Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
The Spirit of Shamanism.
Walsh, Roger. (1990).
Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher.
Description: First edition
hardcover, x + 285 pages.
- ISBN: 0-87477-562-0 hardcover
- 0-87477-580-9 paperback
22 chapters in 6 parts: I. What
and Why is Shamanism?, II. The Life of
the Shaman, III. The Shaman's Universe,
States of Mind, VI. Ancient
Tradition in a Modern World, epilogue, quotations, bibliography,
Note: Walsh uses his
discussion of historical and anthropological shamanism as a basis
for discussing transpersonal psychology and related events in
psychology, philosophy, religion, and current thought.
Excerpt(s): Five major
arguments have been advanced to suggest that drug experiences
can never be truly mystical (1) Some drug experiences are clearly
anything but mystical and beneficial. (2) The experiences induced
by drugs are actually different from those of genuine mystics.
(3) Mystical rapture is a gift from God that can never be brought
under merely human control. (4) Drug-induced experiences are too
quick and easy and can hardly be identical to those hard won by
years of contemplative discipline. (5) The aftereffects of drug-induced
experiences are different, less beneficial, and less long-lasting
than those of contemplatives. There are several possible answers
to each of these concerns.
There is no doubt that some-in fact many-drug experiences
are anything but mystical. ...
The next question concerns whether drug and natural
mystical experiences are experientially the same. Research suggests
that "descriptively drug experiences cannot be distinguished
from their natural religious counterparts." In philosophical
terms, drug and natural mystical experiences are phenomenologically
(experientially or descriptively) identical. (page 170)
The third argument, that mystical rapture is a gift
from God that can never be brought under human control, will only
seem plausible to those people who hold certain specific theological
beliefs. It would hardly be regarded as a valid argument by religions
such as Buddhism, for example, that do not believe in an all-powerful
creator God. Nor presumably would it appeal to Christians
who believe more in the power of good works than of grace.
The complaint that drug experiences are too quick
and easy to be genuine is readily understandable. After all, it
hardly seems fair that a contemplative should labor for decades
for a sip of what the drug user may effortlessly swim in for hours.
However, unfair of not, if the states are experientially identical,
then the fact that they arise from different causes may be irrelevant.
Technically this has been called "the principle of causal
indifference." Simply stated, this means that if two experiences
are identical it matters not one whit how they are caused.
The final argument against the equivalence of drug
and natural mystical states is that they may result in different
long-term effects. One again Huston Smith
has put the case eloquently. He notes that "drugs appear
to induce religious experiences: it is less evident that they
can produce religious lives." (page 171)
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP