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AstroChuck's avatar

Have you ever had an epiphany that led you towards or turned you away from spirituality?

Asked by AstroChuck (37420points) July 12th, 2008 from iPhone

I have no story of my own as I’ve never been spiritual in any way, shape or form. I’m just interested in what some of you might have to say.

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14 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

Yes. But I was on drugs when it happened. Does that count?

PupnTaco's avatar

My epiphany wasn’t a single event, more of a slow burn over ten years or so.

I was raised Catholic but never completely bought the whole story. In college, I started reading Joseph Campbell’s “Masks of God” volumes and from there starting reading about all other traditions. “They can’t all be right,” I thought at the time.

Over the years since, I’ve come to feel that each tradition was an attempt by earlier cultures to explain something they didn’t understand using the ability they had at the time.

As is stands today, I’m a full-blown agnostic, 99% atheist. But I don’t want to say “I know this for sure” – that’s the same trap those earlier cultures fell into.

AstroChuck's avatar

PupnTaco- I call myself an atheist but would never tell anyone I’m certain of anything. I don’t believe but to say I know would be arrogant. It’s impossibls to provs ths nonexistence of anything. An agnostic questions God and science but does’nt know what to believe. You sound more like an atheist.

tekn0lust's avatar

I was raised going to a Baptist church only on Easter and Christmas eve. I was expected to believe in God but not really taught anything about God. Like PnT I never really bought into the whole thing.

After I got married to my wife who was raised pretty much the same way we began attending a Presbyterian church regularly. I became a deacon and thought I was headed down the right path, though I never really was truly happy about it.

One Sunday morning right in the middle of the service the congregation rose to recite something that was printed in the bulletin. This happened just about every Sunday usually different material. I stood up next to my wife like I had been doing for the last five years and began to read aloud. Suddenly my world slowed down, like slow motion. I realized how pagan a ritual this was and looked around at all the 300 people around me not a single one smiling, no exuberance in any voice, no nothing just chanting. Epiphany had struck and I wanted no further part of this.

I took my wife’s hand and walked her out of the church. I have never been back to a church and that has been 6 years now. My wife still goes but purely for social reasons which I whole heartedly disagree with. This situation is currently quite a problem for my wife and I. It’s something we discuss fairly often and will have to work though especially where our children are concerned.

I won’t strictly categorize what I believe, but I probably tend more towards humanism. I believe in my core that people made up their gods and religions and superstitions to help them explain or deal with the world around them. Each generation adds a little bit more interpretation to the original beliefs. Today though religion has more to do with politics, power and money than to do with faith. Sure there are still those who believe, but they are few and far between.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’ve had 2. The first one came when I was about 12. I started to realize how my very religious parents, and everyone associated with our church, were hypocrites.

Next one came when I was about 19 in the middle of the night, in joshua tree national park, while I was on some very good LSD. I realized there that everything in existence is one. No religion, no higher being, no separation. Everything IS.

PupnTaco's avatar

@ Chuck: I am an atheist, but I have a hard time with certainty. I know what I personally believe (in the non-existence of a God), but I try to distinguish that from what I know to be a fact.

PupnTaco's avatar

@ Faery: Actually I had a bit of an epiphany in Joshua Tree as well.

It was 12:34:56 on 7/8/90 (see what we did there?) and we had some P. Cubensis and Merlot. I understood the nature of the infinite looking at a huge boulder – how it was composed of tiny crystals and then those crystals had a structure, and so on into infinity (micro- and macro-cosmic).

But now, in my regular mind, I can only remember that exuberant feeling, not actually feel it. Like how you can’t take the Holy Grail past the seal in the temple floor or all the Nazis will fall into the cracks and you might too.

TheHaight's avatar

Yes. My first recollection/retreat. It was my senior year in hs and I had to go in order for me to make my confirmation. I dreaded going, thought it was ridiculous that I had to spend three days with crazy church people without cell phones or any type of communication to the outside world. I ended up having the time of my life, cried, laughed and left with some really great friends. I also recieved a letter from my parents that changed my life, and lead me closer to them. Yes, I grew closer to God but it was just a learning experience for myself and others..

Cardinal's avatar

@ tinyfaery No! Drugs don’t count. BTW Is there such a thing as ‘good LSD’? Just wondering…...

Yes I had an epiphany about a montrh after my Mothers death. I was already a believer, but that helped a lot, and I will never forget it.!

Harp's avatar

I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss tinyfaery’s realization, personally. I’ve never taken any drugs. Ever. But when I read “I realized there that everything in existence is one. No religion, no higher being, no separation. Everything IS” , that concords perfectly with one of the core realizations of Buddhism: the direct, experience of Oneness. There’s more to Truth than that realization alone, but it’s a crucial one, and not many people ever even glimpse it.

Drugs are a very haphazard way to open the mind, which is why I’ve not been tempted, but they can occasionally and temporarily removed the barriers that keep us from seeing whats right in front of us. I would never recommend drug use, but that doesn’t mean that what tiny experienced wasn’t real.

gilgamesh's avatar

Really I started seriously thinking about spirituality after the 8th grade. During that summer I was very very depressed and moody. Somehow i couldn’t relate to people as well as most kids my grade could. All my friends were in the dating fad, and it just seemed kinda well not boring but well , kind of superfica. I started questioning my beliefs and I became deeply introspective. I was raised up in a buddhist household and I found myself reading some books on spirituality. One book that still is influential is a book called ” Changing Destiny ” by Lao Zen Fong ( I think thats right). Anyway it made me realize the extent of my being in the world and the idea of a god and a man made phenomenen. From that spiritualist book i started reading Ralph Waldo Emerson and transcendentalist literature. The transcendental idea of god and how he/she is within all of us really made me think. Now these days i’m more into existential literature.
But my 8th grade experience really taught me about life in general. That was a powerful ephiphany. I remember in 9th grade our whole theme in my honors writing class was ephiphanies.
I guess i’m still agnostic at the moment…

tinyfaery's avatar

Many religions use drugs to induce a spiritual, receptive state. Read The Varieties Of Religious Experience by Willam James.

@harp Only haphazard if its not directed. But, I was doing it recreationally.

@cardinal Good LSD =pure, not speedy, you can sleep on it.

aaronou's avatar

Times of crisis seem to often naturally produce various epiphanies, at least that’s been my experience. Perhaps sometimes we must wreck our life in order to save it.

Hobbes's avatar

I cannot ever remember believing in a God (when I say God, I mean a being with motives, personality, etc who interacts with the world). I wouldn’t call myself particularly “spiritual”, either.

But there are two epiphanies I’ve had which have been the closest I’ve gotten to a “spiritual experience”. The first was from contemplating the scale of the universe. That is, thinking about how, from the point of view of a microbe, a single human is an incomprehensibly vast structure, but compared to the scale of the universe, our entire planet is “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

The second came from realizing that, at the quantum level, there are no separations between objects. Our minds look at things and see them as distinct, making a model of the universe full of separate, discrete chunks of matter. But if you look close enough, you can’t tell where I end and anything else begins.

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