Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Last night I had a spiritual experience. I spoke with a young man who is agnostic. The interesting thing about this agnostic is that he goes to BYU. Brigham Young University-the private school for LDS faithful (Mormons). He has a long story about how that happened (he was agnostic before he came) but I won't go into that.

We're presentation partners for the last class I need to finish a second Bachelor degree in Anthropology. We're presenting on disease and its role in evolution. He was astonished at my proposal to not cater to creationist theories (because I don't have a problem with evolution and not sure why anyone who cares about science would either). So we started talking about faith - or his lack of it. He told me he'd never once had a spiritual experience. Now, if you grew up with me, or in my family, you may find it interesting that he happened to be assigned as my partner. That's because my family is frought with the history of evangelists and rebel pastors who broke from the Church of England, or some other churches in America, narrowly escaping life and limb for their faith. I grew up surrounded by tales of current family members who'd had psychic visions, seen spirits from the world beyond, or had life-after-death experiences. I could not hardly believe anyone living in to their twenties would never have had a spiritual experience. I asked him if he'd tried. He said he had, that he'd prayed, read scriptures, gone to church...and one day just said he didn't feel anything and left it at that. But how is it that one person prays to God and God answers and another prays and hears nothing? It was unfathomable to me, for I know I have been in places where the spirit of God and of the life beyond this one has been so thick in the air you could almost taste it, so real I knew I could reach out my hands and feel the presence of God Almighty.

Then I asked him if he'd ever just been really, really happy and knew something was true. I could have sworn I saw some sort of sparkling recognition in his eyes...but it faded and he came back and said he didn't know what I was talking about because he'd never had that. I was then reminded of the faith cycle from spiritual psychologist M. Scott Peck. We're all in different stages. First stage is chaotic and anti-social. They pretend to be pious, but it's mainly because they are covering up a lack of morales. The next stage is where a person needs rules and regulations to help them stay on the straight and narrow, the 3rd stage a person begins to question religion, or God, and maybe becomes agnostic, or says they don't need organized religion, or rules and can worship in nature. They're actually more highly spiritually evolved than the others. Then comes the stage of the mystic. It's a point one gets to when they finally know the truth for themselves and they have peace because they embody the spirit of the law written in their hearts. And these are cycles we can go through over and over again throughout our lives.

And I realized, after remembering these stages of spiritual growth, that people like this guy I was talking to were in a certain stage and that there was always room for moving into another stage. I also realized that whether he heard what I had to say didn't matter, that he was there in my life as a measure for me, for where I am, and to remind myself of the truths I have already come to in my own life.

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