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vol.40 suppl.30On the high sea of spirituality. Antecedents and determinants of discernment among school leaders in India author indexsubject indexarticles search
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Acta Theologica

On-line version ISSN 2309-9089
Print version ISSN 1015-8758


HERMANS, C.A.M.. Unexpected possible. A building-block approach to spiritual and religious experiences revisited. Acta theol. [online]. 2020, vol.40, suppl.30, pp.5-33. ISSN 2309-9089.

Both spiritual and religious experiences express an "unexpected possible happiness". Unexpected is defined as a recognition of contingency. Possible is defined as transcendental openness towards possibilities that are considered ultimate. Happiness as a transcending anticipation of ultimate possibilities. Spiritual experiences are characterised by the recognition of contingency, transcendental openness and happiness. Spiritual experiences can be religious, but not necessarily so. Religious experiences include a reference to God as ultimate. Next, the author presents insights from neuro-psychology and cognitive science, which assist in understanding human processing of surprise in embodied, cultural and social practices. Finally, five building blocks of spiritual and religious experience are formulated. Results from empirical research are presented to substantiate the concepts presented in the building blocks and the layered structure of these experiences. The author concludes by presenting four challenges and suggestions for further research.

Keywords : Spiritual experiences; Religious experiences; Contingency; Transcendental openness.

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