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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

Are You Getting Enlightened or Losing Your Mind? A Spiritual Program for Mental Fitness.

Gersten, Dennis. (1997).
New York: Harmony Books.

ISBN: 0-517-70725-X

Description: hardcover, xxvi + 310 pages.

Contents: Foreword by Larry Dossey, introduction, 16 chapters in 4 parts: 1. Opening the Mind to Spirit, 2. The Lost Mind, 3. Getting Enlightened, 4. Tools for Transformation: Making Your Own Miracles, Appendix A: Mental Fitness Techniques, Appendix B: Resources, notes, index, acknowledgments.

Excerpt(s): "The deepest passion of the western world is to reunite with the ground of its being," wrote Richard Tarnas in his 1991 book The Passion of the Western Mind. This unquenchable desire to touch the Divine is universal. It is the source of the most sublime music, art, literature, and architecture of every culture.

But if our most intense drives are toward the transcendent, why do references to "the spiritual" create such emotional and intellectual indigestion in modern medicine and psychiatry? In our century, health care professionals have avoided religion and spirituality like the plague. This has created problems not only for patients but for physicians as well. As a result of this avoidance, medicine has become one of the most spiritual malnourished professions in our culture. (Foreword, Larry Dossey, page ix)

There is a huge gap between what the average person believes and the way the average psychiatrist practices. I have written Are You Getting Enlightened or Losing Your Mind? in order to provide a bridge between patient and psychiatrist-a bridge that allows spirituality to become a viable issue that either patient or doctor can bring up. It is my hope that we can destigmatize spirituality, altered states of consciousness, visionary experiences, extrasensory perceptions, paranormal phenomena, and other important experiences so that patients can discuss them without being labeled crazy by their psychiatrists. I hope this book will help you recognize your miracles and feel comfortable sharing them-even with your psychiatrist. (I also hope you don't use this book to "beat up" on your doctor or spouse for being "backward.") (p. xxiii)


During the 1960s much experimentation was going on with hallucinogenic drugs. Some researchers wanted to see how LSD would affect Indian yogis. Would they hallucinate and lose touch with reality like everyone else?

When the yogis took LSD, an astonishing thing happened. Nothing. Nothing at all happened. But how could that be? Yogis have the same brains as everyone else, the same central nervous system. How could they not be profoundly affected? Perhaps spiritual discipline produces more than lower metabolic rates and deep relaxation-more than physical or bodily effects. Can the mind of the yogi be so completely transcended that mind-altering drugs, such as LSD, have no effect because they no longer have a mind upon which those drugs can act?

The mind, to be sure, hallucinates under the influence of LSD. But is it possible to go beyond mind, to uncover our "true nature"? It there a "true nature"? Eastern religion teaches that there is-that the mind is not reality, that the mind helps obstruct reality. But the mind can also be used to lead us to the heights, to reach God. The mind can even be used to go beyond itself. That is the ultimate paradox. Yes, we can actually use our minds to slow down our minds, even to stop our minds. When the mind finally stops, we are no longer just loving, truthful, or peaceful; we have become love, truth, and peace. Our small minds disappear, and we become completely one with love, and peace.

My theory about the yogis and LSD is that their minds had been so tamed, so disciplined, that the LSD had nothing to work on. That implies that the mind is more than just a philosophical construct that helps us communicate. It has real biological parameters. Thus, the mind is the biological level at which certain drugs such as LSD work. But these drugs have no effect on that part of us that is divine, that is beyond time, space, and matter, and that is also beyond the reach of medicine or chemicals. (pages 3-4)

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