Individual Experience

Ours is an individual experience. What we see, feel, hear, taste, smell – it’s all subjective. We think we each see daylight or feel snow the same way, but do we really? Experiences are rated on scales – Scoville scale of heat (spiciness), Mohs hardness scale, lumens/lux/candela/footcandles indicating brightness – but can we really know if our bases are the same, if we’ve all got the same starting point?

We know from the Heavenly Doctrines for the New Church that light is about enlightenment and warmth is about love –

The sun in the spiritual world is pure love from Jehovah God, who is within that sun. The spiritual sun radiates heat and light. The essence of the heat it radiates is love, and the essence of the light is wisdom. That heat and that light have an effect on people’s wills and intellects. The heat affects the will; the light affects the intellect.
(True Christianity 75)

….Does someone who is more enlightened and living in more love experience a warmer, brighter summer day than another? Does someone who is struggling with her faith and living more selfishly experience a longer, colder winter? More seasonal affective disorder? It doesn’t seem so – it can be a brilliantly sunny day outside even when I’m feeling dark & crabby inwardly. I doubt that everyone in Canada experienced a severe dip in their spirituality alongside this winter’s cold snap …. or did they??

If we were to jump down this rabbit hole even further, we could discuss whether anything that we perceive is absolute or real. As I sit at my kitchen table writing this, I’m feeling a little chilly on this <what feels subjectively to me to be> cool summer’s day; the sky is gray and rain is threatening. ….But is it really? Does everyone perceive it the same way? I recognise that others will be quite comfortable in this temperature – that often has to do with how much natural insulation a person has and how fast their heart beats (I’m low on both counts); but I think we’d probably all agree that the sky is gray, and if it rains, we’ll probably agree that it’s raining. But, well, will we?? Where’s the line? At any point is it all subjective?? That leads me to thinking about the natural world that we live and spend so much of our conscious, waking time in, vs. the spiritual world where our spirits are and which is really real,…….. 

That’s where my brain starts to falter and I worry that I might blow a gasket: that’s too heavy, too deep, too huge for my mere little natural brain to compute. (Ha, notice those adjectives? those subjective adjectives, ‘heavy’, ‘deep’, ‘huge’? There’s no getting away from them, in this space and time oriented natural world in which we live!) I find thinking about all this stuff really fascinating, albeit to a point. But wow, what if we really do perceive things differently based on our own personal spiritual state — which, after all, really is our real self….?? 🤯

….What do you reckon??

About Jenn Beiswenger

Jenn is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, homemaker, birth & postpartum doula, artist, pastor's wife,.. etc. She loves reading, word & number puzzles, cooking nutritious food, planning fun surprises, looking after her family, helping people connect, having good heart-to-heart conversations about the important things in life. She is learning more and more about the Lord's workings and is inspired by His sheer amazingness. She was born & raised in Canada, educated & started a family in the United States, and now lives & loves in Australia.

6 thoughts on “Individual Experience

  1. Your phrase ‘…vs the spiritual world where are our spirits are and which is REALLY REAL…’ struck me. I’m reading ‘After: A doctor explores what near-death experiences reveal about life and beyond’ by Dr Bruce Greyson, published in 2021. Many of the patients he interviewed who’d had NDEs found it really hard to express how very real the NDEs were, much more real than the world they returned to. Also, each experience was apparently attuned to INDIVIDUALS so each person would feel ‘at home’ and comfortable, whatever their background.
    From our common base of humanity, it would seem the Lord tailors ALL our experiences to our very own individual selves.
    Thought-provoking article, Jenn – thank you!

    1. Dr Greyson’s book sounds fascinating, Dale! I’m not familiar with his work, but yeah, lots of what I’ve heard about NDEs similarly recount how REAL the other world feels, so much ‘realer’ than this one. -And likewise, how everyone’s experience seems so nicely tailored to their beliefs and states. Wow! Well done, Lord! 😁

  2. Hmmmmmm….. fascinating Jenn! To me, the key thing that jumps out at me in all this is the RECOGNITION of our subjective perspectives. I’m not so concerned about other folks’ perspectives on light and rain, etc. (obviously), and yet I do feel like it’s so important for us all to own our personal perspectives and allow others’ theirs. I find our human tendency is to assume OUR perspective is the RIGHT perspective (because it’s so obvious and clear to us, after all). I think it takes some real humility to recognize our perspective and others’ perspectives are EQUALLY valid. Easier said than done.
    Love you, sister!

  3. Thanks for this Jenn… it is fascinating too, all the studies about our bodies and how they react to the external environment. If I’m chilly, my cells are acting a certain way, and you are not, and your cells are acting a certain way. And our moods are affecting those cells, and our feelings, and vise versa…. yes it’s mind-boggling. Personally I find it helpful, and helps me to judge less, when I remember how physical/mental is all connected. So someone whose cells are geared towards the tropics, or towards vegetarianism, may really struggle with other climates or diets. This doesn’t necessarily mean I am off the spiritual hook if I had to move to New Orleans and eat pig fat–but it would be okay for me to face those challenges head-on as difficult for my body, and thence moods and spirits.

    1. ….Wow, that’s really interesting insight, Katya; I hadn’t thought of it from such a cellular level! Thanks for that perspective, about the physical-mental connection that I’d totally overlooked. Very cool.

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