Epiphenom suggests that positive moods and an inclination towards hallucinatory episodes may be the ingredients that produce the spiritual mindset:
Hallucinations and such like are actually a rather common part of the human experience – probably 70% of people experience some form of ‘unusual experiences’ at some time in their lives. You might think that hallucinations would be distressing, but people often report them to be quite pleasant. What’s more, spiritual people often report being happier than average.
James Schuurmans-Stekhoven, at the Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia, speculated that that the two might be causally related. In other words, he thinks that when basically happy people have ‘unusual experiences’ like auditory hallucinations, it inclines them to a spirtual worldview.
To test this, he surveyed Australians about their spirituality, their unusual experiences, and their positive affectivity (mood). As happiness and unusual experiences increase, so to does spirituality.
But [for] people with the lowest levels of unusual experiences, changing levels of positive affect has basically no effect on their spirituality. These people are not spiritual, regardless of their happiness levels. And if you look at those with the least positive affective (the least happy), well their spirituality actually decreases slightly with increasing unusual experiences.
Maybe there’s even a reinforcing effect at work. So if you’re feeling in a good mood, then experience something weird, that gets interpreted in a spiritual way that lifts your mood even further!
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