Sunday, May 22, 2011

If We have Extraordinary Experience, Why do We Need the Church?

The reality of it is when people meditate the realness of spiritual experiences begin to take hold of a persons life. The effects seem to always fall in line with the "kundalini" phenomena. What I have found is that names don't make much difference spirit is spirit as you said.

The above quote is from an email I received from someone who has had an extraordinary experience in prayer. One of the things I'd point out to my correspondent (who may already be aware of this) is that the effects of the spiritual encounter that so resemble kundalini effects, also resemble the effects of the Near Death Experience, a spot-on mediumship session or pretty much any consciousness-altering experience of Eternity.  However, these effects are not seen in drug, injury or illness-induced alterations of consciousness. Only an actual encounter with the Divine Love, or what so many call the Light, brings about these effects, which are well-documented cross-culturally.

Below is something I said in a post about the Centering Prayer Controversy, "she" referring to the author of an article criticizing it:
She believes Centering Prayer is the same as Transcendental meditation and is part of the New Age.  She goes to some lengths to find similarities.  She is correct, there are similarities.  There should be.   Why wouldn't Christian mysticism have much in common with any other mysticism? If there is only one God, then all people reaching for the Divine or transcendental are reaching for the same thing.  So ineluctably, by our own dogma of One God, Christian mysticism must enjoy much in common with other mystical traditions.  It would be impossible not to.

As what we call the "New Age" borrows from mystical traditions of other belief systems, then, of course, any kind of meditative/contemplative practice will have something in common with that. And, as there is just the one God, one Light, the effects will be similar regardless of the approach.

What are These "Effects?"

Dr. Kenneth Ring, called the "Dean of NDE Researchers" in chapter 5 of his book  Lessons from the Light lists the effects, which parallel effects reported by others who've had transcendental experiences.  These effects, in whole or part, are not only predictable, but also become permanent changes in the experiencers. I've combined and rearranged but included all his effects:

Lessen or lose all fear of death.
Complete confidence in existence of an afterlife.
"Deep inner certitude" that God exists. (May use other terms for God)
Increased spirituality, less fideism.
Increased reverence for life, including plants and animals.
Increased compassionate concern for others - 
desire to be of service or find their life's purpose.
Motivated to acquire spiritual knowledge
Increased self-worth and self-compassion
Expanded mental awareness - receiving wisdom from supernatural Source.
Paranormal sensitivities and abilities.
Healing gifts
Increased sensitivity to environment: sight, sounds, smells, color.
Increased sensitivity to drugs and alcohol - lower tolerance.
Physiological Hypoarousal: lower blood pressure, metabolic rates, body temperature.
Energetic shifts:comparable to "kundalini" and stimulating higher sense perception, may find electronic devices around them affected

Two effects not in his list (possibly because one seems too silly and mundane and the other too extrreme) but included by NDE researcher P.M.H. Atwater are:

Acquired dislike for curtains and drapes and..
Objects around the person appear or disappear.

These effects don't all suddenly appear in place in every experiencer. They can be literally judged gifts of the Spirit, and are acquired as a result of continued prayer and connection to the Spirit.  That connection in some seems to be like a switch that has been left in the "on" position: as long as the person keeps seeking God/Light/Truth, they keep receiving something real but unmeasurable in the form of energy. Not some part of a known electromagnetic spectrum, but something else.  Something that can be transformed into electro-magnetism, or even matter. This is part of what what Pope Paul the VI in Indulgentarium Doctrina called "spiritual goods,"  the part that comes from God.  It may be what Einstein referred to when he said that matter and energy are both forms of "something else."

So What Do We Need the Church For?

Two things: validation and information. Seems a bit glib and arrogant.  But in fact, when we receive these Truths through experience, we know something.  The problem is, psychotic people also think they know things.  And, all Divine revelation is always more than a human mind can truly comprehend or convey.  No Near Death Experiencer truly knows what the afterlife is, only what they have been able to experience of it that is remembered after their return here.  Those things are true, but also incomplete and in fact, often unique to themselves. A pray-er who has a lost time experience, may come to new understandings with no memories at all.

The corporate Church, through the millenia, in spite of its sometimes outrageously wicked history, retains as a result of the extraordinary faith, lives, witness, experience and writings of it's members, an unparalleled body of spiritual truth. The "fullness of Truth" is, in fact, available to us here.  In these writings and witness, we find the validation of what we already know to be true.

The is the true metaphysics, endeavoring to grasp "the fundamental nature of reality and being."  And in that endeavor we need information, innumerable quanta of data, which we will find lead us right into the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, risen, alive, present.  We have heard as Peter did, having knowing not available from words of men, but from above, which lead us ineluctably to do what Peter did: follow Jesus' Revelation.

next: what the corporate Church must do


  1. Thank you so much for your posts. The symptoms of spiritual experiences that begin to actually reach beyond the physical world of the five senses seem to be very similar regardless of the religion of the individual. The saints of our church certainly reached beyond what the average individual can sense.
    We truly are spiritual in nature, that is our pure state. We are all being called to return to it... to return to God our creator. The beauty of us all is very real and always there. Some people like the wonderful saints are not any different than anyone else, they just managed to shed the goo covering the light given by Christ. No matter how much of the goo is there the light never changes. God will never leave us, it is not possible! To look inside and find that lovely pure light will always create love that is how I know it is of God. Pure unselfish love can never be confusing, the greatest deception is that it could be.
    The church certainly has its place because it preserves the foundations and helps to prevent human error of the spiritual promises given by our savior. We are mere humans to leave it to our own devices would be tragic. Thank you so much for including my thoughts on your website!

  2. "Pure unselfish love can never be confusing, the greatest deception is that it could be."

    Like a colorblind person who can't understand how you know the fruit is ripe, those without these experiences cannot understand that we KNOW the source.

    And we do need our Church to guide us, which I'll be talking about tomorrow. A few years ago it was easier to find prayer groups where we could find support and share understanding. Now, so many feel alone.

    Thanks so much for posting!