It’s not unusual for people to think being a mystic requires answering a special kind of calling to devote your life to God. After all, if you read the lives of the saints – the so-called holy men and women of history – you get the clear impression that’s how they understood it. And, they often retreated into seclusion in monasteries, convents, ashrams or caves to live out their special calling.
There are people who still see it that way. But, being a mystic is no longer restricted to such special people. Today, you don’t need to be a saint or even holy to be a mystic.
A modern mystic is someone who makes space for the divine in their life. And, that space is what makes the difference. There is no longer a need to retreat into seclusion. You can be a mystic right where you are, no matter your circumstances.
I believe we’re all called to be mystics, even if it’s often difficult to hear the call. There’s a lot of noise in the world. There are a lot of distractions, and we often want to be distracted, since it’s not often we want to be honest with ourselves.
So, while we’re all called, we don’t all answer. Some of us don’t hear the invitation. Others don’t want to or consciously choose not to. That’s the power of choice or free will.
We are living in what are called secular times, where the influence of the major religions is waning. People are drifting away from organised religion, disenchanted by preaching that doesn’t resonant and behaviour which is contrary to the very rules they have been urged to live their lives by.
But, after walking away from their religion, a lot of people find themselves searching for something – they’re just not sure what it is.
That sense of knowing something is missing in your life, that wanting to know who you are and what life is really all about. That’s the call. That’s the divine calling you to the mystical journey.
Don’t think you have to be in a post religious world to hear that call. The divine calls everyone, including those who continue to pursue the religious life.
When we hear the call, some of us throw ourselves into changing the external world – saving the planet, alleviating poverty or fighting corruption. All good causes, but ultimately distractions from answering the call.
Those who answer the call discover the mystical journey, and come to realise they first have to put their inner life in order, before they can effectively change the external world in which they are living their human life.
Peter Mulraney is the author of Mystical Journey: A Handbook for Modern Mystics.
Photo by William Bout on Unsplash