MYSTICAL, from Greek muein, to close the mouth or eyes, hence mustikos (μυστικος) or Latin mysticos, indicative of lips kept closed, hence to keep secrets as an ‘initiate’ (mustēs), and so ‘mute’, ‘mystery’, ‘mystique’, ‘mystical’, a silence that intrigues, the ineffable about which mystics and scholars have much to say …
In contemporary usage, experiences are often called ‘mystical’ when they ‘bring a sense of deepened contact with reality, the contact consisting of unity or at least intimate connection or presence, and often an intuitive type of knowing’.
If mystical experiences do provide access to deeper facets of reality, what light do they shed on questions about reality typically addressed by PHILOSOPHY and SCIENCE, such as the relation between mind and matter, and the structure of the cosmos?
Addressing the mind–body problem, philosophers have sometimes concluded that the entire universe must be experiential in nature or even conscious itself. Mystical expansions of consciousness can lead to similar conclusions.
‘If the universe is experience,
what is the experience like?’
Paul Marshall, Journal of Consciousness Studies (2001)