By Daniel Scharpenburg
People don’t know what the word mystic means anymore, most of the time.
When I told one person that I was a mystic, he asked if I was a wizard.
Here is the definition I use:
Mystic: a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.
The mystic’s journey involves digging deeply into our nature. We tend to forget that at a fundamental level we are connected. We are inseparable from everything else in the cosmos—really part of a unified whole. Yet, we live selfishly, thinking the world owes us things, being jealous of others, etc. We tend to live as if we are separate from the world around us.
The truth is we didn’t come into the world, we came out of it. We can become so tied to the specifics of our lives that we fail to have a larger perspective.
In the Ch’an tradition we see our lives in relation to everything. We are one with everything. We are boundless and unlimited.
What can we do to change the world? We can change ourselves. We have to re-create ourselves. We have to develop an understanding that is separate from all of the preconceptions and delusions that have been piled on us since birth. We have to re-create ourselves and get rid of the false identity—this imaginary sense of who we are that plagues us.
You are not your past.
You are not your fears. You are not your likes or dislikes. You aren’t even your beliefs.
When we can really understand this, we can see who we really are, beneath these layers of delusion.
Only then can we be free.
Editor: Dana Gornall