You’ve heard the start of this running joke before: a priest, a rabbi, and a Buddhist walk into a bar...Now instead of a bar, replace it with a scientific experiment.
Although unconventional, a study was introduced earlier this year assessing the effects of psilocybin on spirituality. In doing so, two dozen religious leaders from a large range of denominations were gathered to ...well ...space out! All jokes aside, the study is among the first clinical examinations into the impact of hallucinogens on spiritual experience. Researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore plan to conduct the study by offering two doses of psilocybin - the active component in magic mushrooms - in two separate sessions to each of its participants. Although religious leaders from Hindu and Islam faiths declined to participate in the study, Dr William Richards of John Hopkins says, ’just about all the other bases are covered.’
The Purpose of the Study
You have to admit, the practice and participants of the study alone would raise a few eyebrows. But its aim isn’t to do so. The purpose of this research is to learn if using psilocybin can enhance the spiritual experience of the participants, alter their religious thinking, and test their confidence in their work as religious leaders. It's for this reason that Richards encourages the instruction of ‘going within and collecting experiences.’ More so than that, participants are also asked to lie on a sofa in a living room type setting, put on eyeshades, and listen to religious music to enhance their inward spiritual journey. “So far everyone incredibly values their experience,” Richards said. “No one has been confused or upset or regrets doing it.”
The Results of the Study
Unfortunately for us, the results of the research are still ongoing and it won’t be presented to the public for another year. Regardless, it is suggested that after going through such an experience, these religious leaders have more of a universal notion towards spirituality. “In these transcendental states of consciousness, people seem to get to levels of consciousness that seem universal,” Richards added, “So a good rabbi can encounter the Buddha within him.”
Author: Sada Piqolette