Science and religion are in a historical tension with each other. Psychoanalysis in particular brought a religion-critical attitude into psychology and psychiatry. Classical psychiatry pathologized religious phenomena, especially those of a “mystical” nature as “primitive and infantile” (Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry in Bucher, 2007).
This schism is becoming increasingly unbelievable and uninteresting, the more overlapping perspectives emerge: religious and spiritual “phenomena” can be examined with scientific methods and often scientific biographies reach their climax in philosophical-religious world approaches. Werner Heisenberg’s (1969) autobiographical work “The Part and the Whole” can be regarded as an example of this.
It also shows that the reductionist restriction of the concept of religion in the natural sciences and the humanities to Christian “matters of faith” is now almost overcome – or must be overcome. Here for centuries a Eurocentric and theistic understanding of “religion” was assumed as given. It is, however, only a special case in the history of religion. Especially the psychology of consciousness and cognitive evolutionary psychology (Atran, 2002) open up interesting perspectives for dialogue here.
PEOPLE HAVE EXPERIENCES WITH LSD AND MDMA, WHICH THEY SOMETIMES DESCRIBE AS “SPIRITUAL
Many people describe experiences they have had with LSD or MDMA as “spiritual. In addition, some psychoactives are called sacraments by religious or spiritual groups. It is important to understand that the term “spiritual” refers to very different things. Wittgenstein’s sentence “The meaning of a word is its use in language” helps to get closer to this “understanding”. This statement is based on “pragmatics”. This is a sub-discipline of linguistics that deals with context-dependent, “non-literal” meanings in the use of words in concrete situations.
HOW DO PEOPLE USE THE WORD “SPIRITUALLY”?
So the terms “spiritual” and “spirituality” describe very different things. This often leads to people not understanding each other when talking about “spirituality”. What different meanings of this term are used?
The two terms are often associated with phenomena belonging to “religion”, i.e. as part of organized religiosity represented by churches and other institutions. In contrast to this religious and institutional understanding, however, the two terms are also used to refer to the opposite of organized religion, i.e. to individual religiosity or a personal relationship to the sacred, to God, to the cosmos.
In everyday language, “spirituality” and “spirituality” are used when there is talk of “development” and “search for meaning” – for instance in descriptions such as “he or she is on a spiritual quest”.
This incomplete list of possible uses of the words “spiritual” and “spirituality” reflects how we can mean quite different things while believing we are talking about the same thing. As we will see at the beginning, this enumeration shows that both the context in which we use these words, and speaking within that context itself, are the very ones who produce the many multi-faceted meanings. The most important conclusion from this Babylonian confusion of meanings is that we must explain to each other what we mean when we speak of “spirituality”. This is especially true when we do science about psychedelic experience.
HOW DO WE TALK ABOUT MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES IN CONNECTION WITH HALLUCINOGENIC AND EMPATHOGENIC EXPERIENCES?
Hallucinogens and empathogens are sometimes called “mysticomimetics”. This refers to their potential to initiate mystical experience. Authors such as Stanislav Grof try in their work to reconcile mystical experience with organized religion and modern psychiatry – something that has so far only been achieved to a limited extent.
The cultural and social implications of this change are enormous: as the philosopher of religion Huston Smith (2000) emphasizes in connection with transpersonal experiences, in questions of religious lifestyle it is less a matter of “Altered States” than of “Altered Traits”, i.e. the long-term change of attitudes and behavior. According to all historical experience, however, such a change requires stable cultural organization and social support. This dilemma between individualization and institutionalization persists.
PSYCHOTHERAPY WITH LSD, MDMA AND OTHER SUBSTANCES IS NOT A SPIRITUAL THERAPY. AND IT SHOULD NOT BE
Mystical, spiritual and religious phenomena are regularly part of therapies in which psychoactive substances are used. Substance-assisted psychotherapy, however, is not spiritual therapy- even if some authors in their science occasionally evoke sounds of a “liberation theology”, which sometimes does not lack a co-(s)mixed humor.
Most representatives of the psychotherapeutic approach, which explicitly strives for a “cosmic-mystical” dimension of experience, are also convinced of the necessity of an ideological independence of this form of therapy.
The tension between science and spirituality represents an important dimension of substance-supported psychotherapy – and of any psychotherapy that is not limited to the mere elimination of symptoms. The epistemological impositions of this form of therapy are valuable contributions to the understanding of the human mind as well as the counter-worlds and environments of post-modernity especially on 2 Springfield, MO James River Church locations.