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    Thread: Thoughts on "The Presence of God"

    1. #1
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      Question Thoughts on "The Presence of God"

      Growing up as a christian, I always heard and used the term "the presence of god". It was a feeling to most people and was always described as tingling down the spine or warm liquid like energy flowing over the head.

      These kinds of experiences have been described a few times on different forums here mostly occurring in SP or meditation. Personally, Ive also continued to experience this feeling and more as I exercise dream yoga and chakra meditation although it means something different now.


      I suppose I think its electrical energy but im not sure, any thoughts?

    2. #2
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      Half Vulcan DreiHundert's Avatar
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      When I went to church at one time, a friend of mine explained that we all feel an emptiness without god, and when we commit to a relationship with God, it fills that hole within us.
      I have found that that hole for me was just lack of happiness. A relationship with God can help some people bring order, purpose, fulfillment, and happiness in their lives. It worked for me for a while, but I just ask too many questions to fit in at church, and I could never have faith.
      In a way, I do wish that I could be a christian - it would be a whole lot easier than being an atheist. Christians have guidance and support in life through their church and relationship with god. I did enjoy that..

      Sorry, back on topic.
      As far as a physical sensation of god's presense... A girl once told me that you feel a drop in temperature when a ghost is in your presence. I feel a drop in temperature when my air conditioner kicks in. It sounds about as plausible as a cold chill when God is in your presence, you know?

      I feel like a figure as powerful as God would give a much greater and more noticable sensation when he is around than a little cold chill or something.
      If he was TRYING to hide from us, we would feel nothing at all, because he is powerful enough to hide himself. If he wasn't trying, it would be more intense than that.

      Besides... if God is omnipresent, wouldn't a physical feeling of his presence happen constantly in all places for all time, and therefore just feel normal to us?

      Perhaps that explains gravity.
      Last edited by DreiHundert; 07-11-2012 at 08:17 AM.
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      From my experience, I have a feeling that much of the "presence of God" believers discover in their dreams are less intrusions in their dreams by some rude supreme being than they are accidental transcendental moments made by the dreamers themselves.

      This of course doesn't include mistaken identifications made during normal transition to sleep (like "SP," hypnagogic images, vibrations, etc) or the haze of NREM. No, what I'm suggesting is that some dreamers' awareness occasionally "gets ahead of itself" during hi-level LD's, allowing their consciousness to understand that it is an entity unto itself, and that this entire universe (the dream) is its creation. Plus, almost as a side effect, they are "shown" literally indescribable moments that transcend anything they've ever experienced before.

      If you are not prepared for the feelings that accompany this experience, and you are a person of faith, there is an excellent chance that you'll attribute it all to a visit by God, and fail to appreciate that it was really a visit to your own "higher self." Which sort of sucks, I think.

      And yeah, DreiHundert, people of real faith tend to feel the presence of God always -- just like gravity, indeed. They rarely announce that they "felt" God's presence in some special way, as that would both be presumptuous and it would imply that there are times when God is not present.

      Full disclosure: I am the son of a Jesuit-educated father and attended Catholic school every year straight through college. I did all this in the 60's and 70's though, and times were a bit different then, with God Himself having, ever so briefly, a more human and less vindictively omnipotent face. Also, I only go to church for weddings and funerals now, probably less because of my disinterest in a specifically defined deity than in my disdain for the hypocrites filling the pews who feign worship for one hour and then go back to their lives as they were, leaving all the tenets they sang about with the priest.
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      cool cool...

      so, when people experience this "transcendence" in a church setting, what is really happening?

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      Quote Originally Posted by Chimpertainment View Post
      so, when people experience this "transcendence" in a church setting, what is really happening?

      Curious question.

      First, if it is a true transcendental moment -- their consciousness is moving to a place beyond and preferably above the entirety of their life's experience -- then just substitute "church" for "dream" above, because I think what I said above would work the same in the pew as it does in a dream.

      Keep in mind, though, that most of the "transcendence" churchgoers experience tends to be a fabrication based on what they assume they're supposed to experience (especially groups like Pentecostals). Read, or listen to, their accounts, and notice how well they remember every detail, and how every detail tends to match those of their neighbors. Transcendence does not operate that way. So when people speak of transcendence in church, take their pronouncements with a grain of salt.

      ... By saying this I want to assure you that I am not disparaging the churchgoing experience, or things that can happen to a person spiritually while engulfed by the power of a sincerely offered mass. Epiphany happens, joy happens, feeling the real power of communion with your neighbors happens, feeling the "touch" of God happens (real or imagined, it wouldn't matter), and I'm sure that many other things happen, all quite often. Wonderful as all those things are, however, none are transcendental moments. I think when people speak of transcendence at church, they may be misusing the term -- unless of course their consciousness found that moment to spread into unknown territory, but I have a feeling that is very, very rare.
      Last edited by Sageous; 07-18-2012 at 06:37 PM.

