[Serious] ex-atheists of reddit, what changed your mind?

I was an atheist every moment of my life up until 16th of May 2013 around 6am.

I started experimenting with drugs at university, sophomore year. I was at a point in my life where I didn't have a clear sense of purpose, and without the love of my first girlfriend, life was looking like a meaningless mess. I started experimenting with altered states of consciousness simply because I was looking for something without knowing what exactly it was that I was after (later I realized it was my true self that I was seeking).

My use of hallucinogens had spiritual undertones from the beginning. We would go eat shrooms at J Tree and enjoy tripping in nature. LSD however was a much more powerful drug than anything else I had tried, and initially my use of LSD was more because I was amazed by its immediate effects i.e. visual hallucinations. It was amazing to me that I could see, as clearly as day, things that I knew to not exist in front of me, or that I could see things that I knew to exist appear in a completely different light. The colour and movement of LSD trips is one of the greatest examples of beauty I have experienced.

After a hand full of trips on LSD, I began to realize that there was much more to the drug than I had thought. Very few people experiment with LSD enough to fully benefit from its wonders, and no one I knew who did LSD was even close to unlocking its secrets.

I would definitely say that my early LSD trips were a mixture of positive and negative. I would feel anxiety, unease, as if a shadow of doubt were hanging over my being. But the more I tripped and experienced these shadows, the greater my mastery of them became. I began to have a lot of control over my trips; I could direct my hallucinations, control the shadows in my mind, and control my actions/speech. Once you develop this level of mastery of LSD, the sense of being while tripping is one of pure existential power. I could trip heavily around people in social situations and interact with other people without for hours them becoming aware that I was under the influence.

At this stage, the drug had taught be a lot about myself; my fears, my strengths and weaknesses, my ambitions and desires...they were all exposed to me, as if I could see clearly and simultaneously all the drives and wants affecting my mind. I became a much better individual: more confident, more composed, with greater understanding and empathy...I became my true self...I was...radiant.

This level of being began about a couple months before I graduated. My acceptance of the divine was the product of a perfect swell of factors, one of which was what I had learned about my self and existence through LSD. I had also just completed my thesis, in which, for the first time in my life, I had created original thought that (as far as I know) had not been discovered previously. I felt as if I was a creator, as if I was aiding in the process of the suns, as if I had finally put a small, personal, perhaps even trivial mark on the universe.

Just prior to graduation, I was down in San Diego celebrating with my classmates. Long story short, one of my friends decides to trip for the first time, and things get really, really out of hand. I had never seen anyone lose their mind like that before. Ultimately myself and another ended up handling what was potentially an explosive situation...it was a very good act that we were able to carry out.

Next day, I'm tripping. Having a great time chilling with the woman who I had helped calm my friend down the night before. I am a high on LSD, the good act, finishing my thesis...like I said, a perfect storm.

I went out onto the patio to watch the sun rise. I am sitting there looking at the grey wall in front of me. I grow bored and think to myself, "Change the wall to red." The wall becomes red. I think, "Now blue." The wall become blue. I say outloud to myself:

"I create my reality."

The most important realization of my life was that everything - everything - is within my power to create.

As soon as the words leave my mouth, my hallucination changes immediately and I am no longer in control of what I am seeing and feeling. I am sitting in chair looking at the wall as it melts away and is replaced by a shining city of energy...imagine a city made out of glimmering, psychedelic light. I am above this city, as if I am flying backwards, while another being flies quickly towards me. It is a yogi figure, sitting cross legged. The being comes face to face with me, until it's face begins to change very quickly into different faces, one after the other (the message clearly being that anyone is capable of being this Being). This all happens in the space of 10 seconds.

I am overwhelmed. I have had the most intense, mind bending hallucinations before, but this is completely different; I remain aware that I am sitting on the patio, but I feel as if my self is in an ether between worlds, another dimension if you will.

I get on the ground on my knees immediately. It is very clear that something great is happening. I then enjoy a minute of the most beautiful internal hallucination (with my eyes closed/in my mind's eye) and a divine peace washes over me. I am seeing this beautiful light in my mind vibrate and pulse in different colors. The light becomes a key and starts spinning (the meaning being that the mind is the key).

I say outloud, "I will go all the way," in reference to seeing the ideas outlined in my thesis manifested in our reality. I feel absolute certainty that I am capable of creating the world I want to see. I feel as if it has happened already.

A couple seconds later, a thought enters my head; "You are an atheist."

It actually was painful to think in light of what I was experiencing. The thought did not sit well with me. It grew, and grew, until I was in physical pain. And then I was in agony. My chest felt like it was going to explode. I'm still sitting and start trying to shake the pain with deep breaths. The pain intensifies. I have no idea what is happening, but I fear I might be having a heart attack.

I stumble to the bathroom and look at myself. I'm thinking of calling for help when it suddenly dawns on my that the source of my physical pain is the conflict in my mind between being an atheist and what I have just experienced. That is the moment where I concede, "I may not be an atheist anymore." The pain recedes immediately.

I left the house to walk home, and by the time I was home 10 minutes later, I was convinced that existence is divine. I had previously thought it wondrous, and mysterious, but the only adequate description for what was revealed to me in those moments is "divinity".

I later came across an image of Amun Ra. It was the being I saw in the city of light, before its face morphed into others. Amun Ra's theology is closely linked to what I wanted to "go all the way" with.

Anyway, I told everyone I knew about what happened to me. What I found was that I couldn't convey in words the unmistakable feeling of divinity that I had experienced.

It's been about a year now since I mentioned this to anyone. Thanks for asking.

/r/AskReddit Thread