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Personnal experience of the Christ
The Christians devotees to Jesus Christ are witnesses to God in the world. They are in the world but not of the world; however, without a personal “experience” this is impossible, the more today in this time and age of secularisation. When Jesus Christ witnesses to what He knows, what He lives and what He is, He refers to His own experience. When Jesus Christ asks for faith it is because He knows what He is talking about.
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Quoting from the Gospel of John, He says to Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony.” (John 03.11)
He is adding: “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the
Son of man.” (John 03.13)
These remarks express the specific nature of the Christian experience of God. It is that Christians take into their own lives, the very experience of God. Before the coming of the Word made flesh there already existed in the world a diffuse experience of God, hesitant perhaps and never quite sure of itself, but very real all the same.
Jesus Christ comes to us with a new experience.
“No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known.” (John 01.18)
What John the Evangelist describes, at the beginning of his Gospel, as the state of humanity before the coming of Christ, still applies today to those who have not yet truly met Him.
For John, the incarnation of the living Word, Jesus Christ, is the beginning of a new era of experience of God.
What is there so particular, then, about the Christian devotee meeting with God?
For Christian devotees and contemplatives in Asia, this question is certainly primordial. They cannot just simply tell their Hindu or Buddhist brothers and sisters, that in all spiritual disciplines the experience of God is identical.
They should be sufficiently aware of their own experience to be able to discuss it without losing sight of the fact that it is not exactly the same as that of others, and yet there are great similarities in both the Bhagavad Gîtâ and the Gospels.
It becomes easier to admit that each philosophy’s experience of God has its own specific traits if in fact that is just what it is, an “experience”.
1. The Experience of God in Theology.
At a time when people are looking for the closest contact with other religions as did a brother of the strict observance, in order to understand their experience, they run two risks. The first is that of making out that all true religious experiences are identical; the second, that there is no point of comparison between them.
It is always dangerous to try and judge other people’s spiritual experience; for that, one needs, a deep own experience.
We have to keep in mind a fact: the close connection between religious belief and the formulation of experience. Indeed, we might say there are relatively few religious experiences, even deep ones that are not conditioned as soon as expressed, and even in the living of them, by a doctrinal system.
Thus, it is quite possible to imagine two devotees or contemplatives enjoying the same objective experience of God, and immediately translating it, even as it reaches consciousness, in such different ways that it would be hard to believe they are talking of the same thing.
This is understandable, since, while the experience itself takes place in the area of the inexpressible, on the conscious level it is all the time being shaped by each one’s accumulated store of beliefs, attitudes and words.
What the Buddhist would call the rapture of his self when it becomes aware of its unity with the Absolute, the Christian would describe as a union of love with God.
So, when dealing with the problem of a specific Christian experience of God, we have to reckon carefully with the fundamental importance of World Faiths.
When I am suddenly faced with an entirely new experience as living with the Gîtâ or the Gospel, through either one, when God breaks abruptly into my heart in a totally fresh way, my mind pushes me to try and find out if this apparently extraordinary experience fits in with the faith  of my religion. The only rule is the ruthless abandonment of everything which is in the way. “When any man God perfectly desires to love, all things as well as inward as outward that to God’s love are contrary and from His love to let, he studies to do away.” (Richard Rolle, “The Fire of Love”)
The concrete vision of the glorified Jesus Christ has the true mystic quality of ineffability, appearing to the self under a form of inexpressible beauty, illuminated with that unearthly light which is so persistently reported as a feature of transcendental experience. When St. Teresa saw only the Hands of God, she was thrown into an ecstasy of adoration by their shining loveliness. (Vida, cap. Xxviii § 2)
“If I were to spend many years in devising how to picture to myself anything so beautiful, “ she says of the imaginary vision of Christ, “I should never be able, nor even know how, to do it; for it is beyond the scope of any possible imagination here below: the whiteness and brilliancy alone are inconceivable. (St. Teresa, op. cit., cap. §§ 7, 8.) In fact, she learnt how to understand and express what had happened; and once certain of being on the right road she was able to throw herself without hesitation into her experience.
One result of this way of seeing or acting is that everyone normally receives and interprets his own experience of God according to the spiritual theology of his own religion. In fact, it is fairly seldom that such an experience is felt so strongly and with objective clarity that a man is able to go against the doctrine he was brought up on. However, one does come across instances like that of the Moslem, Al Hallaj, who was executed for professing doctrines based on his spiritual experiences that were more Christian than Islamic.
This and many other instances will prove that, though the experience is usually interpreted according to the belief held, it is quite possible also for it to lead to the discovery of truths that are in contradiction with commonly held orthodoxy. 
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