One of the big divides in the God/No God debate is between those who have had some kind of ‘peak’ experience and those who have not. By peak experience, I mean an opening of the heart, an experience of unity, or an awareness of pure being beyond thought. Often with such experiences there is an underlying sense that everything is perfect, as well as of the existence of a guiding intelligence greater than ourselves. In our survey of the top 101 health scorers, 48% had had such an experience, and 18% hadn’t, while 28% were not quite sure.
Whatever camp you are in, what is clear is that many people do describe similar experiences of a connection to something greater than themselves, from the profound to the everyday. For example, musicians talk about a state in which they become ‘played’, less the doer and more the instrument through which the music comes. Athletes talk about being ‘in the zone’ where every action and movement flows naturally. I had a similar experience last year when I reached the summit of a mountain. Apart from the spectacular views, for several hours I felt completely present. Everything in my life seemed obviously perfect, just the way it was. Gone was the negative self talk of my mind. Many people connect to something greater through experiencing the awe-inspiring forces of nature.
How do you connect with spirit? Do you meditate, pray or have a spiritual practice of some sort? Do you connect through nature, through service, or through sport when you get into a state of flow? What has been your relationship to spirit, or a higher power at different times in your life? Have you, like many people, found yourself in danger or difficulty, feeling at the end of your resources, asking for help from a higher power? Or perhaps that’s when you developed the belief that there is no such thing – you are on your own. I remember hearing the story of an Arctic explorer who got holed up in a blizzard for days and was running out of supplies. He prayed for help but nothing happened. Several days later, at the brink of disaster, some Eskimos appeared and rescued him. “So much for a benevolent God,” he thought. "If it hadn’t been for those ......
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