The Mystical Experience

Illustration by Donald W. McCormick.

Reclaiming a Neglected Quaker Tradition

Many influential Quakers, such as Rufus Jones, Marcelle Martin, and Howard Brinton, have seen mysticism as the heart of Quakerism. In her Pendle Hill Pamphlet Quaker Views on Mysticism, Margery Post Abbott wrote,

In the mid-1990s, I interviewed articulate Quakers from Britain, Philadelphia, and the Pacific Northwest, many holding major positions in monthly or yearly meetings. These sixty-plus Friends overwhelmingly agreed that ours is a mystical faith.

There’s no shortage of coverage of it in Friends Journal. Type “mystic” into the search box of the online archives, and you get 26 pages of links to articles and book reviews that refer to mystics, mysticism, and mystical experience.

Despite all this, Quakers who talk about their mystical experiences are sometimes met with indifference. They aren’t believed or get some other negative response. I spoke to one Friend who began to have mystical experiences after she started attending Quaker meeting. She obtained a clearness committee to help her understand what was going on, but its members were uncomfortable dealing with her experiences and shuffled her off to talk to a different standing committee.

Also, there is little about mystical experience in central, authoritative Quaker bodies and books. Britain Yearly Meeting and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting are the largest groups of Quakers in the northern hemisphere, but Britain Yearly Meeting’s Faith and Practice only has a few brief mentions of mystical experience, and Philadelphia’s Faith and Practice has even fewer. In the 565-page Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies, there are 39 chapters by different authors; none of them is about mysticism. In the chapters, there is very little about mystical experience and nothing about the large scholarly literature on it. For a definitive academic study of a mystical religion, this is pretty casual treatment.


Viewing mystical experience as a spectrum from theistic to unitive makes room for the full range of mystical experience in Quakerism, does not suggest that one type is better than another, and provides a framework that can help us to benefit from decades of research on mystical experience.


The Range of Mystical Experiences

There are thousands of publications in the scholarly literature on mystical experience. A central figure in this literature is American psychologist Ralph Hood. He argues that there are two types of mystical experiences: theistic and unitive.

The theistic mystical experience (also called prophetic or numinous) is “an awareness of a ‘holy other’ beyond nature, with which one is felt to be in communion.” It may be called Krishna or God or Allah or Yahweh. It’s the direct experience of the Spirit or of God. In Quakerism, mystical experience is usually thought of in theistic terms. Hearing the still, small voice of the Spirit is an example of this. Theistic mystical experiences can take the form of visions or voices, as they did with George Fox. The most common venue for theistic mystical experiences is worship, where people feel the presence of the Spirit.

The unitive is the other type of mystical experience. It is the type that is usually studied by neuroscience and psychology researchers. Many scholars who do this research argue that a sense of oneness or unity is its defining characteristic. There are two kinds of unitive mystical experience in Hood’s model: introvertive and extrovertive.

In the introvertive unitive mystical experience, there is an overwhelming sense of oneness, but there are no thoughts, emotions, or perceptions. No sense of time, place, or self. And it’s ineffable; that is, it’s impossible to adequately convey in words.

In the extrovertive unitive mystical experience, the person “continues to perceive the same world of trees and hills and tables and chairs as the rest of us . . . but sees these items transfigured in such a manner that Unity shines through them,” according to British philosopher Walter Terence Stace, whose research on mystical experience formed the basis of much of Hood’s work. In this type, one’s sense of self merges with what one is perceiving. One may directly experience oneness with everything—with other Quakers at a gathered meeting or with the ocean. Someone in this state often perceives an inner subjectivity, an aliveness, in all things, even inanimate things such as a stone or sunset.

These qualities of mystical experience aren’t thoughts or ideas. One doesn’t think about or feel the oneness of everything; it is experienced directly. In a unitive mystical experience, emotions like joy, love, openheartedness, a sense of mystery, awe, reverence, or blissful happiness can arise later.

