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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 Natural Mind: A New Way of Looking at Drugs and the Higher Consciousness.

Weil, Andrew. (1972).
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

ISBN: 0-395-13936-8

Description: First edition, first printing, vi + 229 pages.

Contents: 9 chapters, acknowledgments, afterword, works cited, suggested reading, index.

Excerpt(s): When you ask a question in research and the data come back in this unhelpful way-that is: sometimes yes, sometimes no, most of the time it makes no difference-there is meaning in the result. The meaning is: you have asked the wrong question. In particular, you have tried to make something a causal variable which is not a causal variable. (page 8)

It is my belief that the desire to alter consciousness periodically is an innate, normal drive analogous to hunger or the sexual drive. Note that I do not say "desire to alter consciousness by means of chemical agents." Drugs are merely one of the means of satisfying this drive; there are many others ... (page 19)

To be sure, many of the pronouncements of religious leaders about drugs are just as biased as those of physicians and psychologists. The assertion that spiritual experiences triggered by LSD are "not genuine" belongs in this category. ... It would seem obvious that the only meaningful criterion for the genuineness of any spiritual experience-whether or not it occurs in association with a drug-is the effect it has on a person's life. I would be suspicious of a person who had "spiritual experiences" with LSD every weekend and kept up all of his old behavior patterns. I would be impressed with a person who manifested spirituality in his life after a profound LSD experience.

Now it is interesting that people who begin to move in a spiritual direction in connection with drug experimentation sooner or later look for other methods of maintaining their experiences. One sees many long-time drug users give up drugs for meditation, for example, but one does not see any long-time meditators give up meditation to become acid heads. This observation supports the contention that the highs obtainable by means of meditation are better than the highs obtainable through drugs-a contention phrased not in moral terms but simply in practical ones.

It is also interesting that every major religion and system of mind development that stresses the value of direct experience urges the avoidance of chemical highs. Yoga and Buddhism are both very clear on this point, for example, even though both recognize that drugs are effective means of altering consciousness. (pages 67-68)

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