Varieties of religious experience

an overview of different religious experiences


Qualities of a religious experience

William James has said that all religious experiences had to have these certain qualities;

  • Passive; you cannot change the experience in any way or have any control over it
  • Ineffable; the experience is not explainable through words
  • Noetic; the experience gives a feeling of there being a higher power
  • Transient; the experience only lasts for a short amount of time

Also all religious experiences are expected to have a large life changing effect on a persons life. People often believe that for an experience to be considered as 'religious' that there should've been some sort of religious figurehead, but others believe that if you see the world in different ways either during or after your experience then that means that the experience has been 'religious'

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religious experience

religious experiences are person to the person it is happening to, meaning that it is highly unlikely that somebody else will ever experience what they have been through. There are different types of religious experience; visions, conversions and mystical experiences.

  • Visions are either corporeal, intellectual or imaginary.
  • Conversions are either volitional or self surrender.  

A religious experience concerns a meeting with a higher power or deity and is either through the mind's eye or corporeally. Rudolf Otto came up with a word to describe a feeling of awe and trembling which may be felt when a person  is having a religious experience; numinous.

  • Numinous; "the feeling of uncanny awe which may be experienced when in the presence of the supernatural."  
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