Mysticism and Religious Experience

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In modern usage, "mysticism" refers to mystical experience and to practices, discourse, institutions, and traditions associated therewith. The term "mystical experience" enjoys a great variety of meanings, retaining some of that variety among philosophers. There is no choice but to stipulate meaning for the purposes of this article. A wide definition of "mystical experience" will be more in the spirit of how it figures in general culture, and a narrow definition will echo a meaning common among philosophers. In the wide sense, mystical experiences occur within the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Indian religions, Buddhism, and primal religions. In most of these traditions, the experiences are allegedly of a supersensory reality, such as God, Brahman, or, as in some Buddhist traditions, Nirvana.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Religion
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199892099
ISBN (Print)0195138090, 9780195331356
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2007


  • Brahman
  • Mystical experience
  • Mysticism
  • Religious experience
  • Religious traditions
  • Supersensory reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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