The “Sacred River” Toward God: Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka’s Phenomenology of Religious Experience

  • 1 University of Macerata,, Macerata, Italy


In 1988, Tymieniecka explored the religious phenomenon, pursuing the spiritual experience of the sacred as it surges in the life of our soul. She described three movements of the human soul that lead to revelation of the spiritual experience of the sacred. A first movement of “radical examination” is followed by one of “exalted existence” in which the soul proceeds beyond the usual reflection on the interior of the ongoing current of life. Here, we experience sadness at not being able to transcend our finiteness. When the screen of objectivity is broken, the soul surprisingly does not plunge again into its underground turmoil; on the contrary, it dives into the life-giving waters of an underground stream which, like a “sacred river”, flows imperturbably and silently. On this basis, the soul can move “toward transcending”, and lay the groundwork for the life of the spirit, which seeks the Other from finiteness. Tymieniecka stopped at this threshold in 1988. In 2008, she reiterated that from her phenomenology of life no theology had arisen, and yet she hinted that glimpses in this direction had opened with the start of a metaphysics of the fullness of the logos in a vital key.

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Open Theology is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal that welcomes contributions written in English addressing religion in its various forms and aspects: historical, theological, sociological, psychological, and other.