Sometimes “First Vision” experiences are more subtle than others, while still being profoundly moving and life-changing. These can happen quite spontaneously, in any place or situation. The following two accounts come from an archive of over 6,000 first-hand religious or spiritual experiences from all around the world compiled by Sir Alister Hardy and now housed at the Religious Experience Research Centre (RERC) at the University of Wales, Lampeter.
This is account number 208:
I was out walking one night in busy streets of Glasgow when, with slow majesty, at a corner where the pedestrians were hurrying by and the city traffic was hurtling on its way, the air was filled with heavenly music, and an all-encompassing light, that moved in waves of luminous colour, outshone the brightness of the lighted streets. I stood still, filled with a strange peace and joy, the music beat on in its majesty and the traffic and the pedestrians moved through the light. They passed on their way, but the music and light remained, pulsating, harmonious, more real than the traffic of the streets. I too moved on… till I found myself in the everyday world again with a strange access of gladness and of love.
And this is account number 71:
I was sitting one evening, listening to a Brahms symphony. My eyes were closed and I must have been completely relaxed for I became aware of a feeling of ‘expansion’, I seemed to be beyond the boundary of my physical self. Then an intense feeling of ‘light’ and ‘love’ uplifted and enfolded me. It was so wonderful and gave me such an emotional release that tears streamed down my cheeks. For several days I seemed to bathe in its glow and when it subsided I was free from my fears. I didn’t feel happy about the world situation but seemed to see it from a different angle. So with my personal sorrow. I can truly say that it changed my life and the subsequent years have brought no dimming of the experience.
There are many more similar accounts in Hardy’s archive, and I will post more of them in the future.
Some similarities to Joseph Smith’s First Vision seem to include:
- Moving beyond one’s normal mind/self
- Experiencing an all-encompassing, enfolding, uplifting light
- This light was intense, and outshone in brightness other lights
- Filled with peace, joy, and love
- Being freed from fears
- The experience felt utterly real and certain
- Finding one’s self again in the normal world
- Filled with love and joy for days after the experience
- Changed one’s life, saw things from a new perspective