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      thnx for the input sageous! I was raised pentecostal and spent the better part of my life chasing this "presence". I always am interested to hear what others think about these unusual spiritual experiences.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Chimpertainment View Post
      thnx for the input sageous! I was raised pentecostal and spent the better part of my life chasing this "presence". I always am interested to hear what others think about these unusual spiritual experiences.
      I had a feeling. I hope I helped without offending!
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      I was raised catholic but I have never had a spiritual experience, felt the presence, etc. I used to feel rather bad about myself because in church camp during musical worship all of my friends would experience intense somatic sensations like feelings of overwhelming happiness and well-being and even disconnectedness from their body. I was always really jealous of them but at the same time I felt that in a way their form of worship was "not the true path" (at the time this is what I thought about many other christians). I felt my relationship with god was an intellectual one and that these intense somatic relationships with it (god) were somehow "cheap". I have not thought about this in a very long time, its weird to think about it now and how I have changed.

      But yes my personal relationship with god was not really a personal one but like I said an intellectual one. What I mean by that is that I agreed with Aquinas that the truth of gods existence was established by natural revelation (reason) and considered god to be more like Aristotle's conception of god: not a being but thought itself, thought that only thinks and only contemplates itself. It sounds weird but I did not as many Christians did, believe that god intervenes with the petty personal problems of humans or that god was subject to emotional states and that god was more like pure thought or reason itself as opposed to a personal being. This belief was ultimately the catalyst for my parting of ways with my church and families beliefs. Looking back I was more of a pantheist than I was ever really a christian.

      Now as an atheist I consider religious believers personal experience (revelation) with god to be the main catalyst for religious belief. When I was a christian I had the suspicion that personal revelation was in many ways a fraud. Don't get me wrong, I actually believed (and still believe) that people actually have these experiences to a certain extent but whether the truth conveyed in the revelation was actually conveyed by god had always arisen suspicion in me. I had a close friend who told me once that god came to him and told him to not worry about his parents divorce and that everything would work out. Even though I was a christian, I didnt believe him (of course I did not inform him of this) because the god that I knew would not worry over the emotional distress of an 13 year old boy when there were many other problems in the world which entailed more suffering to innocent people. I was really jealous and resentful of him yet considered him to be a liar.

      Perhaps it could be argued that the fact that I never was subject to personal revelation contributed to the fact that I am now an atheist. But this is ignoring the fact that there were other more significant reasons for my deconversion that I wont get into because they would diverge from the topic.
      Last edited by stormcrow; 07-18-2012 at 09:30 PM.
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    10. #10
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      In Buddhist practice, particularly Tibetan Dzogchen practice, one might call these sensations an experience of the ground of being, or the base luminosity of our existence, but a lot of 'special effects' accompany the release of long-stored tensions. We all walk around accumulating injury, both physical and psychic, and sometimes long after the source of injury is gone we remain balled up around the site of the pain. These injuries include sources of guilt or self-doubt that we habitually avoid or repress. A sanctioned venue for release such as a Pentecostal service can lead to a lot of these gradually accumulated tensions being released quite suddenly, often resulting in visual, auditory or tactile fireworks and involuntary or semi-involuntary movements and speech.

      In Buddhist practice one is advised not to read too much into the 'special effects,' not to pursue them or see them as signs of accomplishment or failure, but instead to abide in the space they create.
      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.Dalai Lama



    11. #11
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      I've always taken what others describe the presence of God to mean that they are experiencing a feeling of emotional "rightness", like that experienced from psychedelic drugs though possibly to a lesser degree. They feel connected to the world in an indescribable way and some how are endowed with the "spiritual" knowledge that everything will be okay and the world will be as it's supposed to be, despite the fact that worldly knowledge says otherwise or gives reason for anxiety or despair. For those unwilling to merely accept the feeling as it is, or who are looking for the presence of God, I could see how they may attribute this to His presence. Personally I think it's misguided, but whatever floats your boat, you know? No reason to tell somebody they're wrong about how they feel--besides, they'll never agree with you anyway.
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      Altered states of consciousness have many causes. Church creates an emotional response created by a sense of unity with the other members. This is then directed towards a concept. The wine also helps.
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      No offense taken here Sageous

      Taosaur, that seems like a practical and valid way to look at that. I always like how buddists look at energy functions of the body.

      So, I was raised a fundamental pentecostal in the upci which is a specific organized denomination. It might help to know this because they are well known for their shall we say exuberance. I have since then stopped participating in their organization. I still have friends from my old church days but most stopped talking to me when I moved on.
      I myself experienced some of the "presence" although it seemed most people were only there for a weekly release. Now that I have started practicing meditation, that energy has returned with even more power. My body isnt shaking and contorting, im not running in circles or spinning, rolling on the floor, or blacking out, all of which I have seen or experienced. I'm not speaking in tongues, prophesying, or travailing, yet I feel that "presence" on a much deeper level now.
      What I would really like to do is explore those energies and observe the psychological utility they serve. Even without exuberant movement, the mind can still experience these mind states. Breathing seems to be very important in this area.

