Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

For the discussion of spirituality -- from LDS and non-LDS sources
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Heber13
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by Heber13 » 14 Oct 2013, 11:08

What a great post, Orson. All the comments on this thread are great, and very sincere.

I think faith is an interesting subject to study and learn how to apply in our lives. Because without faith, I do not know how these spiritual experiences make themselves manifest in our lives.
Moroni 7:
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.

35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?

36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
I think there is a powerful message in this. In order to have faith, you have to want to have these things happen. And then, you are looking for the evidence of your faith.

However, it does not seem to work so easily that just by wanting, then it will happen the way you want it to. But certainly, if you don't have faith, you won't believe enough to label any kind of experience as "Spiritual", but you dismiss them some other way.

We all write our stories. We can write them as spiritual experiences, or not spiritual experiences. It depends on how we choose to see it and label it (which does not make them less real, IMO). I have seen this as some people work through their experiences trying to make sense of it, and when they say, "I didn't get a burning in the bosom, but that's because I already knew the answer, and I didn't need any further witness." We try to find the stories to make sense of our experiences, what truly feels meaningful to how we feel inside.
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about- Joseph Campbell
I think there is truth in this statement. I think some people can feel just fine being alive without any spiritual experience, because spiritual experiences to the strict logician does not resonate with their innermost being. So they have other ways to feel alive, perhaps with more logic and rationality and that works for them.

There is also a danger that people think this means when it didn't work out or they didn't feel something it is because it is their fault...they didn't enough faith, or others don't have enough faith or they would have the same experiences we have as God promises ("I got a witness of the BoM, and I know you can with enough faith, if you didn't, you didn't have enough faith because I sure did."). There is danger in judging others' experiences or comparing ours to theirs.

I think people reflect back on experiences and decide what to make of them. They make it their own story, and based on what you have faith in, you can create meaning for things or not. For me, there is value in having mystical experiences to enhance my life. I have had some at times that I can provide no further explanation for it, and therefore fall back to my faith and believe it was of God. But I cannot predict what I will experience in the future...it is God's will. I can only reflect back on my experiences and use my faith to label it spiritual or not. (I would say I have far fewer experiences now than I used to...because I see things differently now and can accept that many things happen without God being involved in it. And I'm OK with that.)

But if I no longer have faith, my spiritual experiences will cease. I'm sure of it.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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HiJolly
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by HiJolly » 14 Oct 2013, 13:35

The "last" spiritual experience that led to my crisis was just as strong, warm, and peaceful as all the others - my first discussion and the JS story, baptism, temple marriage, and so forth. I was and am so confused - since the feelings were exactly the same, I don't know what to believe and I don't think I can trust my feelings anymore (sorry Obi Wan).

Ok, I have to admit I'm just dying to know what happened here. But I know that DarkJedi is the best judge of what to share & what not to share.

FWIW.

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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DarkJedi
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by DarkJedi » 15 Oct 2013, 12:51

HiJolly wrote:
The "last" spiritual experience that led to my crisis was just as strong, warm, and peaceful as all the others - my first discussion and the JS story, baptism, temple marriage, and so forth. I was and am so confused - since the feelings were exactly the same, I don't know what to believe and I don't think I can trust my feelings anymore (sorry Obi Wan).

Ok, I have to admit I'm just dying to know what happened here. But I know that DarkJedi is the best judge of what to share & what not to share.

FWIW.

HiJolly
If I told you I'd have to kill you :D Seriously, I'm not ready to go there, especially in "public." When we get to be better friends I may privately share with you.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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HiJolly
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by HiJolly » 15 Oct 2013, 13:47

DarkJedi wrote: If I told you I'd have to kill you :D Seriously, I'm not ready to go there, especially in "public." When we get to be better friends I may privately share with you.
No problem.
My intro was back in early 2009 -- viewtopic.php?f=8&t=174

HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Oct 2013, 23:51

Dj, meet HJ. HJ, meet DJ. Two cool people, meet each other. Now that you have been properly introduced, feel free to converse privately. :P

Seriously, DJ, I think talking with HiJolly privately is a great idea. He's awesome, and it's wonderful to see him whenever he decides to drop in on us.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DarkJedi
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by DarkJedi » 16 Oct 2013, 14:08

Ray Degraw wrote:Dj, meet HJ. HJ, meet DJ. Two cool people, meet each other. Now that you have been properly introduced, feel free to converse privately. :P

Seriously, DJ, I think talking with HiJolly privately is a great idea. He's awesome, and it's wonderful to see him whenever he decides to drop in on us.
Point taken, and thanks for calling me "cool."

In retrospect, I could have been more on task when responding to HJ and still not reveal that which I prefer to keep private. The incident to which I referred was a life decision, one which I not only felt inspired I should do but confirmed in prayer and fasting - I didn't want to do it initially. It took place at a time in my life when I was feeling very spiritual and when things were generally going very well for me and my family. The outcome was not what I expected and, to paraphrase John Locke from Lost, "This isn't the way it's supposed to be." Hence my great confusion, feeling pf betrayal, etc., based on a spiritual foundation for the decision and all decisions in general. I re-emphasize, this feeling was exactly like that I felt in the first missionary discussion, at my baptism, at my temple marriage, etc. as well as some areas of my testimony. I don't know if anyone else has ever experienced what I have, but I do know what I experienced and what I felt - and what I have felt after. That said, this is only part of my status of inactivity, questions and doubts - it's not that simple (but it is the basis of everything else).

