Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Heaven and Hell.
Huxley, Aldous. (1956).
New York: Harper & Row.
Description: First edition,
iv + 103 pages.
Contents: 8 essays.
Excerpt(s): Like the
earth a hundred years ago, our mind still has its darkest Africa,
its unmapped Borneos and Amazonian basins. In relation
to the fauna and flora of these regions we are not yet zoologists,
we are mere naturalists and collectors of specimens. The fact
is unfortunate; but we have to accept it, we have to make the
best of it. However lowly, the work of the collector must be done,
before we can proceed to the higher scientific tasks of classification,
analysis, experiment and theory making.
Like the giraffe and the duckbilled platypus, the
creatures inhabiting these remoter regions of the mind are exceedingly
improbable. Nevertheless they exist, they are facts of observation;
and as such, they cannot be ignored by anyone who is honestly
trying to understand the world in which he lives. (pages 1-2)
Exponents of a Nothing-But philosophy will answer
that, since changes in body chemistry can create the conditions
favorable to visionary and mystical experiences, visionary and
mystical experiences cannot be what they claim to be, what for
those who have had them, they self-evidently are. But this, of
course, is a non sequitur.
A similar conclusion will be reached by those whose
philosophy is unduly "spiritual." God, they will insist,
is a spirit and is to be worshiped in spirit. Therefore an experience
which is chemically conditioned cannot be an experience of the
divine. But, one way or another, all our experiences are
chemically conditioned, and if we imagine that some of them are
purely "spiritual," purely "intellectual,"
purely "aesthetic," it is merely because we have never
troubled to investigate the internal chemical environment at the
moment of their occurrence. Furthermore, it is a matter of historical
record that most contemplatives worked systematically
to modify their body chemistry, with a view to creating the internal
conditions favorable to spiritual insight. When they were not
starving themselves into low blood sugar and a vitamin deficiency,
or beating themselves into intoxication by histamine, adrenalin
and decomposed protein, they were cultivating insomnia and praying
for long periods in uncomfortable position in order to create
the psycho-physical symptoms of stress. In the intervals they
sang interminable psalms, thus increasing the amount of carbon
dioxide in the lungs and blood stream, or, if they were Orientals,
they did breathing exercises to accomplish the same purpose. Today
we know how to lower the efficiency of the cerebral reducing valve
by direct chemical action, and without the risk of inflicting
serious damage on the psychophysical organism. ... Knowing as
he does (or at least as he can know, if he so desires) what are
the chemical conditions of transcendental experience, the aspiring
mystic should turn for technical help to the specialists-in pharmacology,
in biochemistry, in physiology and neurology. And on their part,
of course, the specialists (if any of them aspire to be genuine
men of science and complete human beings) should turn, out of
their respective pigeonholes, to the artist, the sibyl, the visionary,
the mystic-all those, in a word who have had experience of the
Other World and who know ... what to do with the experience. (pages
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP