The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

An Introduction to the Spirituality of the Christian Mystics

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An Introduction to the Spirituality of the Christian Mystics

presentation at Adult Forum by
Kathleen Piendl, Ph.D.
October 20, 2013

Hold all things in equal reverence

Writings of Julian of Norwich

Meister Eckhart

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

Some quotes of Thomas Merton

  1. What is a mystic?
  2. What is the Spirituality in the writings of the Mystics?
  3. Three Components of Mysticism
    • Experience
    • Non dualism
    • Compassion
  4. The Cosmic Christ

What is a Mystic?

First and Foremost, we are all mystics.

Mystics are not special persons. Each person is a special kind of mystic.

Mystics are people who have transformative experiences where they envision unity with all Creation.

Transformative experiences occur anytime, anywhere where the heart is open to it.

These experiences allow you the breathe the breath of God.

Spirituality Is an Unshakeable Love

Spirituality refers to an individual’s solitary search for and discovery of the absolute of the Divine: it is a creative birth in us.

It raises consciousness in the knowing that we share this identity with all persons and creatures. We are interconnected.

This interior identification is person-centered, earth and universe centered; it is love, compassion, mercy and kindness. This birthing leads to a co-creation with all other things.

Thomas Merton wrote it is a spiritual identity with one’s brother so that he is not regarded as an object to which one does good. He/she is us.

The Evolution of Awareness

The third millennium of Christianity reveals a new pastoral story. It is the Cosmic Christ. This is a living cosmology in our time that was first revealed in and through Jesus, and later through the writings of the Desert Fathers and the mystics from all traditions. This is an evolving awareness of our oneness.

All Mystics write about this Unity with God and a new pastoral story where we see ourselves in others and in all creation.

Three aspects of Mysticism and examples from writings.

Three aspects of Mysticism


Non dualism


Experience: A component of Mysticism

Julian of Norwich received revelations from Our Lord in the year 1373. She had a direct experience of God. Her writings were finally published in the 17th Century. Her feminine theology revealed to her an all-embracing totality and fullness of divine love.

Julian of Norwich’s vision of the Hazelnut

In this vision he also showed me a small thing; the size of a hazelnut in the palm of my hand. I looked at it and asked “what could this be”? And the answer came to me: “It is all that is made”. I wondered how it would last, for it was so small; I thought it might suddenly have disappeared. And the answer in my mind’s eye was, “It lasts and will last for ever because God loves it; and everything exists in the same way by the love of God”. In this little thing I saw three properties: the first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God cares for it.

The unity and goodness of creation

And this vision was shown to my understanding because our Lord wants the soul to be moved to consider himself and all his works taken together; for they are wholly good, and all his actions are sweet and comforting and bring great comfort to the soul that turns from considering the blind judgment of man. For a man considers some deeds well done and some deeds evil, but our Lord does not consider them in the same way.

Two other revelations that she experienced: She talks about the Lord God doing everything.

And he wants us to know that there is a deed which the Holy Trinity will do on the last day. And he wants us to know this because he wants us to feel more ease in our souls and more at peace in love. She heard: See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained before time began. And by this deed he shall make all thing well; for just as the holy Trinity made all things out of nothing, so the Holy Trinity shall make all well that is not well.

Second Element of Mysticism is Non Dualism

  • Meister Eckhart 1260-1329 Dominican Monk that was excommunicated
  • Martin Luther relied heavily on the preaching of Meister Eckhart
  • Mystic, prophet and a feminist
  • All religions and traditions call him their own.
  • His spirituality was Cosmic and his writings reveal a compassion in Creation.
  • He professed that there was no dualism. That all creation is one and in God. God is behind us, ahead of us, beside us, in us, above us. There is no God and Us; there is us in God

From Meister Eckhart's Writings

  • All creation is a single unity. It is all in all.
  • In the words of Meister Eckhart: Separate yourself from twoness. Be one in one, one with one from the One. There is no other.

Meister Eckhart

  • He goes on to say: “Being in God’s Circle and in this circle all creatures exist. Everything is in God and is God”.
  • Wherever I am, there is God.
  • When immersed in the divine within, we are embraced and kissed from the Godhead by unity itself so that we see and hear differently. We hear with the ears of our hearts (Hildegard).
  • A Mystic is someone who sees and hears differently from a consciousness rising in themselves and in the world.

Third element: Compassion

  • The Mystics write that those in touch with their true self or their soul are giving birth to compassion. It is active and brings forth a new inward heavenly human being.
  • Eckhart describes compassion as: do not judge, do not condemn and grant pardon. Compassion was present at Creation and indeed was the motivation for Creation.
  • Compassion is the ability to see God in all things and in all events.

The Work of Compassion

  • Leads to an increased awareness in the world that there is unity.
  • This increased awareness is evolving over time as it has been for 2,000 years since Christ died. Christ’s death birthed an evolving awareness of love that is active today.
  • The man who described this evolution of man and the birthing of a New Creation or a new pastoral story was Pierre Teilhard De Chardin 1881-1951.
  • He was a Jesuit priest who was exiled to China. Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry among others were greatly influenced by the writings of Teilhard De Chardin.

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

  • "A single event has been developing in the world. The Incarnation" or as Eckhart puts it: The Holy Spirit has moved from the Godhead and kissed the collective soul of man. It is a continually increasing spiritual transformation of the rising of love in the world.
  • Teillard De Chardin calls this "a force to merge and exalt our partial rays into the principle radiance of Christ."
  • "the only subject ultimately capable of mystical transfiguration is that the whole group of mankind forms a single body and a single soul in Charity". He calls this the Divine Milieu.

The Omega Point

  • The evolution of Mankind’s consciousness is to reach an Omega Point that is in Christ: the Cosmic Christ.
  • "Christ now sees that the only human embrace capable or worthily enfolding the divine is that all men opening their arms to call down and welcome the Fire". "The whole movement of Christ in the universe". When Christ appears in the clouds he will simply be manifesting a metamorphosis that has been slowly accomplished under his influence in the heart of the mass of mankind”.

He continues on his the Mass on the World

Because the world travails, not to bring forth from within itself some supreme being, but to find it consummation through a union with a pre-existent Being; it follows that man can never reach the blazing centre of the universe simply by living more and more for himself or even spending his life in the service of some earthly cause however great. The world can never be definitively united with you Lord save by a sort of reversal, which must involve the temporary collapse not merely of all individuals achievements, but even of everything that looks like an advancement for humanity. There must first die the monad ego but also the world.

What is the Cosmic Christ?

  • The Cosmic Christ is represented on earth by Jesus.
  • Listen to the Cosmic Christ to Cosmic Wisdom calling all children of God together. Drink of wisdom from your own unique well. I am tired of religious wars and disharmony. I long for harmony. Let wisdom outpour; create harmony and healing together. Reconnect with Mother Earth, to blessings, to the underground river that I am and that you all share. Feel the evolution of love in the world.
  • Psalm 46:4: There is a river whose stream make glad the City of God, the holy place where the Most High Dwells.

How do we create our own harmony and unity with all in all?

  • We raise our consciousness or create unity in silence and in community
  • Psalm 131: My heart is not proud, O Lord.
  • My eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
  • But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother.
  • Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
  • Be still and know that I am God
  • so that out of the Chaos, a new story, a new man is being created. A better, more just mankind is being formed.
  • We are all connected with everything; there is no other
  • We co-create with all thing (s)
  • There is no dualism
  • We are raising consciousness of love and compassion on earth and in the universe moving towards the Omega Point and the Cosmic Christ.