Correlating Mystical Experience to the Knowledge of God

By Jack McLean

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #30
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Michigan, USA
October 6–8, 2000
(see list of papers from #30)

    In the dual perspective of philosophical theology and the psychology of religion, this paper makes the argument that mystical experience and theology ("the knowledge of God") are not two distinct and unrelated forms of activity, but rather expressions of one manifold. Experience in circuitous fashion, inform and depend upon one other. This process is called simply symbiosis. Such a process is not essentially speculative but is rather empirical since experience has always been a fundamental component of knowledge, whether scientific or humanistic. This thesis is validated through a general rather than "hard proof" discussion of the following six points:
    1. Debunking certain objections to mysticism.
    2. Outlining three basic characteristics of mysticism.
    3. Considering the symbiosis of knowledge and experience in The Seven Valleys (Haft Vád') and The Four Valleys (Chahar Vád') and the Kitáb-i-Iqán.
    4. Correlating Bahá'í mystical theology to St. Augustine's metaphysics of inner experience.
    5. Examining the benefits of mystical theology for Bahá'í scholasticism.
    6. Presenting Bahá'u'lláh's universe of the mystical valleys as attainable rather than unattainable spiritual experiences.

    Read this paper online at, or click here for direct download: mclean_mystical_experience_god.pdf.