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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


Lysergic Acid (LSD 25) & Ritalin in the Treatment of Neurosis.

Ling, Thomas M., and Buckman, John. (1963).
England: Lambarde Press.


ISBN: none

Description: hardcover, x + 172 pages.

Contents: introduction, 13 chapters, index to authorities quoted.

Note: Note early date of publication. Good examples of the use of LSD in psycholytic psychotherapy.

Excerpt(s): In no instance has any patient lost his or her religious beliefs, and those who started by having a religious faith have had their basic beliefs strengthened. The patients' experiences under LSD have not supported Marx's dictum that Religion is the opium of the people but rather that there is a deep basic belief in a Supreme Being, whether the religious background be Christian, Jewish or Hindu. We have had no experience with other creeds. (Introduction, page 5)

[Patient]

I realised that Hindu mystics are very correct about reincarnation and unity with the absolute . In my later treatments I went right back to my mother's womb. I was arriving from a land of rhythm and colour like Africa. I was born. Birth seemed beautiful. This is when every rhythm in the body, breath, pulse at the temples, heart beats and suckling-like movements of the mouth and vagina were in unison.This to me was orgasm and this joy was what I ought to look for. This was also unity within the absolute . Here I felt I had been created for creation. I had my first practical lesson in how to have and enjoy intercourse. I learnt to lie back relaxed and offer myself. In real living I have not reached this point of completely relaxing and having an orgasm, but I know what to strive for. If all is given to us at birth, why do we grope all our life? (page 71)

Final Report

Seven months later, e.g. 18 months after the termination of treatment, this patient was asked to come back to the Hospital and reported that she felt quite different. She had completely lost her fear and had been living very happily with a West Indian student for a year.

She was now able to get full satisfaction out of sexual intercourse and always achieved full orgasm. When she has passed her final examination, she proposes to return to S.E. Asia where she hopes to marry and have children.

She stated that she was no longer confused over religion and had become a confirmed Hindu. Under LSD she had appreciated the deep significance of the Unity with the Absolute which she had absorbed from her parents as a small girl. They were good Hindus. She had realised that her Christianity had been superficial, and she felt at peace with herself by her complete adherence to Buddhism and rejection of Christianity. She said that she had become a Christian at school because the other girls did. On reflection she said the main reason for her absence of fear was that she was no longer afraid of death.

She had no conflict over the fact that Hindus in Asia closely protect unmarried girls and that she was living with a West Indian. She said: I am not being unfaithful to anyone and after all this is quite the usual practice among students in London .

She finished the interview by saying that she felt much more united with the Almighty and at peace inside herself. She is certainly completely relaxed and able to discuss her situation living in Western culture with great charm and understanding.

It is suggested that this girl has been permanently released from her frigidity, has a real understanding of herself and will make a happy wife and mother in her own country in the future. (A Case of Frigidity, page 73)

6th Session: 80 gamma LSD, 20 mgms Ritalin and 10 mgms Ritalin.

[Patient]
In the early part of the session, everything seemed confused, but after the second injection of Ritalin, I felt totally different. I became strongly aware of religious thoughts and subsequently to see myself as it were through the eyes in turn of each member of my family.

At first God and the Devil appeared to be really there engaged in combat for my services and then I began to appreciate that their presence was only in my thoughts and represented good and evil and I was able to argue in the guise of God with the Devil and master him: I was very relieved and happy at this victory and felt that I had gained something great from this experience and seen the light . Then I seemed to pass into the mind of my wife then my children, one by one, and see myself exactly as they do and again I was very rudely awakened by the successive pictures that I saw.

Altogether this seemed to me to be a most harsh and cruel self- analysis which I felt must make me stop and think whenever I am on the bring of some unfortunate action. (A Case of Pathological Gambling, pages 93-94)

Psychiatrist

So far, we have discussed your personal experiences and the associated changes in your personality. Would you care to comment on your present attitude to religion, as clearly your early chapel atmosphere had an important influence on your development.

