Mysticism · Zoe's Reading List

Review: Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

The week Zoe is reading Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness by Evelyn Underhill. This is the classic text on mysticism. It explores the subject in depth, and although Underhill focuses mostly on mystical Christianity, she also looks at Sufism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and others too. Part 1 explains how… Continue reading Review: Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill


Alan Watts on the Values of Mysticism

There are many people who don’t take mysticism seriously and tend to view mystics with suspicion. In these extracts, Alan Watts talks about this in terms of the use of psychedelics, but the objections to the use of these drugs can also be applied to the experience of the mystic. This is mainly because these… Continue reading Alan Watts on the Values of Mysticism


Alan Watts on the Mystical Experience

In these extracts, Alan Watts talks about his mystical experiences through the use of psychedelics. In his experiments, he identified four main characteristics of mystical experience: From Psychedelics and Religious Experience: “For more than thirty years I have been studying the causes, the consequences, and the conditions of those peculiar states of consciousness in which… Continue reading Alan Watts on the Mystical Experience


The Mystical Experience of Totality – Wayne Teasdale

“One mystical state of consciousness allows us to see the totality of all that is and all that can be in one instant of time. I deliberately say see rather than know because it is not possible to know everything, but it is possible at least to perceive, in a unifying vision, the sum of… Continue reading The Mystical Experience of Totality – Wayne Teasdale


The Mystic Heart: Out of the Self, Into the Light

In this final part of the discussion between Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber they talk about what awareness actually is and how you move towards the realisation of what you already are. See part 1 here.

“We’re happening in God’s consciousness. We’re happening right now in that infinite light, if we could but see. … We have the ability to know every event, the infinitely infinite number of events going on in all realms, in all universes, and right here, now. But it would be very hard to tie our shoes, cook, go for a walk, dress ourselves, if we were aware of that all the time.” – Wayne Teasdale.

Spirit is ever-present awareness. The question is how your individual attention relates to this ever-present noticing. Whatever you’re aware of, it’s all arising in Big Mind, or Spirit, without any effort.

So to wake up – stop trying to be aware. Let it be.



The Mystic Heart: Picking a Spiritual Path

This video continues the Q&A from the previous part of the discussion. Here Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber talk about how to make sense of all the different techniques and practices that are available in order to create an authentic path for yourself.

The temptation is to take a little from lots of different traditions, like you’re in a spiritual supermarket (which is why Zoe Popper meets her teacher in Morrisons beside the soup in Chapter 8). But ultimately you have to choose one path if you want to get somewhere. The path that’s right for you will be one that resonates with you on a deep level – it just feels right.

They also talk about what all the paths have in common. It’s really about removing obstacles to seeing reality, as well as dealing with the tendency to identify with the obstacles, i.e. ego.

Once that identity is gone those obstacles actually become the expression of your realisation. So on the way up you have to strip attachment to all of them. On the way down you re-inhabit all of them. But that takes a real clarity of intent not to remain attached and pretend that you’ve transcended them, because you’re really just addicted to them.” – Ken Wilber



The Mystic Heart: Psychosis or Mystical State?

This is part 5 of the discussion between Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber. Here they take questions from the audience and talk about how you can tell the difference between a spiritual experience and something that might be psychotic. See part 1 here.

With genuine spiritual insight there’s no dissociation, but you do have clarity and positive outcomes that arise from the vision.

You have to be very careful if you think God is talking to you. Mystical experiences tend to be very private and are actually quite hard to communicate, mainly because whatever comes through has to be filtered through the human personality.

Ken Wilber explains St Teresa’s system for discerning where the voices are coming from by dividing them into pre-personal, personal, and transpersonal categories. You basically only want to listen to the transpersonal ones.

Real mystics are very wary of voices and visions. They don’t trust them.” – Wayne Teasdale.