Economics and mysticism… related?

I’ve been thinking lately how the differences in economic variance between now and the mystics’ times may affect our feelings towards those who might be mystics in our current culture.

In Bend we have a good number of homeless folks who hang out downtown where I work and for a “small” town they are pretty visible. I was thinking about how many of them really would have trouble getting jobs at this point because of psychological or physical issues and so they end up homeless in a society that can really overlook those of of a lower economic standing.

I began to wonder if in a society where there wasn’t such a huge gap between the rich and the poor, as during the time of the middle ages and monasticism, perhaps those who had mystical experiences, leaving them not able to function on the same level as normal working class, might be more accepted. Many of the mystics have had physical illness or tragedy, which I personally think has shifted there perspective on the world both spiritual and physical. Maybe some of our homeless could really be considered mystics we have just lost our ability to hear them.

So economics and mysticism… are they related?

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2 thoughts on “Economics and mysticism… related?”

  1. Sure, if someone sinks into mental illness, people viewing that person from the outside might think he or she is a benign, slightly out of this world, wandering mystic type. I’ve certainly encountered many, many homeless people and mentally ill forced out onto the streets, and some of them were so sweet and coming at life from a very different internal reference point that I truly felt blessed by getting to connect with them. Also, in this day and age, with the rise of children who are on the autism spectrum and a much wider societal recognition of bipolar disorder (among other mental illnesses,) we are seeing what will soon be one out of 100 people here in the US most likely unable to ever provide for themselves in a conventional sense of “getting a job.” And there has long been a kind of simplistic and quaint opinion from some “outsiders” that bipolar states of mania, for instance, might be that person touching the hand of God or talking to the angels or whatever.

    What’s truly tragic is how we’ve lost the ability to honor those who fall through the cracks or who process thoughts and emotions a little differently from other people. There is still only a very narrow bandwidth of “normal,” and that’s tragic. Many other cultures have long embraced the wandering mystic/hermit, including the famous wandering nuns and monks of India who would go from town to town begging for food and conferring blessings on the townsfolk with their prayers and invocations.

    If we honored what unique energy each person has instead of constantly trying to stuff them into a box, I think there would be no need for people who march to the beat of a different drummer to end up economically disposed and socially disenfranchised because they would have an honored place within society. In the US, we lock people up in institutions or criminalize them – or we just hand out money and a minimal amount of food through social programs. But we don’t actually CONNECT with the disenfranchised.

    I think it’s because when you truly gaze into the eyes of someone homeless or “outside the accepted norm” and connect heart to heart it takes you to some scary places – places of sorrow, anger, rage, shock, disbelief, and crushing empathy. And what do we do with that empathy? Change the world? The world is a pretty big, heavy place, and sometimes it doesn’t much appreciate our little attempts to shift it in any given direction.

    Anyway, pardon my own rambling – I enjoyed your blog entry and you raise some interesting ideas. Keep at it!

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