Religious experience is also refereed to as spiritual experience or mystical experience. It is commonly referred to as uncommon occurrence or happening because it does not fit in the normal day to day activities of human being. This experience is connected with individual divine perception. The religious experiences are felt beyond the spheres of normal consciousness they can also be referred to states of distorted consciousness mystical experience that always flout physical accounts and can only be implied at (William, (1997).
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These experiences are universal and they share common characteristics despite the place, culture or religion where they occur. Religious experiences are customary spiritual and some may not be religious, meaning that the experiences don’t occur only to monks or priests. Human religious experiences are entrenched in numinous state of consciousness and most numinous experiences are elements of religions (Ruth, 1997).
William James identified four general distinctiveness of religious experience,
Ineffability: religious experience states are states of internal feeling rather than a state of intellect which are restrained with fine gradations that are hard to express in their import and opulence to another. Most of religious experience literature materials are full of symbolism and absurdity.
Noetic quality: religious experiences is state of insight, consciousness, disclosure and knowledge beyond the clasp of intelligence this is a situation of immortality of the soul with great truths where time and space are exceeded
Transiensy: religious experience are transitory in actual time although they seen everlasting. Most of these experiences last for few seconds. It is rare to remain in a mystical state for along time like half an hour. The people who are known to sustain the longest mystical time are the eastern adepts in the periods of Samadhi which is mysticalstate of one point concentration.
Passivity: a person feels carried away by mystic power which goes along with a sensation of disconnection from bodily awareness. These can be in form of visions, voices and healing powers (William, 1997).
The religious experience may vary in intensity, at some instances they may appear to people as a sudden burst of intelligence or revelation which is similar to the way a formula becomes clear and makes a person to utter aha! Other religious experiences are of great intensity and meaning which may be accompanied by explosion of truths followed by pensive states and reveries. In the extreme states a person may experience ecstasy of being joined with the creator.
Some religious experiences which are experienced by the minority happen spontaneously. They mostly occur when an individual is alone and at relaxed mental state. There are many things and practices that can produce religious experience such as music, words, phase’s smells, dreams and death experience. There are some common experienced psychological changes that are observed when one is having religious experience; decreased breathing, change in pulse rate, brain waves and a person may loose body awareness. These experiences are also described in Christian mystics.
There is controversial argument that religious experience can be self induced like the use of psychedelic drugs or alcohol. This self induced mystic experience can be argued to serve no purpose. The criteria for determining the legitimacy or value is what happens after such an experience. This can be portrayed through a change in daily life of an individual who experienced the religious experience. After the experience an individual gets filled with joy and sanguinity (Jeremy, 2005).