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To Do list[edit]

edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Mysticism:
  1. Remove unsourced statements / copyright violations --- done (far more than expected)
  2. Restructure
  3. Find sources
  4. Remove or rewrite incomprehensible sections
Priority 1 (top)

Essay "Overview" moved here from article, possibly contains usable fragments[edit]


Mysticism, referred to as spirituality in the Catholic Church, refers to beliefs and practices that go beyond the liturgical and devotional forms of worship of mainstream faith, often by seeking out inner or esoteric meanings of conventional religious doctrine, and by engaging in spiritual practices such as breathing practices, prayer, contemplation and meditation, along with chanting and other activities designed to heighten spiritual awareness. For example, Kabbalah (based in Judaism) seeks out deeper interpretations of the Torah and other mystical works, and may conduct spiritual practices based in Meditation, Theurgy, or Alchemy, as well as song, dance, prayer, and talmudic study, accordingly, as is done in many other mystical traditions. Sufism (in Islam) extends and amplifies the teachings of the Quran, most famously through their devotional musicians dancing Zhikrs and singing Qawwalis. Vedanta reaches for the inner teachings of Hindu philosophy encapsulated in the Vedas, and many students of both Shaivite Tantric schools within Hinduism, as well as Shakta Tantrics, along with usually more mainstream-oriented Vaisnaivas, will use the symbolism and mythologies of their gods and goddessess, to take the initiate home to their highest awareness, via mystical practices designed and proven for these purposes. Often mysticisms center on the teachings of individuals who are considered to have special insight, and in some cases entire non-mystical (doctrine-based) faiths have arisen around these leaders and their teachings, with few or no mystical practitioners remaining.

Mystics hold that there is a fundamental, indescribable essence, a No-Thing That Is All Things, the Unmanifested that manifests the Manifested; and that it underlies and gives birth to all the phenomena (realities) of our existence. (In physics, it is called a field, in Taosim, the Tao, in Hinduism, Brahman, in Christianity, God. This One Being exists behind or beneath the observable, day-to day world of phenomena, and that in fact the ordinary world is superficial or epiphenomenal.

Different faiths have differing relationships to mystical thought. Hinduism has many mystical sects, in part due to its historic reliance on gurus (individual teachers of insight) for transmission of its philosophy. Mysticism in Buddhism is largely monastic, since most Buddhists consider jhana (meditation) to be an advanced technique used only after many lifetimes.[1] Mysticism in Abrahamic religions is largely marginalized, from the tolerance mainstream Muslims grant to Sufism to the active fears of cultism prevalent among western Christians, with Chasidic Kabbalists of Judaism being the notable exceptions. Mystics generally hold to some form of immanence, since their focus on direct realization obviates many concerns about the afterlife, and this often conflicts with conventional religious doctrines. Mystical teachings are passed down through transmission from teacher to student, though the relationship between student and teacher varies: some groups require strict obedience to a teacher, others carefully guard teachings until students are deemed to be ready, in others a teacher is merely a guide aiding the student in the process. However, none of the truly Great Mystics ever require strict obedience, knowing that that interferes both with the fundamental nature of the spirit as free, and with the development within the student of his own wisdom and power of discernment.

Mysticism may make use of canonical and non-canonical religious texts, and will generally interpret them hermeneutically, developing a philosophical perspective distinct from conventional religious interpretations. Many forms of mysticism in the modern world will adapt or adopt texts from entirely different faiths—Vivekananda in Vedanta, for instance, is noted for his assertions that all religions are one. As a rule, mysticisms are less concerned with religious differences and more concerned with individual development. What mysticism is most concerned with, however, is having the most effective set of practices to attain enlightened consciousness and union with God. Not much else beyond this matters to a dedicated mystic, who focuses on the inner realms: mind-breath, non-thinking awareness, and so on. Mystics are not too concerned with the opinions or the religious tools of their more conservative religious compatriots. For a true mystic, the important thing is his results in achieving his mystical goals.

  1. ^ Alexander Wynne, The origin of Buddhist meditation. Routledge, 2007
end of 'Overview' essay ---
feel free to recycle any of it (find refs, structure with headings, write coherent prose) Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:06, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Mysticism in Buddhism (again, undue weight at the moment, could be re-added if other religions' have similar sections[edit]

Buddhism includes a vast array of scriptures, beliefs, traditions and practices. Many of these are not overtly mystical. Yet, some doctrines within Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism have a strong flavour of mysticism. Pre-eminent amongst these are the teachings of Dzogchen and of the Tathagatagarbha. Both of these doctrines indicate the presence of a hidden, deathless core reality within each being—variously called the Buddha Nature, Buddha Matrix, Awakened Mind, Mind Essence, Dzogchen or Mahamudra—which needs to be recognized and ‘entered into’. This Essence of Mind is empty of tangible substance and is resistant to the intellect’s efforts to conceptualise or ‘model’ it, but it is supremely Aware and filled with benevolence and compassion. Writing on this theme, Lama Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche explains the Buddha’s teaching on the ultimate nature of the Awakened Mind (‘bodhicitta’), stating:

‘What is ultimate bodhicitta? It is truly free from all mental constructs, like space; it cannot be indicated by any analogy whatsoever. It falls into no extreme or category; it is beyond mental constructs. It is the unity of emptiness and compassion; it is empty like space. Yet it is loving and compassionate, open and clear. That is ultimate bodhicitta …According to Mahamudra, the essence is nonarising, its expression is unceasing, and its manifestation is the unity of these two. According to Dzogchen, the essence is empty, the nature is cognizant or luminous and the compassion is the unity of these two.’[1]

In the same work, Chökyi Nyima writes that the essence of the mind is not a concrete thing, yet is not to be viewed as non-existent; nor is it a multitude of things or just one thing. It is an essence that could be called the ‘I’ or the Ground of all that is:

"It is not found to be a concrete thing … Yet it is not nonexistent, since your mind is vividly awake. It is not a singularity, because it manifests in manifold ways. Nor is it a plurality, because all these are of one essence. There is no one who can describe its nature … It may be given many kinds of names such as “mind essence”, “I”, or the “all-ground”. It is the very basis of all of samsara and nirvana."[2]

This spiritual essence is not something that has to be developed or created: it is primordially present within each being. It constitutes the inner ‘bodies’ or aspects of the Buddha found in every person. Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche writes:

‘Since primordial time, these have been one’s natural possession, intrinsic and inherent to one’s being. We learn that these kayas are not something which one achieves or which occurs through the compassion of the buddhas … It cannot be produced through applying the key points of Dharma [religious] practice. One has possessed them since the very beginning. The kayas are absolutely inherent to oneself, to one’s own nature. The kayas exist spontaneously within oneself. Their presence is not a product of blessings or something slowly produced through practice. One cannot create or manufacture one’s enlightened essence through one’s own intelligence or through study of the teachings. One possesses them primordially. The sutras and tantras all agree on this point.’[3]

