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Published Collections of Mystical Experiences

The Spiritual Nature of Man - Alister Hardy

Alister Hardy, professor of zoology and explorer, established The Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre in the 1960s to study the mystical experience. After eight years of work, a study was published outlining the findings of a survey of thousands of first-hand accounts of mystical experience.

Note: The Centre did not report its data in terms of percentage of total. Instead they broke their survey into three groups of 1000 and then calculated the average of each 1000 grouping. The average is reported below.

 

 Descriptor of Experience

Average Number of Times per 1000 

A sense of security, protection and peace
 253
A sense of joy, happiness, well-being
 212
Sense of presence (not human)
 202.3
A sense of certainty, clarity, enlightenment
 194.7
Sense of guidance, vocation, inspiration
 157.7
Sense of prayer answered in events
 138.3
Sense of purpose behind events
 113.7
Awe, reverence, wonder
 66
Sense of new strength in oneself
 65
Feeling of love, affection (in oneself)
 56.7
Exaltation, excitement, ecstasy
 47.3
Sense of forgiveness, restoration, renewal
 40
Sense of timelessness
 37.7
Sense of release from fear of death
 36.3
Sense of being at a loss for words
 25.3
Hope, optimism
15.3
Yearning, desire, nostalgia
 14.3
Sense of integration, wholeness, fulfilment
 12.7
Sense of indifference, detachment
 11.3

 

 Triggers

 Average Number of Times per 1000

 Depression or despair
 183.7
 Prayer, meditation
 135.7
 Natural beauty
 122.7
 Religious worship
 117.7
 Literature, film, drama
 82
 Illness
 80
 Music
 56.7
 Crises in personal relations
 37.3
 The death of others
 28
 Sacred places
 26
Visual art 
 24.7
 Creative work
 20.7
 Prospect of death
 15.3
 Silence, solitude
 15.3
 Physical activity
 9.7
 Childbirth
 8.7
 Happiness
 7.3
 Sexual relations
 4
 Drugs: anaesthetic
 10.7
 Drugs: psychedelic
 0.67

 Senses Affected

 Average Number of Times per 1000

 Visual
 462.9
 Auditory
 197.7
 Touch
121.6
 Smell
 11

 

Source: Hardy, Sir Alister. The Spiritual Nature of Man: A study of contemporary religious experience, (Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1979), p. 26-29.

Click here to go to the Alister Hardy Trust web site.

 

 

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