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What was the best spiritual experience you've had?

If you were ever religious, did you ever have any “transcendent” experiences, feelings of elation or “connection to something greater”? Or maybe you felt the hand of God in an immediate, visceral way? How do you reflect on your experiences now? Does it inform your understanding of religious belief in general?

If you have had experiences that seem to qualify but had no sense of “spirituality” or the supernatural, that would be interesting to hear about as well

Posted: September 9th 2011

Blaise www

I’ve never been religious, but I’ve had 'spiritual’ experiences. I only use the word 'spiritual’ because English has no other word that encapsulates the concepts of 'awe’, 'connectedness’, and 'revelation’ all at once.

The first time was during my junior year in college. I was standing in the shower, minding my own business, when I had this sudden epiphany, wherein several previously impenetrable physics concepts I’d been pondering all became clear to me at once, and formed an entirely new model of the universe in my mind. I saw the entire universe, and everything I’d ever personally observed, in an entirely new light and as an integral whole. It was so vivid and overwhelming, I nearly fell over.

To this day, every time I take a step back from the hustle of life and really observe, I feel an echo of that moment.

Posted: September 27th 2011

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flagellant www

When I was about eight years old, I heard a new hymn in church. I can’t remember the words, but I was greatly moved by the tune. However, I don’t recollect having what you might call ‘a spiritual experience’. It was purely a temporary feeling and made no lasting mark on me. In general, I found church and Sunday school teaching preposterous. The whole churchgoing schmeer was just the sort of thing guaranteed to repel someone of a young and enquiring mind. And, while I liked some of the music, I considered most of it musically and lyrically vacuous. Nothing subsequently compared with the original beautiful tune; nothing.

As for feeling ‘the hand of God’, I have never felt anything remotely like it. I feel moved by love, art, beautiful landscapes, and many other things in the human realm. Some things may seem inexplicable, but I know there is always a rational explanation.

Many years after first hearing the hymn, I discovered that the tune I had particularly liked was by Mozart and that it had been ‘lifted’ from one of his (secular) pieces. So, for me, the event that came closest to being ’transcendental’, or spiritual, was entirely man-made: the music had been created by a musical genius; ‘God’ had nothing to do with it.

Posted: September 13th 2011

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brian thomson www

I have a hard time knowing whether I was ever really “religious”, since I only went to church as a child, and what you feel as a child is not a reliable guide to … anything, really! My sole reason for going to church (my mother) went away when I was 12, and without her I just stopped going. It was possibly the easiest part of my experience of growing up.

I’m not sure what would constitute a “transcendent experience” for me. Perhaps it’s because I know too much. I can lie in a field, look up at the clouds, and imagine I’m flying among them. I know almost exactly how it would look, because I have flown through the clouds on many occasions, as a passenger in a plane.

I have, at times, had feelings I don’t understand, but then I know I don’t understand them. (Love, for example.) I don’t feel the temptation to ascribe more to them than the evidence warrants, but that takes nothing away from the experience. As I and others have said here many times: it is not a failure to not know the answer to a question, and to admit that you don’t know. The failure is in filling that gap with a false answer that might make you feel better but doesn’t match reality.

Posted: September 13th 2011

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