In the Tathagatagarbha tradition of Buddhism, this enlightened essence is called the Buddha Nature or (in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra) the Self (see atman (Buddhism)). It is the essential, indestructible nature of all beings, but is covered over by moral and mental contamination. Once that is removed, the inner ‘treasure’ of one’s true nature stands revealed in its full radiance and one becomes ‘Buddha’. In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha teaches:

‘”Self” means the matrix-of-one-gone-thus [i.e. Buddha Nature]. The basic constituent of a one-gone-thus [i.e. Buddha] indeed exists in all sentient beings, but it also is obstructed by types of afflictive emotions. While existing in them, sentient beings cannot see it … The Buddha-nature of sentient beings is, for example, like a treasure of jewels under a poor woman’s house, like a diamond on a powerful being’s forehead, and like a universal emperor’s spring of ambrosic water.’[4]

Elucidating this notion of the Buddha Nature or Buddha Matrix, Professor Jeffrey Hopkins comments:

‘The basis [of the spiritual life] is the ground on which the spiritual path acts to rid it of peripheral obstructions, thereby yielding the fruit of practice. The basis is the matrix-of-one-gone-thus [Buddha Nature], which itself is the thoroughly established nature, the uncontaminated primordial wisdom empty of all compounded phenomena—permanent, stable, eternal, everlasting. Not compounded by causes and conditions, the matrix-of-one-gone-thus [Buddha Nature] … is not something that did not exist before and is newly produced; it is self-arisen.’[5]

One specific mysticism of Buddhism is union with Dharmakaya through jhana. Dharmakaya is both the wisdom body of The Buddha, for one, and is also the omnipresent Mind. This unbegotten and immortal essence within each being is called the Dharma-kaya—Body of Truth—or Buddha Within (as Dr. Shenpen Hookham has termed it).[6] Its nature is described in the Samadhiraja Sutra, where the Buddha states:

‘the Body of the Tathagata [i.e. Buddha] should be defined as … having its essence identical with Space, invisible, surpassing the range of vision—thus is the Absolute Body to be conceived. Inconceivable, surpassing the sphere of thought, not oscillating between bliss and suffering, surpassing the illusory differentiation, placeless, surpassing the voice of those aspiring to the Knowledge of Buddhi, essential, surpassing passions, indivisible, surpassing hatred, steadfast, surpassing infatuation, explained by the indications of emptiness, unborn, surpassing birth, eternal from the standpoint of common experience, undifferentiated in the aspect of Nirvana, described in words as ineffable, quiescent in voice, homogenous with regard to conventional Truth, conventional with regard to the Absolute Truth—Absolute according to the true teaching.’[7]

  1. ^ Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche; Erik Pema Kunsang (translator) (2004). Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen: A Commentary on The Quintessence of Spiritual Practice, The Direct Instructions of the Great Compassionate One. North Atlantic Books. pp. 188–189. ISBN 9627341215. 
  2. ^ Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche; Erik Pema Kunsang (translator) (2004). Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen: A Commentary on The Quintessence of Spiritual Practice, The Direct Instructions of the Great Compassionate One. North Atlantic Books. pp. 122–125. ISBN 9627341215. 
  3. ^ Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche; Erik Pema Kunsang (translator) (2004). Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen: A Commentary on The Quintessence of Spiritual Practice, The Direct Instructions of the Great Compassionate One. North Atlantic Books. p. 114. ISBN 9627341215. 
  4. ^ Professor Jeffrey Hopkins, Mountain Doctrine: Tibet’s Fundamental Treatise on Other-Emptiness and the Buddha Matrix, Snow Lion Publications, New York, 2006, pp. 53-54
  5. ^ Professor Hopkins, op. cit., p. 8
  6. ^ Dr. Shenpen Hookham, The Buddha Within, State University of New York Press, New York, 1991
  7. ^ Dr. Konstanty Regamey, Philosophy in the Samadhirajasutra, Motilal Banarsidass, 1990, pp. 86-88

Does anyone else think the article is long and rambling?[edit]

I got the article down from 81 000 bytes to 76 600 bytes, but resisted minimising it more because I wanted some consensus before I went about doing anything drastic. At best the article is long and rambling.. at worst it is incomprehensible. Also, I think much of the information on this page is 'spirituality'. 'Mysticism' is the unique experience of God.. 'spirituality' is the system of thought and practice. Tjpob (talk) 08:42, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

It does appear to have gotten a bit essay-ish, not to mention confused. Also, the article is missing the point - a mysticism is a belief system that holds (as a core principle) that proper spiritual/moral understanding cannot be attained through the the human intellect, but only by getting past intellect to a deeper form of perception of reality. I'm not averse to a major rewrite, but I don't want to lose any useful material that's tucked in amidst the overgrowth, so maybe we should talk a bit before whipping out the weed-eater.--Ludwigs2 16:49, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes. I ended up on this page following links from Chabad through several similar pages, attempting to find a concise explanation understandable to the non-scholar. I think the article could have stopped with the introduction. Mysticism is a concept, not a practice. If both is insisted, the practices should be separated out somehow and the writing should be directed more toward a general audience.Samtha25 (talk) 02:13, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

The previous definition of Mysticism was succinct.[edit]

"Mysticism is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight."

This definition was all encompassing and precise. Mystickunoichi (talk) 15:14, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Not only 'Long and Rambling', but Unsupported[edit]

The article needs a major rewrite, if not a WP:TNT, for 4 reasons:

  1. It's long and rambling ... to the point of incomprehensibility ("entheogens" - eh?)
  2. It's a prohibited WP:ESSAY, or worse, lots of random essays
  3. It's Unsupported WP:OR for most of its length --- 33 citations for 84,000 bytes, anybody?
  4. Oh, and some (much? most?) of the unsupported material is WP:COPYVIO

Join me - WP:Be Bold - it's time for some Slash-and-burn agriculture on this article. Chiswick Chap (talk) 13:18, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

The text has come down from 84,248 to 36,925 bytes. Oh my.
The article now needs reorganisation, and then the gaps need to be filled in. But first I shall check for any more COPYVIO. Chiswick Chap (talk) 15:43, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

No, I do NOT think the previous description of Mysticism was long and rambling at all.[edit]

