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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

Secularization and Spirituality.

Duquoc, Christian. (Editor). (1969).
New York: Paulist Press.

ISBN: None

Description: Hardcover, viii + 179 pages. Series: Concilium: Theology in the Age of Renewal, Vol. 49, various translators.

Contents: Preface, 13 chapters divided into 3 parts: 1. Articles, 2. Bibliographic Survey, 3. Documentation Concilium, biographical notes.

Contributors: Andre Aubry, Jacques-Albert Cuttat, Claude Geffre, William Johnson, Liselotte Mettler, Rene Remond, William Sterling.

Note: The chapter " Psychedelic Drugs and Religious Experiences" by Dominique Salman is most relevant to readers of this guide (pages 121-130).

Excerpt(s): Suppose that the psychedelic experience is deliberately undertaken by a sincerely religious subject who expressly wants to take it to deepen and reinforce his religious beliefs and convictions. He undergoes the experience under the watchful eye of competent psychiatrists. In this case, the subject's activity would certainly be religious, and there is no reason why it should not remain religious during the experiment. This would be all the more true, insofar as he would be constantly guided by the suggestions of those assisting him in the experiment. In such a case one cannot question the religious nature of the experience.

On the other hand, it seems to me that we have every right to question the spiritual quality of the process and its results. Under the influence of the drug, the reflections of the subject certainly become less lucid, and his behavior less autonomous. Moreover, he places himself in a position of profound dependence on the people who are guiding and assisting him through it. How can a person believe in the divine character of an experience which he himself has initiated, which owes its basic context to his own prior beliefs and those of his assistants, and which is convincing only because of the credulity that he himself has set free? Under such circumstances one can hardly believe that he is engaged in spiritual progress that is tied up with God's action. At the most he can believe in the reality of a therapeutic activity which transforms certain personality structures and thus facilitates a real religious undertaking. (page 129)

It matters little that these new beliefs may be "true," or regarded as true by the subject and his assistants. For it is their quality, not their content, that is the problem here. A religious man should believe freely, in the light of authentic religious experiences that he has undergone lucidly and by personal effort. His religious beliefs should not stem from fixations that were formed artificially in a delirious state. His good intentions and motivations are not in question here. It is the quality of his religious belief that is in question, along with the personality structure that has produced it. (page 130)

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