Defined in contradistinction to so-called ordinary or mundane experience, mystical experience conjures images of ecstatic rapture, overwhelming emotion, or profound quietude. An apparently universal aspect of human experience cross-culturally and interreligiously, subjective experiences of a mystical persuasion likely reflect universal but nonetheless unusual predispositions and propensities of the human mind. Continuing advances in cognitive science in general, and in the neurosciences in particular, promise to illuminate aspects of mystical experience previously hidden behind the mask of the phenomenological. At the same time, a historically more refined form of comparative phenomenology promises to coordinate the enormous variety of descriptions of mystical experiences. Research from both the sciences and the humanities will contribute to the development of a comprehensive, compelling interpretation of these experiences.
See also Experience, Religious: Philosophical Aspects; Mysticism
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