A discussion on religious experiences

Public Becoming Less Religious Chapter 2:

A discussion on religious experiences

Psychologist and philosopher William James described four characteristics of mystical experience in The Varieties of Religious Experience. According to James, such an experience is: Feels outside normal perception of space and time.

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Feels to have gained knowledge that is normally hidden from human understanding. Although there are activities, such as meditation see belowthat can make religious experience more likely, it is not something that can be turned on and off at will.

Norman Habel[ edit ] Norman Habel defines religious experiences as the structured way in which a believer enters into a relationship with, or gains an awareness of, the sacred within the context of a particular religious tradition Habel, O'Donoghue and Maddox: Religious experiences are by their very nature preternatural ; that is, out of the ordinary or beyond the natural order of things.

They may be difficult to distinguish observationally from psychopathological states such as psychoses or other forms of altered awareness Charlesworth: Not all preternatural experiences are considered to be religious experiences.

Following Habel's definition, psychopathological states or drug-induced states of awareness are not considered to be religious experiences because they are mostly not performed within the context of a particular religious tradition.

Moore and Habel identify two classes of religious experiences: The deity or divine is experienced directly. Richard Swinburne[ edit ] In his book Faith and Reason, the philosopher Richard Swinburne formulated five categories into which all religious experiences fall: Swinburne also suggested two principles for the assessment of religious experiences: Rudolf Otto[ edit ] The German thinker Rudolf Otto — argues that there is one common factor to all religious experience, independent of the cultural background.

In his book The Idea of the Holy he identifies this factor as the numinous.

A discussion on religious experiences

The "numinous" experience has two aspects: The numinous experience also has a personal quality to it, in that the person feels to be in communion with a holy other. Otto sees the numinous as the only possible religious experience. Otto does not take any other kind of religious experience such as ecstasy and enthusiasm seriously and is of the opinion that they belong to the 'vestibule of religion'.

In ecstasy the focus is on the soul leaving the body and to experience transcendental realities. This type of religious experience is characteristic for the shaman. A sacred power, being or will enters the body or mind of an individual and possesses it.

A person capable of being possessed is sometimes called a medium. The deityspirit or power uses such a person to communicate to the immanent world.

Lewis argues that ecstasy and possession are basically one and the same experience, ecstasy being merely one form which possession may take.

The outward manifestation of the phenomenon is the same in that shamans appear to be possessed by spirits, act as their mediums, and even though they claim to have mastery over them, can lose that mastery Lewis: In the mystical experience, all 'otherness' disappear and the believer becomes one with the transcendent.

The believer discovers that he or she is not distinct from the cosmos, the deity or the other reality, but one with it. Zaehner has identified two distinctively different mystical experiences: Natural mystical experiences are, for example, experiences of the 'deeper self' or experiences of oneness with nature.

Zaehner argues that the experiences typical of 'natural mysticism' are quite different from the experiences typical of religious mysticism Charlesworth:/r/meditation is a community of people dedicated to improving our minds and lives.

While many of the practices discussed here have been inspired by ancient Buddhist, Hindu and other religious traditions, we are not particularly religious.

Home page of the Alister Hardy Trust (AHT). Have you ever had a spiritual or religious experience or felt a presence or power, whether you call it God or not, which . Nov 08,  · Participation in several traditional forms of religious observance has declined in recent years.

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For example, the share of Americans who say they attend religious services at least once a week has ticked down by 3 percentage points since , as has the share who say they pray every day.

A Survey of LGBT Americans. An overwhelming share of America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults (92%) say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and an equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead. In abbreviation: religion is the substance of culture, culture is the form of religion.

Such a consideration definitely prevents the establishment of a dualism of religion and culture. Every religious act, not only in organized religion, but also in the most intimate movement of the soul, is culturally formed.

A discussion on religious experiences

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