At the heart of every religion lies the ineffable experience of a lone individual. These mystical experiences have then become the cornerstone upon which the rest of the religion is built. But modern day religion has replaced these direct, unmediated, experiences in favor of abstractions and empty rituals. Mystical experiences, stigmatized by many as nothing more than a peculiar form of pathology, are often dismissed by academics and lay persons alike as being trivial, irrelevant, or spurious. I hope to show that mystical experiences, in fact, hold much relevance in our lives by directly impacting our philosophical and psychological rectitude. Mystical experiences represent the highest states of consciousness possibly achievable, analogous to the way an Olympic runner represents the highest fulfillment of the potential that lies within each ordinary runner. These higher states of consciousness bring into question traditional views on epistemology and consciousness. Integrating the pragmatic philosophy of William James, the humanistic psychology of Abraham Maslow and Andrew Weil, the anthropological research of John J. McGraw, a myriad of scientific studies, and the insights of various others, I hope to convince you of the interdisciplinary importance of mystical experiences.
|Keywords:||William James, Mystical Experience, Abraham Maslow, Scientific Research, Philosophy, Psychology, Consciousness, Shamanism|
Chicago, IL, USA