Transcript of talk given by Rich Hayes at
Unitarian Church, Pittsfield, MA
Sun. Mar. 23, 2014

So, what is a mystical engineer? Nelson Mandela was one. So were Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln. But you don’t have to be world famous to be one. I’ll bet there are mystical engineers right here in this room.

A mystic is someone who is able to see things others often miss or can’t see. A mystic is comfortable with uncertainty because the mystic knows that it’s through mystery that truth is often revealed. A mystic learns to see the subtlety in things and is able to go beyond either/or thinking and dualism, seeing the underlying unity in all things.

A Mystical engineer is someone who, (due to this way of seeing) when life presents them with something ugly, is able to ingeniously turn that “whatever it is” inside out and into something good.

The late Christian monk, Wayne Teasdale said, “Everyone of us is a Mystic. “

To see mystically is to see what lies beyond our regular vision, to see with different eyes-fresh/new eyes. It is to see what has always been in plain sight but not recognized. Every one of us has had this experience at some point in our life, and when this happens we wonder how we could have been so blind!

The difference between the mystic and the rest of us is simply this: The mystic continually remembers and
re-remembers while others forget again and again. It seems the natural human condition is one of forgetting. For the mystic it is a matter of practice and practicing.

Anyone can be a mystic. There’s no club to join. It doesn’t require religion-although in the history of religion there are a number of remarkable ones. Unfortunately most were not very well treated and many actually killed because what they said was considered “heresy”.
Their view of Divinity was way outside the “box” religion tried to keep things locked in, and therefore they became threats to the status qou.

Mysticism is not magic, although when one see’s as a mystic, magic does seem to happen, as witnessed by the internal changes that occur.

Mystics come in all sizes and ages, all religions and no religions, all professions. There is no simple definition and no two are the same. So don’t rule yourself out of the club by comparing. There have always been mystics and the need for them has probably never been greater than right now.

Rumi is probably one of the best-known mystics, and through his poetry many others have been introduced to being able to see life through mystical eyes.

Meister Eckhart is another. The Catholic Church had locked him away and probably would have killed him but he died before his trial could begin. Now, eight hundred years later members of that same church are rediscovering his remarkable teachings, which by the way sound very Buddhist and decidedly “non-dual”.

It is said that a mystic sees beyond the veil. The “veil” refers to the thin separation that lies between us and the “Greater Reality” (said by some to be true reality).

A veil may not
totally obscure but it can keep some things hidden and distort our view of others.

Our conditioning –which began in our earliest days of our arrival here on Earth-shapes how we think and see; some of this is good and has been helpful, but some of this conditioning has worked against us and it has become a veil to us. And this veil, while (in reality) flimsy and able to be pushed aside, seems to stand as firm as a concrete wall because we don’t even know it’s there and blocking our view-
Rather we see the image painted on it and believe that it’s true/real.

Remember this: the most real things are not things-just as the “realest” part of you cannot be seen and cannot be measured by any known instrument!

The mystic is someone who either through intention and practice, or simply by virtue of being near the veil and catching a glimpse as the breeze blew it slightly ajar, has seen something beyond it, and knows there is more waiting to be revealed.

Now I should clarify something here: mystical experiences/insight/understanding express in all kinds of ways.
So my use of the word “see and seeing” is metaphoric for different ways of understanding and knowing. Each one of us experiences in ways that are meaningful/understandable to us.

Sometimes a person has something happen that is so profound that it totally reshapes their view of reality such as a near death experience, or some other life altering event. There are many accounts of people who have found themselves suddenly blasted out of their everyday awareness and filled with a sense of being connected to everything in the universe.

Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell recounts such an event happened to him on his return trip from the moon as he looked at the distant Earth and said it forever changed him. Prior to this he’d considered himself a hard-nosed materialist/astrophysicist.

But earth shaking, transcendent moments, are not required to become a mystic. A mystical experience can be something as subtle as warmth felt in your heart as you see a child playing, or a sense of expansion within yourself as you look up at the night sky and allow yourself to wonder….

If you have every wondered about such things as stars or love or life and meaning, then you are a mystic. Maybe it’s time to embrace this part of your self and welcome it in.

Then, as a mystic you then get to do some mystical engineering through the ongoing process of cultivating a mystic’s perspective, you gain insight and through this an ability to transform the difficult things that happen in everyday life, thus using “the bad stuff” to build “Good stuff”.

Here are a few suggestions and spiritual tools that might be of assistance:

1- Willingness. You must be willing to go beyond your normal ways of thinking and doing. To become a mystic requires a willingness to “not know” answers-this can be a very hard thing for many of us. Especially in a culture that worships knowledge and getting things “right”.

2- Silence-get quiet! You must slow down. Unplug. Breathe. Stop-be still. Build into everyday a time of quiet reflection. Here’s my pitch once again encouraging meditation! Make this is automatic and necessary as brushing your teeth. Too few do this-and it’s a shame, because it’s truly the one thing that has the power to change everything given time and practice.

3-Acceptance-When bad stuff happens see what you have power to change and what you don’t and adjust accordingly. Do not invest energy in wishing things could be different. Do not get caught up wishing for a better past and reliving past events-this is a trap. A good friend once told me they realized they could spend the rest of their life wishing for a better past and would totally miss their life. That was her wake up call. If you find yourself in similar straits, then maybe this can be yours.

4- Cultivate beauty-take it in through music, poetry, art, nature. Spend time daily connecting to some beauty (even if only in thought). You have choice as to where you put your attention. Pay attention to what you allow. TV in the background for company may seem harmless, but what’s coming into your home? Become mindful because there is always a part of you that is “taking stuff in”.

5-Love more/fear less-Fruits of Love are compassion, forgiveness, kindness.

6-Let Go of the need for certainty, or to be right or wrong-let go of opinions, be willing to look at things from as many angles as possible. Let go of the stuff that traps you(only you know what these are). And as for the things you can’t let go of, but wish you could-. Just agree to become willing to let them go. This is a process.

Actually all of it is a process. There is no “done”-no arrival. That may sound a bit anticlimactic-because “arriving” and completing and finishing and accomplishing is what its all about-at least according to the ways of the world, right?

But to the mystic the journey’s the thing, because the mystic is firmly grounded in the understanding that this too shall pass…everything does!

Let me conclude with the reading that gave me the idea for today’s talk.
It comes from a wonderful daily reflections book called “A Book of Wonders” written by Edward Hays who just happens to be a Jesuit priest (but don’t let this stop you! Like Eckhart he is way outside the traditional box ).

Hays writes, “If your life work is accepting whatever life gives you-the good the bad and the ugly-then you have a mystical profession. Mystical engineers, when presented by life with something ugly, are able to ingeniously turn that inside out and into something good. Mystical engineers, when given something beautiful never clutch it to themselves but hold it in their open palms. They ravish it to the fullest with delight and then install wings on it so it can fly away!”

I wish you all wings. Thank you.