The Search for Mystical Experience

We’re currently designing a database to store details of events leading up to, and following, any and all cases of mystical experience.

Of course, anonymity is guaranteed.  But what we’re looking for are details about the event, any problems that ensued, how they were dealt with, if they are still recurring, and any symptoms which attended the experience itself.  Your impressions, your feeling about what was happening and might still be happening, are the most important things of all.

Of great interest is also information about your personal upbringing, the nature of your parents’ character and perhaps even that of their parents – whether religious, moral, or otherwise, and so on.

The building of the database itself will be a year-long project to create an online resource allowing people to make use of others’ experiences, point to online reference material explaining the biological aspects, and record their own fascinating details.  It doesn’t matter how trivial it may seem, if you have any information which may be relevant, please drop a line to us here.

The answers are in there somewhere

The database could be a very important resource; it is bound to yield a great deal of statistical information, but more than this, it will ensure anyone does not have to go through whatever it is, completely on their own.

In preparation for this, a post is being prepared detailing quotes from known cases of mystical experience in the past, including how they were interpreted by the people involved, and the changes which took place within them. Whatever they advised or suggested will form part of the database too.

At some stage we’d like to include DNA information when it is affordable and practical to do so: a bio-tech company in California will have online storage by the end of the year in which full genomes can be stored, and software systems already exist to compare changes within a single person’s genome over time, and also compare variations in a genome with known markers.  We could easily discover something which nobody else knows.  And those are the best things to discover!

Einstein’s x-rays revealed a lot

One thing in common to all those who have reported some kind of mystical experience is the goodwill they have felt to the human race at large; be assured that whatever knowledge is gained will belong to everyone.  This is a long term project, and its value will become apparent over time: I cannot think of a more useful goal than show mystical experience to be a genuine biological event, with common features, and common factors involved in supporting it.  At last, it will one day be within the realm of science to investigate it.

As always, thanks for reading!

About iain carstairs

I have a great interest in both scientific advances and the beauty of religion, and created about 15 years ago with the aim of finding common ground between the scientist and the believer, and to encourage debate between the two sides.
This entry was posted in Biology, Evolution, Human genome, Intelligence, Natural Intelligence, Science and Religion, The Brain and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Search for Mystical Experience

  1. joyia11 says:

    Hey Iain. Who is the we that is compiling such a database?

    • Well, I’m designing it, with the help of the Institute for Consciousness Research over in Ontario, some old friends of mine. I think they have 400 or so cases in their archives, and I’ve already started getting feedback from people, which is very encouraging. I’m allowing several months for it so people don’t expect everything to be online very quickly: the back end will be in SQL, and for the front end I have yet to decide how it should look. I’ll add my own modest experiences with meditation – mainly showing what one would be better off not doing!

      • joyia11 says:

        That sounds encouraging! I had contacted the ICR after one of my own experiences with spiritual emergence/emergency. Gene Kieffer had gotten back with me and I probably should contact him again and let him know that I have since gotten a handle on it. During my senior year of college, I read a bunch of books on Transpersonal Psychology and the intersections between east/west that gave me much needed background on my experiences and let me know that I wasn’t losing my mind.

        Let me know if you need any help with the database. I would love to be a part of it.

      • What?! Why didn’t you say so! Ok, you’re on board. In fact, you’re in charge – if you need me, I’ll be on the sun bathing deck.

        Gene Kieffer sent me his book, The Secret Teachings which is a monumental work. He’s a remarkable chap – my email is and I can let you know the structure so far; I’d be fascinated to read about your experience. Gene is on Facebook, along with some ICR people, and Lori, the photographer in Florida who is working with me on a book – we could easily sync up.

  2. Nandakumar says:

    It does sound very encouraging and exciting too. I’m actually heading to the Netherlands for a project end of march. I know it’s not exactly close to where you guys are, but it’s definitely closer than where I am right now I thought I might arrange to stop at the UK to meet up with some old Uni friends. Perhaps we could arrange a rendez-vous?

  3. That’s a good idea – actually, we sometimes go to a karting circuit in Letchworth on Pixmore way – my daughter especially is excited about it. Whan she was 9 on her first time out she was so aggressive she got a black board asking her to slow down! One of the mechanics said she was faster than he was. It was funny, seeing this huge helmet and this tiny little figure racing about, leaning over the steering wheel. I overtook her once and she roared past me the first chance she got! So if you’re up for that, let’s meet up and have a race around too, that way you can write the whole trip off as a business expense!

  4. Nandakumar says:

    It does sound like a plan, Let me look at the project schedule and flights. Shall keep you posted. Karting sounds like fun. Let me google earth Letchworth.

