Peter Kirby wrote: ↑Thu Jan 28, 2021 10:44 am
Would you wish that you never had such [a vivid religious] experience? Or would you remain more open to it, or even wish for it? Why or why not?
I think there should be a distinction between an experience that comes upon you, as opposed to one you cause yourself.
Ones that come upon you: When circumstances outside your control come together to allow you to see some part of the world with a new eye. These can include ones that are caused by some kind of bipolar affection.
I have a bipolar friend who is fine for long periods of time, but every year something knocks him off-kilter, like a change in diet or feeling like he didn't need or want his medications, and he would get paranoid, dissociative and angry. Maybe it was Seasonal Affective disorder, I don't know.
Back when I led a bible study at a Jr College I attended (if 3 people showed up I was elated), one guy came in for several weeks with color pencil drawings of what he recalls seeing in visions. He was quite aware that he had a form of "schizophrenia" as they called it then. They were evidently very vivid for him and luckily he expressed his experiences very well. The problem was he could not tell anymore what was imaginary and what was real. To him, he actually "saw" what was depicted in those pictures with all the rays of colorful light and distortions.
Think of autistic savants, who may be unable to relate to other people in a normal manner, look at the relationship of numbers, say, and realizing they are all connected, can do all sorts of math in their heads. The average cashier today can barely calculate change (coins) in their head without the register, or pulling out a calculator or phone app. Is that a "religious experience?" I cannot say for sure.
Induced: The other angle is when we try to induce a religious experience. In these cases we are trying to pre-program a religious experience. Jewish Merkabeh (sp) mystics repeat passages from scripture that have symbolic value, but turn the phrase around in their head in a way that is similar to picking a gym locker lock. Once they hit the right combination, they start to loose spatial orientation and imagine they are rising through the heavens, giving secret passwords and sigils to the guardian angels at each gate, until they were able to commune with God (depicted as singing in the celestial choir around God's throne).
While I have never done this myself, some people do arrange to participate in Native American religious ceremonies involving use of Peyote/Mescaline "buttons" or Psilocybin mushrooms to induce a vision. They immerse themselves in the Native culture, and undergo this because they *want* to experience what Shamans do.
Most probably don't remember the late 1960s and early 1970s (when I was in Jr High and High School), but the combination locks by Master Lock Corporation could be picked by systematically applying a logarithm until the right combination occurred. It took into consideration that the flat spots on the lock mechanism were about 3 digits wide. The whole thing could be done in under five minutes. By the same principals, I had figured out how to calculate a "reverse combination" (completely different than the original one) that was dialed in reverse. At the time, I was amazed and elated that I had figured that out and I used my secret knowledge to put notes in girl's lockers, steal a bully's clothes so he had to go about in his shorts all day, things like that. I felt empowered.
The whole "patriot" phenomenon in the USA is similar. Lots of folks were bombarded by carefully placed social media posts and news articles to believe that the election is a dark plot to oust the "right thinking" people, the only solution they can think of is violent insurrection to bully or threaten others to accept their positions. They were fully convinced that the US President of that time was going to impose martial law and put people of color in their place, as it used to or should be (in imagination at least), as if this is enshrined in the US Constitution (it isn't). They were not even trying to disguise themselves, as no harm would come upon them when the president seizes full control. They had the religious conviction that the President would prevail, and so they acted, full of "righteous anger," threatening to shoot folks for being of the wrong political party (the party you are a registered member of is public record here), etc. I don't think this is over just yet. Lets just say we are investing in ammo for several shotguns and rifles our kids inherited from a relative.
These recent events remind me of the Hutu rebellion against Tutsi rule in Rwanda. First it was radio talk shows denouncing the unity government, even going as far as shooting down the President's official plane with a shoulder fired missile and by secret agreements the extremist Hutus arose on the same day all over the country and hacked as many Tutsis to death as they could. "You are Tutsi, so you must die" was the phrase the mobs used, and since the extremists were willing to kill even other moderate Hutus, many were driven by fear to also commit atrocities, even Christian priests. IIRC, this all occurred in the 1990s. To the radicals, they were on a divine mission. They had worked many of the Hutus into a frenzy and it erupted on an orgasm of extreme emotions.
But now look at the Judean rebellion in AD 66. It was accompanied by extreme hype about an oracle of a coming kingdom that would replace the Romans as world empire. It was talked about in the marketplaces and religious gatherings. The newly established Jewish kingdom would, of course, be a just and a blessed one to live in, but there were different approaches to achieving it and who should be included or excluded, that clashed with each other and proved ruinous. "Maybe God would send angels to do the fighting for us, or maybe God expects us to establish it ourselves!"
Matthew 11:12 "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force."
These self induced frenzies, IMHO, totally overwhelmed the Judeans. The disappointment of not realizing the establishment of that kingdom and the extreme social stratification that occurred in the course of the revolt and afterwards literally forged Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism and even some forms of Gnosticism as we know it since.
Would I want to live through a religious frenzy playing out like that? IMHO, we already are, at least here in the US. Where are the Sociologists/Social-Anthropologists when you need them? We may have just witnessed the establishment of a new form of evangelical "Christian" religion that is totally different than what it was just a few decades before.
Just my 2 cents.