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Introduction to Self-realisation, Ontology and Mysticism

This section of the website is about the Big Questions of life:

Who am I? Why am I here? What should I become? How do I know? Where am I going? Why should I care? What is our fate? How am I free? How do I live a good life? Why is there suffering? Can I, should I, be happy?

What does it mean, to say something is sacred? And how is asking such questions relevant to everyday life?

The topics of self-realisation, ontology and mysticism are all closely related. In this context, self-realisation refers to the phenomenon of coming to a greater intimacy and more refined understanding of that which we are. Ontology is the branch of philosophy which deals with the nature of existence and reality, which is also very much at the heart of self-realisation. Mysticism is simply the practice of self-discovery through which greater self-realisation is cultivated.

Answers are often not readily forthcoming to such profound questions. Indeed, when they are forthcoming, they are often not easily trusted, and for good reason.

The mystic and the ontological philosopher alike, may well observe that the most intimate facet of experience, of self, and of reality, is also the foundation principle of our own consciousness – the subjective-qualitative. If there was no subjective-qualitative, for all practical intents and purposes, nothing could be said to exist – there would be no reality. For even if it did, it would not be known to anyone. Likewise, we need not concern ourselves with such questions, nor anything else, if we are unconscious.

Consciousness, or more precisely, the subjective-qualitative by which reality is known, is an enigma. Without it, existence itself is meaningless. Yet it is also the common ontological root, beyond which there is no going. The very definition of phenomena is equivalent to the subjective-qualitative. The physical world, the senses, the mind and all modes of understanding are always known by way of this principle. Whilst the principle itself is intrinsically ‘off-limits’ and must remain a mystery.

So then, if existence is so mysterious, why are we bothering to ask questions about it?! For most of us, the answer to that is bound up within the messy interface between the profound mystery at the very heart of who we are, and mundane everyday life – survival, relationships, joys and sorrows – that to which we might generally refer as the human condition. For the more metaphysically minded, this messy interface is simply extended to also encompass metaphysical concerns – unexplained phenomena, notions of incarnation and spiritual development. Mysticism is really the deep, lived exploration of this messy interface.

It is through the mystical exploration of reality, that we gain potent insight into some of our most intractable questions. In a way, all of us are forever engaged in this process. The questions and discussion are simply more obvious, or more explicit, sometimes. In that sense, another word for mysticism is simply, life.

Necessarily, mysticism, self-realisation and ontological understanding will have repercussions for everyday living. Questions of existence, functioning and morality are integral to any such exploration. Such exploration is, by definition, concerned with how we come to terms with our apparent individuality amidst the enigmatic backdrop of our own realisation - the very principles upon which we orient and narrate the story of our life. Cherished beliefs often become painfully unstuck. The contented peaceful pragmatist is the one who evolves to balance upon the undefined edge of phenomenal reality and the eternal mystery.