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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

Zen, Drugs and Mysticism.

Zaehner, R. C. (1972).
New York: Pantheon.

ISBN: 0-394-48540-8

Description: First American edition, 223 pages.

Contents: Foreword, 7 chapters, index.

Note: Originally published in Drugs, Mysticism and Makebelieve. This book is an expansion of a series of three talks delivered on BBC3 and subsequently printed in The Listener on 5, 12 and 19 November 1970 under the title of ` Theology, Drugs and Zen'.

Excerpt(s): This lively and learned critique of contemporary mysticism contrasts the consciousness-expanding claims of drug enthusiasts and assorted occultists with the spiritual discipline and principles of real mystical experience. ... He finds little significant religious value in contemporary `solutions' ranging from Monod's position that science is the only true knowledge, to Zen, LSD, Krishna consciousness, and Pope John's call for love in the world. (jacket)

From what we have said in the last chapter it would seem clear why the Christian establishment should disapprove of the use of psychedelic drugs. First there is an instinctive religious reaction that it is sacrilegious to suppose that the use of drugs can produce the same transports as have been recorded in the history of Christian mysticism. This reaction is instinctive, not rational. Secondly, in circles traditionally opposed to mysticism even in its Christian form, the habitual identification by the users of psychedelic drugs of their `peak' experience with the experiences recorded in Hindu and Buddhist literature in which `God' appears not as a person but as an eternal and unconditioned state of being-what Dr Leary calls the `timeless energy process around you'-must appear doubly suspicious; for the implication is that the personal God they claim to experience in faith does not really exist because many Hindus and most Buddhists do not experience him in this way at all but claim to experience him, or rather `it', immediately in the innermost core of their being. The instinctive Christian reaction to this is one of panic, for when their `blind' faith-the usual gibe levelled at them not only by the psychedelic extremists but also by neo-Zen Buddhists and neo-Vedantins-is contrasted with the certainty the latter feel about the absolute reality of the unity of the universe in an eternal Now and an omnipresent Here, they may well feel that `seeing through a glass darkly' as they do and not `face to face', they may have to reconsider the very foundations of their faith. And this was precisely the predicament of Jung's father, a pious and conventional Protestant pastor, who had the misfortune to have a son who from his earliest boyhood had direct experiences of God and what he called `God's world' that were quite beyond his comprehension. Finally, of course, he did lose his faith, became subject to intensely depressive moods, and died a soured and embittered man. (Chapter 4, LSD and Zen, pages 112-113)

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

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