Religious experience  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Religious Experience (also known as a spiritual, sacred, or mystical experience) is an altered state of consciousness where an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine.

In religious experience, or sacred experience, an individual comes in contact with transcendental reality. Habel defines religious experiences as the structured way in which a believer enters into a relationship with, or gains an awareness of, the sacred within the context of a particular religious tradition (Habel, O'Donoghue and Maddox: 1993).

Religious experiences are by their very nature preternatural; that is, out of the ordinary or beyond the natural order of things. They may be difficult to distinguish observationally from psychopathological states such as psychoses or other forms of altered awareness (Charlesworth: 1988).

Not all preternatural experiences are considered to be religious experiences. Following Habel's definition, psychopathological states or drug-induced states of awareness are not considered to be religious experiences because they are mostly not performed within the context of a particular religious tradition.

Moore and Habel identify two classes of religious experiences: the immediate and the mediated religious experience (Moore and Habel: 1982).

In the mediated experience, the believer experiences the sacred through mediators such as rituals, special persons, religious groups, totemic objects or the natural world (Habel et al: 1993).

The immediate experience comes to the believer without any intervening agency or mediator. The deity or divine is experienced directly (Habel et al: 1993).

There are four classical forms of immediate religious experience, the numinous, ecstasy, enthusiasm and mystic experience.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Religious experience" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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