Study Says Experiences Purported to Be Encounters With God, Even Under the Influence, Provide Lasting Mental Benefits

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People who claim they’ve seen God may not be so crazy after all. A study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that those who have had divine encounter experiences — the sensation of seeing a God-like figure or a profound, enhanced reality or truth — reap lasting mental benefits.

Many have reported experiencing these deeply religious visions spontaneously or while under the influence of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin “magic” mushrooms or the Amazonian drink ayahuasca. Some of these experiences were described as encounters with God or an “ultimate reality,” bringing sudden, striking clarity to their lives and existence in general. And interestingly, even if the encounter occurred on a psychedelic trip, researchers say the benefits are still the same.

“Experiences that people describe as encounters with God or a representative of God have been reported for thousands of years, and they likely form the basis of many of the world’s religions,” says lead researcher Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a release. “And although modern Western medicine doesn’t typically consider ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ experiences as one of the tools in the arsenal against sickness, our findings suggest that these encounters often lead to improvements in mental health.”

Dr. Griffiths and his team used data from 4,285 people around the world who completed one of two 50-minute online surveys about God encounter experiences. These surveys had participants recall their most memorable encounter experience with either the “God of their understanding,” a “higher power,” “ultimate reality” or “an aspect or representative of God, such as an angel.” The surveys also asked the respondents to describe how the experience changed their lives.

Of the nearly 3,500 participants who saw their vision while under the influence of a psychedelic, 1,184 took psilocybin mushrooms, 1,251 took LSD, 435 took ayahuasca, and 606 took DMT, another naturally occurring substance found in certain plants and animals. Participants were about 25 years old on average if the experience occurred while under the influence, compared to 35 years old if it was spontaneous.

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Source: Study Finds