February 28 by The Running Son
ABSTRACT (click title above for FULL article)
It is inevitably and invariably difficult to write about mystical experience and the whole inner process of contact with the Divine, or Ultimate Reality; it is completely surrounded by mystery. This difficulty is compounded when we try to speak about mysticism theologically. Most theological topics deal with issues that have been ostensibly settled by the Church in councils, the Magisterium, papal encyclicals, and sound theological studies. Naturally there is considerable difference of opinion among theologians, but a lot of agreement as well. When it comes to mysticism, however, it’s not quite as easy. The reason is clear: the ineffability of mystical, contemplative or transcendental experience. Theologically, this quality of ineffability, of incomprehensibility, Or ungraspableness is a result of two related factors: the limitations of the human subject /knower, and the experiential nature of mysticism as directly engaging the person within the depths of his/her subjectivity. The Divine Reality is infinite actuality and is eternal being, while the human person has an infinite potential, but only a finite experience. The ontological gap between the Divine and the human is unbridgeable from our side. We can never keep up with God left to our own intellectual devices, and we are always playing catch up. Now when we add to this situation the experience of other traditions, things become very interesting; the potential for confusion is also very high. In what follows, I want to explore what I call interspirituality as a way of naming the phenomenon of crossing-over boundaries that mysticism makes possible and concrete. Substantial common ground exists among the various forms of spirituality scattered among the world’s religions. The mystical and practical common ground will be identified, and then theological implications mentioned. We begin by considering the origin and nature of mysticism itself.