Professional psychological statistics show that between 33-48% of the populations of the U.S., Britain, and Australia have experienced mild "religious experiences," which some call "re's." In selfdescriptions and interviews, the characteristics associated with these tastes of altered states include:
- awareness of a beautiful, loving Presence, often called the "Presence of God."
- awareness that a prayer is being "heard," or even answered.
- awareness of strong interior guidance, not necessarily from "God."
- awareness of a sacred Presence in the self and in all of nature.
- awareness of some kind of order, pattern, and synchronicity in the cosmos.
- sometimes, awareness of the presence of a dead friend/relative.
- the experience of all things as somehow "one" or unified.
- disappearance of boundaries separating the "self" from the cosmos.
- feeling that you are a part of a vast, immense, immeasurable Supermind.
Some experiences are esthetic, and these can be quite as powerful as those described as "religious." Music or other forms of beauty often trigger these. The "beauty of nature" is a common trigger for religious experiences.
This term can refer to very mild religious feelings. But the way in which it will be used here is to describe intense altered states of mind, clearly differentiated from normal everyday consciousness.
The very zenith of religious experience is the mystical. It is the peak, the best. Perhaps two percent of all re's are mystical.
An re tends to have a lasting effect on your life; its "footprint" is always there, in your heart. Re's are very democratic, and occur regularly to people of all faiths. (They can be extremely rare in denominations or cults that try to "explain" everything intellectually; they occur far more often in the intuitive personality than in the intellectual or pseudo-intellectual.)
Re's are thought to give the normal mind access to interior but transcendent realities. They "carry" you to what shamans call "another world."
A genuine re is not just a feeling; it involves a genuine altered state of perception and reality. Highly visionary forms, as contrasted with the purely mystical (which alter feeling) might contain images of Jesus, the Buddha, Parvati, Krishna, or Mary. At one extreme, the person might feel that she has become a completely different "self." In Western culture, this intensity is often described as the "born again" experience, but, again, members of any faith-- or none at all-- can experience the sensation of rebirth.
Real re's tend to occur in solitude and silence.
In re's, people often report paranormal events, ranging from spontaneous healings to precognitive flashes. Deja vu, esp, and clairvoyance are common. True re's often happen to older people, with some education.
Re's lead to positive life-changes and to life-satisfaction. ("Occult" experiences can lead to the opposite.) Specifically, re's lead to increased tranquility, being "at home" in the universe, and greater happiness. Most rde's (real-death experiences) begin with extremely powerful re's.
Here are some other factors associated with spiritual experience:
- time stops; you enter a "timeless" state or condition.
- tranquility and serenity blossom beautifully and profoundly.
- bright light can be "felt" around the body., which can be felt to be "left behind."
- an otherworldly "being" or "voice" might be encountered.
- joy can spiral to ecstasy.
- the mind "enters" a mystical "realm" or "world."
God is known, in the deepest experiences, as being "inside" or "within" the person-- deep within the heartmind. The experience brings both interior healing, and healing of relationships. Love is seen as the only essential. Light is felt "within" and "all around" at the same time. Most importantly, the deepest experiences are marked by an inignorable sense of "unity" with an "Absolute," "Ultimate," or simply "everything."
The feeling is that of falling into a vast, immense Mind of pure Love.
It is not unusual for these amazing states to occur during meditation, deep interior (or silent) prayer, or yoga.
A true re always has a component of social transformation: It changes the relationship with community. It makes one more people-loving, and impels one to serve people (and other living creatures). The sense of ultimate, limitless Love flows over into social situations, and one might feel gently melted into warm Love; one becomes Love.
The re creates an increase in openness to the cosmos, to other views of "truth." It amplifies one's tenderness, gentleness, empathy, and forgiveness.
In the very deepest (mystical) experience, there are no images or visions. They all have to do with only feelings.
Here are some more feelings associated with the deep re:
- deep, utter, profound Love.
- deep, profound, utter peace.
- certainty that everything will work out okay
- personal need to give, contribute to others
- Love is the Center of everyone and everything
- joy and laughter
- "falling in Love" with self and everything
- great emotional intensity
- great advance in knowledge
- sense of being very ancient
- everything "one"
- chance for "new life"
- certainty of personal survival of death
- miscellaneous indescribable feelings
- all is "alive"
- dealing with "other," more powerful, minds
- immense, vast expansion
- feelings of warmth, fire, or light
- absence of all concern about "worldly" problems
An re can, under certain conditions, cure a depression of long standing. Or, it might be cured by several re's, a series. The sense of a perfect Mind or God inside yourself can do much to heal you.