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Cosmic consciousness experience and psychedelic experiences: a first person comparison

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Abstract:

The descriptions in the literature of mystical experience and psychedelic experience, such as that induced by LSD, are usually written by persons who have actually experienced only one or perhaps neither of the two states. Because many of the most important effects can be understood by direct experience but only partially described in ordinary language, such lack of direct experience is a major drawback. Since there is disagreement over the question of whether mystical experience and LSD experience can be ‘the same’, it would be helpful if an individual who has experienced aspects of both states would compare them. One of the authors (ALS) describes his experience with both states. A particular form of mystical experience, cosmic consciousness (CC), occurred spontaneously; no mind altering drugs were used. ALS later took LSD on 12-15 occasions. Both states of consciousness involved alterations in time sense, subject/object boundary, cognition, mood and perception. However, the changes with CC were qualitatively and quantitatively different from those of LSD. The authors conclude that CC and LSD can be quite different states of consciousness, although we cannot completely rule out the possibility that psychedelics might sometimes induce the same kinds of mystical experiences that occur for non-drug reasons.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 99 Anderson Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA. Email: plato9@aol.com 2: Email: cttart@ucdavis.edu

Publication date: January 1, 1998

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