Religious Experience

Feelings such as awe, praise and thanks are valid emotional and spiritual responses, and are reflected in many of the prayers revealed by the Central Figures of the Faith. That there is an interplay between the experience received from communal belonging and that derived from personal worship and meditation is obvious. What is worth noting is that any personal spiritual experiences, visions, epiphanies, etc. are simply that, and should be treated as personal by the rest of the community. Religious belief should not really rest on apparently miraculous events. Bahá’ís are discouraged from recounting “miracles” (which, after all, are merely events which at first sight seem to run contrary to the known physical laws), and miracles are not in themselves a sufficient basis for a belief system.

Worship is seen as benefiting the individual, and not as benefiting God. But worshipping together with other people helps to unify those people – they have had a shared spiritual experience. The most basic meeting of the Bahá’í community, the “Nineteen Day Feast”, builds on this fact. The first part consists of prayers and readings. The readings may well include sections which relate to personal morals and behaviour, as without the transformation of human behaviour, religion achieves very little. The second part is the administrative part, where community matters are discussed. In the third part, social bonds are strengthened through refreshments, conversation and entertainment.

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