The world’s mystic traditions all accept the notion that we come from our Creator and will return from where we came. This eternal perspective on life changes not only the way we understand our life and purpose, but also the way we live every day of our lives. It gives us the perspective needed to explore the mysteries of life and how we relate to the infinite.
When we first become aware of our separation from the source of our being, we naturally set off on a quest for reunion. This is the raison d’être of the mystic, to achieve an experience of unity in a world made up of dualities.
The mystic lives in this world with one eye focused here and the other on eternity. As Catherine of Siena, the 14th century Christian mystic saint, put it, “All the way to heaven is heaven.” This holistic perspective, that both worlds, the temporal and eternal, are one, resolves the long-standing body–mind–spirit split.
Because of this dual focus, the true mystic is first and foremost practical. Physical needs and spiritual possibilities are both real. Contemplation, commitment to a discipline, a singleness of purpose, and an undying faith are the qualities that keep mystics from becoming overwhelmed by the formidable forces of the physical world, a realm they are only passing through. They live not only to bring about their own reunion in the next world, but also to help others reunite the disparate worlds here.
In practice, the mystics’ commitment grows stronger and more intense with every trial faced. This better prepares them to separate the lasting from the illusory. Living the mystic life is a practical step that could assist everyone in achieving wholeness. A practical approach to this life and the afterlife is the way of the soul.
The mystic is also a realist, accepting the invitation of the soul to attain that fullness of life for which we were made. The best and simplest definition of a mystic is one who seeks union with Reality, or with the Absolute. This is the union that enables transcendence of all things, even that which would limit us.
The mystic, aware of the tensions that always exist within us all, acknowledges the cobwebs as well as the beauty of the universe. Knowing that we are restless only at our periphery while still at our center, the mystic takes on a discipline to remain in touch with the spiritual universe, to participate in it, and to unite with it.
The mystic knows well the three levels of existence, the natural, the spiritual, and the Divine. As we progress along the mystic way, they appear first as three and finally as one. Wherever we are in the journey of life, seeing this life always in relation to eternity assists us in progressing further towards a consciousness of oneness.