mystical saint, energized mystic

Energized Mystic and the Work They Do

“No temperament is less slothful than the mystical one; and the ‘quiet’ to which the mystics must school themselves in the early stages of contemplation is often the hardest of their tasks. The abandonment of bodily and intellectual activity is only undertaken in order that they may, in the words of Plotinus, ‘energize enthusiastically’ upon another plane. Work they must but this work may take many forms—forms which are sometimes so wholly spiritual that they are not perceptible to the practical minds. … All records of mysticism in the West, then, are also the records of supreme human activity. Not only of ‘wrestlers in the spirit’ but also of great organizers, such as St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross; of missionaries … such as St. Francis of Assisi…, poets and philosophers such as Mechtilde … and Blake. “ ~Evelyn Underhill

Energized Mystic

mystic contemplativeIf you search for images of mystics and mysticism, a large percentage of the ones you find will show some variation of a person sitting in meditation or prayer, as in the example shown here. Rarely do they depict a mystic engaging in any form of action. This seems to be a common misconception of the life of a mystic.

Mystics do not spend most of their time sitting and contemplating. Even when they are just sitting, they may be acting on a level of consciousness that seems to the uninitiated as if they are doing nothing. In actuality, the mystic, no matter what position his physical body may be in, is rarely just sitting quietly and relaxing.

She may be sitting still, but is holding images in her mind in an effort to benefit the world. Images of peace, truth, and enlightenment for all. Or she may be in deep “conversation” with an angelic or spiritual being on a higher plane. Only when practicing techniques to bring new spiritual clarity and knowledge into herself does she try to clear the mind and relax.

The energized mystic may be taking in light from the sun, filling it with thoughts of peace, love, joy, and harmony, and sending it back out to everything around him. That is active work, not just quiet contemplation. Or he may be holding an image in his mind, an image such as this cross. That alone helps bring change into the world. Continue reading “Energized Mystic and the Work They Do”

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idle hands

Idle Hands, Busy Hands

“God does not want us to be lying idly on our backs; therefore He does not effect everything Himself. Nor does He want us to be boastful; therefore He did not give us everything. … But we are laboring in vain, thinking that through our own power or efforts we shall accomplish something. Therefore, he who wishes ‘to stand against the wiles of the devil’ (Eph. 6:11) and render them ineffectual, and to share in the divine glory, ought day and night to seek Go’s help and divine succor with tears and sighs, with insatiable longing and fire in his soul. He who wishes to share in this glory purges his soul of all worldly pleasures and of hostile passions and desires.” ~The Philokalia

Idle Hands

Most of us have probably heard the old saying that idle hands are the devil’s playground. The intent of that saying is to imply that those who are not kept busy will get into mischief. While that certainly does happen, especially with children, it goes beyond that.

We are not in this world to lay around and do nothing. Actually, it is impossible to do nothing. No matter how lazy we are, we have to breath, eat, take us space, and otherwise use up resources. We need to put something back into the world to compensate for that which we consume, and that does not mean the waste that comes out of us for eating and drinking.

I know many won’t believe this, but in a way, I actually feel sorry for the people born into very wealthy families who inherit so much money they never have to work. Some of them choose to work anyway, and they are the smart ones. Those who don’t, however, can never feel any true sense of accomplishment for getting a tough job done, or for getting a creative project completed. Continue reading “Idle Hands, Busy Hands”

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do your best, spiritual task of man

The More You Advance, The Harder it Gets

“The more thou dost advance the more thy feet pitfalls will meet. The path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire—the light of daring, burning in the heart. The more one dares, the more he shall obtain. The more he fears, the more the light shall pale—and that alone can guide. … When out it goes, a dark and threatening shade will fall from thine own heart upon the path, and root thy feet in terror to the spot. Beware, disciple, of that lethal shade.” H. P. Blavatsky

As a baby, we first learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run. In and sport, you learn the basics first, then the more advanced things. The same is true of almost any activity and that includes spiritual enlightenment.

It would be nice, we think, if after the first initial effort to awaken our spiritual self, we could just coast the rest of the way, but the path is an uphill climb and gets ever steeper and more perilous as the journey continues. This is the way it must be. As with everything else, you learn the basics first, then move on to the more advanced lessons which, being more advanced, are generally more difficult and dangerous. Continue reading “The More You Advance, The Harder it Gets”

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Slow Down and Experience the World

“Trying to keep up by perceiving one thing at a time faster and faster causes you to understand less about each thing, because you spend less time with it and focus in a shallower way. … It’s easy to jump to the wrong conclusion or act on insufficient information. Now we combine hundreds of functions in a single gadget—multi-tasking phones, for example, are so addictive they have spawned the “app” industry which produces even more stimulation and activity for our already-divided attention to process.” ~Penney Peirce

Cartoon super busy man and father multitask doing many worksSo-called multitasking is a favored buzz word of the day. Business types love it. Government loves it. Let’s all do ten things at once and we will get more done. But even the best jugglers occasionally drop a ball (or knife, or flaming torch). More significantly, several scientific studies have found that rather than increasing productivity, multi-tasking actually reduces it. It helps you give your boss the impression that you are always very busy, busy but not really getting anything done. Or the tasks you do complete are often done poorly because you get all those different things mixed up in your head.

Further, the studies found that the idea of multi-tasking, that is doing several things at once, is largely an illusion. Your mind simply cannot handle doing many thing at once, so what you really do when you are supposedly multi-tasking is flittering from one task to another every few minutes so you never stay with one task long enough to really understand it. If you are designing a new product, this may result in a design error that makes it useless or too costly. If you are writing software, you may forget to account for some things a user (or hacker) might do and leave fairly obvious bugs in the software. If you are writing advertising, you might unintentionally include something in the ad that a group finds offensive. So multi-tasking often does not give the results desired. So it is usually better to concentrate on one task until it is completed. Or at least one task at work and one task at home. This, of course, does not include tasks which simply don’t require any concentration. There is no reason, for example, why you can’t have a meal cooking in the oven and a batch of laundry in the washing machine. Even without multi-tasking, we often rush too much to get things done. We become more concerned with quantity and the quality of our work usually suffers.

This may seem to contradict another article I recently wrote telling people to stop focusing too much on one thing and missing what else is happening around it, but it doesn’t. The two ideas actually work well together. When we are working on something, we need to concentrate on that one thing, but we also need to not focus so much on one thing in our environment that we miss others that may be equally important. Don’t be that person concentrating so much on your cell phone conversation that you walk out into traffic and get killed. Be the person who is aware of all of it, but still work on one thing at a time.

The spiritual side of this is that, while it is true that a spiritual person can live a more spiritual life by including a little spiritual philosophy, morality and humility into all her activities, that in itself doesn’t make you spiritually enlightened. In order to become a truly enlightened person, you need to set aside a little time, preferably daily, to practice spiritual techniques without engaging in material tasks at the same time. You spend most of the day thinking only of material pursuits, surely you can spend a few minutes being spiritual and nothing else. The rewards are well worth it.

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