On Mystics and Saints
By John White
Our knowledge of higher consciousness comes from two classes of people:
saints and mystics. These two types of explorers in the spiritual stratosphere often aren’t distinguished from one another, but mystics are not necessarily saints, and vice versa. Mystics know primarily through the head and saints know primarily through the heart. (note: I am, of course, speaking figuratively- about the different hemispheres of the brain/mind.) The truly enlightened, however, have always functioned as integrated people- saintly mystics, and mystical saints- knowing fully through both modes.
Mystics bring us new knowledge of higher consciousness; saints demonstrate it in their lives. Mystics do not necessarily have the loving, selfless qualities of saints, but saints don’t necessarily have the intellectual capacity or the theoretical understanding needed to translate their awareness into terms that verbally communicate their experiences with depth and precision.
What mystics and saints do have in common is the experience of the higher self, experience of a state in which the bonds of ego are dissolved or demolished or perceived as an illusion. In this state, the narrow view of self and world that ego creates is transcended for a moment and a larger , more fundamental sense of self-as-cosmos emerges into awareness accompanied by an experience of peace, deep understanding of the nature of existence, and oftentimes, a perception of light. As the Indian holy man Sai Baba succinctly puts it, ” First you go towards the light, next you are in the light, and then you are the light.”
Incidentally, there is an important difference between mystical and mystifying.
The latter kind of people- the mystifying ones- try to dazzle you with their verbal footwork. They cultivate an air of inscrutability and perhaps throw in some psychic phenomena to doubly impress you! But these are all ego games, and those who puzzle and those who amaze might be anything but enlightened!
Jesus’ test of consciousness still stands: “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” All the person’s claims and verbiage and speculator displays don’t mean much unless his or her manner of living gives evidence of an enlightened mind working for the liberation of mentally enslaved, suffering people.
Purpose, meaning, direction in life, understanding- that is what people need and are searching for most of all, however blindly and ignorantly they may be doing it.
And that is what the enlightened help others to find. For some, the proper helping act may be to offer mystical knowledge; for others, it may be saintly acts. Both are necessary for wholeness and growth.