The Scale of Perfection is, in essence, a book of spiritual guidance or direction, written by an elder contemplative for a younger reader.
This curated selection of posts provide an in-depth exploration of the mystical life.
Mysticism is important because it implies an experimental spirituality — it’s not something you learn from a book, but it’s a reality that we live, in our own heart and minds and bodies. But does this mean that there is no room for doctrine and faith in the mystical life?
The best way to understand Christian mysticism (if “understanding” is even a possibility, given the mysterious nature of mysticism) is to approach it as a process: a developmental journey of how one relates to God.
I cannot nail down a Christian understanding of mysticism in a single session of a class (or in a simple blog post), but hopefully I can offer some lines of thinking that can help readers and students to think about Christian mysticism in a manner that is consistent with how mysticism has been understood by Christian theologians, contemplatives and visionaries.
Anyone interested in the beliefs of Christian mystics will naturally be curious to know, “do Christian mystics believe the same things as other Christians?” It’s an almost impossible question to answer…
So much of the language of the New Testament, and of so many of the mystics (at least in the Christian tradition), is language of love. God is love (or as I like to say, “Love-with-a-capital-L”). We love because God first loved us. God’s love is poured into our hearts.
Since mysticism cannot be put into words, and contemplation likewise involves a wordless gaze of love, silence is the essential nutrient for anyone seeking to walk the path of mystical or contemplative prayer.
Not only can Christianity be a mystical faith, but in fact a mystical element of Christianity has existed since the time of Jesus. But for a variety of historical, social and political reasons, Christian mysticism has always existed on the margins of the church.
Ultimately, mysticism is not found in a book, but in the lived process of relating to the Divine. It’s ironic that this message needs to be passed down in books, and yet, Underhill’s wonderful study of the subject does just that.