Are spiritual feelings imaginary or actual?
Question: When people feel peace and joy through spiritual processes like chanting, are their feelings actually caused by the chanting or are those feelings merely imagined because they believe they will experience those feelings by chanting?
Answer: For intelligent people, it is reality that determines both their feelings and beliefs. Chanting brings us in contact with a higher plane of reality and that factual experience of higher reality subsequently molds both our feelings and beliefs.
Let’s understand this with an example. If we come close to the parapet of a skyscraper, we feel fearful, and we believe that we will be wounded, even killed, if we walk off the terrace. What is the cause of those feelings and beliefs? It is the objective reality that there is a steep fall from the parapet to the ground below. The objectivity of this reality is evident in the fact that those who step of the parapet will be injured – irrespective of their feelings and beliefs.
Similarly, chanting brings us in contact with the higher reality of God, who is supremely, eternally peaceful and joyful. That divine contact makes us peaceful and joyful. Is belief necessary for experiencing these feelings? Belief is helpful, but not necessary. But open-mindedness is necessary. That’s why even non-believers, if they open themselves to the presence of God during chanting, can experience these sublime feelings. But disbelievers, even if they chant, may not experience these feelings if they lock their minds and don’t allow God inside. They are like those people who don’t walk off the parapet and then claim that the fact that they are not injured is the proof that there’s no steep fall; it’s all just an imagination of the mind. Actually, it is their unreasonable skepticism that is the imagination of their minds, which deprives them of the experience of divine reality.
An important proof that the higher reality has been contacted through chanting is that chanting results not just in altered mental states, but also in altered behavioral traits. Millions of people all over the world – including many who were initially non-believers – have become free from stress and addiction by chanting. From their first-person accounts, they report that chanting brings them in contact with a peaceful, joyful higher reality whose taste is so satisfying that it inspires them to transform their entire lifestyle so that they can experience it more. Consequently, they disconnect themselves from selfish worldly indulgences that keep them stuck at our current lower level of reality – and this disconnection means freedom from stress and addiction.
And this brings us to the final point: if an “imagination” can easily free people from addictions and stress, something that “real” medicine and technology can hardly do, then that imagination is a desirable and glorious imagination.