The less real of the two

The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by a more solemn silence. The darkness held a presence that was all the more felt because it was not seen. I could not any more have doubted that HE was there than that I was. Indeed, I felt myself to be, if possible, the less real of the two.

    - W. James - The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)

Last night I was taking more notes on Rudolf Otto’s book, The Idea of the Holy, when I came upon this quote from William James’ work. It is the quote of a clergyman taken from the manuscripts of Edwin D. Starbuck, of Stanford University. It’s quite the path leading back to the original quote, but it summed up so much that I wanted to say that I had to track it down. In all the researching I’ve been doing both for my book that I toy with endlessly and for my own personal discernment, I keep running into the same themes again and again; themes of heirophany that speak to me on a very personal level.

The root of my religious choices have been a series of experiences that I thought were unique for a very long time. When I was in Jr. High School, I found it hard to believe that other people could have similar feelings, or experience what I was experiencing. These days, I seem to have the opposite problem. Having found so many similar people in my life, I find it hard to comprehend those people who have never felt the feeling of religious ecstasy, witnessed the mysterium tremendum, or come face to face with the ineffible truth of their being, “I am nothing, YOU are everything.”

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