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What kind of Religious Experience would qualify as 'proof'?

 
 
walkingaround
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 May, 2010 08:57 pm
@Greg phil,
the opening question of this thread is very interesting to me. I have had (what some might define as) religious experiences. But, to me, they were so close to my own sense of identity, that it would be impossible to talk about them in a discoursive way. I might rather paint a picture.
So, to me, personal experience can NEVER be a proof to anybody else than me. I can accept people experiencing "Jesus" or other religious entities, but i cannot follow them, when they are taking their very personal experience for common. They can share them with kindred people, but why taking them for "TRUTH"?
Because they think that if they dont take them for truth, their personal identity is invalid. And that is not true.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 May, 2010 09:38 pm
@Greg phil,
I know exactly what you mean. I had the same kind of experiences. That is why I devoted a lot of time to reading about altered states, comparitive religion, mystical awakenings, and related topics. I concluded they really do occur and are meaningful with 'communities of discourse' - basically amongst those who have had similar types of experiences. As far as how they are interpreted, there is a strong ground for saying that a lot of the self-imposed task of religious orthodoxy, in the West anyway, has been to 'manage' accounts of those experiences in accordance with the institutional guidelines.

I don't know what kind of reading you have done on it, but I can provide some of the sources and writers which helped me, if it would help.
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 01:09 am
@Greg phil,
What is proof? How does one prove that 5 + 5 = 10? Is this really a tautology? But wouldn't that mean these little symbols possessed the same meaning for all human beings? Even tautologies depend on a shared language. And how do we prove that a language is shared? By means of language? Hmm.
How does one prove the "law" of gravity? Sure, we are convinced, but is that proof?

How does one prove that one is in love? What is the difference between proof and persuasion? If we have a "religious" experience that fills us with love and purpose, do we need "proof" for ourselves? Or is this experience "proof?"

Is absolute proof a superstition? An absurdity?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 01:57 am
@Greg phil,
Mathematical proofs are sound. I don't see any reason to question them, or scientifically established facts, either, for that matter. But religious experience is of a different order. I think the OP was basically skeptical but is prepared to negotiate. But even if it true that such experiences exist, how do you validate them? Actually there is an answer to that, but it is only really available if you have already decided to believe in the possibility.

I had spiritual experiences under entheogens.They are completely unarguable. Of course all the straights will say you're just hallucinating.

You're right. There is no proof. Maybe I should do what Guru says, stop talking and meditate more.
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 02:10 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;165644 wrote:
Mathematical proofs are sound. I don't see any reason to question them, or scientifically established facts, either, for that matter. But religious experience is of a different order. I think the OP was basically skeptical but is prepared to negotiate. But even if it true that such experiences exist, how do you validate them? Actually there is an answer to that, but it is only really available if you have already decided to believe in the possibility.

I had spiritual experiences under entheogens.They are completely unarguable. Of course all the straights will say you're just hallucinating.

You're right. There is no proof. Maybe I should do what Guru says, stop talking and meditate more.


These experiences are impossible to prove, I think. It is like trying to prove to someone else that you had a particular dream, impossible. Either they believe you or they don't.
Dreams don't require proof because we all have them and understand that they are personal.
Spiritual experience is the same, those that have had them will understand and those that don't will always remain skeptical.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 02:18 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;165644 wrote:
Mathematical proofs are sound.

With respect, I don't think it's that simple. Godel, Turing, Chaitin. Cantor went mad trying to prove the continuum hypothesis. When he couldn't prove it, he started to feel that he was God's secretary, that the proof no longer really mattered. His Aleph is taken from the Ein Soph of the Kabbalah.
Godel tackled this problem and starved himself to death. He thought the food and air were poisoned. Turing enjoyed a cyanide apple. Godel and Turing were both obsessed with Disney's Snow White. Turing was obsessed with artificial intelligence, and other issues tangential to religion. Wittgenstein wrote Remarks On the Foundations of Mathematics, which is potently critical of Mathematics as Ideal Truth.

---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 03:22 AM ----------

jeeprs;165644 wrote:

I had spiritual experiences under entheogens.They are completely unarguable. Of course all the straights will say you're just hallucinating.

You're right. There is no proof. Maybe I should do what Guru says, stop talking and meditate more.


