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State and stages in the spiritual life

From Brian McLaren

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It's been helpful for me to think about people experiencing states and stages.

Video Interview Transcript

It's been helpful for me to think about people experiencing states and stages. A state is a temporary experience. Often people talk about an experience of enlightenment. And what's interesting when people describe these experiences, they're very similar even if they happen in different religions or different contexts. But it's the sense that you've lived at a certain level and suddenly you broke through, maybe broke through up or maybe you broke through down, but you reach some new level and the world looks different. And there's often a feeling of euphoria and peace and you break into this and then almost always it fades.
I've come to understand that those those experiences are gifts that in the Middle Ages, the monastics called them the visitations of God or the favors of God, that they're these great experiences. But here's what I think we learn. If a state is when you have a temporary almost like a vacation to a better place, then you actually could start to develop practices that would help you move there, so that you could live there and that would become your normal state. Well then you'd be ready for something else. And this is how the spiritual life has been for me. I can think of several critical spiritual experiences where I had as a temporary experience of a state that then I had to learn how to grow into.

Discussion starter questions
  • What are some of your state experiences?
  • ...

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