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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

Man and His Religions: Aspects of Religious Psychology.

Zunini, Giorgio. (1969).
London: Geoffrey Chapman.

ISBN: None

Description: Hardcover, xix + 365 pages.

Contents: Preface, foreword by Sean O'Riordan, 9 chapters, bibliography, index.

Note: This book was originally published in Italian under the title Homo Religiosus by Casa Editrice Il Saggiatore, Milan, in 1966.

Excerpt(s): [These religions] have a common base on which they all meet, a basic religious sense in its pure state. This is an encouraging element, since it shows how soul s that have passed beyond the limitations of personal existence and reached the `integrating principle of the universe' converge on the joint basis of a religion devoid of Huxley refers to this as The Perennial Philosophy and has given this title to one of his more important books.

In this work he has collected the sayings of writers and mystics of many different religious creeds in order to show that the truth they are enunciating is fundamentally the same although their forms of expression differ. ... The book is undeniably valuable as a testimony to the presence of mystical religious feeling in all peoples of all ages, but it evades the issue when it comes to stating precisely the meaning and value of religious experience apart from the purely subjective fact. Huxley has a decided leaning towards the religious ideas of Buddhism which he brings forward as the only way to prevent the decline of Western civilization. He is particularly interested in direct religious experience, psychological experience, I would go so far as to say sensory-affective experience, and towards ascetical methods by which it is achieved.

This line of study is apparent in a recent book of his entitled The Doors of Perception, in which he describes his own experiences produced by taking mescalin. ... He distinguishes broadly between three types of experience: the transfiguration of natural objects into objects of unimaginable beauty; experience of the transfigured objects and simultaneously the feeling of one's own identification with them; sudden panic when the vision appears irresistibly real and presents a situation which must be faced. We therefore have the fasinosum and tremendum, the identification with the universe which Rudolf Otto points out as characteristic of the sacred. This explains why the Indians considered the peyotl tree to be a god. (pages 255-257)

[According to Huxley] religious experience ought therefore to be encouraged by the use of harmless drugs. ...

We cannot but feel a sense of regret when we compare this book with certain admirable pages, certain really noble passages of Huxley's Perennial Philosophy. The bitter irony of Brave New World seems to fall here into the icy scepticism of one who appreciates religion solely on account of a certain type of emotional enjoyment. But unfortunately this attitude is only too logical if man's task is the cultivation of his potentialities, as the horsebreeder acts with breeds of horses, striving to obtain the maximum yield with the minimum damage to the animal. Pills in place of prayer! (page 258)

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