The 6 dimensions of Religion

Essay by antofasaCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2005

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1. Ninian Smart has established 6 dimensions or structures in a way to find a common ground between all world religions. These are classified into the thought, "mind", dimensions which are the experiential, mythical, and doctrinal dimension, and then the multi-sensory dimensions which are the ritual, ethical and social dimensions.

The experiential dimension is the religious experience. People come to know their religion, their God or the ultimate reality through experience. According to Smart, there are different types of religious experience. The numinous experience is having God or the subject as holy and very other than our human condition. On the other side, the mystical experience is having the subject be inside the object, the inner quest to experience ultimate reality. The there is the experience that is a combination of both. The Shamen experience is situating oneself into transit to connect with the spirit world. And the Pananhenic experience where the individual feels unity with all of nature and the spiritual world, therefore find the spirit in everything around it.

In every religion, the religious people go through at least one of these experiences to come to know God or attain the ultimate reality. In Christianity a monk or nun may experience a combination of mystical and numinous, always starting numinous because of the basis of Christianity. The duality is obvious with constant worship but a close embrace develops creating unity in love and not in identity. In the same way while Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism one may also find a combination beginning with mystical y Theravada Buddhism it is mainly mystical finding that ultimate reality is found within. There is no sense of worship and one must work for its own liberation by being quiet, peaceful and becoming detached.

The Mythic dimension is the religious myth. The word...

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