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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


Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered.

Grinspoon, Lester, and Bakalar, James B. (1981).
New York: Basic Books.


ISBN: 0-465-06451-5 paperback

0-465-06450-7 hardcover


Description: Harper Colophon Edition, xiv + 383 pages.


Contents: Preface, acknowledgments, introduction, 8 chapters, appendix: The Legal Status of Psychedelic Drugs, annotated bibliography, index.


Note: Splendid annotated bibliography by chapter and topic.


Excerpt(s): It should not be necessary to supply any more proof that psychedelic drugs produce experiences that those who undergo them regard as religious in the fullest sense. We could introduce quotations from mystics and other religious figures in the same way that we have used the words of poets and psychotics. Every kind of typically religious emotion, symbol , and insight appears during psychedelic drug trips. (pages 267-268)


Drug-induced religious and mystical experience is often reported to be unusually intense. Clark and John Knight found that psychedelic drugs produced more transcendental states than the services of charismatic religious faiths, especially in the categories of blessedness, peace, holiness, timelessness, loss of self, terror, dying, and rebirth. Alan Watts describes his second and third LSD trips as deeper than his previous spontaneous ecstatic experiences. John Blofeld, an American who had long practiced Buddhist meditation in an effort to reach enlightenment, recounts that he took mescaline and surrendering to what seemed like madness and death after an hour of mental torture, attained a state of profound peace in which the truths of Buddhism were revealed to him in immediate awareness. He says that mescaline provided (momentarily) what he had not achieved in long years of meditation. (page 268)


Despite all this, there has been a stubborn reluctance to concede that drug-induced religious or mystical experiences can be even subjectively as powerful and authentic as religious visitations from other sources. The topic seems to evoke the same annoyance and resentment as claims of consciousness expansion. Obviously there is no way to convince an unyielding skeptic about this, since the quality of two subjective experiences can never be shown to be identical, and there is no in fallible authority-not even a modest consensus-on what qualifies as genuine religious experience. All we can say is that the testimony of those who have undergone psychedelic religious experiences suggests that the drug-induced kind is not obviously different or inferior in its immediate quality. (page 270)


The religious life, holiness, salvation, enlightenment, satori, moksha-no matter how this elusive condition is described, it can never be guaranteed by a momentary ecstasy, however profound and however often repeated; it requires some form of tradition, discipline, and practice. That was what counterculture leaders like Ram Dass meant when they told their admirers to go beyond LSD. (page 272)



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