On a superficial level it would seem that Sadomasochism and Mysticism are as far apart as you can get. Mysticism is suppose to be about getting away from desires of the flesh and Sadomasochism is about expressing these desires in an extreme way.
Yet the heart of Mysticism is the concept of; "know thyself". In other words it is about people who learn to observe and understand themselves. This is also true of people into Sadomasochism, they also become aware of their deepest desires as they act them out and express them in real life.
Mysticism is associated with religion, yet religion and mysticism are in many ways, complete opposites. This is because many religions are about making up rules and laws and then threaten people with hell-fire if they don't follow these laws. A true mystic recognises no laws or doctrine because the mystic knows that these things get in the way of self-awareness. It is very difficult to search within yourself if you are censoring thoughts and feelings that you believe will condemn you to hell. Nor does true mystics judge themselves or others because they know that judgement is a final conclusion and that prevents further inner exploration and awareness.
Many people find comfort in the rules and laws lay down by religions. They are taught that the Bible or the Koran is the word of God, so all they have to do is follow the laws laid down in these books and everything in theory should be all right. Unfortunately Christian and Muslim societies are not peaceful loving societies, they are full of conflict, fear, intolerance and hatred. So there must be something wrong with the belief that either the Bible or the Koran is the word of god. What is clear from thousands of years of recorded history is that laying down laws and enforcing them, do not make for a harmonious world.
Mysticism takes a very different point of view. Mystics look for the root cause of conflict, hatred and suffering. Unlike religions they don't blame all the problems of the world onto a scapegoat like the Devil as they realise that suffering comes from within. It is obvious to most mystics and even some religious priests that the root cause of all suffering is fear and hatred. So that if all people were able to love each other and themselves then suffering would disappear. But unlike a priest a mystic knows that you cannot make people love each other by making it a law and then threatening people with hellfire if they don't obey it. This is as stupid as being threatened with violence and being told, "love other people or else". Off coarse in this situation people will pretend to love others but how they truly feel will be the same and they will secretly hate those who threaten them.
Love and hate are feelings and feelings are not so easily influenced by thoughts. So even if a person see the logical need to not to hate others and love all people, they will still find that the feelings of hatred will still exist within them. So religious people try to suppress their feelings of hatred for others and try to pretend that they love others. While mystics practice self-awareness and realise that hatred still exists within them and so they will bring up their feelings into the light of consciousness to understand why they fear and hate others.
One of the biggest obstacles for people to gain self-awareness is judgements about good and evil. All people like to believe that they are good. So when a person judges themselves to be good and then discovers that they have thought, feelings and behaviour that are not good. Then the person attempts to suppress these thoughts and feelings to change their behaviour. To do this the person goes into denial of any "bad thoughts" he or she may have and they are pushed into the unconscious mind. This means they are the unacceptable thoughts and desires and still in the unconscious mind but now are denied by the conscious mind. Unfortunately most people seem to do this even if they are not religious minded. So it means that many people are unconscious of many destructive thoughts and feelings within them. To the degree that it is possible for people to act in a hateful way towards others and be unaware of doing this. They mostly justify their hate by claiming that other people they are hurting are evil.
Any mystic who practices self-awareness soon begins to realise the whole of society is completely insane. We live in a world full of conflict, crime, wars and poverty. Politicians and priests put forward laws and beliefs about how to correct the ills of society yet all these solutions have been tried thousands of times before without changing society for the better.
It is impossible for anyone to love others and yet judge another as being evil. What is not understood that in the conflict between good and evil, everyone wants to think of themselves as being good. So even if you take a person like Hitler or a serial killer or a torturer, people might claim these people are evil but they themselves think they are good people. The paradox is that Hitler felt justified in murdering millions of Jews, turning eastern European people into slaves and declaring war on other countries because he believed that anyone who wasn't a Aryan were evil degenerates. Likewise a criminal justifies his actions by claiming that the whole of society is evil and unfair, so he feels he has to attack others to survive. Likewise a soldier who obeys orders to practice genocide and torture feels justified because to him the people he murders and tortures are also evil.
Once we judge another person as being bad, wrong or evil we have created division which can lead to fear, hatred and in extreme cases murder, genocide and torture. The root cause of this conflict is lack of self-awareness. As Jesus once said; "before you attempt to take out the splinter out of the eye of your brother take the beam out of your own eye first". Many of us can claim that we do not hate others to the degree we would murder them. Yet collectively our fears, intolerance and hatred of others does create unfair, uncaring and violent societies. The amount of conflict, violence and poverty in any society is a reflection of the lack of love all people have for each other.
This creates a problem; how do we love people who have committed crimes like rape and murder? It is natural to want to hate such people and have them punished in some way. But desires like this are very destructive and create a vicious cycle of fear and hatred. In the First world war, after Germany was defeated, the allies decided to punish German by making her pay for the cost of the war. This caused wide-spread poverty in Germany, which was made worse by a world depression. This built up a large reservoir of resentment and hatred in Germany resulting in the rise of the Nazi party and the second world war. After Germany was defeated a second time the Allies started to make the same mistake and again started to punish Germany. They then realised the threat from the USSR and realised that they needed the German people on their side against communism. So money was poured into Germany to help them to recover. This helped the German people to make friends with their former enemies and prevented more wars happening in Europe. It was the ending of the destructive power of hate that allowed the Allies break the cycle of hatred and fear between the countries of Europe.
We can break the cycle of hate and fear through self-awareness. This then means that the more we can all own up to our fears and hates the more able we are to give them up. A sadist in the BDSM scene is bringing out in the open his or her feeling of love for themselves and hatred for others. While the masochist is bringing out his or her feelings of hated for themselves and love for others. Many religious people attempt to suppress their sadistic and masochistic feelings because they judge that these feelings are "wrong". In so doing they keep them bottled up and they stay with them until they are expressed in violent situations like war, riots and witch-hunts.
For people in the Sadomasochism scene by acting out their S/M desires they are not only acting them out in a controlled fashion so they are less likely to do lasting damage to others. They are practising a form of self-awareness that allows them to deal with their feelings of fear and hate. They are also practising tolerance and non-judgement for themselves and others. In other words they are following the teachings of; "know thyself." So people into Sadomasochism are practising mysticism even if they are unaware of this.
The more we are able to express feelings of hatred for ourselves and others in conditions where they don't get out of control. The more we drain off the suppressed feelings we have dammed up within us and bring them into the light of consciousness. When we have done this over a period of time it allows us to look at these feelings without fear of being taken over and controlled by them. When this happens we find we then have a choice, we can either choose to love or hate ourselves and others. If we have enough awareness to know that hate brings about suffering and love brings about joy and happiness. We can choose love and joy without the fear of suppressed and unconscious hated and fear within us coming to the surface and taking us over. This then means we are able to choose to love both ourselves and others at the same time.