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nikipedia's avatar

Have you ever had a spiritual experience?

Asked by nikipedia (27526points) February 5th, 2012

Watching a documentary that talks about peyote and San Pedro cactus in religious rituals got me thinking.

Have you ever had a spiritual experience? What was it like? Were drugs involved? Did it cause a permanent change in you?

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49 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Yes, I’ve had numerous spiritual experiences, and drugs were never involved. And yes, it caused a permanent change in me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have….once I was really sick with a high temp. The other…just happened.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes. No drugs have ever been involved. Every experience I’ve had has changed me for the positive. I feel firmly planted in my life direction.

Blackberry's avatar

I wouldn’t say spiritual, just an effect of the drugs. I sometimes joke around that MDMA has permanently resided in me because I’m always happy and optimistic. Once, when I was really high on marijuana and listening to the synth solo on Riders of the Storm, I felt waves or vibrations going through my body. It was pretty crazy.

I’ve had some revelations and emotional highs and lows while sober, but not spiritual.

tinyfaery's avatar

I wouldn’t call it a spiritual experience. I did drop 8 hits of acid once. We drove out to Joshua Tree on a summer night, I laid on the ground and all I could see was stars. I had a very profound feeling of nothingness and everything, at the same time. I felt my insignificance, but in that I also felt peace and oneness. Now I sound like a fuckin’ hippy.

TexasDude's avatar

Oh yeah. No drugs required.

Once, while camping, I woke up with a massive toad sitting on my chest facing me. It looked at me, croaked loudly, and closed its eyes. I remember feeling really happy and content with the universe at that moment before falling back asleep.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

As much as I once enjoyed and indulged in hallucinogens and as many wild experiences I had, none were spiritual. I would have welcomed that in my life but it’s never occured under any circumstance. Spooky shite, yeah but nothing religiously spiritual.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@tinyfaery A STONED fuckin’ hippy! You’re taking me on a walk down memory lane!

DominicX's avatar

No, I can’t say I have. But then again, maybe I’ve experienced things that I wouldn’t label “spiritual” while other people would. Listening to the classical music of Alexander Scriabin and highly surreal dreams are the closest things I can think of to that sort of “transcendental” state of mind…(I’ve never experimented with hallucinogens).

Interestingly enough, I just watched a documentary on DMT the other day, which got me thinking about such things. Such as, why are people’s trips so similar? Sometimes it makes me think that certain visions and such are just products of a chemical’s action on the brain. Such as the common experience DMT-users have about seeing “elves”. Could these elf-shaped beings really just be the brain’s reaction to a certain chemical pattern the way saying the word “cat” yields the same sound wave picture on recording software?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_elves

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yes, a few times, no drugs involved.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, a few really peak experiences, no drugs involved.
When you absolutely FEEL the intensity of oneness, it defies description.
Others that involved some really remarkable and unexplainable occurences.
No spiritual experience is sustainable, like happiness, they come in moments, mostly when the mind is quiet and the ego is dormant.

muppetish's avatar

I have never had a spiritual experience, but I have had experiences in which I felt more in harmony with the world around me. I suppose that is as close to spiritual as I become.

I have never taken drugs and have no interest in experiences their effects on my body and psyche.

Jeruba's avatar

I had what I thought was a spiritual experience as a churchgoing young person. Maybe I really did, I don’t know. It felt real at the time: what they call being “born again,” but long, long before it was fashionable or a catch phrase (or associated with a certain segment of the culture). Now I regard it as having been an emotional high brought on by overstimulation in a setting calculated to produce that effect. In that respect it was probably not too different from what some people feel at rock concerts or in the presence of a celebrity they admire.

And no, it didn’t stick, although I went on for the next few years as if it had, before finally chucking the whole business.

I’ve also had a few drug experiences (again, long ago) that felt revelatory but not spiritual. The memory of them lasted, but not any other effects.

However, I do believe that spiritual experiences are possible, both drug-induced and sober, and both sought-after and spontaneous, and I do think they can bring about permanent change in some people.

I read a fascinating article years ago in Tricycle magazine that explored the authenticity of drug-related “enlightenment” experiences. The most compelling statements (in my opinion) came from people who had used hallucinogenic drugs in San Francisco in the sixties and then sought out and joined a Zen practice (with Suzuki-roshi at SFZC) to try to find out what had happened to them and to sustain it. There were those among the interviewees who said that they didn’t believe there was any significant difference between what came out of one deeply effective psychedelic experience and thirty years of meditation practice.

Naturally others said that one was genuine and the other was artificial, and they scorned the latter, but they couldn’t support an argument that the quality of enlightenment was different. I thought it was basically the difference between earning a million dollars through hard work and winning it in the lottery: you may feel differently about the process, but a million dollars is a million dollars.