People often see their unitive mystical experience as a source of knowledge more valid than everyday reality, and feel the experience is sacred or divine. Some people say they were united with God or use other religious language to describe it.


Images by Shusha Guna.


Quaker Thinking about Mystical Experience

Contemporary Quaker works about mystical experience tend to be based on the work of writers from 70 to 100 years ago, such as William James or Rufus Jones. Being stuck in the ways they thought about mystical experience is a problem because we’ve learned a lot about it since then.

Take William James’s 1902 book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, the most influential work in the field. Some of his ideas have held up over time (the ineffability of the unitive mystical experience) while others have not (the idea that getting drunk could “stimulate the mystical faculties”).

Rufus Jones is the most influential Quaker writer on mysticism and one of the most influential figures in Quaker history. He is the primary source of the idea that Quakerism is an experiential, mystical religion. But according to Hugh Rock in a 2016 article in Quaker Studies, Jones was hostile to the unitive mystical experience and felt that it reflected an immature stage of religious development. Also, like William James, many of Jones’s ideas have been questioned by later research, such as his assertion that the unitive mystical experience is “a metaphysical theory voicing itself, not an experience.” Anyone who’s had a unitive mystical experience, myself included, knows that they are genuine experiences, not theories.

Unfortunately, almost all Quaker writings on mystical experience fail to mention developments in the study of it from recent decades. You rarely see any mention of current thinkers or discussion of contemporary debates.

Also, when I talk with fellow Quakers about the unitive view of mystical experience, the most common response is, “Oh? There’s another view? What is it?” Our isolated views result, in part, because we don’t talk much with Christian, Buddhist, Sufi, Jewish, or other mystics, or participate much in the discussion of mysticism that goes on around the world in books, scholarly journals, conferences, and the web.

All this limits our thinking about mystical experience and makes it out of date; we don’t benefit from new developments about it that come from the hundreds of studies published about mystical experience each year in neuroscience, psychology, religious studies, and philosophy.

Our insularity also means that scientists conduct research on Buddhist, Catholic, and other mystics, but not Quaker mystics, even though Quakerism is seen as a major Western mystical tradition. We Quakers have a lot to contribute to the literature on mystical experience, but our isolation prevents this.


People know that Quakers value mystical experience. We help people to have mystical experiences, to recognize their mystical experiences, and to make sense of them. As a result of all this, Quakerism has become a spiritual home for mystics in the West.


Reconciling Theistic and Unitive Views

Quaker writing about mystical experience tends to emphasize theistic mystical experience and de-emphasizes or ignores the unitive. But within Quakerism, we can reconcile theistic and unitive perspectives on mystical experience by thinking of different mystical experiences as falling on a spectrum: with purely theistic experiences at one end, purely unitive experiences at the other, and a mix of the two in the middle. What does a mixed mystical experience look like? Marcelle Martin offers a vivid example of one in a 2016 Pendle Hill talk accompanying her book Our Life is Love:

One night . . . I was walking under the stars and I suddenly knew that the stars were me. I was in the stars. That we were part of a oneness and that there was a light flowing through everything and connecting everything and I could feel it flowing through my body and out of my arms and out of my fingers into the world with great power. It wasn’t my power. It was like a power of this divine reality. It took me a few years before I could say, “That’s God” because it was so different from what my expectations of what God was like.

Like Marcelle Martin, sometimes people who have this experience don’t think of it in terms of God or the Spirit until long afterwards. That happened to me. I had an intense introvertive mystical experience, and it took me years to realize that the oneness I had experienced was “that of God” in me.

Viewing mystical experience as a spectrum from theistic to unitive makes room for the full range of mystical experience in Quakerism, does not suggest that one type is better than another, and provides a framework that can help us to benefit from decades of research on mystical experience.


