Religious Experience

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Religious Experiences are

Personal Experiences

Contact with the transcendant

A demonstration for the existence for a higher spiritual power



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William James

An American psychologist who published "The Varieties of Religious Experience"

He stated that religious experiences must be(

P - passive

I - ineffable

N - noetic

T - transitory

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Where control is lost to the higher being, and the experience is not caused by the receiver.

EG. St Theresa of Avila - she lost relinquished all control to her visions.


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Impossible to be conherently explained in language - beyond explination

"I am ashamed of my feeble description. Have I not said the state was utterly beyond words" - Lord Tennyson(

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Imparting knowledge or understanding

EG. Julian of Norwich was shown all of creation in a small object. Hence, she was able to understand God's almightly power and love for creation.


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A short experience, not lasting a long time but having a profound lasting effect on life.


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One form religious experience may take is Visions

They may be:

CORPOREAL - Where a transitory body is externally present, like Muhammad receiving the recitation of the Qu'ran from the angel Jibril.

INTELLECTUAL - Where intelligence or understanding is passed on to the receiver, like Julian of Norwich understanding creation.

IMAGINARY - Where the transitory body exists in the mind, or a dream, like Matthew 2:13 where Joseph receives a warning in a dream.

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Another form of religious experience, in which a dramatic turn in someone's spiritual life takes place.

They may be converted from no religion to one, or from one religion to another.

Often incited by reading Holy Scripture or text.(

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- Where a person decides to make a spiritual change, so does all the practical things to make that happen. For example, a person may want to convert to Islam.

 - This may be going through the motions at first - making lifestyle changes, praying, making the declaration.

 - At a later date, something may happen to make them truely believe - for example, going on Hajj.

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A second type of conversion (sometimes colloquially referred to as Jailhouse Conversions)

 - A person may feel their life is sinful, wrong or worthless and they cannot do anything to make it better.

 - They surrender themselves to religion to turn their life around.

 - When life improves they see this as divine intervention, cementing their new-found religious beleif.

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A more complicated form of religious experience - visions or conversions may be mystical experiences.

  - An altered state of consciousness.

  - Unity with the universe or God.

  - A lasting effect on life.

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