Religious experience as core existential metacognition

I submit that profound religious experience can be adequately defined as “awareness or experience of core existential metacognition.”

I make this definition in order to have a way of speaking about the fundamental importance and rough sameness of deep states of prayer, meditation, grace, awareness of God or the Buddha mind, being moved by the Holy Spirit, “practicing the presence of God,” knowing God’s will, being drawn to the Tathagata, samadhi, dhyana, satori, chan, enlightenment, and many more.

These states can and do happen “randomly” with no prior conscious input from the experiencer of them, but they most often happen to people who do some or all of the religious practices mentioned above.

These states are very powerful. They are life-changing and life-enhancing every time they occur. They are different from ordinary conscious states because they involve what might be called in the words of today “core existential metacognition.”

As such, it is difficult even impossible to maintain these states at all times. Few of us have the brainpower or divine grace to do that. We achieve these states through religious practice.

If you are Buddhist you will call them by Buddhist names. If you are Christian or some other religion, you will use other names.

I for one believe you are much better off if you engage in practices that induce “core existential metacognition” than if you don’t engage in any practices like that.

The science-induced wonder of the hard atheist is not the same.

Religious practice is fundamentally the use of disciplined methods to achieve “core existential metacognition.”

The words we use to describe this state(s) and what we are able to see within it should be more beautiful and more in keeping with whatever practice gets you there than “core existential metacognition.” But it is good to have some words to describe what is common to all of these practice and that explain in simple modern terms what people get from their religions and why they do them.

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