What’s the difference between mysticism and insanity?

Mystics typically report experiences and insights that are well outside of consensus reality and what’s considered normal. So why are they not considered insane? What’s the difference between mysticism and insanity?

There may be several reasons.

Although mysticism is fringe, it’s often culturally accepted. There is a tradition for it in most cultures.

Mystics talk about God and Spirit, and our culture gives us a larger leeway when we talk about that topic.

Mystics often report similar experiences and insights to each other. In the essence, there is a universality.

Mystics are usually well-functioning people. They typically manage their life and relate to other people in a way that’s not a problem for others or society.

To the extent mystics are empathic, kind, and perhaps have some wisdom, they are given some leeway if what they talk about sometimes sounds odd.

And perhaps most importantly, it depends on how we relate to our experiences and insights and what stories we tell about it.

To the extent mystics are intellectually honest, they appear more sane and ordinary even if what they report is out of the ordinary.

In my case, I emphasize the pragmatics of it – practices and what they can do for us at a very human level.

On the rare occasions I talk about my own out-of-the-ordinary experiences, I have evaluated my audience and wouldn’t talk about it unless I know they understand or have a genuine personal interest. I also often preface by saying I know it sounds weird, I am clear that I hold my stories and interpretations about it very lightly, and I find ways to talk about it that are as down-to-earth as possible.

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