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The problem of spiritual experiences


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#16    StarMountainKid

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:20 PM

Thanks, _Only and braveone2u for your explanations. My question was part rhetorical and part wondering  what the "spiritual" element is. Can we not have an "awakening" or an epiphany without the spiritual? Can this dramatic change be psychological or philosophical?

I think problems within organized religions do arise when some have spiritual experiences. When one becomes aware the he/she is one with everything and one with God, for instance, this feeling my be contrary to the teachings of Christianity. Only Jesus is considered one with God, I think. No one else is allowed to be the equal of Jesus, or of God.  Ordinary citizens are not allowed this privilege.

In Hinduism, everyone is God. Most don't realize this inwardly, but those who do are easily accepted with no prejudice. I would think, in Christianity, the lack of spiritual experience is not as great a problem as those who have had this spiritual experience. There can be only one Jesus. Wouldn't others walking around having had this profound spiritual experience be a threat to Christian dogma?

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#17    Ever Learning

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:23 PM

Lack of spiritual experiences, not in the churches i know.

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#18    No-thingBornPassion

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 07:48 PM

View PostStarMountainKid, on 17 September 2012 - 04:20 PM, said:

Thanks, _Only and braveone2u Can we not have an "awakening" or an epiphany without the spiritual? Can this dramatic change be psychological or philosophical?

When one becomes aware the he/she is one with everything and one with God, for instance, this feeling my be contrary to the teachings of Christianity. Only Jesus is considered one with God, I think. No one else is allowed to be the equal of Jesus, or of God.  Ordinary citizens are not allowed this privilege.

In Hinduism, everyone is God. Most don't realize this inwardly, but those who do are easily accepted with no prejudice. I would think, in Christianity, the lack of spiritual experience is not as great a problem as those who have had this spiritual experience. There can be only one Jesus. Wouldn't others walking around having had this profound spiritual experience be a threat to Christian dogma?
Can we have an "awakening" without the "spirit" element? Having the element of resurrection (as in Lazarus Syndrome) is really the only guaranteed "awakening." Otherwise, a common "awakening" is subject to disregard, disdain, or disrespect -- as in, "It was only a dream."  

How to define God is the problem. Was Jesus God while he was alive? I believe that Jesus was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit or "Flow," just like Horus, Krishna, Mithra, etc. They were one and the same power-core. Is the "Flow" God? That, I don't know, even though I'm one of its servants. I'm  beginning to really find out that the "Flow" is here to guide us to our freedom, or to reach Nirvana.

Is anyone "one with God"? No -- at least not the way I define my God. Also, spirituality is being in the now; therefore, being one with God is totally out of the question while one is still on this earth. Nobody on earth has totally undergone the process of Nirvana.

Has Jesus entered Nirvana? I do know from watching those Jesus Christ films that he is in this material reality until the end of time. And God(?) is not in this world.

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#19    Beany

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 08:24 PM

View Post_Only, on 16 September 2012 - 04:05 PM, said:

It's an experience (at least for me) that completely changed how I view the myself and the world. It was a moment in time that I saw and felt things in a different way. It made me change the way I think and act from that moment on, and I felt (and fully believe) that this experience was facilitated, enacted, and reinforced by a part deep inside me (or spirit). And since the way I think and feel was drastically changed from this point on, I would most definitely call that a spiritual change.

This also seems the type of thing that I can attempt to tell you what it means to me, but you'll never really understand until it happens to you (as fake or dismissive as that sounds).
Sounds like you & I have had similiar experiences. For a long time I processed it as a "spiritual awakening", because that was a term & language I was familiar with. Now I wonder whether it was as much or more of a physical and emotional experience as it was spiritual. Certainly my experience changed who I was and how I'm in the world, and what I perceive to be in the world, but that's not necessarily spiritual. An issue with this kind of experience, I think, is that the only language we only have religious/spiritual terms for it, so that's how we speak of it and process it.There are very few references to it as non-spiritual/non-religious, other than Abraham Maslow's work around peak experiences. I think he quaitifies and identifies it very well, without resorting to religious terms.

Maybe we use religious/spiritual language because these experiences are so life-changing in regard to how we perceive and understand things, and when it happens, there is little to connect it to other than in spiritual terms. For me the physical changes occurred first, and it was almost overwhelming. When I began to look for explanations of the event, all I found were religious references. I don't know why I had this experience, as I had not sought it out nor even knew it existed, and if someone had told me, I wouldn't have believed it. I have processed the experience mostly as being aware of my connection with Mother Earth and all of her children, whether they be humans, plants, animals, or stone, of knowing i am a small part of a much bigger whole. Is this the same as experiencing God? Maybe what's in us and outside of us is what we call god, small g to indicate something other than a supreme beingcreator/savior. Maybe our concept or definition of God needs to be challenged, or we need to explore ways to redefine God, think outside the box so to speak; we will certainly encounter challenges when we do that, but quite possibly unexpected rewards as well.


