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The Difference Between Drug-Induced Spiritual Experiences & NDEs

    • 957 posts
    April 4, 2014 1:33 PM MDT

    The Difference Between Drug-Induced Spiritual Experiences & Near-Death Experiences
    By NDEr Diane Goble

    Original Link

    What is the difference between the brain during an NDE and the brain on say, LSD?

    "The difference is brain chemistry is affected by LSD. During a NDE experience, consciousness leaves the brain. Consciousness survives death and is eternal. Having experienced both, I have some expertise.

    "During my NDE (40 years ago at age 30, I drowned), I was part of the experience, involved in it, participating in it, one with it. There was never any fear, only overwhelming love and peace. It was more a remembering, it all came back to me, of having done this all before, knowing I was going home, an experience of having complete knowledge of the Whole/Source/God.

    "About 15 years later, I tried LSD a few times, also mushrooms and MDMA. This was shortly after I found out what I had was called a 'near-death experience.' Before that I didn't know what to call it and never talked about it because I was afraid people would think I was crazy -- or possessed. Then I started reading about other people having similar experiences.

    "The psychedelic experiences were as different from my NDE as looking into a fish tank and SCUBA diving around coral reefs in Nassau. The only thing similar was the out-of-body experience and exploring another dimension of the multi-verse. A big difference is between seeing and being. LSD showed me a mechanical, Newtonian universe. Mushrooms more of a fairy land, full of interesting, magical creatures from etheric to earthy, underground. Ecstasy was an exploration of my inner being from a loving perspective. All fun and exotic, but nothing profound, ineffable, meaningful, esoteric like the NDE. I returned with knowledge of particle physics and galactic motion (and I'm no scientist).

    "Forty years later, I remember no details from any of about half a dozen psychedelic experiences and every detail, feeling, and emotion from my NDE. It changed the course of my life, my personality, my interests, my beliefs, my future. I know my purpose in this life and I live it. I have no fear of death, I know what happens next! The drugs did nothing but provide a few hours of meaningless entertainment."


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    This post was edited by David Sunfellow at November 2, 2016 2:35 PM MDT
    • 64 posts
    April 14, 2014 6:36 AM MDT

    Dear Diana,

    Loved what you've written - and having gone on a somewhat parallel route earlier in my life I'm totally with you when you say that the NDE experience is firmly etched and "recallable" whereas the drug induced experiences, no matter how pleasant, are hard to remember. Never thought of it but you're absolutely right. Also, the number of people who have had bad trips on hallucinogenics far outnumber ( as a percentage ) the number of people who have had an unpleasant NDE. That's telling too.

    • 957 posts
    April 14, 2014 10:54 AM MDT

    Rajiv, thank you for adding your thoughts (and experience) to this discussion. Many people are confused about this topic and Diane's comments, reinforced by your own, sheds some light on this important topic. I hadn't thought about the number of people reporting "bad trips" far outnumbering the number of people who have reported unpleasant NDEs, but I think you are right about that too! Thanks for taking the time to mention this.

    • 290 posts
    April 15, 2014 6:46 AM MDT

    I agree with what you wrote here David -- but only to a degree because I have sat with people who have had Spiritually Transformative Experiences triggered by drugs. Our opening speaker at the first ACISTE conference told his experience in detail and it was triggered by LSD in the 60s. He is a prominent professor of psychology now and much of his work comes from the roots of his experience. He wrote a wonderful endorsement for Charlie and my book on The Moody Blues -- which describes the levels of consciousness involved in their timeless words and music. I have a chapter on spiritual experiences and  some of the members of this bands use of LSD in the 60s. It is reflected in much of their lyrics. For me the bottom line lies in the transformational qualities of spiritually transformative experiences and drug induced experiences have aftereffects that are just as profound -- not as often but still life changing. 

    When I gave talks in the 80s and 90s, people would come up to me [after the talk -- one to one] and tell me about their experiences triggered by other means that were not life threatening -- helping someone else die (which I described as "entrainment",] during childbirth, hearing a spiritual talk or reading a spiritual book like ACIM, great loss, doing a 12 step program, detox and more as described in Chapter 8 of our book. 

