WHAT FORM OF SPIRITUALITY OR MYSTICISM?
There are many grades and types of mystics, from healers to psychics to whirling dervishes to the Dalai Lama to rishis living in caves in the Himalayas. And there are different systems of spirituality that have been developed over hundreds and even thousands of years in religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, certain branches of Christianity and Judaism, and so on (although most of these systems contain historical accretions as well as vital spirituality).
The system I will use is based on a modern form of Sufi mysticism1 that incorporates the wisdom of other systems, but it is modified to be consistent with the insights we will glean from physics and neuroscience. Sufism is an ancient way of knowing that christian mysticism churches does not correspond exactly to any of the better-known religions. It might be described as the religion of experience. The Sufis, ideally, are those who accurately understand and experience all levels of existence, particularly those associated with the deepest emotions. A more traditional definition of Sufism would be that it is the mystical, esoteric branch of Islam, a branch that started with Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali, flowered in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and continues today.
It is my hope that making spirituality-mysticism consistent with science will clarify it so it is both accessible and appealing to many more people than it has been in the past. In fact, despite the materialistic bent of our society, I believe it is an advantage for the aspiring mystic to be living in the age of science, for as we will see, physics can help to clarify the metaphysical structure of existence, and neuroscience can help in distinguishing between physical brain-body effects and nonphysical insights, and in understanding spiritual practices.
BELIEF VERSUS EXPERIENCE
If you are not familiar with the mystical point of view, it may appear simply as a belief system. But if you have the feeling it could be correct, if you think these ideas might serve as a useful guide for some period of your life, and if you do the mystical practices with your full attention on them, then I think you will begin to see that the mystic=s view of existence may be experienced, rather than being just a belief system. You may begin to appreciate the possibility that awareness doesn’t end with death. And you may begin to see that the potential exists for a radically different, much richer life here.
From the early age of 7, Casey Blood was interested in spirituality, math and science. His parents encouraged him to become an astronaut or aeronautical engineer, but for Casey, physics was obviously the best choice. In his local Presbyterian church Casey always acknowledged the pull of mysticism upon his soul, but found no information to guide him. Casey followed his love of math and science into academia, earning a PhD from Case Western University and tenure as Professor Emeritus of Physics at Rutgers University. He has pursued his fascination with spirituality in over thirty years of studying mystical and meditative religions such as Sufism, Shamanism and Buddhism. He has also traveled extensively to gain firsthand experience in these traditions as practiced in India, Turkey, Bali, Israel, China, and Peru.