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Mysticism Defined by Walter Pahnke

  Dr. Walter Pahnke studied LSD extensively in clinical settings and concluded that when the substance was used in an appropriate setting and with the appropriate intent, experiences that closely resembled classical mystical experiences would occur. Here formulated a nine point description of these LSD induced experiences.

"Nine universal psychological characteristics were derived from a study of the literature of spontaneous mystical experience reported throughout world history from almost all cultures and religions. When subjected to a scientific experiment, these characteristics proved to be identical for spontaneous and psychedelic mystical experiences."

1. Unity - a sense of cosmic oneness

2. Transcendence of Time and Space

3. Deeply Felt Positive Mood

4. Sense of Sacredness

5. Noetic Quality - a feeling of insight or illumination

6. Paradocicality - A person may realize that he/she is experiencing, for example, "an identity of opposites," yet it seems to make sense at the time.

7. Alleged ineffability

8. Transiency - the experience passes

9. Persisting Positive Changes in Attitudes and Behavior

Source: Pahnke, Walter. The Psychedelic Mystical Experience in the Human Encounter With Death, Psychedelic Review, Number 11, 1971. Available on-line; click here to go to full text.


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