Yesterday I traced the spirituality of a Zen Garden stroll, then of meditation based on the ancient Eastern insight that, as the Upanishads says:
This whole universe is Brahman… He who consists of mind, whose body is the breath of life… He is my Self within the heart, smaller than a grain of rice or a barley-corn… greater than the earth.
Mysticism is the general name for this insight: that, in a nutshell (or a barley-corn), God “is my Self within the heart.” All major religions have their mysticisms, because all have believers who’ve experienced the transcendent God within their hearts. Islam has Sufis. Christianity has monastic life, with meditation its core practice: the discipline of disposing oneself for direct experience of the divine. Often called “contemplative prayer,” it’s widely practiced by ordinary Christians as well.
Though contemplation, meditation, and mysticism aren’t always interchangeable, they can be for my purpose here. All religions are definitely not interchangeable, but they all share the mystical spiritual experience. This is logical, since there’s only one God; and direct experience of God would be as unmediated as an experience can be. [Read more...]