Define and describe a mystical experience as understood within philosophy or one of the five religions we study in this course.

Assignment 3: Mystical Experiences

Without exception, all religions revere mystics and teachers who have had personal experiences of God beyond the ordinary, everyday reality. Such personal experience of God is called the mystical experience. The word mystical is derived from the Greek muo, meaning to conceal. In a sense, the real manifestation of God is concealed from all but the mystics.

Every religion acknowledges mystics who have reported such direct experience of an indescribable, overpowering reality of God, which cannot be named or spoken of in ordinary terms. Other religions refer to wise men that are adept at detaching themselves from the real world, called sages (Hindu and Buddhism).

The fact that these experiences, as reported, share a certain similarity across cultural and religious boundaries has led some philosophers of religion to speculate whether they may be, in fact, the same experience. Perhaps all religions share a common mystical core at their center. The difference between viewpoints has to do with whether a relationship with a personal god exists.

As used in this course, the term mystic means a person claiming direct experience with God (monotheism) or the Ultimate Reality (Hinduism). Mysticism, in this sense, has nothing to do with crystal balls, tarot cards, Ouija boards, magic, or superstition of any kind. Rather, it is the hidden heart of a major religious tradition.

Please complete an essay of approximately 500 words in length addressing the following questions. Please be sure to include at least one reference with your assignment and use correct APA format for your citations and paper layout.

Define and describe a mystical experience as understood within philosophy or one of the five religions we study in this course.
Mystical experiences are usually life changing to those who experience them. Describe the positive and/or negative experiences of a mystic from the religion you chose in the first question.
What sort of life style is conducive to mystical experiences? Is this kind of life style common in the United States of America? Does the relationship between life style and mystical experiences strengthen or weaken claims of mystical experience?
Are mystical experiences real encounters with the divine, or is something else going on? If real, how so? If something else, what else?

Your response should be at least two pages long. All written assignments and responses should follow APA rules for attributing sources.

Assignment 3 Grading Criteria
Maximum Points

Complete exploration of mysticism in chosen religious tradition, including:

The positive and/or negative experiences of a mystic from the religion. (10 points)
Identifying a sort of lifestyle conducive to mystical experiences, and whether it is common in the U.S. (10 points)
Exploration of the relationship between lifestyle and mystical experiences strengthening or weakening claims of mystical experience. (10 points)
Exploration of whether mystical experiences are real encounters with the divine, or whether something else is going on. (10 points)

40

Significant critical analysis of the information requested in the assignment, which references the assigned readings and indicates an understanding of components of world religions.
24

Wrote in a clear, concise, and organized manner; demonstrated ethical scholarship in accurate representation and attribution of sources; displayed accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
20

Justified ideas and responses by using appropriate examples and references from texts, Web sites, and other references or personal experience.
16

Total:
100

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