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    Mysticism and Jewish faith

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    What is religious mysticism and what does it mean in the Jewish faith?

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    Firstly, I need to be sure that you understand the meaning of mysticism as it applies to any religion. From there, you can look at Judaism and relate it to what you understand by the fundamental tenets of the religion.

    Mysticism is an experience of reality unfettered by words or symbols. It transcends our everyday consciousness but is not totally divorced from it; indeed, in the extroverted form, the senses and the intellect are the agencies of mystical awareness. In the introverted form, the sensoryintellectual consciousness loses its immediacy and higher forms of consciousness are invoked. Yet both forms of experience, extroverted and introverted, are of the same essence. Mystical awareness is a state of bliss beyond the capacity of the experiencer to conceptualise. It is total consciousness in which the self disappears in the totality of all things. The 'problem' arises when the mystic attempts to explain the experience and to relate it to the conduct of one's mundane existence.

    To do so, words and symbols must be employed. Concepts replace direct mystical experience. The mystic has to rely upon a present memory of that past experience, which is quite a different thing to the actual experience of mystical consciousness itself. Such a description is not only bound by finitude in those forms of expression, but is interpreted according to the mystic's own experience and ...