Every definition and experience of mysticism we have considered in this class hinges on a closeness with God, whether in the sense of an all-encompassing “One,” in the Early Christian conception of Plotinus, or in the spiritual encounters Annie Dillard describes as part of her daily life. As a person who considers myself agnostic and does not believe in a god in the manner in which God has been described in these accounts of mysticism, I began to wonder if it is possible to have a mystical experience without the religious beliefs often associated with mysticism. In many of the texts we have studied, I felt that I could relate strongly to the experiential aspect of mysticism, but not to the underlying Christian religious tradition and depiction of God to whom these experiences were attributed. In this essay, I aim to explore whether or not mystical experience is possible without belief in a higher spiritual authority, and if it is, what this experience would look like.
Religions; Religions -- Philosophy; Religions -- History
Relics, Remnants, and Religion: an Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies
The University of Puget Sound
"Mysticism without God: The Alaskan Experience,"
Relics, Remnants, and Religion: An Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies:
1, Article 1.
Available at: http://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/relics/vol1/iss1/1