The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mystical. It is the source of all true art and science.
- Albert Einstein
In the above quotation, Einstein expresses the overriding importance of mysticism in the pursuit of art and science. It is not the application of logic or the discernment of the physical senses that leads to ultimate truth but rather the mystical. Einstein recognized that spontaneous insight, disconnected from any recognizable cause-effect chain of events, often leads to great advances in understanding. Such events are without obvious explanation; they just happen.
In the religious/spiritual realm the notion of mysticism is considered heretical by many. Mysticism is an individual, highly personal experience which cannot be measured against an absolute standard. In contrast, orthodox religion claims an inspired revelation as the essential standard by which all truth is known and all doctrine is evaluated. Mysticism and the maintenance of orthodoxy are by nature then incompatible.
It is generally understood that the New Covenant inaugurated by Christ had its roots in the Old. However, when Christ came 2000 years ago, he proclaimed an all encompassing newness. Man, therefore, rightfully looks for a spiritual reality dramatically different from that described in the Old Testament. The New Covenant was not supposed to be more of the same: More rules, more calls for obedience, and more failures to measure up.
Disappointingly, the New Covenant has been reduced in the minds of some to contentious squabbles about the Ten Commandments, public religious rituals, and sacred real estate. It all sounds so very Old Covenant. Where did we miss or lose the newness?
Maybe it’s time to quit extrapolating the Old into the New and look for a really thrilling newness of all things. In that effort, I think a little mysticism would be most helpful.