The indescribable high, intense emotions, and intimate sense of self experienced under the influence of magic mushrooms are similar to another kind of trip: a religiously mystical experience.
So, as science naturally muses, let's give shrooms [psilocybin mushrooms] to deeply religious people and see what happens. That's how an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, a Reform Christian, a Zen Buddhist, and 10 other ordained ministers started taking psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, at Johns Hopkins University and New York University.
The goal of the trial, still in its early stages, is "to see if these ministers can use their spiritual practice and the vocabulary of religious study to provide insight into those sacred psychedelic moments that so often seem to transcend words," according to Quartz. It is also to research the potential benefits of mystical experiences—especially as non-drug-induced mystical experiences are few and far between.
So far, the researches have identified "unity" as a shared feeling among the trial participants, a theme also woven deeply into many religious teachings. The researchers hypothesized that psilocybin would reenergize the ministers, who give generously for their professions, but who also find their work emotionally taxing.
It seems they hypothesized correctly.
"They have increased passion for the scripture, for giving sermons, for helping people," said Anthony Bossis, a lead researcher at NYU. "If that's sustained it will be remarkable."
Research will continue, especially as the public warms up to hallucinogens—and if more religious leaders agree to participate.
Open casting for the study extends to Catholic priests, Imams, and Hindu priests. Young popes, however, need not apply.
By Sarah Rense - Esquire/Jan. 11, 2017
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