What is Mysticism?

The Practice of Seeking a Personal Connection with God

Mysticism and meditation

by Rev. Andrew Shykofsky

In this article, I will attempt to clearly address the question; what is mysticism. I officially stepped onto the Mystical Path in 2004 after 20 years as a spiritual seeker. One of the Master Teachers I was working with in the early years taught the difference between being a seeker and a finder. It resonated. I had been a perpetual seeker.

A seeker keeps looking, always searching for that elusive solution to their spiritual questions and qualms in life. Being a seeker is a positive thing until perpetual seeking becomes one’s spirituality. The ‘forever seeker’ never seems to truly find a path and thus growth for them is slow.

A finder eventually settles on a spiritual path, or community or teacher and starts doing real spiritual work. For me, I became a finder when I found Christian Mysticism. I would say I always wanted to be a finder but in 20 years of seeking (prior to finding mysticism in 2004) I never quite felt certain in what I had found.

Mysticism changed all that. To be honest, when I found Christian Mysticism, I was secretly irritated that it was in fact Christian. I really didn’t like that part but the teachings were so compelling, I put aside my opinions and biases to see where it all would lead. Nine years later I was ordained a Christian Priest!

What is mysticism

Over the many years as a mystic, I have gotten clearer on exactly what IS mysticism and unfortunately many websites I have reviewed about mysticism fail to grasp what it is. However, to be fair unless one pursues the mystical path, it is almost impossible to write accurately about the topic.

Mysticism above all is about experience. It is really not possible to write accurately about something you haven’t experienced, at least when it comes to spiritual stuff. Generally you’ll find that at the foundation of a mystic’s life is a consistent meditation practice. This is because spiritual experiences predominantly occur within.

Yes, it is possible to have outer experiences like strange coincidences that defy explanation, visitations from spirits, hearing auditory voices or seeing things that seem impossible. For the most part, mystics speak of their spiritual experiences as inner, meaning they occur within the realm of the individuals meditation practice. As you can imagine, this makes the very experiences hard to validate or test in any kind of scientific manner.

Someone interested in mysticism is a soul seeking truth. In Christian Mysticism, the way to find that truth is to follow The Way that Jesus spoke about through the Gospels. Those four books of the New Testament are essentially the perfect manual for the modern day mystic. The challenge is unlocking the secret meaning contained in the stories, the parables and the direct teachings of Jesus. For this, one needs a teacher and a meditation practice.

The secrets or in our case, the Christian Mysteries become revealed to each person from the Self. The Self (also referred to as the God Self, or the Christ) exists within every human soul. While hard to define (hence the reason that mysticism is about experience), the Self is the pure essence of God that lives at the center of our beings.

Being a mystic means you want to get there. You want to go beyond saying you believe in God to a place of knowing without a doubt that this place called Self is the pure Presence of the Almighty Creator. We as souls seek out this inner destination through following the mystical path. And if you find good Teachers, and if you follow the practices given to you with devotion and patience, you will come to realize the existence of the Self.

So, having said all that, let me clarify; mysticism is the set of practices and beliefs which lead a soul to the Presence of God that exists within them.