I am currently involved in a course dealing with mysticism. So what does that mean? I believe each of us has our own definition of mysticism, at the very least some separate it from religion, if not the majority. Yet all I have read in this class are texts tied to religion, and therefore, because of their religious foundation, are not challenged as literature. My professor, one of the leading Rumi scholars of today, refuses to allow us to engage in a debate over the formal merits of these works because she believes that these works are not “total works” as Wagner sought to create, but rather they are simply messages of a greater experience, that of the mystical experience itself, therefore we cannot criticize their presentation because we have to start by assuming the honesty and sincerity of the author. After all, it is their experience.
Now I would love to engage the question on whether or not this is an academic approach, and furthermore if this is not an academic approach and perhaps one would argue, like my professor, that this topic needs its own approach separate of academia, then I would say that this has no place in academia and should never be placed on the same level as real academic work. Why?
Why is the key here and I will explain it briefly for myself but then I do want feedback more on the idea of how to integrate mysticism and literature. For me the difference between mysticism and academia, literature, and even philosophy (which mystics love to compare themselves to) is that it requires a leap of a faith, a belief in something without evidence. I being an atheist cannot comply with that requirement and therefore cannot accept that in a university. A university is a place for open minded education, a place where those from all backgrounds can come together to understand, comprehend, and debate ideas and issues. Presenting an idea that requires a leap of faith has no place here.
Lastly I want to make something clear, I use atheist because no other word exists. I am non-religious, by that I mean I have received no formal religious education and grew up in a household void of religion. I feel that today atheism implies some sort of active rejection of god; well I would not agree with that because I am not doing anything active when it comes to religion, I just live separate from it.