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Religious Studies Essay on The Relationship between Mysticism and LSD Drugs

The Relationship between Mysticism and LSD Drugs


Mysticism is a feature that is found in all religions. It is the guiding factor that believers rely on for communication with God. It entails having an experience with God through the conscious state of mind, unlike the physical feeling. God is not physically present; therefore, there is no physical experience that one can have with Him. One can only meet with God through prayer and mental consciousness. Thus, mysticism condition is a psychological state that forms a fundamental part of religion. The causes of mysticism have remained to be a concept of debate, with certain studies indicating that the experience can be induced through the use of drugs. There is a relationship of interdependence between religion, drugs and mysticism. For example, LSD drugs tend to stir up the experience of mysticism, thereby impacting religion (Kaufmann 23).

LSD Drugs and Mysticism

The spiritual experience that is induced by LSD drugs is known as psychedelic mysticism, which results from the chemical composition of these drugs. The chemical composition alters the mental state of the user to experience a mystical condition (Bache 216). In order to clearly understand the concept, it is critical to consider its characteristics that are listed below.

  • Unity is among the key features of mystical experience. It describes a sense of togetherness that is achieved through a condition, whereby the feeling of individualism is switched off without altering consciousness. Besides, it can also describe a sense of empathy with external objects, thereby making the individual part of everything.
  • According to the transcendence of time and space, an individual can experience feelings that surpass the past, present and future.
  • Strong, positive feelings that entail joy, peace, blessedness and love that comes with tears.
  • Sadness involves irrational or intrinsic reaction of excitement and admiration in the existence of the factor of motivation.
  • The noetic value is a feeling of deep understanding that is acquired from intuition, which bears a degree of certainty and truth.
  • Paradoxicality defines the disparity that results when factors are comprehensively investigated.
  • The character of ineffability claims that mystical experience is beyond the description by words. However, people who have had the experience of mysticism usually try to describe it (Bache 217).
  • The feature of transiency asserts that mystical experiences do not last long but subside and are stored in the memory.
  • Constant positive change in attitude and behavior comes from the experience of mysticism. There are attitude and behavioral changes towards an individual, other people, life and even the experience.

The Relationship between Religious mysticism and LSD Drugs

As indicated earlier on, religion, LSD Drugs and mysticism have an interrelationship. Religious experience makes a person to portray his or her inner feelings, thoughts, and will which are expressed as emotional excitement, mental belief and obedience. However, the perceived description of religion highlights whether mysticism qualifies as a religion or not (Hofmann 56).

Hofmann (60) asserts that inconceivable experience that is achieved from using LSD drugs causes a state of consciousness, which cannot be easily explained in words. If an individual tries to use words in giving the description, there may be distortion of words that would cause inaccuracy. Religion entails these elements, which cannot be verbally expressed but only experienced mystically. Besides, the drugs cause a feeling of joy, peace and love, thereby putting the user in a state of meditation. This impacts a feeling of blessing and faith. It makes the person to be sensitive to problems of other people, causing a sense of individual integration and self contentment. The person who uses LSD drugs also loses the conscious perception of time and space, hence, feeling that he or she is well ahead of the past, present and future, which is compared to the religious view of eternity. However, it is impossible to express mysticism induced by LSD drugs since some users say that it enables them to see numinous situations like a bright light, which shines more than a star never seen by any human, thereby coming to the conclusion that the bright light is God (Hofmann 80). The feeling of joy and excitement that arises from this experience cannot be objectively expressed in words. On the other hand, the hold the belief that the experience is a way of purifying the sins of the user that can be likened to the conviction among Christians that Christ died on the cross to cleanse their sins.

In some cases, the experience entails watching space with light, music, and color which is presents beauty, thereby bringing the feeling of an individual’s faith. People who are religious describe the experience as a means of communication that God uses to answer prayers, one which they undergo often. There are also certain cases whereby the user can see their family and friends singing and dancing in joy to good music sang by the angels. The picture presented a feeling of happiness and peace that was never experienced before. Religion is also practiced through actions like singing and dancing, which usually cause emotions of happiness and sometimes inducing the mental imagination of God (Bache 230).

Religion in the past and present has applied LSD drugs in provoking experiences of mysticism, which explains situations and help in problem solving. The Neo-American Churches uses LSD as sacrament on claims that it stimulates consciousness. In fact, they believe that every person has the right to use the drug. Besides, they are assertive that LSD enriches their spirituality and enables them to understand their religions well (Pahnke 76).

Psychedelic drugs like LSD have continuously been used in many occasions often in religious ceremonies that involve prophecy, divination time and initiation festivals. However, the use of the drug has been faced with lots of criticism from other religions, especially in the United States where it is perceived to be an easy way of escaping the reality of working hard towards a particular achievement, thus, not deserved. Those who propose psychedelic mysticism strongly believe that the feeling motivates them and bring feelings of excitement, comfort and humility. Thus, if used in religious worship activities, LSD can bring more meaning to religion; an ideal example is the use of drugs as a sacrament for worship ceremonies (Bache 235).

Mormon religion and drug use

The main clear concept in a Mormon religion is the doctrine of maintenance of good health through prohibition of the use of drugs. Although the ancient Mormons authorized the use of drugs like tobacco, wine and caffeine, the situation was altered when the contemporary Mormons translated the Word of Wisdom to give a different meaning. The LDS church began substituting wine with water in sacrament ceremonies. Strict adherence to the doctrines of the Word of Wisdom became a unique practice of the Mormons, and any person who was interested in becoming a member of the religion is entitled to pursuing them (Pahnke 80).

According to the Mormons, strict adherence to the teachings of the Word of Wisdom offers them protection against getting addicted to the modern way of life which is described as risky. On the contrary, liberal Mormons do not follow the doctrines of the church to the latter and do not have high regards for them. However, they view good actions and show of love to others to be of greater value than just following the church doctrines. The Mormons generally believe in a world that is accommodative and one that is ruled by God, who has the main duty and glory of leading His children to eternal life. They hold the perception that humans were originally the children of God present in spirit, and by grace, He gave them the authority to progress and take his image and likeness (James 65).

Mormons believe that they are required to live in a way that impresses God. Therefore, they do not allow the use of drugs and other actions that are not right. For instance, gambling is considered to be morally wrong since it acquiring money through such methods is like doing transactions without offering anything of value in return (James 75). The LDS church also prohibits the use of inappropriate languages like vulgar terms and other utterances that are disrespectful. Thus, it is quite clear that Mormon religion results from both use of drugs and mysticism. For instance, the ancient church used wine and tobacco in sacraments, but later changed after a new translation of the Word of Wisdom was declared. This marked the beginning of an era in the LDS religion calendar (Pahmke 84).


Religion and psychedelic drugs are generally related, based on the definition of the former.  The drugs can be used in enhancing relevance to worship and also act as a different avenue towards communication with God. It is another way through which believers are able to connect with God, thereby bringing joy, humility and love. Notably, religion and mysticism that is induced by drugs should have coexistence since they are complimentary to each other. On the other hand, it can also be said that the features of religion and experiences of LSD are fundamentally similar since they both apply mysticism as a way of experiencing the presence of God.


Works Cited

Bache, Christopher M. “Mysticism and psychedelics: The case of the dark night.” Journal of Religion and Health 30.3 (1991): 215-236.

Hofmann, Albert. LSD, My Problem Child. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1980. Print.

James, Williams. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2013

Kaufmann, Walter. Critique of religion and philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. Print.

Pahnke, Walter N. “LSD and religious experience.” LSD man & society. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT (1967): 60-85.


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