It's a scientific fact-- what we believe often has more impact on us than what is objectively true. Scientists have done countless psychological tests on people to see just how suggestive we are.
They give people placebos, and symptoms reportedly go away. They give people Kool Aid, tell them it's alcohol, and people act drunk. Other research shows that the mind is so powerful that Buddhist monks and nuns who meditate can actually change their body's blood flow, or raise their core body temperature. As the old saying goes—the mind is a terrible thing to waste. This is particularly true when it comes to spirituality.
The Mind-Spirit Connection
Many of us think of spiritual experiences as something separate from the mind—they come from outside of ourselves. But the fact is, spirituality and the mind are intimately connected. We experience our spirituality through the mind—and through all the ‘filters’ the mind have developed over a lifetime.
We experience our spirituality through the mind—and through all the ‘filters’ the mind have developed over a lifetime.
Without the mind, there would be no understanding of spiritual experiences. Without higher order thinking, we’d be like other mammals—we’d react to things, but we would not be able to analyze them or transfer what we’ve learned from them to other aspects of our lives. Funnily enough, it’s just this ability to analyze and rationalize that makes us question and doubt those experiences.
Are Spiritual Experiences are Just an Over-Active Imagination?
Some would pose the argument that, since spiritual experiences are a matter of perceptions, that perhaps those experiences are simply the imagination at work. One part of the mind desires a spiritual experience, so the other part of the mind manifests one. Alternately, one part of the mind is convinced of certain spiritual things being true, another part of the mind interprets perfectly natural things as having spiritual reasons.
Skeptics would argue that this is why spiritual experiences seem so ‘real’ to one person, while science can’t find a satisfying lack of evidence for them. But the opposite is quite true; it’s the spiritual that enables the mind to transcend so it can incorporate and make sense of the spiritual experience.
As to where the experiences come from, I would ask, why does it matter? So what if a vision was the act of mind or the act of God… some higher part of you chose to recognize a truth, and it came to you in a way that would both get your attention and help you to understand it. In both cases, this vision offered you clarity and enlightenment, so does the origin matter?
The Difference Between Skeptics and Believers
There’s a big difference between what’s ‘real’ or ‘true’ and what’s “physical” or “literal”. Just because something didn’t physically or literally happen—leaving behind a path of breadcrumbs for scientists to follow—doesn’t mean the experience was not ‘real’ or ‘true’.
This is the difference between skeptics and believers—believers know that what’s real isn’t always quantifiable and verifiable by physical means. But if a spiritual experience impacts your whole way of thinking, and your life to follow, how could that experience not be real? How could it not be true? And does it really matter where it came from, or how the information came through?