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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

Realms of the Unconscious: The Enchanted Frontier

Nalimov, V. V. (1982)
Philadelphia: ISI Press.

ISBN: 0-89495-020-7

Description: Hardcover, xviii + 320 pages.

Content(s): Foreword by Robert G. Colodny, preface, acknowledgments, 18 chapters in 5 parts: 1. Language of Probablistic Vision of the World, 2. Internal time, 3. Nothing, 4. Experiment, 5. Remarks on the World Holisticty, references, index of names, index of subjects.

Note: Color plates follow page 196. Illustrated by V. S. Gribkov. Translated from Russian by A. V. Yarkho.

Excerpt(s): It should be noted that LSD does not specifically affect people. According to Grof, LSD has a low level of toxicity and a wide range of safety. This drug performs the role of a trigger and then of an intensifier, bringing to the surface and intensifying what exists within the subject's deep consciousness. Thus we see that the possibility of the modified, temporal state of consciousness, different from that accepted in our culture, is built into us. Perhaps Kant divined this when he asserted that space and time are forms of sensory contemplation given to us outside our experience. (page 51)

... Religious experience is again a projection of the unconscious on the psychological subspace with a very peculiar choice of coordinate axes. Some researchers managed to discover in religious traditions results of experimental studies of the unconscious systematically carried out for ages.

Another experimental device directed to the same end was the use of psychedelic drugs. From time immemorial they had been used in many religious systems to provide the easiest way of entree into the uncon-scious. In our time the synthesis of LSD gave psychiatrists an extremely powerful means for exerting a directed influence on the human psyche. Of special interest in this respect is the book by the Czech researcher Grof (1975) now working in the United States, which describes a 17-year clinical experience of applying LSD to deliberately provide the entree into the unconscious (later in this book we discuss his results). (pages 97-98)

In our experiment to be described in detail in the Chapters 13-15, we stopped the inner dialogue of our participants by means of auto-training (AT), relaxation achieved by self-regulation and provoked by suggestive influence on the patient (or subject). This process results in a de-automatization of consciousness, by removing logical structuring. The cessation of the inner dialogue is a stage preceding the meditation proper. (page 100)

Here we would like to emphasize the fact that our results have much in common with those described in the book by Grof, mentioned above. His method of research consisted of applying LSD, which is a much more powerful instrument than AT and also is convenient because its doses can be gradually increased to provide the entrance into the unconscious at a deeper and deeper level. His book was based on experiments carried out in clinics for 17 years with a therapeutic purpose. Psychologically interesting results appeared at the final stage of the therapy. Our experiments are to a certain extent comparable with Grof's results only because in our case the weak degree of relaxation achieved by AT was strengthened by the interaction with the key words-symbols. ...

If up to the recent past the technique of recollecting past incarnations entered the secret, esoteric part of some religious teachings, now, after the discovery of LSD, it has become an object of clinical studies. This is noteworthy in itself: science begins to acquaint itself with the facts known in certain religious experience from time immemorial. Another thing is also of importance: the teaching of reincarnation which was known not only in the Far East but also in early gnostic Christianity, in the teachings of the Orphics and of Pythagoras, was formed on the basis of real experience. At the same time we are far from thinking that this experience immediately generates the naive conception of karma as a rigid law of cause and effect. Trying to be cautious, we assume that the reincarnation identifications are a sufficiently significant basis for elaborating the idea of a transpersonal and transtemporal (extra-historical) nature of the unconscious.

The book by Grof contains the facts that allow us to formulate the following conception of the transtemporal nature of the unconscious: ontologically, the unconscious in its integrity comprises everything which, in its historical manifestation, seems to us to occur at various points of the same scale. Grof's patients reported semantic revelations of the unconscious which, to our mind, could also have occurred in the past, sometimes in the remote past. ...

We believe that it is these and similar manifestations of semantics that gave rise to all the instances of a holistic vision of the world, including here Whitehead, Smuts, and St. Francis of Assisi as well as the gnostic Christians, especially Manichaeans, who had asserted the omnipresence of Christ-under the roadside stone, in the road dust, and in the air. Incidentally, some of the texts recorded during our experiments, e.g., those which describe freedom as a passage through innumerable worlds, are of an obviously gnostic nature. The unconscious seems to preserve the semantics which long ago gave birth to a gnostic interpretation of Christianity. (pages 205 - 208)

Extremely interesting are the manifestations of the semantics of the unconscious which can be compared to mythology, occultism, mysticism of religious teaching, and science fiction. Among them are the following: meetings with astral bodies; revelation of new communication channels with the universe; the faculty of speaking unfamiliar foreign languages (compare with the Christian Pentecost when the apostles "began to speak in other tongues" and the phenomenon of glossolalia); detailed description of seeing Gods and demons and their relation to corresponding cultures; stories minutely corresponding to the myths of Mesopotamia, India, Egypt, Greece, Central America, and other countries; startlingly detailed accounts of the sequence of experiences and purely theoretical basis of Kundalini Yoga; discovery of other strange and alienated worlds, existence of other dimensions in the worlds co-existent with our world, the feeling of the Universal Consciousness and metacosmic Void which turn out to be the same. ...

We see with amazement and admiration that Grof managed during a very short period, only 17 years, to lift the veil over the creative laboratory of culture of the whole of mankind. In ancient times the mystery was guarded by the requirements of esoterism; nowadays it is protected by the rigid logical structure of Western consciousness. For some reason or other, the time has come to show people the sources of their creativity which link them to the Universe. Everything began with LSD, a compound synthesized by chance. But was it really by chance?

The corollary significance of this discovery remains hard to evaluate. We believe it to be a turning point in the history of Western culture, but it will require many years to comprehend and master what is discovered.

We are very glad that the results of our much more modest experiments have much in common with what was obtained by Grof (we had carried out our experiments and discussed their results before we became acquainted with Grof's work). It is important that our results were obtained by means of much simpler and more natural procedures. ...

In an attempt to comprehend the results obtained by Grof, we can make an important step toward the construction of a model of the unconscious: ontologically, the unconscious has an extra-temporal nature. We see that the unconscious is always ready to manifest the semantics which had already been manifested some time long ago. Nothing disappears in the irrevocable past. Strange as it may seem, we return here to ancient gnostic conceptions, according to which God as a fundamental principle existed outside of time. (pages 210 - 211)

The reliability of Grof's results is supported by their similarity to our experimental results. The possibility of a random or erroneous coincidence of some very important results and texts obtained by different researchers and in different countries who worked, besides, with essentially different subjects and used essentially different techniques has a very low probability. (page 212)

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