William H. Swatos Jr. The commonalities in such experience around the world is termed the consensus mysticum. It has been described by Rudolph Otto as involving an experience characterized as being tremendum et fascinans. William James has described such experiences as having the following characteristics:. James held that such experiences are powerful and lead the subject of such an experience to a belief in a supernatural entity. James held:. Such religious experiences have consequences for those who encounter them. They issue into feelings and actions. The text of Varieties of Religious Experience.
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Not all who learn of the reports of such religious experiences accept them as conclusive evidence for the existence of a supernatural reality or spiritual beings. Many have attempted to give alternative accounts of such experiences that do not involve acceptance of the existence of any supernatural entities or reality.
Naturalism is an approach to religious experiences which explains them as being the result of natural forces. It accounts for such phenomena in natural terms without recourse to anything that is beyond the physical realm.
1. Mystical Experience
In general, all reality and all experiences can be accounted for fully explained in terms of physical processes. There are different explanations for the origin and nature of religious experiences. What they have in common is the rejection of a supernatural source or object and the attempt to offer a full explanation in empirically verifiable terms. Psychological explanations have been offered by several theoreticians, including Sigmund Freud.
Sociological explanations have also been developed by several other scientists, such as Emil Durkheim. What they have in common is the refusal to accept religious experiences as being truthful, accurate, or believable in so far as the existence of any supernatural reality. One of the principle reasons for withholding acceptance of the reports is that the experiences can not be verified and what they report encountering can not be verified empirically.
Is this mystical religious experience veridical?
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Is it truthful? Is it a report which others can accept as being Correct? Suppose we accept that h umans should accept religious experiences as being veridical UNLESS there exists positive grounds for thinking otherwise, for thinking that the reports are not truthful, accurate or correct. Some do claim that there are positive grounds for rejecting the reports of such experiences, i.
In response to these observations some offer that perhaps the human being must be in an altered state of consciousness in order to have the experience of the greater supernatural reality which the ordinary consciousness can not contain or reach. Sexual abstinence may be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having such an encounter. Broad notes that reports or descriptions of these religious experiences involve concepts and beliefs that are:. Broad notes that these features are also true of scientific concepts and beliefs and that they have and do change in time.
Here is a skeptical view of the mystical experiences that offers a series of explanations of what may induce such experiences and presents then as hallucinations of a particular nature.
It turns out that it is now possible to actually replicate mystical experiences with a variety of methods, even under strict laboratory conditions. Perhaps mystical experiences are not pure delusions or illusions. Perhaps religious experiences are only encountered by those who have an ability to experience them. Perhaps there are people, even many people, who are "deaf" to such experiences.
Mystical Encounters with the Natural World: Experiences and Explanations
Wallace Matson maintains that i f the subject of a religious experience is to be believed there are certain requirements to be met. Any perception of an individual should be publicly confirmed. Wieman and Arthur Deikman on deconstructed, nondual awareness, R. Zaehner and Erich Neumann on regression to the Jungian unconscious, Sigmund Freud on the oceanic feeling, neuropsychologists on the biological basis of mystical experience, Aldous Huxley on filtration of Mind at Large, and idealist thinkers on contact with universal consciousness. A recurrent theme is the lack of attention given by theorists to extrovertive phenomenology: many explanations fall down because they fail to address the full range of experiential characteristics.
Although no firm conclusion can at present be reached on the essential nature of extrovertive mystical experience, the author favours a transpersonal form of explanation that is rooted in idealist metaphysics, but which is also attentive to the contributions of neuropsychological, collective, and contextual factors. Keywords: extrovertive mystical experience , nature mysticism , spirituality , religious experience , theory , explanation , cosmic consciousness , divine presence , contextualism , nondual awareness.
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Explorations in Mysticism and Philosophy
Don't have an account? All Rights Reserved. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Sign in. Not registered? Sign up. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Mystical Encounters with the Natural World: Experiences and Explanations Paul Marshall Abstract The present study is devoted to mystical experiences of the natural world and the disparate ways in which they have been explained.