Two dozen religious leaders from different faiths, including evangelical and Presbyterian pastors, together with Rabbis and Buddhists, are now part of a Johns Hopkins study into the effects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience, reports The Guardian.

In their experiment scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, will give religious leaders two powerful doses of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. The scientists want to find if a transcendental experience makes the leaders more effective and confident in their work. They also want to find out if the mushrooms will change their religious thinking.

The drug triggers hallucinations, feelings of euphoria, perceptual distortions, inability to distinguish fantasy from reality and sometimes mystical feelings of oneness with nature.

“With psilocybin these profound mystical experiences are quite common. It seemed like a no-brainer that they might be of interest, if not valuable, to clergy,”

“Their instruction is to go within and collect experiences,” Dr William Richards, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins was quoted as saying. “Generally people seem to be getting a deeper appreciation of their own religious heritage” after the use of the drug, he added. “In these transcendental states of consciousness, people seem to get to levels of consciousness that seem universal. So a good rabbi can encounter the Buddha within him.”

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