Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Modern Mystics and Sages.
Bancroft, Anne. (1978).
London: Granada Publishing.
xvi + 256 pages.
Contents: Preface, acknowledgments,
11 chapters, index.
Note: First published
by William Heinemann Ltd. in 1976 under the title Twentieth
Century Mystics and Sages.
knows that he knows must be amazed," says Alan
Watts. And it is just this sense of existential wonder that forms
the background to this book. "Who am I?" and "What
is this world that I am in?" are the questions that arise
from the awareness that I am. To find the answers, people feel
a need to go beyond words and to experience the truth about
themselves. It is this longing for real meaning that has led many
to look for guidance from the mystics and sages who, consequently,
have leaped into prominence.
It is the purpose of this book to present a number
of such modern spiritual leaders from all religions and from none-representatives
of new paths to religious truth. (page vii)
Three criteria have governed the choice of subjects
for this book. One criterion has been integrity of approach; another
has been the international reputation of the sage; the third has
been the originality of his teaching. (pages vii-viii)
A mystic seeks direct experience of, and communion
with, the divine; his whole life centres around this purpose.
He tends to be solitary and to communicate his understanding through
books. A sage, on the other hand, is a wise man who is perceptive,
discerning, and thoughtful about life in general. He, too, pivots
himself on the wish to experience the truth of existence and he,
too, may write a lot of books. But he tends to be more outward-turned
than the mystic and more taken up with teaching and advising;
he originates methods and attracts disciples. (page viii)
Mescaline gave [ Aldous Huxley]
the actual experience of a condition in which duality was transce nded
("no subject, no object", he kept repeating happily),
for which he had been searching so long. Religions had helped
him to approach this state intellectually but had never taken
him there, and, in fact, during the early part of his life, he
had discarded dogmatic religion altogether and had developed a
cynical agnosticism, especially when he visited India in 1925:
"One is all for religion," he wrote, "until one
visits a really religious country. Then, one is all for drains,
machinery and the minimum wage." (page 6)
Because both mescaline and lysergic acid (LSD) had
played such a remarkable part in Huxley's "enlightenment",
he regarded them as entirely beneficial, a means of saving the
human race. He argued that because most believers regard God as
entirely spirit, only to be approached by spiritual means, they
would not believe that a divine experience could be brought about
by chemical conditioning. But, he said, "In one way or another,
all our experiences are chemically conditioned, and if
we imagine that some of them are purely `spiritual', purely `intellectual',
purely `aesthetic', it is merely because we have never troubled
to investigate the internal chemical environment at the moment
of their occurrence."
He emphasized that the methods used by all religions,
from yogic breathing to hymn singing, are really devised to create
a chemical change in the body-extra carbon dioxide in the blood
stream. (page 9)
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