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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

ETC: A Review of General Semantics.

(Special issue on psychedelics.)
Vol. XXII, No. 4, December. (1965).

ISBN: none

Description: Scholarly journal, pages 385-528 of Vol.. 22.

389Foreword, by S. I Hayakawa
393Introduction: Search and Research with the Psychedelics, by Robert E. Mogar
408Meaning and the Mind Drugs, by Richard P. Marsh
425Comments, by Humphry Osmond
431Languages: Energy Systems Sent and Received, by Timothy Leary
460Comments, by William H. McGlothlin
463Consciousness-Expansion and the Existensional World, by Stanley Krippner
475Comments, by Charles Savage
479Semantic Restraints and the Psychedelics, by Howard Jenkins
484Comments, by Arthur J. Deikman
485Just Isn't Cricket (verse), by Frederic Bessinger
486Mysticism and General Semantics, by Edward Dalton
496Comments, by Gardner Murphy
500Courses in General Semantics (IV), by Cecil J. Coleman

Book Reviews:
504Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert, The Psychedelic Experience, reviewed by W. W. Harman
510Richard Blum (ed.), The Utopiates: The Use and users of LSD-25, reviewed by James Fadiman
515Charles H. Long, Alpha: The Myths of Creation
Joseph L. Henderson and Maud Oakes, The Wisdom of the Serpent: The Myths of Death, Rebirth, and Resurrection
Alan W. Watts, The Two Hands of God: the Myths of Polarity
reviewed by Statton and Mercy Rice
520Ira Progoff, The Symbolic and the Real, reviewed by John S. Keel

Excerpt(s): For some time, judging from unsolicited manuscripts coming to ETC, it has been clear that there is widespread interest, both scientific and popular, in drug-induced psychedelic experiences. ... I am forced by my own convictions to introduce a discordant note. I am far from convinced of the therapeutic or spiritual value of the psychedelic experience. Indeed, I cannot get rid of the feeling that this issue is likely to do the world as much harm as good. In the present climate of opinion, with hallucinogens like LSD available on almost every college campus in the U.S., the glowing accounts of consciousness-expanding experiences resulting from their use under controlled conditions and responsible supervision are all too likely to be seized upon as justification for their uncontrolled use without medical or scientific supervision of any kind. (pages 3-4)

The most interesting semantic point made by contributors to this issue is that under the influence of psychedelic drugs, one is freed from the categories and symbolizations through which our experience is ordinarily presented to us, bundled, prepackaged, and labeled in terms of the linguistic conventions (and therefore perceptual habits) of the culture. To transcend these cultural imperatives is asserted to be an expanding of consciousness, so that one sees afresh presumably as if one were a child again.

But is such transcending necessarily beneficial? It is obviously an advantage if you have been long cursed with in appropriate maps of the territory of reality. From seeing afresh, you might start making better maps. It is an advantage, too, if you have long treated the map as if it were the territory that is, if you are so engrossed in the world of symbolism as to have forgotten what the symbols stand for. But what if, like a good poet or scientist, you have long been accustomed to seeing the world with consciousness of abstracting ? What if you have used symbols properly, so that you have remained constantly aware of the realities behind the symbols of the complex, uncategorizable, squirming beknottedness of space-time behind the categories? The process of abstracting, of creating classifications and making symbols that stand for them, are the normal and necessary survival mechanisms of the human class of life. What is so wonderful about suspending this great, uniquely human process, except where the process has gone awry? As Weston La Barre said in this connection, It is not immediately evident that an functioning of an adaptive organ, the brain, is necessarily functioning ...

I do not doubt that dangerous substances such as LSD temporarily shake us up and cause us to transcend habitual ways of experiencing. But transcending of itself is not enough. What happens afterward? In what ways are perceptions of the self or the environment altered or restructured for the better? What conditions produce what changes? The contributors to this issue, I am sorry to say, touch on these questions but lightly. (page 391)

But perhaps my basic reason for distrusting the dependence mind-expanding drugs is that most people haven't learned to use the senses they possess. ... And I say, why disorient your beautiful senses with drugs and poisons before you have half discovered what they can do for you? (S. I. Hayakawa, Foreword , page 392)

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