(I begin this section with a portion of a piece I found on the internet written by Michael H.)
"I am traveling down a long, straight path.
There is nothing particularly compelling about it, other than the
fact that it leads where I am heading. It seems to stretch forever,
the same gray colors seem to blend into a drabness and boredom with
no hope of change in sight. "Suddenly I come to a split in the road. The
same road continues straight into the distance, as gray and boring as
ever. But curving to the left, I see something awe inspiring. The
path is illuminated by a powerful golden light, and every rock and
tree seem to crackle with life and a happiness that is unfathomable."Suddenly, I am reminded of Robert Frost's poem
about the road less traveled. I look toward the spectacle of beauty
before me, and then back at the doldrums of the old gray road, some
dead leaves blowing in the wind. To the left is something fresh and
wonderful; straight ahead is dreariness. The new road, with its
curves and light, is very attractive. "But I don't know the road; I don't know where
it leads. It may take me miles out of the way of my destination. It
would be a wondrous delight, at least it seems so from here. There
really is no way to tell where a road will take you when you first
start down it...
is the lure of mysticism. Wanderers throughout the mists of time have
come this way before and stood perplexed by the choice. The promise
of Higher Spirituality is inspiring, alluring many a traveler. But
the road seemingly less traveled, the road of beauty, curves far away
from where they really want to be.
exists in a myriad of forms. Within Christianity, it is seen in Roman
Catholic teachings, the 20th century Pentecostal and Charismatic
traditions, and in the Quakers. In the great three monotheistic
religions, it is seen in the practices of the Gnostic Christians, the
Sufi Muslims, and the Kabalistic Jews. Outside of monotheism,
mysticism expresses itself in the Western New Age movement, as well
as the Eastern Buddhism and Hinduism, Yoga, and Native American
The draw of the esoteric is powerful: an ecstatic spiritual experience connecting with the Ultimate in Divine Reality! But the alternative is equally possible and equally frightening: finding that esoterism is the ultimate in spiritual and mental bondage. Escaping the illusion of life becomes escaping everything in life that has any meaning. (This ends the portion of the piece I found on the internet written by Michael H.)
So what exactly is mysticism? Websters Dictionary says it's the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual
truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience
(as intuition or insight). This would be in stark contrast to Biblical Christianity where a Christian gets their knowledge of God, spiritual truth, and experience of God through the written Word of God, the Bible.
While some people may have a mystical experience without trying, there are and have been cultures throughout the ages that have practiced mysticism. Some mystics have fine tuned skills they feel takes them to a higher place of spirituality such as walking on burning coals, lying on a bed of nails or being snake charmers. But predominantly, especially in today's culture, meditation and chanting are the paths mystics take to get in touch with the "Divine".
Contemplative Spirituality. is a belief system that
uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of
consciousness through practicing 'the silence' of the mind and soul. As of recent It has been wrapped in Christian terminology and is spreading rapidly through churches of all denomination. Common
terms used for this movement are "spiritual formation," "the
silence," "the stillness," "ancient-wisdom,"
"spiritual disciplines," "contemplative prayer" and many others. The premise
of contemplative spirituality is
pantheistic (God is all) and
panentheistic (God is in all) but
Christians don't seem to realize they are involved in something that is
un-scriptural. Let's look at each of the common terms for this movement to understand how this is nothing like Biblical Christianity:
The Silence or The Stillness - The practice of taking time to get in an environment free from distractions and to
sit while focusing on quieting the mind. Their goal is to stop the mind from
wandering and to make it focus on one's breath going in and out and eventually
be able to hear one's pulse. Contemplative's suggest this is how a
person connects to their true nature, calm themselves and teach ones' self how
to live in the present moment. The spiritual aspect is brought in often times
to say "this is how one hears from God or gets in touch with their own
Ancient Wisdom - Teachings drawn from the books of Roman Catholic mystics who lived from 1085 to 1806. Some that are particularly revered in this contemplative movement are those from the 15th - 19th century such as Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Anne Catherine Emmerich, St. Ignatius Loyola, Brother Lawrence, George Fox and Thomas Merton.
Spiritual Disciplines/Formation - Human behaviors such as fasting, meditation, simple living, submission to a spiritual over-seer, voluntary exile, night vigil of rejecting sleep, journaling, OT Sabbath keeping, physical labor, solitude, silence in an effort to try and emulate the life of Christ in every way. Proponents of this practice state that Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism are inadequate and having failed, have left most Christians as failures.
Contemplative Prayer - Centering prayer is a popular method of contemplative prayer or Christian meditation, placing a strong emphasis on interior silence. Though most authors trace its roots to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers of Christian monasticism, to the Lectio Divina tradition of the Benedictine monasticism, and to the works like The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, its origins as part of the "Centering Prayer" movement in modern Catholicism and Christianity can be traced to several books published by three Trappist monks of St. Joseph's Abby in Spencer, Massachusetts in the 1970s: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. M. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating. (Info from Wikipedia)
One last term I want to introduce to you is Labyrinth Walking. Labyrinth walking in an ancient practice used by many different faiths
for spiritual centering, contemplation and prayer. Entering the
serpentine path of a labyrinth, the walker walks slowly while quieting
their mind and focusing on a spiritual question or prayer. Unfortunately labyrinths are showing up on church grounds and Christian colleges today and Christians are buying into the philosophy that walking them clears the mind and gives insight. They need to be educated that the origins of labyrinths is in Greek mythology, so the practice is a pagan one.
For more information please visit http://Lighthousetrails.com or http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue91.htm
Typical exercises, such as those found in hatha yoga, are practiced under the tutelage of a guru or yogi, a personal religious guide and spiritual teacher. Gurus teach students to combine a variety of breathing techniques with asanas, or relaxation postures. In each of the postures, students must first enter the position, then maintain it for a certain length of time, and finally leave it.
This dictionary further states that people in the West have mistaken Yoga to be “mere breathing and relaxation exercises,” when in reality the practice of yoga serves as a gateway to Eastern mysticism and occult thinking.” It adds:
Certain postures, such as the lotus position, are taken to activate the psychic energy centers [the chakras]. And specific breathing exercises are practiced to infuse the soul with cosmic energy floating in the air. A guru might have students gaze at a single object, such as a candle, to develop and focus concentration. The guru might have them chant a mantra to clear their minds and become one with the object in front of them. The goal is to achieve increasingly higher meditative states until reaching oneness with the cosmic consciousness.
(This information has been taken from LighthouseTrails.com's new booklet Yoga and Christianity, written by Chris Lawson.)
If you want to get born again in Christ Jesus, please take this time now to talk to God. You can say something like this: God I know I am a sinner and I need a Savior and I believe Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. I believe Jesus Christ was born of a virgin mother, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that He lived a sinless life because He was God in the flesh, and that He was crucified as the once for all sacrifice for mankind's sins. I believe he was buried and rose from the grave and was witnessed alive before ascending to heaven where He now sits on the throne as King of Kings. I repent of my sins and accept Jesus' gift of salvation today and I ask Him to be my Savior and Lord. I ask the Holy Spirit to come and make a dwelling in my heart and to lead me into all righteousness. Thank you God for hearing my prayer and for sending your Son to save me by dying in my place at the Cross so I can be in the family of God. And Father, I understand that while I am saved by my confession of faith, it is also Your will for me to get water baptized to show my private confession in a public way, and so I ask you to lead me to the church or baptismal situation you have for me so I can get baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen!