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Practical Mysticism A Little Book for Normal People   By: (1875-1941)

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First Page:

E text prepared by Ruth Hart ruthhart@twilightoracle.com

Transcriber's note:

In the original book, the Table of Contents was located after the Preface, but I have placed it at the beginning of the text for this online version.

PRACTICAL MYSTICISM

by

EVELYN UNDERHILL

Author of "Mysticism," "The Mystic Way," "Immanence: A Book of Verses."

"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through the narrow chinks of his cavern." WILLIAM BLAKE

New York E.P. Dutton & Company 681 Fifth Avenue Copyright 1915 by E.P. Dutton & Company

TO THE UNSEEN FUTURE

CONTENTS

Preface vii I. What is Mysticism 1 II. The World of Reality 13 III. The Preparation of the Mystic 21 IV. Meditation and Recollection 56 V. Self Adjustment 29 VI. Love and Will 74 VII. The First Form of Contemplation 87 VIII. The Second Form of Contemplation 105 XI. The Third Form of Contemplation 126 X. The Mystical Life 148

PREFACE

This little book, written during the last months of peace, goes to press in the first weeks of the great war. Many will feel that in such a time of conflict and horror, when only the most ignorant, disloyal, or apathetic can hope for quietness of mind, a book which deals with that which is called the "contemplative" attitude to existence is wholly out of place. So obvious, indeed, is this point of view, that I had at first thought of postponing its publication. On the one hand, it seems as though the dreams of a spiritual renaissance, which promised so fairly but a little time ago, had perished in the sudden explosion of brute force. On the other hand, the thoughts of the English race are now turned, and rightly, towards the most concrete forms of action struggle and endurance, practical sacrifices, difficult and long continued effort rather than towards the passive attitude of self surrender which is all that the practice of mysticism seems, at first sight, to demand. Moreover, that deep conviction of the dependence of all human worth upon eternal values, the immanence of the Divine Spirit within the human soul, which lies at the root of a mystical concept of life, is hard indeed to reconcile with much of the human history now being poured red hot from the cauldron of war. For all these reasons, we are likely during the present crisis to witness a revolt from those superficially mystical notions which threatened to become too popular during the immediate past.

Yet, the title deliberately chosen for this book that of "Practical" Mysticism means nothing if the attitude and the discipline which it recommends be adapted to fair weather alone: if the principles for which it stands break down when subjected to the pressure of events, and cannot be reconciled with the sterner duties of the national life. To accept this position is to reduce mysticism to the status of a spiritual plaything. On the contrary, if the experiences on which it is based have indeed the transcendent value for humanity which the mystics claim for them if they reveal to us a world of higher truth and greater reality than the world of concrete happenings in which we seem to be immersed then that value is increased rather than lessened when confronted by the overwhelming disharmonies and sufferings of the present time. It is significant that many of these experiences are reported to us from periods of war and distress: that the stronger the forces of destruction appeared, the more intense grew the spiritual vision which opposed them. We learn from these records that the mystical consciousness has the power of lifting those who possess it to a plane of reality which no struggle, no cruelty, can disturb: of conferring a certitude which no catastrophe can wreck... Continue reading book >>




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