Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Human Encounter With Death.
Grof, Stanislav, and Halifax, Joan.(1977).
New York: E. P. Dutton.
Description: First edition,
xvi + 240 pages.
Contents: Foreword by
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, acknowledgments,
10 chapters, bibliography, index.
Excerpt(s): The changes
that occur in cancer patients following psychedelic therapy are
extremely varied, complex, and multidimensional. Some of them
are of a familiar nature, such as alleviation of depression, tension,
anxiety, sleep distrubance, and psychological withdrawal. Others
involve phenomena that are quite new in Western psychiatry and
psychology; especially specific changes in basic life philosophy,
spiritual orientation, and the hierarchy of values. (page 36)
Many observations from LSD sessions seem to indicate
that various physically painful experiences in the life history
of an individual are recorded in the memory banks in close association
with each other. The resulting memory constellations are then
functionally linked with the experiences on the perinatal level.
Thus, episodes of pain and physical suffering from the individual's
life related to operations, injuries, diseases, and physical abuse
are typically relived in LSD sessions in the context of birth
experiences. (page 120)
The totality of the pain experience seems thus to
involve not only the direct neurophysiological response to tissue
damage but also the past programming of the individual regarding
painful events and anticipation of suffering in the future. (page
Procedures that make it possible to experience profound
sequences of psychological death and rebirth and various transpersonal
phenomena might be more than training and preparation for dying
and death. There are indications that these episodes of unusual
states of consciousness in effect modify the way in which an individual
will experience his or her biological death. We believe the struggle
and agony that are associated with dying in some persons are due
to the fact that the physiological and biochemical changes in
the organism activate painful unconscious material from the individual's
history that has not been worked through and consciously integrated.
Unlike the transformations
of the experience of pain that can occur after any type of LSD
experience, changes in feelings about dying and death seem to
be associated with the specific content of the session. In our
experience dramatic changes in the concept of death and attitudes
toward it only took place following LSD sessions that had perinatal
and transpersonal elements. Those individuals who experienced
the phenomenon of ego death followed by the experience of rebirth
and cosmic unity seemed to show radical and lasting changes in
their fundamental understanding of human nature and its relation
to the universe. Death, instead of being the ultimate end of everything,
suddenly appeared as a transition into a different type of existence;
the idea of the possible continuity of consciousness beyond physical
death seemed to be much more plausible than the opposite. Dying
persons who had transcendental experiences developed a deep belief
in the ultimate unity of all creation; they often experienced
themselves as integral parts of it, including their disease and
the often painful situations they were facing. (pages 126-127).
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