The Uniquely Quaker Contribution to Mystical Experience

Howard Brinton wrote that “mystics generally think of [the experience of union] only as union with God, but the Quakers . . . think of it also as union with their fellow men.” This sense of union with others is most common in the gathered meeting for worship. Current research on mystical experience generally doesn’t include the Quaker group mystical experience. One of the rare exceptions is Stanford Searl’s research. He writes that

a gathered meeting doesn’t represent some version of ecstatic experience of mystical oneness with all creation. . . . What it represents and signifies is heightened awareness of interconnections among one’s self, others in the worship setting, and others in the wider world.

Sometimes a group mystical experience can be unitive. You can see this in William Tabor’s classic Pendle Hill Pamphlet, Four Doors to Quaker Worship. In it, he says that in the gathered meeting “The sharp boundaries of the self can become blurred and blended as we feel ourselves more and more united with fellow worshipers and with the Spirit of God” and that this experience can bring “joy, peace, praise, and an experience of timelessness.”

Most writing on the Quaker group mystical experience is about the gathered meeting, but the group mystical experience also happens outside of worship. In The Gathered Meeting, Thomas Kelly writes of the sense of unity or oneness that can happen between Friends:

It occurs again and again that two or three individuals find the boundaries of their separateness partially melted down. . . . But after conversing together on central things of the spirit two or more friends who know one another at deep levels find themselves wrapped in a sense of unity and of Presence.



A Vision of the Future of Quakerism and Mystical Experience

My own mystical experiences and study of both Quakerism and mystical experience have led me to a vision for the future of Quaker mysticism. Imagine this scenario for ten years from now:

  • Copies of Faith and Practice and reference works talk more about mysticism, and Quaker scholars interact with the larger community of mysticism researchers and publish in non-Quaker journals.
  • People have group mystical experiences in gathered meetings for worship. Many people come to meeting and keep coming back because it’s the place where they have this deep experience. More and more people are becoming Quakers.
  • People in our meetings aren’t afraid to talk about their mystical experiences. They don’t fear that their fellow Quakers will say that their experiences are implausible, incomprehensible, or inconceivable. We understand and support people’s mystical experiences. We’ve expanded our idea of mystical experience to include unitive ones that may not have a theistic aspect to them. This makes room for the mystical experiences of nontheistic Quakers, who now experience a closer connection to the mystical center of Quakerism.

People know that Quakers value mystical experience. We help people to have mystical experiences, to recognize their mystical experiences, and to make sense of them. As a result of all this, Quakerism has become a spiritual home for mystics in the West.

Correction: Margery Post Abbott’s name was misspelled in the earlier online and in the print edition.

Donald W. McCormick

As a professor, Donald W. McCormick taught management, leadership, and psychology of religion. His interests include the scientific study of mysticism and Quakerism, and evidence-based methods for teaching mindfulness. He is co-clerk of Grass Valley Meeting in Nevada City, Calif., and director of education for Unified Mindfulness. Contact: [email protected].

28 thoughts on “The Mystical Experience

  1. Thank you for this wonderful essay. I have always found the mystical element of Quakerism to be very important. I love your vision of how the mystical elements within Quakerism can be uplifted. There is something very powerful (and mystical) in the immediacy of silence and silent corporate worship. We carry the past with us in our memories, but a gathered meeting is also vitally present to the current moment and the experience of the light within the world, within ourselves, within others. It is a direct encounter with the spirit in which we have the opportunity for both theistic and unitive experiences!

    1. This essay is a great analysis of an ineffable subject. The categories of theistic and unitive mystical experience (and the sub-categories of introvert and extrovert for the latter) are useful for logically understanding this phenomenon. In my experience, all of these are experienced simultaneously, like united paradoxes.

