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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

Mysticism and Philosophy.

Stace, W. T. (1960).
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.

ISBN: none

Description: Hardcover, 349 pages.

Contents: Preface, 8 chapters, index.

Excerpt(s): The principle of causal indifference is this: If X has an alleged mystical experience P1 and Y has an alleged mystical experience P2, and if the phenomenological characteristics of P1 entirely resemble the phenomenological characteristics of P2 so far as can be ascertained from the descriptions given by X and Y, then the two experiences cannot be regarded as being of two different kinds—for example, it cannot be said that one is a "genuine" mystical experience while the other is not—merely because they arise from dissimilar causal conditions.

The principle seems logically self-evident. At present it is perhaps not very important and may have no wide application to established facts. But it might become important in the future. It is introduced here because it is sometimes asserted that mystical experiences can be induced by drugs, such as mescalin, lysergic acid, etc. On the other hand, those who have achieved mystical states as a result of long and arduous spiritual exercises, fasting and prayer, or great moral efforts, possibly spread over many years, are inclined to deny that a drug can induce a "genuine" mystical experience, or at least look askance at such practices and such a claim. Our principle says that if the phenomenological descriptions of the two experiences are indistinguishable, so far as can be ascertained, then it cannot be denied that if one is a genuine mystical experience the other is also. This will follow notwithstanding the lowly antecedents of one of them, and in spite of the understandable annoyance of an ascetic, a saint, or a spiritual hero, who is told that his careless and worldly neighbor, who never did anything to deserve it, has attained to mystical consciousness by swallowing a pill. (pages 29-30)

Another application of our principle which might be quoted arises in connection with the second of the three well-known periods of mystical illumination in the life of Jakob Boehme. This second illumination is stated to have been induced by gazing at a polished disc. Looking at a polished surface seems just as lowly and unspiritual a causal condition of mystical experience as the taking of a drug. Yet no one, I believe, will deny that Jakob Boehme was a "genuine" mystic. (Pages 30-31)

Those who think that a mescalin experience cannot possibly be a genuine mystical experience, however indistinguishable therefrom it may be in its phenomenology, might also reflect on the fact that the contemplation of running water caused St. Ignatius Loyola to pass into a state of extrovertive mystical consciousness in which he "came to comprehend spiritual things." (page 70)

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