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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 Mind Possessed: A Physiology of Possession, Mysticism and Faith Healing.

Sargant, William. (1974).
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.

ISBN: 0-397-01011-7

Description: Hardcover, xii + 212 pages.

Contents: List of illustrations, preface, 21 chapters divided into 2 parts, bibliography, index.

Excerpt(s): It is a pity that modern proponents of the use of marijuana, L.S.D. and the rest have so seldom inquired into the vast literature of this subject, for the effects produced by various different drugs have been reported time and time again in the past. In the East, the early Vedic hymns sang the praises of soma, the `King of Plants', omnipotent, all-healing, the giver of immortality, consumption of which elevated the worshipper to the level of the divine, and which was itself considered a god. What soma was is uncertain, but it may have been a mushroom , Amanita muscaria or fly agaric. (page 99)

Frenzy, induced by sex, drugs, mantras, concentration, rhythmic music, chanting, dancing, jumping, twirling, over-breathing, is undoubtedly immensely effective in creating an absolute conviction of the presence of a god. For reasons already explained, it produces intense faith, not only in those who experience it but also very often in onlookers, who become much more suggestible in response to the excitement of the `possessed' and who will then accept as true claims and beliefs of which they would normally be critical. (page 102)

And so the argument proceeds between those who have `experienced' and so `know', and those on the sidelines, who observe the variety of `knowing', the contradictory variety of `certainties', to which drugs, tran ces, mystical states of possession and the rest give birth in human minds. (page 105)

Whatever the truth of the matter, people have frequently acquired unshakable faith from drug revelations, and continue to do so. Christopher Mayhew was convinced by his own experiences of mescaline that God exists, and that he had been in God's presence. When argued with, he would point out that he had experienced God under the drug, which the critics who questioned the reality of his experience had not done. He showed, after the mescaline experience, the calm unshakable assurance of belief which can equally come from the other methods we have described.

... People seem to obtain under drugs, or equally through mystical or revivalist or sexual techniques, what they want to obtain, or what they expect to obtain, or what conforms to the general setting and background. Converts were not possessed by Buddha at Wesley's revival meetings. (page 106)

Yet if we start using L.S.D. in a non-religious setting, we get all sorts of non-religious effects, and the same applies to mescaline. But the non-religious `truths' which take hold of a person under drugs can impress themselves on him with a religious certainty and fervour. (page 107)

And the overwhelmingly vivid and convincing nature of so many experiences reported in the same states of brain activity induced by meditation, drugs, sex, hellfire preaching, mob oratory or other mind-bending agencies, provides no evidence of their truth. (page 110)

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