Esaens offer fellowship and support to those that have experienced God and inspiration to those that have not.
The name ‘Esaens’ refers to the human-divine encounter. It relates Esse – Being, God, Creator, Reality. Divine to Ens – being, soul, person, thing. human.
Transformative religious experiences often has seven steps: Exposure, Disenchantment, Crunch, Pursuit and Test, Hostilities, Participation, and Maturation. The steps indicate different phases and are generally sequential.
Exposure is the first step in becoming an Esaen in which one gains knowledge of the symbols, beliefs, and practices of another worldview. For example, Atheists may learn about religion, the religious may learn about other faiths or the esoteric side of the religion of their birth. The exposure to a new worldview plays a vital role in the later stage in understanding the religious experience.
In the step of Disenchantment, one is disillusioned with the prevailing worldview that one was raised. The reasons for this could be spiritual, philosophical, and social. Some explore other ways of life to satisfy their spiritual thirst, feeling that their worldview is inadequate to meet their spiritual needs. Some compare and analyse the beliefs, practices, and philosophies and feel dissatisfied with the worldview of their birth. Esaens generally found out that the worldview of their upbringing was inadequate to solve their crises. In this period people begin to search for alternative worldviews.
Crunch refers to a difficult situation in one’s life prior to experiencing God. It is this step in which a person experiences difficulties and finds their present worldview inadequate to offer a solution. They could be psychological, existential, behavioural, financial, or other practical crises. Crunch is often the context in which divine encounters occur, but is not the cause of experience because not everyone does face Crunch prior to the experience. A crisis might play the role of a catalyst but is not the cause of transformation.
Pursuit and Test is a two-dimensional step in the process that involves a passion to explore the new religious option and a desire to test its claims. At this phase, a person searches for an alternate solution to a crunch, or may passionately seek to know more about another worldview in their spiritual quest. As they seek to increase their knowledge of a new worldview, or move from the exoteric to the esoteric side of their existing faith, they test its workability.
In such contexts, the human-divine encounter—occurs spontaneously and sets ablaze a passion to know more about the new world. People may be active in the process and seek to enhance the meaning in their lives. It is a significant factor that people often try to test the claims of the new identity before accepting it.
The divine–human encounter is an event—the turning point in the process. The sudden experience cannot be considered unreal. The human-divine encounter is central to the process of forging a new identity. The human-divine encounter could be felt as a supernatural experience with sensory elements or a mild experience of a realisation, a flash of spiritual insight, or an awareness of the divine presence. The human-divine encounter generally occurs during the period of Pursuit and Test, however, it is not restricted to this step alone.
The human-divine encounter is personal, not generic. Further, the encounter sets up a loving and intimate relationship between the divine and the Esaen. Though the divine is invisible, after the encounter Esaens relate to the divine as if to a loving companion. This bond of love lasts and Esaens experience the divine as a close companion. However, Esaens are often unable to explain the turning point. While the conscious mind is preoccupied with the struggle to leave the worldview of one’s birth, the solution sometimes arises out of the mystical states of consciousness.
Once the human-divine encounter occurs, the Esaen is convinced that it is the truth. All preconceived ideas and negative attitudes towards the new world vanish. There is a moment of passivity and spiritual insight. This encounter gives the Esaen a sense of experiencing the truth. An Esaen feels that this experience is something personal with the divine. It is incomparable to any other experience and is ineffable. The divine–human encounter is also transient and Esaens often invest considerable energy to have the experience again.
.Transformation is not a completed act, but only begins at the human-divine encounter and moves towards maturity. The effects of the experience transform the spiritual, psychological, behavioural, physical, social, and economical dimensions of a person’s life.
‘Little knowledge of science makes you an atheist, in depth knowledge of science makes you a believer in God’?
– FRANCIS BACON
Hostilities is a period in which an Esaen may face hostile reactions from both family and community. The reaction of a family can vary from loving support which may lead to pathologising the religious experience, the involvement of psychiatrists, incarceration and medication. In strong religious communities it may lead to verbal persuasion and verbal abuse, mockery, physical assault, rejection, denial of financial support, being chased out of the home, public humiliation, murder threats, and ultimately even murder.
Esaens often endure hardships to hold on to their spiritual experience. Prayer, reading the sacred texts and the support of the Esaen community are the sustaining factors during this period of Hostilities. Prayer is the most important of all these three. When access to the texts or the religious community is denied, converts find the strength needed to handle the hostilities through prayer. Subsequent religious experiences is another factor that sustain Esaens in the newfound world during hostilities.
In the step of Participation, Esaens find that community enhances transformation and supports them to hold on to their newfound faith. The community plays the role of a family when they are faced with opposition from their family and friends.
Maturation is the step in which an Esaen proceeds from one level to another in the path of transformation. Transformation is not complete in the spiritual experience; it only begins at the human-divine encounter and is a lifelong process.