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Lecture One: The Practical Mystic


1. Why is it important for today's Truth teacher to be acquainted with the levels of mystical consciousness?

a. Knowledge eliminates fear for oneself and for one's students.

b. Realistic reassurance for a student sustains him when his 
spiritual gifts are being exchanged (see Lessons in Truth 
on "Spiritual Gifts," especially the following:)

"Spirit, the Holy Spirit, which is God in movement, wants to teach you something, to open a bigger, brighter way to you... Apparent failure is His call to you to arrest your attention and turn you to Him.... Turn to the divine presence within yourself. Seek Him.  Be still before Him.  Wait upon God quietly, earnestly, but constantly and trustingly, for days--aye weeks, if need be! Let Him work in you, and sooner or later you will spring up into a resurrected life of newness and power that you never before dreamed of.

"When these transition periods come, in which God would lead us higher, should we get frightened or discouraged, we only miss the lesson that He would teach, and so postpone the day of receiving our own fullest, highest gift.  In our ignorance and fear, we are thus hanging on to the old grain of wheat that we can see, not daring to let it go into the ground and die, lest there be no resurrection, no newness of life, nothing bigger and grander to come out of it."  (LIT 124.)

c. Young people who have touched mystical states accidentally 
or illicitly can be shown that these states are not 
dependent on narcotics, nor are they new.

d. Tools must be acquired which will enable the teacher to 
distinguish mystical states from neurotic or psychotic states

2. How did Emma Curtis Hopkins distinguish Mental Science and 
Mystical Science?

Mystical Science:

Mystical invocation (is) the way to know new things from the heights above the margins of the mind, where things hitherto untaught lie waiting our mystical invocation.  (HM 137.)

Neither shall the powers and capacities of mind be science.  "The righteousness of the righteous shall not save him, nor the wickedness of the wicked destroy him,"  touches a tonic chord of the miracle above thinking and its resultant conduct.  God enthroned above the pairs of opposites is the bad man's deliverer and the good man's glorious liberty.  (HM 58.)

The mystical key -- when this key is taken we hear...that all our fungous thoughts, and tough excrescences of character and conduct are melted down, erased forgotten by the hot beams of the countenance of the Shining God unto whose Vast Countenance and almighty kindness we look.... He asks of us no goodness or wisdom -- only by our steady "beholding." Jehosphaphat cried out, "We have no power! We have no might!  We know nothing!  But our eyes are upon Thee!" (II Chronicles 20:12, 15-18, 30.)  "And all his calamities melted."  (CA 14.)

Mental Science:

Mental Key:  When this key is taken we have our minds raked over to snatch up the wrong thought that has already landed us or is likely to land us into physical ill health, or hot temper or selfishness.... They show how the thoughts we think damage or advantage us.... They hang our immortal destiny upon a thought peg. (CA 13-14.)


The Adam man names good and evil.  The Joshua man names good only. The Christ man names neither good nor evil.  The Adam man speaks from common sense and with fair reasoning from the merits of the question of easy and difficult, sick and well.  The Joshua man finds only grapes of Eschol on the plains where Adam shows you plainly that giants of terror abide with menacing fronts.  The Christ man ignores the grapes of Eschol and the giants of difficulty.  He knows that good and evil are only clothes which man may put on or leave off.  This is Christ Jesus in truth, namely, that which is in the world but not of it.  (EPSS 18)


The mind is not capable of bringing anything to pass except it be transfixed by inward visioning.  Inner vision is the vital essential to the mind.  When this faculty is exalted, the mind quickens with original ideas and has high instructions.  (HM 28.)

Man's inward visional direction creates his judgments, or mentals; mentals then translate into manifest affairs and manifest bodies. Mentals unvitalized by high vision are but compoundings with phenomena that never get anywhere.  (HM 168-9.)

Even the most intellectual critics of mystical claims acknowledge that "the concepts of future creation are present in their completeness in the Eternal Now before being brought to birth in the material sphere." But they neglect to mention in such splendid assertions how to fetch to birth in the material or tangibly visible sphere the heavenly eternals already finished.  For this we must look to Mystical Science.  (HM 204.)

(We might well say, then, that Mystical Science is a mother who brings forth a virgin-born son, Mental Science; and he in turn brings forth anew the King's Daughter, Mystical Science.--Ed.)

3. Compare the nature and purpose of the two major written
 works of ECH.

Scientific Christian Mental Practice may be compared to the study of "The Law," the Old Testament of Consciousness.  Its purpose is to declare the principles and right practice of Mental Science, with strong overtones of the "New Covenant" of Mystical Science.  In prose style, it shows a path of right and orderly pursuit of your good and your goal.

