Christian spirituality and religious mysticism: Adjunct, parallel or embedded concepts?

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This essay seeks to explore the evolving discourses of spirituality and mysticism. It review how theories of the essence of mysticism have differed depending on whether mysticism is regarded as the perennial and intimate transformation of consciousness in the encounter with holy mystery, or the articulation of that encounter is time-bound expressions or the embodied knowing of transcendence. In a similar manner the evolving understanding of spirituality as the cultivation of awakened personal presence is discussed. In practice settings it is noted that an encounter which is suffused with presence may lead to those involved experiencing a physical, emotional and spiritual surge of energy, even in spite of whatever challenging circumstances may surround the encounter - poverty, hunger, grief, homelessness, etc. It is proposed that into the future mysticism and spirituality, will neither be adjunct, parallel or embedded concepts. Instead they are in the process of mutating into a new field of academic studies, which is already making its presence felt on some campuses - contemplative studies. Contemplative Studies is distinguished by its capacity to recognizes the importance of both third-person and critical first-person approaches in the study of religious experience; in particular its capacity to make space for direct personal experience with specific forms of practice - both from mysticism and spirituality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpirituality across Disciplines
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practice
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783319313801
ISBN (Print)9783319313788
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2016


  • Awakened personal presence
  • Christian spirituality
  • Compassion
  • Leadership
  • Mysticism
  • Presence
  • Religious mysticism
  • Spiritual consciousness


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