PRELIMINARY REMARKS FOR THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF MYSTICISM: MYSTICISM IS WHAT UNIO MYSTICA IS

Communio Viatorum 54 (1):88-107 (2012)
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Abstract

In the present article I argue, that our understanding of mysticism in general has its origin in Christian-theological framework. If some scholars are able to decide whether there is one or more mysticisms, there has to be a common understanding of mysticism (referential term). But every scholar gives a different definition, and even scholars dealing with mysticism in the same religious tradition. Sure, any definition can help us to find a referential term to which all scholars dealing with mysticism refer in order to claim, there is a different mysticism. I found more helpful to turn to Balagangadhara’s approach. He says, in such a case we’d better to choose a prototypical example. In our case it is unio mystica. So, mysticism is, what unio mystica is and by studying its characteristic properties we can arrive at understanding what is mysticism and only then will we be able to compare those properties with other kind of mysticism. Since the 19th century, all scholars refer to unio mystica as one kind of mysticism and the other kind is where the unio mystica is absent. If mysticism is what unio mystica is, then there is mysticism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But there is no mysticism in Indian traditions and Buddhism because we can hardly find a Jewish, Christian or Muslim notion of God in Indian traditions, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto etc. So, if there is no Christian, Jewish or Muslim notion of God there cannot be unio between human and divine, and if there cannot be such a unio, there is no mysticism as well.

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