#20    _Only

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 05:56 AM

View PostStarMountainKid, on 17 September 2012 - 04:20 PM, said:

Thanks, _Only and braveone2u for your explanations. My question was part rhetorical and part wondering  what the "spiritual" element is. Can we not have an "awakening" or an epiphany without the spiritual? Can this dramatic change be psychological or philosophical?


To be honest, I (and I'm sure the rest) have jumped around all of those terms in trying to explain and figure out what happened. Spiritual just stood to the front for me, due to the building of my thoughts and feelings in reaction to my world around me these days. I started there, went to psychological, then back to spiritual, philosophical, etc.

Now I'm trying to fit them all together. Well, as an armchair enthusiast. :P

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#21    _Only

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 06:03 AM

View PostBeany, on 17 September 2012 - 08:24 PM, said:

Sounds like you & I have had similiar experiences. For a long time I processed it as a "spiritual awakening", because that was a term & language I was familiar with. Now I wonder whether it was as much or more of a physical and emotional experience as it was spiritual. Certainly my experience changed who I was and how I'm in the world, and what I perceive to be in the world, but that's not necessarily spiritual. An issue with this kind of experience, I think, is that the only language we only have religious/spiritual terms for it, so that's how we speak of it and process it.There are very few references to it as non-spiritual/non-religious, other than Abraham Maslow's work around peak experiences. I think he quaitifies and identifies it very well, without resorting to religious terms.

Yeah, that fits with how I explain it. What else would I be able to call it? I don't know. So I go with "spiritual". The same term I would have rolled my eyes at and snicker hearing another say, which changed overnight. How crazy!

But I think Carl Jung was really going somewhere with his personal experiences and interpretations of what I call spiritual. He would translate it in a different way with his own terms using psychology education. But while I don't fully understand his whole thing there, I agree that it is all related to our mind. But what isn't?

I'm just paying close attention to certain things I absolutely adore out of the blue now, in my every day life. The Sun, moon, water, trees, dirt even, lol. I had ignored this all for my whole life, why am I now loving these things?  I say it is because of a spiritual change, only because this is the best term I know to use.

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#22    jamesadem24

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:32 AM

Do such experiences constitute proof positive that there is something otherworldly going on? Personally, I'm skeptical and think that all these things can be comfortably explained in this-worldly terms, if one cares to subordinate emotion to reason (and I am one who does).

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#23    Idano

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:52 AM

View Post_Only, on 15 September 2012 - 09:29 PM, said:

Or maybe doesn't enjoy it, but needs to see it. As it is a part of everything. And He/She/It needs to see everything, in every way possible.

So God is a voyeur?

What could possibly go wrong?

#24    Jessica Christ

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 12:57 PM

Spiritual experiences can happen for so many reasons including temporal lobe epilepsy, near death experiences, singing, chanting, chemicals, and even, in my case, sweeping with a broom (in a very meditative manner) although this last and maybe some of the others can be considered a state of flow (aka being in the zone).

http://en.wikipedia....ow_(psychology)

There are many other reasons for spiritual experiences. We all lump them under one banner for lack of a better method now.

As a rough rule I would categorize chanting and drumming that leads to spiritual experience as a form of flow because it is deliberate versus other types of spiritual experiences that are more spontaneous but people will call it as they wish and I don't mind.

When you are able to feel the presence of God, or feel yourself melt into nature, listen to a song and have your head swimming in a dopamine rush, all these are very great experiences that might differ from one another but basically allows us a sense of being connected or more than we are.

Edited by Chasingtherabbit, 18 September 2012 - 01:02 PM.


#25    _Only

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:56 PM

View PostIdano, on 18 September 2012 - 10:52 AM, said:

So God is a voyeur?

I meant morevlike  a student.

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#26    Beany

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:11 PM

View Post_Only, on 18 September 2012 - 06:03 AM, said:

Yeah, that fits with how I explain it. What else would I be able to call it? I don't know. So I go with "spiritual". The same term I would have rolled my eyes at and snicker hearing another say, which changed overnight. How crazy!

But I think Carl Jung was really going somewhere with his personal experiences and interpretations of what I call spiritual. He would translate it in a different way with his own terms using psychology education. But while I don't fully understand his whole thing there, I agree that it is all related to our mind. But what isn't?

