Tuesday, October 6, 2015

LSD, spiritual experiences and science

Written in response to a comment on Deepak Chopra's experience of "God" while under LSD.

I had read all the posts the day before but for my second comment only targeted your first post which you don't appear to have retracted, even if you have added to it.  It's wise to not be so absolute, particularly with so little knowledge of the matter at hand (Deepak's actual experience under LSD).

Words can be used to make absolute statements but I understand they are only descriptions of things and not the actual things themselves- something many forget including those deeply attached to a "scientific" description of reality.

As for testing revelations of "God"- that is fair if such testing is possible. But the truth is peak experiences cannot generally be tested as they are a function of consciousness, not a function of shuffling objects around.  So they can't be repeated by another (or even the self again, perhaps) as they are unique to the person experiencing it, and due to a unique set of circumstances.

This is where the scientific method breaks down- it is only useful for repeatable, common experiences and not something unique and internal to the individual.

Follow up comment responding to someone else::

No, I'm not saying you need drugs to have a peak experience or that you can't have repeated peak experiences on drugs. I am saying that peak experiences come of their own accord but that set and setting will effect the possibility of it happening.  A sunny day at the beach or in the mountains is a good start but it can happen anytime, anyplace.  It relates to mood.  Someone in a low mood will never have a peak experience.

Drugs are useful mainly because they take people out of the repetitive, mundane thinking that most seem lost in and allows the light of truth to filter in, so to speak.  Anyone not suffering from depression will know of what I speak!

Comment 3:

I have spoken unclearly.  Scientific testing can be used to see whether (for example) psilocybin results in a test group having (what they report as) a spiritual experience.  But whether something IS a spiritual experience is not something you can judge scientifically. Only the individual having the experience can judge.  It's not as if spiritual experiences entail seeing giant figures outside yourself, for example.  It's an internal process, knowable only to the individual having it.  Such experiences rarely result in some kind of revelation that is testable scientifically, it's usually more abstract than that.

Sharka Todd

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