Coloma's avatar

Before enlightenment chop wood carry water
After enlightenment chop wood carry water ;-)

DominicX's avatar

I also don’t think that drugs causing a spiritual experience makes it any less legitimate; there are many people who believe these drugs exist for the purpose of opening the gates to the spiritual world (and of course carrying the risk of causing schizophrenia as a result).

Another interesting thing about DMT is that it’s naturally present in the brain and some people think that DMT is responsible for images in dreams, near-death experiences, and other such spiritual experiences. (Some people claimed to have had visions of heaven and angels while tripping on DMT).

Either way, I find it bizarre that question gets posted when this is all I could think about last night and was even thinking of posting a question about psychedelics and DMT. Coincidence? ;)

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I took a hit of Salvia, and I felt like I was standing on a tower of cosmic oppression like a Mayan death god, but I was too scared to get down. After 5 minutes (which feels like eternity), I found myself standing on my couch in my living room.

Coloma's avatar

I was the 70’s girl and you name it, I did it, but…the most profound experiences came in a state of deep surrender and sobriety.

jazmina88's avatar

Yes, The Dead shows, with hallucinogens.

Church, without. Straight on.

Coloma's avatar

@jazmina88 Haha….aaah, the best of both worlds no doubt. :-)

jazmina88's avatar

Indeed. and it has made me a good girl, with a tilted halo.

I am not materialistic and I fight for the underdog and abused.
Call me Sister Jazmine.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Now I want to watch Second Hand Lion

submariner's avatar

OP: Are you asking about spiritual experiences or mystical experiences? I’ve had lots of spiritual experiences but no mystical ones that I can remember.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, goody. Let’s null the thread with definitions.
Gosh, you know I would assume that because the OP said “spiritual” that the OP meant “spiritual”. But then, I have been informed by third parties that they usually know better than the OP what was meant.

MilkyWay's avatar

Yes, I have. It felt weird, strange, as if I was somewhere else and my body was elsewhere, but at the same time, I could feel that my head felt very light indeed.
No drugs were involved, and I can’t say if it caused a permanent change in me. It was just a weird thing that happened, out of all the other weird stuff that happens to me.

Sunny2's avatar

I was in Athens. It was beastly hot, noisy, dirty, crowded with people and cars. I looked up at the Acropolis and felt an enormous sense of peace. The Acropolis has been there, how long? I totally realized my place in the scheme of things. I was less than a dot. But at the same time, what I was, was all I had in this life, so it was most important to me. It definitely affected my perspective and still does.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Sure, through being a parent and knowing true love.

Berserker's avatar

I’ve done some drugs in my teens, and I sure did experience some fucked up shit, but nothing I would say was a spiritual experience. Never experienced anything spiritual while not messed up on something, either.
Sleep paralysis made me question things though, like whether or not ghosts actually exist, until I found out what it really was. That’s the closest I can think of.

submariner's avatar

@JilltheTooth Spiritual, religious, mystical, contemplative… these terms overlap but do not coincide. Finding out more precisely what sort of phenomena the OP is interested in does not “nullify” the thread.

DominicX's avatar

@Symbeline Sleep paralysis really freaks me out. A couple nights ago I though I had woken up and I felt someone put their hands on me and say a few garbled things (I really thought it was my roommate). Then I woke up fully and realized that was just some half-asleep half-awake sleep paralysis-induced hallucination. Bizarre…

Berserker's avatar

@DominicX Yeah, I have them regularly, unless I go to sleep drunk. I could spend two hours describing some episodes. They freak me the fuck out, but they’re cool to think about AFTER they’re over lol.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sleep paralysis is freaky. I’ve only experienced it twice, both times within a week, on the weekends. The first time was freaky. I could hear the household awake and moving about, TV on..but I could NOT move. So I went back to sleep and when I woke up a moment later I was fine. I knew it wasn’t a dream because the same show was on TV when I woke up for real.

The second time was a week later. I experienced it again, went back to sleep for a second, woke up fine, went back to sleep to see if I could “do it again.” I did! Then went back to sleep and woke up and got out of it. Crazy stuff, Maynard.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, you’re young yet @babybadger. Something that you can’t explain will happen someday. Hang in there.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I hate sleep paralysis and also that feeling that you’re going to fall off the world

Dutchess_III's avatar

I never felt like I was going to fall off the world. What’s that about @Michael_Huntington?

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Am I the only one who feels this? :<
It’s like when you’re sleeping but then you wake up because it feels like your feet is hanging out of an edge or something.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. You are the only one.
But sometimes I wake up and I can not feel one of my arms.

nikipedia's avatar

I’d be interested to hear descriptions of the spiritual experience from anyone who has answered (or can answer) “yes” to this!