    • 957 posts
    April 15, 2014 11:24 AM MDT

    Barbara, thanks for your insights. While it seems clear that many spiritually transformative experiences, including some that have been induced by drugs, can produce spiritual experiences that are just as deep and profound as those induced by classic near-death experiences, I'm wondering if you agree with the general thrust of Diane's experience (and Rajiv's). What I hear them saying is that as people who used BOTH drugs AND had a near-death experience, that the experiences (at least in their cases) were/are significantly different. Whereas NDEs "tend" to produce experiences that are more directly connected with the Source of life, drug experiences "tend" produce experiences that are less direct -- and, by extension, less transformational. Do you agree with this train of thought as "a general rule", meaning there are always exceptions, or are you more of the opinion that there is no significant difference between near-death experiences as a whole and drug induced experiences? They can both produce significant personal transformations that are of the same general intensity? In other words, you don't see any significant difference between the large numbers of people who report spiritual experiences from drug use as compared to those who report spiritual experiences from NDEs? 

    While I realize that it is difficult to discuss topics like this because there are so many variables, it does seem important to identify and articulate general laws or principles. From where I'm sitting, one of those general laws or principles would be that using drugs to produce/force spiritual experiences are more dangerous and less effective than more natural methods. Ditto for attempting to induce a near-death experience by deliberately exposing our bodies to life threatening situations, such as waterboarding, extreme pain, or other techniques designed to push our bodies and minds to the breaking point. 

    I'm interested in identifying general laws, ideas, principles that most people can put to work in their lives. In my mind, this does not mean that using drugs, or following other extreme paths of awakening, may not be good, helpful, and needed for some people. This is a given. Even though there are general rules, we are all different. General rules do not always apply to everyone. 

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Also, the ways that you report that people can have spiritually transformative experiences that are not life threatening, and also not drug induced -- helping others die, being present at a child's birth, hearing a spiritual talk, reading a spiritual book, experiencing great loss, doing a 12-step program, detoxing, etc. -- sounds good to me. These are the kinds of experiences that I've come to believe tend to be more gentle, graceful, natural, and easier to ground and integrate than their more dramatic kin.

    • 64 posts
    April 15, 2014 12:10 PM MDT

    Barbara, You've actually written a book about the Moody Blues!! Awesome! I didn't know that and I have to read it. They were and still are one of my favorite groups and influenced the thinking of an entire generation ( even in a 3rd world country like India!). And yes, I agree with you that spiritually transformative experiences can be triggered by drugs or other means.

    You might recall that in the description of my NDE I referred to a friend, Sunil, who died in a motorcycle accident a few months prior to my experience. I'd like to share how much his death and the circumstances leading to his demise affected me, almost 6 months before my NDE.

    Sunil and I joined The Doon School, one of India's elite public schools, in 1964 at the age of about 11 yrs. We studied together, competed for top honors in biology (we both wanted to become doctors and bio is mandatory for that), boxed, trekked, talked about life and finally were admitted to the same medical school. We were together the evening before he died, both mildly stoned (genetically enhanced THC producing cannabis had not yet been discovered!) and I can, even today, recall his words almost exactly. " We made it, Xeke," he said, " Become doctors. I've got engaged to my childhood sweetheart today and I'm going to marry her in the next 1 year. My brother's come down to spend time with me - I haven't met him in 3 years.(His brother was an officer in the merchant navy.) We're flying down to meet mum and dad tomorrow and the family will be together after such a long time. Got it all man. Nothing more to ask God for. This has been the best day of my life!"

    Six hours later he and his brother were both dead in a horrible mobike accident. The family and his fiance did get together - at the crematorium.

    I was devastated. That my best friend should die within six hours of stating that he'd achieved what he'd striven for over a period of 14  years, that he was as happy and contented on that evening as I've ever known a human being to be, seemed illogical, even cruel. In my mind I railed against the unfairness of his death. I was so psychologically disturbed by the incident that I couldn't take my exams and had to spend an extra 6 months in med school. For the first time in my life I stood exposed to the impermanence of life and its achievements. 

