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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

Facing West from California Shores: A Jesuit's Journey into New Age Consciousness.

Toolan, David. (1987).
New York: Crossroad.

ISBN: 0-8245-0805-X

Description: Hardcover, xiv + 337 pages.

Contents: Preface, 12 chapters divided into 4 parts: 1. Initiation Rites, 2. Thickening the Plot: India's Time Machine, 3. Recovering the Genesis Story, 4. Resurrecting the Body, bibliography, index.

Excerpt(s): Even in the universities of the Catholic ghetto in which I grew up, where metaphysical speculation was highly approved, the general assumption was that the noumenal order of things could not be perceived. One got to it only by subtle argument, by "transcendental reductions" and other such inferential, speculative acrobatics. (The ordinary pious Catholic who prayed before the Blessed Sacrament may have known otherwise, but such pedestrian experience was typically ignored by professors of "natural theology" and theology.) But is metaphysics a matter of "immediate perceptions"? Without argument? The eyewitness of a hack reporter? If true, this would be first-order cultural news. Psychedelics provided the gate-opener for just this announcement. (page 40)

... R. C. Zaehner, a Spaulding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford (and a Catholic), was arguing at the same time that psychedelics could only induce those monistic dissolution states common to certain poets and, say, Shamkhya Hinduism. His book, Mysticism, Sacred and Profane, attempted to refute the quickie-mysticism of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception. Huxley, we were to think, had obviously been seized by a "profane" kind of oceanic regress. Genuine theistic experience, Zaehner maintained, remained off-limits through chemical means. This judgment is understandable; being a member of a cognitive minority, a believer at Oxford is to be on the defensive. As a generalization, however, Zaehner's caustic judgment is also wrong.

I'd tried LSD, and knew Zaehner didn't know what he was talking about. In every one of my five trips, I left ego control behind rather rapidly. (page 58)

The energy had the quality of ethereal dazzling light, sheer, glorious golden splendor. At the same time it did not occur to me to think of the Hebrew tradition's Shekhinah, God's effulgent "glory"-but I would now understand it in such terms. (page 59)

Later walking across a snow-blanketed city, coming painfully down, I had a bad case of amnesia. Only by inches did my life, year by year, creep back into memory. And in some ways the most powerful impact of the trip, I realized how much of that life and the people in it I had been unwilling to say yes to. It was as if, as each set of circumstances returned, all my secret ambivalence stood exposed. Every "yes, but ... so what else is new?" of mine. The difference was that I had a choice this time around. In retrospect, this was a painful, blessed event. It was like being given Nietzsche's test of a worthy life: Can you say, when it's done,"once more!"? (page 60)

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