Mysticism - 7 weeks
S 2020


Mysticism (from the Greek word muo [to shut or close the lips or eyes]) is not a religion or a philosophy; it has no connection to the occult; it is not mysterious.  Its fount is the raw material of all religions and the inspiration of philosophy and poetry, a consciousness of something beyond the external world of material phenomena. In the words of Evelyn Underhill:  “In mysticism the will is united with the emotions in an impassioned desire to transcend the sense-world in order that the self may be joined by love in the one eternal and ultimate Object of love; whose existence is intuitively perceived by the soul [the cosmic or transcendent sense].”    In its pure form mysticism is the search for absolutes, union with the Absolute, and the abolition of individuality.  In this s/dg we will compare and contrast the various forms of mysticism, from the Hindus to psychedelic drug trips, and examine the question of its logic. There will not be a core book.  The readings will be assembled in a packet of photocopied documents.

Weekly Topics

Week 1:  What is Mysticism?  (William James, "Mysticism"; W. T. Stace, "The Philosophy of Mysticism"

Week 2:  Hindu and Buddhist Mysticism (Upanishads; Heart Sutra)

Week 3.  Plato, Plotinus, and Christian Mysticism (Excerpts from Plato's dialogues; Plotinus, The Enneads (Book 6, Tractate 9); Dionysius the Areopagate; Meister Eckhart)

Week 4:  Judaic and Islamic Mysticism (Ezekiel, Zohar, Rumi, al-Ghazali)

Week 5:  Mystical Scientists (Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Erwin Schroedinger)

Week 6:  Poetic Visions and Hallucinogenic Drugs (William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith, Michael Pollan)

Week 7:  The Logic of Mysticism (Bertrand Russell, "Mysticism and Logic"; W. T. Stace, "Mysticism and Logic"


No core book.  Packet of photocopied material.