Religious experience - characteristics of visions, conversions, mystical experiences

Main characteristics of visions, conversions and mystical experiences

AQA - Religious Studies - Philosophy of religion - Religious experience

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 04-05-12 19:08

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Outline the features of....
(religious experience)…read more

Slide 2

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Examples There are three ways an
·14 year old St Bernadette of Lourdes ­ visions of "The individual can experience
Immaculate Conception" who told her to build a temple of a vision:
the ground of Lourdes because the spring water had healing
·Intellectual vision
powers (temple at Lourdes)
(brings about knowledge
·Julian of Norwich ­ 14-15th century mystic had visions ­ "I and understanding such
looked at it thoughtfully and thought, `what is this?' and the
as a revelation from God)
answer came, `It is all that is made'.
·Imaginary vision
(something that
strengthens faith is seen
with the mind's eye ­
The purpose of visions...
such as Jacob's vision of a
ladder to heaven in
Genesis 28)
·Corporeal vision (the
figure is externally
present such as St
Visions Bernadette's vision of the
Virgin Mary)
A religious vision occurs when an individual
believes to have seen or heard something
supernatural or a supernatural being.…read more

Slide 3

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Features of a conversion: (Volitional type more likely to have
Two things in the mind of a permanent effects than self-surrender
because the gradual process causes Types of conversions:
candidate for a conversion:
objections to be resolved and often leads · Volitional type ­ a conscious and
· The present `wrongness' in their to some of the most passionate and voluntary experience (features a gradual
life ­ their sins perhaps ­ and that fundamentalist advocates of a given change and consists of the slow
they want to change religious group) development of new moral and spiritual
· The positive changes they wish habits ­ the individual suddenly
to make `becomes aware' of the change one day)
Often affects people who had no ·Self-surrender type ­ an involuntary
religious faith whatsoever before and unconscious experience (the
the religious subconscious effects are more evident ­
William James: "Man's extremity is God'
s opportunity")
Intellectual conversions ­ conflicts
between 2 systems of thought,
with the new one often resulting
William James ­ volitional type requires
as being `true' and the old one
some element of surrender ­ Edwin D.
Starbuck ­ quite often a person must
Moral conversions ­ conflicting stop `trying to change'; only then will
lifestyles, with the new one often conversion occur naturally
resulting as `true' and the old one
as `false'
Social conversions ­ for example, Conversions
St Paul's conversion on the road to Religious experiences are considered to be `conversions' if their effects on the subject
Damascus are life-changing. The term `conversion' refers directly to the `regeneration' of the
individual's life and is an assurance of the `truth of the Divine'. The result of a
conversion on a personal level is usually a greater understanding of faith, and often
leads to the adoption of a religious attitude or way of life and these effects can be
permanent or temporary.…read more

Slide 4

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William James ­ Four Characteristics of Features of a mystical experience:
mystical experience: Types of mysticism (F.C.
·Knowledge of the `ultimate reality' is Happold provided suggested we
1. Ineffability ­ indescribable (St Teresa of gained which is knowledge usually hidden can divide mysticism `for
Avila: "I wish I could give a description from the human intellect convenience'
of at least the smallest part of what I ·A sense of freedom from the limitations · The mysticism of love and
learned but, when I try to discover a
of time, space and the human ego is union (the longing to escape
way of doing so, I find it impossible...")
experienced from loneliness and being
2. Noetic quality ­ Knowledge is grasped separate driven by the desire for
·A sense of `oneness' or unity with the
through intuition and perception and separation and to be part of
Divine is experienced
therefore brings intuitive understanding something bigger than
and realisation of the truth ·A sense of bliss or serenity is ourselves. We are trying to get
experienced back to God hence the desire to
3. Transiency ­ Most religious experiences
last between a few minutes and about 2 be part of something bigger than
hours and may be difficult to ourselves)
remember, but stay forever rich in ·The mysticism of knowledge
authoritative for the subject and understanding (We need to
4. Passivity ­ during the experience, the try to find out the `secret of the
subject `loses control' to a more universe' and we do not seek
powerful being causing the individual to this in sections but in the `whole
assume entirely different personalities, story'. The way that we can look
or speaking in a completely different for answers to such an ultimate
voice or language (without conscious question is through experiential
control) knowledge of God)
Mystical experience
Mystical experiences are experiences where the recipient feels a sense of `union' with
the divine, involving the spiritual recognition of truths beyond normal understanding.…read more

Slide 5

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Aspects of mystical experience:
·Soul-mysticism ­ Sees the soul as
something that is hidden and numinous.
Therefore, mysticism in this context is the
idea of finding the soul, to complete self-
fulfilment ("The chief object of man is the
quest for his own self and of right
knowledge about it")
·Nature-mysticism ­ God is immanent
and is everywhere, and therefore can be
`united with' in many aspects of nature
·God-mysticism ­ the contention that
the souls of humankind desire to return
to their `immortal and infinite Ground,
which is God'.…read more


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