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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

The Healing Zone: Religious Issues in Psychotherapy.

Fleischman, Paul R. (1989).
New York: Paragon House.

ISBN: 1-55778-132-X

Description: Hardcover, first edition, xii + 288 pages.

Contents: Preface, introduction, 10 chapters, conclusion, chapter notes, index.

Excerpt(s): This [membership] dimension of religious life would seem so unsubtle that it is difficult to write about it without belaboring the obvious. Yet William James, and others who followed in his experiential, individualistic framework, seem to have overlooked it as a core element of religion. They write as if religion were entirely internal, experimental. Aldous Huxley wrote a humorous, heartfelt description of his religious experience on mescalin (in the tradition of James's explorations of nitrous oxide) in The Doors of Perception. This whimsical and rhapsodic work set the prototype for psychedelic religious exploration, due not only to Huxley's literary skill, but also to his enthusiasm: "Words like 'grace' and 'transfiguration' came to my mind . . . the Beatific Vision . . . for the first time I understood." But Martin Buber scathingly attacked Huxley's entire direction: "The true name of all the paradises which man creates for himself by chemical or other means is situationless . . . because they are in their essence uncommunal, while every situation, even the situation of those who enter into solitude, is enclosed in the community of logos and cosmos."

For Buber, logos and cosmos, the words by which we think and understand, and the complex whole world we relate to are intrinsically products of the human collectivity, of cultures that generate language and shared reality. In his view, every profound experience, every truly religious experience, has roots in cultural antecedents and must be given back to the human community as a tool for others, as part of the web of life. Huxley would no doubt agree his writing itself was an implicit agreement. But his writing may have lost the emphasis that Buber had, and Buber was echoing Plato. For Plato, the awakened life occurred in dialogue, person to person, not through books or lectures: "It is only after long association in the great business itself, and a shared life, that a light breaks out in the soul, kindled by a leaping flame, and thereafter feeds itself." (pages 93-94).

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