I'm just paying close attention to certain things I absolutely adore out of the blue now, in my every day life. The Sun, moon, water, trees, dirt even, lol. I had ignored this all for my whole life, why am I now loving these things?  I say it is because of a spiritual change, only because this is the best term I know to use.
Yeah, snickering and rolling my eyes, did a lot of that. So my experience had a large physical component to it; i.e. "seeing things", hyperawareness &  sensitivity, etc., maybe it WAS largely physical, in that my 5-6 senses seemed to start operating in overdrive, like my body was on a dimmer switch turned to low then all of a sudden it switched to bright. Here's what Maslow says from Wiki: "They are not true mystical experiences, but rather inspirations, ecstasies, and raptures. It is thought that probably the majority of peak experiences fall into this category. Absolute peak experiences are characteristic of mystical experiences, and are comparable to experiences of great mystics in history. They are timeless, spaceless, and characterized by unity, in which the subject and object becomes one."  The sense of unity is perhaps the one that has had the greatest impact on my life.


#27    No-thingBornPassion

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 06:56 PM

View Postjamesadem24, on 18 September 2012 - 10:32 AM, said:

Do such experiences constitute proof positive that there is something otherworldly going on? Personally, I'm skeptical and think that all these things can be comfortably explained in this-worldly terms, if one cares to subordinate emotion to reason (and I am one who does).
As I mentioned many times before: the only way to be totally sure about "otherworldly going on" is to really die and come back from the dead. That should give you the proof you're seeking. On the other hand, it's not up to us to decide whether or not we are able to come back again in the same time period, in the same body.

Edited by braveone2u, 18 September 2012 - 07:03 PM.


#28    Quaentum

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 07:35 PM

View PostBlueogre2, on 15 September 2012 - 09:11 PM, said:

Greetings forum, today my thoughts turn to the concept of  spiritual experiences and the problems they present for both Christianity and Atheism. Basically I feel like that if God is real, then how does one account for the great deal of suffering and sorrow in the world. If Jesus really did heal all the people he came in contact with then why do many people die from illness and injury. The lack of spiritual experiences presents a serious problem for the Church and it's claims. Furthermore, Atheists also are in a bind due to the fact that the constant accounts of hauntings, aliens abductions, and recovered memories of past lives seem to indicate that the material world is not all that there is. I am interested in what everyone has to say.

I don't have the exact quote, but George Burns, playing the part of God in "Oh God" said something along the lines of that he put man on Earth and it was up to us to make it work.

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#29    Beany

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:08 PM

View Postbraveone2u, on 18 September 2012 - 06:56 PM, said:

As I mentioned many times before: the only way to be totally sure about "otherworldly going on" is to really die and come back from the dead. That should give you the proof you're seeking. On the other hand, it's not up to us to decide whether or not we are able to come back again in the same time period, in the same body.

See, it's a language problem again, I think. What's otherwordly? I see lots of stuff many people don't see, but I understand it as being part of the natural world, instead of something "other." Sort of like 200 years ago when people weren't able to see microbes & bacteria. Then the microscope came along and allowed us to see them, but still, we can only see them if we use the proper equipment. So maybe there's more stuff like that floating around, and we just haven't developed the instrumentation that allows us to "see" them. My reality is that we share our planet with "supernatural" entities & beings, they're just another component of creation, and there really is nothing supernatural about them. In fact, maybe they perceive or don't perceive us in the same way. Does one of them go home and say, Honey, you won't believe what I saw today!


#30    StarMountainKid

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 08:16 PM

sutemi said:

Hi SMK, This is one of the best explanations I have seen,  It also reveals how the thought maker that we have to listen to all day is our jailer that actually keeps us from experiencing our true nature, although I don’t recommend the good doctors method, just get yourself a good teacher and practice meditation.

http://www.ted.com/t...of_insight.html

Great video. I think everyone who has had a spiritual experience should watch it. I think all experience is created within the brain. "The life force power of the universe"...the experience of oneness...is an electro-chemical process of the brain's right hemisphere, evolved for reasons of survival.

I think in meditation this right hemisphere of our brain becomes more ascendant, or the left hemisphere is subdued. Whether this "spiritual experience" that has been reported here is fundamental to the universe, I don't know, but I have little belief that it is. I recognize that to the person involved it is an actual, real experience. That's all to the good, but I consider this a psychological experience, not of cosmic or spiritual origin.

The goal of meditation is, I think, to achieve this psychological state of consciousness. Would we all make an effort to realize this consciousness, the world would be a calmer place in which to live.

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