On Shabbat morning a gentleman came up to me and said, “I have a quick question, what’s mysticism?” I ducked the question (gracefully I hope) and promised to get back to him. Since then several more people have commented to me about our sermon/discussion last Shabbat based on Max Kadushin’s concept of Normal Mysticism so I felt that a fuller explanation and discussion was warranted.
First, to answer my patient questioner, mysticism is an awareness of God through direct experience or insight. Therefore, we can understand Kadushin’s Normal Mysticism as an awareness of God attained through normal daily activities. We are blessed with a tradition that normalizes the God experience and does not expect us to only encounter the divine in the synagogue or at peak moments of our lives.
As someone shared with me yesterday, for her normal mysticism is how she integrates who she is in her regular life with her Jewishness. We spend so much of our lives outside of the synagogue engaged in every sort of mundane and banal experience, and normal mysticism enables us to find the sacred in precisely those type of experiences – eating, drinking, caring for our children, reading, going to sleep, driving in a car and so much more.
Is this a concept that resonates with you?
Can you think of an example of a time when the absolutely mundane felt positively divine?