    To say that it was a transformative incident would be putting it mildly. And it was therefore perhaps fitting that it was his presence which sent me back to my body during my NDE. A closure which could not have happened in any other way. 

    But I draw a parallel to the incident. Sunil's death made me "aware". My NDE gave me "acceptance". His death made me question achievements and the permanence of relationships, my NDE gave me the key to understanding the connection that exists between every item of creation stretching beyond the "time-space" continuum. Therein, I think, lies the difference between an NDE and a spiritually transforming incident of another nature. An NDE is "absolutely" personal, there is no involvement of a 2nd party - no drug, no talk, no written word, no Guru. Its not better, just different.

    I guess no two spiritually transformative experiences can, or should, be compared. Each and every one of them is unique and individual. And anything that spiritually transforms a human is to be appreciated.

    Much of what I've written above had not occurred to me before and I thank you, once again, for taking me to a mind space that I had not previously explored.

    Namo Narayan,



    • 957 posts
    April 15, 2014 1:27 PM MDT

    Great heartfelt post, Rajiv. Really touching.

    Concerning Barbara's book, it is located here.

    • 290 posts
    April 16, 2014 6:18 AM MDT

    David, I agree with your general rules. 

    With that said, I must admit that in the past I have participated in shamanic rituals that included natural "medicines" (not chemicals out of nature). These rituals were in natural settings with "set and setting" that had been handed down through generations dating way back to times before our "modern" inculturation. This was after my NDE and while involved in research. I could and still can see how these rituals were life transformational. But to prove your point -- they didn't have a certain depth, a richness that can't be explained in this reality. 

    My point was to not leave out other triggers that do change people's values, perceptions and relationships with themselves, others and God.

    • 290 posts
    April 16, 2014 6:34 AM MDT

    Dear Rajiv,

    Thank you for writing this story of your friend. Sunil is alive in your heart and has affected me deeply. 

    Charlie and I just returned from a five day cruise with The Moody Blues -- us and 3200 other passengers plus a long list of musicians from the 60s and 70s. It was a "blast from the past!"

    With this great mob of fun loving "seniors" all of us were assigned to dinner tables every evening -- tables of 10. So with trememdous odds of this not happening -- sitting next to me and having perfect eye contact for five evenings -- was a gentle little flower of a women in her 50s who was obviously dying -- or it was obvious to me. Her husband finally revealed that she had terminal cancer and they were through with what traditional medicine could do for her. (I seem to be a magnet for people getting ready to transition and i have gotten used to it but the contrast between ELO performing "I'm Alive" and this frail beautiful soul was so poignant -- I Thank God for Charlie because of course he understood exactly what was going on and as a past oncologist -- joined in.) The most amazing part of this sudden soul friendship that we 4 joined in was that after the deep sharings -- we could lighten up and be with each other in a very "normal" way so she had fun -- she joined in and participated -- and on the last night of their extended cruise (they stayed on after we left) she peacefully died.

    Rajiv, I have been crying off and on since last week when this happened. Your post about Sunil has helped me to understand (once again) how poignant life here on this little planet is! There is joy and there is sorrow -- there is suffering and there is celebration -- but what is real is our relationships with others who become us too. Sunil and you in Spirit are one. Terri and I, her husband Daniel and Charlie became one for a brief time. Our hearts merged and I will carry her in my heart til -- hopefully we meet again on the other side,

    Thank you David and Rajiv for this opportunity to express what I have been experiencing for the last week.

    Love to the both of you.


    • 290 posts
    April 16, 2014 6:55 AM MDT

    And if you order Timeless Troubadours: The Moody Blues Music and Message" from Amazon -- make sure it's the second edition with a logo on the cover that says Updated Second Edition -- Amazon Bestseller."

    • 957 posts
    April 16, 2014 10:55 AM MDT

    Barbara and Rajiv, what a lovely, informative, and moving discussion. I give thanks for the caliber of people, the depth and breadth of life experience, and the quality of conversations that this network has allowed us to share. It's food (and music) for the soul...

