What is Mysticism? Understanding the Subtle Differences between Materialism, Religion, Spirituality and Mysticism

Mysticism is one of the least talked about subjects. We often talk about God, Heaven, Hell, the soul, and things like these, but our understanding of what mysticism is is very limited or perhaps even non-existent.

Why is it important to understand what Mysticism is?The world has come to a point where every philosophy, religion or spiritual practice has proved to be a failure.

The world has come to a point where every philosophy, religion or spiritual practice has proved to be a failure. The proof of this lies in the misery that man has created for himself over thousands of years.

Man has conquered the material world to a great extent. What he has failed to conquer on the other hand is himself. In my view, conquering oneself is the only thing that makes life worth living.

Every experience in life should lead us closer and closer to understanding ourselves better, not just on the physical level, but on all three levels of Body, Mind, and Spirit – This to me, is the essence of mysticism.

To understand mysticism, we would need to understand a few other things that we have been so familiar with over the years.

Essentially, you will find four types of people in the world:

  • Materialistic
  • Religious
  • Spiritual
  • Mystics

We will discuss each of these individuals in detail to have an understanding of what mysticism is.

  • Materialistic:

Almost 90 percent of people in the world belong to this category. Perhaps even more than that. The problem with an individual that is materialistic is not that he enjoys the worldly pleasures that life has to offer.

What makes a man materialistic is not that he uses objects and things in the world that contribute to sensory pleasure, but the fact that he is so involved with them, that he is incapable of looking beyond them.

There is no problem with living a wealthy life, having sex, eating delicious food and so on. The problem is the obsession. The problem is denying everything else that can be beautiful and focusing your entire attention only on materialistic needs.

Hence mysticism has nothing to do with a man who is materialistic. A materialistic person can never be a mystic.

  • Religious:

We then have the second category of Individuals who claim to be religious. The religious person is not very different from a materialistic person. In fact, they are both the same.

A materialistic person denies God, whereas the religious person denies material. The religious person has simply changed his object of focus. A materialistic person focuses his attention entirely on material, whereas a religious person makes God, Heaven, Hell or the afterlife as his objects of desire.

Hence, psychologically there isn’t much of a difference between atheism and theism. Objects may very, but the mind that clings remains the same.

Therefore, you will notice that Christians, Muslims, Jews, or anybody belonging to any particular organized religion are not very different. They are not religious in any way, as a matter of fact, they are hoarders.

Just as a wealthy man hoards his wealth, the religious man hoards his God. The existence of different religions is a simple way of claiming that my God is superior to your God.

People belonging to a certain religion may say that all religions are one, but in subtle ways, they go on condemning other religions. In fact, to claim that “I am a Christian”, or “I am a Jew” is a way of saying that what you believe is wrong. My belief is right.

This is absolutely stupid. It doesn’t matter whose belief is right and wrong. Belief itself is wrong, and all organized religions are based on beliefs.

  • Spiritual:

We then have the third category of individuals, who claim to be spiritual. There is nothing wrong with being spiritual as such. The only problem is that every individual that is spiritual has his own idea of what spirituality is.

To put it simply, a spiritual person is not really interested in reality. He believes in his own illusions. A materialistic person believes in his materialistic illusions; A religious person believes in his religious illusions; whereas, a spiritual person believes in his own ideas.

  • A spiritual person finds an easy way out:

Another thing about a spiritual person is that he always finds an easy way out. A spiritual person will find his own way of doing a certain thing and will claim spirituality. For example, a few years ago, I used to work at a company and I was sitting at my desk with some of my colleagues. We weren’t busy at that time so we were all relaxing and talking about various things.

Looking at us, another one of our colleagues from a different department joined in the conversation. Suddenly the topic of religion came up. This woman was a Christian, and she said to us that although she was a Christian, she was not religious in any way. As a matter of fact, she was spiritual.

I asked her what was her idea of being spiritual was. What she told me was, “I like to sit on my own inside the church silently – This is my idea of being spiritual”.

If you notice, this woman had her own idea of being spiritual. Also, what a comfortable idea? Sitting inside a Church silently, not doing anything meant being spiritual.

Now I am not saying that sitting in silence is wrong, In fact, a few moments of silence are tremendously important, but the problem was that this woman was obsessed with comfort.

It is very comfortable to sit silently. You don’t need to do anything. To add to that, you call yourself spiritual which is even better because now, you are not only enjoying your idea of what spirituality means, but you are also taking pride in having your own idea or concept.

  • Mystics:

A mystic is a person who can be materialistic, religious, and spiritual, but yet none of them.

A mystic is not religious in the sense that he is a Christian, Muslim, Jew or anything. He is religious in the sense that he is unbiased.

A mystic’s idea of being religious is embracing the best of every religion. A mystic will appreciate Jesus just as much as he can appreciate Buddha, Mahavir, Mohammed or any other mystic.

In fact, a mystic is not concerned with the superficial aspects of religion. He is concerned with the essential aspects of religion.

Ordinarily, a religious person is someone who does just the opposite. A pseudo-religious person is not concerned with the essential.

A pseudo-religious person fasts; He has a certain agenda; He goes to pray in the church or mosque on certain days or certain times in a day.

A mystic has no agenda. He is free and every decision made, is made out of his freedom and understanding of truth.

A mystic is basically a person who never goes against freedom and truth. If required, he is willing to fast, pray, or even sacrifice, but that is not some duty he is trying to fulfill. He is not fasting or praying because that is what he is told to do, but because it is required.

A mystic does not follow rules. A mystic follows life, and whatever is required at a certain point in life, he does it.

Unlike a spiritual person, he is willing to take risks. He does not cling to his own ideas. On the other hand, at any given time, he is completely willing to change his ideas for the sake of understanding the truth.

  • Final Words about Mysticism:

A person who has left all concepts, ideas, philosophies and has decided to understand life exactly the way it is, is a mystic. The entire science of trying to get closer and closer to the ultimate truth of life is what mysticism is all about.

Mysticism is the entire art of living life without gathering knowledge. Normally, what we consider religion or spirituality is just an intellectual game. Mysticism is abandoning knowledge and embracing the truth.

The deeper a person gets into mysticism, the more ignorant he becomes, but this ignorance is not the same ignorance as that of an ordinary person. The ignorance of a mystic has a certain intelligence to it. The ignorance of a mystic has a childlike quality to it. A child although ignorant is still intelligent, because a child is one with existence.

To become one, or to work towards becoming one with existence will make you ignorant, but on the other hand, it will give you intelligence.

A person who is filled with knowledge may not be ignorant, but he will lack intelligence. To sacrifice intelligence at the cost of becoming knowledgeable is one of the most unfortunate things to do in life.

Knowledge makes you a robot, but intelligence makes you human. Even a computer has more knowledge than an average human being, but can you consider a computer to be intelligent? Absolutely not.

What are your thoughts on mysticism? Do share your experiences, opinions or views in the comments down below.


Join the Mystic Mankind Newsletter
Join my Newsletter and get the latest content on applying spiritual insights in day-to-day living, plus my 100 page Free Ebook on improving your Relationships, Career, and Health.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *