Mystics (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
Mystics are individuals who follow a path towards a final goal or sustained state that is understood as somehow transcending, moving beyond, or more deeply perceiving or intuiting the conventional world of names and forms experienced by ordinary human beings. Prominent mystics, representing various religious traditions, include: eighth century Tibetan mystic Yeshe Tsogyal; Abhinavagupta (tenth century); Muhammed Ibn 'Ali Ibn 'Arabi (1165-1240); Julian of Norwich (1342-1416); St. Birgitta of Sweden (1471-1528); Rabbi Nachman of Brazlav (1772-1816); Ramakrishna (1836-1886); and Thomas Merton (1915-1968). Mystical experience resists easy generalization because of the great variety in personal practices of individual mystics and the marked differences in the broader contextual narratives of individual mystical experiences. Nevertheless, mystics commonly experience unusual states of awareness, utilize poetry and song as vehicles of self-expression, and remind members of societies in which they find themselves, through the attitude of eschewing limits, of the boundaries sometimes imposed by conventional living. At the same time, many mystics recognize their deepest experiences of transcendence within the conventional world, thereby pointing to paradoxes embedded within the mystical life itself.
See also MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE; MYSTICISM