Mysticism: No Experience Necessary?
British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR)
Robert Sharf argues that if a religious or mystical experience conveys any meaning at all, that meaning derives from shared public discourse, not from the experience as such. Sharf’s argument is, or should be, unsettling for anyone who naively thinks that religious beliefs are grounded in religious experiences. In this paper I examine Sharf’s arguments and suggest another way of approaching the notion of mystical or religious experience within the study of religions. Distinguishing between mystical experience and mystical teachings can help to explain how ‘experience’ can retain a meaningful place in mysticism.
Study of Religions , Mysticism , Religious experience , Mystical experience
Bocking, B. (2006) 'Mysticism: No Experience Necessary?', DISKUS, 7, (13 pp). Available online: http://www.basr.ac.uk/diskus/diskus7/bocking.htm
© 2006 the author. Published by British Association for the Study of Religions (BASR)