Religious ecstasy

From Academic Kids

Another article on a related topic is ecstasy.

Religious ecstasy is a trance-like state characterized by expanded mental and spiritual awareness and is frequently accompanied by visions, hallucinations, and physical euphoria. Such an experience usually lasts about a half-hour. However, there are many records of such experiences lasting several days, and some people claim to have experienced ecstasy over a period of over three decades, or to have recurring experiences of ecstasy during their lifetime.

Religious ecstasy can be distinguished from spirit possession and hypnosis in that ecstasy is not accompanied by a loss of consciousness or will on the part of the subject experiencing it. Rather, the person experiencing ecstasy notices dramatic changes in his or her physiological responses and psychological perceptions. In some instances, ecstasy is induced accidentally or spontaneously, thereby creating intense fear and doubts about the mental health of those who experience it.

Religious ecstasy can be deliberately induced using a variety of techniques, including prayer, meditation, Gospel music, breathing exercises, dancing, sweating, fasting, thirsting, and the consumption of coffee, wine, and/or psychotropic drugs. The particular technique that an individual uses to induce ecstasy is usually one that is associated with that individual's particular religious and/or cultural traditions. As a result, an ecstatic experience is usually interpreted within the context of a particular individual's religious and/or cultural traditions.

Kriya yoga, a type of yoga popularized in the West by Paramahansa Yogananda, provides techniques to attain a state of ecstacy called Samadhi. According to practitioners, there are various stages of ecstasy, the highest of which is called Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

In the monotheistic tradition, ecstasy is usually associated with communion and oneness with God. Indeed, ecstasy is the primary vehicle for the type of prophetic visions and revelations found in the Bible. However, such experiences can also be personal mystical experiences with no significance to anyone but the person experiencing them.

In hagiography (writings on the subject of Christian saints) many instances are recorded in which saints are granted ecstasies. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, religious ecstasy (called supernatural ecstasy) includes two elements: one, interior and invisible, in which the mind rivets its attention on a religious subject, and another, corporeal and visible, in which the activity of the senses is suspended, reducing the effect of external sensations upon the subject and rendering him or her resistant to awakening.

The Catholic Encyclopedia also asserts that there are a number of false views on the question of religious ecstasy:

  1. That during an ecstasy there is a lessening of intellectual power.
  2. That ecstasies are solely a product of violent emotions.
  3. That ecstasy is an entirely natural phenomenon, and that others such as Archimedes and Socrates achieved these natural ecstasies.
  4. That religious ecstasy is another form of lethargy or catalepsy.
  5. That ecstasy is related to the hypnotic state.
  6. That ecstasy is related to somnambulism or the trances of spirit mediums.
  7. That ecstasy is equivalent to the states produced by the use of narcotic drugs.

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