Throughout the ages there have always been individuals who have turned inward to find meaning in life. At some point in their lives they embarked on an inner quest for truth. They sought not only an intellectual knowledge of truth but also, and more significantly, experiential knowledge born of union with Ultimate Reality. That experience is an essential characteristic of the mystic.
Today as well, there are people who are deeply interested in attaining an experience similar to that of the mystics of the past. Countless individuals are searching for a spiritual quality to their existence that is both authentic and personal. They share the conviction that oneness with Something greater than themselves is possible and very much worth pursuing. To that end, these individuals eagerly read and earnestly study the trusted works of the genuinely illumined. Furthermore, they modify their daily program to accommodate periods of reflection and meditation, whether in the sanctuary of their home, in the privacy of their office, in the quiet of a glade, or on a bench at the seashore.
Adhering to this sacred routine, mystics receive much more than inner guidance, answers, and inspiration. Eventually they experience a feeling: a feeling that is simply profound and profoundly simple. Maintaining a consciousness that is open and receptive to who and what Reality is, these contemplative men and women come to feel the living presence and power of Love as the one true Self. This One is the infinite I of all beingness. The truth of Love discovered by mystics at the level of infinite being then becomes active in and through their consciousness to glorify the One and bless the many. This is a hint of what it means to be a mystic.
In the simplest of terms, mysticism is union with Reality as interpreted by those who have had such an experience. Mysticism also encompasses the study and pursuit of that unitive experience, which may be understood as a realization of oneness with Infinity. When an individual embraces infinite oneness as an objective to be repeatedly experienced and faithfully engages in practices to facilitate that experience, then mysticism becomes a way of life.
Mysticism as a way of life, however, may or may not be practical depending on its usefulness to our thriving in the here-and-now and our serving fellow beings. Consequently, while a mystical life characterized solely by asceticism, infrequent practices, or academic study may provide the individual with some insight, such forms of mysticism are unlikely to contribute to the welfare of the mystic or the well-being of others.
On the other hand, practical mysticism is a life of learning, loving, working, serving, healing, traveling, playing, and resting based on an inner experience of oneness with the Source of all good. Mysticism is practical to the degree that the individual integrates the spiritual truth realized in mystical experience with everyday living in this world. Turning within on a regular basis, the practical mystic gains access to the infinite well of Consciousness from which come the ideas, principles, motivation, vitality, and direction necessary and sufficient to meet every apparent need in the perfect form, regardless of setting or circumstances. Practical mysticism is living from the inside out by applying the truth revealed at the level of infinite being.