  2. I was happy to see this article on mystical experience in FJ this month! I am one of the editors of What Canst Thou Say (WCTS). WCTS has been sharing the personal stories of Quaker mystics for over twenty-five years through our quarterly publication. We also have an email listserv and blogs to foster sharing of mystical and contemplative experiences. I began writing for WCTS 15 years ago, when one of the editors found my writing and encouraged me to submit some of my pieces. It was through WCTS that I learned about Quaker faith and was ultimately drawn to Reno Friends Meeting. I felt like I finally found my tribe–others who had experiences like mine. You can find out more at our website: http://www.whatcanstthousay.org/. Friends are invited to request a free sample copy or send submissions for future issues. All varieties of mystical experience are welcomed and valued. You can also submit to our blog or sign up for the listserv through the website.

  3. I’m delighted by your post, Rhonda. I see we don’t live that far apart either. Did you by any chance attend the special interest group on mystical experience that I led at Pacific Yearly Meeting a few years back? I’m also glad that you mentioned What Canst Thou Say. To those who are unfamiliar with it, I can’t recommend it highly enough. In fact, partially in preparation for this article, I bought a copy of every back issue I could get–going back to 1994.

    1. I’m happy to hear that you are a reader of WCTS and that is has been helpful to you. I have only been going to Reno Friends Meeting since 2018, so I’m sorry I missed your group. We at WCTS are delighted by your article and thank you for writing it!

  4. I, too, experience mysticism in a unitive fashion. I have often seen these experiences through the lenses of Native American or Indigenous spirituality – that the earth and all on it are interconnected, and yet there is “that of God in all” (not just humans). Quaker beliefs and practices help me practice equality and peace with this knowledge.

    1. That’s wonderful that you are having unitive experiences and that “the lenses of Native American or Indigenous spirituality” are ways that you find helpful in understanding mystical experience. Years ago, when I was trying to create a theory about spirituality in the workplace, I studied a variety of spiritual and religious traditions. One thing that I found that really impressed me was that certain cultures, such as the Navajo, are deeply spiritual but have no word for religion or the spiritual per se, in part because it is seen as such an integral part of life. If people don’t experience a separation between work and spirituality in the first place, a theory that looks at the degree to which work is more or less integrated with their spiritual lives is meaningless. I’m curious, do you engage in any Native American or Indigenous spiritual practices, like the sweat lodge or the sun dance?

  5. Thank you for this wonderful article. I love the Vision of the Future of Quakerism and Mystical Experience. The author’s colorful illustration is amazing.

  6. Thank you, Don for your informative article and the reminder that Quakerism is, in fact, a mystical and experiential faith.

    I agree with your assessment of the Oxford Book of Quaker Studies (2013.) The absence of any direct reference to the mystical Quaker religious experience is noticeable. While the editor (Stephen Angell) intended this volume to present Quakerism to the academic world, anyone searching for information, scholarly or otherwise, in this authoritative book, that explores in depth the bedrock Quaker conviction that spiritual knowing can only be found in a direct encounter with the divine, will have to look elsewhere.

    The Cambridge Companion to Quakerism edited by Stephen Angell and Pink Dandelion and published in 2018 includes only one reference to mysticism in its index. It references the writing of Rufus Jones (Mystical Religion) published in the early twentieth century. While it states that Jones tried to locate Quakerism in the stream of Western mysticism, it claims that he drew heavily on American Transcendentalist thought and the early modern European mystics. There is no mention of the early Quaker mystical religious experience other than a brief reference to the idea of the Inward Light as central to Fox’s theology.

    Again, it is the intention of the editors to present Quakerism to the wider-world and so the core religious and mystical experience that motivates Quakers to do what they do is not delved into. However, Pink Dandelion has published and spoken publicly about the profound mystical experience (extraverted unitive, to use your useful topology) he had as a young Englishman traveling in American. I know that Pink Dandelion is a sociologist and not a historian of religion. But he is a mystic! I hope in the future, as editor he will fix this lacuna in his presentation of Quakerism to those outside of the fold.

