The mystic journey is the journey of the soul. It is both an inner and outer journey that goes well beyond this temporal life we live here. It may be one of those journeys not a lot of people normally think about, or put much time in reflecting on. But the interesting thing is if it exists for those who do reflect on these kinds of things, does it exist only for only them, those who are aware of it, or does it also exist for everyone else too, even those who don’t think about these things or who are not aware of it at all?
Mystics do seem to have a reputation of being pretty mysterious. They tend to focus on esoteric things like seeking union. In fact, they are pretty particular about seeking union with God. That is actually what defines a mystic. But if the rest of us seek some kind of union with something else, like ourselves, or others, or creation, or with whatever we think of as the Creator, or with what we might think of as Reality, what does that make us? When we get right down to it, aren’t we all mystics at heart?
The ancient mystic traditions came into being to help people remember their true origin and destiny. The great mystic poets knew that remembrance links us to the spirit we all possess, which links us to each other, as well. The practice of remembrance is common to all sacred traditions. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all set out upon a mysterious, mystic journey: to remember who we are and where we are going. The mystic journey is for all of us.
The world’s sacred traditions provide the guideposts and markers for this adventure. Living our lives consciously, we encounter universal motifs, archetypes, and timeless patterns that will help us discover not only who we are but also why we are so deeply connected to all others.
The essence of the mystic journey is that the soul comes from an eternal realm, at birth is separated from the original union it knew, and spends its life here learning timeless lessons and seeking that lost union. One of the most eloquent expressions of this universal mystical adventure is Baha’u’llah’s classic, The Seven Valleys. This provides a template for: knowing what is achievable through conscious effort; being on the lookout for divine aid and assistance; seeing in the oscillation of opposites the possibility of their union, which moves us closer to our Creator; and, understanding that our deepest spiritual transformation comes about, not through escape from the world, but work in the world, as service to humanity. Spiritual growth, and in particular the journey of the soul, carries with it a distinct service orientation.
What may have seemed like a principle of the mystic life, of interest only to those few who seek the ultimate reunion, becomes a guiding principle for everyone. The living of one’s life according to the principle of union – or, the essential oneness of all life – is not merely a social commitment, or even an act of social justice, but a core spiritual belief designed to direct and guide every aspect of our lives toward the fullest achievement of what is humanly possible.