What is an experience?

What is an experience?

Religious Experience LO: To understand and be able to describe the nature of a religious experience. To know keywords associated with the chapter. To be able to identify different types of religious experiences. To know what our objectives are for this topic. What is an experience? An experience is something you participate in or live through. It consists of: Sensing something; Registering this sensation with the brain; Recalling previous experiences; Categorising the experience; Evaluating the experience and acting accordingly. Every experience therefore involves sensation, interpretation and response. Keywords Take down your keywords from the text book

they act a guide to topics will be looking at within this chapter. By the end of this chapter I should be able to. Consider the nature of Religious experience.A01 Know and understand the different types of religious experience A01 Re call some case studies for each category.A01 Be familiar with the ideas of philosophers on how they offer a schematic approach to studying and verifying religious experiences.A02 Evaluate the argument and theories. A02 Issues surrounding corporate v personal.A01/A02 Is personal testimony enough to convince others?A01/A02. Key Questions.. Learners should have the opportunity to discuss issues related to arguments for the existence of God based on reason, including: whether personal testimony or witness is enough to

support the validity of religious experiences. whether or not corporate religious experiences might be considered more reliable or valid than individual experience. whether or not religious experience provides a basis for belief in God or a greater power. Religious v Ordinary experience Wholly other from what is customary or usual. The person believes that have experienced God. This may cause a spiritual change with a religious dimension, such as praying. The person finds it difficult to describe the religious experience. Whilst the feelings may be the same, cultures interpret the experience differently, for example, of Jesus, Shiva or Muhammad.

A religious experience is often subjective (as opposed to objective in which the source of ordinary experience is external to individuals and so actually exists). Not everyone has a religious experience. (Everyone however can experience a tree). It is not possible to verify religious experience (as opposed to ordinary experience which can be checked). It is meant to give insight into the unseen. (Ordinary experiences give no insight into other realms). God cannot be experienced unless He allows it (whereas ordinary experience may be experienced by anyone). GCSE RE ?

What are the types of Religious Experiences? NUMINOUS PRAYER CONVERSION Give a definition and example of all MIRACLE four types. Classifications of Religious Experience Swinburne, 1979. The Existence of God. Encountering God through a normal nonreligious object or event, such as a night sky. Experiencing a very unusual public object, such as the appearance of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.

Experiencing private sensations described by normal vocabulary, such as Josephs dream of the angel (Matt 1:20-21). Non-sensory experience in which it is only possible to say something happened. Franks Davis, 1989, The Evidential Force of Religious Experience. Events that have no specifically religious characteristics attributed to a divine source, such as an answer to a prayer. A primary physical sensation, such as a vision or hearing a voice. An enlightenment experience in which the religious content of the experience reveals something. An experience of Gods unapproachable holiness. A mystical experience in which an ultimate reality is sensed or a oneness with God.

What do they have in common? Walter Stace, 1960, Mysticism and Philosophy. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The unifying vision expressing that all things are one. Timelessness and spacelessness. A sense of reality that is a valid source of knowledge. Blessedness, joy, peace and happiness. Feeling that you are in the presence of the holy, sacred or divine. This is why an experience is being of God. 6. Sense of a paradox or defying. 7. It cannot be described in words; ineffable. 8. Loss of the sense of a self. What is religious experience? A religious experience is one that someone interprets as religious.

Using the notes from ... usually induces in the person conviction yourconcerned books aand infothat the everyday world is not the whole of reality; there is another dimension to life awareness of its given 1 behaviour and changes presence affects the persons view of thewrite world, itaalters attitudes ... May be seenparagraph by an individualsummary as life-enhancing, or he may recognise It as of a special force which gives him added confidence or courage. As a result of their experience experiences many are ledatoreligious

prayer and religion. Alister Hardy, The Spiritual Nature of Man, 1979. include a quotation. A religious experience involves some kind of perception of the invisible world, or involves a perception that some invisible person or thing is a manifestation of the invisible world. Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind, 1969. An important challenge is the sheer breadth and variety of religious experiences. William James The Varieties of Religious Experiences William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience defines mysticism as an ability to see truth in a special way. There are four characteristics: 1. Ineffability: states of feelings so unlike anything else that it is not possible to describe them. They defy expression. 2. Noetic quality: seem to allow insight into truths not available by reason alone. They are illuminations or revelations of great importance. 3. Transiency: exist for relatively short periods of time. Whilst these states are remembered, they are imperfectly recalled. 4. Passivity: may be entered through meditation and so forth, but the state is one of

