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1/29/09

Is There Such A Thing As A Core, Common Mystical Experience?

John Hayes: Is There Such A Thing As A Core, Common Mystical Experience?

To this day still a believing Christian, back in the 1960s, John Hayes, a psychologist and self-described Zen-Catholic, was a Franciscan friar watching with curiosity while the counter-culture used psychedelics with impunity. Through his own meditation and religious practice, Hayes believes he has had sensations that he would label mystical. But these mystical states—which he described to me as “moments of unitive experience” —were significant enough that when he heard about a surprising research project at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine he was more than intrigued. Doctors at JHU were investigating the effects of psilocybin—the active ingredient in the more common variety of hallucinogenic mushroom—and looking for volunteers.

After some considerable thought, he and other theology students signed up. Would it have substantial and sustained personal meaning as spiritual experience? More at Search Magazine (science, Religion, Culture

You will find a list of people so inclined at the Mystical Experience Registry.

Here is a Wikipedia account of mysticism.


What I think. That mystical experiences help us understand our senses are bounded, which of course limits our understanding of the universe. Without his epilepsy, Dostoevsky could not have written so brilliantly and profoundly about existence. However caused, the experience is an anomaly of brain function that opens vistas of the natural we otherwise could not have beheld. That statement does not make me an atheist. People emerge from the experiences changed to the core. Have they pierced the veil? I leave the debates to theologians.

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