The simplest answer to this question is: a mystic is someone who seeks to know God. This may or may not involve religion or conventional definitions of ‘God’. Mystics transgress boundaries and colour outside the lines. They are notoriously difficult to pin down and get a straight answer from. For this reason, mystics are often misunderstood or even feared. At the very least, they tend to be viewed with suspicion, as if their mere presence is a challenge.
And that is exactly the point.
Mystics wake people up
They get under your skin. They show you the truth of your soul, whether you like it or not, whether you ask for it or not. Mystics undermine the status quo and overturn all power structures, all hierarchies. They are the ultimate rebels, the ultimate spiritual warriors. Lauri Ann Lumby brilliantly describes mystics as ‘shit-disturbers’.
A mystic sees reality in a different way. They see through the ego games, the stories and the fear, to the truth and light within.
In seeking to ‘know God’, a mystic is trying to understand the true nature of reality. It’s not enough to just think about it or believe in a nice story that makes them feel better. A mystic wants the Truth. They want to rip away all the bullshit and stand naked in the divine fire and scream with joy as the flames devour every last falsehood from their being.
That may sound crazy to a so-called normal person, but in reality we’re all mystics. We’re all burning in the heart of life. To see it you only need to lift your eyes from the ground.
You may be a mystic but go by another name: artist, shaman, prophet, visionary, wizard, witch, seer, healer, priest, priestess, or alchemist. The name doesn’t matter. It’s just a label, and if you’re a mystic you know reality can’t be labelled.
This is my favourite definition of a mystic from Andrew Harvey:
“A mystic is a king or queen of paradox. A mystic knows that death is not death, life is not life, the body is not the body, and the spirit is not the spirit… The mystic knows that he or she is an eternal being in a dying body, and that this is the supreme experience. To be an eternal being without dying in a body would only be to have one-half of the experience of God. But to be an eternal being in a body is to have both, to have the experience of transcendence and the experience of immanence, both the experience of the Divine emptiness that is creating and the experience of being the creation.
Do you understand the gift?
The gift is death, the gift is time, the gift is pain, the gift is love, the gift is extremity. When you receive the gift full in the blood of the heart you dance as Shiva. You dance as the unborn one… you dance as the liberated one in the complete divine experience, the complete divine madness, which is to be in unity with everything that lives and dies, that has ever lived or died. That is the supreme experience and that is what is being offered to humankind.”
And what is this truth that the mystic seeks? Simply this:
There is nothing other than God.
A mystic knows this; not just in their heads or as an intellectual exercise. A mystic knows it in their bones, their blood, in every breath and every heart beat. To be a mystic is to live in the heart of the mystery of Life without turning away from suffering or cruelty or evil or stupidity. To be a mystic is to understand we are all trying to find our way home and to do your best to help.
To be a mystic is to love.
First posted on my website: http://jessicadavidson.co.uk/2014/02/13/what-is-a-mystic/