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Practical Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

Practical Mysticism

by Evelyn Underhill

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This book is free on Kindle which means I probably won't keep the old paperback copy I acquired from someone's used book sale. This book was first published over a hundred years ago and sets out to explain mysticism is 'practical' terms that the everyman can understand.

Underhill gives this definition of mysticism: "Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or lesser degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment"(pg 5, E.P Dutton, 1943 edition).

Despite the word 'practical' in the title, this is not particularly practical. I think what Underhill meant by the term 'Practical Mysticism' was a non-technical, simple presentation about what it is. There isn't much direction about actual practice here. Underhill does urge a disciplining of the mind (i.e. learning to concentrate on one thing) and learning self forgetfulness as requisite for entering into the mystical life. The former prepares your faculties, the second sends your will through purgation. The 'three forms of contemplation' which she describes, are degrees of being able to attend to Reality.

This is one of those classic texts that is often referred to, though I think contemporary treatments are perhaps more beneficial for most readers. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
Certainly different from the self-help books of the current era that I was expecting, but it was beautifully written and highly motivating all the same. ( )
  BlackAsh13 | May 31, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0898041430, Paperback)

The most lucid description of mysticism and contemplation yet written. One of the basic books of spiritual aspiration. As the author writes, "The spiritual life is part of every man's life, and until he has realized it he is not a complete human being." She then outlines the essential practices of mysticism.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Underhill was a leading authority on modern mysticism. Written just before World War 1, Practical Mysticism reviews the works of the greatest Western mystics, including Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and Thomas ? Kempis. Underhill brings esoteric subjects onto a practical footing, showing that the profound gifts of mysticism are not only for the few but are within reach of us all. Underhill wants the reader to obtain mystical consciousness and to be able to see eternal beauty.… (more)

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