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Not of This World
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Not of This World: Treasures of Christian Mysticism
Not of This World: Treasures of Christian Mysticism
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Comparative Religion

Price:  $19.95

ISBN:  0-941532-41-0
Book Size:  6" x 9"
# of Pages:  296
Language:  English


This profound and insightful book includes selected writings of Christian sages and saints from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Celtic branches of the Christian tradition. They are presented from a perspective of 'the transcendent unity of denominations.

Selections include contributions from great Chrisitian writers including:
St. Ignatius of Antioch, St Augstine of Hippo, St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Anselm, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Thomas Acquinas, Meister Johann Eckhart, Dante Alighieri, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Seraphim of Sarov, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, C. S. Lewis, Lilian Staveley, St. Nikolai Velmimirovich and more.

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Detailed Description of Not of This World

This profound and insightful book includes selected writings of Christian sages and saints from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Celtic branches of the Christian tradition. They are presented from a perspective of 'the transcendent unity of denominations.

Selections include contributions from great Chrisitian writers including:
St. Ignatius of Antioch, St Augstine of Hippo, St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Anselm, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Thomas Acquinas, Meister Johann Eckhart, Dante Alighieri, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Seraphim of Sarov, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, C. S. Lewis, Lilian Staveley, St. Nikolai Velmimirovich and more.

About the Author(s)

James Cutsinger

James S. Cutsinger (1953-2020) was an author, editor, and teacher whose writings focus primarily on Perennialism and the theology and spirituality of the Christian East. He was professor of Theology and Religious Thought at the University of South Carolina for almost 40 years. Prof. Cutsinger edited a series of new editions of books by Frithjof Schuon (click here to see the list of books). His other contributions to World Wisdom's books include:
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Reviews of Not of This World

Not of this World is a unique anthology documenting nearly two thousand years of Christian mystical writings from Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant perspectives. This book—both in breadth and depth—is unique among all previously published collections of Christian mystical writings.”

Banyen Books and Sound

“Increasingly as a composer, I want to 'hear' God, and tend to be wary of yet another book on mysticism in any Tradition. However, James Cutsinger in Not of This World allows the masters of the Christian Tradition to speak on their own terms, thus permitting us to 'hear' God through their unique perspective.”

Sir John Tavener, composer and author

"Cutsinger has assembled a dazzling chorus of voices to explore the mysteries of Christian gnosis and deification. His selection is daring (where else can one find Boehme, Dante, and C.S. Lewis side-by-side?) and his taste superb. I can’t think of a better collection to place in the hands of anyone seeking to explore the Christian mystical tradition.”

Philip Zaleski, editor of The Best Spiritual Writing series

“At a time when the Christian tradition is under siege by the profane ideologies of modernity, and when Christian institutions themselves are torn by doubt and division, this anthology serves as an urgent reminder of that quintessential wisdom which cannot be compromised by the vicissitudes of time. From the days when the Master Himself walked the shores of Galilee down to our own time the Christian mystics have been living exemplars of a transformative and sapiential spirituality wherein both love and knowledge perform their mysterious alchemy on the soul. Professor Cutsinger is to be warmly commended for his judicious selection of mystical writings and for an arrangement which enhances their perennial themes. Here, in a single volume, may be found many Christian refractions of that ever-present Light which irradiates all integral traditions."

Harry Oldmeadow, La Trobe University, Bendigo, and author of Traditionalism: Religion in the Light of the Perennial Philosophy

"Not of This World is indeed a spiritual treasury garnered from near and far reaches of the Christian tradition, ancient, medieval, and modern, Eastern and Western, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant, with the special merit of integrating contemplative asceticism or mysticism and what might be called a metaphysical perspective into a living whole. The introduction to this splendid collection is in itself a little jewel. If there is a guiding principle in the selection it is the perennialist or traditionalist . . . orientation of the editor.

Within the limits of 272 pages the selections must necessarily be brief and the ecumenicity somewhat less than fully universal. One is grateful for Jingjing to represent the Chinese wing of the Church of the East, better if inaccurately known as Nestorian, and Swami Abhishiktananda to represent India. One might wish for a representation from the Quakers. One is grateful for the inclusion of that doughty Calvinist mystic, Jonathan Edwards. Perhaps Evangelicalism might be represented by selections from its hymnody. How is mysticism to be related to the spirituality of the Pentecostalists?

