Mystical Experiences

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The mystical experience, an experience felt beyond the realms of ordinary consciousness that has affected many prominent figures throughout history. Mystical experiences often defy any physical description and such experiences involve ineffable awareness of time, space, and physical reality. These experiences are universal and share common characteristics no matter what religion, beliefs, or culture in which the person attends and the experiences are often spiritual rather than religious. William James, a philosopher and a psychologist indentified four characteristics that have laid the foundation for the validity of a mystical experience; these characteristics are ineffability, noetic quality, transiency, and passivity. According to James mystical experiences vary in intensity and they present themselves as having sudden insight or knowledge, then there is the maximum state of a mystical experience where an individual experiences being in union with God. Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen are two women who have had mystical experiences in which it truly affected their lives and the people around them, although their experiences were different both women felt the presence of god and were immediately filled with insight.

Teresa of Avila had two kinds of visions during her mystical experiences and each vision differs from each other significantly. One of the visions that she experienced only consisted of feeling Jesus Christ within her vicinity; she states not being able to see him but to feel his presence at her side and nothing more. She was very ignorant about this type of vision at the time and the consequence of her vision left her soul quiet, deeply and continuously recollected. The second type of vision that she had began with parts of Christ’s body: his hands, his face and eventually the whole. She then began to witness the resurrected glory of Christ and initially fell into confusion and turmoil but soon after she began to feel certain and secure...
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