Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Ecstasy: A Way of Knowing.
Greeley, Andrew M. (1974).
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Contents: Eleven chapters,
Appendix A: Varieties
and Descriptions of Religious Experiences,
Appendix B: Varieties
of Altered States of Consciousness.
- ISBN: 0-13-234948-5 hardcover
- 0-13-234930-2 paperback
Description: A Spectrum
Book, x + 150 pages.
Excerpt(s): On the other
hand, in this book drug-induced ecstasy is not excluded from consideration.
I am profoundly suspicious of such experiences, and while I am
not sure that R. C. [ Zaehner] is correct
when he argues that drug-induced ecstasy is completely different
from religious ecstasy, I am still ill at ease when someone suggests
to me that John of the Cross's
ascent of Mt. Carmel is really the same thing
as the experience of an acid-head hippi e in an attic
in Berkeley. However, I see no reason to deny that
drugs can trigger the operation of a person's capacities for the
ecstatic. (page 13)
Minimally, one can say that ecstasy-producing drugs
are the functional equivalents of the natural triggers or the
ascetical practices which predispose a person toward an ecstatic
interlude. The drugs either clear away the distractions of ordinary
life by helping or forcing us to "tune out," or they
reveal to us
of the universe to which we had only dimly paid attention before.
The drugs may or may not produce ecstasy; they certainly produce
heightened consciousness, and that in its turn may or may not
lead to ecstatic rapture. If one reads what those who have experimented
with drug-induced ecstasy write, it seems reasonably clear that
"turning off" or, to use the phrase current among young
people, "getting stoned," is by no means an automatic
guarantee of rapture.
Must more be said? Is there a possibility that certain
kinds of chemicals produce certain biological actions and reactions
which not only predispose one toward ecstasy but actually activate
those mysterious capabilities of our personality that become operative
in ecstatic knowledge? Do the drugs induce the ecstatic insight
itself? I do not think we know enough to answer this question,
but I think we know enough to be skeptical of drug-induced ecstasy.
It is unlikely that young people can be dissuaded from experimenting
with hallucinogenic drugs even by research evidence that such
drugs are physically and psychologically dangerous. It may well
be possible that the human race is capable of developing a chemical
agent that is harmless and will guarantee either the predisposition
toward ecstasy or the experience itself. I think we will have
to know a lot more about the ecstatic process itself to feel secure
with drug-induced ecstasy. At the present time, in my judgment,
it should be reserved for serious scholarly experimentation. (pages
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP