My view is that different faith groups are connected in the overall dynamic of becoming but they are not necessarily the same, even at the most fundamental experiential level.
That perspective is based on personal religious experience, which (obviously) I cannot share with everyone. So making a scientific claim here is problematic. However, we can, as Marko Ivan Rupnik puts it, employ a “rational-experiential” approach to religious experience.
Talking about the Catholic idea of discerning God’s will, which includes the belief that we are able to discern different spiritual influences, Rupnik says:
It is important to state that no matter how important reading about discernment can be, discernment is a reality into which one must be initiated. This initiation requires a rational-experiential approach.¹
On this point I agree. But Rupnik goes on to say that discernment never happens alone. A qualified (Catholic) spiritual director is necessary. And it’s on the second part of this claim that I raise some questions. For example,
- How do we know that a given Catholic spiritual director is qualified to direct us correctly?
- Does not the Catholic saint, Faustina Kowalska, write in her Divine Mercy Diary that some of her confessors were too inexperienced to understand her, and that she didn’t tell them everything because she had learned that they would get it wrong and mislead her? If this kind of misdirection could happen within the sacrament of confession, could it not happen with an assigned spiritual director?²
Anyhow, I digress. The point of this post is to stimulate debate about various kinds of religion, how they differ but could also work together.
¹ Marko Ivan Rupnik, SJ. Discernment: Acquiring the Heart of God, Pauline Books and Media, 2006, p.4
² Later in the book she says she realized that holding back at confession was a sin, which makes for slightly confusing reading.