Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I just read a very interesting study posted by NPR about the effects of psychedelics on your brain, and the correlation between those effects and the spiritual experiences that result. Very interesting read...
"The God Chemical"
It made my mind wander back to a topic I touched on recently about spirituality. I read this study and could not help but wonder if these people are leaning toward some unconventionally hard to swallow conclusions? Does a person's spirituality come from deep seeded beliefs, or can they actually be induced by the likes of psychedelics? If they CAN be induced, does that discredit the fundamentals of spirituality, or confirm it?
My thoughts are, if a spiritual experience can be induced in a controlled state, it can't be real. If you have absolutely no preconceived notion of spirituality or religion, will you too have an experience, or must the idea already exist in your mind in order for it to come out when prompted by a catalyst?
So many questions and I have so few answers. I personally have absolutely no experience whatsoever with psychedelics, so I don't even know where to start with this. Part of me wants to suggest that if you expect to see God, you will. One test group that was studied in the 60's was a group of divinity students... and of course, they had a spiritual experience. But wouldn't we expect them to? These people are deeply involved in religion and the study of so it would certainly make sense that the topic in the forefront of their minds is the one that is rendered upon induction.
While I certainly enjoyed this study, and will continue to follow up on its progress, I have definitely taken note of the fact that they have yet to mention any negative side effects. We've all heard of someone who has experimented with similar substances and believed themselves to be being eaten by bugs, or attacked by their sofa, or something equally as alarming. I feel like these experiences need to be studied as well as the spiritual experiences, and maybe we need to be studying the drugs with their short AND long term side effects, and not just whether or not they can "make you see God" when administered in a clinical setting.
Does psychedelic-induced spirituality = God?
Or is it just drugs messing with our brains and tapping into our thoughts and beliefs to self-project wild hallucinations?