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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


Creativity and Personal Freedom.

Barron, Frank. (1968).
Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co.


ISBN: none

Description: Paperback, xiv + 322 pages.

Contents: Preface, introduction, 25 chapters, Technical Appendix, bibliography, index.

Note: This revised edition is based on Creativity and Psychological Health by Frank Barron, 1963. Chapter 21, The Expansion of Consciousness, will be of most interest to readers of this chrestomathy.

Excerpt(s): As L. L. Whyte in his book The Unconscious before Freud has shown quite convincingly, the idea of the unconscious was, as he says, conceivable around 1700, topical around 1800, and effective around 1900. By 1950 its exploration by individuals through psychoanalysis could be described as commonplace. [What can we expect around 2000? TR] What we are witnessing today is the easy accessibility and mass distribution of means for producing experience of the usually unexperienced aspects of mental functioning. At least part of the meaning of LSD today is this: that chemical technology has made available to the millions the experience of transcendence of the individual ego, which a century ago was available only to the disciplined mystic. But there are, of course, more varied phenomena than the feeling of ego-transcendence produced by psychedelic drugs, and there are more motives than the religio-mystical motive lying behind the present widespread use of LSD. The claim that the drugs expand consciousness refers to changes in several dimensions of experience. I should like to take a look at this claim by first making an admittedly approximate classification or typology of psychedelic drug users and their motives. The classes I see are as follows: 1. Persons interested in the experience primarily for reasons of esthetic appreciation or expression, or for its intrinsic novelty. (pages 264-265) ... 2. Persons interested primarily in religious experience ... 3. Persons seeking a cure for alcoholism. ... 4. Persons seeking relief from personal psychological problems of a neurotic sort. ... 5. Seriously disturbed persons who are potentially suicidal or psychotic ... 6. Persons who are chronic delinquents ... 7. Persons in late adolescence or early adulthood whose psychological development has encountered the identify crisis ... (pages 266-268)

2. Persons interested primarily in religious experience, whether in their own search for transcendent meaning or out of an interest in the psychology of religion or its philosophical bases. LSD may produce a feeling of oneness with the universe and a reduction or complete loss of the sense of personal identity. When this occurs, there seems to be no distinction between subject and object, all is seen as part of cosmic process. An inner emptiness or silence, pertaining either to the interior of the self or to an interior of the universe, may be experienced, and may come as an apparent revelation of divinity. Either the fasinosum or tremendum, to use Rudolph Otto's terms, may be felt. The fasinosum is a feeling of joy, gratitude, pleasure, or onrush of grace, at catching a glimpse of the Ultimate, or numen; the tremendum is a reaction of awe, horror, fear, or a feeling of being overwhelmed. As in the esthetic experience, both the negative and the positive are seen as valid and therefore endurable. (page 266)

Especially in view of new laws making possession and knowing use of psychedelic drugs a crime, it is important that psychologists and psychiatrists begin working closely with student groups, both to educate them to the dangers of the situation and to understand just what is going on. A major problem arising from the new laws is that civil authority thus becomes alienated from young people who have great potential for contributing to the society of the future. In a healthy society, the intellectually able and creative citizens serve to vivify and support the social authority; but if they are defined as enemies of society for pursuing activities that they consider constructive, they will incorporate in their personal identity significant elements of anti-sociality. (page 268)

I would not be willing to say that consciousness has been expanded or extended unless it could be shown to be so when the person is in his normal state, free of drug effects. ... The evolutionary task, in the individual and in the species, is to create an ego that is itself capable of including the states of consciousness we now call paranormal. The states the psychedelic drugs produce should not themselves be confused with expanded consciousness. That comes later, if it comes at all, when and if the experience of unusual realities is brought into the ego and the ego itself is thereby enlarged in scope. A corollary of this is that the ego already possessed of considerable scope is more likely to be able to use such an experience further to grow and enlarge itself, just as it is the stronger ego that can use psychotherapy more effectively.

Finally, however, it should be said that in some unknown but probably considerable percentages of cases the psychedelic drugs do lead the individual towards further exploration of consciousness without further use of drugs. This I think is the desideratum. (pages 271-272)



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