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In search of the ineffable

Most mysticism is, in scientific terms, mush. Yet the mystic's experience of wonder may in fact be the same animating spirit that lies behind science

By Anthony Gottlieb   April 2003

Book: Rational Mysticism Author: John Horgan Price: (Houghton Mifflin, $25)

A British Zen Buddhist once observed that Robert Pirsig’s ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ cannot be about Zen, because “Zen isn’t about anything.” The Buddhist did have a point. If mystical experience is, by definition, ineffable, how much can you say about it?

The term “mysticism” has been applied to a broad family of both religious and secular oddities that are to be found in most known cultures-although at some times more than others. In the history of philosophy, the third to fifth centuries AD stand out as…

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