Walking the Path of a Modern Mystic

Walking the path of a modern mystic

I want to live fully engaged with the vibrancy of life. And that means something has to change.

I recognize there is a part of me that resides primarily in the physical world, which I call my ego self. It protects me, looks out for my interests, helps me achieve my goals, and serves me well in navigating the details of daily life. I honor and cherish this part of me, and I realize that life in this body would not be possible without my ego self. I like him (most of the time).

But I also recognize a larger dimension of my being that extends beyond the physical, my higher self, which guides my aspirations beyond surviving and succeeding in the world of form and connects me to the Source of all life. I want to live more fully from the depth of my higher self and less from the frantic, distracted worries of my ego self. I want to move freely in response to the spiritual impulse to connect with the Sacred.

That is what I want to change.

But how to move, in what direction, by what guidance? Living in modern society, I am given two mainstream approaches to these questions. Neither is spiritually satisfying to me.

The first mainstream approach is secular culture, whose rational, atheistic or agnostic leaning is skeptical that there is a deeper dimension beyond the material world. Reason and scientific inquiry have dominated our modern concept of knowledge since the Enlightenment. Science does not take assertions at face value but looks for evidence. It tends to view religion as superstitious because religious claims can’t be verified using the tools of the scientific method. But the lack of evidence is not because realms beyond the physical do not exist, it is because the tools of the physical world are not appropriate for the task. These are realms of experience that reveal themselves when explored with the tools of consciousness.

I find the rational, atheistic, agnostic approach to spirituality dry because it denies or discounts my experience of the Sacred.

The second mainstream approach in our society is traditional religion. Religion has been both a positive and negative force in human history. It has provided guidance, solace, fellowship, and generous acts of love; and has also been the cause of tremendous pain and cruelty over the ages.

I find traditional religion spiritually static because, too often, its dogmatic beliefs overshadow the support it offers for the experience of the Sacred.

This is the dilemma of the modern mystic. In many ways, we are caught between worlds – between secular and religious, between ego self and higher self, between conscious and unconscious motivations, between inner knowing and outer authorities. I want a spiritual approach to this tension that leverages the truths of each of these worlds, helps me understand my true nature, and gives me a place to feel at home in the cosmos.  

The path of a modern mystic looks for guidance primarily from a source other than traditional religion or secular science. It enters through the doorway of direct sacred experience. Over time, we can learn to trust our ability to discern between the fantasy wishes of our ego self and the authentic voice of our higher self. As our sense of the sacred grows, so does our connection to our higher self.

To test this assertion, try this:  look back over this article and see what words or phrases felt deeply true for you. What energized you? Set a small flame in your heart? Pick one and sit with it for a moment, letting it percolate into your consciousness. What feels true about it, where do you question it, what inquiry does it lead you to next? Where does it point to love and inclusion versus protection and self-interest?

The tool you are using, the voice you are hearing, is your inner authority. The more you play with it, the more refined your direct experience of the Sacred becomes. You can learn to recognize the voice of your inner knowing as distinct from the fearful wishes of ego or the echoes of external authorities still lingering in the cobwebs of your past.

It’s OK that we’re uncertain, that we don’t have it figured out. We are not experts, we are initiates, learning the path as we walk the path. The walking is more important than the figuring out.

Direct experience, inner authority, trusting your sense of the Sacred. That is the path of a modern mystic. To me, it is quite spiritually satisfying.

Photo by NEOM on Unsplash

4 Replies to “Walking the Path of a Modern Mystic”

  1. Thank you very much for sharing Steve. This blog certainly resonated with me … a practising Catholic. So far I am not struggling with the two perspectives, but rather accepting them both as realities. Will this always be the case, probably not. I look forward to rereading this later today.

  2. Direct experience, inner authority, trusting your sense of the Sacred. That is the path of a modern mystic.
    Yes, that is what I resonated with in your blog Steve! I realized at a young age that I wouldn’t be accepted as a member of the church I was baptized into if I wanted to live in my truth so I became an explorer of spiritual paths. I find what resonates with me and leave the rest. It has been quite an adventure!
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Thanks Susan. I am sorry to hear that you had to leave your childhood church. The same thing happened to me, in a relatively gentle way. But it has opened me to an ever-increasing capacity to touch the Sacred, which was behind the church-going anyway. It sounds like it has turned out well for both of us.

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