Editorial: The Territory of Truth


Recently, I saw a family vacation to Florida advertised as a “mystical experience.” Even in spiritual circles, the word “mysticism” can be tossed around quite casually.

We like the way it sounds, the way it rolls off the tongue, the misty, mystifying idea of it. Many people associate mysticism with other-worldly, magical beings and occurrences, with some special time or place that is not quite attainable. But what is true mysticism? What is the path of the mystic?

This issue of Mountain Record explores the mystical questions that are essential, not only to Zen practitioners, but to all spiritual seekers. It also looks at expressions of the mystical path in the world’s great religions. At their core, mystics, regardless of their religion, ask the same fundamental questions: What is this life? What is Truth? What is freedom? Who am I? What is God? Although the language of Buddhism frames the question in terms of the nature of reality, Buddhists share the same heart of inquiry as Hindu, Jewish, Christian, and Sufi mystics. As Evelyn Underhill puts it, “The mystic is “In love with the Absolute”...[Mysticism] is essentially a movement of the heart, seeking to transcend the limitations of the individual standpoint and to surrender itself to ultimate Reality.”

Buddhism teaches that all of experience is available to us right where we stand, accessible through our own minds. Daido Roshi frames mysticism in terms of “the mystery of this human life,” grounding us in the worldliness of the mystical path. In his discourse, he reminds us that, “‘Entering communion with the real’ does not mean entering some kind of esoteric state of mind. It is your mind, right here, right now.” This teaching is echoed, in different language, by Swami Atmarupananda. He writes about wonder as an essential ingredient in the life of a mystic, and that wonder is a response to our everyday world. In this issue, Vimalakirti, Buddhist layman and deeply realized mystic, serves as an example of one who is completely liberated amidst the mudane world of desires.

The dharma talks and discourse in this issue urge us to travel beyond the ordinary way of perceiving, beyond appearances and into the “realm of reality,” as Ryushin Sensei says—into the ineffable territory of Truth. In order to do this, Shugen Sensei encourages us to, “Let go of everything—the darkness of our self-clinging and the light of clarity—‘until light and objects are both forgotten.’”

The following pages are an invitation into an unnameable, ultimately interconnected, wonder-filled reality—one that is completely accessible at any given moment

Valerie Meiju Linet,MRO
Mountain Record, Editor