acceptance and openness. Not all mystical experiences are however religious experiences. Paul Tillich therefore broadened the understanding to experiences to include those giving ultimate meaning, structure or direction to human experience. What is mysticism? Mysticism, is a direct intuition or experience of God and a mystic is a person who has, to a greater or lesser degree, such a direct experience. This experience is regarded as first-hand personal knowledge. A totally unmystical world would be a world totally blind and insane." Aldous Huxley Man has a feeling that he is truly represented in something which exceeds himself. Rabindranath Tagre, Indian poet Features of Mysticism Gaining knowledge of the Ultimate Reality: knowledge hidden from the

human intellect Sense of freedom from the limitations of time, space and the human ego Sense of oneness or unity with the Divine Sense of bliss or serenity How can you tell if its a mystical experience? William James (1842 1910) The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) James recognised that there were many contexts in which the term mystical could be used. He therefore offered four characteristics which, claimed James, will enable a clear identification of a mystical experience. (1) Ineffability they cannot be explained (2) Noetic Quality they impart knowledge, (3) Transiency they are over quickly, (4) Passivity they come upon the individual without being sought after see sheet

Recap; James Characteristics of a religious experience Passivity - done to you Ineffability indescribable Noetic - provides insight of the divine Transiency short lived experience but effects last long https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6vwNUOjxSA Williams James (The Varieties of religious experience 1902) examined religious experiences closely in his lectures in Edinburgh ( called the Gifford Lectures) Many have dismissed religious experiences as the product of a faulty mind but James said it didnt matter they were still experiences that were valid. James maintains that underneath all religious creeds and dogmas lies the primary experience of the Divine.

He said when investigating religious experience you need to know two things 1. what happened ? ( An Existential Judgement) 2. what does it mean? (A Value Judgement) Think Pair Share what are the issues with this ? James states that religious experiences have the potential to be evidence for the existence of God. However, he seems to imply that this is not the important result of an experience, the effect on the person is the most significant. And therefore that which produces effects within another reality must be termed a reality itself, so I feel as if we had no excuse for calling the unseen or mystical world real William James ( The Varieties of Religious Experience 1902) He believed this shows the existence of God as the source of the experience. He also noted that those who claim to have had a religious experience tend to be happier than atheists! Key Question

Is it possible to think of experiences which we would consider genuinely religious which would not meet all four of James criteria? Mysticism II: Christian St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) divided religious experience into three stages: 1. the purgative stage, the mystic is purified and prepared for the experience through meditation 2. the illuminative stage, the mystic is illuminated both cognitively and emotionally 3. the unitive stage, the mystic gains a continuing union with the Divine. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) describing mystical union as spiritual marriage. St. Theresa of Avila - the soul is fully awake as regards God, but wholly asleep as regards the things of this world. ... God establishes himself in the interior of this soul in such a way that, when I return to myself, it is wholly impossible for me to doubt that I have been in God, and God in me. St. John of the Cross all the movements and operations which the soul had aforetime ... are now in this union changed into movements of God

St. Bernadette of Lourdes St. Joan of Arc Toronto Blessing began in 1994, including people weeping uncontrollably, others laughing hysterically, others falling down, while others jerk and twitch. Mysticism IV: Numinosity There is much disagreement as to whether mysticism is a universal phenomenon or whether there are different categories of mystical experiences. A number of writers distinguish between the mystical experience and the experience of the numinous. Numinous was coined by Rudolf Otto in his book The Idea of the Holy, 1917. He argued that there is one common factor to all religious experience that he called the numinous (from the Latin numen meaning divine). This is something wholly other than the natural world. He analysed this type of experience in terms of the Latin phrase, mysterium tremendum et fascinans: Tremendum is made up of an experience of: awefulness inspiring awe overpowering inspires a feeling of humility

energy or urgency immense vigour, compelling. Mysterium is made up of an experience of: wholly other totally outside our normal experience fascination causes the person to be caught up in it. Mysticism V: Numinosity Numinosity is therefore different from mystical experience according to Ninian Smart (Philosophers and Religious Truths, 1964), because: 1. There is an deep separation between the person and God, as opposed to the emphasis upon union in mystical experience. 2. A sense of dependency on something external to the person rather than the mystic focus on the internal. 3. It usually happens suddenly and unexpectedly, whereas mysticism is often prepared. Martin Buber argued that relationships can be formed at two levels. I-It (viewing

