There's a well-known Carl Sagan saying, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
So if someone makes a claim about having experienced a supernatural realm of reality, that extraordinary claim obviously requires extraordinary evidence in order for it to be believable.
And a related requirement is that other explanations for the supposed mystical experience should be seriously considered, since most likely an extraordinary claim actually is the result of something quite ordinary.
To give a mundane example, when I was a young child I recall waking up in the middle of the night and seeing an intruder standing at the foot of my bed. I was terrified. Eventually I got up the courage to turn on a light. What I'd seen was my cowboy hat that I'd put on a bedpost. I was nearsighted, so I couldn't see what it was very clearly without my glasses.
Below you can read an email response I sent today to a Church of the Churchless visitor who had some questions about how I view people who claim to have had profound supernatural experiences. As you'll see, the visitor suggested two possibilities, that these people either are liars or nuts (meaning, in English slang, mentally off).
I suggested an additional possibility, autosuggestion. I didn't use that term in my response (though a commenter I quoted did), but it is basically is what I was getting at. Googling this term, I found an American Psychological Association abstract called "Hypnotic suggestion produces mystical-like experiences in the laboratory: A demonstration proof."
Here's an excerpt:
Our findings represent a demonstration proof that hypnotic suggestion can play a viable role in inducing mystical-type experiences of varying degrees among about a third of participants in a laboratory context and support the hypothesis that the ability to experience hypnotically induced mystical-type experiences varies as a function of hypnotic suggestibility.
Part of what the blog visitor was interested in was whether my decision to leave Radha Soami Satsang Beas (RSSB), an India-based spiritual organization, was affected by the lack of mystical experiences reported by RSSB devotees. I mention this because the first part of my response addresses this question.
This is how I responded to the person. Earlier I'd pointed out to the person that this was a decidedly secondary reason for my RSSB disilusionment. I cleaned up some language in my reply that wasn't as clear as I wanted it to be upon second reading.
One Initiated, You are literally reading me quotes from your cult's handbook on a website written by an ex cult member. You ask about first hand experiences- "What's your take on those ? All illusions ?" And my answer is "Yes." Absolutely I think that as far as people seeing things in their head when they sit still for a few hours it is all illusions. As I said earlier- auto suggestion. When you can find a way to prove otherwise, let me know. Otherwise, keep rambling about your cult while your Greedy Guru gets richer and richer and your country gets poorer and more corrupt. Doesn't matter to me. Jesse