Connection: The Practice of Mysticism for This Moment

Modified on: August 31, 2020

Connection is the heart of spiritual practice: connection within ourselves, connection with one another, and connection with whatever is deepest and best in the world.

Mysticism is the experience of that deep connectedness. It is nothing more than that. And it is entirely relevant to the moment we are living today.

Mystical experience recurs in human cultures around the world and through time–regardless of belief, in theistic and non-theistic philosophical systems, from shamans crossings world thresholds to Buddhists awakening to our radical interconnectedness to scientists breaking into new visions of the Universe through the relentless question “Why?”: the human quest for meaning connects with one another and the world at the deepest, most life-giving level—so we can make this world more livable for everyone. Repeated again and again around the world are basic, concrete practices that guide us to the heart of existence, the Universe dwelling within us, as we dwell within it.

The result is always the same. This radical experience of the Universe disrupts systems of power and ideology. It challenges authority and empowers us to act on behalf of all living beings. Consider the political relevance—in his day and ours—of these words by a great mystic of modern science:

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’…. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion.” (Albert Einstein)

We are in a time of anxiety, and rightly so. Much is very bad, and things could get far worse. We have a lot to do. Mystical practices offer us connection—connection to the deepest and best of ourselves and our world, connection to the source of life. When you feel overwhelmed by the urgency and anxiety of our moment, an urgency and anxiety that is real and that can drain us of the energy to do what must be done, try these practices of mystics throughout time and culture:

  1. When you feel overwhelmed, breathe: this is the practice of our existence. It is the source of life and power. Just be.
  2. When conflict breaks out between us, when we are trying to work together—slow down and listen to each other. This is the practice of interconnectedness. We are much stronger as a team.
  3. When you are drained of energy and life feels hopeless—go outside, listen to the trees, feel the earth, swim the stars: feel your connection to the cosmos. This is the practice of connection.

There is a power greater than division and narcissism,
greater than history and fear, greater than our individual selves,
a power beyond all words and beliefs,
a power that disrupts authority and ideology and dogma,
a power accessed throughout time by people of every culture,
a power that can help us bring the world back into balance,
a power alive in you—

touch it.


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