Talk:Religious ecstasy

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Untitled[edit]

There should be something in this article critical to the experience of religious ecstacy, stating that there is no medical or scientific evidence to suggest that it is anything but delusion and superstition. While it's very thorough in showing examples of religious ecstacy, I can't help but think the article is missing without pointing out that it is considered (medically, at least) to be an entirely psychosomatic condition. JF Mephisto 13:09, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

How do you mean "delusion and superstition"? I agree that a paragraph on the modern psychological view of religious ecstasy would be a worthwhile addition, but that phrase is generally used for more vague beliefs, not actual well-documented phenomena such as this - Pthag 07:40, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

You mistake me. I don't point dispute that people experience religious ecstacy, but dispute that it is anything but entirely psychological in origin. This article seems to blur the line between the existence of a psychological condition known as religious ecstacy and the existence of a truly divinely-inspired religious ecstacy. It should be made clear that the first is a psychological reaction to hyper-suggestability and 'wanting it' and the second has no basis in fact. JF Mephisto 18:08, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Mephisto, "delusion and superstition" and "a psychological reaction to hyper-suggestability" are just labels that cannot explain the phenomenon of ecstasy. We can label every human experience as a "psychological" or "psychosomatic" reaction or condition, but these labels do not tell us how and why these experiences occur. As far as we do not have a good scientific theory about ecstasy, the article reflects different opinions and beliefs. Maybe it should also mention your viewpoint, but not as an established truth, but as one of several ways people think. --Hele 7 22:05, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

I think some mention might be made of the use of "ecstasy" by some existentialist theologians such as Paul Tillich, although their use of the word represents a milder sense than the others in the article.--Will3935 00:48, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Definitions and "diagnostic criteria" of ecstasy vary among authors. Probably the word "ecstasy" is used for several different states of consciousness. --Hele 7 23:37, 25 July 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by HeIe 7 (talkcontribs)

The sentence "True religious ecstasy cannot be induced by natural means as can the trance-like state which is often called religious ecstasy. " is the crux of the problem here, as it clearly implies that because it can't be induced by natural means, that there is a supernatural cause. This sentence should at least to make clear that that opinion of what deliniates religious ecstasy from induced states is from one particular viewpoint, though I'd argue it should move away from that statement entirely. Milhous 08:09, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

All the more because it doesn't even cite a single source. -- Consumed Crustacean | Talk | 08:14, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
Just alike followers of many religions believe their understanding of the Divine to be the only truth and label different beliefs as "idolatry", "heresy" etc., they may also believe that the true religious ecstasy occurs only inside their religion and label similar phenomena outside their religion as "intoxication", "hysteria", "suggestion" etc. A neutral version of the sentence under discussion could be: "Some religious people hold the view that true religious ecstasy cannot be induced by natural means (i.e. by human activities) but occurs only in context of their religion as a gift from the supernatural being whom they worship." But probably such outside, relativistic and confession-invariant description will not satisfy most of those believers.

In 1925, James Leuba, an author far from cultural relativism, wrote: "Among most uncivilized populations, as among civilized peoples, certain ecstatic conditions are regarded as divine possession or as union with the Divine. These states are induced by means of drugs, by physical excitement, or by psychical means. But, however produced and at whatever level of culture they may be found, they possess certain common features which suggest even to the superficial observer some profound connection. Always described as delightful beyond expression, these ecstatic experiences end commonly in mental quiescence or even in total unconsciousness. Common features should not, however, lead to a disregard of dissemblances. The presence, for instance, of an ethical purpose places some of these states in a separate and higher class." (James H. Leuba, The Psychology of Religious Mysticism. p.8. Routledge, UK, 1999). As we can see, the difference is not in the ecstatic state itself, but in its interpretation and its placement into system of social values. In the same book, same page Leuba prepares his readers "... to recognize a continuity of impulse, of purpose, of form and of result between the ecstatic intoxication of the savage and the absorption in God of the Christian mystic." --Hele 7 13:21, 9 August 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.235.68.75 (talkcontribs)


Some good first-hand descriptions of religious ecstasy are quoted in classic book by William James "The varieties of religious experience" and they could be linked to the article if copyright allows. E.g.: "Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings. No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, 'I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.' I said, 'Lord, I cannot bear any more;' yet I had no fear of death. How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know." (from http://www.psywww.com/PSYRELIG/james/james9.htm#217) --Hele 7 13:21, 9 August 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.235.68.75 (talkcontribs)


Joseph Smith, the LDS (Mormon) Church prophet could be added to this list as he claimed to see a vision of angels and the Father God as well as his son, Jesus Christ.

The list of all religious people who have seen visions (or at least claimed to have) would be quite long.--Will3935 00:48, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Visions and ecstasy are not the same. --Hele 7 23:37, 25 July 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by HeIe 7 (talkcontribs)

"In everyday language, the word "ecstasy" denotes an intense, euphoric experience. For obvious reasons, it is rarely used in a scientific context; it is a concept that is extremely hard to define. Ecstasy-seeking religious movements have always existed, and they seem today to be as numerous as ever. There is perhaps no reason yet to abandon the concept entirely. I will not attempt to define the term ecstasy here, but I will say that I consider ecstasy, mysticism and trance to be partly overlapping concepts. In mystical experience, there is always an element of ecstasy, although the presence of this element is not, in itself, enough to justify calling an experience mystical. In trance, there is often, but not necessarily, an element of ecstasy. In the literature, trance has nonetheless often been used almost synonymously with ecstasy. Furthermore, an experience can be ecstatic without being either mystical or trance-like. An experience can also be ecstatic without having any religious connotation whatsoever." From article "Ecstasy from a Physiological Point of View" by Kaj Björkqvist [1]. This collection of articles (SCRIPTA INSTITUTI DONNERIANI ABOENSIS XI: Religious Ecstasy. Based on Papers read at the Symposium on Religions Ecstasy held at Åbo, Finland, on the 26th-28th of August 1981. Edited by Nils G. Holm) could be added to article as a reference. Hele 7 20:35, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Redux[edit]

Mephisto, "delusion and superstition" and "a psychological reaction to hyper-suggestability" are just labels that cannot explain the phenomenon of ecstasy. We can label every human experience as a "psychological" or "psychosomatic" reaction or condition, but these labels do not tell us how and why these experiences occur.

