"I Am that I Am" (I exist because I am existence).
"Be still and know that I am God" (silence your mind and realize your true Self as consciousness)
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (New Testament, 1 Corinthians 316)
Mysticism is the spiritual essence of Christianity. The great Christian mystics however have found themselves horribly persecuted as heretics by the established churches for their outrageous claims and idiosyncratic ways. The mystics are not content to have a relationship with God via priests and institutions, but look directly inside themselves to know God directly.
When they do, God is revealed as an all-embracing love that unites the universe into one indivisible whole. In communion with God, the mystics no longer experience themselves as separate individuals but as expressions of the Oneness. God is the only reality, God is everything, God does everything, all the diversity in the infinite Cosmos is experienced to be nothing but one indivisible entity which is God alone.
"There is One body and One Spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4 4 - 6)
This mystical vision is not a psychological anomaly it is the natural state. Human beings fail to experience it only because they believe themselves to be separate from God, when in fact he is their very essence, hidden to their view only due to the veil of their restless mind and limited senses of perception, the source substance of whom is also God alone. All mystical practices are designed to dispel this pernicious illusion of separateness.
The teachings that the mystics have left for us are not their opinions about God for us to believe or dis-believe. They are testimonies to the possibility of certain intuitive knowledge of the Truth, that may tempt us with their sublime intensity to make the mystical journey for ourselves. The 16th century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross writes "God does not reserve the high vocation of mystical contemplation for certain souls only. On the contrary, he wants all to embrace it, but finds few who will permit Him to work such exalted things for them."
"Know that the Father and I are one, and I am in you and you are in me." (New Testament John 1412)
...Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (New Testament, 1 Corinthians 620)
The very purpose of human life is to come to knowledge of God (the consciousness in all), and if we simply turn towards God we will find that He has been waiting for us all along. The 17th century French mystic Brother Lawrence assures us "Knock, persevere in knocking and I guarantee that He will answer."
Luke God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far from each one of us. "For in him we live and move and have our being"... (New Testament, Acts 1727-28)
The sublime God of the mystics is more than a particular divine being with characteristics and a personality. God is the Oneness that unites everything. "All things are interdependent," writes the 14th century German mystic Meister Eckhart for whom God is the unifying "Being of all beings." From the greatest to the most insignificant, God is the existence of all that is, and also the nothing from which all things arise. He is both visibly manifest in the abundance of the sensual world and invisibly present in the hidden emptiness of the soul that experiences it.
"In the reality, intuitively known by the mystics, we can no longer speak of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, nor of any creature, but only One Being, that is is the super-essence (substratum) of all." Ruysbroek.
"If I were to say "God exists," this would not be true. He is beyond being. He is a nothingness beyond being. This is why St. Augustine says "The best thing to be said about God is silence." You must love God as not-God, not-Spirit, not-Sun, not-image, but as He is - sheer, pure absolute Oneness, without any duality (indivisible consciousness)." Meister Eckhart.
"For those who look with their physical eyes, God is nowhere to be seen. For those who contemplate Him in spirit, He is everywhere. He is in all, yet beyond all." St. Symeon.
"What does God do all day long? He gives birth. From the beginning of eternity, God lies on a maternity bed giving birth to all. God is creating this whole universe full and entire in this present moment." Meister Eckhart.
"If your heart is straight with God, then every creature will appear to you as a mirror of life and a sacred scripture. No creature is so small and insignificant so as not to express and demonstrate the goodness of God." Thomas Kempis.
"It is greater worship to God to see Him in all things, than in any special thing." Mother Julian of Norwich.
"I am that which is highest. I am that which is lowest. I am that which is All." God speaking to Mother Julian of Norwich.
"I have seen the One who is, and how He is the Being of all creatures. God is present in everything that exists, in a devil and a good angel, in heaven and hell, in good deeds and in adultery and murder, in the beautiful and the ugly. Therfore, while I am in this Truth, I take as much delight in seeing and understanding his presence in a devil and the act of adultery as I do in an angel and a good deed." Angela of Foligno.
"The one work we should rightly undertake is eradication of the Self. Could you completely forget yourself even for an instant, you would be given everything." Meister Eckhart.
"The world is pregnant with God." Angela of Foligna.
The Protestant cobbler Jacob Boehme experienced a spiritual awakening when he saw sunlight reflecting on the water of a pewter dish and perceived God as the unmanifest unity which reflects Itself in It's creation. Previous in creation, Boehme taught, God was without knowledge of Himself. Creation is God coming of consciousness of Himself, that fully occurs when a human being completely awakens in an experience of ecstatic love.
"Paradise is to see only God." Marguerite Porete.
The goal of mysticism is direct experiential communion with God. In this experience, the mystic no longer exists as a separate individual but becomes one with Oneness. This vision can only arise when the mystic realizes that the ego-self is only an illusionary veil that masks the true divine Self; and that this Self is God, the being of all beings, the one true Self of ALL existence.
God is not something 'other' but is our shared essential identity. Communion with God is experienced as freedom from suffering the separation of solitary confinement within the mortal self, and blissful liberation into the expansive, all embracing nature of God.
"The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God." Basil of Calsarea.
"The liberated soul loses her name in the One through Whom and in Whom she merges, just as a river reaching the sea loses identity with which it flowed through many countries to arrive at it's destination. Now it is in the sea, and here it rests without labor." Marguerite Porete.
"Just as someone who looks at the sun cannot avoid filling his eyes with light, so someone who always intently contemplates his own heart cannot fail to be illumined." St. Hesychos The Priest.
"God inhabits every soul (as consciousness), even those of the greatest sinners in the world. There is always this union between God and His creatures, for through it He preserves their being. If it were not so, these souls would instantly cease to be." St. John of the Cross.
"The passing life of the senses doesn't lead to knowledge of what our Self is. When we clearly see what our Self is, then we shall truly know our Lord God in great joy." Mother Julian of Norwich.
"The 'perfected' are wholly with God, indivisibly and without separation." St. Symeon The New Theologian.
"God is closer to me than I am to myself (as one's consciousness)." Meister Eckhart.
"Our essential nature is uncreated, never-born and free in and for itself. It is found in all creatures, but is not restricted to them; it is outside all creatures, but not excluded from them." The Cloud of Unknowing.
"The ineffable sweetness of perfect union cannot be described with the tongue which is a finite thing. Lovely beyond loveliness is the home of the soul in perfect union with Me. Nothing stands between us, because she has become one thing with Me." God speaking to Catherine of Sienna.
My soul then said "I have nothing, for I am utterly stripped and naked; I can do nothing for I have no manner of power, but am as water poured out; I am nothing, for all that I am is no more than an image of Being, and only God is my I AM." Jacob Boehme.
"Simple people imagine that they should see God as if He stood there and they here. This is not so, God and I, we are one." Meister Eckhart.
"When the soul has lost her nature in the Oneness, we can no longer speak of a 'soul' - but of immeasurable Being." Meister Eckhart.
"I AM can be spoken by no creature but by God alone. I must become God and God must become me, so completely that we share the same 'I' eternally. Our truest 'I' is God." Meister Eckhart.
"The more you abandon yourself, the more you will find Me. You are that which is not. I am that I am." God speaking to Catherine of Sienna.
"Someone who is joined to the Lord is One Spirit." St. Paul.
"I discovered myself to be nothing but nothing; an unweighable substance; a sea that cannot be sailed. In You and by You, I find that I exist as nothing but nothing." Thomas A. Kempis.
"Only total death to self leads to being completely lost in God." Madame Guyon.
From the Philokalia:
The Philokalia is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by spiritual masters of the Orthodox Christian tradition. First published in Greek in 1782, translated into Slavonic and later into Russian, The Philokalia has exercised an influence far greater than that of any book other than the Bible in the recent history of the Orthodox Church.
Volume two concentrates on the writings of St. Maximos the Confessor (580-662); in fact the anthologists who created the Philokalia include more of St. Maximos' work than any other author.
