Abstract Details

The Theory of Oneness in Renewed Consciousness Research: A Quantitative Analysis of Personal Narratives to Study the Consistency of the Pure Experience and its Role in Shifting Global Consciousness  Jacob Gerber , Courtney E. Quinn, Ph.D. (Biology, Furman University, Travelers Rest, SC )   P1

The Kyoto School movement of Japanese philosophical thought uniquely combined Buddhist philosophy and religion with western philosophy. The founder, Nishida Kitaro, emphasized the importance for individuals to have a "pure experience," where one would experience a sense of "oneness" through meditation. Beyond this individual experience, Kitaro hypothesized that as a consequence of many people having a "pure experience" there would be less conflict and societal division. A universal meaning and value system would be formed within every individual. To explore this idea using mixed quantitative and qualitative methods we hypothesized that the oneness experience is consistently being felt through consciousness altering practices. Renewed interest in studying altered states of consciousness achieved through experiences such as meditation, psychedelic therapy, isolation tanks, kundalini yoga, holotropic breathwork, astral projection, and near-death experiences, allows us to combine existing data to study the consistency of the oneness experience across various methods. The experience of oneness inspires individuals to be more empathetic to one another, and results in lessened feelings of egoism and separatism between humans as well as between humans and all other life. This experience is also being shown to be much more easily attainable. These experiences that were once reserved for lifelong meditators and religious practitioners are now readily available to any individuals via a diversity of mediums whether they choose to take a psychedelic substance or employ one of the many mind-expanding strategies that take some practice but are available to anyone. Building on this diversity of possible experiences, the goal of this study was to use personal narratives and new wave-of-consciousness literature to find patterns among and across experiences. We gathered data from an online repository of written personal narratives of psychedelic use between 1960 and 2016. We used an a priori coding system of common terms associated with oneness and spiritual experience including "oneness," "unity," and "interconnected." R statistical software was used to search for use of identified terms signifying a oneness experience for users of DMT, Mescaline, LSD, Mushrooms, Ketamine, Cannabis, and MDMA. From the gathered data, it is clear that individuals participating in varying consciousness altering practices are describing feelings of oneness. Research in a diversity of disciplines has shown that given these data, the next step in this research will be to consider broadly the role of these experiences in fostering improved stewardship for our planet. This study suggests new ways to approach philosophical thought through data analysis and multi-disciplinary literature review, as well as offers optimistic results for the role and necessity of consciousness altering experiences in shifting human consciousness towards oneness.