Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Western mystic traditions

"That said, there are historical reasons that the inner Western paths are not well-known or understood. They had to survive in an extremely hostile environment for hundreds of years. In medieval times, a mystic or a theologian who stepped outside the limits of conventional Catholic dogma would be condemned. And condemnation in those days was not just a matter of failing to get tenure: it meant poverty or even death. We can only admire the courage of the people who kept these traditions alive against all odds.
"Today, at least in the Western nations, nobody is going to be persecuted for having esoteric beliefs. Even so, the climate is not terribly favorable. Religion is either highly rationalistic (as in the mainstream Protestant denominations) or fundamentalist. In either case, everything is understood only at the lowest level. The media either portray the higher spiritual search in a clich├ęd form — everyone has a shaven head and a saffron robe — or they focus on the most obvious nut cases, the latest batch of Kool-Aid drinkers or what-have-you. This is part of what the spiritual master G.I. Gurdjieff called “the mechanism of self-calming”: you laugh at the nut cases to reassure yourself that there’s nothing to this spirituality business."

-- Interview about Western mystic traditions

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