St. Maximos is most widely known for his opposition to a number of heresies that were being propagated regarding the nature of Christ. As a result of his opposition, he was tried, condemned, flogged, his tongue was cut out, his hand was cut off, and he was exiled. The church was responsible for his persecution, but later reversed itself at which time the church elevated him to sainthood).
The full version of the Philokalia is available in a set of 4 volumes and is the ideal viewing lens to fully understand the deeper hidden depths of the Bible. The effects of contemplation upon the Philokalia may be better understood through a reading of "The Way of A Pilgrim" which is the world famous autobiography of a wandering Russian Christian monk. The following are excerpts directly from the Philokalia:
God reveals Himself to each person according to each person's mode of conceiving Him. To those whose aspiration transcends the complex structure of matter, and whose psychic powers are fully integrated in a single unceasing gyration around God, He reveals Himself as Unity and Trinity.
In this way He both shows forth His own existence and mystically makes known the mode in which that existence subsists. To those whose aspiration is limited to the complex structure of matter (world appearance), and whose psychic powers are not integrated, He reveals Himself not as He is but as they are, showing that they are completely caught in material dualism whereby the physical world is conceived as composed of matter and form.
Plurality is the consummation of unity manifested, and unity is the origin of non-manifest plurality. For the origin of every consummation is clearly its non-manifest state, and the consummation of every origin is the full development of its potentiality for manifestation... Thus plurality, being the manifestation of God as the desire of all desires, brings to perfect fulfilment the longing of all that aspires towards Him; while unity, being a symbol of God as the primal good, constitutes the perfect ground of all that is made manifest from Him. (p. 221-222)
... the Cause of all things, through the beauty, goodness and profusion of His intense love for everything, goes out of Himself in His providential care for the whole of creation. By means of the supraessential power of ecstasy, and spell-bound as it were by goodness, love and longing, He relinquishes His utter transcendence in order to dwell in all things while yet remaining within Himself. Hence those skilled in divine matters call Him a zealous and exemplary lover, because of the intensity of His blessed longing for all things... (p. 281)
The Holy Spirit is present unconditionally in all things, in that He embraces all things, provides for all, and vivifies the natural seeds within them. He is present in a specific way in all who are under the Law, in that He shows them where they have broken the commandments and enlightens them about the promise given concerning Christ.
In all who are Christians He is present also in yet another way in that He makes them sons of God. But in none is He fully present as the author of wisdom except in those who have understanding, and who by their holy way of life have made themselves fit to receive His indwelling and deifying presence (as one's own consciousness).
For everyone who does not carry out the divine will, even though he is a believer, has a heart which, being a workshop of evil thoughts, lacks understanding, and a body which, being always entangled in the defilements of the passions, is mortgaged to sin. (p. 180-181) (St. Maximos the Confessor from The Philokalia, Vol. 2)
O Thou art beyond all
How canst Thou be called by any other name?
What hymn can sing of Thee?
No name describes Thee
What mind can sing of Thee?
No intellect conceives Thee
Thou art inexpressible
All that is spoken come forth from Thee
Thou only art unknowable
All that is thought comes from Thee
All creatures praise Thee
Those that speak and those that are dumb
All creatures bow down before Thee
Those that can think and those that have no power of thought
The universal longing, the groaning of creation tends towards thee
Everything that exists prays to Thee
And to Thee every creaure that can read Thy universe
Sens up a hymn of silence
In Thee along all thing dwell
With a single impulse all things find their goal in Thee
Thou art the purpose of every creature
Thou art unique
Thou art each one and art not any
Thou ar not a single creature nor art thou the sum of creatures
All names are thine; how shall I address Thee
Who alone can be named?....
Have mercy, O Thou, the Beyond All
How canst Thou be called by any other name?
Saint Gregory Nazianzen
God has always existed and always will exist: or to put it better, God always exists. In fact 'past' and 'future' express the fragments of duration as we know it, gliding naturally along.
