As soon as a person enters a mystical teaching, he begins to receive specific knowledge that assists him in overcoming many of the obstacles to being present. By definition, we call this new knowledge ‘mystical’ or ‘esoteric,’ meaning that this knowledge does not circulate in ordinary life circumstances.
As the student begins to transform this knowledge into practice, he develops new understanding and new attitudes towards life. This permits the student to shed many life-long attitudes that were not supportive of the evolution of his higher self.
A perfect illustration of this may be seen in a quote by the mystic Abu Bakr, who was a close companion to Mohammed. He taught that: “the spiritual warrior has no outside enemies.”
Throughout our lives, when we become negative we often hear ourselves complain: “He made me angry,” or, “She said something bad about me.” We simply blame others for our bursts of anger, and sleep-walk in righteous indignation, certain that our negativity was not our own fault.
Yet, if we examine the quote by Abu Bakr, we learn that mystical knowledge teaches just the opposite.
The responsibility for our negative emotions, as well as their control, lies entirely within us. Once a person has embraced and begun to traverse a path to awakening, he no longer has the luxury of blaming others for his lack of control over his emotions. While this particular aspect of mystical teaching may sound harsh or unrealistic in practice, for those who have earnestly begun the moment-to-moment struggle to penetrate the present, it is imperative that they embrace this tenet as soon as possible.
Abu Bakr is not the only one who professes this idea; it may be found in most teachings of mysticism.
For example, in his play Julius Caesar, Shakespeare wrote, “The fault lies not within our stars, but within ourselves.”
Rodney Collin, the twentieth century teacher and student of P.D. Ouespensky, taught, “In this system (The Fourth Way) it is considered hypocrisy to blame others for what takes place in oneself.”
In the famous third century Jewish text, The Mishnah, it is written: “Who is strong? He who controls his passions.”
And lastly, from the mystical Sufi poet Hafiz: “Blame keeps the same sad game going. It keeps stealing your wealth, giving it to an imbecile with no financial skills. Dear one…Wise up!”
For one who is on a path of awakening, armed with just this one idea, the external begins to have less of a hold on him, and on his ability to penetrate the moment with presence.
THE TWO BODIES
In the majority of postings on this website, we have touched upon the idea of man having two separate bodies: a divine higher self, and a physical lower self.
For the lower self, mystical thinking is almost completely heterodox to the way it would determine how our lives should be lived.
Whereas the lower self lives to serve itself through indulgence and self-promotion, the divine self lives to serve the higher in itself and in others, and to do so as invisibly as possible.
Throughout the Ages, the lower self has been depicted as an enemy to the higher self. Wisdom Schools throughout the Ages have taught of its desire to usurp attention away from what is higher within man.
In the Hebrew Wisdom School, for example, the lower self was first called ‘the snake,’ and was later given other appellations such as Amalek, Satan, ‘the harlot,’ and ‘the enemy.’ In the Christian Wisdom School, the lower self was called ‘the devil.’
(Dear reader, please know that it is not possible for a conscious evil to exist. Thus, the idea of the devil as a monster with a tail and horns that goes around destroying the good is pure myth, and is a bastardization of the idea of the lower self.)
In summary, then, mystical thinking may be defined as the higher in man trying to see what the lower self wishes to do in any given moment, and then either diverting that course of action if it is contrary, or making the remembrance of the divine self an accompaniment to the action.
We close this essay with a quote from the Sufi teacher, Sheik Ismail Hakki:
Everything is dependent upon remembering. One does not begin by learning, one starts by remembrance. The distance of eternal existence and the difficulties of life cause one to forget. It is for this reason that God commanded us: ‘Remember’.