Descent from the peak: mystical navigations of paradox and trauma on the down-climb

The literature on ‘mountain mysticism’ includes a wide array of interpretations: Reductively, mystical states experienced on mountains may be viewed as neurological or psychological epiphenomena. Anthropomorphised as mystical agents themselves, the mountain is seen as capable of engendering non-ordi...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Culture and religion
Main Author: Ceriello, Linda C.
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: 2020
In:Culture and religion
Year: 2020, Volume: 21, Issue: 1, Pages: 86-99
Standardized Subjects / Keyword chains:B Muir, John 1838-1914 / Ramaṇa, Mahārṣi 1879-1950 / Schultheis, Rob 1943- / Mountain / Abstiegsroute / Mysticism
Further subjects:B Mountains
B Nature mysticism
B Ramana Maharshi
B John Muir
B Mystical Experience
Online Access: Volltext (Lizenzpflichtig)
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Summary:The literature on ‘mountain mysticism’ includes a wide array of interpretations: Reductively, mystical states experienced on mountains may be viewed as neurological or psychological epiphenomena. Anthropomorphised as mystical agents themselves, the mountain is seen as capable of engendering non-ordinary awareness. This article makes space for interpretations falling outside of or combining such constructivist and universalised interpretations by first examining what ontological interpolations may be available after ‘the peak has been reached.’ I track the mystic’s descent ‘back’ to ordinary consciousness as a pivotal determinative moment in the narrative construction of mystical noesis. I consider three examples of 19th and 20th century nature mysticisms (naturalist John Muir, Vedantic sage Ramana Maharshi, journalist Rob Schultheis) to illustrate my assertion that it is the mystic’s grappling with the paradox inherent in the ontological trauma of descent which performs the pivotal negotiation between the collapsed boundaries of subject/object or self/Other that characterizes mystical experience. I suggest further that we look to this narrative grappling as inevitably determining the content of the experience of noesis itself. Rather than reasserting a radical constructivism, I point more specifically to ‘descent’ as one juncture in which a remarkable ontological agency directly engages with the mystic’s moment of self-construal.
ISSN:1475-5629
Contains:Enthalten in: Culture and religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1080/14755610.2020.1858551