Saintliness

20 May

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Varieties_of_Religious_Experience

For James, a saintly character is one where “spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personal energy”.
James states that saintliness includes:

“1. A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world’s selfish little interests; and a conviction … of the existence of an Ideal Power. …

2. A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our own life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.
3. An immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the confining selfhood melt down.
4. A shifting of the emotional Centre towards loving and harmonious affections, towards “yes, yes” and away from “no,” where the claims of the non-ego are concerned.”

For James the practical consequences of saintliness are Asceticism (pleasure in sacrifice), Strength of Soul (a “blissful equanimity” free from anxieties), Purity (a withdrawal from the material world) and Charity (tenderness to those most would naturally disdain).

Mysticism

James identified two main features to a mystical experience:

Ineffability.—“ no adequate report of its contents can be given in words. […] its quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others. […] mystical states are more like states of feeling than like states of intellect. No one can make clear to another who has never had a certain feeling, in what the quality or worth of it consists.”

Noetic quality.—“Although so similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge. They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for after-time.”

He also identified two subsidiary features that are often, but not always, found with mystical experiences:

Transiency.—“Mystical states cannot be sustained for long.“

Passivity.—“the mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power.”

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