A CHRISTIAN CLASSIC<p>
Practical Mysticism was first published in 1915 at the outbreak of World War I, at a time of “struggle and endurance, practical sacrifices, difficult and long continuous effort” when, she believed, practical mysticism was the activity needed most. In this book Underhill sets out her belief that spiritual life is part of human nature and as such is available to every human being.<p>
Following, Underhill defines the meaning of the phrase “Practical Mysticism:”
“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 that the spiritual artist is always trying to disclose to the race. This amount of mystical perception—this ‘ordinary contemplation,’ as the specialist call it,—is possible to all men: without it, they are not wholly alive. It is a natural human activity.”<p>
EVELYN UNDERHILL (6 December 1875 – 15 June 1941) was an English author, speaker and pacifist known for her numerous works on religion and spiritual practice. In the English-speaking world, she was one of the most widely read writers on such matters in the first half of the 20th century. In her earlier writings Underhill often wrote using the terms “mysticism” and “mystics” but later began to adopt the terms “spirituality” and “saints” because she felt they were less threatening. She was often criticized for believing that the mystical life should be accessible to the average person. Today, Underhill remains a respected writer on religion and spiritual practice. During World War II, she may well have played a powerful part in the survival of her country through the influence of her words and the impact of her teachings on thousands regarding the power of prayer. Surviving the London Blitz of 1940, her health disintegrated and she died in the following year.