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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 Psychobiology of Consciousness.

Davidson, Julian M., and Davidson, Richard J. (Editors). (1980).
New York: Plenum.

ISBN: 0-306-40138-X

Description: Hardcover, xviii + 489 pages.

Contents: Contributors, foreword, 15 chapters, index.

Contributors: Seymour M. Antelman, Anthony R. Caggiula, Julian M. Davidson, Richard J. Davidson, Stephen Franklin, Gordon Globus, E. Roy John, Kenneth S. Pope, Karl S. Pribram, Marjorie Schuman, Jerome L. Singer, Charles T. Tart.

Note: Chapter 13 " Toward a Psychobiology of Transcendence: God in the Brain" by Arnold J. Mandell will be of interest to readers of this guide.

Excerpt(s): The "delusional" quality of these episodes [in temporal lobe epileptics] should be addressed. The experience of a sudden attack of all-encompassing ecstasy followed by empathic beatitude with no external explanation-such as having taken a drug, having engaged in meditation, or having a near brush with death-leads understandably to a projection of its source to God. A projective mechanism for interpreting an event felt but difficult to locate in space may be a fundamental feature of human brain functioning. (page 436)

It is tempting to speculate that hippocampal-septal slow waves associated with transcendent consciousness-while improving personality features, disposition, and insightful empathy-reduce bonding with others as the source of instinctual pleasure. The Bhagavad Gita suggests that transcendent consciousness is associated with "detachment" from objects of desire, occurring automatically on the attainment of higher states of consciousness. (page 437)

... Accounts of spontaneous religious ecstasy and conversion characteristically include a preceding period of depression, melancholia, pain, suffering, and duress. The most characteristic pattern (1) begins with increasing discomfort and anxiety, including attempts at sleep or social withdrawal, which (2) climax in an ecstatic luminescence of insight and ecstasy and (3) are followed by long periods of "saintliness." Mimicked well by the effects of hallucinogens, this struggle to luminescence and its glowing aftermath have been called many things, depending on the context: William James called it a "mystical experience." Saint Paul called it "the peace that passeth understanding"; Thomas Merton, the "transcendental unconscious"; Maslow, "peak experience"; Gurdjieff, "objective consciousness"; the Quakers, "inner light"; Jung, "individuation"; Lao Tse, "the absolute Tao"; Zen Buddhism, "satori"; Yogis, "samadhi"; Saint John of the Cross, "living flame"; The Tibetan Book of the Dead, "luminosity"; Saint Teresa,"ecstasy"; Blake, "divine intuition"; Buddha, "awake"; Brother Lawrence, "unclouded vision"; Jacob Boehme, "light, which is the heart of God"; Philo Judaes, "joyful with exceeding gravity"; Plotinus, "divine spirit"; Colin Wilson, "intensity experience"; Eliade, "shamanic ecstasy"; Arthur Clarke, "overmind"; Arthur Deikman, "deautomatization"; a Harvard undergraduate on LSD, "moment of truth"; Julian Silverman (about an aspect of the acute schizophrenic reaction), "the oceanic fusion of higher and lower referential process"; Walter Wasson (about mushrooms), "the dawning of a new world"; Myerhoff (about peyote), "mystic vision"; Tennyson, "the loss of personality seeking not extinction but the only true life"; Hinduism, "that"; and Ramon the Huichol, "Our life." Are they the same? The Eastern comparative religionist Alan Watts, after his second LSD experience, answered "embarrassingly" so. Like sexual orgasm, however, full of many of the same ineffable qualities and similarly associated with long-lasting metaphysical feelings like "being in love," manifestations of the same nervous system reflex are often variously embellished by personality and culture. (page 438-439)

... all may be manifestations of the drive-arrest-release sequence in biogenic amine inhibitory systems, releasing temporal lobe limbic, hippocampal-septal hypersynchrony that lasts for long periods after discharge. They all may reflect the neurobiological mechanisms underlying transcendence., God in the brain. (page 439)

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