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Seeking Persons Committed to Spiritual Development to Participate in a Research Study of Mystical Experience, Meditation and Spiritual Practice

In recent years, scientists at some U.S. universities have been conducting studies using entheogens, resuming research in pharmacology, psychology, creativity, and spirituality that was suspended following the drug excesses of the 1960s.

Entheogens (roughly meaning God-evoking substances) include the peyote cactus used by the Native American Church, the psilocybin-containing mushrooms used as sacraments in Mesoamerica, and certain other plants and chemicals. Such substances have been used for thousands of years in cultures from the Amazon to ancient Greece as a means of inducing non-ordinary states of consciousness for spiritual or religious purposes.

These states of consciousness are most widely known in connection with practices such as meditation and prolonged fasting. Scientists have found, however, that the entheogens sometimes bring about states that are indistinguishable from the mystical and visionary states reflected in the sacred texts and poetry of the world's religions.

Context seems to play a major role in shaping entheogen experiences and their consequences. Despite the well-known problems that can arise in unstructured settings, the risks of entheogens in research and ritual contexts have proven to be very small.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University are seeking volunteers who have an active interest in exploring and developing their spiritual lives to participate in a scientific study of the combined effects of meditation, spiritual practice, and the entheogen psilocybin, a psychoactive substance found in mushrooms used as a sacrament in some cultures.

The study will take place over 6 to 8 months during which volunteers will be encouraged to initiate or maintain daily meditation and spiritual awareness practices. Volunteers will also receive careful preparation and 2 or 3 sessions in which they will receive psilocybin in a comfortable, supportive setting. Structured guidance will be provided during the session and afterwards to facilitate integration of the experiences. The study complies with FDA regulations.

Volunteers must be between the ages of 21 and 70, have no personal history of severe psychiatric illness, or recent history of alcoholism or drug abuse, have someone willing to pick them up and drive them home at the end of the two or three psilocybin sessions (around 5:00 PM).

If you would like to discuss the possibility of volunteering, please call 410–550–5990 or email spiritual-practice@bpru.org and ask for Mary, the study’s research coordinator. Confidentiality will be maintained for all applicants and participants.


Principal Investigator: Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D., Protocol: NA_00020767