"Cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research" and "the most important function of art and science [is] to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are capable of it." Albert Einstein 
...the Christian sees Christian symbols: the Cross, Christ, the Virgin, and so forth the Muslim percieves Arabic letters and non-figurative designs; the Buddhist contemplates projections or visualizations of the respective community's myth dream which the subject has chosen...as his own personal myth-dream. This does not mean that mystic do not have visions at all; visionary experiences and hallucinatory states are a reality about which psychologists and physicians give us ample scientific information. But as far as investigation of mystical experience and the comparative study of mysticism are concerned, the analysis of reports on visionary phenomenon does not lead beyond the comparison of divergent myth-dreams. 
Sometime in the year 2003, I had a series of powerful "mystical" experiences, what I now call Connection Experiences, that, from a phenomenological, theological, psychological, and sociological perspective, completely blew me away. As so many others have recounted, the experiences are powerful beyond mortal belief. It was totally unexpected, and, I have to say, initially unwelcome. Although raised a Catholic, I had observed the hypocrisy and violence at an early age and rejected it. Even though I fiddled around with alternative systems throughout adolescence (Eckankar, Buddhism, Zen, etc.), I eventually entered university where I gradually accepted the dogmatic truths--God was a stupid idea, and human spirituality was, at best, a remnant of a more primitive time, and at worst, a delusion, oedipal regression. Like so many of my colleagues, I neither wanted, needed, expected, or accepted anything religious to happen. But then, "it" happened. I had a powerful Connection Experience, and then I had more.
At that time the initial experiences occurred, I had three choices. One, I could pretend they didn't exist and that I didn't have them. Two, I could attribute the experiences to psychosis. Three, I could embrace them and try and figure out was going on. Since there was a certain amount of emotional, psychological, and spiritual disease in the first connection event, pretending it hadn't happened and continuing on with my career was an attractive option. On the other hand, the experiences where literally mind-blowing, providing, as William James said, deep insight and opening up entirely new realms of thought, conception, and experience to me. Clearly, clearly, clearly, there was more to it than self-delusion or some kind of psychosis.
Ultimately, as you will gather as you browse through this online textbook of human spirituality and connection, I didn't attribute the experiences to psychosis, nor did I try to pretend them away. I just couldn't. Instead, probably as a direct result of my doctoral level university training, I chose to investigate, explore, and try and figure out was going on. I began a research project, in other words, to try and sort the thing out. This online resource is one of the ongoing distillations and presentations of this decades-long project phenomenological, sociological, psychological, emotional, and dare I say, spiritual research project. michaelsharp At this time, this online resource is very much still in development. New concepts and ideas are being added, definitions and discussions are being refined, and new research, resources, and backing citations are being added all the time. The reader should bear this in mind. There are many rough sections, many sections that consist of little more than notes and ideas, and many areas that need supporting research and discussion. The resource is progressing however, and it is, with moderate haste, becoming a useful distillation. In the week's ahead I'll begin to add "points of entry" where an interested student of human spirituality can find their way in.
Finally, note, the SpiritWiki is an online theoretical/scholarly work in progress. At this time, all entries should be considered draft and subject to revision.
Contact the author at spiritwiki [ @ ] lightningpath.org
Supporting this Work
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- Einstein, Albert. The World as I See It. Kindle. Samaira Book Publishers, 2018. https://amzn.to/2NR8B6z.
- Keller, Carl A. “Mystical Literature.” In Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, edited by Steven T. Katz, 75–100. London: Sheldon Press, 1978. p. 86
- Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton, 1961. https://amzn.to/2STCpQT.
- ———. The Future of an Illusion. New York: Anchor Books, 1964. https://amzn.to/2EZqqgZ.
- William James notes "The simplest rudiment of mystical experience would seem to be that deepened sense of the significance of a maxim or formula which occasionally sweeps over one. "I've heard that said all my life," we exclaim, "but I never realized its full meaning until now. James, William. Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature (p. 332). Kindle Edition. https://amzn.to/2SQZ7Jv