Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The New Religions.
Needleman, Jacob. (1970).
Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.
Description: Hardcover, xiv + 245 pages.
Contents: Preface, 10 chapters, references, index.
Excerpt(s): In a word, something makes us unable to have the
experiences we seek, because something makes us unable to have
experience itself. We are always seeking, expecting.
This is the basis of what appears to be the anti-religious nature of
much of Zen writing. If religion strengthens, instead of dissolves, the
mental habit of expecting, it ceases to operate as a means of realization
When such ideas first appeared in contemporary America, many
people especially the young took them as sanctioning a sort of
libertinism. But they obviously provide no such sanction, since libertinism
under any name is equally the seeking for certain kinds of experience.
DRUGS AND EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCE
This misconception naturally brings up the question of drugs and
the drug experience. Regarded in this way, it is already clear why the
taking of drugs forms no part of the practice at Zen Center. To take
drugs is to crave a certain experience. And to crave a certain
experience is to deny, now and here, the Buddha nature of oneself; it is
to believe that, now and here, one is incomplete. In this belief, one denies
the present possibility of experiencing oneself, and one lives in and for
the future no less than someone craving a life beyond the grave. In
Zen this is called deluded thinking.
Nonetheless, almost all of the American students I interviewed
spoke with respect of drugs such as LSD. Some said that without the
drug experience they would never have been opened up to the
possibilities in themselves which are being realized in their Zen practice.
Drugs gave them, so to say, a taste or glimpse of enlightenment. yet
those who continue to take drugs almost never persist beyond the
beginning stages of practice at the Zen Center. Conversely, those who
persist gradually reduce and, eventually, stop the use of drugs. (pages
Indirectly, and over a long period of time, the desire itself for the
drug experience comes to be experienced. As the desire is experienced,
it is placed not in so many words, perhaps as merely one among all
the other desires and aspects of the personality. (page 45)
The problem of drugs and its relationship to work comes, then, to
this: where shall we find an approach to man and to ourselves which is
wide enough to include all parts of ourselves? Since the one thing which
the drug experience does not provide is a taste of discipline, one cannot
really say that it provides an advance view of spiritual work, which is
the continual effort to live in the present. At the same time, in our society
the demands of everyday, ordinary work engage such a small part of
ourselves that by and large the rest of us languishes and is forgotten.
Perhaps the search for an inner life, whether with drugs or without
them, is totally misguided without the simultaneous search for a more
complete outer life. (page 218)
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Compilation copyright © 1995 2001 CSP