people and things simply as phenomena, classifying things) or I-Thou (taking a relationship further and having a truly personal relationship). Buber stated that God is the Eternal Thou and is therefore critical of numinosity. Buber said religious experience can be interpreted as contact with God through other people and nature. As Buber put it, in each Thou we address the Eternal Thou. Sren Kierkegaard saw faith as a miracle and that the only way in which God could be known by an individual was through a leap of faith. Faith arose through human experience which could include in some cases, religious experience. Buber and Kierkegaard are basically saying that knowledge of God is different for each individual, depending

upon their devotion, denomination or religion. Experience is not universal. Prayer as religious experience Prayer is a method for communicating between humans and God. Prayer can be considered contemplative, and contemplation was until the 14th and 15th centuries used to describe mystical experiences. As Auguste Sabatier (1839-1901) stated: Prayer is religion in actWherever prayer rises and stirs the soul, even in the absence of forms or of doctrines, we have living religion. (Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion Based on Psychology and History, Hodder and Stoughton, 1897). Mental prayer, where no words are used, may be seen as different from petitionary prayer, when a person is asking for something. [cref The Life of George Muller of Bristol]. Petitionary prayer can still recognise the power and goodness of God, resigning the person praying to the outcome God wills.

Others have argued that petitionary prayer is a reaction to the idea of a personal God. Other argue petitionary prayer is not about fulfilling a wish, but helps a person put the matter is now in Gods hands. Frederic W. H. Myers (writing in 1898) regarded prayer as a vital component of an individuals psychological well-being. The act of prayer therefore matters, whoever you pray to. Conversion I: Definition Conversion means to to change direction or to turn around. A religious conversion therefore is the process that leads to adopting a religious attitude or way of life. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience defines conversion as a process by someone expresses a greater conviction in their beliefs. The key features of this: 1. A process: it is a movement from one state to another: a normal evolution of character which chiefly consists in the straightening out and unifying of the inner self ... while this organisation is taking place, there tends to be unhappiness. 2. Gradual or sudden: Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:3-9) is a dramatic conversion with a radical life change based on a direct religious experience. There may however still have been prior sub-conscious development. Saul was after all on the way to persecute Christians after seeing St Stephen being stoned. Conversion alternatively may not have an instant dateable experience.

3. Self-divided becomes unified: from a psychological perspective there is a sense of incompleteness: sick souls that become healthy and whole. 4. Volitional or self-surrendering: the individual must give up or relinquish his or her personal will. 5. Passive or active: passive is if someone does not deliberately sick it out, whereas active conversion is when someone specifically seeks a spiritual experience. 6. Transforming: by passing from one state to another, the person is changed. Someone who has a conversion may experience a los of worry, gain a sense of perceiving truths not known before, a sense of regeneration (cleanliness or beauty) and an ecstasy of happiness. Conversion II: Types Conversion may be from having no religion to a faith. CS Lewis: riding to the Whipsnade zoo in the sidecar of Warrens motorcycle. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Conversion from one faith to another. Saul of Tarsus converted from Pharisee Judaism to a Christian. Conversion from faith (believing) to faith (trusting). John Wesley: In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society, where one was reading Luthers preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the

heart through faith in Christ. I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ. Conversion III: Motifs Religious conversions are very varied, but there are seen to be some general patterns or motifs of religious conversion. Momen, The Phenomenon of Religion, 1999, summarises them as: 1. Intellectual emphasis is on intensive study with little contact with other people. 2. Mystical occurs suddenly and dramatically, sometimes accompanied by dreams or visions. 3. Experimental emphasis on active exploration, assessing the religion over a period of time through participation. 4. Affectional involves contact and bonding with actual members of the religion and feeling loved and nurtured. 5. Revivalist occurs in a revivalist meeting and is usually an emotional response. 6. Coercive persuasion and thought programming. It may offer financial or social status enticements. Visions and voices I: Definition Visions and voices are something seen or heard other than by ordinary sight or hearing. There are a variety of different visions and voices: 1. An image or event in which there is a message. In Acts 10:9-16 Peter has a vision of heaven opening and a large sheet containing all kinds of animals on it.

