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I don’t actually want undiluted spiritual experiences.Being religious allows me to integrate these experiences into a whole life.” I’m not a theologian, and I’ve gone out of my way not to become one, so I won’t discuss it in those terms.What I will discuss is how the experience has actually affected me and the way that I relate to the world.The experience is terrifying and wonderful, and I mostly want it to stop.What happens, then, is that my aesthetic experience simply drops any need it might have for objects or perhaps any particular object.I’m going to put forward a hypothesis here that may ultimately be untestable, because it depends so much on shared experience. The hypothesis is the following: mania and extreme hypomania give us direct access to the “data” out of which many spiritual experiences, including those of non-bipolar people or non-episodic bipolar people, are composed. Even when I’m not episodic, when I enjoy a work of art, experience a beautiful work of nature, or am inspired by a prayer, there is something about those experiences that allows me to call them “spiritual.” It is what allows me to point at these disparate events and say, “There is something about the universe, or perhaps something about the way that I experience the universe, that inspires awe.” Spiritual experience is impossible really to express except in works of art that replicate the experience.However, since everyone has these spiritual experiences, we can talk about what they might mean.
Of course, at that point, it certainly feels as though I am directly experiencing God, and, depending on how severe the episode is, I might start even that believing I am.It will follow me even if I close my eyes into whatever I imagine, and even when I stop imagining.