by Evelyn Underhill
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Practical Mysticism is a work by one of the
century Christian mystics, Evelyn Underhill. Her book, Mysticism: A
Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness, is
authoritative text of modern mysticism. This shorter work, Practical
Mysticism, is an abridged version of Underhill's theology, and is a
perfect starting point for immersion into the subject. It is written,
to some extent, with non-Christians in mind, so Underhill is at her
simplest here, yet her language is still poetic and enjoyable to read.
Topics are addressed broadly, and Chapter 1, "What is Mysticism?" ("the
art of union with reality, she says) is an enlightening place for those
unfamiliar with the topic to begin. She invites the reader to become
involved in mysticism, giving simple examples of how it is relevant to
everyday people. Underhill was greatly influenced by mystics such as
St. Teresa, Ruysbroeck, St. Augustine, and Thomas a Kempis, and examples
from these writers, as well as poets like Keats and Whitman, are
sprinkled throughout the book. A fine place to start before diving into
her more intense works, Practical Mysticism has captivated
of readers, and is still the premier text for the introductory study of
CCEL Staff Writer