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.
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
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)
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)
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
she proposes to return to S.E. Asia where she hopes to marry and have
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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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?
Yes, unbelievably so. I had a most revealing year and I am still
learning more and more about myself. (A Case of Character Disorder,
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP