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Evelyn Underhill quotes Showing 1-30 of 60

“If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped.”
Evelyn Underhill
“On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.”
Evelyn Underhill
“In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram —impersonal and unattainable—the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
“Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds.
Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.”
Evelyn Underhill
“Eternity is with us, inviting our contemplation perpetually, but we are too frightened, lazy, and suspicious to respond; too arrogant to still our thought, and let divine sensation have its way. It needs industry and goodwill if we would make that transition; for the process involves a veritable spring-cleaning of the soul, a turning-out and rearrangement of our mental furniture, a wide opening of closed windows, that the notes of the wild birds beyond our garden may come to us fully charged with wonder and freshness, and drown with their music the noise of the gramaphone within. Those who do this, discover that they have lived in a stuffy world, whilst their inheritance was a world of morning-glory:where every tit-mouse is a celestial messenger, and every thrusting bud is charged with the full significance of life.”
evelyn underhill, Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People
“For a lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us everyday”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
“The spiritual life of individuals has to be extended both vertically to God
and horizontally to other souls; and the more it grows in both directions, the less merely individual and therefore more truly personal it will become.”
Evelyn Underhill
“The business and method of mysticism is love.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: The Nature And Development Of Spiritual Consciousness
“Mysticism is the art of union with Reality.”
Evelyn Underhill
“Idealism, though just in its premises, and often daring and honest in their application, is stultified by the exclusive intellectualism of its own methods: by its fatal trust in the squirrel-work of the industrious brain instead of the piercing vision of the desirous heart. It interests man, but does not involve him in its processes: does not catch him up to the new and more real life which it describes. Hence the thing that matters, the living thing, has somehow escaped it; and its observations bear the same relation to reality as the art of the anatomist does to the mystery of birth.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
“All men, at one time or another, have fallen in love with the veiled Isis whom they call Truth. With most, this has been a passing passion: they have early seen its hopelessness and turned to more practical things. But others remain all their lives the devout lovers of reality: though the manner of their love, the vision which they make to themselves of the beloved object varies enormously. Some see Truth as Dante saw Beatrice: an adorable yet intangible figure, found in this world yet revealing the next. To others she seems rather an evil but an irresistible enchantress: enticing, demanding payment and betraying her lover at the last. Some have seen her in a test tube, and some in a poet’s dream: some before the altar, others in the slime. The extreme pragmatists have even sought her in the kitchen; declaring that she may best be recognized by her utility. Last stage of all, the philosophic sceptic has comforted an unsuccessful courtship by assuring himself that his mistress is not really there.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
“the night of thought is the light of perception.”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism
“The art of the alchemist, whether spiritual or physical, consists in completing the work of perfection, bringing forth and making dominant, as it were, the “latent goldness” which “lies obscure” in metal or man. The ideal adept of alchemy was therefore an “auxiliary of the Eternal Goodness.” By his search for the “Noble Tincture” which should restore an imperfect world, he became a partner in the business of creation, assisting the Cosmic Plan. Thus the proper art of the Spiritual Alchemist, with whom alone we are here concerned, was the production of the spiritual and only valid tincture or Philosopher’s Stone; the mystic seed of transcendental life which should invade, tinge, and wholly transmute the imperfect self into spiritual gold. That this was no fancy of seventeenth-century allegorists, but an idea familiar to many of the oldest writers upon alchemy—whose quest was truly a spiritual search into the deepest secrets of the soul—is proved by the words which bring to an end the first part of the antique “Golden Treatise upon the Making of the Stone,” sometimes attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. “This, O Son,” says that remarkable tract, “is the Concealed Stone of Many Colours, which is born and brought forth in one colour; know this and conceal it . . . it leads from darkness into light, from this desert wilderness to a secure habitation, and from poverty and straits to a free and ample fortune.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
“As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone—though these can find in it more poignant depths of meaning than other men—so the world of Reality exists for all; and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire.”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism; and, Abba: Meditations on the Lord's Prayer
“art is the link between appearance and reality.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism
“He goes because he must, as Galahad went towards the Grail: knowing that for those who can live it, this alone is life.”
Evelyn Underhill
“Therefore it is to a practical mysticism that the practical man is here invited: to a training of his latent faculties, a bracing and brightening of his languid consciousness, an emancipation from the fetters of appearance, a turning of his attention to new levels of the world. Thus he may become aware of the universe which the spiritual artist is always trying to disclose to the race. This amount of mystical perception—this “ordinary contemplation,” as the specialists call it—is possible to all men: without it, they are not wholly conscious, nor wholly alive. It is a natural human activity, no more involving the great powers and sublime experiences of the mystical saints and philosophers than the ordinary enjoyment of music involves the special creative powers of the great musician.”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism; and, Abba: Meditations on the Lord's Prayer
“Three deep cravings of the self, three great expressions of man's restlessness, which only mystic truth can fully satisfy. The first is the craving which makes him a pilgrim and a wanderer. It is the longing to go out from his normal world in search of a lost home, a 'better country'; an Eldorado, a Sarras, a Heavenly Syon. The next is the craving of heart for heart, of the Soul for its perfect mate, which makes him a lover. The third is the craving for inward purity and perfection, which makes him an ascetic, and in the last resort a saint.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
“When we are in good health, we all feel very real, solid, and permanent; and this is of all our illusions the most ridiculous, and also the most obviously useful from the point of view of the efficiency and preservation of the race.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism
“As the genuine religious impulse becomes dominant, adoration more and more takes charge. 'I come to seek God because I need Him', may be an adequate formula for prayer. 'I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet', is the only possible formula for worship.”
Evelyn Underhill
“Here the further question of the relation of spiritual life to public life and politics comes in. It must mean, for all who take it seriously, judging public issues from the angle of eternity, never from that of national self-interest or expediency; backing our conviction, as against party of prejudice, rejecting compromise, and voting only for those who adopt this disinterested point of view. Did we act thus, slowly but surely a body of opinion—a spiritual party, if you like—might be formed; and in the long run make its influence felt in the State. But such a programme demands much faith, hope, and charity; and courage too.”
Evelyn Underhill, Advent with Evelyn Underhill
“The spiritual life is not a special career, involving abstraction from the world of things. It is a part of every man’s life; and until he has realised it he is not a complete human being, has not entered into possession of all his powers. It”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism
“It is significant that many of these experiences are reported to us from periods of war and distress: that the stronger the forces of destruction appeared, the more intense grew the spiritual vision which opposed them. We learn from these records that the mystical consciousness has the power of lifting those who possess it to a plane of reality which no struggle, no cruelty, can disturb: of conferring a certitude which no catastrophe can wreck. Yet it does not wrap its initiates in a selfish and otherworldly calm, isolate them from the pain and effort of the common life. Rather, it gives them renewed vitality; administering to the human spirit not--as some suppose--a soothing draught, but the most powerful of stimulants.”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People
“The thing may sound absurd to you, but you can do it if you will: standing back, as it were, from the vague and purposeless reactions in which most men fritter their vital energies. Then you can survey with a certain calm, a certain detachment, your universe and the possibilities of life within it: can discern too, if you be at all inclined to mystical adventure, the stages of the road along which you must pass on your way towards harmony with the Real.”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism
“Mysticism is the art of union with Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism
“Do not suppose from this that your new career is to be perpetually supported by agreeable spiritual contacts, or occupy itself in the mild contemplation of the great world through which you move. True, it is said of the Shepherd that he carries the lambs in his bosom: but the sheep are expected to walk, and put up with the inequalities of the road, the bunts and blunders of the flock. It”
Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People
“When the vivid reality which is meant by these rather abstract words is truly possessed by us, when that which is unchanging in ourselves is given its chance, and emerges from the stream of succession to recognise its true home and goal, which is God—then, though much suffering may, indeed will, remain; apprehension, confusion, instability, despair, will cease.”
Evelyn Underhill, THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
“All artist are of necessity in some measure contemplatives.”
Evelyn Underhill
“The Incarnation, which is for traditional Christianity synonymous with the historical birth and earthly life of Christ, is for mystics of a certain type, not only this but also a perpetual Cosmic and personal process. It is an everlasting bringing forth, in the universe and also in the individual ascending soul, of the divine and perfect Life, the pure character of God, of which the one historical life dramatized the essential constituents. Hence the soul, like the physical embryo, resumes in its upward progress the spiritual life-history of the race. "The one secret, the greatest of all," says Patmore, is "the doctrine of the Incarnation, regarded not as an historical event which occurred two thousand years ago, but as an event which is renewed in the body of every one who is in the way to the fulfilment of his original destiny."  239”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism
“Nothing hath separated us from God but our own will, or rather our own will is our separation from God.”
Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness

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