Your Own Direct Experience
There are six main sources for the Unitarian Universalist religion. In October, we explore
Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
This is the first source. We don’t start with texts, prophets, history, or creeds. Our religion begins with your own experience.
If you try, you can probably remember a ‘peak experience.’ Seeing a particular piece of art for the first time. Hearing an incredibly moving section of music. Something that provokes a sense of ‘transcending mystery and wonder.’
Those of you who gave birth or watched a woman give birth, very likely had a “direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder.” I know I certainly did.
I vividly recall Earth Day (April 22) 1996. Bonnie and I, along with a physician were in a little room in a little town in Indiana. And the religious experience I had that day– as so many others have had, and will have– was to watch my daughter being born.
And like some of you, I have been privileged through the painful yet incredibly moving experience of being with the actively dying. That too, is ‘direct experience.’
My call to ministry, the birth of my children, the experience of community created out of disaster, moments of grief & delight. These are all “direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder.
But more subtle religious experience is there too: a sudden halt to a hike, and looking up, up, up at the rooftop of trees in a moment of utter stillness– these are just some of the “varieties of religious experience,” available to you
I have come to realize that I do not need special drugs or rituals (although some ritual & music & silence is certainly useful) to have a religious experience.
What I need to do is to slow down, to stop the ‘monkey mind’ (often by concentrating on counting my breaths) and really be still and pay attention to what is all around me. Then, with a little focus, and a little luck, religious experience is available for me, right then, right there.
What about you? Do you have a way to stop your ‘monkey mind’ and tune in to direct experience?