Can spiritual experiences be described in non-religious terms?

From Quora discussion "Can spiritual experiences be described in non-religious terms?"

From my essay "Spirituality for Skeptics:"

"If we step back for a moment from acknowledging the transpersonal or self-transcendent as spiritual, what are some of the characteristics of a “spiritual experience?” Here is a short list of some of the terms I’ve heard people use in the course of my teaching and Integral Lifework coaching:

- Uplifting gratitude, thanksgiving, joy or bliss
- An observed stream of synchronicity - a series of meaningful coincidences
- An intuitive aha, insight, deep knowing or revelation
- Self-knowledge that evokes surprise, shock, disquiet or fear
- A sixth sense awareness, déjà vu, or distinctly felt presence
- Intense feelings of love, compassion or empathic connection
- Emotional release, freedom of conscience, a letting go, forgiveness, acceptance
- A profound sense of wonder and awe
- An abiding trust, confidence or faith
- Inner stillness, expansiveness, nowness, quietude

Clearly, many of these experiences are not unique to spiritually-oriented people. In fact, almost anyone could experience these patterns without accrediting them to a spiritual cause. We may accept or dismiss them at face value, as predictable reactions to a perpetually mysterious, wonder-filled Universe. The friend who concluded he doesn’t have “the religion gene” can still feel awe and exhilaration when he catches a good wave at the beach or when he beholds a beautiful waterfall in the desert. My father, a deeply skeptical man, can still feel elated and grateful when he masters a whitewater river in an open canoe, skis a difficult line through dense forest, or finds a hundred-dollar bill in his driveway. A writer acquaintance of mine who vehemently rejects all romanticism and magical thinking can still soar with joy, surprise and revelation as she writes or reads a well-written story. And so on. Anyone, no matter how steeped in their native skepticism, can experience emotional release, non-rational confidence, synchronicity, wonder and bliss."


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