Patient

Religion is one of those heavily imprinted words like God , that trigger off so many infantile mechanisms that it's almost impossible to answer any direct question about it without creating great waves of unconscious apprehension in the questioner. In general I should say that self-understanding never destroyed anything but delusions. If you're committed to any particular religious belief (which I'm not) LSD will undoubtedly modify your attitude towards religion by revealing the ambiguity of your motives for believing. Fixed beliefs strike me as an attempt to avoid the disturbing process of self-understanding by short- circuiting it or unloading it on to some other person or group or institution. The whole point of LSD is that it forces one to accept the entire responsibility for one's own mental processes. Anyway, conscious belief is obviously a defence against unconscious doubts, which in their turn arise from unresolved repressed conflicts. It stands to reason that in understanding one's repressed conflicts one's bound to modify the beliefs they've given rise to.

But I don't think religion is in its essence a matter of belief at all. Reality is reality, whatever you choose to believe about it, and for me, at any rate, LSD means seeing what is, not speculating about what ought to be. If you start off with fixed beliefs about the way things ought to be, you'll only prevent yourself from seeing what is.

However it seems obvious that religious beliefs and rituals are cultural accretions that ultimately obscure, rather than reveal, the central experience of reality from which religion originally arose and what LSD did for me was to take me back to an ontological experience infinitely more direct and real than any truth, however profound, that could be mediated by an established creed or ritual. As the Ch'an teachers used to say, it's like drinking a cup of cold water: you can only find out for yourself what it tastes like, and nobody else can tell you. Consequently, I can only say what LSD means for me, centrally, and in the depths of my own being.

And it really is very simple. Awareness of selfhood, as distinct from ego-awareness, cannot be mediated by the environment: neither the inner nor the outer environment. Mother and father, nipple and penis, mouth, vagina and anus do not in any case constitute selfhood. Sexual greed is activated by fear and hatred, and has nothing to do with love, nor with selfhood. Greed is a peripheral disturbance that merely distracts one from one's own central reality, which is love or God or silence or emptiness or whatever you feel like calling it. It doesn't matter what you call it, because the greed for names, too, is just part of the peripheral disturbance. Hang on to the name, and you lose the thing. My own, entirely personal, conclusion is that all opinions, religious or otherwise, and all greed, sexual or otherwise, constitute a flight from the love and tenderness which arises from within, when one stops projecting one's fear and hatred on to other people.

So obviously, if you think your particular brand of religion is the one-and-only-truth, you're unconsciously identifying yourself with a group because you feel insecure, and merely expanding yours at the expense of non-believers, on to whom you'll inevitably project your repressed destructive impulses. And if you attach more importance to your beliefs than to self-understanding, you'll probably need an awful lot of LSD; I just can't judge what LSD will do to people who start off with strong group-identifications, religious or otherwise, but my feeling is that even LSD can't force freedom upon people whose self-awareness depends mainly upon identification with group-attitudes.

In the other hand, whatever LSD may do to people's religious beliefs, it can hardly fail to strengthen and deepen their religious intuitions: the experiences of one's own direct dependence upon an inward reality infinitely greater and more immediate than any of its outward forms. Attachment to forms is flight from reality, from love, from the self. Yes, that's it, I think. There is, ultimately, only one neurosis, one psychosis, one unhappiness: the flight from reality, from love, from selfhood, which are the same.

In the last resort I can only say that religion of any brand stands or falls, for me, by its success or failure in pointing the way to self- understanding, and that the effect of LSD on a patient's religious orientation is bound to be genuine in one's religion, while freeing one from what is false. I can quite honestly say that my understanding of Christianity, for example, has been immeasurably deepened, through LSD, though my natural inclination has always been, and still is, towards philosophical Tao'ism and Ch'an Buddhism.

Obviously these remarks throw more light on me than LSD, and I might as well come clean and admit that LSD has confirmed and strengthened what was already genuine in my religious intuitions, while progressively freeing me from the marginal anxieties that tended to obscure or falsify these intuitions. These anxieties arose from the unconscious delusion that my personal identity was derived from my environment, in particular from my parents. I now know that the genetic and environmental determinants of my character and personality have absolutely nothing to do with my central sense of identity, which springs directly from the heart of reality, and is not subject to birth or death. All other problems pale into insignificance by comparison with this irreducible truth, the practical consequence of which is to remove the unconscious impediments to loving. Is there any other problem, in fact?

Psychiatrist

This is a very interesting concept of religion and I am glad the LSD has strengthened your basic religious feelings. Would it be true to say that you are now at peace with yourself and capable of loving deeply?

Patient

Yes, unbelievably so. I had a most revealing year and I am still learning more and more about myself. (A Case of Character Disorder, pages 130-133)



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