Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Is Buddhism a form of mysticism?

DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
edited January 2015 in Buddhism Today

It looks that way to me, but I'd interested in your thoughts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysticism ( there's quite a bit about Buddhism, 1/3 down the page )

Comments

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited January 2015

    I agree. There is a definite taste of the mystic in the practice of Buddhism.

    No big deal to me, though.

  • genkakugenkaku Veteran Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Sure enough there are some actual-factual surprises in spiritual practice -- stuff that partakes of the relative but is no longer stuck in it. It can be marvelous. It can be frightening. But it comes as something of a surprise ... maybe a 'mystical' surprise.

    Surprises rely on having a grounding and perhaps affection for that which came before the surprise -- how else could it be surprising? This means there is a differentiation and dichotomy ... a before and after, so to speak.

    And where there are two, a student would be well advised to sharpen his or her swords of skepticism. Mysticism may be very seductive -- very oooooeeeeeooooo -- or it may inspire greater diligence in practice. But where one thing is set off against another -- "relative" and "real" for example -- something is not yet complete. How many homes can any of us have?

    Not two and not one, I imagine.

    robotlobsterDakini
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    I think there's no question that there's mysticism in Zen ("dharma transmission", and the breakthrough that comes with insight, meditation on koans) and Tibetan Buddhism (which has a heavy shamanic and also Hindu influence). Not so much Theravada, though, I think. Though mystical experience may be inevitable in practices that involve a dedicated meditation practice.

    There's mysticism in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, too.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    If, as in Norm's link, mysticism is defined (at lease in part) by the presense of a disipline of personal transformation, the Theraveda is a mystical as Zen, Vajrayana, or any other kind of Buddhism

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Dakini said:

    Though mystical experience may be inevitable in practices that involve a dedicated meditation practice.

    I certainly hope so. ;)

  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Is Buddhism a form of mysticism?

    I sincerely hope not!

    Earthninja
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    You've been a mystic all along and not known it - he he!

    Hamsaka
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    I think it depends on the person practicing. For example in my sangha a lot of people do mantras and rituals. But it is not necessary. A person in our sangha can just do 'formless' practices such as meditation.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Chaz said:
    If, as in Norm's link, mysticism is defined (at lease in part) by the presense of a disipline of personal transformation, the Theraveda is a mystical as Zen, Vajrayana, or any other kind of Buddhism

    His link also includes this definition: associated with "extraordinary experiences and states of mind", which would mean any practice that resulted in an altered state of consciousness would qualify. So that would include Theravada practitioners. If dedicated meditators never have any unusual experiences or altered states of consciousness, then their practice wouldn't meet the criteria, I suppose. But that wouldn't categorically rule out mysticism as part of Buddhism.

    OP, we had a great discussion on this topic about 2 years ago. I don't know how well the search function here is working right now, but you might try looking it up.

  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    You've been a mystic all along and not known it - he he!

    That's very alarming, if so :eek:

    Of course I'm joking . . . but Buddhism seems so . . . immediate, factual, kinda hard to miss rather than ethereal. Maybe it's my biases speaking against 'mysticism'? Alas, labels . . .

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Hamsaka said:
    Of course I'm joking . . . but Buddhism seems so . . . immediate, factual, kinda hard to miss rather than ethereal. Maybe it's my biases speaking against 'mysticism'? Alas, labels . . .

    Buddhism is both. I think that's what confuses some people. One side of it seems so scientific, sort of. So reality-based, logical and analytical. But then there's the meditation side of it....

    But that's the yin and yang of it, you know? It's a balance between action and contemplation, between compassion and insight.

    Amthorn
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    I think it depends on the person practicing. For example in my sangha a lot of people do mantras and rituals. But it is not necessary. A person in our sangha can just do 'formless' practices such as meditation.

    Of course, but even that is a mind-altering excercise. I've had a couple next level experiences doing just shamatha. We're training the mind. Transforming it.

  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @Dakini said:

    I see what you are saying. And I tend toward analysis and logic (hopefully). I mean that Buddhism isn't a mental exercise or a cache of knowledge, it is immanent, in my face as an experience. Hard to put into words. What I understand 'mysticism' to be is not a description that works to describe how I 'live' it. If I push it, I can make a false-feeling distinction that is relatively true but not important on the ground.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Hamsaka said:
    I see what you are saying. And I tend toward analysis and logic (hopefully). I mean that Buddhism isn't a mental exercise or a cache of knowledge, it is immanent, in my face as an experience. Hard to put into words. What I understand 'mysticism' to be is >not a description that works to describe how I 'live' it. If I push it, I can make a false->feeling distinction that is relatively true but not important on the ground.

    Plenty of practitioners don't experience the mystical side of it, which is fine. I can relate to what you say, because what attracted me to Buddhism in the first place was the inherent logic of it.

