Let’s start by clarifying some terms. Being on a mystical path means to be intentionally trying to move into greater depths of realizing (experiencing and expressing) That which is most true, beautiful, and good, or the Divine. Furthermore, in this context being on such a path doesn’t simply mean a kind of location, but a way of existing. Hallmarks thus refers to significant and observable changes in the ways one thinks and behaves that reflect the hidden ineffable dimensions of mystical experience. Such hallmarks are the outward evidence of the ways in which one’s soul is being transformed. (The word way is being intentionally emphasized here.)

In the following paragraphs, we’ll examine some hallmarks common to mystical paths. They’ll be presented in a particular order, but it could be helpful to keep in mind that they are intricately interwoven. Thus, they might not necessarily be encountered in a stepwise sequence by any given individual.

Attraction to Oneness

This attitude is rooted in a very deep, intuitive, and instinctual conviction that everything is interconnected as aspects of an all-encompassing, ever-present, mysterious unity that is the very life and light of all things, the Divine. This attraction includes the sense that the unity of all, and with the Divine, is not just a matter of belief but that it can be known in some profound and intimate way.


That sense of unity engenders an attitude of awe and wonder. One is both enchanted and humbled by the marvelousness and mystery of the All. One increasingly appreciates that everything, no matter how commonplace, crude, or seemingly corrupt, is a fleeting manifestation, a temporary facet, of the Divine’s transcendent mystery. Thus, one more fully grasps that all things deserve to be met with respect and honor for the immediate presence of the Divine in them.


Reverence for the Divine in other beings, and attraction to experiencing the oneness that is being expressed through them, leads one to recognize and literally feel that their joys are one’s own joys, their pains are one’s own pains. And so another’s wisdom, their folly, their strength, their weakness, their beauty, their ugliness, these are all one’s own as well. One finds less pleasure or disgust in the pain, folly, weakness, and ugliness of other individuals and groups, less pride in the joy, wisdom, strength, and beauty of oneself or those of the groups one associates with. Conceit, taunting, mocking, belittling, manipulating, exploiting, and discouragement become replaced by humility, soothing, relating, respecting, empowering, and encouragement.


A calmness and evenness of character arises with greater compassion and reverence amid attraction and appreciation for the oneness of things. One increasingly recognizes the illusoriness of humanity’s various divisions and oppositions, both internal and external, and the judgments and conflicts that go with them. Among these recognitions is the humble acknowledgment of the extent of one’s own powerlessness over almost everything, even much of one’s own being. These insights facilitate greater acceptance of existence as it is, a reduction of assumptions about the meanings and values of things around us and within us, and fewer knee-jerk reactions that ultimately only contribute to the problems. In a reciprocal relationship, inner and outer harmony stabilize each other and enable a more integrated and intentional presence across the various situations and circumstances of life.

Contemplative Practice

As one further identifies with the unity of things, feeling reverence and compassion more strongly, and abiding more consistently in equanimity, it becomes more apparent that these developments are rooted in the Divine, in depths beyond the reach of one’s ordinary processes of thinking, feeling, and behaving. To access those depths more fully, and thereby make oneself more willingly and humbly available to transformative powers outside of conscious awareness and control, one is increasingly drawn to develop and refine the ability to shift consciousness into non-ordinary states. Whether it’s through prayer, meditation, chanting, music, ritual, or some combination of these, one who is on a mystical path seeks to engage the mystery of oneness with more of their whole being. One knows that by doing so in private solitary moments, and within the closest communities of like-minded souls, one is better prepared to embody and serve the Divine at all times in all places.


Let’s close with a few observations. First, it would be fruitful to meditate on the relationships between these hallmarks and the virtues identified among different spiritual traditions, such as the Four Cardinal and Three Theological Virtues. Second, consideration of the interconnectedness and interdependence of these hallmarks would also be worthwhile. Third, the repeating presence of humility should be given due notice. Finally, all the aforementioned developments rely to some extent upon the courage to be different from the norms within our cultures and societies. So, the fortutude to pursue the different and unknown, even to move oneself toward being in a way that is different and currently unknown, perhaps also feared, is itself a kind of hallmark common among mystical paths.

6 Responses

  1. Dear Chuck.
    As always, your words are a great source of inspiration in the Work. Thank you for sharing.
    I hope you and your family had a blessed Easter.

  2. Wonderful. Eloquent. Deeply moving and thought-provoking. For a thinking rube like me, I can’t ignore the thought that I have been pulled down a winding mystical path… sort of pulled by the belly button. The head and heart may not always recognize the pull, and this post certainly helps to frame it (Hallmarks). My personal experience is that there is something primal or genetic about it… and I appreciate that it is nothing close to a straight line… more like a tide.

    1. Thanks for your reflections and kind words, Kraig. That primal quality you mentioned is important. Attraction to the mystical is an innate potential in all of us. Your observation about it not being a straight line is also astute. I like the analogy of the tide, which is cyclical. An ascending or descending spiral is also imagery that speaks to me in this way. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Some profound thoughts you’ve shared. Many have caused me to reflect, and it is this capacity to pause that is such a beautiful gift we have been given by our great creator. Thank you for reminding me of this magnificent existence.

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