We know from archaeology that even before writing there was evidence of spirituality. So when the first religions documented faith in god(s) it did not happen in a vacuum, but rather in the form of natural mysticism.
What Is Natural Mysticism?
Natural mysticism expresses the perception and awareness of the numinous reality of the Source/Tao in, surrounding and emanating from nature and the cosmos. Everything in this domain is an occasion for the revelation of the divine. This immanent presence pervades the whole of reality. (What can see. feel, touch, smell, and hear.)
A natural mystic is not separate to others, to animals, to plants or to all of nature. As Indigenous peoples have such connection, it can be concluded that prehistoric societies could also have a natural and cosmic mysticism.
Indigenous cultures today are mostly based on natural mysticism. This applies to the Australian Aborigines, the Maori in New Zealand, the Malaysian Chewong, the Desana in the Amazon basin and the San Bushmen of the Kalahari. Nature is the mother of well-being and life, and they are aware of their personal involvement.
Indigenous wisdom is based on connection to the cosmos, and so their human experience is part of a natural unity, understood from birth. Because they grow up with a deep sense of connection with nature, animals and plants, and the physical terrain and the stars above, nature is both a friend and relative. The world is a part of themselves, and it was this wisdom on which all future spirituality was based.
Indigenous people hold special places sacred because divine-human encounters
occurred in them. They don’t limit the sacred to a church, synagogue, mosque, or
temple because they know that the divine spirit cannot be contained in any building,
no matter how sublime the edifice may seem to us. The earth itself is their
church; the vast, open sky is its ceiling.
For example, native Australians often prefer to sleep outdoors. They use their houses simply to store their possessions.
“These societies experience and view the world as part of themselves, and they a part of it.
They do not regard themselves as superior, or in any way opposed, to nature, but see themselves as in essential harmony with all that is.
Nature as family, friend; teacher, sustainer, and lawgiver is always present as their constant support.”
Wayne Teasdale – The Mystic Heart
You may also feel the same way. You do not have to be born into aboriginal society to find your own natural mysticism.
“It was as if I had never realized before how lovely the world was.
I lay down on my back in the warm, dry moss and listened to the skylark singing as it mounted up from the fields near the sea into the dark clear sky.
No other music ever gave me the same pleasure as that passionately joyous singing.
It was a kind of leaping, exultant ecstasy, a bright, flame-like sound, rejoicing in itself.
And then a curious experience befell me. It was as if everything that had seemed to be external and around me were suddenly within me.
The whole world seemed to be within me. It was within me that the trees waved their green branches, it was within me that the skylark was singing, it was within me that the hot sun shone, and that the shade was cool.
A cloud rose in the sky, and passed in a light shower that pattered on the leaves, and I felt its freshness dropping into my soul, and I felt in all my being the delicious fragrance of the earth and the grass and the plants and the rich brown soil.
I could have sobbed with joy.”
Forrest Reid – Following Darkness
This natural mysticism is promoted today via ‘The Brights’, an online community of people devoted to illuminating the naturalistic worldview. They refer to themselves as “Brights” and are inherently panentheist, while they view those who view the world through a supernatural or deistic lens as “Supers”.
Note: The video above on this page is an interview with Christian Brother David Steindl-Rast (monk), Moslem Maata Lynn Barron (sufi) and Jewish Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man