Meditative inquiry and mysticism can be an enriching profound journey. In the gradual path, we see a process of psychospiritual elevation over time ending in full enlightenment or union. In the direct path, we see immediate direct recognition of truth—the ‘is-ness’ of things and ‘am-ness’ of self in pure consciousness—and ongoing dynamic integration of deep recognition with everyday experience. Both may involve teacher transmission and initiation or empowerment.
Meditative absorptions (samadhi) and insight-knowledges (jnana-vidya) unfold in the experience of gradual physico-psycho-spiritual elevation. A cornucopia of approaches and methods are available from diverse spiritual traditions and lineages.
Direct path recognitions are simple but not simplistic; immediate but not immediately apparent due to force of habit and conditioning; timeless in essence but often takes a lifetime of everyday integration. Inquiry is supported by direct pointing-out and mentoring by a qualified realized teacher or friend.
By common grace, many of these praxes (provided they are authentic) effect positive changes in the psyche and personality. They can bring us closer to truth by turning away from addictive extroversion into clear inner perception and awareness of reality. We unlearn busyness and dualistic grasping. We learn quiet stillness and non-dualistic insight. We relearn who we really are in our innermost being, free from conditioning and dogmas.
Yet, all this does not negate the reality of evil and sin. Evil and sin are not illusory (maya) or non-existent (abhava). Nor are they real impersonal forces that merely direct the mind into outer distractions and reactivity, but are ultimately part of pure consciousness itself. This would mean ultimate consciousness is both good and evil, which is self-contradictory.
Evil and sin are real. Consciousness, localized or infinite, is not ultimate but relative. God as Creator and Absolute is irrevocably and definitively other than the created cosmos. Pantheism and panentheism fail to recognize this and mistakenly assume identity of God and the universe in variant ways. A corollary to such ideas is the negation of the reality of evil and sin, which is erroneous. Evidence of real evil and sin in human history is substantial, numerous, and in my view irrefutable.
All sin is rooted in primordial rupture of humanity as epitome of creation from its Creator. This rupture can be seen as rebellious assertion of the autonomous self seeking to be, do, and become apart from God, standing alone and independent as some non-contingent entity determining its own destiny. This tears apart the fabric of the consciousness and the cosmos, inviting a plethora of consequent darkness, deception, dissatisfaction, destruction, and death. Humanity rooted in self-absorption and self-deception can never by its own effort heal this rupture. For the assumption of self-effort assumes an autonomous self doing some independent act to attain an independent outcome. It is intrinsically self-contradicting and self-negating.
Reconciliation with God our Father (and Mother) must come from God himself. This is grace. And grace awakens faith. Through faith, our spirit or consciousness—our being— is regenerated and the original rupture is healed. We truly awaken to our pure aware being as a mirror of our Creator, seemingly infinite by virtue of its reflection of God’s true infinity. But in itself, it is a mere fragment, shard, sliver, facet of an absolute immeasurable Reality ontologically beyond itself. Communion with and into the Divine who is a ThreeOne God begins. And this can only happen through the unique incarnation and atoning death of Christ in history. This is special grace: the grace of salvation in Christ, the only Way, Truth, and Life.
Without the grace-soaked, grace-empowered, grace-illuminated event of salvation, meditative mysticism alone and in itself is a road that leads to self-realization or awakening, but not to true life in Christ.