“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
If 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.
The Work of the Energized Mystic
On a basic level, the work of any mystic or spiritual student is the same, namely to awaken and grow their spiritual faculties, and to help others do the same. Beyond that, however, the specifics for each maybe different.
An automobile assembly line would produce no vehicles if everyone did the same task. If everyone, say, assembled the frame, but no one did anything else, you would never get a finished car. Spiritual growth is not an assembly line process, but it is similar in one way: different people have different tasks. One might have an artistic nature and be inspired to produce great works of art that help awaken others. Another might have a head for business and math, so he handles the finances for a spiritual schools. In some cases, your spiritual work maybe very different from your talents in the material world. The important thing is that we must all do what we are inspired to do. Sometimes it is difficult to know what that is. The energized mystic may start out doing one thing that seems right to him, then learn that it just isn’t working. There is nothing wrong with that. When you realize your mistake, you simply try to correct it. If your intuition is awakened, and you listen to it, you will eventually be led to the proper work.
Sometimes the spiritual student may have to take on some work that he really isn’t suited for. It may be that the person who was good at that task has died, or otherwise is no longer available. In those circumstances, the energized mystic will joyfully do the task to the best of his ability until someone more suitable comes along to do it. The mystic always performs his spiritual tasks with joy, and, as Ms. Underhill says, is never slothful.