It was a breadth first spectrum of the Mysticism of the major religions. Not unlike Religious Studies 283.3 Comparative Mysticism in University. Looking forward to a reinstatement of the Buddhist section. It was quite informative. Mystickunoichi (talk) 19:27, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Hallo. Well, firstly I should say that nearly everything that I removed was a straight copyright violation - it seemed to ramble because it had simply been pasted in, in quantity, with no thought for whether it fitted the context. We can't put it back as it doesn't belong to us - it was straightforward theft.
Secondly, its removal left several tricky problems - the remaining fragments didn't make up a coherent story; and there was a sizeable and quite reasonably-written chunk on Buddhism which could either go into another article - new or existing, or (perhaps) could be reinstated alongside matching sections on the other major religions to avoid imbalance.
Therefore, among other things, I made it explicit (above) that the Buddhism section was here in waiting. Since I didn't have the time, energy and possibly skill to create the matching sections, and nobody else has so far volunteered, there the matter has rested. I wouldn't like to see the Buddhism section back in the article until we have the other sections to balance it. If you'd like to write them...? Alternatively, we could make it into a separate article and link it from here? Note that there is a table entry for Buddhism already, and that provides links to 3 articles on mystical forms of Buddhism, so there is already quite good coverage on Wikipedia (we don't have to try to say everything on one page, fortunately). Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:58, 25 November 2011 (UTC)


The following is non-objective: "is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being"

Ayn Rand made a pretty good objective meaning of Mysticism:

What is mysticism? Mysticism is the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and one’s reason. Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as “instinct,” “intuition,” “revelation,” or any form of “just knowing.” — Preceding unsigned comment added by Billegge (talkcontribs) 19:54, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Ayn Rand is not a very good source for a definition of mysticism. Yworo (talk) 18:35, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

suggested article to expand the content in the section mysticism in world traditions[edit]

Hello. I'm from south america and I like to study the topic. There's an organization in USA that is dedicated to mysticism and from it's website I found an article that I consider that might be helpful to expand the section about literary forms used by mystics and the information about world traditions:

I leave the link. I think that somebody interested in the topic may find it useful and informative. I leave to the editors the option to consider this article or not. --Daniel — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:30, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Section on 'Contrasts'[edit]

The following section was unreferenced and has been deleted piecemeal for that reason. However, all of its constituents contain bluelinks to other articles so it should be quite possible to find reliable sources for each of them.

That leaves open the question of whether the section or parts of it are worth saying in this article. So here is the material if anybody wishes to work on it: Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:46, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

"Contrast with other concepts"[edit]

  • "Esotericism, like mysticism, holds that there are insights known only to few, but unlike mysticism holds that they can be learnt and transmitted without special experiences.[citation needed]"
  • ""Paranormal experiences, like mystical experiences, are held to be non-ordinary, but unlike them are not noetic, ie, leading to deep insights about the nature of reality.[citation needed]"
  • "An attitude of religious faith is generally one that values holding to certain beliefs in the absence of confirmation, including revelatory experiences. Religions may also be hostile to claims of special insights by individuals, some mystics having been punished for heresy.[citation needed]"

(end of quoted section)--------------


Asanas and yoga need to be included somewhere in the article. Buekerc1 (talkcontribs) 01:43, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes; actually Yoga was in the table, but I've added a ref for it and also added an entry in the list with a mention of Asanas too. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:29, 23 May 2012 (UTC)


I've undone this diff change of the lead by User: His/her change limited the definition to a modern-spiritual understanding of mysticism, emphasing spiritual experience. And it removed a source. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:25, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

Eastern Mysticism[edit]

Similar to western mysticism a section of the east should be added? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:18, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Like incorporating the disambiguation page on Eastern mysticism? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 13:27, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
Done. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:05, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Ernest Holmes[edit]

The lead reflects the contents of the article WP:LEAD; Holmes is not being mentioned in the article. It isn't a reliable source either WP:RS: outdated, and a very specific point of view. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:38, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

And also WP:UNDUE. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:43, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

RE: Ernest Holmes

The purpose of mysticism is firstly to comprehend the understanding of the self and therefore understanding the unity within the whole. What justifies what source is reliable or not on a topic which isn't wholly understood? You can read below from an excerpt from his book, The Science of Mind, that Holmes speaks of mysticism and the unity of the self within the whole and points which are brought up are logically plausible points in which it doesn't matter if the case is brought up by someone that is deemed reliable because of only one understanding. Holmes is quite reliable in the field of the superficial understanding in which he has even founded the religious science movement.

RE:RE: Ernest Holmes

I have edited the page from 177 to 169 in which the book speaks specifically of mysticism and the understanding in which Holmes brings up that go hand in hand with the statement that mysticism is explicitly expressed within monasticism, in which practices such as meditation are applied to comprehend different understandings and therefore achieve comprehension of the unity within the whole. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:31, 21 March 2013 (UTC)

