Alive… Awake… & Inspired

The journey of a Mystic

~Evelyn Underhill

Today I found much delight in the description of Evelyn Underhill’s mystical Journey. Witness the huge difference in language – no even one trace of a spiritual new age jargon that is so popular today.

She describes the first stage as:

1. Awakening the Self – quoting Henry Suso (disciple of Meister Eckhart): “That which the Servitor saw had no form neither any manner of being; yet he had of it a joy such as he might have known in the seeing of shapes and substances of all joyful things. His heart was hungry, yet satisfied, his soul was full of contentment and joy: his prayers and his hopes were fulfilled.” (Cropper p. 46)

The second stage she describes as:

2. Purgation of self (transcending the ego) quoting the Theologia Germanica: “We must cast all things from us and strip ourselves of them and refrain from claiming anything for our own.”

Third stage is:

3. Illumination – and she quotes here William Law: “Everything in …nature, is descended out that which is eternal, and stands as a. ..visible outbirth of it, so when we know how to separate out the grossness, death, and darkness. ..from it, we find. in its eternal state.”

The fourth stage she describes as:

4. the dark night of the soul – quoting Mechthild of Magdeburg: “…since Thou hast taken from me all that I had of Thee, yet of Thy grace leave me the gift which every dog has by nature: that of being true to Thee in my distress, when I am deprived of all consolation. This I desire more fervently than Thy heavenly Kingdom.”

And last she devotes a chapter to the unitive life, the sum of the mystic way:

When love has carried us above all things into the Divine Dark, there we are transformed by the Eternal Word Who is the image of the Father; and as the air is penetrated by the sun, thus we receive in peace the Incomprehensible Light, enfolding us, and penetrating us.’ (Ruysbroech)

Now, that’s to me pure delight… it’s like manna from Heaven what she writes here:

We are all the kindred of the mystics. ..Strange and far away from us though they seem, they are not cut off from us by some impassable abyss. They belong to us; the giants, the heroes of our race. As the achievement of genius belongs not to itself only but also to the society that brought it forth;...the supernal accomplishment of the mystics is ours also. ..our guarantee of the end to which immanent love, the hidden steersman. moving. on the path toward the Real. They come back to us from an encounter with life’s most august secret. ..filled with amazing tidings which they can hardly tell.” (Cropper, p.47)

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