A follower of this website was brought up as a Catholic. She had her first sailing experience with colleagues and friends when they were caught by a strong squall that had water pouring over the decks. She said she had a moment of epiphany and put it down to God.
I thought her movingly numinous story reflected her intensive religious background whereas experienced secular sailors would put it down to the well known phenomena of “Storm Ecstacy”. So would scholars and scientists known as “Constructionists”.
“Constructionists” believe all such experiences, including MER(Mystical Experiences of Reality), can be attributed to cultural conditioning.
“Perennialists” on the other hand take their view from Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) who was an English writer, philosopher. He coined the phrase in what became a seminal book on the subject called, “The Perennial Philosophy”, from which the following excerpt is taken:
“At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines:
First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness—the world of things and animals and men and even gods—is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be nonexistent.
Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, it he so desires, to identify himself with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
Fourth: Man’s life has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.”
Dr. Persinger, a Sudbury University, Canada, professor, a cognitive neuroscience researcher with over 200 peer-reviewed publications has studied the experiences of the presence of God and claims to have developed a gadget you put on your head that can produce the presence of God at will.
He also suggests MER might be a psychotic state. A reading of the definition of psychotic makes it difficult to see where the good Professor gets this conclusion. Whatever, Dr Persinger can justify the title of “Constructionist”.
But other scholars and scientists have been aroused since the 60’s to study the historical phenomenon of the Mystical Experience of Reality, what Maslow called “Peak Experiences”, and other scholars and scientists by even more names. They take the subject as seriously as Huxley. They can be dubbed Perennialists.
My own MERs did not indicate God in any shape or form, which in those early days disappointed me because Jesus was my hero. I loved God with all my young heart and soul and strength.
My MERs were powerfully transcendent, out of body and mind experiences of joy, acceptance, humility. Everything belonged to me.
I was told that “All is Well”. I learned that in Reality, where all things are perfect, there are no names…” (I save space here by just giving the gist).
I have since realized that Reality is enough. It came well before religions or any human constructs of God, singular or plural …
There was no God of any man-made description in the transformational experiences I was given, none whatsoever.
Keith Hancock. 2015.