Given an expanded psychology there is no reason for mysticism of any kind.
All the phenomena associated with the spiritual path can be explained in terms of a greater, expanded view of the mind. This includes rebirth and the existence of other realms. All this can be seen as phenomena of the mind because ultimately everything we experience is experienced within the mind.
All we experience is the knowing of information or meaning. This is all there has ever been to our experience and is all there will ever be. This whole realm of information is formed in parallel with that of being. This is not some kind of inert phenomena. Truth can be as formative as matter or energy. It is just as alive if not more so than being.
Although we may even use the terms of mysticism in order to evoke the special or unique qualities of spiritual realms we need not create any mystical 'beings'. This is as long as we understand that some phenomena exist just within the mind that have a completely independent existence from our own psychological processes. This is to give these things in one sense the status of beings in that they are as much a being as anything else that seems to be so. Yet we recognise that everything ultimately only seems to 'be' anything. This is a crucial point. Liberation of mind comes from realising that there is no need to be or become anything in order to survive. In fact we had better not become anything if we want to survive. Everything that is born, dies.
Let me now give an example of a different view of a mystical phenomena: A person comes to a monastery to make an offering in memory of a deceased relative believing that this will assist their relative in some way. We can think of this as helping a spirit in mystical terms or we can reframe in terms of the mind. To make an offering is to do something positive in memory of someone. We add something positive to the memory which in psychological terms is that deceased relative within the mind. In terms of an expanded psychology we could understand the deceased person's spirit to be associated with this memory - the truth that the person really represents has its source in their 'spirit' and its influence also elsewhere. The surviving relative may be in touch just with a memory or with something closer to this source. Either way the act of offering is valid, having benefit for both parties.
If we see the Buddha’s spirit in the same way as that of this deceased relative we see His 'spirit' as having enormous influence in the world. His Dhamma as a universal truth which lies in everything.
So what might an expanded psychology look like overall? Conventional psychology concerns the realm of form. What we need to add to this is the phenomena and dynamic associated with the empty mind or space of the mind. Also the different kind of forms that can arise within the mind when this emptiness is complete or pure. If the mind is truly empty it is no longer creating or fabricating based on the data of the senses so what arises is a more direct experience of form, a pure perception free of conceptual bias.
To conclude this expanded psychology is not, I would emphasise, some kind of secularism. This is is different understanding of what spirituality really is. It is a view of spirituality that still has magic but demystifies this. Greater understanding is then greater power to the mind.
So I hope these reflections can help those people who cannot believe in mystical phenomena to find a new understanding of them that does not require belief. For those who already hold these beliefs maybe this can help them understand more clearly the true nature of what it is they believe in.
Truth as essence
If we see the mind as consisting of information the essence of the mind is truth or meaning (Dhamma). Then, if we say that 'awareness' arises out of information and 'knowing' arises out of truth, we are aiming to raise all our awareness to the level of knowing.
Ultimately this brings the mind into a different relationship with the world, to a unified experience. The truth and its knower are one and the same in the case of the highest Dhamma. In other words, "he who sees the Dhamma sees the Buddha."
In all other cases the truth and its knowing are separate in some way. This is because the result of this ultimate knowing is for the mind to let go and enter into emptiness, ultimately into Nibbāna (in the coming together is the letting go). Then the essence of the mind is Nibbāna. So there is only conditions in the mind there is no longer a mind within those conditions.
In fact Buddha, Dhamma and Nibbāna are all the same:
We see the Dhamma, let go and Nibbāna is the result. So the Buddha and Nibbāna are in this sense the same. They are both the result of having seen the Dhamma.
The Buddha and the Dhamma are the same in the sense that the Dhamma is the impermanence of everything; the Buddha is time itself.
Yet we have to be careful that we take the right emptiness to be Nibbāna. There is more than one kind of emptiness. Even the emptiness of the unenlightened mind (the citta) goes unaffected from life to life, the suffering arising and ceasing within it. Only the enlightened mind is free of suffering, it does not arise - this is cessation (nirodha).
This is liberation through truth not just a leap into space. So the search for liberation is one of truth not just samādhi. We consequently need to stay in the realm of truth or meaning to realise the truth and not drift into the realm of being anything. It is space within this realm of truth that is liberation.
Hence 'being space' is close to liberation. Very deceptively close and yet suffering can arise within all spaces but one, the space of Nibbāna.
But have we come up with a view of the deathless reliant on perception and therefore bound to the senses the same as any other consciousness? No. The mind relies on perception to enter Nibbāna but does not rely on perception to stay there because it has rediscovered its original nature. The mind has not gone anywhere. The mind is in the world but not of the world, there is union and transcendence together.
Realising the essential knowing nature of the mind is to get back to its original source, the original mind, there before we are born and there after we die. This is a mind that can come in and out of existence having an independent source. We can discover this through the experience of samādhi. The mind beyond the senses in samādhi is like the mind before it comes into the world. The state of samādhi can still be there when the phenomena of the senses reappear as an open, spacious, pure mind or heart free of the hindrances. Unless this samādhi is completely pure, however, it will deteriorate as the mind enters fully back into the world.
So there is only one kind of samādhi related to wisdom or knowing which remains pure and we realise we have discovered the original mind.
In Zen they search for this through repeated enquiry "what was my face before I was born". In Theravada we see this original mind as simply the result of letting go of everything. Letting go occurs through knowing so the mind that lets go of everything is the mind that has knowing established as a natural state, as its essence. We ultimately even let go of all sense of a "one who knows" or a centre to this knowing.
One way in which we can try to keep our mindfulness or our samādhi without the wisdom of letting go is through passivity. We do not enter in to the world at all, it is not just our heart that does not. This is flawed. Our minds will just get dragged back in to the world or the world will flood back into the mind through all that we are failing to do. What is required for the heart to remain pure is detachment within activity. This is the challenge or training that true spiritual life presents us with.
So in this way we can see through samādhi all the dynamics of the mind and heart. We do not need to speculate as to the nature of the transcendent mind.
Then if we have faith we can open to the possibility that this mind goes beyond death. Many great arahants have tried to show this to us. They have had relics of their bones kept after their cremation and then these have multiplied or grown showing that they have not really departed.