The Psychology of Religious Mysticism

By James H. Leuba | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER V
THE MOTIVATION OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM
WHAT do the Christian mystics want ? Were we to ask them that question, they would give us the traditional answer. But it should not be assumed that it would name fully and exactly the forces that drive them on. The motives assigned for action are often mere justifications for promptings very imperfectly understood. We are all distressingly like the unfortunate asylum patient impelled in and out of season to wash his hands. He washes them " because they are dirty." Yet, the psychiatrist is aware of other promptings hidden to the patient.The mystics say that they want " God." That is a convenient traditional way of naming their goal. But what is it that urges them on, what do they really want when they want " God " ?That is our present problem. We began to seek an answer to it in the first chapter where we inquired into the effects of drugs used by the non-civilized to make him divine. We shall continue in the present chapter, and here with special reference to Christian mysticism.* * *The behaviour of the mystics, like that of everybody else, is instigated by innate tendencies to action and by needs1 that express themselves in forms determined mainly by experience. The tendencies and needs that come to expression with especial intensity in our group of mystics may be listed as follows:
1. The tendencies to self-affirmation and the need for self- esteem.
2. The tendencies to cherish, to devote oneself to something or somebody. These tendencies come to their most perfect expression in the parents' relations with the utterly dependent child but, strange as it may seem, they appear even in man's relations with God.
____________________
1
" Tendency to action means here an impulsion to behave in a particular way, while the term " need is used to designate a striving restlessness without specific direction. Experience soon teaches us, however, how our ordinary needs can be relieved, and, then, definite tendencies become connected with them. The feelings due to lack of nourishment and to moral isolation constitute respectively the need for food and the needs for social relationship.

-116-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Psychology of Religious Mysticism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 348

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?