But He, God, is 'Eternal Existence' (consciousness) and this is the name that He gives Himself when He reveals the future to Moses on the mountain. He actually contains in Himself all being, that which had being and will have no end, what I would call an ocean of being without limit or without end, beyond any notions of duration and nature that our intellect could form for itself.
The intellect can evoke Him (consciousness) only obscurely..... not with any knowledge of His true nature, but by looking at what surrounds it. By assembling and interpreting the images in our mind we can begin to reconstruct something approaching an idea of the Truth.....
He enlightens the higher part of our being, provided it has been purified, just as a sudden flash lightening strikes our eyes; and that, in my opinion, is so that He may draw us to Himself in proportion to the understandind we have of Him.... and that in so far as we fail to understand Him, He may excite our curiosity; this will awake in our soul the longing to know Him further.
This longing will lay bare our soul; this nakedness will make us like God. When we have reached this state, God will converse with us as friends.
If I may dare say so, God (consciousness) will be united with Gods (consciousness), and revealing Himself to them, and will be known to the same extent as He is known. (Saint Gregory Nazianzen - Oration 45, for Easter, 3, pg 36, 847).
We therefore say that the universal Cause, which is situated beyond the whole universe is neither matter....nor body; that it has neither figure nor form, nor quality nor mass; that is is not in any place, that it defies all apprehension by the senses....
Rising higher, we now say that this Cause is neither soul nor intelligence.... that it can be neither expressed nor conceived, that it is neither number nor order, nor greatness nor littleness, norequality nor inequality, nor likeness nor unlikeness; it neither remains stationary nor moves.... and that it is neither power nor light; that it neither lives nor is light.
That it is neither essence nor perpetuity, nor time; that it cannot be grasped by the intellect; that it is neither science nor truth, nor sovreignty, nor wisdom nor singularity, nor unity, nor divinity, nor goodness; neither spirit nor sonship nor fatherhood in any sense that we can understand them.
That it is not something that is accessible to our knowlege or to the knowledge of any being; it has nothing to do with non-being, but no more has it anything to do with being; that no one knows it's nature..... that it eludes all reasoning, all nomenclature, all knowing; that it is neither darkness nor light, neither error nor truth.
That absolutely nothing can be asserted of it and absolutely nothing denied; that when we formulate affirmations or negations appying to realities that are inferior to it, we are not affirming or denying anything about the Cause itself (consciousness); because all affirmation remains on this side of the transcendence of Him who is divested of everything and stands beyond everything. (Saint Dionysius The Areopagite - Mystical Theology, IV & V pg 3, 1047-8)
So this cause of everything which surpasses everything is at the same time namelessness which befits him and all the names of all the creatures..... He contains in Himself from the beginning all creatures.... in such a way that he can be honored and named in terms of every creature. (Saint Dionysius The Areopagite - Divine Names, I, 1, 6, pg 3, 596)
God is Breath, for the breath of the wind is shared by all, goes everywhere; nothing shuts it in, nothing holds it prisoner. (Saint Maximus The Confessor on Divine Names, I, 4, pg 4, 208)
Just as light which enables us to see each object does not need any other light to be visible itself, so God who enables us to see everything does not need a light by which we might be able to see Him, because He is light by His very essence. (Saint Evagrius of Poytus - Centuries, I, 35)
He is called God because He has built everything on it's own foundations, and because He makes a leap: leaping means giving life to the world....He is almighty, he contains everything, the heights of heaven, the depths of the abyss, the bounds of the earth are in His hand. (Saint Theophilus of Antioch - First Book to Autolycus, 4, SC 20, pg 64)
The infinite is without doubt something of God, but not God Himself, who is infinitely beyond even that. (Saint Maximus The Confessor - Ambigua pg 91, 1224)
If it happens that in seeing God one understands what is seen, that means it is not God Himse]f who is seen but one of those knowable things that owe their being to Him. For in Himself he transcends all intelligence and all essence.
