I have many friends who contemplate mysticism, or The Mystery. I chose different people, from very different backgrounds, to have a conversation with about mysticism.

The following are transcripts of those conversations.

Former Jesuit Priest

Former Jesuit Priest

“Some works on mysticism give the history, stressing how differently people understand it. Other works focus on techniques for achieving a mystical experience which have never interested me. Nor have I found any profit from techniques of “centering” or “Zen” or yoga. Come to think of it, hardly any of the many Jesuits I lived with were concerned about mysticism, so I had no incentive there.”

Nature Mystic

Nature Mystic

“Mysticism can be defined as attaining a deep and abiding awareness of our essential inter-relatedness through a personal relationship with the Great Mystery, the Energetic Pulse of Creation. Mysticism doesn’t belong to any one religious tradition. It is available for anyone to experience but this requires openness. I trust in my relationship with Creation. I believe in it. It’s personal, so I can act on it from my own understanding.”

Mystic with Mental Illness

Mystic with Mental Illness

“There is a fine line between mysticism and mental illness. A mental illness episode can be a doorway into a mystical experience. And a mystical experience can become a mental disorder or a “dis-at-ease” due to lack of support, compassion or a sanctuary.”

Transgender Ecopsychologist

Transgender Ecopsychologist

“I was first introduced to mysticism as a teenager studying the works of Carlos Castaneda and Yoganada. I had personal experiences with Amrit Desai, then became involved in the Charismatic Christian movement in my early 20’s. I studied about a lot of people at that time — the Martyrs, St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, the Desert Fathers, and those who experienced the stigmata. I studied what they did for their spiritual practices. What stuck with me are many of the saints’ experiences of the Dark Night of the Soul and how that experience was used to awaken them to the mystic realms of existence.”

Elder of the Waitaha

Elder of the Waitaha

“True mystical insight comes from self-investigation. Mysticism is quite scientific. There is observation, collection of data, analysis, deduction of an answer and back to collection of more data through observation. You are the scientist. Through constant introspection, you see you are part of the evolution. It’s in your DNA — it just reveals itself to you.”

Jewish Mystic

Jewish Mystic

” Mysticism is seeing the connectedness of everything. It’s not a secret, it happens all the time. It’s seeing more than others. But to develop mysticism is a discipline; it takes attention. A mystic can take in information on lots of different levels at one time. Some people don’t get it. Mysticism is in the act of living. It’s helpful to find teachers who can explain things to you; to be told more. I learn from living teachers and ancient ones.”