This study began as a search for a deeper understanding of the
nature of vital religious experience. The first inspiration for a
method of approach came from Baron von Htigel's classic description
of the three elements which constitute religious experience, the
mystical-intuitive, historical-institutional, and rational-philosophical.
Equipped with this insight, it became apparent that the many hooks
which have appeared on the subject of mysticism in the last fifty
years have been an attempt to redress the over-balancing emphasis on
the institutional in much of twentieth century religion. And since
many of then had been inspired by studies of seventeenth and
eighteenth century mystical writers, as Ronald Knox's Enthusicsta,
for example, it seemed that this might be a fruitful period for
investigation. Those who have actually experienced a personal
relationship to God are often more helpful tutors than those who
describe the experience of others.