Well, I think the spiritual traditions are deeply significant. All life is a miracle if our windows are washed. The dark side of crude religion is that it stresses the supernatural, the miracle. As if there mere fact that we are here, together, with a common language, in a world almost unbearably strange and beautiful...and terrible...were not equal to terms like "God" and the rest. But the squares will accuse me of having a lust for life, of lyricism, of being astonished. Of not being another masochistic idolator of the one-eyed implicit metaphysics of natural science. And I love science. Enough to love a science of science. Also I love religion enough to gripe about shallow reductions of its profundity --

I think we humans are sometimes drowning in one kind of proof, and sometimes dreaming of another which is impossible.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 02:25 am
@Greg phil,
By way of orientation I am going to map this against some Buddhist epistemology at this point. IN this schema, there are two levels of truth, samvritti, conventional and paramatha, ultimate. The former embraces what we generally would describe as empirical and rational truths, concepts, sciences, mathematics, and so on. The 'transcendent' truths which are conveyed by the Buddha are, by way of contrast, only discernable via the 'wisdom eye' of prajna.

Now again with the Buddhist tradition there are also ways of judging and validating various levels and kinds of spiritual experiences. However it is understood that this takes place in the context of the sangha who are consecrated to the discovery of the 'higher realizations' which describe the spiritual path.

Now I am not saying this is the ultimate truth of the matter but it is a schema within which to conceptualize it.

---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 06:25 PM ----------

'the dark side of crude religion' is what happens to it in the hands of whose who don't understand what it means.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 02:28 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;165653 wrote:
By way of orientation I am going to map this against some Buddhist epistemology at this point. IN this schema, there are two levels of truth, samvritti, conventional and paramatha, ultimate. The former embraces what we generally would describe as empirical and rational truths, concepts, sciences, mathematics, and so on. The 'transcendent' truths which are conveyed by the Buddha are, by way of contrast, only discernable via the 'wisdom eye' of prajna.

I like this. We have something akin to the useful but limited investigation of natural science contrasted with philosophy in the grand sense.

---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 03:38 AM ----------

jeeprs;165653 wrote:

'the dark side of crude religion' is what happens to it in the hands of whose who don't understand what it means.


Indeed. Metaphors/myths taken literally. Until neither the "faithful " nor the skeptical will read the book with an open eye. The New Testament is tangled with contradictions, but Jesus is clearly an enemy of self-righteousness and idolatry (crude "religion") within that narrative, as well as, at other times, a speaker of absurdities. The pieces do not cohere. How confusing this was for me when I was told to understand all this as the absolute word of God!

I think an agnostic is perhaps the ideal reader of the Gospels. The proof is in the pudding....

---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 03:40 AM ----------

wayne;165650 wrote:

Dreams don't require proof because we all have them and understand that they are personal.
Spiritual experience is the same, those that have had them will understand and those that don't will always remain skeptical.


Excellent way to put it! Because we all have dreams, we all believe in dreams. Consensus is what some of us take for authority without admitting it. What enough of our neighbors say is proof. And woe to him with a story to tell!Smile
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 03:10 am
@Greg phil,
although we should bear in mind that there are some good books, such as William James Varieties of Religious Experience, and Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, and many others, which document religious experiences. Also have a look at Council on Spiritual Practices

0 Replies
 
walkingaround
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 09:52 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;165655 wrote:
I like this. We have something akin to the useful but limited investigation of natural science contrasted with philosophy in the grand sense.


This is an interesting thread, thanks people...

But, Reconstructo, dont you think it is difficult to propose Philosophy (Academic Philosophy) as the counterpart of science in the same way as the Buddhist Concepts puts , say, the third eye?

Philosophy is still a science, after all, or are there Philosophers who deal with the problem Experience/proofs? William James?
I would be grateful for more Literature!!!!!:bigsmile:

---------- Post added 05-18-2010 at 12:04 PM ----------

Is there any existing philosophical (or whatever) theory / concept that deals with your discussion, Reconstructo and jeeprs?

You two laid it out really well. I would like to add: If our dreams and our experience of altered states is something that we have in common, and if we agree that from them we cannot (should not) deduct any dogmatic religion, would that be an appropriate, "new" religion? And, does a religious community like this exist? What I mean is, I have been looking into Buddhism , mainly zen, Taoism, and christian mystics, and they were, with the exeption of Taoism maybe, still each in their way dogmatic, to very little extend at least.

Sheeesh, maybe I should shut up and meditate. But that would mean we would never have some kind of community. Thats the problem for me: my experiences are just individual, and I long for community.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 May, 2010 03:54 pm
@Greg phil,
You're dealing with alternative philosophy in these things. It will never be part of respectable academia. There are a lot of books out there, just do some reading, and keep a critical eye. I don't know about 'the third eye' - I don't think that is a Buddhist term although it might be mentioned in some popular spiritual literature. Do have a good look at the link I posted above.
0 Replies
 
 

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