The 2022 Annual Alister Hardy Lecture

Is Altruism a Principal Fruit of Spiritual Experience? An Exploration of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre Archive


  • Marianne Elizabeth Rankin Alister Hardy Trust Director of Communications


This paper focuses on the ‘fruits’ or consequences of religious and spiritual experiences (RSEs) recorded in the Archive of the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre (RERC).

My first research question asks, ‘What, in the RERC Archive, are the fruits of RSEs in terms of inner transformation and outward behaviour?’. A quantitative, numerical analysis of the range of consequences, including religious and spiritual changes is given, and in a qualitative approach specific accounts are explored in more depth.

My second research question became, ‘Is the designation “Intense Experience†as expounded by Wesley J. Wildman in his Religious and Spiritual Experiences (2011) helpful for researchers when evaluating RSEs, particularly those of people who do not consider themselves religious?’.

Study of the literature gave rise to the third research question, ‘Can the hypothesis that a turn from self-centredness to altruism is the dominant category underlying the variety of fruits of experience be supported through analysis of the RERC Archive?’ A mixed methods approach to the data appeared to lend support for this hypothesis.