Psychedelics – mind/soul manifesting – or entheogens – creating the divine within – are substances that stimulate profound qualitative changes to one’s state of consciousness. These substances, in the form of flora, fungi, and occasionally fauna, have been used by humans for millennia in their magico-spiritual practices, often termed ‘shamanic’. More recently these substances have been explored scientifically and medically for their potentially beneficial properties in the treatment of psychological and, increasingly, physical health problems, as well as in the catalysis of creative problem solving and spiritual insight, and for personal growth.
In the current era of what has been called the psychedelic research renaissance, it is becoming increasingly important to explore, study and understand the transpersonal dimension of psychedelic experiences, as these have been shown to go hand in hand with most high dose experiences and they have important implications for the treatment of psychological conditions in clinical research. Furthermore, much can be learned about the nature of consciousness and its underlying neurobiology from examining the transpersonal nature of psychedelic experiences, and this research is at the cutting edge of consciousness research.
This course will explore the transpersonal nature of the psychedelic experience, drawing upon transpersonal psychology, parapsychology, cross-cultural psychiatry, neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience, anthropology, ethnobotany and the study of religions, among other disciplines. It will cover the study of a range of transpersonal and exceptional experiences, such as mystical, shamanic and mediumistic experiences, inter-species communication, entity – such as divine beings – encounters, psi experiences, out-of-body and near-death experiences, insight and creativity, love, compassion, connectivity and empathy, and other experiences and concomitants of the psychedelic encounter.
Taking a cross-disciplinary approach the course will both encompass and challenge the prevailing ontology of materialistic-reductionism, and draw upon multiple cross-cultural worldviews in the epistemology and interpretation of the psychedelic experience.