Mysticism as Spiritual Concentration

glassLiving on Orcas Island as I do, I spend a lot of time in conversation with seekers and finders who were raised Christian but found it unsatisfying. Many gravitated to the Eastern Religions where they found something meaningful in meditation practices as a way of concentrating on the transcendent. What they sometimes refer to as the metaphysical, I generally refer to as the mystical.

Thomas Merton, not long before his death in Thailand, wrote one of his friends and said he had traveled to the east only to discover that what he sought was available in his own Christian tradition. He was not dissing the eastern traditions, for they in fact, had led him to the depth of his own tradition.

I remember something Karen Armstrong once said to me. “Get a Christian, Jewish and Muslim mystic in a room and they’ll have more in common then they disagree over.” This statement is jarring, but I could hear it because as an adult, and re-energized Christian, I was introduced to the mystical traditions within the Christian faith. 

A.W. Tozer was a contemporary Christian mystic of sorts. He was “safe, aka firmly orthodox (kosher!) in his beliefs,” and he seldom talked about his mysticism in “how to terms,” but I discovered this tidbit on spiritual concentration in his book, “Of God and Men.” I find it helpful.

Tozer on Spiritual Concentration and the inner life. “Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelopes you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. “

 Amen and peace be with you my dear  fellow sojourners.




Posted in Staublog in February 12, 2014 by | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to Mysticism as Spiritual Concentration

  1. Hinterlander on February 12, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    As a Protestant, I wonder to what extent it is spiritually healthy for us to dabble in forms of Christian mysticism anchored in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. I have felt a draw towards the mystical but after many disturbing and disheartening experiences I wonder if it is really a path that can be safely pursued within a Protestant milieu.

  2. Sullivan on February 17, 2014 at 8:52 am

    It’s been my experience that any time I’ve gone done that road of “mysticism,” meditation, or even eastern religions, it always points to Christ. I’m in the counseling field, and I was watching a video on recovery, (I believe from PTSD). The researcher was talking about the theme of resurrection, he referenced throughout history this mystical theme, and referred to the ancient phoenix, rising from the ashes.

  3. David Johnson on February 21, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    ^^^Do you understand A.W Tozer WAS a Protestant shame is G-D is not. I trust G-D to keep me and cover me after all he is mightier then the accuser of the brethren I guess your god must be a puny one 🙁 ^^^

  4. Dick Staub on April 4, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Not sure I follow you. Yes Tozer was a Protestant, but one who colored outside the lines. His mysticism connected him with Christians from a breadth of traditions, Orthodox, Catholic and others, all who shared n common the pursuit and worship of the triune God.

  5. Vince Roth on July 6, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    I wonder at all of the concern over Christian “mysticism”. God is by nature supernatural, not a like us, a part of us and this world because he created it, but unlike it or us in any other way. Outside of time, he sees things as they are and will be. We need to find a time to remove ourselves from this world to spend time with Him, in order to come back into this world with the necessary power to do His will in it. One of my favorite books is Practicing His Presence which speaks to just that. He is outside of our “religion” it’s just our limited way to put a package around our beliefs and oragnize ourselves in worship.
    Gos is so much more than our comprehension, we should not be so concerned with how He fits into our concepts and ideas, but rather how we can better hear and communicate with Him. I too questioned the things that seem to be part of a religion that is unlike my own, but it’s not the religion that matters, what matters is whether we are really getting closer to God. I love Him and I love you.
    God Bless,

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