Experiences vs. Transformation

As anyone who has known me for very long knows, I'm uncomfortable with adopting the description of "mystic" for myself, even though I have some interests in that direction. What I usually say is that I'm nowhere near disciplined enough to merit the name. But also, I feel like it sets up certain expectations in people -- or at least, I know I tend to have certain expectations of those who call themselves mystics. It's a bit like calling yourself an intellectual; it's a gentle form of bragging. I also feel like the line between those who practice mysticism and the ordinary believer are blurry. How long do you have to meditate every day before you qualify as a mystic, as opposed to a believer who tries to fit a little extra devotion into his life?

Mostly the line seems to be drawn in what kind of experiences one has, which I think is a mistake. In one sense, spiritual experiences are very meaningful -- at least those I've had are meaningful to me. But it's not necessarily a sign of spiritual progress. I've known too many people, both in real life and online, who talk about this dream or that vision, and then turn around 180 degrees on their beliefs rendering all those experiences moot -- a phenomenon that is often accompanied by an angry defensiveness. I have a real-life Baha'i friend who has swung between being super-orthodox and a disillusioned heretic mutliple times, and he's very prone to "spiritual experiences". In fact, I've seen it so often, I'm starting to wonder if there's some kind of inborn temperamental thing going on here. That these "mystical" types just tend to be mercurial.

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