Reflections on Nothingness and Oneness

The Phenomenology of Religious and Mystical Experience


  • Aaron Murly Bangor University


The study of religious experience is in many respects a personal affair, motivated by the intrinsic aesthetic value of subjectivity; in others it is a rational engagement with theological and metaphysical concepts. These distinct approaches, however, are not mutually inconsistent but complementary, each capable of corroborating the other. Many mystics and philosophers have earnestly sought to demonstrate the contrary, i.e., that ultimate truths revealed in spiritual encounters are inherently contradictory, and that even our concepts of self and other are arbitrary conventions of language or reason. This paper adopts a conceptual approach to religious experience, engaging critically with the phenomenology of nothingness and nonduality—arguably the two most important challenges in the relevant literature to the prospects of a rational religiosity and mysticism.