Quote for the Day

Because ‘mystical experience’ lies far beyond description, it is sometimes assumed that all such experiences, in whatever context they occur, must be the same – a unity at the heart of all religions; but that remains an assumption: it clearly cannot be demonstrated.

The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions

Why Is "Mysticism" A Dirty Word?
Five Approaches to InterSpirituality
What Has Not Yet Been Revealed
Five Things Christian Contemplatives can learn from Buddhists
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • http://celticscribblings.wordpress.com trev

    Judging from how individuals respond to their mystical experiences, I’m led to think they are not precisely the same–although there may be core elements that are.

  • Chris

    Conversely, it cannot be proved that they aren’t all the same either. Let the mystery be.

    However, once one has an experience of wholeness, it is impossible to not consider it a universal experience.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlmccolman/ Carl McColman

    My point in posting this quote is not to argue against the universality of mystical experience, but rather to suggest that perhaps humility is better served when we acknowledge that, no matter how powerful our own experience of the mystery may be, we simply do not know what the experience of others is or might be. Such a “location” of not-knowing is a sacred place to be, even if it prohibits us from jumping to conclusions.

  • Chris

    Dizang asked Fayan, “Where are you going?”
    Fayan said, “Around on pilgrimage.”
    Dizang said, “What is the purpose of your pilgrimage?”
    Fayan said, “I don’t know.”
    Dizang said, “Not knowing is most intimate.”

    We cannot say much of anything with certainty. However, I prefer to dwell on what connects us rather than what divides us.