Ralph Slotten, Professor Emeritus, Dickinson College

"Beautifully crafted and skillfully structured, this vademecum of spiritual insights and counsels will be treasured by all Christian readers who are drawn toward the inner dimension of their tradition."

Patrick Laude, Georgetown University, and author of Singing the Way

"There are many anthologies of Christian mysticism, but few that range so widely as this: from the first century to the twentieth, and embracing equally Western Christianity—both Catholic and Protestant—and the Christian East, even the Far East. The book is arranged in three broad sections taking the reader from purification, through illumination, to union with God. Each of these sections is further subdivided to explore the different experiences of the way to union with God, from severe austerity, through diaphanous understanding, to an experience of union that transcends unity."

Andrew Louth, University of Durham, and author of Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys

“In this anthology, Dr. James Cutsinger has prepared a mystical feast of a very high order. An astutely chosen, brilliantly edited bouquet of spiritual writings, Not of This World will likely produce an extraordinary effect on the attentive reader, for this is an anthology unlike any other in my experience. More than a mere collection of "wise sayings" and mystical writings gathered in one place for the reader's convenience, this book is rather a catalogue to the curriculum of a higher School, a wardrobe to the land of true and everlasting knowledge, a hint of God's own breath in the inner ear. It does not ask to be read like an ordinary book, it calls the reader himself to be reader, text, book and truth in the experience of the ‘joyful instant’ of Christian gnosis. The last sentence of the book's final selection says it all and says it best: ‘Reader, it is enough. But if thou still wouldst read, then be thyself the book, in thought, word, life and deed.’"

Vincent Rossi, Director of Education for the American Exarchate of the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church

"Reviewing a book that consists of multiple extracts—each of them gems in their own right, is no easy task. The best one can do is attempt to put such a collection in its proper context which will go a long way towards explaining what the author/compiler has in mind.

We are instructed in Holy Scripture to “love God, know God and serve God.” Now as Augustine taught, it is impossible to love God unless we know Him— and to know Him unless we love Him; both are required if we are to serve Him in Spirit and in Truth. Unfortunately the current presentation of Christianity is little more than secular humanism and has more in common with the ethical culture society than with the Revelation of Christ. Given this situation, it is no wonder that individuals seeking “spirituality” or something “real” turn to the Eastern Religions. But here again they are— with rare exceptions— led into false and unproductive traps, for apart from the fact that they are psychologically ill prepared for Oriental forms of belief and practice, they are offered only watered down and modernist forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. Professor Cutsinger’s book is an antidote for this, for it brings us back with remarkable clarity to what it means to know, and hence to love God.

There is an Indian tale of a blind and a lame man, both of whom wished to travel to the sacred city of Benares. They unfortunately were unable to proceed as individuals, but when the blind man took the lame one upon his shoulders, they were able to successfully travel together. Exegesis explains that the one represents love and the other knowledge, or to use the terminology of the East, bhakti and jnana. Modern Christianity speaks much of love but rarely distinguishes between secular forms of what are varieties of self-love and the love of God. Indeed, it is frequently stated that God’s love is such that no matter what we do, He forgives our offences, and hence it is that according to many modern(ist) theologians, all men will be saved and there is no such thing or place as Hell. It is rarely recognized, much less taught, that true Love is a participation in God’s Love. Now, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, love resides in the will, and hence to participate in God’s Love— that is in the very nature of God— requires that our will be united to His. Similarly, true intellectuality is not to be confused with mental cleverness or our thinking processes. The distinction between the agent or active intellect, what in Greek terminology is called the nous, and the passive intellect or our thinking processes has been forgotten. Unless our thinking be in some way united or illuminated with His, there is little hope that we can participate in the Truth. How is this possible? Again, by participating with His thoughts—those that He has shared with us through His Revelation and with the teachings of the Church which represent His presence in this world. These teachings are manifested not only in the doctrines incorporated in the various creeds but also in the writings of the saints. Compounding the problem is the prevailing “anti-gnostic” attitude of many Christians which attributes to those that seek an intellectual understanding of their faith a kind of pride. Forgotten is the principle that true intellectuality and spirituality are one and the same thing. It is because these principles have been forgotten that people with a thirst for the sacred are prone to seek out strange and aberrant forms of spirituality. Here again, Professor Cutsinger’s book provides us with an antidote.

If both love and knowledge are necessary, it must be recognized that individuals are so constituted that they have a dominant inclination towards one end of spectrum or the other, but that it is impossible to totally exclude from the soul either extreme. It is, as noted above, a question of emphasis rather than exclusivity. But it is because the genuine intellectuality of Christianity has all but been forgotten, that this book is so important. It is not the kind of book that can be read from cover to cover, but rather one that shows the broad spectrum of true intellectuality to be found within the Christian tradition. Divided into three sections that follow the classical principles of the spiritual life (i.e., purgation, illumination, and union) it is a potpourri of genuine spirituality that both proves the case and at the same time provides the seeker with clues to the possibility of participating in the genuine spirituality of Christ.

One minor caveat. In reading these texts one must avoid that superficiality to which modern education makes us prone. According to William of St. Thierry, “in every piece of Scripture (or in the writings of the saints) real attention is as different from mere reading as friendship is from entertainment, or the love of a friend from a casual greeting…If he who reads genuinely seeks God in his reading, anything he reads will promote his good and his mind will grasp and submit the meaning of his reading to the service of Christ.” Similarly in the words of Jean-Pierre Caussade:
Fix your attention upon what you are reading without thinking about what follows…Let these truths sink deeper into your soul, and allow the Holy Spirit time to work. During these peaceful pauses and quiet waiting, He will engrave these heavenly truths in your heart. Simply let the truths sink into your heart rather than into your mind…You have simply to cooperate faithfully with His action by not giving any voluntary consent to the worries which besiege you.
The many passages provide proof that genuine spirituality is a common and fundamental aspect of genuine Christianity. Not every passage or saintly writer speaks to every soul, but the sources from which those passages that speak most directly to us are drawn are provided in what is an excellent bibliography that provides the reader with deeper wells to fathom. The book is complemented by an excellent introduction which is itself worthy of being included within the textual content of the book. One can only express one’s gratitude to the compiler of this collection which is a powerful antidote to the superficiality of most modern expressions of Christianity."

Rama Coomaraswamy, author of The Destruction of the Christian Tradition

“Written in a clear and comprehensive style, this book is an excellent introduction to the saints and sages of the Christian tradition.”

Sister Ilia Delio, O.S.F., Washington Theological Union, author of Simply Bonaventure: An Introduction to His Life, Thought, and Writings

Not of This World presents us with keys to discerning the mystery through a unique kaleidoscope of brilliant colors—all of them so delightful and wonderful, yet all of them ultimately symbolical and indicative of a reality beyond this world. This is not a book to be read lightly. The invitation is to approach with a profound sense of respect, with the same veneration with which one is able to recognize the very traces of God in places known and unknown.”

John Chryssavgis, former dean of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and author of Ascent to Heaven and In the Heart of the Desert

"This brilliant and moving anthology of central chrisitian mystical texts from the major chrisitian traditions will inspire all those determined to understand the reality of the Chrisitan mystery more full and dynamically."

Andrew Harvey

"This thoroughly engaging collection of Christian mystical experiences and insight takes its title from John 18:36, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' To read this carefully compiled book (indexed, with helpful footnotes and recommendations for further study) is reverently to journey toward that 'other world' in which all things are to be made new.…What is refreshing in all of this is that the editor has neatly and lucidly positioned each spiritual entry in such a way that one leads to the next, regardless of far-ranging differences instrumented by time and diverse traditions. The Spirit moves through this treasure-trove of Christian mystical experience, and the faithful reader, perhaps almost without realizing it, is gently ushered along the path of theosis, that transformative Journey of the Heart."

Steve T. Georgiou, from a review in Cistercian Studies Quarterly

"This 'treasury of mystical gems' takes seriously the good news in 2 Peter 1 that as Christians we may 'through our knowledge of the one who called us to share in his own glory and goodness ... come to share the divine nature'.…Here is true nourishment for a life that is truly Christian."

