A lot of people think that spiritual experiences are huge life-changing events that are nothing short of a full-blown epiphany. Now spiritual experiences can be grandiose, but most of them lean towards the subtle. But then this begs the question: What is a spiritual experience?
The chances are that you have experienced something out of the ordinary at least once in your life where you think that you may have seen something but just chalked it up as a trick of the light. Or perhaps you may have had a smell follow you around that you are absolutely sure didn’t come from anywhere at all. You may have even clearly noticed an unnatural phenomenon but somehow understood that it is what it is.
While these possible scenarios are as numerous as they are vague, there are concrete definitions and signs that can help you separate the wheat from the chaff. By the end of this article, you should be able to figure out what is a spiritual experience.
Spiritual Experience Definition
According to the Spiritual Science Research Foundation, the things that you experience via the five senses, our minds, or our intellects constitute what you know as experiences.
A spiritual experience, on the other hand, goes beyond what you can perceive with your physical senses and thoughts. That which you use to perceive these spiritual experiences is what we commonly call the sixth sense. We will discuss the specifics of this sixth sense in the sections coming up.
Differences Between Spiritual Experience and Experience
While the definition certainly helps, you can best see the differences between the two by examining an example of what an experience is and what is a spiritual experience.
For our experience example, consider someone smelling smoke from a nearby campfire.
For our spiritual experience example, think about someone who gets a bitter taste in their mouth despite not having put anything there.
The Source of the Experience
Already, you can begin to see the difference between the two experiences. First, and most obviously, these experiences come from different sources.
The former experience has an apparent source: the campfire. Furthermore, this source also resides in the gross dimension. The latter, however, has no evident source that can be physically perceived. By extension, we know that this source comes from the subtle dimension.
The Senses Needed To Perceive the Experience
Aside from the source, we can also differentiate between the experiences by taking into account the senses we use to perceive them.
In the first example, the person used their sense of smell. Whenever we perceive things using our physical senses, and by using our intellect, these experiences are physical in nature.
But in the second example, the experience goes beyond what the physical senses can perceive. Instead, we use our sixth sense. In particular, we have a set of subtle senses that are analogous to our physical ones, along with a subtle intellect and mind to understand such things.
Things to Consider
Notice how spiritual experiences tend to be very personal. Short of being with similarly-minded companions who are actively being mindful of these subtle spiritual experiences, other people usually won’t be able to perceive or understand what it is you are experiencing.
Spiritual Experiences and the Sixth Sense
First things first, you need to understand that there are five absolute cosmic principles. These cosmic principles make up the entire world, everything on it, and everything beyond it. You cannot simply perceive these principles physically. Instead, you will need to make use of your sixth sense.
Just like how we can physically perceive both positive and negative experiences, spiritual experiences also have positive and negative sides.
Through spiritual practice, you can hone your sixth sense. In this process, the sixth sense activates more and more, which allows you to experience these absolute principles gradually. It starts off from the most gross and ends with the most subtle.
To be precise, your subtle senses allow you to perceive the absolute cosmic elements in this order:
Absolute Earth Element
You first unlock the use of your subtle smell organ, which in turn allows you to experience the absolute earth element.
But what is a spiritual experience in this category?
On the one hand, it can be a deep earthy smell that reminds you of incense that follows you around. But on the other hand, it may also be the times where an unpleasant odor like the smell of urine pops up in even the most pristine environments.
Absolute Water Element
After the smell, you gain the use of your subtle taste organ. This organ lets you experience the absolute water element.
The spiritual experiences tied to this element tend to be quite straightforward as they are simply tastes that have no reason being in your mouth for whatever reason.
Sometimes you may randomly get a flash of sweetness that comes from nowhere, despite having nothing in your mouth. Other times, you could experience a bitter or pungent taste with a similar lack of cause.
Absolute Fire Element
Moving towards even more subtle elements, you learn to perceive with your subtle sight organ. At this point, you may understand and sense the absolute fire element.
The most unusual spiritual experience stories often fall under this category. Because grandiose events like seeing a deity’s visage or seeing a ghost are often noteworthy enough to let other people know about.
Absolute Air Element
As you progress even further, you can perceive the absolute air element through the use of your subtle touch organ.
While stories of these spiritual experiences go hand in hand with those of the fire element, these ones often feel the most real. Experiences of this variety can range from the comforting, like a gentle touch on the head, to the disturbing, like being attacked by a spirit.
Absolute Ether Element
Last and definitely not least, you finally learn to perceive the absolute ether element via the medium of your subtle sound organ.
If anything, these types of spiritual experiences often are the most literally or physically subtle.
Sometimes these experiences can sound like wind chimes softly tinkling away despite the absence of both wind and chimes. But other times, they can also manifest as threatening whispers while you are alone.
Because they are so arbitrary, so personal, and so dependent on individual levels of spirituality, answering the question of what is a spiritual experience can be quite difficult.
Essentially, you can tell the difference between what is a spiritual experience and what is a regular physical experience by looking at the source. Spiritual experiences always go above and beyond what you can normally perceive. This means that the source is always subtle, never physical, and will always intuitively feel like it’s coming out of nowhere.
Of course, there is so much more nuance to spiritual experiences. They have significant ties to spiritual practice, which in turn ties to the very fabric of creation itself: the absolute cosmic principles.
If you are so inclined to deepen your knowledge, this is but a stepping stone for you to progress in your spiritual journey.