Pandora's avatar

Yes and no.
If you mean, like suddenly I was able to speak in tongues, NO!
But during my confirmation, I heard a beautiful choir sing. There where only 3 people who heard it or at least turn in the direction of the beautiful song. My mother, the Bishop and me. The Bishop turned and looked at me and smiled.
I thought it was a suprise for those of us doing our confirmation and it was a choir that was up secretly let in. It struck me weird that no one turned to look in the direction of the balcony with such beautiful singing.
Really struck me wierd when I asked other people and they didn’t know what I was talking about. When I asked father about it, he said there was no one up there and looked at me like I lost my mind. I thought he was playing a joke but he said no one is allowed up there because the floors are weak. That is why our choir never sang from there. When I asked my mom, she said she did hear it as well and was wondering who was singing so beautiful. I told her what I was told and she said it was my father in heaven, saying that he was there. (A couple of years later, she has forgotten but I never did.)
I was sad up to that point of taking my vows because my dad was too ill to attend and he had made it to everyone elses up to that point.

bkcunningham's avatar

Spiritual experience? The most recent was tonight’s Super Bowl win!!

trailsillustrated's avatar

I used to do lots of heroin. And when sleeping, I could ‘see’ and travel distances, and observe ordinary scenes, like one time I saw an old man in his apartment. It was very real. Then, after being straight for years, I was driving and thinking of my mother who is dead and wondering, ‘Why do I never dream of her? Why has she never visited me in my dreams!” At that moment a huge butterfly flew in the car window, around my head several times, and then back out the window. Spritual? feels so to me.

bkcunningham's avatar

I loved the butterfly story about your Mom, @trailsillustrated. My Mom was a ladybug to my youngest niece. Funny how many times a ladybug has inspired and been noticed by my now 12 year old niece. Regardless, I’m glad she notices nature and is inspired by something so intricate and beautiful. Same as you. Right?

Coloma's avatar

A good friend swears her 22 year old cat is her mother reincarnated. haha

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve had tons of spiritual experiences and drugs were involved in none of them.

Drugs take me to a different place. It’s too frantic and fraught to really be spiritual.

I have also learned over the course of my life how to facilitate other people’s spiritual experiences. These things aren’t that mysterious, in my opinion. My first spiritual experience left me with the feeling that I could do it any time I wanted. But it’s only been recently—maybe just now—that I realized that was a true insight. It is always there. I can acccess it whenever I want.

Usually I don’t choose to, but sometimes I do, and there it is. Now that I know what it feels like, it is even easier to get to it. I know the state of mind I need to be in, and I know what I need to do in order to get to that state of mind.

Kinda cool. Not at all magical. Anyone can do it.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@bkcunningham yes! it is so odd, just when I was thinking of her this butterfly flew in. I’ve never had anything like it happen before or since. I love what you told about your neice and the ladybug.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve had what I now think of as ‘awe inspiring’ experiences. In my youth, I’d probably have called them spiritual. None of them involved drugs. To name two:

The moment I fell in love with my now-husband, I felt this enormous sense of awe and became totally at peace. I’ve never felt anything like it with any other partner, even the ones I’ve loved. It’s come upon me a few times since then, too, in the middle of a random day with him. Sappy, I know.

I’ve posted this one several times here, sorry for the repetition.
I had an appointment in a town I’d never been to, and had to bring the girls along. We arrived very early and rather than have them bored out of their minds sitting in a waiting area forever, we explored a little. We found a lovely pond, bordered by a small wooded area and decided to hang out there for a while. While walking through the woods, we came upon a large circle of damp soil upon which hundreds of butterflies were resting. We crept up to the edge of the circle, marveling at finding such a thing. We crouched to get a closer look, and they suddenly started flying up and around us. As we stood, it was like being in the middle of a tiny butterfly tornado. The joy that moment brought all of us is nearly indescribable. As we had obviously disturbed their environment, we only stayed a moment or two before respectfully backing away and watching them return to their rest. Just thinking about it now brings a smile to my face. :)

There is a sense of ‘rightness’ with the world that seems to come along with these experiences. I don’t know, really, if these kinds of things have changed me. Not in any obvious way, but I guess I have learned from them. To really savor those kinds of moments when they come.

mattbrowne's avatar

Does experience of awe and wonder count?

Paradox25's avatar

Here is a quality place to learn how to have a vivid hallucinagenic experience, and it talks about other types of psychoactive cacti as well. As far as what I consider to be a real spiritual experience not involving drugs I’ll go as far as answering yes here, and on several occasions. I also used to be a former diehard sceptic myself when it came to anything that was considered ‘mystical’. However on a site filled with sceptics and physicalists I would highly doubt that my anecdotal experiences would pass muster on here, since I would be considered to either be delusional or an outright liar so I won’t go there.

Interestingly I have read about how certain powerful psychoactive substances have the power to actually lift the ‘spirit’ (alleged duplicate ethereal copy of ourselves) out of our bodies to be seen by afterlife/ethereal entities. A few New Age sources have mentioned this. That is where the concept of witches flying on brooms came from, visions from their own nightshade trips.

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