Johns Hopkins University have recruited priests, rabbis and a Buddhist to test how psychedelic medicine effects the religious experience.
Researchers from the John Hopkins University, in Baltimore have recruited religious leaders from many faiths to take part in an experiment, in which they will ingest psilocybin, the active compound found in psychedelic mushrooms.
Despite many religious organisations frowning upon the use of such substances- the team have convinced Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, a Zen Buddhist and several rabbis to take part. Although the team are yet to convince a Muslim imam or Hindu priest.
The aim of the experiment is to see if the use of such substances can give the participants more confidence in their abilities as religious leaders.
Dr. William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, has said: “With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy.”
After medical and psychological screening, the participants were given two doses of psilocybin in two separate sessions, with a one month break between. The religious leaders were in company of 2 guides- in a living room like setting, lying on a couch. For the duration they wore eyeshades and listened to religious music using headphones.
“Their instruction is to go within and collect experiences,” said Richards, at the London Breaking Convention in July this year. “So far everyone incredibly values their experience. No one has been confused or upset or regrets doing it.”
This is not the first time in which religious leaders have used psychedelics and/or substances thought to induce altered states. In 1962, 1987 and 2002 there have been similar studies which have been outlined in the video below.
It is though in times gone by that psychedelics were actually used as part of initiation and ritual. There is a theory of Cannabis being used as holy anointing oil by Jesus, the Ancient Egyptians using the blue water lily (and other plants) to induce altered states and the ancient Hindu Vedas using a plant called soma, which is suspected to be a hallucinogen used by the gods.
This merging of science and spirit inducing substances is an interesting development and we will keep you updated as we learn more. Please share this article if you agree.