    • 55 posts
    April 16, 2014 11:40 AM MDT

    I'm just reading "The Ultimate Journey/Consciousness and the Mystery of Death" by Stanislav Grof.  He relates many powerful experiences he facilitated using LSD "psychedelic therapy" with those with terminal illnesses and how the experiences eased their fear of death and opened them to their true nature.

    • 64 posts
    April 16, 2014 1:07 PM MDT

    Dear Barbara,

    5 days with the Moody Blues! Must have been a blast - what a fantastic experience! And it was equally fitting that it should have ended with spiritual connections, exploration and the extending of understanding and empathy. If the music we hear, the books we read, the personal experiences we undergo, cannot find reverberation in the reality of everyday life then I would say its a lesson half learnt. I'm going to order Timeless Troubadours and bring it across to you for an autograph! Promise.

    Want to extend this a little further. I love motorcycles and riding them. This has a totally different connotation in India - mobike lovers are not necessarily members of groups like the Hells Angels, there is no "macho" image attached. (Although, I must admit, its changed in the last 5 years) After Sunil's death in the mobike crash and my own NDE, I got into the habit of scribbling down any incident I experienced while riding, particularly if it was connected with a 'near accident' or a correctable error in my riding skills. The scribbles grew; little scraps of paper, an occasional page, and I kept stuffing them into a plastic bag for years. Grew older, stopped riding bikes regularly and the bag was relegated to a corner of my writing table drawer. During the intervening years the road accident rate in India has soared - approx. 5,00,000 in 2011, and 25% of them fatal. You'll agree that's HUGE!

    About a year ago the bag was "rediscovered"; I compiled it into a "Safe Riding" manual, did some amateurish illustrations and sent it off to some bike manufacturers and Insurance companies, hopeful that somebody would like to publish it and help save some lives. 

    Surprise, surprise - no one wanted to touch it! Too negative, they said. Might impact our sales. And the manual has been cold storage ever since. Am coming into some money in a month or two and I think the first thing I'll do is to put the manual out there. Not as a book ( nobody reads anymore! ) but as a DVD or even an app.

    People tell me its a silly idea - I might wind up losing money but what the hell, I might also wind up saving more lives than I have in my entire career as a doctor. Isn't that what the NDE's all about? To try and put into practice what we've seen and experienced? 

    I value the opinion of this community more than than anyone else's.So please advise me -do you think I'm being stupidly idealistic and that the idea's half baked? That if publishers, manufacturers and insurers are convinced that its not going to go anywhere, I should listen to their sage advice, save money and avoid disappointment? Its hard to get a perspective on this because of my personal involvement with mobike accidents - all that I've written earlier. Would really appreciate some feedback from any of you.

    Love and Hari Om,


    • 290 posts
    April 16, 2014 1:29 PM MDT

    Dear Rajiv,

    My first book was with Simon and Schuster, next 4 with Health Communications who has published Charlie's first 8 or so. Some of his have sold in the millions and continue to do so.

    We both got tired of our "professional" editors telling us what we could and couldn't say to keep the books commercial. So we formed our own publishing house -- Muse House Press. It's very easy to do with the Print on Demand services now. We work with Lightning Source who is owned by Ingram one of the biggest distributors in the world. It sounds like your "book" would sell as a Kindle -- then there's no expense for a paperback. The only cost is to have a IT person who understands programs like InDesign set up the kindle. You could also set it up for iBooks or Barnes and Noble. I like to keep exclusive with Kindle because every three months they allow me five days to give my Kindles away free on line. I let interested groups know it will be up for free and last time over New Years weekend we gave away almost 1,000 copies. Because I don't like to travel to promote my books (like most author's do) my books don't sell big. But my prayer is that people who need to read what I have written will somehow find a copy. Therefore the give aways fill my heart and reach an audience. My book "The Natural Soul" has been on Amazon's Kindle Best Seller list for several months now since the first give away promotion. Perhaps you know of groups that could get the word out.

    Another great way to get the word out is to present the most important part of your material on YouTube. My "presents!" YouTube has had over 40,000 views now and gets the word out.

