MYSTICISM IN WORLD RELIGIONS
As many have pointed out the same basic moral and spiritual teachings lie at the heart of the all the world's religions and their numerous sub-branches. While these teachings generally exhibit characteristics that reflect the various cultures in which they have taken root, their essence is the same. It is also evident that there have always been those in every religion who have experienced something of the Divine within themselves. In many instances, they have also followed practices designed to enhance this contact with the Divine. These fortunate human beings are those whom the world calls mystics, although they are often very poorly understood. It is their practices and way of life that constitute the spiritual and mystical traditions that lie at the heart of all the world's religions.
The present collection of books seeks to explore these mystical traditions.
A Treasury of Mystic Terms
(23 volumes in four parts, 13,222 pages, Science of the Soul Research Centre, 2003, 2016, 2019, 2023)
A Treasury of Mystic Terms is an exploration and elucidation of the spiritual terms and expressions that are found in the literature of the world's religious and mystical traditions. Planned as a multi-volume work in four parts, the Treasury's primary objective is to present the meaning of these essential terms within the framework of a universal understanding of spirituality. All terms are explained in a simple manner, with each term presented as a separate entry. With the explanations grouped according to subject and placed alongside one another, many similarities between the various religions immediately become apparent. Among these many pages, the reader will find a mixture of interesting concepts, quotations, thoughts, perceptions, and ideas. There should be something for everyone, whoever they are and whatever their bent of mind. The idea is to provide both information and inspiration.
Reviews and comments: "Food for the Soul: A beautifully produced set on mysticism and spirituality, this is a significant work. More than 40 scholars have worked on it, gleaning over 10,000 nuggets from religious texts from around the globe. The first volume starts with an overview of the universe of spirituality, which helps to put the early spiritual traditions in perspective. You come across some interesting bits of information, like the relationship between Jewish mystics and the Sufis, and the existence of Jewish Sufi manuscripts, which were discovered in Cairo in the late 19th century. Christianity is explained at length, and another interesting section is on Greek mystics and philosophers.... The very strength of these volumes lies in the fact that they bring out the essential similarities in the way man envisions mystical experiences. Once you get over cultural and linguistic differences, the essence is so similar. But then, why should it not be?" More reviews and comments.
Life is a mystery, and any purpose it may have, not immediately obvious. Yet
throughout human history, there have been those blessed by moments of revelation,
glimpses of a higher reality that have given focus and greater meaning to
existence, experiences that seem to demonstrate the presence of a caring and
all-encompassing divine Being or Reality. Awareness of the Divine explores
the nature of these spontaneous and unexpected experiences, going on to show
that they can be developed into a more continuous and enduring state of consciousness
by means of practices that enable ordinary human beings to experience something
of that higher reality for themselves. This is illustrated by selections from
a wide range of literature, many from Western sources.
Reviews and comments: "Had trouble putting it down! This little book is a GEM for all seekers. Just a wonderful compilation of quotes from souls with a Christian background. So beautifully written with a concluding chapter that knits these lovers of the Lord into the teachings of the mystic adepts. ... Just finished and absolutely LOVED Awareness of the Divine. It was so clear, and beautifully put together, many thanks for all the support your works give." More reviews and comments.
The Song of Songs: The Soul and the Divine Beloved
(280 pages, Clear Books, 2004, ISBN 1-904555-10-1)
On the face of it, the biblical Song of Songs tells the tale of a passionate
and worldly love. Yet it contains not one word that speaks explicitly of God
or spirituality, though the Song was accepted long go into both the Jewish
and Christian scriptural canons. In this enthralling book, John Davidson brings
out the spiritual meaning of one of the most intriguing books in the Bible.
Over the centuries, both Jewish and Christian mystics have agreed that the Song should be understood allegorically, not literally , in keeping with the widespread use of metaphor, parable and story among the poets and mystics of the ancient Middle East. Even so, there is only partial agreement regarding the allegorical interpretation of its multitude of colorful and varied images.
From the perspective of a universal spirituality, John Davidson sheds light on many of the Song's obscure passages, uncovering the artistry of its unknown poet. Little by little, The Song of Songs is revealed as a key to the language of metaphor, common throughout the mystic literature of ancient times. The commentary is illuminated by passages from biblical texts and other spiritual literature, including the teachings of Jesus, gnostic writings, Jewish and Christian mystics, and some of the ecstatic psalms found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Reviews: "With the author providing astonishing background and historical facts about the poem, written in Hebrew sometime before the third century BC, this interpretation takes the reader on a journey of ecstatic and exuberant love. The reader is given 'keys' to open a treasure of divine love, creating a book that will enchant you with the symphony of love that the poems weave.... This treasure is waiting to be discovered.... For the reader of Judaeo-Christian background, it can be a revelation to discover that the intoxication of divine love has been expressed in an ecstatic way. And only with a mystical key can this treasure be revealed as a divine love story."
An inspiring collection of early Christian devotional poems, as vibrant as the day they were written. Lost for nineteen hundred years, but rediscovered by Cambridge biblical scholar, Rendel Harris, in 1908, they are here interpreted for the general reader for the first time by John Davidson.
These intriguing, lyrical and often beautiful poems speak of the soul's experiences as it travels the universal mystic path of the Creative Word or Logos. Written within a generation of Jesus' lifetime, The Odes of Solomon provide precious indications of the true nature of the path he taught.
Reviews: "The name of Solomon refers to what he stood for, spiritual Wisdom. The linguistic style and the metaphors used are very similar to St John's gospel, and echo passages from the Jewish Wisdom literature. The Odes are in essence spiritual teachings, specifically describing the relationship between the disciple and the Master. It is fascinating for the reader of Christian background to realize how close and personal the relationship between the Master and any disciple can be.... The Odes take you through different phases of the spiritual journey of a disciple constantly guided and taught by his Saviour."
For everyone interested in the world's mystical and sacred literature, The Robe of Glory is a fresh interpretation of an ancient Syriac mystic or gnostic poem, found in the 'apocryphal' Acts of Thomas.
This beautiful poem from the early Christian era tells the story - in allegorical form - of the soul, sent out from God into the creation. Passing through the higher heavens, realms or levels of being, it descends to the physical universe, where it falls 'fast asleep', becoming completely unconscious of its divine origin. A divine Messenger is therefore sent from God to awaken the sleeping soul, and - by means of the mystic Word or Voice of God - the soul travels the inner journey homewards, to be reunited with its divine Source.
The Robe of Glory is a beautiful example of the use of allegory in ancient mystical expression, also shedding light on many of the sayings and parables of Jesus, that are found in both the canonical and apocryphal literature.
This book is now out of print, and a revised form has been incorporated into The Prodigal Soul: The Wisdom of Ancient Parables. More reviews and comments.