There is one God and one Truth, one religion and one mysticism; call it Sufi mysticism, or Christian mysticism, or Hindu mysticism, or Buddhist mysticism. Whatever you may call it. God cannot be divided, so mysticism cannot be divided.
It is an error when a person says, “My mysticism is different from yours.” This person does not yet know what mysticism means. There cannot be many mysticisms, there is one mysticism; as there cannot be many Wisdoms, there is only one Wisdom. It is the error of humankind to say there is Eastern Wisdom and Western Wisdom. As long as Eastern and Western is attached to Wisdom, it is not wisdom. It shows only a lack of wisdom. If that understanding is passed, a person touches wisdom, the inheritance of humankind.
No matter what part of the world a person belongs to, it is the divine truth that humanity has. It is also an error when a person distinguishes between occultism and mysticism. This error is made by limited persons who do not know what they say. The person who wishes to think they know, does not know. It is an error to say, “this is my eye” and “that is yours.” The two eyes belong to one soul. When a person pictures mysticism as a branch of the tree that is Truth, the person is mistaken. When a person says that mysticism is a branch, and all other things are branches, they are mistaken. Mysticism is the stem that unites all the branches.
What is mysticism really? Mysticism is the way by which to realize the Truth. Jesus Christ said, “I am the Truth, I am the Way.” He did not say, “I am the truths and the ways.” For there are not many ways, there is only one Way. If there is another way, it is the wrong way. There are many religions, but not many wisdoms. There are many houses of worship for God, but only one God. There are many Scriptures, but only one Truth. There are many methods, but only one Way.
Whether a person is taking the right way or the wrong way, the methods of attaining that realization are many. Principally, there are four methods: by the heart, by the head, by action, and by repose. A person must choose from among these four different methods to develop their self and prepare themself to journey on the way, the only Way, which is called mysticism. No religion can call the Way its own; it is the way of all religions. No church can say that the Way belongs to it; it is the way of all churches. No person can say, “This is the Way,” because it is what they have chosen. All have journeyed by the same way.
Often people have imagined that to be a mystic means to be an ascetic, that a mystic is someone who dreams, who dwells in the air, who does not live here on the earth, who is not practical, who is a hermit. This is not the case in reality. Very often people want to see a mystic in a peculiar sort of person. If there is someone peculiar, they think, this is a mystic. This is a wrong conception. It is not proper mysticism, but rather exaggeration; it is one-sidedness. A real mystic must show equilibrium, a true mystic strikes balance in their life. The mystic will have their head in the heavens and their feet on the earth. The true mystic is the knower of both worlds, this world and the next. It does not mean that a mystic is absent from this world. The mystic is as wide-awake in this world as in the other. A mystic is not someone who does not possess intellect. Intellect is their weapon. The mystic is not someone who dreams; the mystic is wide-awake. Yet a mystic is someone capable of dreaming when others cannot, and is capable of keeping awake when others cannot keep awake. A mystic strikes balance between two things: power and beauty. Neither does the mystic sacrifice power for beauty, nor beauty for power. The mystic possesses power and enjoys beauty.
As to the restrictions in the life of the mystic, there are no restrictions; there is balance, reason, love, harmony, and beauty. The religion of the mystic is every religion, all religions. Yet the mystic is above what people call their religion. The mystic’s religion is the religion, for it is not any religion, it is all religions. The moral of the mystic is reciprocity, beneficence, and self-sacrifice. To reciprocate all the kindness we receive from others, to do an act of kindness to others without expecting to have appreciation or a return for it, and to make every sacrifice, however great, for love, harmony and beauty.
The God of the mystic is to be found in the depth of our own heart. The truth of the mystic is beyond words. People argue and debate about things of little importance, but mysticism is not to be discussed. People want to talk; therefore, they talk. Very often it is not the person who knows who talks; it is the person who does not know who talks. Through discussion, a person wants to know; yet they are not sure of what they know. The person who knows, but does not discuss, is the mystic. This person knows. This person knows the happiness in their own heart. Besides, to put the truth into words is like putting the ocean in a bottle.
Yes, there is a wine the mystic drinks and that wine is ecstasy, a wine so powerful that the presence of the mystic becomes like wine for everyone who comes into their presence. This wine is the wine of the real sacrament. In the church, they only have the symbol of it. You might ask, “What is it? Where does it come from? What is it made of?” You may call it power or life, or a strength that comes through the mystic, which comes through the spheres every human being is attached to. The mystic, by their attachment to these spheres, drinks the wine that is the sustenance of human souls. That wine is ecstasy, the mystic’s intoxication. That intoxication is the love that manifests itself in the form of charity, in all manner of gentleness, of humbleness, of modesty. It manifests in the human heart. It springs up by itself, yet that wine makes the mystic independent and indifferent to things people of the world are so attached to. Once a mystic drinks that wine, what does it matter if they are sitting on the rocks? Whether they live in the wilderness or in a palace? It is all the same. Does the palace deprive them? Does the wilderness take it away? Once their royalty is realized, the mystic becomes the Kingdom of God on earth, about which Jesus Christ has said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”
There are many people who strive for different things in this world, and last of all seek the spiritual path. Some say, “In the end, I will try to find the path.” There are others who say, “We have much time before us.” Still others say, “When we are in the wheel of death and birth, when will the time come?” Some indifferent people say, “There is a long life before us, and when the time comes that I must awake, I shall awake.” A mystic does not wait. First, the mystic seeks the Kingdom of God, and all things follow. The mystic says, “That is the one thing I must attend to, all other things come after that.” The spiritual path is of the greatest importance in the mystic’s life.
You might ask, “Do you mean to say that by attaching myself to the realization of God, I should neglect my worldly duties?” It is not necessary. As I have said, there is nothing a mystic should renounce to come to the realization of truth. The only thing necessary is to give importance to the things others give no importance to. It is in this that the mystic differs from the ordinary person. The mystic gives first importance to things others give importance to last of all.
You may ask, “Is the life of a mystic meditative?” Yes, but meditation for a mystic is like the winding of a clock. It does not mean that a mystic is in meditation all the time. It is like winding up the clock; it goes on and you need not trouble about it. It is wound for a moment, and all day long it goes on by itself. It does not mean that one must think about it all day long. A Shah of Persia used to sit up all night for his night vigils and prayers, and one day his prime minister said, “After working all day, and then all the night’s meditation, that is too much for you. You are already doing a lot of good. Do not meditate at night.” The Shah answered, “Do not say that. You do not know. During the night, I pursue God, and during the day God follows me.”
A few moments of meditation set the whole mechanism of a person’s being in running order, as a stream running to the ocean. It does not in the least take the mystic away from their duty. It only blesses every word the mystic speaks with the thought of God. In all a mystic thinks or does is a perfume of God. That perfume becomes a healing, a blessing.
Now there comes another question, “How does a mystic who becomes kind and helpful get on amidst the crowd in everyday life? For the rough edges of everyday life rub against a person’s heart and must necessarily make it sore.” Certainly, they do. The heart of the mystic is sorer than the heart of anyone else. When there is give and take in the roughness of daily life, the heart is not sensitive; it gives blow for blow. When the heart is always patient and kind and full of sympathy, it only takes all the roughness without giving it back. And where there is only kindness, only patience, then it takes all the thorns. It is like a diamond being cut. By being cut, the heart becomes brilliant. When the heart is sufficiently cut, it becomes a flame illuminating the life of the mystic and the lives of others.
January 15, 1924
CW 1924, Vol. 1, pp. 13-19.