Mysticism, The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness -Evelyn Underhill

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LONG REGARDED AS A CLASSIC TEXT, AND written by the foremost authority on the subject, Mysticism remains the pre-eminent study of humanity’s spiritual consciousness.Drawing on the voices of such great mystics as Meister Eckhart, St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, Rumi and ‘Attar, Underhill offers a unique account of the multi-dimensional world of the mystic, from psychology and symbolism to visions and contemplation. She both introduces mysticism and examines the stages of mystical awakening that lead the human soul from a life of sense to a spiritual life in harmony with the Absolute – however
it is understood.Perhaps most importantly, Underhill shows how the mystical experience is within reach of us all, and presents an inspiring vision of what this world offers to those who choose to enter it.EVELYN UNDERHILL, a novelist and poet, published her first book
in 1902 but her growing interest in mysticism led in 1911 to her greatest work. Mysticism immediately established Underhill as the leading writer in the field, and she continued her work by writing
many more significant and acclaimed books and essays. In 1921 she became Upton Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion at Manchester College, and was the first woman to give a series of lectures on theology at Oxford.Since this book first appeared, nineteen years ago, the study of mysticism-not only in England, but also in France, Germany and Italy-has been almost completely transformed.From being regarded, whether critically or favourably, as a by-way of religion, it is now more and more generally accepted by theologians, philosophers and psychologists, as representing in its intensive form the essential religious experience of man. The labours of a generation of religious psychologists—following, and to some extent superseding the pioneer work of William James have already done much to disentangle, its substance from
the psycho-physical accidents which often accompany mystical apprehension. Whilst we are less eager than our predecessors to dismiss all accounts of abnormal experience as the fruit of
superstition or disease, no responsible student now identifies the mystic and the ecstatic; or looks upon visionary and other”extraordinary phenomena” as either guaranteeing or discrediting the witness of the mystical saints.

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