Please read WP:RS: Ernest Holmes is a primary source. Following your link, p.169 does not mention "mysticism" nor "unity". Neither does p.177. This is WP:OR. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 21:11, 21 March 2013 (UTC)
The page in the link is from a different publication, but the one I cited is paged on 169 in the beginning of Lesson 5: Introduction as is the one in the link. It goes as follows, "A mystic is not a mysterious person; but is one who has a deep, inner sense of Life and Unity with the Whole; mysticism and mystery are entirely different things; one is real while the other may, or may not, be an illusion. There is nothing mysterious in the Truth, so far as It is understood; but all things, of course, are mysteries until we understand them."
Regarding the autheticity of the claim. Ernest Holmes is reliable according to Wikipedia...
What counts as a reliable source
The word "source" in Wikipedia has three meanings: the type of the work (some examples include a document, an article, or a book), the creator of the work (for example, the writer), and the publisher of the work (for example, Oxford University Press). All three can affect reliability.
Base articles on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Source material must have been published (made available to the public in some form). Unpublished materials are not considered reliable. Use sources that directly support the material presented in an article and are appropriate to the claims made. The appropriateness of any source depends on the context. The best sources have a professional structure in place for checking or analyzing facts, legal issues, evidence, and arguments. The greater the degree of scrutiny given to these issues, the more reliable the source. Be especially careful when sourcing content related to living people or medicine.
Where available, academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources, such as in history, medicine, and science. You may also use material from reliable non-academic sources, particularly if it appears in respected mainstream publications. Other reliable sources include university-level textbooks, books published by respected publishing houses, magazines, journals, and mainstream newspapers. You may also use electronic media, subject to the same criteria. See details in Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources and Wikipedia:Search engine test.
23:52, 21 March 2013‎ User:
Hi Your quote from WP:SOURCE does not make clear that Ernest Holmes is a reliable source; your explanation of the Holmes-quote does make clear though that your contribution is WP:OR. I'll editt your edit again, and ask you to first reach WP:CON here, on the following concerns:
  • WP:OR: the quote does not state that "The purpose [of mysticism] is to understand the unity within the whole", it states that mystics, or mysticism are not something mysterious. It also states that "A mystic [...] is one who has a deep, inner sense of Life and Unity with the Whole".
  • WP:RS: Ernest Holmes is interesting, because of his connection with New Thought. But your source is a primary source, not a secondary. It reflects a spocific understanding of mysticism, not a scholarly clonclusion. This context should be made clear. Also, it is from 1926, which is not exactly up-to-date.
  • WP:LEAD: the lead should reflect the article. Ernest Holmes and New Thought are not being mentioned in the article. What is being mentioned, is that mysticism has acquired a new, broad meaning in the west, more or less synonymous with spirituality and New Age. Ernest Holmes and New Thought fall within that ntion; that could be mentioned in the lead.
  • WP:CON and WP:BRD: when you add new material, and this is refuted, Wikipedia-policies ask you to first reach concensus at the Talk Page. Simply ndoing won't do; first address the concerns (which are neatly listed now here).
Greetings, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:18, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Thinking over this discussion again, maybe I should stated it the other way: why do you think that this particular sentence should be in the lead? Greetings, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:52, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
As Holmes states than a mystic or mysticism is when someone has a deep understanding of the unity within the whole. Now you should understand what mysticism has always been, and in the context of where I added it, it also yields to the monastic practices which ultimately comply that the understanding of mysticism has always been to understand the unity within the whole. That all is unified, rather than a dualistic understanding. Both monasticism and mysticism are hand in hand for the purpose of this understanding. I wanted to add that there, because it's not only the view of Holmes and the "New Age" movement, but it is also the understanding of thousands of years since the birth of logic. Mysticism is to question and understand the mysteries and to understand the unity of the whole would be the complete mystery as in these terms the understanding of unification would mean total understanding of the mechanism of creation. So when I say "The purpose of mysticism is to understand the unity within the whole" means it is to understand the mysteries within that are asked and then in turn comprehending that unifying understanding that governs not only us, but all forms of creation. You must understand the title of a mystic to understand it's meaning, not based on the title, but rather based on the purpose. You mention many labels from "New Age" to "Scholarly", but you fail to understand that these are labels of adherence. "New Age" is but only a term, one word used to comprehend many understandings. To only understand that "Scholarly" knowledge is reputable knowledge would mean that you only deem the knowledge brought up long ago by they who, by nature, came about to understand that certain knowledge which then was passed down and taught as "truth". My point here is that this knowledge, including it's context, is reputable as you are trying to label something that is not wholly understood, by dismissing it completely based on no analysis. The point here is that this field of unknown is the field of opportunity and to deem something from the early nineteenth century as not up to date, would mean that you must dismiss all ancient knowledge by the means of your understanding. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:11, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Hi, thanks for your reply.
  • Let me first respond to the second part, about "To only understand that "Scholarly" knowledge is reputable knowledge". Wikipedia has WP:FIVEPILLARS, of which the first one is "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia". It's meant to collect knowledge, scholarly knowledge. That's why WP:RS (reliable sources) applies: someone may be convinced about the eternal truth of a specific matter, but what counts for Wikipedia is: what do we know about that matter from an outside point of view?
  • In the first part you state "the understanding of mysticism has always been to understand the unity within the whole. That all is unified, rather than a dualistic understanding". Wikipedia asks for a source: who says so? and in which context? That's clear: Ernest Holmes does. But it's definately not the only point of view, so it needs to be contextualised.
  • In the third part you state "to deem something from the early nineteenth century as not up to date, would mean that you must dismiss all ancient knowledge by the means of your understanding". It's not up to Wikipedia (or it's editors) to dismiss "ancient knowledge"; if this "knowledge" is relevant it will be stated here. But not as "this is true", but "this or that person in this or that time deemed this to be true, as you can read in this or that (reliable) source."
  • So, Ernest Holmes states "a mystic is someone who has a deep understanding of the unity within the whole". That's a direct quote from Holmes, reflecting Holmes' opinion. If someone else agrees with this opinion, that may be relevant. If "all" mystics in "all" times think so, then you need a reliable source which says so. And then it's still the question where to state this: on the lead, or in the article itself, where it will be contextualised as a specific opinion by a specific group of people in a specific time. And probably will be joined by other quotes and sources, stating something different.
  • In concreto: "mysticism" has acquired a broader meaning since the nineteenth century, due to the western interest in both Asian religions an our own esoteric traditions, and the popular synthesis of these traditions. That's the context. Simply stating "The purpose is to understand the unity within the whole" is generalising a specific understanding to a grand truth, which is not justified by the source, nor by the context.
PS: Thezensite has just added this interesting article on Shaku soens influence on western notions of mysticism. Interesting read. Also have a look at Rambachan, Anant Anand (1984), The attainment of moksha according to Shankara and Vivekananda with special reference to the significance of scripture (sruti) and experience (anubhabva), University of Leeds for the influence of Vivekananda on the western understanding of mysticism. Greetings, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 20:29, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

This is a very narrow usage of the word 'Mysticism'[edit]

Mysticism involves not just knowing things, but being able to perform any supernatural action like levitation, transforming one's body, becoming invisible, shooting fire and anything else seen everyday in fantasy movies, television shows and books. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:45, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Turning some people off of this article[edit]

Why on earth is there a "part of a series on Christian Mysticism" sidebar? This seems to be a stark violation of neutrality - "Mysticism" is not part of "Christian Mysticism", rather the other way around. If I wanted to learn about specifically Christian Mysticism I would go to that article. If this article is going to be part of a series of anything, the terminology should be neutral. (talk) 22:58, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

The Mysticism-article is one of the articles mentioned in the Christian Mysticism sidebar, therefor the side bar is at this page. I don't see what this has got to do with neutrality? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 03:25, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Popular understanding[edit]

With this edit the overview of "Contemporary popular understanding" was changed in "Contemporary movements and schools of thought". It's exactly this kind of 'mystifications' which I intended to expose with those headings: several modern strands of thought have given "mysticism" a broader meaning, which may not correspond with the original meaning, namely 'the mystery of God'. It has been replaced with the popular understanding of 'union with a transcendental reality', ignoring that to state it this way is also to conceive it this way. "Transcendental realities" are not a fact confirmed by mystical or religious experience, but part of a frame of reference of which so-called "mystical experiences" are also a part. See the series of books by Katz:

  • Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (Oxford University Press, 1978)
  • Mysticism and Religious Traditions (Oxford University Press, 1983)
  • Mysticism and Language (Oxford University Press, 1992)
  • Mysticism and Sacred Scripture (Oxford University Press, 2000)