    If you want to know more about Lightning Source (and Create Space which is owned by Amazon) let me know and we can talk. If you know in your heart that your info can help others than do it! This publishing thing really isn't about money, it's about offering what we know.



    • 55 posts
    April 16, 2014 1:33 PM MDT

    Well I have a stack of books 4 ft high I've bought since last summer after the spiritual shift.  I like to ride motorcycles as well and would love to get a look at your accumulated wisdom.  I'd say go for it!

    • 957 posts
    April 16, 2014 1:49 PM MDT

    My advice is simple: follow your heart and let the chips fall where they will. If your book/DVD/app is a bestseller, great. If not, that's great too -- it will reach the few it was intended for and leave your spirit a little lighter knowing you responded to your inner promptings, rather than "the sage advice" of publishers, manufacturers, and insurers with worldly axes to grind.

    • 957 posts
    April 16, 2014 3:25 PM MDT

    Hi Thomas. I haven't read this book, but am aware of some of the research, past and present, that indicates "psychedelic therapy" can be used to successfully treat a wide range of illnesses, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Alcoholism, and Depression. And, of course, many people report that these kind of experiences changed their lives for the better by introducing them to various altered states of consciousness and existence. There are some related references here and here and here.

    • 4 posts
    April 17, 2014 11:30 PM MDT

    I neglected to mention another drug I tried back then that I would say had a profound affect, even transformational, and that's MDMA, which became better known on the street as Ecstasy. I did it several times under the direction of a psychotherapist and this was before it became a rave party drug and was made illegal. It was called the Love Drug because it allows the person to move into an extremely loving state of consciousness (similar but not as intense as the feeling of unconditional love in the NDE), with the intention of resolving the past emotional issues hindering present day personal growth, including for PTSD, depression and other mental troubles. It allowed me to "see" an early childhood trauma I had repressed and to forgive my perpetrator, and express gratitude to his soul for helping me resolve this karmic past life issue. I was able to release the fear and anger, and subsequently to have better relationships.

    • 42 posts
    April 18, 2014 3:34 AM MDT

    I was curious if anyone on this site has any information first or second hand that compares DMT--the Spirit molecule--found in shamanic brews in Central and South America or synthesized in a lab. Some of the YouTube videos about it are quite impressive and there are aspects to that short journey that seems to be cut of the same cloth. The psychedelic experience is short...perhaps around 7 minutes, but is much more meaningful than LSD and seems in many cases to have entities as a part of it. Time is absent and many different dimensions can be experienced simultaneously. For many this will bring about a major life change.

    • 290 posts
    April 18, 2014 7:01 AM MDT

    Diane, I too "dabbled" with MDMA in the 80s as a drug used in therapy to help us get to issues that were so buried we couldn't reach them but knew they were there and getting in our way. I tried it myself and became a sitter for others with the idea that they would then take their issues into therapy for at least 3 more sessions.

    For me,personally,  under those circumstances, MDMA was a great adjunct to my Life Review. I was very grateful for it and it became apparent that when those issues had surfaced, there was no longer any need to use it again.

    It's not recreational. It's therapeutic! I went on to work with others in the psych community to legalize it for therapeutic purposes. Here are some online links to learn more:

    The four documents included there are:

    1)  The original 2011 Pilot Study publication where 83% of treatment
    subjects (10 of 12) ended the protocol with sub-clinical scores on the
    CAPS PTSD assessment.

    2)  The 2012 Follow-up study of patients in the original pilot study
    showing the durability of the results of the pilot program.

    3)  A 2012 Swiss replication study that failed to confirm the
    clinician-assessed large effects of the original pilot.  The sponsoring
    organization for these various studies, Multidisciplinary Association for
    Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), put a positive spin on these results as can be
    seen at their press release:

    4)  The latest psychotherapy treatment manual for these protocol-based
    studies.   See chapter 5 for an explanation of the psychotherapy that
    occurs with concurrent MDMA administration.  It is interesting to note
    that the therapy seems to reach back to childhood traumas rather than just
    address the acute trauma that "precipitated" the PTSD symptoms.

