I've felt the emotional inspirational 'hard to pin down' experience of the 'holy spirit' in church, in prayer and at other times when i was a young believer. As a 'confirmation' of beliefs... I guess if it was the only thing you knew or experienced it would be all you needed. But it is nothing compared to a full-fledged inner 'spiritual' experience.

I grew up the son of a liberal theologian.... not a charismatic, His father, my grandfather, was a mystic. I longed for more than the 'feeling'...I wanted the experience of the gnostics and christian mystics. I wanted to go on my own trip into heaven and see God and the angels for myself like these other folks did. Why should they be the only ones to get to experience these things? This eventually led me to eastern mysticism, which led me to a particular branch of yoga and a particular form of yoga meditation.

I have to say at the outset that the 'spiritual' or 'mystical' experience that can happen in meditation is light years MORE than what is normally described as the 'holy spirit' in church.

From a phenomenalogical standpoint you feel MORE awake than normal, MORE alive than normal. You actually have the experience, visual and aural of leaving the physical body, flying, and interacting with people in other arenas (planes/subplane/levels of consciousness, inner worlds..etc..)

You actually can have the sensation of 'consciousness expansion' of 'connecting with everything' of being ONE with the source.

It is MUCH harder to question the veracity of these experiences...then it is to question the vague 'feelings' you experience in church and prayer meetings.

I still don't question the 'phenomenology' of the experience but the 'definitions and ultimate definitions' of them.

What I'm getting at here is that for some people 'belief' isn't just a wish and a hope but an actual verifiable and living experience that can be tapped into at will..(with some practice of course)

This makes it infinately harder to 'question' and critically examine your experiences and MORE importantly to question the validity of the interpretations of them.

I just wanted to know if anyone else here has come to Atheism from the same or similar background.

Views: 6

Comment by Mario Rodgers on May 1, 2010 at 12:24pm
I've felt that too. The very final time I went to church. It's called getting goosebumps. I was lost and confused on why my life was sucking and went to church to seek peace. I could've sworn that I felt something there. *shakes head* There's nothing there. It's all the power of self-suggestion.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 1, 2010 at 12:31pm
I get that same 'feeling' when I'm in a room alone in the dark after watching a scary movie.
I know that there is nothing under my bed out to get me, but my recent temporary environment influenced my emotional projection into something tangible.
Comment by Wesley on May 1, 2010 at 12:49pm
When you sit down for meditation as your thoughts go quiet in the middle you see sudden flashes of light which becomes steady and grows into a star, and the star grows into a sun and you are pulled through that to the moon and in the midst of that light you see the form of your guru.

You test that form with your Mantra given you by your guru at initiation to see if it is 'legitimate' or the negative powers imitation. If it withstands the mantra you can have confidence that its legit and thus begins the inner quided mystical journey with your guru.
Comment by Wesley on May 1, 2010 at 1:15pm
Mario and Misty, Yes I agree that its a projection...but I also wanted to show by my previous responce that 'inner experiences' were orders of magnitude different. More like 'conflations' instead of just projections only.

I think inner experiences have more to do with Neural architecture and social, cultural and religious conditioning.

This is why Christian mystics tend to see things that reflect christian cosmology, hindus hindu cosmology, etc...
Comment by Shine on May 1, 2010 at 5:21pm
I think that it's interesting to explore the different effects that the brain can produce upon sensation and perception, and I agree that meditation can certainly produce some phenomenal experiences. I just think that the mistake lies in attributing those experiences to a supernatural cause.
Comment by Wesley on May 1, 2010 at 6:19pm
Yes... exactly. Have you heard of Persinger's helmet? or the 'god helmet'? It directly stimulates experiences of the sort I'm talking about.....however what people experience depends upon their social,cultural, religious background. I would add that the similarities of inner experience between different cultures and belief systems comes from the similarity of neural architecture.

"This is very dependent on the belief system of the individual subjects. Dr Persinger talks about his subjects feeling a 'sensed presence' - feeling that somebody was in the chamber with them. Subjects who are strongly religious are likely to interpret this presence as god. Whereas, atheists may also report a 'sensed presence' but attribute the phenomena to a trick of brain chemistry, perhaps comparable to when they have taken drugs in the past."

My point is that its not JUST imagination... 'something is going on' its the 'Interpretative matrix' in which this something happens that determines what is perceived.

Richard Dawkins tried the helmet and didn't experience anything at all.
Comment by Cara Coleen on May 2, 2010 at 12:27pm
So, if I wanted to try out this meditative state for myself, could I even though I'm atheist? Or, would I be like Dawkins, who experienced nothing? I can't tell you how many times I've tried to meditate or conjure an experience and failed. It was really disappointing at the time, now I really wonder if it's just impossible for my brain to "transcend".
Comment by Shine on May 2, 2010 at 3:07pm
I can't tell you how many times I've tried to meditate or conjure an experience and failed. It was really disappointing at the time, now I really wonder if it's just impossible for my brain to "transcend".

One word: psilocybin. :D Really, I have never really had a super transcendent experience while meditating. It's probably because I'm mentally hyper and have trouble sitting still without falling asleep. I have seen light flashes a couple times. But I do notice that if I get in a pattern of meditating five minutes a day--just sitting quietly with my eyes closed--I do feel perceptibly more calm and focused throughout the day. However, I really find it hard to get calm enough initially to get into that pattern, lol!
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 2, 2010 at 9:29pm
Shine-
~thumbs up~
I'm right there with ya, sister.
On all accounts!
Comment by Shine on May 2, 2010 at 9:34pm
I really think that occasional mushroom use would be therapeutic for me because it would force me to sit still for five minutes, lol.

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