      Thanks again for the input! gives me a lot to think about
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      I was raised "non-denominational" Christian, which also emphasizes speaking in tongues, being "slain" in the spirit, the presence of god, etc. I was told you experience the presence of god when you are worshiping him. As a child, when I sang during worship services, I did experience an intense feeling that I thought was the presence of God. When I was around 13, I began studying other religions and began to doubt my own. Even after I became atheist, I wondered what it was I had been feeling when experiencing the presence of God.

      A year or two later, I was at a rock concert (the band was Live). During one particularly intense song, which everyone was singing along to and dancing, I realized I was experiencing the same feeling I had once labeled as the presence of god. What I had been feeling during church was not god, it was music. It was the experience of sharing that music and emotion with a large crowd that was causing that feeling.
      Last edited by hermine_hesse; 08-03-2012 at 07:45 AM.

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      My own feeling is that "God" (which to me just means awareness/consciousness) exists in everything, and is felt in every feeling because it IS every feeling. The tingling/charging sensation one experiences and then attributes to the "presence of God" suggests that God is NOT present at other times. I feel the presence of "God" in everything, everywhere. I'd figure what they are experiencing is what Taosaur described, and is very much a spiritual experience, but no more or less "Godly" than eating an orange or dropping acid.


      Quote Originally Posted by hermine_hesse View Post
      A year or two later, I was at a rock concert (the band was Live). During one particularly intense song, which everyone was singing along to and dancing, I realized I was experiencing the same feeling I had once labeled as the presence of god. What I had been feeling during church was not god, it was music. It was the experience of sharing that music and emotion with a large crowd that was causing that feeling.
      I believe that is what they are experiencing as well, and for some reason is something I'm experiencing just trying to explain myself right here hahaha... It's total and complete presence in the moment. A sense of unity with your higher self and the universe at large. A sense that you are going to be okay, that things are precisely as they should be. I feel it often when I meditate. I think there's a concept floating around the internet called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response that describes this feeling.
      Last edited by ThisWitheredMan; 08-11-2012 at 03:00 AM.
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      It is always very interesting to see how people interpret their experiences.

      I remember some worship leaders used to say "You have to open yourself to the presence of god so he can bless you". It seemed their formula was to 1. open to god 2. then he would respond by "entering". There are many ways to look at it of course, but it seems like they just switch the power to a third party in everything they do.

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      ^^ Life is always perceived to be easier when a third party can take charge, be blamed for bad things, or perhaps be called on to make things happen for us. We're always doing it -- parents, imaginary friends, teachers, employers, even governments regularly become third-party proxies and scapegoats in our daily lives. We often repulse from the thought of being responsible for our own fates, our own days. So, when it comes to dipping into the spiritual realm, it follows nicely that the two-step plan you outline ends in God entering you. If God is in you, can you ever be wrong? That would certainly make life easier.

      We're ultimately like lions on the prairie, satisfied to lie around as long as possible, only getting up when we must, either to survive, or to make more lions. That innate laziness shows up everywhere in our lives, including in religion. To believe that someone as important as God will "enter" us and take over our spiritual lives for us just because we "opened" up to Him is laziness in action, not to mention almost insanely naive. But it is an easy way to excuse your words and actions to the motives of some controlling third party, and not to your own volition.

      So I guess that means that the presence of God might just be a handy tool for convenient spiritual living.

      ... I hope this post doesn't get me into too much trouble. I'm just not a fan of instant spiritualism; I have a feeling God isn't, either.

      Damn. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!
      Last edited by Sageous; 08-18-2012 at 04:23 PM.

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      I think there are several different emotions grouped together as one. The one I think some people get at church, is a one of awe and wonder. The reason is because a lot of churches are very large, with huge open rooms and high ceilings, and people sing and play loud music and the clergy all dress up in special outfits and stuff. So it is all designed to come across very impressive. It is the same feeling people get when they view other very impressive scenery. Which is often why god is associated with nature and stuff, because some natural landscapes(for example if you climb high mountains and look down) come across as very impressive and give people the same awe type feeling.

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      ^^ But is that kind of presence one of God, or just a show put on by priests and architects looking to artificially summon the awe we hold, or to which we are susceptible, for something like nature?

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      God is supposed to be every where, what logical sense does it make that he is concentrated within churches? His presence should be equally felt every where, not just places that look beautiful or inspiring. So I think it is just a show by the priests and the architects to try and make people see and feel god. Though I don't think they all do it on purpose to trick people. A lot are probably really inspired so are trying to convey their own emotions to others. The problem is that they are just conveying the sense of awe and wonderment, not the presence of god.
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      My own experience, primarily from music, is that whenever you establish a collection of persons where, reliably, the walls break down to a kind of awe in the grandeur of our collective beauty and the unbounded love of which we're capable, it's a good thing.
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