What is a Mystic?

by Ronda LaRue

Ronda LaRue

The mystic finds the eye of the needle and enters into the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven within.


More and more people have been asking me lately "What do you mean by the word mystic?" There seems to be quite a lot of blurry confused notions and outright misconceptions about the word. And yet, it is perhaps one of the most important words pointing toward a fundamental truth about who we are at the soul of matter. Mysticism is about how we can come to live within the fullness of our True Nature.

In a very real sense - and because mysticism concerns the essence of life -- it is audacious to even try and define it. Words are insufficient, often in the way of understanding. That to which the word "mysticism" refers, is a quality of presence that is quite literally beyond and before any words (more on that later). ... Still, and like others, I feel compelled to try and come as close as I can to pointing toward something that speaks of our original nature. And I beg pardon in advance for the terrible insufficiency of language and the limits of my own mere glimpses into these realms of an endless sacred mystery. ...Still, let me try.

A mystic is one who, above all else in life, desires to know (not in the intellectual sense of knowing) the deepest Truth of existence. A mystic is one who senses more to life than making a living or being of service in the world – although these things are both necessary and good. The mystic, however, is looking beyond an exclusive (or preoccupied) focus on these survival/self-actualization desires to something more: he is looking to discover the deepest truth of our being as incarnate souls; to understand our greatest potential as reflections of God; to realize our wholeness within the Ground of All. The primary interest in life for the mystic is to discover truth, to know God, to see into mans whole nature. ...The mystic sees all of life as an abundant opportunity to discover, realize, and express the Divine.

Mysticism springs from an insatiable curiosity for understanding the essential questions of Life: matters of God, Creation, the Infinite --- and the human potential for knowing Truth. The mystic is in reality the ultimate scientist who, looking beyond the apparent or obvious in all matters, asks: "Is this that I am seeing reality or the illusions that stem from fear?" "What existed before this sense of reality?" "What existed before my mental constructs, my beliefs, my self identity?" "Who is this that observes and is self-reflecting?" "What is at life's very source?"....


Mysticism is terrifically misunderstood by mainstream culture. It always has been. Many people (incorrectly) think mysticism is some kind of odd occult -- someone who studies magic or renounces life and goes off to live in a cave. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reason this has often been confused though is not so surprising. The mystic is one who undergoes a radical shift in conscious understanding - and that often looks, sounds, or seems very mysterious to our accustomed ways of thinking and being.

The mystic consciously enters into the sacred journey that all the world's great religions speak of in various ways: Some call it becoming awakened, enlightened, born again. It is an inner journey that requires a deconstruction of the conditioned illusions of separation so that the true freedom of living can emerge. It is the true meaning of being born anew. It is the process and realization of letting die our stale and conditioned habits and beliefs so that we may live in the fullness of each new moment of Creation. It is the understanding that conditioned patterns, belief systems, and memory are not living, but dead moments already. It is the realization that true living can only be lived in a freedom that moves with the current of Creation -- forever open to each moment teaming with new potential.

To let go the illusions of ego identity and stand naked before our true original nature, often requires a removing of oneself from typical ways of living and thinking (at least for a time). In the sacred literature this is often referred to as entering the wilderness, facing the dark night of the soul, annihilation of the ego, or dying to oneself to be born again. It is a process of fundamental transformation of conscious understanding that the mystic takes on. The journey it takes to successfully deconstruct the layers of conditioning that block true awareness, and what emerges from this inner journey of realization (or awakening) can often look and sound very mysterious (if not down right confusing) to the uninitiated and linear mind. But in truth it is the deepest meaning upon which all the world's great religions have their original foundation. It is the journey to discovering and experiencing direct relationship with/as God or the Source of All Creation. It is each individual soul coming to directly know itself within the Divine. It is the fulfillment of our purpose: "I and my father are one."


Throughout all of history, mystics have been our way showers, those who go before, those who see beyond, those who seem (so often) to speak in riddles. They are those who have "lifted the veil" of worldly illusion to experience a deeper truth and wisdom of Being. The mystic is not so much concerned with survival as with coming to realize the full potential of being. The mystic is seeking direct realization of Truth even within a dynamic evolving Great Mystery. The mystic finds the eye of the needle and enters into the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven within.

Every religion the world over (both of the east and west, orthodox and liberal) has at its origin the way-showing wisdom of one or more great mystics. Indeed, all the men and women throughout recorded history who have had the greatest spiritual integrity and direct authority are rightly called mystics: Jesus of Nazareth was a true mystic, as was Gandhi, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, William James, Thomas Merton, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramakrisna, Lao-tse, Shankara, Vivikananda, Abraham, Job, Carl Jung to name a mere few... and scores more of men and women poets and artists.

Click to read the full article and discover the common traits of the world's mystics.

Copyright Ronda LaRue, 2003. All Rights Reserved

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