High Mysticism may be compared to the study of "The Gospel," the New Testament of Consciousness.  Its purpose is to declare the principles and practice of Mystical Science, with strong undertones of Mental Science.  In poetic style, it shares the consciousness of the reaching of the Soul's original goal, the keeping of the High Watch.

A similar distinction is discernible in Lessons in Truth: chapters 1-7 present the laws of mental science; chapters 8-12 present the principles of mystical science.  The coordinated activity of the two, symbolically head and heart, bring about the inner marriage through which the Christ is born and brought into manifest ministry.

4. Give the standards by which genuine mysticism may be 
distinguished from psychism.

Mystical experience always has a life-enhancing quality, leaving with the experiencer something new in the way of energy, love, and/or courage.  Such experience has to do with the transformation of personality, using reproof, consolation, encouragement, or guidance as needed.  It carries a sense of certitude, peace, and joy.  Little or no importance is attached to the media of voice or vision itself.  The ineffable experiencing of God is paramount.

Psychic experience has a life-narrowing, life-depleting quality; and phenomenal occurrences tend to take precedence over the transformation of personality into Christ-likeness. NOTE WELL:  The inner Voice of Truth never flatters, even subtly, but often corrects.  It never demands obedience in a coercive spirit; it always carries the quality of peace. It speaks to us in terms of principles, rather than personalities; thus leaving us to use reason to figure out the best application of the principle.  It is never interruptive or disruptive, but awaits with courtesy our receptivity and silence. It is usually extremely concise and pointed in its utterances, rather than floridly verbose.

Since the temperament and physical constitution which confers a predisposition toward mystical experience is the same as that which predisposes toward psychic experience, the two are sometimes closely intertwined within a single person's experience; thus the sharp sword of discernment must be applied with a steady, loving patience.

See Underhill, Mysticism,  "Voices and Visions" for further insight on this question.


Evelyn UnderhillExcerpts from Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill.  Published in the United States by E. P. Dutton § Co., and reprinted with their permission.

The education which tradition has ever prescribed for the mystic, consists in the gradual development of an extraordinary faculty of concentration, a power of spiritual attention.... The condition of all valid seeing and hearing, upon every plane of consciousness, lies not in the sharpening of the senses, but in a peculiar attitude of the whole personality: in a self-forgetting attentiveness, a profound concentration, a self-merging, which operates a real communion between the seer and the seen -- in a word, in Contemplation. (300)

All that is asked is that we shall look for a little time, in a special and undivided manner, at some simple, concrete, and external thing.... Look, then at this thing which you have chosen...tranquilly refuse the messages which countless other aspects of the world are sending; and so concentrate your whole attention on this one act of loving sight that all other objects are excluded from the conscious field.  Do not think, but as it were pour out your personality towards it: let your soul be in your eyes.... First, you will perceive about you a strange and deepening quietness; a slowing down of our feverish mental time.  Next, you will become aware of a heightened significance, and intensified existence in the thing at which you look.... Lean out towards it (and) an answering current will meet yours.  (301)

On the psychological side (this) development involves a steady discipline of the mystic's rich subliminal mind, slowly preparing the channels in which the deeper consciousness is to flow.... To the subject himself, however, his orison seems rather a free and mutual act of love; a supernatural intercourse between the soul and the divine, or some aspect of the divine, sometimes full of light and joy, sometimes dark and bare.  (306)

This eye must not only be opened, it must be trained, so that it may endure to gaze steadfastly at the Uncreated Light.... A steady abolition of sense imagery, a cutting off of all possible sources of illusion, all possible encouragements of selfhood and pride -- the most fertile of all sources of deception -- this is the condition of pure sight.  (308)


All the scattered interests of the self have here to be collected; there must be a deliberate and unnatural act of attention, a deliberate expelling of all discordant images from the consciousness. (313)

(The self) must find some device to help it over the threshold... to shift that threshold and permit its subliminal intuition of the Absolute to emerge.  This device is as a rule the practice of meditation.... The self, concentrated upon this image or idea, dwelling on it more than thinking about it -- as one may gaze upon a picture that one loves -- falls gradually and insensibly into the condition of reverie.  (314)


Here the self passes beyond the stage at which its perceptions are capable of being dealth with by thought.  It can no longer "take notes": can only surrender itself to the stream of an inflowing life, and to the direction of a larger will.  (317)

