While living with a Kichwa family in Ecuador’s Amazonian region, I was served Guayusa tea every morning. We never had coffee. Guayusa grows naturally in the area. Families cultivate the tree in their forest gardens and they can also buy the dried leaves all folded and tied together in beautiful wreaths hanging in the markets.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.”