I started a new class called Practical Mysticism (through a Science of Mind aka New Thought Church). What is Mysticism? The dictionary has a couple definitions. One is that it is the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, obtained through contemplation and self-surrender. I like that definition. The second one is a belief characterized by self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought, especially when based on the assumption of occult qualities or mysterious agencies. That one is the one other people think of when you tell them you’re interested in mysticism. I supposed the word itself is a bit foggy and unclear, like a mist. The idea of mysticism is similar to that of enlightenment, the more you focus on it the more it evades you. You can aim in that direction but like a rainbow, it is always moving away as you move toward it. Can one achieve mysticism? It’s a journey, not a destination (like life, thank you Aerosmith!). Once you understand the concept of obtaining knowledge that is inaccessible to the intellect you become a mystic. It is knowledge that just becomes a part of you. The teacher of my class defined a mystic as a person who seeks union with God; who believes in the internal interconnection with sacred wholeness. This is my highest purpose in this life and the catalyst for all my seeking of truth throughout my lifetime. I desire to feel that spiritual connection more and more until it is just who I am.

In lockstep with my Mysticism class, I ordered a book on Everyday Zen by Charlotte Joko Beck. It is a great supplement as part of the class is choosing a “path” to report on. Over the last several years I have been reluctant to identify with a particular religion or practice as it is my philosophy that truth can be found in all religions or practices and therefore to identify with one may blind me to receiving new truths. However, I’ve been consistently drawn toward Buddhism since I first started challenging my Christian faith 7+ years ago. My first encounter with Buddhism was through the book Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield. I was shocked to see the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity at the core of who we need to be. My criticism of Christianity has always been the elitism of the followers, not the core teachings. Of course, the notion that one cannot be saved unless one believes in Christ as their Savior automatically excludes everyone who doesn’t adhere. However, if you choose to disregard that little nugget then you are left with concepts like loving your neighbor as yourself, being forgiving, showing compassion, don’t be selfish, etc. My argument has continued to be, and will remain, that people who profess to believe in Christ and yet do not exhibit the character qualities of Christ are not true believers. It is dangerous to espouse something and not become it. Yet, the church and the people in it act like they’ve purchased a ticket to heaven rather than agreeing to live their lives in compliance to becoming more Christlike over time. That is why Buddhism is so appealing to me. As a practice, it isn’t looking at what happens when we die or shaming people with the threat of hell. Buddhism is about how to live each day working toward oneness with the whole, non-attachment (prevent suffering), and embodying love, forgiveness, and the intention to do no harm on a consistent practical level. At its very core to practice Buddhism is to practice becoming Christlike.

Venturing into argumentative territory I have to ask the question, what is it really to be saved? We spin the concepts of heaven and hell like we know what will really happen in the afterlife. We have lots of literature and people’s philosophy about it. Churches do their best to spread fear and terror. The truth is if you exclude the book of Revelation from the Bible there is very, very little about either heaven or hell in the rest of the books. Everything we have on the subject has been created by man, in my opinion, to control people. If we just look at the teachings of Jesus we are left with how to live in a way that embodies love on a daily basis. Non-judgemental, non-hateful, non-ritualistic living that is peaceful and joyful. There are Christians who embody that, but the interesting thing is how many non-Christians embody that. If it were only obtainable through repeating the sinner’s prayer then no one who has not said those magic words would be able to achieve it. Why don’t we, regardless of our faith, put aside the fear tactics and worrying about who is getting into the exclusive banquet at the end of life and just embody the qualities that Jesus embodied? Won’t the rest work itself out if we do? Shouldn’t we focus on not condemning others, but focus on becoming our highest self in a spiritual way? If we continue to strive toward something, it will continue to elude us (like that rainbow). It is when we just learn to be that we find peace. That is the way of the mystic and the path to enlightenment.


Why to we keep secrets? Of course there are far too many reasons because every situation in which we feel secrets are necessary are so vastly different. Parents keep the truth about Santa a secret because they want to bring joy to their children. Young lovers may hide their relationship from others to avoid parents trying to split them up. Teenagers hide all manners of questionable behavior to feel they are grown ups without being reminded that they aren’t quite ready for that kind of responsibility. Usually secrets are because we don’t want to face the truth or deal with the consequences of it.

However, secrets are like a splinter. At first it is just a small pain. We can choose to end it quickly and move on, or we can ignore it. It doesn’t feel too painful to start but over time it becomes infected and can cause a great deal of harm. Secrets seem to start with a small white lie of omission and snowball until the lies and deceit are so overwhelming we are buried by it. I remember my kids not wanting me to remove a splinter because they thought it would hurt, not realizing what I was saving them from. In my experience, to fess up and reveal whatever you are hiding always causes less pain overall. It also saves you from the psychological trauma of keeping the secret and the fear that you continue to carry that the truth will come to light. We always seem to underestimate how harmful to ourselves things can be.

“Contradictions lead to destruction. The amount of destruction is equal to the amount of contradiction.” Ayn Rand

Some secrets are like contradictions. You are purporting a truth but the reality is quite different. However, there are times to keep secrets. Cases can be made for children enjoying the mystical fantasies of the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy. It is part of their development to live in that world of make believe. Hiding a birthday party or planning a proposal is obviously something that is beneficial in the end. We buy Christmas presents for people and don’t tell them what is behind the wrapper because we want them to have the joy of anticipation. I think the damage of secrets is when we are attempting to avoid conflict. If it stems from cowardice or gaining advantage in a selfish manner it is wrong. Even when we keep a secret to protect someone else, rather than ourselves, we cheat people from the growth opportunity of learning that life isn’t always fair or easy. When secrets become lies we cross the line (see my post on Liar, Liar).

I’m currently caught in a family dilemma where the secret is not my own. One family member is hiding something from another that is painful. They aren’t keeping the secret to protect the other person, they are keeping the secret because they don’t want to deal with the conflict of having the secret come to light. I know this post is vague and philosophical rather than informative. It pains me greatly not to divulge the secret I’m referring to but it isn’t mine to share. The reason for my post is to ponder the harm that secrets can cause. Especially once other people know the secret and have to keep it on behalf of others. It creates division and distrust on all parties behalf and the rot of the unpulled splinter starts to infect whole families.

“Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of living.” Buddha

Live the truth, stand in the light, face the music. Be free.