Mystic Allegory

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The “mystic” (see mysticism) is someone who has had experiences with God that are personal, transcendent, beyond mere thought, transformative and redemptive. Although normally associated with catholic medieval monasticism it is inherent in protestant tradition also: the “prototype” protestant mystical experience is the new birth.  To say “I met Jesus” is to identify an experience that is not easily described. God Himself is personal, transcendent, beyond mere thought, transformative and redemptive.

 

 

Although the experience of the Christian mystic must be consistent with orthodox doctrine it cannot be easily described by logical propositional statements. For this reason the writings of the mystics are often in the form of poetry, proverbs or allegory. (see also mystic poetry and mystic proverbs).

 

Mystic allegory then is the use of allegory to describe mystical truths. For example, John of the Cross, a 16th century catholic contemplative (see contemplation) used allegory to describe the journey from monastic beginner to Christian perfection. Since he felt that the journey was difficult and since he believed it was a journey towards God he likened it to climbing a mountain. One sees immediately then that the journey is long and demanding. Furthermore, the journey progresses from a wide beginning to a narrow goal. From the top of the mountain vision is rewarded with a vast scope. (“Ascent of Mt. Carmel” by John of the Cross).

 

          Another example is Teresa of Avila. She too was a 16th century monastic who also used allegory to describe the journey from monastic beginner to a mature, sanctified (see sanctification) and tested person. In her case she showed the journey as a movement of a person into a castle from the outer region to the central throne room. One sees then that the spiritual journey is an inward journey. She described 7 “rooms” that the person has to pass through. In each region of the “interior castle” that the person must pass through they encounter different obstacles and different experiences. (See “The Interior Castle” by Teresa of Avila).

 

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