  5. Hello Iain. The Institute of Consciousness Canada told me about you and your data base project. W-O-W! I am interessed to collaborate, since I suggest to ICRCanada something along these lines last week. I am an open government / open data advocate. If a portion of the information (autorized by those who testified) could be opened and accessible to all, I believe this project would be of tremendous help to scientists, but also to all areas of society. Moreover, ‘ordinary people’ facing the unknown, when they get to awaken the Kundalini process, could greatly benefit from a collective intelligence initiative. Knowing there are many others like them, with incentives and support connections between community members (ie with comments enriching the database), it may reduce the fear and feeling of loneliness. Some Kundalini awakening are spontaneous, therefore the individuals who experience this kind of awakening have no real support group of meditators, or even less, spiritual teachers. Reading books about Kundalini is great. But I would love to be able to read about Kundalini testimonials of thousands of people, have the possibility to search on keywords through this data, watch testimonies show up on an interactive map of the world and be able to click on the ones that caught my attention, etc. (P.S. I had Kundalini manifestations for 2 years. I live in Quebec, Canada.) @Lyne_Robichaud

    • Hi,

      Yes, as it progresses I’ll keep you informed. A lot of people are hearing about and offering information; as you’ve had some experiences it would be very useful if you could document them. But we can stay in touch by email and I can explain further if need be.

      I’d like to include some graphical tools because it may well be significant to see where people are having such experiences. It’s a fascinating field; there’s an excellent book out now called The Science Delusion, by Rupert Sheldrake, and I’d recommend anyone interested in this field to get a copy. Remarkable thinker, and a very exciting book. I mean, everyone says a new book is exciting , and incredibly beautiful, and all the rets of that nonsense. But this reall is: here is a guy who has reached the top of the scientific community and has retained all his original character and ideas. It’s so encouraging to read his thoughts.

      Well, thanks again for the letter – please stay in touch and if you like, be part of our database! For want of a better name I’ve called it GCSE for now – Genius, Creativity, Mystical Experience

      Kind regards


  6. Nandakumar says:

    Hi again, firstly Iain, what you’re doing here is really fantastic, I read this post elsewhere, this lady sought assistance after her awakening, now 7 years later she’s finding other people online who have had it too..Lyne & Joyia, It’s really good to meet you guys. I must admit I didn’t know to expect when I first posted my experience here on Iain’s blog but I do like the idea of a “collective intelligence initiative” I do hope to hear more from you guys about your experiences.

    • joyia11 says:

      Same here Nandakumar! I too would love to hear about your spiritual experiences. It’s great that people in the world are dealing with similar things. Makes me feel less alone.

  7. >>> For your information, I marked the new GCSE project on CitizensLabs / Edgeryders map of #futurebuilders: (CommunityWalk is a simple, free tool. An example of what a community can to do together to mark information, people and initiatives. In less than a month, CitizensLab community marked more than 350 projects.)
    >>> With your permission, I would love to include the data project information at Edgeryders, a think tank on transition (a Council of Europe initiative). Would you like to receive info about this possibility by email? Edgeryders participants have shown interest for this project on Twitter over the past days.
    >>> Iain. I looked for you on LinkedIn. Is your account active?
    >>> I received an awesome testimony this weekend. A really exquisite text. A series of Kundalini (& other) stories would encourage people to realize that it is possible to experience the Divine in his/her body, that bliss really exists in this world, and in fact, that it is accessible to all. Storytelling can be a very powerful tool. I think that people experiencing this sort of ‘stuff’ are isolated and alone, that there is a real need for information sharing, but also online exchanges between individuals, ie anything that might create a sense of belonging to a community. Testimonies would be extraordinary content to build a great community.

    Looking forward to brainstorming and collaborating with you.

    • Hi,

      That’s wonderful, thanks very much! I don’t have a LinkedIn account, but that’s because my online presence is probably complicated enough by now. There’s already too much for me to keep up with – if I don’t login to FB in two days people assume I died or something. By all means send emails about this to me, sure.

      I realise that the best thing to do is get people’s experiences down in writing and present them, and go looking for the neurotransmitters, genetics, enzymes, proteins or what have you that are active. I already have a pretty good idea what to look for: the artificial DMT molecule, for example, has some components in common with other neurotransmitters, and if an unusual molecule like this, but a naturally produced one within the body, was found in a person with mystical experience, you only have to trace its origin. At the head of every religious movement was a highly evolved person, so if spiritual practices result in a more evolved brain, you automatically have shown in one step that religion is the fossil of a strong evolutionary mechanism.

      If you haven’t read it yet, get a copy of The Science Delusion, by Rupert Sheldrake. This is the best book I have read in a very long time!

      Thanks again

  8. Nandakumar says:

    Hi Joyia, I found Iains blog when I was trying to look for other people with similar experiences, there was a post on Ayrton Senna, and there was a quote of Senna that described his experience, when I identified with this quote, I felt a very strong emotion, a kind of resonance if you will, probably because I was very confused and was desperately looking for someone who could relate to what I was experiencing. I can understand how alone you might be feeling, thanks to Iain and his efforts, I’ve been getting to know more people who are experiencing and undergoing changes as we speak.

    This is the post where I talked about what I experienced;

    I also found another community online. I’ve been communicating with some people there and I think it is really good to be in contact with other people who are going through the same thing. You could check them out at

  9. Chris G says:

    I had major experiences just over three years ago which have continued since then, albeit less intensely. It will take me quite some time to put things down on paper but count me in. I know of at least two others who have had similar experiences. I recently received a copy of Carl Jung’s Big Red Book which has shown me he went through very intense experiences over a number of years. Will be in touch.

    Chris G

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