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Kensho: Describing a Mystical Experience
There is no better explanation we have found of the power of sacred entheogens then James Austin's Zen and the Brain, where he describes the following 18 characteristics describing Kensho. "Kensho" means seeing into one's true nature, and corresponds to enlightenment in Zen:

1. Beyond rationality. The subject later cannot explain the episode logically in terms of any previous personal experience.

2. Intuitive insight. The insight conveys not only universal knowledge but clarifies issues of personal existence.

3. Authoritativeness. Depths of truth are revealed with the very same certainty that attends drinking cold water. No logical argument refutes them.

4. Affirmation. The basic mood and tone is strongly positive toward all existence. It remains positive even though the person may later use words to describe certain qualities of the experience which are cast in negative terms.

5. Sense of the beyond. The experience may convey a subtle sense that it is rooted elsewhere. (And afterward, it does illustrate the paradox of being both "Reality" and otherworldly.)

6. Impersonal tone. Among Buddhists, a sudden enlightenment makes no reference to the image of Buddha, nor to any notion that his person has intervened in any way. In this respect it differs from a few mystical experiences set in a Christian context in which Christ or the Virgin Mary are reported to be present.

7. Feeling of exaltation. The experiant feels an infinite expansion of new attributes and capabilities.

8. Momentariness. The episode is abrupt in onset and brief.

9. External unity. The whole world is experienced as one. The central theme of this unity is that there are no subject/object distinctions, or any other distinctions among parts of the huge whole.

10. Changes in the boundaries of time and space. Not only is clock time absent, but a sense of "eternity" pervades the experience. Moreover, a sense of "infinity" is conveyed, because the old mental boundaries drop out that had been previously affiliated with notions that physical space is somehow limited.

11. Ineffability. The experience seems impossible to communicate, because it eludes all words and familiar descriptive categories.

12. Objectivity and reality. The experience is "realer than real." The true nature of things is seen into, things as they really are.










 
13. Subsequent persisting positive changes in attitude and behavior. The experience changes the way the subjects think about themselves and about the rest of the world, and it transforms their behavior.

14. Perfection. The world revealed is awesome in its perfection. This gives rise to the sense that it is sacred and is to be revered.

15. Beyond doing. There is a distinct disinclination to intervene. Nothing remains to be done in the face of such perfection.

16. Sense of release. Fear vanishes. And, as all the other psychic ambivalences of the I-Me-Mine drop off, the experiant feels a sense of total mental and physical relief.

17. Memorable quality. The experience strikes deep, and has great impact, and is highly valued. Some fragments of the whole remain indelible. But though the person can later dip into the surface of memory by an effort of will, the whole experience itself remains a gift which cannot be duplicated either in thought or in any other kind of mental imagery.

18. Unimaginable. The experience is inconceivable in advance. True, internal absorption does provide one shallow intimation of the way the physical self can drop off. But Kensho thrusts deeper. The experiant will be astonished by the way it cuts off all the psychic constructs of the I-Me-Mine and leaves only objective vision in its place.

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