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Common Core Thesis and Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Mysticism in Chinese Buddhist Monks and Nuns


Zhuo Chen, Psychology Department #2803, 350 Holt Hall – 615 McCallie Ave., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN 37403. E-mail:


This study explores the phenomenological structure of mystical experience among 139 Chinese Pure Land and Chan Buddhist monks and nuns. Semi-structured interviews, thematic coding, and statistical analyses demonstrated that Stace's common facets of mysticism as measured by Hood's Mysticism Scale (M Scale) successfully described Buddhist experience as modified by Buddhist doctrines. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) revealed that these facets could be formed into Stace's three-factor structure. A mystical introvertive unity hypothesized to be separate from an extrovertive unity instead converged in the Chinese Buddhist context. These results lend strong support to the thesis that the phenomenology of mystical experience reveals a common experiential core that can be discerned across religious and spiritual traditions. These data also demonstrated that this common core can and should be explored using mixed methods.