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.
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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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP