The term religion is so common among us, and a majority of people across the globe ascribe to certain religious beliefs. Notably, different religious organizations have distinct ways of practicing their faith. The norms attributed to these religious organizations vary to the extent of how they worship, and even who they believe in. At least, there are various points of distinction among the religious beliefs in the current society.
While the term religion invokes varied implications among the people, various philosophers have come to either dispute or support the tenets behind religious existence. Therefore, this essay will focus on my own account of spiritual experience while considering the philosophies peddled by Emerson, James, and Huxley, and Caillois. Whether a belief is mystical or spiritual solely depends on personal belief or religious practices. Personally, I have a strong religious experience with my religion.
Before delving into my personal account of spiritual life, it is important to document the philosophical account of the Emersion, James and Huxley. This information will form a strong basis for argument on the fundamentals of religious beliefs and the core tenets of religion that most people ascribe to. On the same note, these philosophers hold distinct viewpoints about the state of religion in the society, and whether it has a direct bearing on the spiritual life. So, can we distinguish between religion and spiritual life? This is the main point of discussion that is relevant to the essay.
Ralph Emerson pegged his philosophy on the ideology of transcendentalism. His idea was in support of Kant’s philosophy that was anchored on the state of independence (Emerson, 2014). As a transcendentalist ideological propagator, Emerson ascribed to the general thinking that religious and political organizations contribute to corrupting the purity of an individual.
This ideology is premised on the fact that people are more productive and genuine when they are left to be independent. The term ‘self-reliance’ featured prominently in Emerson’s philosophy. Besides, he went ahead to state that only people who are free can exhibit their true loyalty and commitment to society. Thus, he dismissed religious organizations as mere unions that cage people’s right of independence and thus denies them a chance to become self-reliant.
According to Emerson, every idea propagated by the human mind had its origin from the natural phenomenon; what was referred by Kant as an intuition of the mind. Therefore, religion did not support intuitions from the mind but instead subjected the mind to an idealized authority. Overtly, the transcendentalists applied their mind frame to disregard the external authority, but instead, put a lot of reliance on their direct experience.
Notably, the term transcendentalism could only be realized in an environment of free thinking. For instance, Emerson believed that transcendentalism was pegged on the divinity of each person, but this would only be achieved under a free system where a person had the independence of the mind. This is how religious beliefs were delivered amongst this group of believers.
Thus, self-reliance and independence of thoughts become two central ideas propagated by Emerson as key to the correlation between the self and the infinite (Emerson, 2014). In fact, no human authority in the form of religion should come between a human and an infinite being. First, a person has to develop the full trust of himself and follow this to reach a state of full conciseness.
William James equally ascribed to Emerson’s philosophy on religious beliefs. In his philosophy, James reiterated that religion could best be termed as an abnormal state of mind or a way of reducing true religion to intellectual property. This was a very pragmatic view regarding the notion of religion. Principally, James defined religion as spiritual feelings, acts as well as the experience of men while in isolation.
Thus, men in solitude have the best chance of understanding their feelings and state of mind. He equally dismisses other philosophers who reiterate that religion exists as a discipline. Meanwhile, James comes to the defense of religion and sharply differs by the accounts of Freud.
James focus is on the significance of religion, and states that it should have the power to make bad things good, and transform intolerable states tolerable. Indeed, people should rely on religion as a way of protecting them against challenges such as loss and death, suffering and illnesses (In Proudfoot, 2004).
An individual’s steps should be guided by the religious activities that James believes is internal and personal. To James, his concern is that people have always undermined the sheer importance of religious experience, but have instead focused on religious institutions. The religious experiences include elements such as; should be authoritative, ineffable, should be limited in duration and have a mystic passive. If religious organizations are not spurred by the resultant experience, then it is just right that they cease existing.
Aldous Huxley’s philosophy is informed by a collective desire by all the religious groups. He states that all religions; Hinduism, Christians, the Islam, and the Buddhism are united by a yearning to experience divinity. There is a power of divine being that binds all these religions globally. Huxley’s point stands out in his book, “the Perennial Philosophy.” Therefore, he looks at religion on a divine perspective and hopes that people hold true to their faiths with one ultimate aim of experiencing divine power.
An experience can be termed as spiritual or mystic based on the immediate impacts that it triggers on an individual. Thus, the impact would have both spiritual and physical connotations. A mystic experience creates more awareness on the receiver, besides expanding his or her conscience. On the same note, a mystic experience leads to a connection with part of an individual that does not require physical validation.
This means that there is a divine connotation in a spiritual experience. Sometimes, we receive and feel some experiences that only amaze us, and as such the feelings do not trigger any physical connection within us. These descriptions perfectly define an instance of spiritual feeling in an individual. The mystic feeling is unique and important to individuals, and it does not take cognizance to the religious affiliation of an individual.
Moreover, being spiritual means having human traits, thereby leading to a connection between the human psychologies to the traditional mysticism. The combination of these feelings leads to the establishment of personal well-being and self-development. Therefore, the religion is built upon the spiritual feelings that people develop in the course of their spiritual lives.
