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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

The Man Who Turned On the World.

Hollingshead, Michael. (1973).
England: Blond & Briggs.

ISBN: 85634-015-4 (SBN)

Description: 255 pages.

Contents: 10 chapters

Excerpt(s):I also had personal reservations about the claims made on behalf of LSD that it was the key to the religious or mystical state or could lead to a truer metaphysics of being. In 1962, despite perhaps a hundred LSD sessions, I could still say, with Flaubert, that 'I am a mystic and believe in nothing', or echo the modern French existentialist, Coiran, who said that 'Once we have ceased linking our secret life to God, we can ascend to ecstasies as affective as those of the mystics and conquer this world without recourse to the beyond.' For there is no evidence that LSD ever made nor marred a saint. Certainly, 'turning on' was interesting for its usefulness, for what it could reveal in terms of a creative understanding of those who used the psychedelic experience for their own purposes, and could benefit from such knowledge. But real courage and a tremendous sensitivity of mind is needed if one is going to hurl oneself into a madness that is not sacred, since the real temptation, it seemed to me, is to link the psychedelic experience to God and prepare to return to that Garden of which, through no fault of our own, we have lost even the memory. But if reality still counts for something, the psychedelic voyager had to become a practical dualist, whatever be the non-dual philosophical doctrines to which he intellectually subscribes. It is true that at certain peak moments during an intensive LSD session, it is only the Clear Light of the Void that alone Is. One transcends at such moments the dichotomy set up in one's mind between 'inner' and 'outer' worlds of experience, and sees reality only from the standpoint of the mystical vision, of the Brahmam; and may experience life beyond all dualism. But after such a trip, when the mountains are again the mountains, and the lakes are again the lakes, there is still the empirical world to be dealt with; it doesn't disappear like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only an insane grin on your face. (pages 68-69)

And how do I think of LSD et al? as certain truths about the nature of my inner self came to be manifest in my conscious mind, my interest in psychedelics began to wane proportionately, so that today I do not believe that LSD can help me towards self-realisation. It had never been more than preliminary, one may say, a pretext for me to explore inwardness and unfamiliar mental states for whatever they might reveal. But LSD has nothing more to give me. And I am therefore determined to return to the world, and in time, to integrate myself with it. In relation to any religious beliefs I now hold, I am a confessed Franciscan, though I freely admit that I have a very long way to go before I shall be able to express this outwardly with my entire being the love Saint Francis of Assisi showed was for all living creatures, and in respect to love of this kind, I must to this extent be regarded as clumsy. Yet in Saint Francis evolved Love of the very highest order for his delicate and feminine sensibility offered Love a unique possibility of manifestation. And thus, in the light of this knowledge, I can no longer take my psychedelic trips seriously. I know that many readers, and by no means the worst among them, would disapprove of such measures as taking LSD; one should be strong enough, they say, to exist by faith without the aid of drugs. Yes! One should be, but what if one is too weak?

And the impulse which now drives me back into the world is precisely the same as that which drives so many to monasteries or to keep the offices of prayer the desire for self-realisation. (pages 254-255)

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