    One corrective to this oversight is Mind the Oneness: The Mystic Way of the Quaker by Rex Ambler (PHP 463.) published in 2020. Rex’s pamphlet is based on a talk he gave to the Quaker Universalist Group at their annual conference in 2017. It “explores Quaker mysticism from the earliest years of George Fox to the present day.” Rex sees mysticism as part of the search for “ultimate reality” and authentic self hood: “a finding of oneness against the forces of separation and alienation, always in direct, unmediated experience.”

    Ambler does make the caveat that mysticism is not a systematic endeavor. This is because the spiritual searching and the finding of a living truth to be guided by is not a static, step-wise process. It is a life long practice that unfolds as we engage with our world both inner and outer. I have experienced both introverted and extraverted unitive experiences (both theistic and non-theistic) at various times in my life. How this happened is a mystery, of course. But the glimpse of unity and the inner peace it brings leaves me with a thirst to know more.

    And, for Ambler mysticism may involve protest. The Quaker mystic is often compelled to reconcile the unitive reality of our collective being with the social structures established by governments that attempt to separate (and thus alienate) people from their intuitive and noetic understanding of our common humanity as apart of the created world. To my mind, this is the basis of our equality testimony.

    At the conclusion of Ambler’s pamphlet, he hopes that in the future the Quaker mystical vision will continue to be embodied in new and practical ways. Thanks again for raising up a topic so essential to our lives and work as Friends. I hope that the more we talk about this foundational aspect of our tradition the more appealing Quakers will be to those searching for a home (both theistic and non-theistic) where talking safely and respectfully about the mystical in the language of our present experience is welcomed.

    1. Dear George,
      You wrote,
      “Again, it is the intention of the editors to present Quakerism to the wider-world and so the core religious and mystical experience that motivates Quakers to do what they do is not delved into.”
      “However, Pink Dandelion has published and spoken publicly about the profound mystical experience (extraverted unitive, to use your useful topology) he had as a young Englishman traveling in American. I know that Pink Dandelion is a sociologist and not a historian of religion.”
      I once talked to a person from the field of sociology of religion and said that the field seems to study religion as if the existence of God was not a relevant question. They agreed that this was the case.
      But he is a mystic! I hope in the future, as editor he will fix this lacuna in his presentation of Quakerism to those outside of the fold.
      I suspect that the reason that mention of mystical experience is avoided in these books is that academics who are unfamiliar with the literature on mystical experience in neuroscience, psychology, history, and religious studies are embarrassed to write about it. There may confuse mystical experience with mysticism and there be anxiety that it would be like writing about something too intimately religious, or too new-age-wacky for academic study. I would very much like to know why they don’t include mystical experience in their books. But your comments made me realize that I don’t need to guess, I can just ask him via email. I think I will.
      “Ambler does make the caveat that mysticism is not a systematic endeavor. This is because the spiritual searching and the finding of a living truth to be guided by is not a static, step-wise process. It is a life long practice that unfolds as we engage with our world both inner and outer. I have experienced both introverted and extraverted unitive experiences (both theistic and non-theistic) at various times in my life. How this happened is a mystery, of course. But the glimpse of unity and the inner peace it brings leaves me with a thirst to know more.”
      I disagree with Ambler about this. I think that Buddhist and other disciplines are systematic and do lead to mystical experience. Also, the current research in the use of psylocibin and other psychedelic drugs can provide a system for it.
      “And, for Ambler mysticism may involve protest. The Quaker mystic is often compelled to reconcile the unitive reality of our collective being with the social structures established by governments that attempt to separate (and thus alienate) people from their intuitive and noetic understanding of our common humanity as a part of the created world. To my mind, this is the basis of our equality testimony.”
      That’s really beautifully put. I always wanted to have some buttons or t-shirts printed that said
      Activist + Mystic = Quaker
      But I’ve held back because I keep thinking it would offend some people, although I’m not exactly sure why.
      “Thanks again for raising up a topic so essential to our lives and work as Friends.”
      You’re welcome. I really enjoyed your comments.

