Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy
Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index
Varieties of Religious Experience.
James, William. (1958).
New American Library: New York.
Description: Mentor paperback
edition, xviii + 388 pages (pages 1-18 ar Roman numbers, 19-406
are Arabic numbers). "A Study of Human Nature Being the Gifford
Lectures on Natural Religion Delivered at Edinburgh
in 1901-1902." Originally published in 1902.
Contents: Forward by
Jacques Barzun, preface, 20 lectures, postscript,
Excerpt(s): Nitrous oxide
and ether, especially nitrous oxide, when sufficiently diluted
with air, stimulate the mystical consciousness in an extraordinary
degree. Depth beyond depth of truth seems revealed to the inhaler.
This truth fades out, however, or escapes, at the moment of coming
to; and if any words remain over which it seemed to clothe itself,
they would prove to be the veriest nonsense. Nevertheless, the
sense of a profound meaning having been there persists; and I
know more than one person who is persuaded that in the nitrous
oxide trance we have a genuine metaphysical revelation.
Some years ago I myself made some observations on
this aspect of nitrous oxide intoxication, and reported them in
print. One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and
my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It
is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness
as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst
all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there
lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may
go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply
the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their
completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere
have their field of application and adaptation. No account of
the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other
forms of consciousness quite discarded. How to regard them is
the question,--for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness.
Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas,
and open a region though they fail to give a map. At any rate,
they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality.
Looking back at my own experiences, they all converge towards
a kind of insight to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical
significance. The keynote of it is invariably a reconciliation.
It is as if the opposites of the world, whose contradictoriness
and conflict make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted
into unity. ... Those who have ears to hear, let them hear; to
me the living sense of its reality only comes in the artificial
mystic state of mind.
I just now spoke of friends who believe in the anaesthetic
revelation. For them too it is a monistic insight, in which the
other in its various forms appears absorbed into the One.
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This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP