S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 7 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 1 2 9 Andrej Rajský Mysterium fascinans, just like tremendum, cannot be known by them who have no experience with it; it creates a “contrast harmony” with tremendum. The Sacred that evokes extraordinary dread, at the same time irresistibly allures and intoxicates. “The creature, who trembles before it, utterly cowed and cast down, has always at the same time the impulse to turn to it, nay even to make it somehow his own, the mystery is for him not merely something to be wondered at but something that entrances him, and beside that in it which bewilders and confounds, he feels a something that captivates and transports him with a strange ravishment, rising often enough to the pitch of dizzy intoxication, it is the Dionysiac-element in the numen.” (Otto 1969, 31). The Sacred appears to man as energicum (Lat. “full of strength”), majestas (Lat. “magnificence”), evokes fascination (Lat. “mirum”). Otto claims that in every man there is a certain “sense of the Numinous” (Lat. sensus numinis), the Sacred is an a priori category (according to Immanuel Kant). In other words, the sense of the Numinous is given to us pre-experientially, it is a part of our inner equipment through which we perceive the world around us. However, it must be “updated” by an outer stimulus. The Sacred is not exclusively an irrational category, but it also includes rational symbolic and ethical elements that schematize its irrational part (the Numinous) and thus produce various culturally conditioned religious forms. Otto rejects the characteristics of the religious experience as an experience of total dependence (Schleiermacher 1800), because it is not unique for the Numinous, but can be changed for other experiences (of submission and manipulation). The mystical experience is “emotional”, and Otto strived to describe it as such phenomenologically. He wanted to prove unrepeatedness of this experience and like that to determine, notionally define what is religious experience. He was convinced that through analysis of his own introspective experiences and experiences of the others he managed to prove that the Numinous is a particular “religious” feeling, which resembles other feelings, it may even evoke them, but it does not come directly from them and is not identified with them. It contains a sublimity that impacts human mind in two ways: “It humbles and at the same time exalts us, circumscribes and extends us beyond ourselves, on the one hand releasing in us a feeling analogous to fear and on the other, rejoicing us.” (Otto 1969, 42). Human individual has numinosum imprinted on themselves as universal human a priori that emerges in various forms during their lifetime (like Jung’s “activated archetype”). Despite Otto’s insight intuition, we reject his theory of affective basis of the Sacred experience. From a philosophical point of view (but also from a religious point of view, and even from a psychological point of view), limiting the essence of religious experience to emotion means an incompetent reduction. Religion certainly also includes the passionate search for the truth, the effort for its conceptual or allegorical interpretation and the effort to constitute a basic ethical norm that results from the experience with the Sacred. According to this key, Abraham’s exodus, Albert Schweitzer’s decision to serve the poor in Africa, or Buddha’s awakening would be narrowed down to an emotional reaction conditioned by a numinous experience. The experiential spectrum would not even correspond to psychological practice if it were deprived of the speculative, rational, and volitional aspect. The numinous experience, however unique and personal, seeks an interpretive framework in man, through which they would grasp it, even if not completely and exhaustively (which would be contrary to the very nature of the Sacred), then at least tentatively and symbolically. Even according to empirical research, Otto’s “contrast harmony” of the Numinous is a singular phenomenon and can hardly become the ultimate norm of religiosity (Hardy 1980, 399). Here, both empirical and speculative approaches to the numinous experience come together to criticize this aspect of Otto’s theory, which was undoubtedly influenced by the romantic atmosphere of the time. From the perspective of the aim of the author’s study (bridging the empirical and metaphysical through phenomenology), however, Otto offers a valuable tool that can be legitimately applied. This is precisely what the author intends to do in analyzing psychological interpretations of spiritual experience.