William James Mystical experiences

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  • William James Mystical experiences
    • Mystical experiences
      • Direct & intimate experience of God
      • Spiritual recognition of truths beyond normal understanding
      • Closest a person can get to actually meeting God
      • Knowledge of ultimate reality is gained - knowledge normally hidden from human intellect
      • Sense of freedom for the limitations of time, space and the human ego is experienced
      • Sense of oneness or unity with the divine
      • Sense of bliss or serenity is experienced
    • William James
      • Sympathetic to religion but not religious
      • Applied insights of science - particularly psychology
    • Conclusion
      • Cause of experiences which people seem to have & are affected by is real; if that cause is believed to be God - then God exists
      • Does not prove God of classical theism, but just God in sense of source of the religious experience
      • Those who have claimed to have religious experiences seem to be generally more fulfilled and purposeful in their understanding of world & their place in it, than those who subscribe to atheist theories
      • If something is true it is likely to improve someone's life, whereas if something is false is more likely to restrict and damage a person's life
    • Characteristics
      • Ineffability
        • The experience cannot be communicated in normal speech
        • Descriptions offered are meaningless to a listener who has no experienced mystical experience
        • Private events
        • Example - Tennyson - after a religious experience - 'I am ashamed of my feeble description. This state is utterly beyond words.
      • Noetic quality
        • Bring the mind knowledge & understanding
        • Insights into unobtainable truths - not through intellect but through intuition & perception
        • Intuitive understanding & realisation of truth
        • Example - Julian of Norwich
      • Transciency
        • Most religious experiences only last a limited amount of time - between a few minutes & 2 hours
        • With time, it becomes more difficult to remember
        • Has a life transforming effect
      • Passivity
        • While undergoing experiences, one loses control to a more powerful being (God) and is overwhelmed
        • May result in unusual activity e.g. Teresa of Availa is said to have levitated


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