  7. Theistic and unitive responses are different faces of the essentially mystic nature of creation in its essence, in themselves they are neither opposite nor in competition All vibrant spiritual systems are animated by and thru them, and ultimately united in the communion of the saints. Singing.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful article. I am a relatively newcomer to Quakers and after six months of regular meeting I feel as if I have been a Quaker all my life. I have always been drawn to the traditions of mysticism and feel sad about how it has been trivialized and exiled to the periphery by the very traditions that nurtured it and brought it into being. It as been hijacked by the esoteric blanket throwers and now is its time to reclaim its rightful place within the midst of community and the routines of every day life. St Teresa of Avila basically said the best way to distinguish between a neurotic and a genuine mystic is their ability to integrate into daily life of community. The heart of a mystical experience is to be grounded in the here and now.
    I suspect at this time in our collective histories there are profound disintegrations of paradigms within the broad spectrum of Western culture and society aided and abetted by crass consumerism and radical individualism. The old reference points no longer give us direction – the old is dying but not yet dead and the new is coming to birth but not yet born. Perhaps the age of disconnection has run its course and humanity is ready to reach out for a connection that embraces us in mutual relationships grounded in stillness and silence.
    In the silence of our meetings I experience the most profound embrace of Presence and connection and I don’t think we will have to wait too long to recover something we already have in abundance.

  9. Thank you, Donald, for bringing forward the essence of Quaker practice, for our examination. I believe mystical experience is not meant to be mysteriously available only for a special few. It is meant to be commonplace and available to everyone. Reinforced in Meeting for Worship and other gatherings but also available while washing dishes or pulling up weeds. The more experience I have, the fewer useful distinctions I can make. That state of being really is ineffable. Yet we need to talk about it in order to provide validation for folks who may not understand what is happening, or has happened, to them. And because we need to know that one’s spiritual experience can–and should–develop, grow, and change. The One in whose oneness we participate does also instruct.

    As a Quaker, I recommend also investigating the writings of Evelyn Underhill, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and T.S.Eliot. Each of them has provided invaluable validation of my experience and opened doors to more, despite being no longer with us.

  10. The word “mystical” puts me off. I prefer ‘transcendent’ because such experiences are greater than ordinary ones, but they don’t *necessarily*signify that I have communicated with some higher power. This is the puzzle to me—why people assume their experience of connecting with a higher power means they have in fact done so. As an author and artist I know that the experience of ‘outside’ can come from inside (though some would argue that ‘genius’ is something visited upon us.) I see visions nightly in my dreams. I can be ‘transported’ by sexual ecstasy or drugs or even exhaustion. What is curious to me is the strong human desire to be larger than ourselves. Why do we see some prophet’s dream as some greater truth rather than just some personal ‘trip’ that they enjoyed? Personal or prophetic, I guess we see transcendence as the antidote to that other deep vision the full knowledge of our own and our loved ones’ decay and death.

    1. Dear Chris,
      I tend to agree and l think we need to grapple a little longer before we find descriptive words that resonate with the Western mind set.
      One of our problems with the term mysticism is it implies a disconnection from the ordinary events of day to day living. The same can be said regarding Mystic. Mystery tends to be interpreted as a problem to be solved.
      We have lost our capacity to recognise the mysterium as a reality to be penetrated with openess and curiosity. The insights gained by the individual experience is always for the benefit of the community.
      I suspect there is a recalibration of significant paradigms taking place within our cultural and social fields placing our familiar reference points in a state of flux. The old is dying but not yet dead and the new is coming to birth but not yet born.
      For me, the concreteness of ‘Now’ centres me within this state of flux, for the past is always present within the Now and actions to change the future are anchored in the Now. Perhaps mysticism may teach us the language of actions rather than words “…..for the word killeth.”
      The Light lives within me/us, reverberates within me/us, and radiates from me/us as me/us.