    (I retrieved these papers and others from webbing around the MAPS website at:

    • 290 posts
    April 18, 2014 7:10 AM MDT

    Norman, (I'm beginning to feel like a druggie here! And I'm not but we did experiment back a few decades ago) I tried DMT under "research" circumstances to compare my NDE with DMT. This was in the 80s and we were looking for the right "cocktail" that could replicate the essence of the NDE. It did absolutely nothing for me. My Pot days in college were a lot more impressive then the "White Smoke" as it was called back then.

    Some tried Ketamine back then as the "doorway" out but never got the results they were looking for.

    I found that the only "Link" here in this reality is to sit with dying friends and loved ones, even patients, for their energy vibration is so powerful as they transition that it "entrains" those of us who are with them. I wrote about this in The Natural Soul and Spiritual Awakenings -- with or without a hands on meditation that brings us and "safe" loved ones into a "Loop"" of oneness.

    What we have experienced is a group spiritual experience that can last for several days and helps those grieving to realize there is more to "life" than we thought

    • 38 posts
    April 18, 2014 10:19 AM MDT

    Upon reading this post, I thought I might add to it – good luck with this one. I assure you that this is a true event that to this day I still don’t understand. If anyone has any insight, feel free to share it – and thanks. I will not go into a lot of detail, but having grown up in an orphanage, I was considerably different from most people that I knew. I was very self oriented, but also very insecure. To try and resolve my lack of basic emotions I experimented with all kinds of drugs. LSD was one of my favorites. In 1972 while attending Western Carolina University, I and four friends were doing acid at their apartment. It was about 8:30pm on Friday evening. I happened to see the lights of a car go by and got up (curiosity) and went to the sliding glass doors, pulled the curtains back and looked out to see where the car was headed. I froze in my tracks. I then called to Vince, a friend who was on the couch. He came over to me. I asked him to look on the porch and tell me what he saw. He pulled the curtains back and looked out. He instantly froze in place. I asked; “What do you see?” He didn’t respond. I again asked. His response was; “What do you see?” I answered; “It looks like Jesus Christ reading or holding a book.” He said; “Man, that’s exactly what I see. He is in a white gown of some kind.” “Yep, he sure is.” was my response to him. I then asked him to turn on the porch light so we could see more clearly. He refused. I asked again. He refused. I then reached over and turned it on myself. Lo and behold the image disappeared. Probably needless to say, but we kept this event to ourselves. This is the first time I have shared this with anyone as I am still reluctant, but have grown older and care less about people’s opinion of me. When seeking answers one has to be ready for anything. To this day I vividly remember every aspect of it. We both shared with each other later that we felt like He was letting us know that He didn’t approve of our actions. You may call it spiritually induced, drug induced or whatever, but I find it very strange that we both saw and felt the exact same thing. It was nothing like my death and return experience four years earlier, (this was emotionally disturbing) but none the less seemed to be a brief visit to the spiritual realm. Any ideas?

    • 290 posts
    April 18, 2014 11:36 AM MDT

    This is my gut feeling:

    If one person drops acid and sees Jesus -- it's a hallucination.

    If two people drop acid and see Jesus -- it's consensual validation!

    If that was my visitation -- I would interpret it as -- God's son is at my door and all I have to do is let Him in!

    How did you interpret it?

    • 55 posts
    April 18, 2014 11:45 AM MDT

    Hallucination is just a word that implies unreality or meaninglessness.  If consciousness experiences anything it is real whether the experience is facilitated by drugs or by being hit by a car.   Ultimately we have no idea what "reality" is.  I consider Mitch's vision to be a blessing.

    • 957 posts
    April 18, 2014 12:00 PM MDT

    Mitch, thanks for sharing this experience with us! I can't remember ever hearing an event like this, where two people who are using acid (or any other drugs), report having the same, identical visionary experience. What leaps to my mind though are the growing accounts of shared-death experiences where people do report having the same visionary experiences. It sounds like you and Vince slipped into a space that lies beyond the reach of most drug-induced experiences. One question: what impact did the experience have on you and Vince? Did you stop engaging in the actions that the vision of Jesus was apparently warning you about? Did you notice any other significant changes in your life, relationships, thought process? Did Vince?