He exists in a superessential mode and is known beyond all understanding only in so far as He is utterly unknown and does not exist at all. And it is that perfect unknowing, taken in the best sense of the word, that constitutes the true knowing of Him who transcends all knowing. (Saint Dionysius The Areopagite - Letter 1 To Gaius, pg 3, 1065)
The mystery that is beyond God Himself, the Ineffable, that gives name to everything, is complete affirmation, complete negation, beyond all affirmation and all negation. (Saint Dionysius The Areopagite - Divine Names, II,4, pg 3, 641)
We must now praise that perpetual Life from which all life proceeds and by means of which every living thing according to it's own paticular capaciy receives life..... Whether you are speaking of the life of the spirit or of reason or of the senses, and what feeds it and makes it grow, or of any other kind of life that can possibly be, it is thanks to the Life that transcends all life that it lives and communicates life.....
Indeed, it is not enough to say that this Life is alive. It is the very principle of Life, and it's sole source. It is that which perfects and differentiates all life, and it's praises should be sung by all life.... Bestower of life and more than life, it deserves to be honored with every name that human beings can apply to this inexpresible Life. (Saint Dionysuis The Areopagite - Divine Names, VI, 1 & 3, pg 3, 856-7).
CHRISTIAN MYSTIC: BLESSED ANGELA OF FOLIGNO
... in a vision I beheld the fullness of God in which I beheld and comprehended the whole creation, that is, what is on this side and what is beyond the sea, the abyss, the sea itself, and everything else. And in everything that I saw, I could perceive nothing except the presence of the power of God, and in a manner totally indescribable.
And my soul in an excess of wonder cried out: "This world is pregnant with God!" Wherefore I understood how small is the whole of creation -- that is, what is on this side and what is beyond the sea, the abyss, the sea itself, and everything else -- but the power of God fills it all to overflowing. (pp. 169-170)
... God presents himself in the inmost depths of my soul. I understand not only that he is present, but also how he is present in every creature and in everything that has being, in a devil and a good angel, in heaven and hell, in good deeds and in adultery or homicide, in all things, finally, which exist or have some degree of being, whether beautiful or ugly.
She further said: I also understand that he is no less present in a devil than a good angel. Therefore, while I am in this truth, I take no less delight in seeing or understanding his presence in a devil or in an act of adultery than I do in a good angel or in a good deed.
This mode of divine presence in my soul has become almost habitual. Moreover, this mode of God's presence illuminates my soul with such great truth and bestows on it such divine graces that when my soul is in this mode it cannot commit any offense, and it receives an abundance of divine gifts. Because of this understanding of God's presence my soul is greatly humiliated and ashamed of its sins. It is also granted deep wisdom, great divine consolation, and joy. (pp. 212-213)
Angela of Foligno: Complete Works
The Blessed Angela of Foligno lived from 1248 through 1309 in Italy. Angela was a married woman with children. At age 37 she was overcome with sorrow for having led a pleasure-seeking, sinful life. She was converted and began making small steps toward liberating herself from her sinful past, but her family proved to be something of an obstacle. Surprisingly within several years of her conversion, every single member of her immediate household had died.
Following these deaths, Angela sold her country villa and distributed the proceeds to the poor. She sought to embrace Franciscan poverty, but her remaining family and her spiritual advisors did everything possible to dissuade her. The local Franciscans finally were convinced of her sincerity, and they allowed her to take the habit and make her profession in the Third Order of St. Francis when she was about 43. That same year she made a pilgrimage to Assisi in order to petition St. Francis to pray that she:
- Receive the grace of feeling Christ's presence in her soul
- Keep the Franciscan Third Order Rule
- Become and remain truly poor
The following year Brother Arnaldo was assigned to Foligno, and he took this opportunity to investigate what was going on with Angela at the Basilica. He was extremely skeptical, and so he began writing down her experiences so that he could discuss them with other members of the clergy. These notes eventually became The Memorial, an account of her spiritual life which stands as the core of Angela of Foligno: Complete Works.
Author: Blessed Angela of Foligno. Translator/Commentator: Paul Lachance, O.F.M. ISBN #: 0-8091-3366-0