Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > MysticismTranscendenceCircle

 
 

Center Everywhere, Circumference Nowhere

Essentiality of Mysticism for the Church

Aug 17, 2006

Saying For Today: Infinity is the sole and sufficient justification for mysticism. And, sadly, most of the church has little, if any, awareness of the vital role of mysticism in everyday life and faith.


The teaching and practice of mysticism is no longer an option for the leaders of the church, seeing science is pushing at the boundaries of the infinite and discovering the Immensity that the great mystics of the world religions have referred to for millennia.
--Brian K. Wilcox

Frontier scientists are always working on the rim of the infinite, for beyond the edge of today's universe lies the infinite unknown we will step into tomorrow."
--Huston Smith, The Soul of Christianity


Devotional Comments

"The Christian world is Infinite," writes Huston Smith (The Soul of Christianity). By "world" Smith means "worldview."

Smith posits that if we stop with finitude we face a door having only one side. He refers to this as "an absurdity." Indeed, "the Infinite has doorways, but not doors."

Where, then, is the finite? Certainly, we deal every day with the finite, do we not? Yes. Again, Smith rightly posits, "The Infinite includes the finite or we would be left with infinite-plus-finite and the Infinite would not be what it claims to be."

Think of a circle. Anywhere you go inside the circle you discover to be the center of the circle. You are unable to find a noncenter. Every other creature, what we call animate and inanimate, is, likewise, at the center at the same time you are at the center. Nothing and no one is not at the center, even though you are not at the same place as everyone and everything else. Still, all is at the center. Likewise, imagine you can see as far as you want to see, and you are unable to see any circumference to the circle. That is Infinity. That is God. St. Augustine spoke this image of the circle: "God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." In this sense, where does not apply to Spirit. Speaking from within finiteness, Spirit is everywhere; speaking from Infiniteness, Spirit is nowhere. In the absolute sense, God is not infinite, God is Infinity Itself.

Infinity is the sole and sufficient justification for mysticism. And, sadly, most of the church has little, if any, awareness of the vital role of mysticism in everyday life and faith. At worst, mysticism is considered a deterrent from true faith. At best, mysticism is politely ignored as for a select few of specially endowed and gifted saints.

A staff member sat before me, accusing me of sounding New Age. I replied and referred to mysticism. He had served in the Christian ministry for many years, twenty-two years at least, and graduated from a mainline Christian school. Yet, the word mysticism brought befuddlement to his eyes. He admitted he did not know what mysticism refers to. But, ironically, he claimed to know what New Age means. That a Christian minister claimed to be able to define "New Age" and not "mysticism" maybe should not surprise us, seeing the flatland theology and experience of much of Christianity. So, what we have in the church is a hunger for the Infinite.

Jesus as mystic, or spirit person, is an aspect of Jesus that desperately needs claming by the church. The out-of-balance focus on Savior, or Redeemer, is out-of-balance. What we are left with is a myriad of Christians referred to as saved, with little idea experientially what that means and with no lived sense of Transcendence. While they wait for the sweet-by-and-by, they are bogged down in the tyrannies of the here-and-here.

Contemplation is that practice and path that leads us to experience the centerless-circumferenceless-Circle: Spirit. I say experience, for logical arguments for or claims to an appreciation of Infinity are only that: arguments and claims. There is no way to consistent growth in lived experience of Transcendence apart from contemplation. Contemplation is the experience of mysticism. And, contemplation and its fruit are meant for every Christian, and to withhold that message is an injustice against the laity of our churches.

Reflections

Has any Christian leader shared with you in sermon or teaching the meaning and significance of Christian mysticism?

Does the community of faith you serve in and through address the importance of the experience of Transcendence?

What do you surmise that I mean in the following: "There is no God-box"?

Do you know of Christians and other persons looking for that Something More and it is not being offered them through the church or community of faith they belong to or did belong to?

How do you define that "Something More"?

Why do you think few Christian leaders are contemplative and urge the practice of contemplation?

Do you have a contemplative practice that is growing you in awareness and experience of the Mystery of the Infinite? What is it?

 

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