Emotion, Feeling and Religion

J. Cyril Flower

I do not propose to attempt in this article to make any exact or exhaustive definition of religion, but rather to call attention to one of its outstanding psychological characteristics. At the outset, then, I take it for granted that religion is primarily a feeling experience. We make use of the term ‘religion,’ it is true, for many things in addition to immediate feeling experiences, and it is inevitable that we should do so. But it will be well to bear in mind that when we describe Buddhism or Christianity (as a system of beliefs and practices) as ‘a religion’ we are using the term in a secondary fashion. A man may accept the tenets, and to some extent practise the commandments, of a religion in this sense without being religious.