The basic definitions of Mystical Teachings describe it as a term deriving from the Greek word mystikos, which means initiate, and the knowledge and personal experience of higher states of consciousness, or levels of being exceeding normal human perception. In short, it describes an experience of and communion with a universal energy or Supreme Being.
The classical origins describe initiates as individuals who had knowledge of and experienced close communion with gods and/ or goddesses. The Eleusinian mysteries of ancient Greece, for example, involved annual initiation rituals held within Persephone and Demeter cults. These ceremonies, initially held in Eleusis during the Mycenean period, around 1600 BC, continued for around 2000 years, becoming a major festival during the Hellenic period and eventually spreading to Rome.
Today’s mysticism is effectively the pursuit of conscious awareness, identification and communion with spiritual truths, ultimate reality, divinity or God via personal experience, insight, intuition or instinct. As a rule, certain practices nurturing those experiences are followed. In some cases, mysticism is dualistic, which means a distinction between the divine and the self is maintained, while in others, it is non-dualistic, meaning the individual identifies, or becomes one, with the divine energy or personification thereof.
The majority, if not every one of the world’s religions are ultimately based on the teachings of great mystics. This includes the teachings of Buddha, Jesus, Krishna and Lao Tze, for example. In most cases, these religious traditions describe, fundamental mystical experiences. Illumination or enlightenment are both generic English terms derived from the Latin word ‘illuminatio’, which was applied to 15th century Christian prayer, and are generally adopted in the English translations of texts, in particular Buddhist texts, to loosely describe the level or state of mystical attainment, typically regardless of the underlying faith.