Just like James puts it, the religion should be more concerned about the experience rather than manifesting external authority. Thus, the difference between religion and spiritual experience comes to play whenever there is a contrast between experience and authority. In most cases, religion has been accused of personifying the inward experiences and turning it outward; this act ruins the connection between spiritual experiences to the religious beliefs.
The spiritual experiences bring a realization in us that we are peculiar people, who are framed from our personal energy fields. The spiritual feelings equally register sensations of lightness, love, goodness, love and beauty (Paper, 2004). These are the true meaning and implications of having a spiritual experience in your life.
Personally, I have had a spiritual experience, and I attest that it goes beyond a belief in religion. When it comes to love for another person, it develops unconditionally, and its strength surpasses the authoritative advocacy by the religious outfit that I belong. When a person begins perceiving spiritual feelings, one develops a realization that a state of internal being is so strong and can never be changed by the external means. Even the higher authority affixed on religion can never change personal spirits that are inherently inborn.
As reiterated in the previous paragraph, spiritual experiences are strange feelings that an individual perceives. Thus, it is ideal to document the characteristics of these spirits as they occur into human’s life. Spiritual feelings are united to our consciousness. This feature means that there is no contrasting point between one’s stature and the beliefs that he/she ascribes. Besides, spiritual experiences lead to an infinite occurrence between time and space.
Thus, one’s sense of time becomes infinite. Other features of spiritual experience include objective reality, gratitude; where most of the ecstatic experiences come from the much gratitude that one owes to divine power. Spiritual experiences equally regard life as sacred, and one only hopes to see more miracles happen to him.
The spiritual experiences equally lead to indescribable effects into one’s life (Hollenback, 1996). These are just a few features that spiritual experiences trigger into one’s life. On the same note, these features are required of one to manifest whenever he/she experiences a divine feeling.
Despite the existence of these features of spiritual experience, our personal experiences are quite ordinary, and sometimes fail to bear some of these features. Rarely would you find an experience perfectly match these qualities? Meanwhile, my statement should not be confused to mean that spiritual feelings do not exist. I repeat one more time that we have at some point in life been exposed to some strange sensations that I believe befit the definition of spiritual feelings.
Ordinarily, we are guided by the rules and laws, which have turned us to focus on these legal aspects of life. Emerson, James and Huxley have all expressed their reservations to religion since they represent an external authority. However, we may say that a man is free in his mind, to some extent, his freedom is dictated by the laws from the higher authority. Take a case of religious laws; they often bind people to ascribe to certain behaviors, which ultimately ruin the prevalence of spirit in us.
In this regards, I take it that the external influences and authorities have a strong control to our lives, to the extent that certain independent actions are viewed as negative within the confines of these institutional laws. On my side, I tend to agree by the dictum of the three philosophers, who do not dismiss religion but accuse it of undermining the prevalence of spiritual experiences that require independence and self-reliance. To this effect, our ordinary life experiences differ from the spiritual experiences since the later are premised on authority and control by the outward forces than being voluntary and divine.
The modern church mostly regards spiritual experience as adherence to the laws that premise the formation of the faith. Meanwhile, spiritual experiences are about a divine connection with a being that extends beyond our physical needs. One cannot just describe what happens to him whenever he is possessed by the spirits.
At a personal level, I think that it is important to trust the spiritual feelings. These feelings generate a closer need to a divine authority or powers that at least most religious organizations ascribe. Huxley stated in his philosophy that religious groups were formed out spiritual experiences that led to the coming together of individuals who ascribed to such spirits. In this context, spiritual experiences should esteem as the true way of righteousness and a positive guide to a divine connection. The sensations attached to spiritual feelings create some excitement, beauty and lightness that brightest the life of an individual. To this effect, it is quite wrong to undermine the existence of spiritual feelings.
Rational philosophy and science have dismissed the existence of spiritual experiences, but I must be quick to disapprove these feelings. When a philosopher like Freud dismisses the existence of religion, then it becomes a one-sided argument that does not consider the salient features of a spiritual feeling.
On the same note, an indescribable happening can never attract empirical evidence. Therefore, science and rational philosophy only undermine the strange sensations we feel whenever we are spiritually possessed. If one cannot explain his experience, which has some great impact on him, then it means that any justification to discredit such a feeling is out of sync. On the same note, spiritual experience is out of our physical body, but it lies in us.
In conclusion, this discussion has discussed that most religious practices are out of sync with the features of spiritual experiences. Religion focuses mostly on the physique, while spiritual experiences encompass both, but must first be spurred by a strange sensation inside our body. Therefore, Emerson’s, James and Huxley’s philosophies make a lot of sense while attacking the religion. In fact, the mystic experience should come in advance to the authoritative laws advocated by the religious groups. These religious must learnt to profess the true spirit that led to their formation. Spiritual experiences do exist and must not create conflict with the religious values.