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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

Understanding Mysticism.

Woods, Richard. (Editor). (1980).
Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co.

ISBN: 0-385-15117-9

Description: Paperback original, xii + 586 pages.

Contents: Introduction, 36 chapters divided into 5 parts: 1. Descriptions, Analysis and Methodological Concerns, 2. The Field of Inquiry: M ysticism in World Religions, 3. Scientific Investigations, 4. Philosophical and Aesthetic Evaluations, 5. Theological Appraisals, bibliography, index.

Contributors: W. H. Auden, Frank Bergson, Louis Brown, S. N. Deikman, Louis Fisher, Matthew Galilea, Etienne Hartshorne, John Hocking, William Knowles, Vladimir Marechal, Jacques Nicholson, Robert E. Penelhum, Raymond H. Scholem, Ninian Smith, Frits Suzuki, Evelyn Wapnick, R. C. Zaehner.

Excerpt(s): The most striking element in the American metaphysical movement today is the preoccupation of middle-class youth with mystical experience. Mysticism is strongly linked with the use of psychedelic drugs on the one hand, and with a variety of contemplative traditions on the other. (page 338)

... Let us, for a start, give the movement a name: Neotranscendentalism. It includes the ever incasing number of people who (1) reject traditional Western acquisitive and economic values, (2) are concerned with the mystical, (3) wish to develop more direct, less role-oriented interpersonal relationships, and (4) are interested in communal and cooperative lifestyles of living rather than isolationist, competitive patterns. As with all religious movements, there is of course a core of dedicated practitioners and a much large number of sympathizers. A characteristic which distinguishes Neotranscendentalists from most other religious movements, however, is its lack of homogeneity and dogma. ... (page 345-346)

The Neotranscendentalists clearly have their parallels in the bohemians of earlier eras, most directly in such bohemian groups as those which occupied Greenwich Village during the twenties and thirties. ... The Neotranscendentalists, however, do not see salvation as a matter of changing locale but changing consciousness. (page 345)

Neotranscendentalism, then, can be regarded as a self-imposed rite of passage. Instead of the secret grove or sacred hut, contemporary youth remove themselves to pads in the dim hearts of cities, or to communes in the California hills. They may withdraw for periods of months or years. The essential task is a psychological metamorphosis-a kind of cocoon work-shucking parental authority and making-ready to accept the responsibilities for spouse and family. (page 348)

Wallace's concept of revitalization movement should be considered. He has defined revitalization movements as "deliberate, organized attempts by some members of society to construct a more satisfying culture by rapid acceptance of a pattern of multiple innovations." ...

He describes the various steps through which the culture passes on the road to revitalization: from its original steady state through a period of increased individual stress, with widespread anomie and disillusionment; a period of cultural distortion in which piecemeal and ineffectual individual solutions are attempted, such as alcoholism, "black market," breaches of kin or sexual mores, gambling, etc; and finally the period of revitalization. He points out that revitalization depends on the successful completion of a number of stages. First, there is the formulation of a code. An individual or group must construct a new utopian image of cultural organization. Not infrequently the new code is formulated during the course of hallucinatory revelation or mystical experience. The second step is the communication of the new code to a band of followers. The code is usually offered as a means of spiritual salvation for the individual and of cultural salvation for the society. Finally, as the movement gains momentum new institutions based on the code are organized, with subsequent widespread acceptance and routinization. (page 350)

But whether these implicit goals of the Neotranscendentalists will be found widely acceptable or socially viable is another question. And how far they will get with such a Herculean task, even armed with that most powerful of metamorphic engines-the mystical state-only the future can tell. (page 353)

This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP

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