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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Seven - Intuition and Illumination
There is an aptitude among those writers on mysticism who are concerned with the purely mystic way, and have not studied adequately the technique of the East, to confound illumination with feeling. Evelyn Underhill, for instance, says

"...The illuminated state entails a vision of the Absolute: a sense of the Divine Presence: but not true union with it." "It is," she says, "a state of happiness."
- Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism, page 206.

The illumination of the mind with knowledge and with a realization of union with Deity and its apprehension of the laws which govern the spiritual realm may, ultimately, produce happiness, but that happiness is an after effect and not a part of the illumined state. True illumination is related to the intellect, and should be - in its purest aspect - divorced from feeling altogether. It is a condition [156] of knowledge, it is a state wherein the mind is brought into relation with God, and the longer that condition can be held free from emotional reactions, the more direct will be the communication between the soul and its instrument, and the freer from deterioration will be the imparted truths.

A comparison of the way of the Knower and the way of the mystic might be of value here. The mystic, especially in the West, gains his flash of insight; he sees the Beloved; he touches heights of awareness, but his approach, in the majority of cases, has been the heart approach, and has involved feeling, sensory perception, and emotion. The result has been ecstasy. His technique has been that of devotion, discipline, an emotional striving forward, the "lifting up of the heart unto the Lord," the "vision of the Beloved," and "the marriage in the Heavens," the pouring out of the love nature at the feet of the Beloved, and consequent ecstasy. Afterwards, if we are to believe the writings of the mystics themselves, there has followed a period of readjustment to the life of every day, and, frequently, a sense of depression and disappointment that the high moment has passed, coupled with an inability to speak with clarity of that which has been experienced. Then a fresh cycle of devotion and discipline is initiated, until again the vision is seen and the Beloved contacted anew. From certain angles the self-centeredness of the Western mystic is notable, and his failure to use the intellect most remarkable. We must except, however, such mystics [157] as Boehme, Ruysbroeck, or Meister Eckhart, in whose writings the element of the intellect is strongly stressed, and the quality of knowledge most apparent. Note what Meister Eckhart himself says:

"There is one power in the soul: intellect, of prime importance to the soul for making her aware of, for detecting, God... The soundest arguments expressly state (what is the truth) that the kernel of eternal life lies rather in knowledge than in love... The soul is not dependent upon temporal things but in the exaltation of her mind is in communication with the things of God."
- Pfeiffer, Franz, Meister Eckhart, pages 114, 83, 288.

The Knower has a different method from that of the mystic. His is the directing of the intellect to the object of its search; his is the way of the mind, and its discipline and control. He steadies the mind; he stops its versatility and focuses it; he seeks out after God; he divorces himself from feeling and is not interested in his own personal satisfaction, for the mind is the "common sense," and in its highest use is dowered with the faculty of synthesis, of Wholeness. He will, as Dr. Müller-Freienfels puts it,

"no longer speak of 'his' soul, but of the universal soul which manifests itself in him, and unfolds itself in him as in all other creatures, and will endure even though this illusion of individuality perishes... He will live his life as 'life', that is, as self-realization and self-completion, with the consciousness that it is not merely his own self that is [158] being realized and perfected, but the universe, the deity, of whom this apparent self is a part."
- Müller-Freienfels, Richard, Mysteries of the Soul, page 336.

Personal feeling is ruled out. The aspirant masters the mind, holds it steady in the light and then sees and knows. Then the stage of Illumination follows. Meister Eckhart sums up the difference between the two ways as follows:

"Knowledge raises the soul to the rank of God; love unites the soul with God; use perfects the soul to God. These three transport the soul right out of time into eternity."
- Pfeiffer, Franz, Meister Eckhart, page 286.

These distinctions should be carefully noted. For many at this time, the achievement of knowledge of God is of greater import than love of God. That they already possess; it is the background of their effort, but not of their present objective and discipline. For the vast and unthinking majority, it is perhaps true that the mystic way of love and devotion should be the goal, but for the thinkers of the world the attainment of illumination should be the goal of their endeavor.

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