The Characteristics of Negative Mysticism
1-Those who support negative mysticism believe that in order to build a divine, spiritual self, the "self" must be crushed and the natural instincts have to be disabled. Indian beliefs, such as Buddhism, insist on this a great deal. Instead of harmonizing the different aspects of man's existence, they tend to eliminate some of his potentials and powers.
2-In negative mysticism, the mystic escapes the torturing problems of both his personal and social life. Sometimes the frustrations and inconveniences we suffer when we fail to achieve our goals make us develop a negative point of view toward natural life, and thus flee into our own self to escape them.
Considering the ultimate secret of the human spirit, we realize that if inconveniences and failures make the human soul suffer, natural joys and pleasures should also be in conflict with it, for the secret of the soul is hidden; the mystic, hence, should be sensitive toward both the difficulties and the pleasures.
3-Negative mysticism shows our incompetence toward man and nature. Some of these so-called "mystics," although totally ignorant of what exists in the human world or in nature, still tend to drown themselves in their mystical states. Such pleasing psychological states based on ignorance convey a false mysticism, not a true one. True mysticism moves on a path through the light of knowledge, not dark ignorance. Negative mysticism entirely neglects thought and wisdom, whereas positive mysticism considers them as highly significant.
4-The world outside is completely ignored in negative mysticism, and the mystic sees only his "internal dark room." It seems the observable world is of no value to them. Contrarily, the key to the world inside and mystical domains is taking the world outside into consideration. The truth is that if man deviates from gaining knowledge about his outside world – which has provided the means for his natural existence, and influences him and is influenced by his soul and mind up to his last breath – and does not realize the crucial need of this knowledge, it is like trying to play a beautiful piece of music without a single musical instrument.
It is impossible to enter the domain of receiving and understanding the mystics of the universe without accepting the universe that has dispatched the mystic to this spiritual world. As the renowned Iranian scholar and poet, Sheikh Bahaee says,
ز حدوث پا کشيدم، به قـدم رهم ندادنــدز وجود هم گذشتم، به عدم رهم ندادند
به کنشت سجده بردم، به صنم رهم ندادندبه طواف کعبه رفتم، به حرم رهم ندادند
که تو در برون چه کردی که درون خانه آيی؟
(I passed the mortal, and I was deprived of the immortal. I overlooked existence and the universe, and was rejected from entering non-existence. I circled God’s house, but they did not let me in. Why? ‘What have you accomplished outside this great world that should make you eligible to enter?)
5-Sometimes the reason for being attracted to negative mysticism lies in escaping from awareness and freedom, for deep awareness brings about attention toward ideology, which in turn creates a feeling of responsibility and duty. Since dutifulness requires avoiding petty desires, worldly pleasures and creating awareness, escaping awareness traps some inside themselves and keeps them happy in their so-called mystical world.
The supporters of this kind of mysticism are greatly eager about sheer joy, ecstasy and psychological excitement and enthusiasm. Many mystics begin their mystic journey excited by reaching these ecstatic states, but later on pursue a new path and a new goal.
If the joy of these ecstatic states is caused by perfection-seeking and the human self flourishes by the illuminating rays of divine light on it, a correct move toward development has been made. This is where man feels ashamed about his initial pleasure-seeking endeavors. Although the joy and ecstasy produced by mystic excitement is immensely enjoyable, man is in fact too great to amuse himself with such short-living states. Man can make real contact with God, activate his internal potentials and elevate himself.
The pleasure-based nature of these ecstatic mystic states inhibit the divine light from shining onto man, because pleasure is one of the levels of selfishness, pertaining to the natural self. The phenomenon called pleasure – whether natural, physical pleasures, or the spiritual pleasure mystics enjoy – is quite different from the prosperity and joy of the soul. Any form of pleasure-seeking contradicts with the holy sorrow that those advanced toward God receive. Such a sorrow does not arise from material or financial shortcomings, but out of the possibility of not reaching the peak of perfection. True mystic pilgrims are not only not worried or sad about themselves, but their anxiety is that they may deviate from the path to perfection. In brief, joy and sorrow cannot be regarded the mystic's goals; he cannot be neglectful toward the highest of human potentials. It is all right, of course, if the mystic feels the properness of psychological joy at the beginning of his journey, and use it as the base of reaching divinity. We must keep in mind that joy and prosperity differ from pleasure seeking. Joy is a highly significant spiritual state, and very difficult to describe, especially since it cannot be made understood to those drowning in their selfishness.
Man cannot achieve this joy unless he frees himself of his spiritual chains. The special spiritual state produced by being released from the jail-like chains of the spirit is, although quite pleasing at first, followed by the spirit moving alongside the universe. Briefly, this kind of joy can be regarded as release from the soul and reaching the truly original world of nature. As we said, pleasure-seeking originates from self-worshipping, which strongly opposes to spiritual prosperity. Pleasure-seeking and self-worshipping make human potentials intertwined and confused, whereas in the state of human spiritual joy, human potentials actually begin to flourish.
The deadly contradiction between self-worshipping and the prosperity and joy of the human soul can be considered as based on this principle: selfishness and showing off intertwines all human potentials in the self, sending man back to the domain of fatalistic, natural ignorance he had tried so hard to escape; spiritual joy and prosperity, on the other hand, involves the activation and development of human potentials in accordance with the general rhythm of the universe, heading for the highest possible state of perfection – the Almighty God.