There is no "phenomenon" of religious ecstasy in a supernatural sense, and psychology can very adequately explain why experiences like this occur. There is no scientific evidence that there is anything other at work than euphoria brought on by suggestability, the desire to have it and being in the company of others experiencing the same mood. There are many reasons why these experiences occur and have been explored extensively by psychologists - to say otherwise is blatant dishonesty (look up "The Nature, Causes and Types of Ecstasy" by Dominic Beer in Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology - Volume 7, Number 4, December 2000, pp. 311-315 published by Johns Hopkins University Press). These "experiences" are thought by psychologists, from what I can establish, to be brought on by a desire to have them. Just talking about it in some bland, confused way as though it was a divinely inspired phenomenon ignores the fact that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for that, and ample evidence to its contrary. As it stands, this article is filled with mushy-headed nonsense that implies in several places the existence of a real supernatural phenomenon, and you can either go fix it yourself in a rational and sensible way or I'm going to take an axe to it and reduce it to the two or three paragraph's worth which is remotely acceptable in an encyclopaedia. Your choice, I'll wait a week. JF Mephisto 15:26, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Might I ask which two or three paragraphs you would spare from your mighty chopper? - Pthag 17:03, 31 August 2006 (UTC)


Mephisto wrote: There are many reasons why these experiences occur and have been explored extensively by psychologists - to say otherwise is blatant dishonesty (look up "The Nature, Causes and Types of Ecstasy" by Dominic Beer...

I looked it up and it says: Mayer-Gross's thesis is important because it addresses a subject, ecstasy, that has been largely neglected in the psychiatric literature. Many of the more recent textbooks of psychopathology barely address the subject of ecstasy (Hamilton 1974, Scharfetter 1980, Shepherd and Zangwill 1983, Sims 1988; Berrios 1996).[2] So, Mephisto says that the subject has been extensively explored, labels the opposite view as "blatant dishonesty" - and then refers to an article which states that the subject has been largely neglected. Does he mean that the article is blatantly dishonest or does he refer to this 4-page commentary about Mayer-Gross's thesis as the "extensive exploration"?

Mephisto wrote: These "experiences" are thought by psychologists, from what I can establish, to be brought on by a desire to have them. If this statement were true, there were no cases of unexpected ecstasy, but these exist and are documented (E.g. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. - from classic study by William James, "Varieties of the Religious Experience", p 250. [3]) Psychology is an experimental science nowadays. If a desire to have such an experience were enough, ecstasy could be induced just by wanting it. Try yourself if this works or not and let us know about the results.

Maybe it could be mentioned that some atheists deny the phenomenon of ecstasy and replace the term with pejoratives borrowed from psychopathology - but certainly it is not a good idea to delete all other points of view. What probably deserves deletion, is the "false views" part copied from Catholic Encyclopedia. Would Mephisto try his mighty chopper there, preferably in a rational and sensible way? Hele 7 19:42, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

As our chopperman did not show up, I deleted the "false views" part that was copied from Catholic Encyclopedia. One remaining problem is the controversy of statements about intellectual status in ecstasy - when compiled from different sources they seem to cover all the known IQ spectrum. Probably there are several different states or stages and lack of commonly accepted classification. Hele 7 14:07, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

The dispute has ceased, so I removed the "neutrality disputed" tag. Any objections? Hele 7 00:10, 29 October 2006 (UTC)

Comparison with hypnosis[edit]

This part doesn't make sense: "Religious ecstasy can be distinguished from spirit possession and hypnosis in that ecstasy is not accompanied by a loss of interior consciousness or will on the part of the subject experiencing it." There is no loss of "interior consciousness" and "will" in hypnosis. In fact, modern discussion about hypnosis today tends to center on the idea that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, i.e. that all hypnosis occurs with the continuing consent of the subject. Accordingly, this section needs a rewrite. There are distinctions between hypnosis and religious ecstasy, obviously (the religious part being the obvious one), but as it stands the distinction in this article is inaccurate. -- Hux 05:22, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for interesting point. Probably the part you mentioned originates from the Catholic Encyclopedia. I must admit that I am not fully satisfied with this part for another reason: loss of conscious will in intense religious ecstasy is mentioned in several well-recognized first-hand descriptions. Nevertheless, as an amateur in the area I did not take the courage to change this part. If you feel better please fix it. About hypnosis, I think that we should use the current prevailing educated standpoint, not the most disputed new idea. Also, relation between religious ecstasy and spirit possession is probably a bit more complicated. "Spirit possession" seems to be an interpretation used in certain cultures for a subset of religious ecstasy. Hele 7 22:30, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Removal of devotee-published sources[edit]

I have removed the reference to Kalchuri, Meher Prabhu. For discussion, see RS/N and this Talk page. Simon Kidd (talk) 08:13, 7 April 2012 (UTC)

There is nothing in the RSN page you link to that gives you the right to remove referenced text. You are removing valid information from articles acting against consensus. Hoverfish Talk 20:40, 7 April 2012 (UTC)