University of Tartu
Abstract. The purpose of this article is to describe how the religious experiences are related to the rest of the life experience. Its subject matter is the fact that religious experiences are normally studied as single selected events whereas this study states as its main thesis that religious experiences may be best analyzed in the lifelong perspective. On the basis of thirteen different religious autobiographies, the way one's religious experiences are linked with one's past, present and future is described. The past-related religious experiences may appear as learning from what happened in previous times, understanding or feeling that one's life has been in God's hands, religious illumination after intellectual struggles, or a religious solution after emotional tension. The present-related experiences describe particular life episodes in which the divine presence was felt or understood. Religious experiences may also change one's attitudes or actions in the future.
1 The main statements of this article have been published in the book: Lehtsaar, T. (2000). Religious Experiencing. A Psychological Study of Religious Experiences in the Lifelong Perspective. Åbo: Åbo Akademi University.
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