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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

Music and Your Mind: Listening with a New Consciousness

Bonny, Helen L., and Savary, Louis M. (1973)
New York: Harper & Row.

ISBN: 06-068067-3

Description: Hardcover, rebound first edition, 192 pages.

Contents: Author's note, introduction, 9 chapters, Appendix A: Toward a Theory of Consciousness and Music, Appendix B: The Mood Wheel, Appendix C: Musical Suggestions.

Note: Readers of this chretomathy may especially enjoy Chapter 6 "Music and Religious Experience," and Chapter 7 "Exercises for Religious Experience."

Excerpt(s): Extraordinarily exciting experiences with music happened in 1972 at the Iceland meeting of the First International Conference on Psychobiology and Transpersonal Psychology. For one week, over sixty people, aged nineteen to ninety, from all over the world, took over Bifrost, a fashionable summer resort in the lava field wilderness of Iceland, at the foot of a majestic volcanic crater. Surrounded by the unspoiled beauty of arctic nature in the land of the midnight sun, psychologists, anthropologists, mythologists, artists, scientists, historians, psychiatrists, healers, theologians, and many others gathered to share their pathways to transpersonal experience.

The purpose of the conference was to bring together scientific researchers from disciplines related to the study of consciousness, to exchange and integrate information, to discuss specific methodologies and formulate new directions for research efforts. Special emphasis was placed on altered states of consciousness, psychobiology, transcendental states and psychic healing.

No formal papers were read. Rather, long periods of time were available for participants to work together. Thus, in an afternoon it was possible to cross paths with experts in voluntary control of internal states, meditation, psychedelic drugs, hypnosis, dreams, autogenic training, sensory isolation, mysticism, psychic healing, spiritual healing, transpersonal growth, and brain biochemistry. (pages 119-120)

During Mozart's "Laudate Dominum" I found myself moving towards more profoundly meaningful experiences. I recognized that I was entering mystical dimensions of consciousness that previously I had known only with the assistance of psychedelic drugs. The inner space continued to expand and become increasingly filled with light. The sense of movement continued towards the beautiful form of a goddess, reminiscent of the Virgin Mary; then, it seemed as though I passed through this form and, in so doing, shifted to another level of consciousness.

From this point on, it becomes very difficult to describe the experience. My ego, or usual sense of self, would re-emerge, usually at the beginning of a new section of the music. I recognized Elgar's Ninth Variation, the "Sanctus" from Gounod's Saint Cecilia Mass and the "Transfiguration" section from Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration. Then, however, it would cease to "observe" or "exist" and would dissolve into a realm of eternal essence. There seemed to be movement back and forth between essence and existence, between transcendent forms of consciousness and my usual state of being. My dominant feelings were those of love and tenderness, and most of all, of joy. As the ecstasy grew in intensity, I found tears running down my cheeks. Intuitively, I realized that all human suffering was compassionately integrated into the vast, exquisitely beautiful, multidimensional structure of ultimate, unitive Being. Clearly, from this perspective, there could be no basis for anxiety. Time did not exist—only an eternal awareness that encompassed the past and the future. There was no death, only transmutation of energy from one form to another, and perhaps to yet another and another. (report of one of the participants, pages 126-127)

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