The idea of mysticism
can be defined as the belief that the most reliable source of knowledge or truth is intuition
rather than reason, sense experience, or the scientific method. The mystic maintains that immediate and true knowledge is attained through a direct awareness that does not depend on systematic mental activity or sense impressions.
A reasoned explanation of mysticism is difficult and probably unfair, for the mystical awareness, while true and basic for those who have had it, is held to be incommunicable. The literature of mysticism is full of references to “the inner light,” “spiritual rebirth,” “the peace that passed all understanding,” and “the unnameable name.” The literature often reports an awesome and indescribable feeling of the oneness of all things. More formally, it might be said that mystics perceive intuitively — that they experience total responses to total situations. However described, the experiences of the better-known and more influential mystics are characterized by a feeling, or intuition, of meaningful synthesis between self and reality, with the result that life discovers its centre and the springs of knowledge run pure and fresh.
A more common type of experience occurs when suddenly for no apparent reason, a person becomes aware of meaningful relationships or feels a new depth and clarity in existence. At one time or another this may have happened to most of us. It is not unusual for a person to experience, in some special moment, the feeling of being sure — an awareness of reality somehow distilled and free of sham and irrelevancy. This experience is sometimes called insight; Maslow refers to it as “peak experience.” The difference between the person who has a flash of insight and the true mystic may be simply a matter of degree (although there is great disagreement on this point), but the difference may also depend on the extent to which the experience becomes the core and the meaning of life. Many people value their particularly lucid moments, but few find that these events basically alter their everyday patterns of life.
Revelation: Revelation is a distinctive way of knowing in which what is revealed (knowledge or truth) is somehow beyond or separate from what is perceived by the senses or logically thought out. The idea is that there exists a store or source of knowledge external to human beings, and that at least some of that knowledge can be communicated to individual persons by unusual means not open to the ordinary channels of investigation. Frequently revelation is described as the communication of the Divine Will to human beings, of God breaking through to mortals in a very unique way. Knowledge may come like a bolt of lightning or by way of “a still, small voice.” In either case there is the suggestion of a distinctly different dimension a person comes to know. Historically, Christianity and Islam have placed strong emphasis on revelation and its epistemological authority. Prophets and lawgivers are believed to have shown exceptional sensitivity to this special dimension of knowing.
Critique of Intuition and Revelation: Knowledge obtained through intuition and revelation is subject to criticism on the grounds that it is not always consistent, that different people have quite different awarenesses of the nature of truth, that there is no criterion for determining which is the better of two conflicting doctrines, and that for a vast number of human beings knowledge based on intuition is incommunicable (even if it is true) and therefore not generally available. Those who do not experience intuition or revelation and those who cannot accept the word (authority) of those who claim such experience must and do rely on some alternative way of knowledge. Source: INVITATION TO PHILOSOPHY: ISSUES AND OPTIONS