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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

World Religions: Eastern Traditions.

Oxtoby, Willard G. (Editor). (1996).
Toronto: Oxford University Press.

ISBN: 0-19-540750-4

Description: Paperback, vi + 554 pages.

Contents: A Personal invitation, 7 chapters, Appendix One: Transliteration of South Asian Terms, Appendix Two: East Asian Dynastic Eras and Transliteration of Chinese Terms, acknowledgements, index.

Contributors: Roy C. Amore, Julia Ching, Willard G. Oxtoby, Vasudha Narayanan.

Excerpt(s): As late as the 1950s, two things constituted religion in the minds of many active Christians. One of these was termed 'works' that is, what one did ritually and ethically. The other was termed 'faith,' by which many meant what one believed, the doctrine to which one gave assent.

In the 1960s, the consciousness revolution introduced a third term, which for a generation now has stood beside faith and works. One can term it 'experience' that is, how one has felt intensely. Some in the sixties sought feeling in religio-chemical ecstasy through experimentation with hallucinogenic substances; more recent decades have looked back at the sixties as both rebellious and naive in this quest. Others looked to exotic cultures for depths of experience they considered the West to lack; to Zen, for instance, and Sufism, and yoga. By the early seventies, charismatic movements tapping sources of 'feeling' internal to Western Christian tradition were gaining ground in some previously staid denominations. In any event, the third term, experience, has persisted in the way we have though about religion for a generation now.

We turn for comparison to a development in the Hindu tradition 2,000 years ago. The Bhagavad Gita is a remarkable text not only for its literary beauty and for its religious depth but for the skillful synthesis that it advocates among three alternative 'ways' in religion. There is the way of works, karma marga, corresponding in both ethics and ritual to the works expected in my tradition. There is the way of knowledge, jnana marga, corresponding to the doctrinal or faith affirmations expected of me and my peers. And then the Gita outlines the way of devotion, bhakti marga, presenting it as the climax and fulfillment of the other two ways. The experiential and devotional aspect of religion has constituted Hinduism's principal appeal over the centuries since. (page 505)

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

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