2. Religious figures. Whereas some Christians have seen saints (Joan of Arc and Saint Michael) others see Jesus himself (Teresa of Avila. 3. Places, such as heaven and hell, highlighting favourable and unfavourable aspects to an afterlife. 4. Fantastic creatures or figures. Ezekiel for example sees examples of men with the face of animals (Ezekiel 1:6-10). 5. The Future. Revelations describes Johns visions of the final judgement. Visions and voices II: Types In addition there are a number of different types of visions and voices. 1. Group visions. These are visions seen by more than one person. Famously during the Battle of Mons, 23 August 1914, British troops reported the German army stopped by a vision of St George and phantom bowmen or angels throwing a protective curtain around British troops. 2. Individual visions. These are visions seen by only one person, and is usually what happens. For example, Bernadette of Lourdes claimed to have experienced 18 visitations from Mary over a six month period. 3. Corporeal visions. Such visions is of an external object only visible to certain people. These are usually visions of angels. This is different from apparition, which appears and disappears suddenly without leaving a physical trace. 4. Imaginative visions. This is an image produced in a persons imagination and has no

existence in the outside world. An example would be Johns visions in Revelation. If they are genuine however they have been brought about by a supernatural agent. Visions and voices III: Two case studies The Angel of Mons Lourdes Some argue that the account is credible shown by contemporary diaries and letters. The eyewitnesses only came forward at a later date. If a supernatural event had happened, records would also be mentioned elsewhere. The majority of regiments fighting at Mons report nothing. Some say the account derives from a short story by Arthur Machen called The Bowman.

The apparitions were declared authentic in 1862. Since then many have claimed to have been cured, physically and spiritually. The priest demanded the Lady to perform a miracle and a rosebush in the grotto bloomed. The Lady told Bernadette she was the Immaculate Conception, which an uneducated rural girl would have known. 150 apparitions of Mary in Europe in the five years following Marys appearance at Lourdes, however none of them were authenticated. Near Death Experiences (NDE) I A near death experience is an out-of-the-body experience occurring at the time of actual or threatened imminent death. There are a list of about 15 features of a NDE. Ineffability

Hearing the news Feelings of peace and quiet The noise The dark tunnel Out of the body Meeting others The being of light. The review The border or limit Coming back Telling others

Effects on lives New views of death Corroboration Near Death Experiences (NDE) II Some of the key features of a mystical experience occur in a near-death accounts. There is a sense of experiencing an ultimate truth about life. It also shares some of the characteristics of a mystic experience, such as intense realness, ineffability, transcendence of space and time, feelings of joy and peace and positive changes in attitude and behaviour. In addition, the radiant and glowing figure at the end of the tunnel experience is often associated with a spiritual being, such as God, Jesus or Allah.

Most world religions have otherworldly journeys. In Christianity see 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. Stigmata Stigmata (singular stigma) describes the body marks, sores, or sensations of pain on a persons body that relate to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the wrists and feet from nails and the lance in the side. Some stigmatics display wounds consist with a Crown of Thorns, tears of blood or sweating blood and wounds to the back as from scourging. Some stigmatics claim to feel pain with no external marks. Others are in extreme pain. Some wounds do not appear to clot and in some cases has a perfume odour. The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians where he says, "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." In the original Greek however St Paul is likely to be talking a mark or brand, such as might identify an animal or a slave.

Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. There is often a desire to have communion regularly, and some may only be sustained by communion only. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. There is however no case of stigmata before the 13 century. A high percentage (perhaps over 80%) of all stigmatics are women. n his Stigmata: A Medieval Phenomenon in a Modern Age, Edward Harrison suggests that there is no single mechanism whereby the marks of stigmata were produced. Triggers of religious experiences I Greeley (Sociology of the Paranormal, 1975) found the following results into triggers of religious experience:

Listening to music 49% Being alone in church 30% Prayer 48% Reading a poem or novel 21% Beauties of nature (e.g. sunset) 45% Childbirth

20% Quiet reflection 42% Sexual activity 18% Attending services 41% Your own creative work 17% Listening to sermon

40% Looking at a painting 15% Watching children 34% Physical exercise 1% Reading the Bible 31% Drugs 0%

Source: Cole, Peter, 2005, Religious Experience, p.73 Triggers of religious experience II Music is frequently used in worship in most religions and can be accompanied by dancing. This can take the form of frenzied drumming and rhythmic dancing. In addition hymns can express shared beliefs and generated share emotions. Prayer, and in some sense all religious experience is about prayer, communion

with God. Christians believe prayer is real and valid, although it is impossible to prove. At best, it seems to prove coincidences. Meditations goal is to obtain a religious experience. Teresa of Avila distinguishes between four states of prayer: prayer of quiet; the prayer of union; the state of ecstasy and spiritual marriage. Mantras and religious symbols seeks to achieve spiritual states by chanting a repetitive phrase. Deprivation is a common aspect of asceticism, in which the body is suppressed for spiritual ends. This could mean living in solitude, keeping a vigil (not sleeping), and fasting. Ritual actions of a repetitive set of actions. Corporate acts of worship creating a special kind of communal experience Holy people and places that seem to trigger religious experience.

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