Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trippin' with the Stars, Clergy That Is #Science #Religion #Metaphysics #Psilocybin

The experiment aims to assess whether a transcendental experience alters the participants’ religious thinking. 

Photograph: Fredrik Skold/Alamy

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have enlisted two dozen religious leaders from a wide range of denominations, to participate in a study in which they will be given two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms.

Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland who is involved in the work, said: “With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy.”

The Guardian:  Religious leaders get high on magic mushrooms ingredient – for science

The Rockhouse is leery of any scientist who uses an expression such as no-brainer but the concept is valid even if it's not at all original since religious people have been getting hammered for millennia.

In fact, here's a hypothesis which won't be evaluated in the article but the Rockhouse proposes the idea it's clergy who kept the drug culture alive from the earliest times and specifically because of the visions.

Despite most organised religions frowning on the use of illicit substances, Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, a Zen Buddhist and several rabbis were recruited. The team has yet to persuade a Muslim imam or Hindu priest to take part, but “just about all the other bases are covered,” according to Richards.

After preliminary screening, including medical and psychological tests, the participants have been given two powerful doses of psilocybin in two sessions, one month apart.

- Guardian

"Just about all the other bases are covered??"  We're starting to get worried about the good doctor Richards when he shows us a pattern of limited creativity in his speech.

In case you're wanting to dismiss the study as an excuse to get wasted, Richards is ready for you.

The notion that hallucinogenic drugs can bring about mystical experiences is not new and was previously studied in a famous Harvard study known as the “Good Friday experiment”. The study involved a group of seminary scholars being given psilocybin during the Easter-season service to see how it altered their experience of the liturgy. The latest work is thought to be the first involving religious leaders from different faiths.

Is this work really science, though? Richards argues that it is, saying that the team is using detailed psychology questionnaires and independent raters in their assessments.

- Guardian

It does appear there's noble purpose to the research.

The John Hopkins team are one of several research groups around the world making the case for using psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, LSD and MDMA, in psychiatry. Psilocybin has been shown to be remarkably effective at lifting acute anxiety in cancer patients at the end of life, while other current trials are looking at the use of psychoactive drugs in treating conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to severe depression and alcoholism.

As the use of mind-expanding drugs makes the transition from counter-culture to mainstream medicine, scientists take different views on how the field should be presented to the outside world.

- Guardian

We won't get the punchline this time since the experiment is still in progress but there was a little more to close the article.

Ben Sessa, a clinical psychiatrist and researcher at Imperial College London, has urged journalists to focus on the “rigorous science”. “Are you going to focus on the tie-dye and the dreads … or are you going to look at the cutting-edge neuroscience here?” he asked. “I can’t tell you how to do your job, but if I was you, I’d not look back to the past, I’d look to the future.”

Others are more openly enthusiastic about the broader, non-medical, uses of psychedelic drugs. “My wild fantasy is that, probably some time after I’m long dead, these drugs are used in seminary training, rabbinical training,” said Richards, who began research into psychedelics in the 1960s. “Why shouldn’t the opportunity be there to explore deeply spiritual states of consciousness in a legal way?”

- Guardian

I daresay the good doctor Richards has eaten a few of those psilocybin mushrooms along the way or why should he have a wild fantasy about such drugs being used as part of the training for clergy.  Nevertheless, perhaps he is right since they were part of mine.

My liturgical credentials are comprehensive since I didn't do one of the drugs mentioned above (i.e. LSD, psilocybin, and MDMA), I did all of them and other psychedelics besides.

But so did many of you as well, didn't you, my brothers and sisters.  Likely all of us did it for reasons which are not so far distant from those which are being reviewed in the science with formal clergy.  All of us were looking for the Eggman one way or the other and all found something although not necessarily the same thing.

Note:  I have not ordered the formal copy of the ordination certificate but I may since Yevette doesn't much like to throw things away.  The ordination document could wind up as some Rockhouse kitsch which hangs about indefinitely.

Ed:  you would curse her!

Well, I didn't do it, see ... but I do see the comedy of it.

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