The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James (Excerpt)

Inner happiness and serviceability do not always agree. What immediately
feels most "good" is not always most "true," when measured by the verdict
of the rest of experience. The difference between Philip drunk and Philip
sober is the classic instance in corroboration. If merely "feeling good"
could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.
But its revelations, however acutely satisfying at the moment, are inserted
into an environment which refuses to bear them out for any length of time.
The consequence of this discrepancy of the two criteria is the uncertainty
which still prevails over so many of our spiritual judgments. There are
moments of sentimental and mystical experience—we shall hereafter
hear much of them—that carry an enormous sense of inner authority
and illumination with them when they come. But they come seldom, and they
do not come to everyone; and the rest of life makes either no connection
with them, or tends to contradict them more than it confirms them. Some
persons follow more the voice of the moment in these cases, some prefer
to be guided by the average results. Hence the sad discordancy of so many
of the spiritual judgments of human beings...

 

William James (1842-1910) has been dead 90 years. So he should know about spiritual matters. If you have his e-mail address, let me know.

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