Authentic Mystical Experience – by Richard Rohr

early-christian-mysticsBernard McGinn authored a fourvolume study on the history of Christian mysticism.  He says mysticism is “a consciousness of the presence of God that by definition exceeds description and … deeply transforms the subject who has experienced it.”  If it does not radically change the lifestyle of the person—their worldview, their economics, their politics, their ability to form community, you have no reason to believe it is genuine mystical experience.  It is usually just people with an addiction to religion, which is not that uncommon, by the way.

Mysticism is not just a change in some religious ideas or affirmations.  Mystics have no need to exclude or eliminate others, or define themselves as enlightened, whereas a mere transfer of religious assertions often makes people even more elitist and more exclusionary.

True mystics are glad to be common, ordinary, egalitarian, servants of all, and “just like everybody else,” because any need for specialness has been met once and for all.

Adapted from Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate

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And illustrating this theme nicely is ‘Chain Reaction’ by Cloud Cult. Enjoy.


You have eyes like mine
Are we strangers or am I you, are I..?

Put your face on mine
Put your face on mine…

What you feel makes part of what they’ll feel
It’s a chain reaction
Put out fear and they’ll feel fear
It’s a chain reaction
Put out love and they’ll feel love
It’s a chain reaction

Put your face on mine
Put your face on mine…

9 Responses to Authentic Mystical Experience – by Richard Rohr

  1. Perry-McCormick February 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Hi Mike … I cried when I read this post … more than I received at church today ….. gby … Thanks, Mary

  2. zoecarnate February 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Hi Mary…I’m both glad that this post spoke to you, and sad that your face-to-face community was not nourishing today…thank you for commenting!

  3. Bill Samuel February 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    When I read this in the daily reflections from Richard Rohr, I thought he did hone in on a critical point, one which has broader application than just mysticism per se. The only true aim of the spiritual life is to transform us. Something which does not have any tranformative effect is not getting to us where we need it.

    My own faith community calls itself “a community of hope and transformation” which recognizes that reality. That is the “measure of success” so to speak. Is what a faith community is doing or what a spiritual practice is doing aiding transformation into more of the likeness of Christ? That’s not the easiest question to come up with objective measures about, but I do believe you can see it when it is happening.

  4. jeffrey555 February 14, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    Actual experience of God = transformation Amen to that! And a radical change of “lifestyle…worldview…economics … politics … community … christlikeness” Wait a second, we’ve just entered the realm of glittering generalities – what kind of worldview, economics, politics, community are we talking about? And what in heaven is Christlikeness anyway. Or is it so self evident you just know. I have my view of what Christlikeness is like, is it the same as yours? I have no idea if it is. Do I have a firm handle on what Christlikeness is or am I just flying by the seat of pants in this area on unanalyzed assumptions. Is there a standard definition and understanding we all adhere to? Probably not.

  5. soma February 20, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    A beautiful surface can be created and people say they are happy, but underneath is frustration and anger. Christ Mysticism opens the Christian mind to an inner calm state where happiness is expressed with a warm heart. Thanks for your article.


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