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Once I took it upon myself to interpret Oriental mysticism to the West. Now after long experience and longer thought, I find it necessary to stand aside from all the dead and living sources of knowledge with which I had established contact, if I am not to misinterpret Oriental mysticism. I am compelled to walk in lonely isolation, even though I respect and honour not a few of those sources. What I learnt and assimilated from them stood finally before a bar of my own making. For I thought, felt, walked, worked, and lived in terms of a twentieth-century experience which, seek as I might, could not be found in its fullness among them. However satisfactory to others, their outlook was too restricted for me. Either they could not come down to the mental horizons of the people who surrounded me, or else they came down theoretically with their heads and not with their hearts. This does not mean that I question their immediate correctness; it means that I question their ultimate usefulness.

It would be as absurd to deduce that I am now inconsistently rejecting mysticism as it would be absurd to declare that I reject the first three letters of the alphabet, merely because I refuse to limit my writing to the combination of ABC alone. I am trying to say that the whole content of mysticism is not identifiable with what is ordinarily known as such; it exceeds the sphere of the latter to such an extent that I have preferred to return to the ancient custom and call it philosophy.


-- Perspectives > Chapter 12: Reflections > # 28






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