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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ I do not wish to take the trouble to understand mysticism.
▪ Naturally, geologists balked at this apparent mysticism.
▪ Talk varied from views on nationalism and child birth to thoughts on mysticism and linguistic oppression.
▪ The development of mysticism in a particular tradition represents a stage in the evolution of the religious consciousness.
▪ The idea that there are forces and necessities in nature is spurious, a piece of mysticism which we can do without.
▪ There has also been a great deal of adulation which is perhaps even more harmful for it generates mysticism.
▪ This mysticism is the only language which transcends the rational schema of oppression.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Mysticism \Mys"ti*cism\, n. [Cf. F. mysticisme.]

  1. Obscurity of doctrine.

  2. (Eccl. Hist.) The doctrine of the Mystics, who professed a pure, sublime, and wholly disinterested devotion, and maintained that they had direct intercourse with the divine Spirit, and aquired a knowledge of God and of spiritual things unattainable by the natural intellect, and such as can not be analyzed or explained.

  3. (Philos.) The doctrine that the ultimate elements or principles of knowledge or belief are gained by an act or process akin to feeling or faith.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1736, from mystic (adj.) + -ism.


n. 1 The beliefs, ideas, or thoughts of mystics. 2 A doctrine of direct communication or spiritual intuition of divine truth. 3 A transcendental union of soul or mind with the divine reality or divinity. 4 obscure thoughts and speculations.

  1. n. a religion based on mystical communion with an ultimate reality [syn: religious mysticism]

  2. obscure or irrational thought


Mysticism is popularly known as becoming one with God or the Absolute, but may refer to any kind of ecstasy or altered state of consciousness which is given a religious or spiritual meaning. It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.

The term "mysticism" has Ancient Greek origins with various historically determined meanings. Derived from the Greek word μυω, meaning "to conceal", mysticism referred to the biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity. During the early modern period, the definition of mysticism grew to include a broad range of beliefs and ideologies related to "extraordinary experiences and states of mind".

In modern times, "mysticism" has acquired a limited definition, with broad applications, as meaning the aim at the "union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God". This limited definition has been applied to a wide range of religious traditions and practices, valuing "mystical experience" as a key element of mysticism.

Since the 1960s scholars have debated the merits of perennial and constructionist approaches in the scientific research of "mystical experiences". The perennial position is now "largely dismissed by scholars," most scholars using a contextual approach, which takes the cultural and historical context into consideration.

Broadly defined, mysticism can be found in all religious traditions, from indigenous religions and folk religions like shamanism, to organised religions like the Abrahamic faiths and Indian religions, and modern spirituality, New Age and New Religious Movements.

Usage examples of "mysticism".

His metaphysics is closely akin to that of the symbolists: it is a mysticism of impersonal forces that he has associated with the dynamic philosophy of Heraclitus the Dark.

Illustrations in alchemical books suggested sexual mysticism more often than not.

The mysticism of the gods resides in my genes, and is strengthened by those of the alchemist and the Cabrilan will.

Christian Science is a modern adaptation of all that is best in the simplicity and asceticism of Jesus, the commonsense philosophy of Benjamin Franklin, the mysticism of Swedenborg, and the bold pronunciamento of Robert Ingersoll.

Nils Esterling, a blood heritage that fought its way to the surface and brought out all the latent mysticism of his race.

Nils Esterling felt the mysticism of far places stealing into his soul.

Both systems made purity of life essential, but Mysticism could not guard against mental disease, while Pietism enjoyed a long season of healthful life.

While a student at Wittenberg he applied himself to the study of Mysticism, and now claimed that its incorporation with Pietism was the only salvation of Christianity.

Their religious mysticism, which hangs like a fog over that period of Ult history, had been burned away by the rising sun of reason.

The second impediment is represented by the numerous theoretical positions that see no alternative to the present form of rule except a blind anarchic other and that thus partake in a mysticism of the limit.

And a world made unsafe for mysticism and theocentric religion is a world where the only proved method of transforming personality will be less and less practiced, and where fewer and fewer people will possess any direct, experimental knowledge of reality to set up against the false doctrine of totalitarian anthropocentrism and the pernicious ideas and practices of nationalistic pseudo-mysticism.

Dora Sigerson Shorter is a balladist of stark power, and Miss Eva Gore-Booth a lyric poet whose natural lilt no preoccupation with mysticism can for more than a moment obscure.

Mysticism being, in essence, the practical, experiential exploration of Being, under the driving and guiding power of Love.

While thus recognizing the natural origin of this consecrated symbol, while discovering that it is based on the sacredness of numbers, and this in turn on the structure and necessary relations of the human body, thus disowning the meaningless mysticism that Joseph de Maistre and his disciples have advocated, let us on the other hand be equally on our guard against accepting the material facts which underlie these beliefs as their deepest foundation and their exhaustive explanation.

It is a bulwark against mysticism, against superstition, against religion misapplied to where it has no business being.