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.
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"