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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


Dancing Naked in the Mind Field

Mullis, Kary. (1998).
New York:Pantheon.


ISBN: 0-679-44255-3


Description: Hardcover, x + 223 pages.

Contents: 22 chapters, acknowledgments, index.

Note: The author was awarded a Nobel Prize for inventing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Excerpt(s): At Georgia Tech, I had a wife and a little girl. I had short hair and I studied all the time. My senior year I made perfect grades. I studied physics and math and chemistry to the point where I would never have to study them again. And all I knew about drugs was what I read in magazines like Time and Life. I learned that marijuana was a dangerous addictive drug and that I should stay away from it. On the other hand, I learned that LSD was a miracle that just might enable scientists to understand the workings of the brain, could be the cure for alcoholism, and, just incidentally, might prevent World War III. Psychiatrists were prescribing it for their patients. In 1966 LSD had not yet been made illegal. Respected, well known people were admitting that they had experimented with LSD. The Luce family, the publishers of Time and Life, were so intrigued by the scientific potential of LSD that they funded the research of Harvard professor Timothy Leary.

A person who loved playing with chemicals as much as I did just couldn't help but be intrigued by LSD. The concept that there existed chemicals with the ability to transform the mind, to open up new windows of perception, fascinated me. I considered myself to be a serious scientist. At the time it was still all very scholarly and still legal. There was no tawdry aura over it. People weren't blaming their kids' problems on it yet. Hippies had just started to differentiate themselves from beatniks and the difference seemed to be fewer years and more hair on the hippies. And they stayed in college.

In 1966 I wanted to try LSD. My wife, Richards, helped me pack up the Impala, we put our daughter Louise in the back seat, and we drove to Berkeley for graduate school. ...

Brad had experimented with psychedelic drugs and agreed to guide me through my first trip. He suggested that before I took LSD, I should smoke some marijuana because it might give me some idea of how my consciousness would be changed. Marijuana scared me, I told him. Everything I'd read about it said that it was a bad drug, an addictive drug - one toke and you're a slave for life.

He persuaded me to smoke a "joint" as he called it. Within moments my fear disappeared. I was laughing. Brad and I talked about wise things for hours. ...

During dinner, Brad gave me what was called a double-domed 1000 microgram Owsley. He had bought it for five dollars. It was soon to become illegal. I didn't finish dinner. I started laughing. I got up from the table and realized, on the way to the couch, that everything I knew was based on a false premise. I fell down through the couch into another world.

Brad put Mysterious Mountain by Hovhaness on the stereo and kept playing it over and over. It was the perfect background for my journey. I watched somebody else's beliefs become irrelevant. Who was that Kary Mullis character? That Georgia Tech boy. I wasn't afraid. I wasn't anything. I noticed that time did not extend smoothly - that it was punctuated by moments - and I fell down into a crack between two moments and was gone.

My body lay on the couch for almost four hours. I felt like I was everywhere. I was thrilled. I'd been trapped in my own experiences - now I was free. The world was filled with incredibly tiny spaces where no one could find me or care what I was doing. I was alone. My mind could see itself.

Brad had given me 1000 micrograms because he wanted me to have a thorough experience. I think he said "blow your ass away." With 100 micrograms you feel a little weird, you might hallucinate, and you can go dancing, but you know you're on acid. You're aware that you're having a trip and the things that you see are hallucinations. You know that you should not respond to them. When you take 1000 micrograms of LSD, you don't know you've taken anything. It just feels like that's the way it is. You might suddenly find yourself sitting on a building in Egypt three thousand years ago, watching boats on the Nile. ...

About five o'clock in the morning I began to come back to earth. The most amazing aspect of the entire experience was that I landed back in the middle of my normal life. It was so sweet to hear the birds, to see the sun come up, to watch my little girl wake up and start playing. I appreciated my life in a way I never had before.

On the following Monday I went to school. I remember sitting on a bench, waiting for a class to begin, thinking, "That was the most incredible thing I've ever done." ...

I wanted to understand what had happened. How could 1000 micrograms - one thousandth of a gram - of some chemical cause my entire fucking sensorium to undergo such incredible changes? What mechanisms inside my brain were being so drastically affected? What did these chemicals do to my visuals? I wanted to know how it worked. I wanted to know more about neurochemistry. (pages 162-167)



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