Daoism and Cct

Leadership, Authority, and Religious Roles

Have there been any Daoist mystics?

Traditional accounts of many famous Daoists describe their inner experiences in terms consistent with those often associated with mysticism. A mystic, in general terms, is a human being who, through a variety of ritual or devotional practices, experiences spiritual transcendence. Moving out of and beyond him or herself, the mystic abides at least temporarily in a dimension very different from what most people experience most of the time. Some refer to the great Daoist figures as “nature mystics” since they enter into that different dimension by contemplating nature. They experience oneness with the cosmos intuitively rather than by reasoning their way to an intellectual conclusion. In a trance-like state, the mystic loses all sense of selfhood and individuality, becoming one with the Dao. Some have referred to the experience as the “fast of the mind” in which one listens with the ears of the spirit. What exactly the experience feels like, Daoist sources are reluctant to say, but they readily offer advice about how to cultivate the experience. By way of exception, some Daoist sources also hint that the occasional mystic has experienced a somewhat more personal form of union with the divine akin to what Hindu and other traditions call “theistic mysticism.”


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