    But after joining the forum here, I found out that the Buddha taught about 32 realms of existence, and all kinds of things that he "saw" or experienced in deep meditation, or after Enlightenment, so there's clearly more to it than the logical side. And there's the aspect of intuition and paranormal experiences and clairvoyance ("siddhis") that can result from reaching a certain level in one's meditation practice. That's clearly mystical experience. There's the experience of "oneness" with all creation that we're told comes with the Enlightenment experience. So there definitely is more to it than meets the eye.

    Hamsaka
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Yes, very good explanation :) I see your point a bit better.

    It causes me to think of how, over time and practice (which ain't all that long), what appeared to be . . . just out of reach, or supernormal, or intuitive, becomes more 'actual', in the land of the obvious and concrete. Buddha experienced the higher jhanas like I experience traffic. I wonder if what appears to be 'mystical' or supernormal to me NOW will look rather obvious as my practice continues?

    And how can something kind of obvious be 'mystical'? I guess it could, honestly I'm reacting to the word more than I can stop myself :D Hey, insight, wherever ya get it, is GOOD :)

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Hamsaka said:
    Yes, very good explanation :) I see your point a bit better.

    It causes me to think of how, over time and practice (which ain't all that long), what appeared to be . . . just out of reach, or supernormal, or intuitive, becomes more 'actual', in the land of the obvious and concrete. Buddha experienced the higher jhanas like I experience traffic. I wonder if what appears to be 'mystical' or supernormal to me NOW will look rather obvious as my practice continues?

    And how can something kind of obvious be 'mystical'? I guess it could, honestly I'm reacting to the word more than I can stop myself :D Hey, insight, wherever ya get it, is GOOD :)

    I think you may be equating "mystical" with "woo-woo". Whereas, as you say, and that's a good point, what others label as "mystical" becomes part of "normal" experience after a certain point. One can come to forget how extraordinary it truly is. This is where my position comes in, that paranormal experience is just a scientific discovery waiting to happen. These things that have been labeled as "beyond normal" are more normal than we think. It's just our culture that's walled us off from these experiences. And science is getting closer all the time. :)

    lobsterHamsaka
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    I think you may be equating "mystical" with "woo-woo".

    Indeed. :)

    Buddhism does not require woo, boo or visions of the Flying Speghetthi Monster or similar. Phew thank Buddha . . . well no need really.

    Can atheist Buddhists be described as Mystics? It is a term often associated with Cod and fishiness.

    I would suggest much of Buddhism initially is pragmatic, based on sound psychology and transformation of harmful behaviour into self kindness.

    What may surprise a lot of God powered Mystics is that in the higher stages of Union or perhaps more appropriately 'onion', the notions of God become closer to emptiness, non-God and the end of Boo-hoo. In a sense the layers of false Selves have fallen away . . .

    Are all Buddhists likely to encounter WuWei? It's simply complicated . . .
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ranks

    person
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Yes. Thank you, I am indeed (LOL!) Self check complete. I survived the New Age with a few biases. And @Dakini, what you said about science turning the supernatural into 'natural science' as we progress is true. And very exciting :)

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @lobster That would be a good question to put to the Secular Buddhists. But I don't think they're against transcendent experiences, because they do very much favor meditation. What they're against is blind belief in dogma, such as rebirth. Or the existence of 32 realms. If someone comes by that knowledge in a flash of meditative insight, that's one thing. But to accept those teachings on blind faith just because a teacher said that's part of the package is what Secular Buddhists reject.

    (See Batchelor's book, "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist".)

    lobsterHamsakaEarthninja
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @Dakini said:

    If someone comes by that knowledge in a flash of meditative insight, that's one thing. But to accept those teachings on blind faith just because a teacher said that's part of the package is what Secular Buddhists reject.

    That would explain much, the insight that 'transforms' a mystical thing into a tangible (well, sorta) thing. It's not that I don't WANT to believe on faith, I actually think that's easier (IMO). I've often wished I could. There's nothing 'wrong' about it, except maybe in a sour grapes kind of way. Believe me, I've tried. It does make a tangible, 'real' connection to the mystical if you can regard it as something that has YET to happen, in whatever way it will. Then faith can enter the picture and not get torn to pieces by my mind.

    Chaz
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Hamsaka Well, yes. The idea is that the Buddha said we're to test the teachings ourselves, to see if they ring true or make sense when tested in the crucible of real life. Some people are able to justify a "belief", a faith, in rebirth in that way, but others aren't. So experiencing a level of truth re: rebirth via insight, or perhaps a sudden recall of a past life event, would be one way of validating that teaching. At that point, one feels one can say one doesn't "believe", one "knows" the teaching to be true.

    (Sort of like Karl Jung said, "I don't believe in God, I know". (o_0) That's quite a statement!)

    To each, his/her own. Faith is fine for some people. Others aren't able to make that leap without some kind of personal experience, or analysis that leads to an inevitable conclusion.

    Hamsaka
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Dakini said:

    I think you may be equating "mystical" with "woo-woo". Whereas, as you say, and that's a good point, what others label as "mystical" becomes part of "normal" experience after a certain point.

