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 the One Himself. For Sikhs, the One 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 the One 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. Our undeniable akl (common sense) is the basis of the religion. Doubting whether the world is real, or we are real or other people are real is over-clever. It is unsustainable over time. Therefore, it is part of our common sense that they are real. It is quite irrelevant that this is

not a proof. The same applies to religious experience. Our undeniable and often life changing experience of divine energy and personality is the evidence for the One. That so many people from so many faith traditions and none over a period of centuries have the experiences collected in the Guru Granth Sahib suggests that this is credible testimony.

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 justify 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 the One 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.

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