Understanding the Mystic
Mysticism is not an opinion; it is not a philosophy. It has nothing in common with the pursuit of occult knowledge .... It is the name of that organic process which involves the perfect consummation of the Love of God: the achievement here and now of the immortal heritage of man. Or, if you like it better -- for this means exactly the same thing -- it is the art of establishing...[a] conscious relation with the Absolute...It remains a paradox of the mystics that the passivity at which they appear to aim is really a state of the most intense activity: more, that where it is wholly absent no great creative action can take place. In it, the superficial self compels itself to be still, in order that it may liberate another more deep-seated power which is, in the ecstasy of the contemplative genius, raised to the highest pitch of efficiency.
"Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness" by Evelyn Underhill (Public Domain)
Mystical Encounter with Death
Pahnke's mystical categories reflect the most important
common denominators of transcendental states. The sense of oneness or unity with
other people, nature, and the entire universe is a necessary condition of cosmic
consciousness. Ineffability is another important characteristic; the ineffable
quality of the experience can be due to its uniqueness, the intensity of the
accompanying emotion, or the inadequacy of our language to describe it. The next
typical aspect of mystical experiences is transcendence of time and space. This
entails a feeling that the experience is outside of the usual space-time
boundaries, beyond the past and future, in eternity and infinity, or in a
completely different dimension. Noetic quality is another important feature;
individuals are usually convinced that they are in touch with a deeper truth
about reality and the nature of existence. Experiences of transcendence are
always accompanied by a strong positive affect. This can range from peace,
serenity, and tranquility to an ecstatic rapture not dissimilar to a sexual
orgasm of cosmic proportions. Accounts of mystical experiences are also
characterized by striking paradoxicality. Many of the statements about such
states appear to contradict each other and violate the basic rules of
Aristotelian logic. One more aspect of these experiences deserves special
notice, namely the sense of objectivity and reality. An individual tuned into
cosmic consciousness usually has no doubt that he or she is confronted with the
ultimate reality, which is in a way more real than the phenomenal world as it is
experienced in a more usual state of consciousness.
--'The Human Encounter with Death' by Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax.
- "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward [man] is renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16,
Mysticism in Judaism
Mysticism and mystical experiences have been a part of Judaism since the earliest days. The Torah contains many stories of mystical experiences, from visitations by angels to prophetic dreams and visions. The Talmud considers the existence of the soul and when it becomes attached to the body. Jewish tradition tells that the souls of all Jews were in existence at the time of the Giving of the Torah and were present at the time and agreed to the Covenant. There are many stories of places similar to Christian heaven and purgatory, of wandering souls and reincarnation. The Talmud contains vague hints of a mystical school of thought that was taught only to the most advanced students and was not committed to writing. There are several references in ancient sources to ma'aseh bereishit (the work of creation) and ma'aseh merkavah (the work of the chariot [of Ezekiel's vision]), the two primary subjects of mystical thought at the time.
In the middle ages, many of these mystical teachings were committed to writing in books like the Zohar. Many of these writings were asserted to be secret ancient writings or compilations of secret ancient writings. Source: Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism