I may find this book is so profound as to consider it holy, sacred, or divine. Throughout history many books by various people have been given such consideration: various Bibles, various Books of the Law, various Books of the Dead, among many, many others. Even if I didn't consider the whole book sacred, there may be certain words, names, terms, or titles, that I feel are sacred. Tetragrammaton (YHVH) is considered to be a most holy name of God and the correct pronunciation could supposedly bring about the end of the world. Names have always been felt to contain power (i.e. name something and you have power over it) and for this reason a warlock never allows his true name to be known. Also, calling people or things by certain titles or terms can invoke all sorts of emotional responses and behaviours.
There is a certain paradox involved in learning so much from the pieces of a dead tree splattered with abstract patterns of ink that has absolutely nothing to do with the message the book conveys and this act, not to mention the book itself, may seem ineffable to a savage living in the jungles of Africa.
So, does the term mysticism mean anything? Does the term apple? We hear the word apple and we think of a red fruit, about the size of a baseball, but this is derived from the context of speaking English. If a Chinese person hears the term (assuming he doesn't know English) he may think it entirely meaningless. In fact, there is no direct connection between the word apple and the object it refers to, just an arbitrary agreement between speakers of the English language. But even having given that term meaning, does not mean that the term only has that meaning. In the hands of a poet, the term may be used in a completely different sense. The meaning can only be determined by the context.
To illustrate this term more clearly, the term "slip" has thirty different definitions in my abridged dictionary (fifty in my unabridged) (this does not include its use in certain phrases which may alter its meaning or its potential for use by poets). Obviously if I just say "slip", given no context, the meaning will just slip by. But, given a context, as I did at the end of the last sentence, you probably know exactly what I mean.
For a even more obvious example, I will use the concept of death, which I have already explained above. If I was to say that the Brian Matthew Kessler who was born July 31, 1973 has died hundreds, if not thousands, of times to someone without any occult knowledge, he might take a look at me, see me breathing, and decide that I have probably not even been dead once7. If this person was into the occult, however, he may decide that this is of the purest of truths.
So the question then becomes: Given the context of a "mysticism class", what does "mysticism" mean? Ultimately, that is determined by the instructor. This view is based in megalomania, solipsism or insanity. The first if taken seriously by the instructor. The second if I, god, have imagined the instructor and the third if some of my creations blasphemously disbelieve me and cart me away to the funny farm. Since you've gotten this far: (1) congratulations on your mystical experience; (2) hallelujah; (3) bon voyage; and (4) all of the above.