The Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) defines that which is experienced through the medium of the five senses, mind and intellect as an ‘experience’ while experiencing something which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect constitutes a ‘spiritual experience’.
Even if one can perceive an event through the five senses, mind and intellect but the reason behind it is beyond the gross intellect of mankind, it still constitutes a spiritual experience.
1. Spiritual experiences related to the five Absolute cosmic elements
Progress in our spiritual practice activates our sixth sense and we begin to get experience of the Absolute cosmic elements progressively, beginning from the most gross to the most subtle, i.e. Absolute Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether elements through our subtle sense of smell, taste, vision, touch and sound respectively.
2. Spiritual experience and spiritual level
- With higher spiritual level, we get higher and more subtle spiritual experiences.
- A particular spiritual experience may or may not indicate a particular spiritual level but may also happen due to intense spiritual practice, being in the company of Saints, etc.
- Sometimes ghosts (demon, devils, spirits, etc.) can create illusionary spiritual experiences in an individual in order to frighten him/her. Such subtle experience happens without the rise in spiritual level of the targeted person.
- All persons at a particular spiritual level will not necessarily perceive same spiritual experiences. The spiritual level of a person is the net function of many attributes, 6th sense being only one of them.
- A person may attain Sainthood (i.e. the 70% spiritual level) without once having perceived through the five subtle senses. One of the reasons could be that this person has already had these experiences in the past life and does not need them now.
3. What is the importance of spiritual experiences?
3.1. Generation of belief and faith in the theoretical aspect of Spiritual science
When one undertakes an appropriate spiritual practice based on the basic principles of Spiritual science, one makes spiritual progress and gets spiritual experiences. Spiritual practice bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge obtained from books and spiritually experiencing it which enables one to develop faith in the theoretical knowledge.
3.2. Awareness of spiritual progress
Spiritual experiences confirm that seekers have adopted appropriate spiritual practice. Getting progressively higher spiritual experiences confirm spiritual progress. Spiritual experiences act like milestones and encourage us on our spiritual journey. Suppose we were to discontinue our spiritual practice, we may not continue to get spiritual experiences. If we were to stagnate in the spiritual practice, we will not get higher spiritual experiences. By stagnation in spiritual practice, we mean doing the same spiritual practice year after year, without increasing it qualitatively or quantitatively. This is God’s way of telling us that we have to augment our spiritual practice further.
3.3. Reduction of ego by impressing the greatness of God
Reduction in ego is a primary requisite for spiritual growth. The narrations of the spiritual experiences of the co-seekers in variety and depth make us realise how insignificant one is, as compared to God who gives each one of us unique spiritual experiences to generate faith. As a result, one’s ego about one’s own abilities gets reduced when compared to God’s ability.
4. Why is it that sometimes we do not obtain spiritual experiences despite spiritual practice?
Spiritual experiences are indicators of our spiritual progress. However our spiritual progress may not begin as soon as we begin spiritual practice. The reason for this is that our spiritual practice may be utilised to reduce the intensity of our severe destiny (i.e. destiny that results in experience of unhappiness) instead of solely for spiritual progress. As a result, spiritual progress does not occur initially and hence we do not get spiritual experiences. However persistent spiritual practice enables us to overcome this initial phase.