  11. Thanks for this useful article.

    One important Quaker thinker on mysticism who has been missed in this discussion is Douglas Steere. He was the Haverford colleague of Thomas Kelly and editor of the latter’s important TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION. He also was well connected personally across denominational and faith boundaries to other mystic leaders — Catholic, sufi, etc. He saw Quakerism as a lay mystical religious order within the larger, ecumenical church. Perhaps for that reason most of his longer work was published outside the world of Quakerism, even though he was deeply involved with Pendle Hill for many years. His 1984 edited volume on QUAKER SPIRITUALITY was published by the Paulist Press and much of his work on prayer was published by a Methodist press. The latter does a good job of bridging between mysticism and more conventional devotional spirituality.

    Much of what appears to be the short shrift given to mysticism in “official” Quaker publications is due to the fact that those experiencing it often use other language for their experiences. George Fox spoke of “openings;” Issac Pennington and John Woolman also had direct divine “leadings.” There is no shortage of references to these leaders and their clearly mystical experiences in the multiple versions of FAITH AND PRACTICE.

  12. I know of one accomplished mystic who explained to me that when you are no longer identified with a particular body or person, but instead identify with the entire universe, that the death of the individual self is no longer something that is to quite be so feared.

  13. Thanks for (re) starting the discussion. I’ve found it helpful to think of mysticism in tandem with “terminal screens” (Kenneth Burke, 1966)–though I’ve expanded the concept, I think, in accepting how I experience mystically. For example, I might hear Jesus’ voice and God’s voice, but I know mentally, physically–and all ways of knowing–that these two ideas/entities don’t have “voice.” It’s as if–along with all the other languages of Babel–‘what-is-experience’ seeks a channel through which I will receive. That channel may be similar or different to how others experience, it may be a group experience, it may be familiar, it may be surprising and new. When we factor communication in with experience, I believe we expand the idea of mysticism and help individuals to see that they may have been mystics all along.

    1. That’s a very good point you make about the way that the Spirit communicates with us. If God or Jesus or the Spirit does communicate with us, it must be through some way that we can receive it. I’m reminded of people who dismiss religious experience as “just” something physical or neurological or biological. As if there is some form of communication that has no sensory or physical component to it. These people also remind me of the story of the holy man who is caught in a flood. His neighbor pulls up in a car and offers to give him a ride to safety. He replies, “No thanks. I have prayed and God will provide.” The water gets up to his neck and someone else comes up in a boat and offers to help. The man says, “No thanks. I have prayed and God will provide.” The man drowns and when he meets God in heaven, he asks God why his prayers weren’t answered. God replies, “I don’t understand either. I heard your prayers and I sent your neighbor in a car. Then I sent someone in a boat…”

  14. The six days of Labor, Commerce and Obligations, potentiate the seventh day of Rest. To understand the mystical nature of The Quaker Religion, it would help to understand the mystical nature of the Sabbath: you are going to die, which ultimately beats the alternative; The Sabbath is a good rehearsal for this; Quaker Meeting supercharges The Sabbath; Meeting is no more the whole of The Quaker Religion, than The Hinge is the whole of The Door. The experience of Reality should be a mystical act.

    1. I think the Sabbath is celebrated on Saturday and belongs uniquely in the Jewish tradition. Christians chose the first day of the week (Sunday) as it represented new beginnings in the light of the resurrection.

  15. Thank you for this article. I have been engaged in the study of the actual relationship between C G Jung and a group of Quakers who were in Geneva in the 1930s, and how they disseminated their transformed understanding of Quakerism as a mystical, experiential and experimental religion that resulted.
    The key members of that group, Irene Pickard, Elined Kotschnig (who played a leading role in the Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology), P W Martin (who wrote the book Experiment in Depth), and his wife Margery, created an archive of materials which Irene Pickard fortunately preserved.
    They knew Rufus Jones, Howard Brinton and Douglas Steere, and like them, laid great stress on the mystical tradition within Quakerism, which for them was given extra zest by what they saw as the psychological underpinning provided by Jung.
    The resultant work is currently with a publisher.

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