    Yes, in my view mystical is essentially about a focus on inner experience, it's not about woo-woo or supernatural stuff. So in those terms meditation is a mystical experience.

    I was dubious myself about the word "mystical" until I began to understand what it actually means.

    lobsterEarthninjaHamsaka
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    You've been a mystic all along and not known it - he he!

    >

    Hey. Honk if you're mystical! :smirk:

    Rowan1980
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Beep!

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    If transformation is mysticism then cooking noodles is mysticism.

    HamsakaRowan1980
  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Jeffrey said:
    If transformation is mysticism then cooking noodles is mysticism.

    haha! Tranformation is shamanic! You're a kitchen shaman, Jeffrey! ;)

    DairyLamaJeffrey
  • BlondelBlondel Veteran Veteran

    This is from the OED.

    Mystical theology; belief in the possibility of union with or absorption into God by means of contemplation and self-surrender; belief in or devotion to the spiritual apprehension of truths inaccessible to the intellect. (Emphasis is mine.)

  • DakiniDakini Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Blondel said:
    This is from the OED.

    belief in or devotion to the spiritual apprehension of truths inaccessible to the intellect. (Emphasis is mine.)

    Pretty well sums it up, doesn't it?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Yes, but can we please leave out the theology? ;)

    lobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    "Mysticism is "a constellation of distinctive practices, discourses, texts, institutions, traditions, and experiences aimed at human transformation"

    I don't see why Buddhism could not fall under that definition. It would be true to say that "Buddhism is "a constellation of distinctive practices, discourses, texts, institutions, traditions, and experiences aimed at human transformation". Although, if a zen master caught you trying to "classify it", he would probably hit you with a stick! :)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited January 2015

    Is Buddhism a form of mysticism?

    No God, nothing mysterious like the Holy Coast . . . eh far shore . . . for many secular, atheist Buddhists.

    . . . however there is a known makyo class of potential arisings

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makyo

    In Islam, The Profit (Mo to His Friends) had a whole series of auditory dictation from Arch Angel Gabriel that became the Official Word of God (Koran edition) - the rest is history.

    In Christ inanity and Tin-Tin Tantra all kinds of weirdy goings on for those so inclined.

    From my own experience of siddhis, altered perception etc, I find these arisings more like trouble than blessings as we tend to attach to them.

    Buddhist mysticism is very ordinary, even when extraordinary . . .

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Is Buddhism a form of mysticism?

    Nothing Special....

    Jeffrey
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    Although, if a zen master caught you trying to "classify it", he would probably hit you with a stick! :)

    Always with the sticks! ;)

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Always with the sticks! ;)

    :D

    ah the mystic zen bashing - here is the scoop:
    http://sarasotazen.org/kyosaku/

    I remember a time when such a service would have been most welcome. A particular lama would have a deeply relaxing effect on me. Ridiculously so. I would fall asleep, no matter the time of day, state of wakefulness etc. Happens. No real idea how or why - it may be some sort of resonance with their biological or quantum field. I don't think it is recognized or studied much as yet.
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioelectromagnetism

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I spent some time round Sogyal Rinpoche, a definite presence there, difficult to pin it down though. Also similar with some other advanced practitioners I've spent time with, there is an effect.
    "The truth is out there" as Fox Mulder used to say. ;)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Most of us who have been on the trail . . Eh path . . . for a while, know that nothing knowable arises without insight, practice and experience . . .

    We do become more aware of interior processes through practice, retreats, sadhana, cushion asana etc.

    It takes time.

    In a sense everyone is on a karmic evolutionary potential. We rafters to the far shore are speeding through the rapids. We are in essence building a basis of resonance.

    The other day I was meditating when an unwholesome physical feeling became apparent. Something I would not be aware of without daily practice. My meditation is usually very light and pleasant.

    The point is Buddhism is practical mysticism, mundane almost. :)

    silverCinorjerShoshin
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    I would quite like to be one of those mysterious mystical sages, the problem is that the word "sage" always makes me smile because it reminds me of sage and onion stuffing. ;)

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    I would quite like to be one of those mysterious mystical sages, the problem is that the word "sage" always makes me smile because it reminds me of sage and onion stuffing. ;)

    Certainly a problem. Maybe you could try liking to be mysterious mystical sage and onion stuffing?

    The Body of Chicken . . .

    aum men

    Paxo be with you

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Bob was on to it.... :)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Some of us are stuffing without chickening out of the term 'mystic'. We are not second rate psychics offering Tarot readings, De packed ShopRa fan boys or alignments with people's expectations.

    We are practical Mystics. We have no problem with science. We have no delusions about the devil or his fishy last supper counterpart. We don't need Mr Cushion but we still sit or rather sit still.

    We are the devil and the 'buddy of Christ' Eucharistic transubstantiation.

    In other words, Heaven and hellboy iz us. I an' I as Captain Marley might say when not all saged up on the 'erb >:) <3 o:)

    To attribute Buddhism with woo woo or labour a point with alignments, words or associations is not the Middle Way Path.

    As ever that is within us.

Sign In or Register to comment.