Onlline Sermons

We have posted a lot of sermons from our Universal Life Church ministers. Some are Christian and some are not. You are welcome to use them or just enjoy them as you like.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mystical Christianity

Mystical Christianity
by Dennis W. Zerull

First my thanks to the ULC Seminary for offering this course and my gratitude to Mother Maryesah for her efforts in writing this course. It is obvious that she is passionate about her beliefs and has spent a great deal of time in study and researching the ways of the Mystics in relation to Christianity and the many other subjects she addresses in this course. I must admit that this course became a bit disjointed to me after the first half of the discourses. I feel that the author made it somewhat personal at times instead of neutral in nature which I feel after many years of teaching is the best way to allow students to come up with their own hypothesis and conclusions. I also believe that this course is a bit lengthy and could make it's points with shorter discourses. These discourses include Faces of the Divine Feminine, Reincarnation, Walking the Mystical Path, Spirituality and Sexuality. These particular discourses could have made it's point in perhaps 8 lessons rather than 12 lessons. But in retrospect this course did open some new doors of study for me and readings to become more knowledgeable on a variety of subjects dealing with mysticism.

My understanding of Mysticism and Mystics is that it is a pursuit of communion with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth or God, through direct experience, intuition or insight. Throughout the history of man differing religious traditions have described mystical experience in different ways.

Detachment from the world- Kaivalya in Hinduism.
Liberations from the cycle of Karma- Mecca in Jainism, Nirvana in Buddhism.
Deep intrinsic connections to the world- Satire- Mahayanna Buddhism, Tein Taoism.
Union with God- Hennish, Neoplatonism, Theosis in Eastern and Catholic Christianity.

Mystic traditions have both positive and negative values of mystical experiences. So called New Age tradition simply call these values positive and negative energies. While Jewish, Christian and Muslin traditions would refer to these as the influence of good and evil spirits or good and evil realms in the case of "out of body experiences."

They all go beyond liturgical and devotional forms of mainstream faith, often seeking out inner or esoteric meanings of conventional religious doctrine and by engaging in spiritual practices such as breathing practices, meditation and contemplation, along with chanting, song, dance and talmudic study just to name a few. Further I have found that Mystics often center on the teachings of individuals considered to have special insight and in the case of Christianity, Buddhism, Mosaic Law, entire non-mystical (doctrine based) faiths have arisen around these leaders and their teachings, with few or no mystical practitioners remaining. I do like the fact the Mystics do not seem to be concerned with the opinions or the religious tools of their more conservative religious compatriots.

As I further my life study of Metaphysics in relation to enlightenment, I find that there are three philosophical fields that appear to be related aspects of the mystical experience, though they have not as of yet been correlated in a systematic way. They are the nature of reality, knowledge and phenomenon or Ontology, Epistemology and Phenomenology.

Ontology or the theoretical separation of "reality" from "the appearance of reality" generally focuses on the mystical experience which tend to belie ontological questions. It is rarely stated in clear affirmative particulars and seem to consist of generalized, transcendent identity statements such as "Atman is Brahman", God is Love"," there is only One without a Second" and other statements that are suggestive of immanence.

Epistemology is related to mysticism and mystics to the extent that both are concerned with the nature, acquisitions and limitations of knowledge. This is where I struggle a bit with foundational issues of epistemology and mystics. How do we know that our knowledge is true or our beliefs justified ? Mystics often appear more concerned with the process as the means to true knowing. However the mystical path does use ontology as its purpose to discern between truth and illusion, yet the focus is less on finding procedures of reason that will establish clear relations between ontos and epistene but rather on practices that will yield clear perception. The goals are the same, but mystic awareness of evolving "levels of consciousness encompass another realm all together.

Phenomenlogy is perhaps the closest philosophical perspective to mystic thinking and shares many of the difficulties in comprehension. Edmund Husserl the German Philosopher believed the "same first- person", experiential stance that mystics try to achieve, precludes assumptions or questions about "extra-mental existence of perceived phenomena." Martin Heideggar another German Philosopher, wrote the book "Being and Time" which is generally considered the most important philosophical work of the 20th century goes a step beyond as he asserts that, "only beingness has ontological reality thus only investigation and experiencing of the self can lead to authentic existence." Mystical Christianity would assert that "the Kingdom of Heaven" is within us, references the same approach. This being said, phenomenology and most forms of mysticism part ways in the understanding of the experience. Phenomenology is pre-conditioned by angst which arises from the discovery of the essential emptiness of the real and can go no further whereas mystics by contrast take a step beyond to "being" and describe the peace or bliss that derives from their final active connection to the "real". I emphasize that emptiness is not no-thing-ness but meaning the basis that makes everything possible and the sense of openness people experience when they simply rest their minds. I believe that an argument can be made for concurrent lines of thought throughout mysticism regardless of interaction.

In this course Mystical Christianity places emphasis on subjective direct experience of the devine and other worldly transcendant goals of unity. One example is the belief of Pleiadian existence and teachings through channeling using enlightened people on Earth. This makes it very controversial to individuals who place greater emphasis on empirical verification of knowledge and truth such as science and scientists. The struggle is then that the mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact he/ she begins from within whereas the philosopher begins from without.

Recently however science and contemplatives have come to a better understanding of one another and are bridging the so called "gap." I use the example that today a working partnership has blossomed into active collaboration between experts in Buddhist mind science and neuroscientists. The research documents the neutral impact of a variety of mental training and phenomena is being understood as the observing self begins to transcend. This can be measured in brain activity and has yielded stunning results by the Waisman Laboratory for Brain and Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin.

Every day more is revealed to us as we grow closer to what I believe is a new awakening of the Earth and our understanding if the universe. Such revelation occurred with Sigmund Frued when he wrote in his book "Moses and Monotheism". He argues that Moses was an Antenist priest forced out Egypt with his followers after Akhenaton's death. Akhenaton was striving to promote monotheism. Something the biblical Moses was able to achieve. Another is Ahmed Osman author of " Stranger in the Valley of Kings, 1988" who became interested in the links between the bible and archeaological discoveries in Egypt. He believes that Atenism can be considered monothesitic and related to Judiasm and includes other similarities including a ban on idol worship and the similarity of the name Aten to the Hebrew Adon or Lord. This would mesh with Osman's other claim that Akhenaten's maternal grandfather Yuya was the same person as the biblical Joseph which is also touched upon in this course by Mother
Maryesah. How much Akhenaton understood is not known but one thing is certain. That is that Akhenaton was the first monotheist and the first scientist and he certainly "bounded forward in his views and symbolism to a position which we cannot improve upon to this day. His belief in the sole Lord of the universe", James Henry Breasted.

No matter how long you meditate or what technique you use or what religion you may believe in, it is important to value all systems even though they have great philosophical differences. It would be my hope that we all cultivate a good attitude toward others and helping others by practicing love, compassion, patience and contentment. Mankind sometimes doesn't appreciate how fortunate we are to have been born as human beings and as such the essence of human society is interdependence. No matter how powerful our ego tells us we are it is impossible for one person to be successful all alone. Appreciate how rare and full of potential your situation is in this world is and use it to your advantage. Get rid of destructive
emotions altogether for they serve no purpose to yourself or to your fellow sentient beings. Respect others and value their contributions.

I wish you all joy, happiness and freedom from suffering and it's causes.


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