Category Archives: Hinduism

Myth, Mysticism and Insight


In The Tao Of Physics, Fritjof Capra makes some interesting observations on the subject of myth in mysticism and what those of insight come to understand about such.   I had as much in mind when I wrote of constructs in the book ‘What Is Wrong With Scientology?’,  but clearly did not articulate it nearly as well.

“Indian mysticism, and Hinduism in particular, clothes its statements in the form of myths, using metaphors and symbols, poetic images, similes and allegories.  Mythical language is much less restricted by logic and common sense. It is full of magic and paradoxical situations, rich in suggestive images and never precise, and can thus convey the way in which mystics experience reality much better than factual language.  According to Ananda Coomaraswamy, ‘myth embodies the nearest approach to absolute truth that can be stated in words.’

“The rich Indian imagination has created a vast number of gods and goddesses whose incarnations and exploits are the subject of fantastic tales, collected in epics of huge dimensions.  The Hindu with deep insight knows that all these gods are creations of the mind, mythical images representing the many faces of reality. On the other hand, he or she also knows that they were not merely created to make the stories more attractive, but are essential vehicles to convey the doctrines of a philosophy rooted in mystical experience.”

If there is truth to this, what does one make of the understandings or motivations of those who insist upon literal conceptualizations of imaginative religious mythology?   Are they of deep insight themselves?  Are they actively preventing others from developing or attaining deep insight?   You might have experienced some of the cognitive dissonance (or analytical and/or intuitive enturbulance) that is concomitant with inculcation of fantastic mythologies, not as part of an acknowledged ‘mystical experience’ but instead as cold, hard, unquestionable fact.  Or perhaps you are comfortable with the security that comes with faith and belief in mythology.