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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
A sense of joy, happiness, well-being
Sense of presence (not human)
A sense of certainty, clarity, enlightenment
Sense of guidance, vocation, inspiration
Sense of prayer answered in events
Sense of purpose behind events
Awe, reverence, wonder
Sense of new strength in oneself
Feeling of love, affection (in oneself)
Exaltation, excitement, ecstasy
Sense of forgiveness, restoration, renewal
Sense of timelessness
Sense of release from fear of death
Sense of being at a loss for words
Hope, optimism
Yearning, desire, nostalgia
Sense of integration, wholeness, fulfilment
Sense of indifference, detachment



 Average Number of Times per 1000

 Depression or despair
 Prayer, meditation
 Natural beauty
 Religious worship
 Literature, film, drama
 Crises in personal relations
 The death of others
 Sacred places
Visual art 
 Creative work
 Prospect of death
 Silence, solitude
 Physical activity
 Sexual relations
 Drugs: anaesthetic
 Drugs: psychedelic

 Senses Affected

 Average Number of Times per 1000



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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