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The Priest and the Mystic

Vastly different roles and approaches but

both have their valid niche in the

spiritual development of humanity

Posted 9/3/07

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In “Mysticism”, Annie Besant defines the difference between the spiritual approaches and the roles of the Priest and the Mystic. Both have their valid niche in the spiritual development of humanity.


The Priest


“The Priest is ever the guardian of the exoteric, the recipient of the faith once delivered to the saints, the officiant of the sacraments, the custodian of the

outer order,the transmitter of the traditions, becoming more authoritative from age to age. His to repeat accurately the sacred formulæ ; his to watch over a changeless orthodoxy; his to be the articulate voice of the Church; his to hand

on the unaltered record. Great and noble is his task, and invaluable his services to the evolving masses of the populace.”


The Mystic


“Far other is the Mystic, the lonely dweller on the mountain-side, climbing in advance of his race, without help from the outer world, listening ever for the faint whisper of the God within. Humblest of men as he faces the depths of Divinity around him and the unsounded abysses of the Divinity within, he seems arrogant as he withstands the edits of external authority, and rebel as he bows

not his neck to the yoke of ecclesiastical order. With his visions and his dreams and his ecstasies,with his gropings in the dark and his flashes from a light supernal that dazzles more than it illuminates, with his sudden irrational

exaltations and his equally sudden and unreasoning depressions, what has he to oppose to the clear-cut doctrines and the imperial authority of the exoteric creed? Only an unalterable conviction which he can neither justify nor explain;

a certainty which leaves him stuttering when he seeks to expound it, but remains unfaltering in face of all rebuke and al reprobation.”


They both have their place


the Priest conquers in the world material, and is

defeated in the world spiritual; and the Mystic, rebuked, persecuted, crushed, while dwelling in the body;, becomes the Saint after the body has dropped from him, and becomes a voice of the Church that silenced him, a stone in the walls

that imprisoned.”


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