Mysticism (Greek mystikos which means "an initiate") is the immediate personal consciousness of the divine metaphysical reality. It is knowledge of God through experience. According to Gershom Scholem, a leading scholar of Jewish mysticism, the mystical religion allows room for some sort of empirical experience of God. From "tasting and seeing," the nature of the divine "however spiritualized they become" is what "the genuine mystic desires." The mystic wants to experience the divine physically as well as spiritually. Ecstatic meditation is considered one way to characterize and find similarity in all types of mystical experiences. Although it does not characterize it totally. Another similarity is that mystical experiences are all rooted within some religious tradition. One of the conditions that must be met within those contexts is the assumption of supernaturalism. There has to be an established and recognized fact of a deep "gulf" between human and God, the creation and Creator, or the finite and infinite.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! 9 O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him, there is no want. Psalm 34:8-9
The history of mysticism demonstrates that there really has never been an "abstract mystical religion". But rather there are Jewish and Christian and Islamic mysticism. Mysticism is expressed within the context of various religious traditions in other words. It has only been within modernity, the 20th and 21st centuries, that mysticism has been developed without any grounding in any significant historical religion. It is a construct of a universal religious system that is not tied down by any of the dogmatic, and institutional effects of religion. Therefore any type of religious mysticism are actually just corrupt forms of what is a more universal and therefore "chemically pure mysticism" according to the universal mystic. However the "religious anarchist" who shows no loyalty to any particular religious system of thought is not based in historical fact. Mysticism is able to arise because certain conditions are met. It is "connected with, and inseparable from, a certain stage of religious consciousness." There is also though other stages that mysticism cannot cooperate with when operating under the natural development of religious consciousness for the individual according to Scholem. The first stage seems to be dominated by the mythical. This particular stage recognizes nature as, "the scene of man's relation to God". The second stage of development allows the breakthrough of religion, focusing on the human specifically and the "community of men", isolating "man from his dream stage of his mythical and primitive consciousness."
|“||For this reason alone, the rise of institutional religion, which is also the classical stage of the history of religion, is more widely removed than any other period of mysticism and all it implies.||”|
Kabbalah is a form of esoteric (teachings originating from within a small group) Rabbinic Judaism. It focuses on the creator and creation being highly developed in the medieval ages from 1000 to 1200 AD.
Christian mysticism can reach back to its historical antecedents and find expression in some forms of Jewish mysticism.
- Main Article: Gnosticism
Gnosticism is an ancient religion that pre-dates Christianity and the heresy based on that religion. The religion of Gnosticism is often compared to the modern New Age movement and Pantheism. As a heresy, Gnosticism is any belief system based on salvation through "universal secret knowledge" rather than faith through the deity and resurrection of Christ.
- Gershom Scholem, Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism (Schocken 1995), pg. 4
- Gershom Scholem, Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism (Schocken 1995), pg. 6-7
- Gershom Scholem, Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism (Schocken 1995), pg. 6
- Gershom Scholem, Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism (Schocken 1995), pg. 7
- Kabbalah By Wikipedia