Prairie Messenger

Table of Contents for Not of This World



I. Severity
1. Breaking the Chains by Jakob Boehme
2. The Ladder of Graces by Theophanis the Monk
3. Transposition by Unseen Warfare
4. Death by St Thomas à Kempis
5. Pure Fire by Hugh of St Victor
6. What More Must I Do? by The Desert Fathers
7. The Ceremony of Substitution by Charles Williams
8. My Desire Has Been Crucified by St Ignatios of Antioch

II. Simplicity
9. Drawn by the Flames by St Thérèse of Lisieux
10. Descending with the Breath by Nikiphoros the Athonite
11. So Many Names by Jean-Pierre de Caussade
12. What Dreams May Come by St Diadochos of Photiki
13. I Sleep but My Heart Waketh by St Bernard of Clairvaux
14. Nakedness and Sacrifice by Jean Borella
15. The Tao by Hieromonk Damascene
16. Go Not but Stay by St Francis of Sales

III. Purity
17. The Center of the Soul by William Law
18. True Prayer by Evagrios the Solitary
19. The Tabernacle of the Covenant by Richard of St Victor
20. Rank upon Rank by St Clement of Alexandria
21. Ignorance Is Bliss by Nicholas of Cusa
22. Opening the Tomb by St Maximos the Confessor
23. The Virginal Paradise by St Louis Marie de Montfort
24. Clothed in Christ by St Symeon the New Theologian


IV. Clarity
25. Two Ways by St Thomas Aquinas
26. Dispelling Darkness by Boethius
27. Leading Strings by François Fénelon
28. More than Ourselves by Sir Thomas Browne
29. No Fixed Abode by Pico della Mirandola
30. Today by St Patrick of Ireland
31. The Teacher by St Gregory of Sinai
32. True Imagination by George MacDonald

V. Luminosity
33. Nothing Amiss by Julian of Norwich
34. Sweet Delight in God’s Beauty by Jonathan Edwards
35. Thinking the Unthinkable by St Anselm
36. Prayer of the Heart by The Way of a Pilgrim
37. The Religion of Light by Jingjing
38. In the Eyes of a Child by Thomas Traherne
39. Saving Loveliness by St Nonnus
40. Uncreated Light by St Seraphim of Sarov

VI. Transparency
41. Filling Every Place by Jeremy Taylor
42. Virtues and Powers by Paracelsus
43. A Single Unified Science by Philip Sherrard
44. Practicing Presence by Brother Lawrence
45. Hidden and Glorified by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
46. As through a Mirror by St Bonaventure
47. Recognition by The Gospel of Thomas
48. Two Facades by C. S. Lewis


VII. Unity
49. A Higher School by Henry Suso
50. Flight to Greater Things by St Gregory of Nyssa
51. No Other Way by Theologia Germanica
52. God’s Own Breath by John Smith
53. The Very Marrow of the Bones by St Teresa of Avila
54. Christmas in the Soul by John Tauler
55. High Fantasy Lost Power by Dante
56. Motionless Circling by Nikitas Stithatos

VIII. Unicity
57. A Reply to Active Persons by The Cloud of Unknowing
58. Closing to a Bud Again by Lilian Staveley
59. The Joyful Instant by St Augustine
60. One and the Same Mind by Origen
61. Awareness and Return by Swami Abhishiktananda
62. Waylessness by John of Ruysbroeck
63. Hidden Beauty by St Dionysios the Areopagite
64. Essence Is Simple by St Nikolai Velimirovich

IX. Identity
65. The Flight of the Eagle by John Scotus Eriugena
66. More God than a Soul by St John of the Cross
67. Unencumbered by Marguerite Porete
68. Other Suns by St Gregory Palamas
69. No Self to Forgive by Bernadette Roberts
70. To Be Quit of God by Meister Eckhart
71. Ascent to Tabor by Hierotheos Vlachos
72. Be Thyself the Book by Angelus Silesius

Sources of Readings and Recommendations for Further Study

Selection from our Library about Not of This World
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2Subject WW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
Closing to a Bud AgainNot of this World: A Treasury of Christian MysticismStaveley, Lilian Christianity
A Single Unified ScienceNot of this World: A Treasury of Christian MysticismSherrard, Philip Christianity
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