See King, Richard (2001), Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and "The Mystic East", Taylor & Francis e-Library  and McMahan, David L. (2008), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195183276  for a description of the interplay (c.q. "cultural memesis" c.q. the Pizza effect) between western and Asian religiosity and the emergence of this popular understanding. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 15:28, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

It's exactly this kind of 'mystifications' which I intended to expose with those headings. Blatant WP:POV. 1Z (talk) 14:02, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

No. An attempt to neutrality and balance, in response to the perennialist POV, which blissfully ignores context and alternatives. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:41, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

Carlos Castaneda[edit]

Carlos Castaneda is mere fiction, made up by himself; see his wiki-page. If we add this to the "Further reading", we can add an endless list of books. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 08:33, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

There ins't even anything on Shamanism in general. 1Z (talk) 13:59, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Structuring of article[edit], are you the same as Peterdjones? You make the same kind of edits, presenting "mysticism" as something universal. Regarding your edit summary "Restore something like the original structure, after some weird changes -- since when was the West not part of "worldwide"?", I suggest you first read the article carefull, to see how the meaning of mysticism has changed in the past century, and how some people try to present it as an universal and "perennial" phenonenom. Your "original structure" disguises this historical contingency. I have commented on this before; see Talk:Mysticism#Popular understanding. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:24, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

  1. Your restructuring of the article was undiscussed.
  2. I have no axe to grind about whether or not mysticism is unviversal. It just makes no sense to not include the West under "worldwide". Either the heading or the placement should change.
  3. You are not entitled to structure the article to reflect one theory. Structure should be as neutral as possible.
  4. . it is possible and easy to find information about mysticism in the context of XYZ religions, cultures, etc. Therefore the article inevitably contains sections on "Buddhist mysticism" (10,100,000 results on google)., etc. I cannot see the slightest reason why some of them should be characteried as "worldwide" and others not. You may beleie worldwide myticism is a Western invention, but that is only one theory. I can be discussed in the aricle, but hte article shouldnotbe built around it.
  5. You placement of the fourth way is particualrly peculiar. Why should this eclectic early 20th century movement (founded by a russian) be placed completely separately to theosophy, an eclectic late 19th century movement (also founded by a russian!)

1Z (talk) 12:35, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

OK: I get it now. Theosophy is treated separately because it is part of your theory, advertised throughout the article, that worldwide mysticisim is a Western construct. The section on theosophy, isn't abut theosophy per se, it is about how theosophy fits into that theory. 1Z (talk) 12:46, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Reply by JJ:

  • Apparently the heading is wrong. Why are all those traditions regarded as "mysticism", by which definition?
    • For Buddhism, D.T. Suzuki is given as a reference. Bad start... Shunryu Suzuki is also given; he doesn't even mention the word "mysticism".
    • Hinduism: Dasgupta (1923), and Jacobson (2005). Jacobson looks like a better source. Search for "mysticism" within this book, and page 149 gives an interesting hit: "The model of comparative mysticism proposed by Stace does not apply does not apply to the case of Trika-Kaula." Page 144 is also interesting: it gives Larson's definition of "mystical experience": "A mystical experience is an intuitive understanding and realization of the meaning of existence - an intuitive understanding and realization which is intense, integrating, self-authenticating, liberating - i.e., providing a sense of release from ordinary self-awareness - and subsequently determinative - i.e., a primary criterion - for interpreting all other experience whether cognitive, conative, or affective." At the same page we can read "... while many spiritual traditions within India have utilized yogic practices for the attainment of their higher aspirations, there is no concensus as to what such experiences have validated."
You need to say what is wrong with DT Suzuki. It is absurd to reject refeneced material just because you don't like the author.
    • A series of conclusions by me:
      • It looks to me like this whole table is WP:OR.
The table is not important. It could be removed from a finished article.
      • The term "mysticism" is ill-defined.
True but doesn't resolve any of the issues.
      • There is no agreement on which non-western tradtions may be called "mysticism".
True, but no justification for scare quoting Eastern "Mysticisim". You cannot assume a POV in the absence of consensus.
      • Stace's theory of introverted and extroverted mysticism has to be mentioned.
Yes the universalism/particularism debate needs to be mentioned. No, it shoild not be the sole topic of th earticle, or built into its very fabric.
      • The "Mysticism worldwide"-section can be replaced by a series of links at the "See also"-section
Should it? I can see why it would suit your purposes to have no mention Hindu Sikh or Buddhism, but multile repetitions of "the meaning of the term 'mysticism' has achanged".
      • "mystical experience" and "Scientific research of mysticism" can be merged
But sould it? You don't get to decide the things on your own. Wikipedia is based on consensus.

And then there would be no text in the article save for that advertising your favourite thesis.

      • The difference in meaning or 'perception' between "mysticism" and "mystical experience" should be made clear
  • I find 7.500 hits for "Buddhist mysticism" -wikipedia at the web, and 4.660 hits at Google Books.
That in now way justifies ignoring or scare-quoting the topic of Buddhist Mysticism.
  • A link would suffice for the Fourth Way.
And then there would be no text in the article save for that advertising your favourite thesis.
  • Theosophy is indeed mentioned to illustrate the "inclusive" interpretation of "mysticism". It's not my theory; it's been described by many. See for example McMahan (2010), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, or Richard King, Orinetalism and Religion.Joshua Jonathan -
It doesn't have to be indiovidual POV to be POV.Again, you are openly admitting to POV pushing.

Let's talk! 19:36, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

You should not have made changes to the article without resolving this discussion.
The purpose of a talk page discussion is to reach consensus. Instead, you have made edits that exacerbate the problem-- your pet theory is now mentioned in something like four separate places.
You need to justify your edits according to wikipedia standards. Quoting sources in favour of you POV does not jusify writing an unbalanced article, since there are always sources on the other side.
And, for cyrying out loud you have added actual scare quotes now -- you are behaving like a parody of a POV editor! 1Z (talk) 11:28, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

Reply by JJ: Could you try to answer at one place please, instead of inserting your replies throughout the thread? The whole thread becomes quite messy.