Just one other point: As I have gone about rebuilding my faith,those things which I did not have a stronger spiritual experience with have been easier to to accept - things like Jesus Christ being the Savior and God existing.
Last edited by DarkJedi on 17 Oct 2013, 02:41, edited 1 time in total.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roy
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by Roy » 16 Oct 2013, 14:44

The following experience made quite an impression on me and reminds me of your circumstance DJ
Right after we got married, it became apparent to DH and I that getting pregnant was going to take more effort than it does for some folks. Fortunately, we did get pregnant but it was clear from the start that things weren't quite right. There was spotting and a complete absence of pregnancy symptoms. The only reason we knew I was pregnant was a positive EPT. So I went to the obgyn and we saw the little kidney bean, heart pumping, looking and sounding just as a baby at 3 months ought to look and sound. It was thrilling. The doctor reassured me that "Once you see the heartbeat, 9 times out of 10 you aren't going to miscarry."

I got a blessing from my father, a stalwart member of the church with as much devotion and dedication to God as I've ever seen. He gave me a blessing and afterward shared what he felt were clear flashes of inspiration he'd received while preparing to exercise the priesthood on my behalf. He describe seeing my son, even details of what the child looked like. He wept as he spoke of the peaceful feeling he'd experienced while fasting and praying. Finally, I felt complete confidence that the pregnancy would go well.

About a week later, after returning home from teaching early morning seminary at the church and preparing to go to work as a school teacher, I began bleeding profusely. My husband and I rushed to the clinic where the Dr. performed an ultrasound and informed us that my uterus was empty. I looked at the doctor (keep in mind we live way outside of Utah and he was not LDS) and told him he was wrong, that I'd gotten a priesthood blessing and he'd better look again. I was the perfect picture of absolute faith in the priesthood.

He wasn't wrong, of course, though it took a few minutes for him to establish that fact to my satisfaction. Everyone left the room so I could dress and there in the exam room alone and in shock and denial, my body completed the miscarriage and I "delivered" what remained of our first child.

This was one in a series of experiences that shook my faith to the core. How, after all I'd learned in church and at home, after all I'd taught as a missionary, could a priesthood holder stand by a spiritual witness that turned out to be so utterly false? And how could that priesthood holder be my father, the man I trusted more than any other? The man whose worthiness I could attest to personally? My father's faith was also shaken and to this day, he offers no attempt at explanation. He simply says he still does not understand.
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2155&p=31133&hilit= ... ige#p31133

I can understand why some find great comfort and stability in their spiritual experiences. I also understand why some others might see these type of experiences as unreliable. Finally, I believe that some never have such experiences to speak of.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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journeygirl
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by journeygirl » 18 Oct 2013, 15:19

This is the biggest reason I have a faith crisis. I tried a few times to get a confirmation of the church being true. In high school I read the whole book of Mormon through by myself, fasted and prayed, and when I came home from school that day I went out into our field behind the barn (lived on a farm) and prayed fully expecting to get an answer. I didn't get anything at all. But I had read an article about one of the apostles who had a similar thing happen, but then he realized that he had always known it was true so he didn't need a confirmation. I decided that was true for me too.

When I was praying to know if I should marry my husband, I also didn't get any kind of answer. But I had read an article from somewhere about this woman who also didn't get an answer if she should get married, but then realized that God wanted her to make the decision, so she did and then later knew it was the right decision. This is what I decided was happening to me. However, I haven't gotten that confirmation after 10 years of marriage (I hope that doesn't sound bad, my husband is a good person, but I honestly wonder if marrying him was the "right" thing to do. Some of the problems we've had have really made me unsure.)

You can see that my doubt of spiritual experiences was sometimes brushed aside by how someone else explained their lack of feeling the spirit. I hate that I brushed that doubt away, it could have been useful to me then. But now this is why I doubt the church and even if there is a God. I have no way of knowing anything outside of myself and what I can observe. I feel the same feelings watching a touching scene in a movie as I do during a spiritual event. I can't tell the difference between emotion or the spirit. I think I am at the point where I don't think there is a difference. I can't explain other's experiences where they are sure it was external and from God. Maybe it is something different for them that I don't get. Or maybe it is all in their heads too. There's no way to know really, is there.

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journeygirl
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by journeygirl » 18 Oct 2013, 15:23

Oh, I also want to mention that there have been times that I had negative feelings in setting where I should have felt the spirit, like when I first went through the temple or after I got sealed. I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable rather than feeling the spirit confirm to me the truthfulness of the temple. These experience were and continue to be very confusing to me. It's also why I no longer attend the temple.

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Orson
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Re: Spiritual experiences as a foundation for testimony

Post by Orson » 21 Oct 2013, 08:42

journeygirl wrote:When I was praying to know if I should marry my husband, I also didn't get any kind of answer.
When I first prayed about marrying my wife I asked if she was "the" right one for me, and did not receive an answer. I then wondered if I was asking the right question and changed it to "can I have a successful marriage with her?" and felt MUCH better about that question. I guess for me the idea of soul-mates doesn't make a lot of sense, every couple has differences -- or if there was they surely wouldn't have to pray to know! :mrgreen:
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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