Jan 13 2009
/ Photo by larry&flo /
I often use the word “mystic” in my commentaries. To me it suggests one who is concerned with inner truth and realization, as opposed to a mere follower of rules, theologies, and surface observance. “Mystic” is a word free from most religious or sectarian definitions and, therefore, well suited to an interfaith site like the Poetry Chaikhana. Less often I’ll use “esoteric,” and when I do, I generally use it to mean the same thing, perhaps slightly emphasizing the more academic-sounding heft of the word.
Some writers, however, make a strict distinction between the words “mystic” and “esoteric.”
They point out that esotericism is concerned with with the essential, the essence of things. An esotericist is exclusively focused on God or enlightenment, and not the subtle/psychic/spiritual phenomena that may be encountered along the way. A mystic, by contrast, is interested in the entire landscape of spiritual experience.
Those can be important distinctions to keep in mind for certain uses but, from my perspective, it is an artificial distinction that only a lexicographer can love.
In my opinion, the only valid goal is the esotericist’s. And the only responsible approach to the journey is the mystic’s.
In other words, to be successful, an esotericist must also be a mystic.
So I hope you’ll forgive me as I continue to use a very broad definition of “mystic” as it swirls and merges with the “esoteric”…