  • I've removed the quote-marks from the headers in response to your objection
  • All the different "mystic traditions" are in one section, just like you wanted. They are introduced with the following remark: "Inclusion is based on various definitions of mysticism, both mysticism as a way of transformation, and mysticism as an experience of union."
  • I've added Stace, and Hood
  • Next step is to incorporate more info on the Perennialist-position - though actually there already is a lot on Perennialism. Some suggestion(s - I'll look for more)(the debate seems to center around Stace and Katz):
- james R. Horne (1996), Mysticism and Vocation - p.26 advices to start with Stace, Zaehner and Katz to study the debate
- John Hinnells (2009), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion - p.332 gives a short overview of Zaehner (three types of mysticism; only two are mentioned in the article), Stace's critique of Zaehner, and Katz' position
- Robert K. Forman (1997), Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy p.198: "The work of Katz and his colleagues is to a large extent a critique of Stace"
- Wesley J. Wildman (2011), Religious and Spiritual Experiences
  • But some more critics too, who say that most contemporary scholars reject the perennialist position:
- Ross Aden (2012), Religion Today: A Critical Thinking Approach to Religious Studies, p.223
- David McMahan (2010), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, p.269, note 9
- Wouter Hanegraaf (1998), On the construction of "esoteric traditions", p.27-28 ("...perennialism [...] cannot be regarded as a scholarly methodology at all")
- Jeffrey D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism, p.65-66
- Samuel Bendeck Sotillos (2013), Psychology and the Perennial Philosophy: Studies in Comparative Religion, p.202
  • Regarding Suzuki, see
- Sharf, Robert H. (1993), The Zen of Japanese Nationalism, History of Religions, Vol. 33, No. 1. (Aug., 1993), pp. 1-43. 
- Sharf, Robert H. (1995-A), Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Regarding Wikipedia-standards and "POV-pushing": my edits are based on WP:RS. Where are your sources?
  • By the way, I don't think it's an either/or debate. Socalled "mystical experiences" are a part of religious/spiritual/mystical traditions. But they are not the end of the road! And that's what is suspiciously missing in popular notions of perennialism. Take for example the Rinzai Zen-tradition. Kensho is highly valued, yet it's only the start of real practice. Eventually, one has to be able to life an "enlightened life" amidst the turmoil of daily life, incorporating the Bodhisattva-ideal of lifting the suffering of others. Just like some of the contemporary (western) Advaita teachers warn against a fixation on "enlightenment" or "nondual" "experiences". You can have great experiences, be en enlightened being in that respect, and still be a jerk. See
- Lachs, Stuart (2006), The Zen Master in America: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves 
- Maezumi, Taizan; Glassman, Bernie (2007), The Hazy Moon of Enlightenment, Wisdom Publications .

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:52, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

I've added more info on the "perennialist-constructionist debate", to contextualise the different positions (e.g., "points of view"), and give central importance to this debate, which seems to be central to all contemporary understanding of what "mysticism" is. I've also moved the section with the mystical practices upward, and moved the criticism-section downward, to give a more balanced presentaton. Best regards, and sincere thanks for your criticism; it has helped me to dive into the matter, and to dig out Zaehner, Stace and Katz. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:04, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Comments in italics. 1Z (talk) 10:26, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

   1 Etymology Headings 1 2 and 3 are all about meaning, and so should be subheadings of a 'Meaning' heading
   2 Definition The subheadings would be better named after the inidividuals offering the definition
       2.1 Spiritual life and re-formation
       2.2 Enlightenment
       2.3 Mystical experience and union with the Divine
   3 Development
       3.1 Early Christianity
       3.2 Medieval meaning
       3.3 Early modern meaning
       3.4 Contemporary meaning
   4 Mystical experience
       4.1 Induction of mystical experiences
       4.2 Origins of the term "mystical experience"
       4.3 Freud and the Oceanic feeling
       4.4 Scientific research of "mystical experiences" The scare quotes are completely unacceptable
           4.4.1 Perenialism versus constructionism
           4.4.2 William James - The Varieties of Religious experience
           4.4.3 Zaehner - Natural and religious mysticism
           4.4.4 Stace - extrovertive and introvertive mysticism
           4.4.5 Katz - constructionism
           4.4.6 Newberg & d'Aquili - Why God Won't Go Away
       4.5 Criticism
   5 Forms of mysticism
   6 Western mysticism
       6.1 Mystery religions
       6.2 Christian mysticism
       6.3 Jewish mysticism
       6.4 Islamic mysticism
   7 Eastern mysticism
       7.1 Buddhism
           7.1.1 Enlightenment
           7.1.2 Buddhahood
           7.1.3 Absolute and relative
           7.1.4 Zen
       7.2 Indian mystcism
           7.2.1 Hindu mysticism
      Yoga  The subsubsubsubheadings are fiddly and unnecessary. This shouldbe restructured with a flatter hierarchy
           7.2.2 Tantra Tnatra has influenced Tibetan Buddhis as wel. It should not therefore be unver Inidan Mysitcisn.
           7.2.3 Sikh mysticism
   8 Modern mysticism
       8.1 Perennial philosophy
       8.2 Transcendentalism and Unitarian Universalism
       8.3 Theosophical Society
       8.4 New Thought
       8.5 Orientalism and the "pizza effect" Out of place here. The other sectisn deal with mysticla movements, this deals with cultural esearch.
       8.6 The Fourth Way
   9 Skepticism
       9.1 Schopenhauer
       9.2 Marvin Minsky
   10 See also
   11 Notes
   12 References
   13 Sources
       13.1 Published sources
       13.2 Web-sources
   14 Further reading
   15 External links

Replies from 1z:

"I've removed the quote-marks from the headers in response to your objection" Not all of them.

"Next step is to incorporate more info on the Perennialist-position"

Says who? Where is the consensus? This hobby-horse of yours is already mentioned multiple times. There is an argument that NPOV would require *less* mention.

"Regarding Suzuki, see

- Sharf, Robert H. (1993), The Zen of Japanese Nationalism, History of Religions, Vol. 33, No. 1. (Aug., 1993), pp. 1-43. 
- Sharf, Robert H. (1995-A), Whose Zen? Zen Nationalism Revisited  Check date values in: |date= (help)"

Whatever. Some people don't like him. That doesn't stop him being a WP:RS

"Regarding Wikipedia-standards and "POV-pushing": my edits are based on WP:RS. Where are your sources?"

Many and varied. You can't claim you are not engaging in POV because you are using sources. It is possible to write sourced POV. Sourcing and POV are different issues.

By the way, I don't think it's an either/or debate. Socalled "mystical experiences" are a part of religious/spiritual/mystical traditions. But they are not the end of the road!

Whatever. I have no interest in arguing that they are, or for any other POV

"And that's what is suspiciously missing in popular notions of perennialism."

Whatever. The article is not just abotu perennialism.

"I've added more info on the "perennialist-constructionist debate", to contextualise the different positions".

Why? Is it the sole topic of the article? I don't think so. We need a consensus of how much information on perennialism should be in the article, not you unilaterally adding more and more.

1Z (talk) 11:02, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Reply by JJ - It's clear that you don't have very much to add to a "discussion" on the content of this article, other than "whatever" and WP:IDONTLIKEIT. The POV is mainly on your part, without giving substantial support for your views.

  • Quote-marks: if there are some left, then I should remove them, though I can't find them.
  • Perennialism: you may be right; thre is a lot n perennialsim in this article. The constructivist-view needs more attention. Perennialism is not accpeted anymore in the scholarly communion. That's not a matter of "POV", that's a simple fact.
  • Suzuki: this is not about "some don't like him", this is about being a WP:RS or not. D.T. Suzuki is not WP:RS.
  • "Many and varied [sources]": so, show them.
  • "Perennialist-constructionist debate": it's not the sole topic of the article, but it's a central topic in the contemporary research and scholarly debates on mysticism.

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:04, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

I say "whatever" because you are not disucssing the editing of the article, but rather you own views, likes and dislikes.
There is too much on the Prennialism/Constrcutivism debate. None of the other encyclopedia articles this links to make that kind of emphasis. 1Z (talk)
"Suzuki not RS": Ridiculous.
Sources. Try to undertstand that being able to fuind sources for a POV does not justify POV editing.

1Z (talk) 16:35, 23 December 2013 (UTC)


POV in article[edit]

The article argues against the perenniality/commonality thesis (see SEP) throughout. However, there are plenty of sources *for* this theory, although they are not allowed a mention.


"The limited definition has been applied to include a worldwide range of religious traditions and practices.[web 1] In this contemporary usage "mysticism" has become an umbrella term,[4] conflated with spirituality and esotericism.[5]" 1Z (talk) 14:05, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

"Within the academic study of religion the apparent "unambiguous commonality"[13] has become "opaque and controversial".[13][13]". POV. All three refs are from teh same author!.

1Z (talk) 14:08, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Example of what's been left out:

"The psychologist, Ralph Hood, has argued extensively that psychometric studies provide “strong empirical support” for “the common core thesis” of mystical experience. (Hood, 2006) ".1Z (talk) 14:24, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Reply by JJ:
  • If you've got "plenty of sources", give them. Just to say so is not enough. It's absurd to say "they are not allowed a mention", if you don't mention them at all.
Add them where? The current structure of the article reflects your POV.
  • "All three refs are from teh same author!" - Three sources, actually, from WP:RS:
- Dan Merkur, Mysticism, Encyclopedia Britannica
- Harmless 2007
- Parsons 2011
  • Hood looks like a good point to add to "Scientific research of mysticism" - though a title and a page-number will be necessary. But then you will also have to provide the context, and the definitions Hood is using. Looking at the third edition of "The psychology of religion"(2003) by Spilka, Hood, Hunsberger & Gorsuch, I read that
- Hood refers to the "Common-core versus Diversity Theorists", and mention Katz and Proudfoot as exponents of the Diversity Thesis;
- Hood referes to Stace, and the mention of "introvertive experience (identified as "pure consciousness experience")"(p.321), or "an experience of unity devoid of perceptual objects; it is literally an experience of "no-thing-ness".(p.291) He also equates "numinous" and "msytical" "experiences". With other words, this is exactly the limited definition which has become popular in modern times.
So? You are just arguing your POV here. A certain usage of the word "Mysticism" is pervasive, and because it is pervasive there are many sources that can be found using it, and because many sources can be found using it they should be in the article, because that is how wikipedia works. You may personally think

older usages are better, but that does not entitle you to give the scare quotes treatment to all other usages thoughout the article.

- read the section "Mystical experience#Criticism" in this Wikipedia-article, in which a wide range of criticisms of the notion of "mystical experince" has been mentioned
I have. So what? It is one set of perspectives. There are others. It looks like you are trying to persuade me of your POV. It is not a problem that I don't have your POV, it is a problem that you are editing based on a POV.
  • Hood does not even attempt to provide a historical context of the term "mysticism". Some authors who do provide this context, and make clear how "perennialism" has pervaded the modern understanding of "mysticism", both in the west and in the east, are:
So what? You think the historical context is all important. Others don't. You don;'t get to impose your POV on everything,.
- Borup, Jorn (Year unknown), Zen and the Art of inverting Orientalism: religious studies and genealogical networks  Check date values in: |date= (help)
- Rambachan, Anatanand (1994), The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Vedas, University of Hawaii Press 
- Sharf, Robert H. (1995-B), Buddhist Modernism and the Rhetoric of Meditative Experience, NUMEN, vol.42 (1995)  Check date values in: |date= (help)
- Sharf, Robert H. (2000), The Rhetoric of Experience and the Study of Religion. In: Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7, No. 11-12, 2000, pp. 267-87 
- King, Richard (2001), Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and "The Mystic East", Taylor & Francis e-Library 
- "Stace has been strongly criticized for simplifying or distorting mystical reports (For a summary, see Moore, 1973). For example, Pike criticizes the Stace-Smart position because in Christian mysticism union with God is divided into discernable phases, which find no basis in Christian theology. These phases, therefore, plausibly reflect experience and not forced interpretation (Pike, 1992, Chapter 5)."
It looks like you are trying to persuade me of your POV. Everybody is criticised by everybody.
  • Calling this contextualisation "POV", without providing sources except for Hood, and ignoring counter-voices, is not sufficient argumentation, and ignores a very broad scholarly concensus.
I am not arguing a POV of my own, or ignoring anything. I am pointing out the existence of other POVs to indicate that the current article is badly unbalanced.1Z (talk) 16:35, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 15:41, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Reply by JJ -

From Wikipedia:Five pillars: "In some areas there may be just one well-recognized point of view; in others, we describe multiple points of view, presenting each accurately and in context"

The article now consists of:

  • The lead
  • Overview of definitions
  • History-section
  • A long section on "mystical experience", which gives a balanced overview, with more info on the perennialist view than the constructivisy view
  • A short section on "Mysticism worldwide"
  • A long section on "Western mysticism"
  • A long section on "Eastern mysticism"
  • A long section on "Modern mysticism"
  • A short section on "Skepticism"

These sections give a balanced overview of mysticism, describing multiple point of view, in their context: the modern emphasis on "experience", the scholarly debate on this topic, and an overview of popular approaches to mysticism. Maybe you can give quotations from these sections which show a POV? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:26, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

What's really missing, though, is Robert K.C. Forman:
Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 10:49, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
The article is not balanced because
  • Perrenialism versus constructivism is the *only* debate/controversy mentioned.
  • There are still scare quotes around Mystical Experience.
  • Important topics are still not covered. (no mention of Taoism, for instance)

1Z (talk) 17:53, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

POV in lede[edit]

Form the current lead:- "Since the 1960s, a debate has been going in the scientific research of "mystical experiences" between perennial and constructionist approaches.[3][4]" There are also debates about

...and so on. Mentioning only one debate is WP:POV. POV is bad.

