Mysticism: Experience, Response, and Empowerment

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Penn State Press, Nov 1, 1996 - Religion - 656 pages
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This sweeping study of mysticism by Jess Hollenback considers the writings and experiences of a broad range of traditional religious mystics, including Teresa of Avila, Black Elk, and Gopi Krishna. It also makes use of a new category of sources that more traditional scholars have almost entirely ignored, namely, the autobiographies and writings of contemporary clairvoyants, mediums, and out-of-body travelers. This study contributes to the current debate about the contextuality of mysticism by presenting evidence that not only are the mystic's interpretations of and responses to experiences culturally and historically conditioned, but historical context and cultural environment decisively shape both the perceptual and affective content of the mystic's experience as well.

Hollenback also explores the linkage between the mystic's practice of recollection and the onset of other unusual or supernormal manifestations such as photisms, the ability to see auras, telepathic sensitivity, clairvoyance, and out-of-body experiences. He demonstrates that these extraordinary phenomena can actually deepen our understanding of mysticism in unexpected ways.

A unique feature of this book is its in-depth analysis of &"empowerment,&" an important phenomenon ignored by most scholars of mysticism. Empowerment is a peculiar enhancement of the imagination, thoughts, and desires that frequently accompanies mystical states of consciousness. Hollenback shows its cross-cultural persistence, its role in constructing the perceptual and existential environments within which the mystic dwells, and its linkage to the fundamental contextuality of mystical experience.

 

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Contents

The Mystical Experience A Preliminary Reconnaissance
33
Distinctive Features of the Mystical Experience
40
The Nature of Mystical Illumination
56
The Fundamental Contextuality of Mystical Experience
75
Recollection and Mystical Experience
94
Mystical Experience and Schizophrenic Experience
120
What Is Mystical Experience?
130
The Phenomenon of Exstasis and Its Variations
135
Principal Characteristics of Lakota Power
356
Black Elks Criteria of Discernment
374
Black Elks Response to His Great Vision
388
Black Elks Dog Vision
412
Black Elk and the Ghost Dance
422
Black Elks Conversion to Christianity
432
Why Study Saint Teresa?
447
A Biographical Sketch of Saint Teresa of Avila
451

Enthymesis The Exstatic Recollective Empowerment of the Mind Will and Imagination
150
Is Empowerment Unusual?
180
Recollection Empowerment and the Genesis of Paranormal Phenomena
189
The Active Approach for Inducing Paranormal Manifestations After Recollective Quiet
196
The Passive Approach for Inducing Paranormal Manifestations After Recollective Quiet
230
Empowerment in the Writings of the Mystics
241
Why Paranormal Phenomena Are Not of Marginal Significance for Understanding Mysticism
276
The Historical Setting of Black Elks Life
305
Black Elks Great Vision
325
Three Major Characteristics of Black Elks Great Vision
343
Saint Teresas Recollective Technique
501
Distinctive Features of Saint Teresas Prayer States
527
Medieval Influences on Saint Teresas Mysticism
556
Saint Teresas Criteria of Discernment
573
The Contextuality of the Most Elevated States of Spiritual Perfection and Mystical Awareness
580
Conclusion
607
Selected Bibliography
617
Index
629
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About the author (1996)

Jess Hollenback is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.

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