Mysticism - Yearning for the Absolute

  • 23 September 2011 to 15 January 2012

    The Museum Rietberg is proud to present the world's first culturally comparative exhibition on mysticism.

    This elusive religious phenomenon will be illustrated by the example of forty male and female mystics: their lives and writings demonstrate just how richly varied spiritual experience can be. The mystics chosen for the exhibition come from the great religions of the world – Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity – and span the period from the 6th century BC until the 19th century.



    Among these remarkable mystics are a Tibetan ascetic, an immortal from China, an unconventional Zen master, an abbot from the monastery of Sinai, an uncompromising social revolutionary, an ecstatic female poet from India, a Swiss hermit who used a stone as his pillow, a Jewish scholar who searched for the hidden names of God, and a Sufi poet intoxicated by love whose poems are among the pearls of world literature.



    These people yearned for the absolute, for union with the divine. They tried to grasp God's energy
    or endeavoured to harmonise the forces that move the world. They practised the art of self-annihilation and letting go, they explored emptiness and strove to find the Dao. Holy writings, intimate prayers, day-long meditations, ecstatic dance, chants, or strict ascesis inspired them and helped them on their way to the absolute.



    Many artworks and original documents, together with more than thirty multimedia installations and visualisations, explain the world of mysticism: a world of spiritual experiences and secrets.

  • Late Antiquity
    Plotinus (c. 204–270) More »

    Dionysius the Areopagite (c. 500) More »
    Anthony the Great (c. 251–356) More »
    John Climacus (c. 575 – after 650) More »
    Gregory Palamas (1296–1359) More »
    Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) More »
    Francis of Assisi (c. 1181–1226) More »
    Mechthild of Magdeburg (c. 1207–1282) More »
    Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–1328) More »
    Heinrich Seuse (c. 1295–1366) More »
    Anne of Ramschwag (died c. 1343) More »
    Adelheid Pfefferhartin (c. 1350) More »
    Niklaus of Flüe - Brother Klaus (1417–1487) More »
    Juan de la Cruz - John of the Cross (1542–1591) More »
    Jacob Böhme (1575–1624) More »


    Abraham Abulafia  (1240–1291) More »
    Moses Cordovero (1522–1570) More »
    Ba'al Schem Tow (1698/1700–1760) More »


    Farid ad-Din 'Attar (c. 1145–1221) More »
    Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207–1273) More »
    Nur ad-Din Jami (1414–1492) More »
    Lal Shahbaz (1177–1274) More »


    Sambandar (8th cent.) More »
    Abhinavagupta (10th/11th cent.) More »
    Kabir (14th/15th cent.) More »
    Mirabai (c. 1500–1550) More »
    Bhima Bhoi (died 1895) More »


    Ambapali (5th cent. BC) More »
    Moggallana (5th cent. BC) More »
    Milarepa (1040-1123) More »
    Guhysamaja-Tantra (7th cent.) More »
    Kukai (774-835) More »
    Guoan Shiyuan (12th cent.) More »
    Dogen (1200-1235) More »
    Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768) More »
    Hisamatsu Shin'ichi (1887-1980) More »


    Li Bai (701–762) More »
    Lin Moniang (960–987) More »
    The Eight Immortals More »
    The Daoistic cosmology More »
    The Daoistic pantheon More »

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