For my money, the old lede was better and did not need rewriting:

"Mysticism (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) is the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight. Mysticism usually centers on practices intended to nurture those experiences. Mysticism may be dualistic, maintaining a distinction between the self and the divine, or may be nondualistic.[1]
Such pursuit has long been an integral part of the religious life of humanity. Within established religion it has been explicitly expressed within monasticism, where rules governing the everyday life of monks and nuns provide a framework conducive to the cultivation of mystical states of consciousness.[citation needed]
In the contemporary usage "mysticism" has become an umbrella term,[2] conflated with spirituality and esotericism.[3]
Practices associated with mysticism include meditation and contemplative prayer. Mysticism can be distinguished from ordinary religious belief by its emphasis on the direct personal experience of unique states of consciousness, particularly those of a transcendentally blissful character.[citation needed]"

1Z (talk) 11:27, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Reply by JJ - Do you actually read what's being written?

  • The debate between perennial and constructionist approaches is central in the current scholarly research and sicussions on mysticism.
  • First paragraph: this a "definition" from an obscure writer from 1914; absolutely not WP:RS, nor relevant.
  • "Such pursuit" - "citation needed".
  • "Umbrella term" - that still stands, but is less relevant than the other information in the current lead.
  • "Practices" - "citation needed".

The current lead gives a adequate definition; a short historical overview; a remark on the limited definition; and it mentions the centrality of the perennialist-constructionist debate. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:12, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

The old lede isn't particularly good: just better (due mainly to lack of POV) than your replacement.
There is no reason for the article to focus on current scholarly debate at the expense of traditional or popular understanding. You have given no reason for omitting the five areas of controversy I mentioned above.1Z (talk) 16:22, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
Your preferred lead is an excellent example of POV, using an obscure perennialist "definition" as the definition of mysticism, and unsourced statements which directly reflect the perennialist view: "Mysticism can be distinguished from ordinary religious belief by its emphasis on the direct personal experience of unique states of consciousness, particularly those of a transcendentally blissful character.[citation needed]." Read WP:RS and WP:FIVEPILLARS: Wikipedia is based on reliable sources, not on popular literature or opinions. The "perennialist-constructionist" debate is the central debate in the scholarly literature. If you think those "five areas of controversy" have the same relevance, then do some work, find reliable sources, and write something about it. The topic of experience is extensively covered. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 16:42, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

POV claims of consensus[edit]

"The perennial position is "largely dismissed by scholars",[70] but "has lost none of its popularity".[71]" Or is it "resurgent" as this source claims? 1Z (talk) 16:22, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

"Adam Tyson is a graduate of Lawrence University with a BA in Religious Studies." Not accpetable as a source here at Wikipedia, and not a convincing article either. It has got the level you may expect from a BA: merely quoting sources, no new insights. I'll remind you of some criticism, by respected scholars:
- Ross Aden (2012), Religion Today: A Critical Thinking Approach to Religious Studies, p.223
- David McMahan (2010), The Making of Buddhist Modernism, p.269, note 9
- Wouter Hanegraaf (1998), On the construction of "esoteric traditions", p.27-28 ("...perennialism [...] cannot be regarded as a scholarly methodology at all")
- Jeffrey D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism, p.65-66
- Samuel Bendeck Sotillos (2013), Psychology and the Perennial Philosophy: Studies in Comparative Religion, p.202
Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 16:44, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

W.F. Cobb[edit]

W.F Cobb seems totally unreliable to me. The book was first published in 1914, Cobb being connected to the Order of Women Freemasons (see also [1]). Scarce information is available on him (her?) I'm afraid this source, and this definition, should be removed.

A better alternative for the "narrow definition" is the Encyclopedia Britannica:

In modern times, "mysticism" has acquired a limited definition,[web 1] but a broad application,[web 1] as meaning the aim at the "union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God—and thereby the perception of its essential unity or oneness"[2]

with the Stanford giving a broader definition:

"‘mysticism’ would best be thought of as a constellation of distinctive practices, discourses, texts, institutions, traditions, and experiences aimed at human transformation, variously defined in different traditions."[3]

See also William B. Parsons (2011), Teaching Mysticism p.3-5 for a concise introduction to the problem of definition of "mysticism".

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:05, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

I've replaced Cobbs by William James, one of the most, if not the most central person in this "perennial-constructionism debate". He's relevant anyway, and probably a major influence on Cobb. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:27, 16 December 2013 (UTC)


  • "Dzogchen is a body of teachings originating in the Himalayan region and attributed to Padmasambhava"
  • Dzogchen is also taught in the non-Buddhist Bön tradition.

Padmasambhava was an Indian, Bön is older than Buddhism, Dzogchen is a Buddha-nature tradition. This is why you should use proper sources: you're mixing up different things. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:56, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

There is no contradiction there, because there is no logical or historical requirement for Bon to always have taught the same things. In fact that there is evidence of considerable evidence of cross-influence between Bon and Buddhism.1Z (talk) 09:20, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Oh, and according to which source is Dzogchen mysticism, and why? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:27, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
"Transformation of Consciousness in Tibetan and German Mysticism (Studies in the History of Religions, Vol. 107) Hardcover – May 1, 2005
This book argues that mystical doctrines and practices initiate parallel transformative processes in the consciousness of mystics. This thesis is supported through a comparative analysis of Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen (rdzogs-chen) and the medieval German mysticism of Eckhart, Suso, and Tauler."
1Z (talk) 09:27, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Cool; very nice source! here's a review.Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:14, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
The review is critical, though: "Studstill brings together a particular school of Buddhist contemplatives who have a strikingly presence- or substance-oriented account of emptiness and a particular school of European mystics who naturally tend towards presence or substance but then take a pantheistic turn (see p. 179). And the result of this selection of examples is a unity." Nevertheless, interesting source. Did you read it? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:25, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

"has been described"[edit]

This edit changed

"The perennial position is "largely dismissed by scholars",[1] but "has lost none of its popularity".[2]"


"The perennial position has been described as "largely dismissed by scholars",[1] but having "lost none of its popularity".[2]"
  1. ^ a b McMahan 2008, p. 269, note 9.
  2. ^ a b McMahan 2010, p. 269, note 9.

That's the wrong kind of attribution. It suggests it's a personal opinion of McMahan. That's incorrect; it's the contemporary scholarly opinion. Suggesting otherwise is POV-pushing. See also, for example:

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:11, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Source found for "citation needed"[edit]

Would someone please use the following source for the "citation needed" tag at the end of the "Freud and the Oceanic feeling" section: Wilber, Ken (2000), Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, p. 211, Shambhala Publications. Google Books link: Leafhopper (talk) 10:20, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Done. Thanks! Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:59, 17 July 2014 (UTC)