To one who is entering this state, the external world seems to get further and further away:  till at last nothing but the paramount fact of his own existence remains.... Presently, however, he becomes aware that Something fills this emptiness; something omnipresent, intangible, like sunny air.  (318)

Forsake as well good thoughts as evil thought, and pray not with thy mouth, but lift thee right well.... And look that nothing live in thy working mind but a naked intent stretching unto God.... (This) is an admonition against spiritual worry, an entreaty to the individual, already at work twisting experience to meet his own conceptions, to let things be as they are, to receive and be content.  Leave off doing, that you may be.  Leave off analysis that you may know.  (320)

True "Quiet" is a means, not an end: is actively embraced, not passively endured.... These words mark the frontier between the true and healthy mystic state...and its morbid perversion.... the difference between the tense stillness of the athlete and the limp passivity of the sluggard.  (321)

(Quoting von Hugel) The appearance...of a cessation of life and energy of the soul in periods of special union with an appearance only.... This ... impression of rest springs most certainly from an unusually large amount of actualized energy, an energy which is now penetrating and finding expression by every pore and fibre of the soul.... This very rest is produced by Action, 'unperceived because so fleet, so near, so all-fulfilling.' (323)

The true contemplative, coming to this plane of utter stillness, does not desire 'extraordinary favours and visitation,' but the privilege of breathing for a little while the atmosphere.  (324)

(The soul) knows not whether to speak or be silent, whether it should laugh or weep.  It is a glorious folly, a heavenly madness, wherein true wisdom is acquired.... Here...we see the Orison of Silence melting into true contemplation:  its stillness is ruffled by its joy.... (This is) an essentially transitional state, introducing the self into a new sphere of activity.  (326-327)


The mystic's experience in Contemplation is the experience of the All, ... (which) seems to him to be given rather than attained. It is indeed the Absolute which is revealed to him:  not ... some partial symbol or aspect thereof ... This revealed Reality is apprehended by way of participation, not by way of observation.  The passive receptivity of the Quiet is here developed into an active, outgoing self-donation...the self's response to the Divine initiative .... God is self-disclosed to the soul; and that soul rushes out willingly to lose itself in Him.  Thus a ... divine osmosis is set up between the finite and the Infinite life .... a narrow and limiting I-hood which dogs our search for freedom and full life is done away.  (333)

One and all, these explorers of the Infinite fly to language expressive of great and boundless spaces.... Thus the mystic, for the time of this "union with the Divine," does find himself ... to be "simply in God."  (338)

(Quoting Maeterlinck): Here we stand suddenly at the confines of human thought, and far beyond the Polar circle of the mind. It is intensely cold here; it is intensely dark; and yet you will find nothing but flames and light. But to those who come without having trained their souls to these new perceptions, this light and these flames are as dark and as cold as if they were painted.  (340)

"Our work is the love of God," cries Ruysbroeck.  "Our satisfaction lies in submission to the Divine Embrace."  (356)


All the mystics agree ... in finding the test of a true ecstasy, not in its outward sign, but in its inward grace, its after-value .... If the concentration has been upon the highest centre of consciousness, the organ of spiritual perception -- if a door has really been opened by which the self has escaped for an instant to the vision of That Which Is -- the ecstasy will be good for life.  (361)

Since mystics have, as a rule, the extreme susceptibility to suggestions and impressions … charactertistic of artistic and creative types, it is not surprising that their ecstasies are often evoked, abruptly, by the exhibition of, or concentration upon, some loved and special symbol of the divine.  Such symbols form the rallying-points about which are gathered a whole group of ideas and intuitions.  Their presence -- sometimes the sudden thought of them -- will be enough ... to prove a discharge of energy along some particular path; that is to say, to stir to life all those ideas and intuitions which belong to the self's consciousness of the Absolute...and introduce the self into that world of perception of which they are ... the material keys.  Hence the profound significance of symbols for some mystics:  Their paradoxical clinging to outward forms, whilst declaring the spiritual and intangible alone is real.  (364)

(Quoting Jacopone da Todi):  "The activity of the mind is lulled to rest:  rapt in God, it can no longer find itself .... All its perceptions have gone forth to gaze upon the Good, and contemplate that Beauty which has no likeness .... The doors are flung wide: conjoined to God, it possesses all that is in Him.  It feels that which it felt not:  sees that which it knew not, possesses that which it believed not, tastes, though it savours not .... Because it has not retained in itself the mixture of any other thing, it has received in abundance that Imageless Good."  (374-375)