Researchers at NYU's Langone Medical Center hope to find out in another Heffter Research Institute-sponsored study on psilocybin and mystical experience. Researchers Stephen Ross and Anthony Bossis at the New York University School of Medicine are studying the effects of psilocybin on individuals who lead religious congregations or spiritual communities.
illness or cancer diagnosis is the FDA indication
currently being considered by researchers.
End of life care has a strong spiritual component, and the transcendent, mystical experience
produced by psilocybin and LSD in the clinical
setting might be useful in how we handle death.
Psilocybin, a substance found in certain “sacred mushrooms,” has been reported to occasion unitive and mystical experiences. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine are studying the effects of psilocybin and wish to do so with the expertise of religious leaders or teachers of congregations and spiritual communities.
Leaders from all traditions are invited to volunteer. Participants will receive psilocybin in day-long contemplative sessions conducted by trained, supportive staff in a comfortable, living-room-like setting. Volunteers must be between 25 and 76, have no personal or family history of severe psychiatric illness, and have no recent history of alcoholism or other drug addictions. NYUSoM maintains confidentiality for all human research. To inquire about the possibility of participating, please call 646-501-4206 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How might psychedelics benefit religion? First, is there a need? Based on Pew research:
Christianity is in need of some type of reboot, according to theologian Diana Butler Bass in this story and podcast. People are disaffiliating from religious institutions, yet still profess high levels of belief about God. Are religious institutions "Somehow preaching a God that people no longer believe in?" What are churches not understanding about how people perceive God?
Can churches re-invent themselves or will there be a host of completely different institutions 50 or 100 years from now?
Is the elevator operator theory of Heaven & Hell in Christianity still viable, or does pragmatism of the information age make that theory (and its religion) irrelevant?
Does the Christian God transcend, anymore? Transcendence is tremendously important in religion. Nature can offer a transcendent experience. So can travel. So do classic hallucinogens such as psilocybin, mescaline, and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT/ayahuasca). All three are used in spiritual practices of native peoples of the Americas.
Could a Christian religion that once had a policy of genocide against indigenous peoples of the Americas and nearly eradicated spiritual practices that involve hallucinogens somehow adopt archaic principles and integrate the use of entheogens to renew Christian faith in the United States? Is that progressive Christianity gone to far? It would definitely be ironic.
Speaking in Tongues: Glossolalia
Heffter Board Member David Nichols spent 40 years as a researcher and educator at Purdue University. See Purdue's Psychoactive Substances Research Collection and his recent LSD neuroscience presentation.
This article from The New Yorker magazine will get you up to speed on past and current research with psilocybin. Here is more information about religious leader studies from the Council on Spiritual Practices. Be a part of history.
"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; The point is to discover them."