Religious Experience

For Sikhs, religious experience is the only basis for religious claims. Since these are available to everyone, all humans are considered to be equal and there is no place for priests.

The source of all spiritual experience for Sikhs, is God Himself. For Sikhs, God is seen as a missing dimension of our everyday lives. Nine gates give us sensory impressions of maya but we need to open the Tenth Gate to experience God in our lives and to be authentic or real.

Sikh faith is not about partisan doctrine or debate but the universal human experience and relationship. Rather, feelings are the evidence of faith.

These feelings form the basis of personally informed discussion within the sadhsangat or fellowship. They are also tuned by the Gurbani or sacred song which is organized into 31 ragas or measures of South Asian music that each reflect a particular emotional mood / state of mind.

Feelings and beliefs are experiences that are meaningful to an individual. Sikhs consider that it is not necessary to justified this to any other person whether for reasons of faith or science. An intimate relationship cannot easily be discussed. The Gurus use a variety of terms for God including mother, father, brother, childhood friend, friend and lover. Gwen Griffith-Dickson in her study of the philosophy of religious experience points out, for instance, that people’s reports of sexual experiences will be different and often contradictory. A scientific description of the event will not explain what it feels like or what it means to have one.

Religious practices are only valid if they encourage a spiritual experience:

Of all religions, the best religion is to chant the Name of the Lord and maintain pure conduct. Of all religious rituals, the most sublime ritual is to erase the filth of the dirty mind in the Company of the Holy. Of all efforts, the best effort is to chant the Name of the Lord in the heart, forever. Of all speech, the most ambrosial speech is to hear the Lord’s Praise and chant it with the tongue. Of all places, the most sublime place, O Nanak, is that heart in which the Name of the Lord abides (Guru Granth Sahib Ji : 266).

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