Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Demystifying the Mystical Gaze....

Looking into the Beyond
   I don't think there is any word more misunderstood than that of "mystic".  Really, what image immediately pops into your head?  Skinny guy, sitting cross-legged on a mat mumbling obscure phrases?  Or maybe it is the pale, other worldly saint who gazes lovingly at something you can't see.  Definitely, mystics are not your average, run of the mill type person...certainly not like us...or are they?   If we strip away all the metaphysical baggage and exaggerated misconceptions we are left with:

A person who believes in  and pursues a transcendent truth that
 surpasses exclusively rational understanding or knowing.

   Sounds a lot like a contemplative photographer to me!  At least the kind of contemplative photographer that understands that wisdom can be revealed in the metaphoric capabilities of the landscape.  Even with that definition, I would hesitate to add "mystic" to my CV but I think there is much we can learn from the mystical gaze. 

   The eyes of a mystic, like those of the contemplative photographer, look beyond the surface appearance of things to find a deeper connection with the world around them.  They pass through the door, walk through the corridor of life but keep their eyes trained on the light beyond.  While the rest of us dwell in the minutia of daily existence, they see the "big picture" somehow.  If you ask a mystic, if you are lucky enough to know one, how they know what they know I'm sure the answer would be difficult to absorb. After all, that is where we get the words "mystify" and "mystery".  They all come from the same root.

   I think the average person, however, is fully capable of mysticism but for that to happen we need to loose our everyday eyes.  We must embrace everything we encounter with a loving gaze that accepts it for what it is all the while knowing that it is so much more.

    Intrigued? Here are some links you might find illuminating.  I've really enjoyed this book by Carl McColman. Beautifully written and easily understood by a mystic-in-training.  It is a good starting point for understanding mysticism and its relevance for today's spiritual seeker no matter what their leanings are.
by Carl McColman

Carl McColman's Website with a video
introduction to his latest books on mysticism 

The Christian of the future will be
a mystic or nothing at all.
-Karl Rahner



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