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Ought it to be assumed that in all men the mixture of religion with other elements should be identical? Ought it, indeed, to be assumed that the lives of all men should show identical religious elements? In other words, is the existence of so many religious types and sects and creeds regrettable?

To these questions I answer 'No' emphatically. And my reason is that I do not see how it is possible that creatures in such different positions and with such different powers as human individuals are, should have exactly the same functions nor should we be expected to work out identical solutions. Each, from his peculiar angle of observation, takes in a certain sphere of fact and trouble, which each must deal with in a unique manner.

--William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902, New American Library edition 1958) p. 368.

There exists an abundance of evidence to indicate that mind-changing drugs have been used since remotest antiquity by many of the peoples of the earth, and have importantly affected the course of human history. The plant sources of these drugs--the visionary vegetables--have been worshiped as gods in many times and places, and the persons employing the drugs as a means of acquiring ``super-natural powers'' have been the priests, prophets, visionaries, and other leaders of their respective societies. East and West, civilized and primitive, religious thought and all that flows from it almost certainly has been importantly influenced by the psychedelic drugs...

--R.E.L. Masters and Jean Houston, The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966) p 36.

The conclusion to which evidence currently points would seem to be that chemicals can aid the religious life, but only where set within a context of faith (meaning by this the conviction that what they disclose is true) and discipline (meaning diligent exercise of the will in the attempt to work out the implications of the disclosures for the living of life in the everyday, common-sense world).

--Huston Smith, ``Do Drugs Have Religious Import?,'' The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. LXI No. 18, October 1, 1964, p 529-530.

There is no question that psychedelic substances are remarkable graces. The farther one can reach in to the vastness to be explored, the more one realizes how powerful these materials are. There seems to be no end to the levels of awareness that can be realized by those who use them to explore their psyches with integrity and courage.

The great value in these chemicals is that, in some way still not scientifically explained, they dissolve the boundaries to the unconscious mind. They give us access to our repressed and forgotten material, to the Shadow that C.G. Jung so effectively dealt with, to the archetypes of humanity, to an enormous range of levels of thought, and to the wellspring of creativity and mystical experience that Jung called the collective unconscious.

At the heart of the unconscious is what many experience as the source of life itself, and which some call God. Those who have experienced this describe it as a wondrous, ineffable source of light and energy that infuses all of creation, embracing all wisdom and radiating a vast, unending, and ever-constant love. Immersion in this is the essence of the mystical experience and produces what the great mystics have described as the state of unity or oneness. Such union is the culmination of all seeking, all desire; it is the most cherished of all experiences of which man is capable.

--Myron J. Stolaroff, ``Using Psychedelics Wisely'', Gnosis Magazine, No. 26, Winter 1993, p 26.

Teachers and practitioners of meditation and related forms of spiritual work describe the experience as being fundamentally an opening of the heart-center -- which is considered in most systems to be the foundation for all further psychospiritual growth and practice. One teacher suggested that the Adam [MDMA] experience facilitates the dissolving of barriers between body, mind, and spirit: one senses the aware presence of spirit infusing the structures of the body and the images and attitudes of the mind. Awareness expands to include all parts of the body, all aspects of mind, and the ``higher'' reaches of Spirit -- thus permitting a kind of re-connecting, a re-membering of the totality of our experience, an access to forgotten truths.

--Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., Foreword to Through the Gateway of the Heart, edited by Sophia Adamson (San Francisco: Four Trees Publications, 1985) p 2-3.

The health and vitality of a given religion depends on the constant interplay between doctrine, ethics, and ritual on the one hand and the mystic awareness of the believer on the other. Where this interplay dries up, doctrine hardens into dogmatism, ethics into legalism, and ritual into ritualism. Only the continuous renewal of a given religious tradition from its mystical core can keep it alive and aware of what religion essentially is, namely, ``exploration into God'' at the frontier of human consciousness.

--Brother David Steindl-Rast, Ph.D., ``Thoughts on Mysticism as Frontier of Consciousness Evolution.'' in Stanislav Grof, Ed., Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution (SUNY Press, 1988) p 105-106.

In the early years of the 1960's, certain religious scholars began to be aware of a superlative instrument for the study of religious experience. This was the psychedleic or ``mind-revealing'' drugs. They are mind revealing in the sense that people who ingest them nearly always become aware of capacities they did not know they possessed, the most surprising being their mystical potentialities. ... Some self-styled experts have labeled the religious effects of the drugs illusory, a kind of religious fake. I have carefully and critically studied the subject for 10 years through firsthand investigation and self-experimentation and have come to the conclusion that if this is a fake religion, then the fake is frequently better than the real thing. There are many well-attested cases on record of dramatic, lasting conversions and religious growth of a profound nature following use of LSD-type drugs.

--Walter Houston Clark et al., Religious Experience: Its Nature and Function in the Human Psyche (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1973) p 17.

The world view that made most sense of this [LSD] experience was clearly a mystical one. Neither the subjective nor the objective pole of experience could encompass the totality. The possibility of transcending boundaries between self and other, the illusory nature of ego, the interdependence of opposites, the relative nature of dualism and the resolution of paradox in transcendence became clear. All mental content was simply the play or the dance of life, and what could be known about consciousness became the focus of my attention. Psychodynamic material that came into awareness seemed irrelevant. My own personal drama was no more significant than light playing on a movie screen. Even feelings of joy, ecstasy, and liberation in letting go of attachments were less important than the insight and sense of knowing, or remembering, inexpressible truth. ``Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'' were the words that seemed best to capture the nature of my experience. I felt free to be exactly who I was, free of fear and social constraints, and filled with love and compassion for all beings.

--Frances E. Vaughan, Ph.D., ``Perception and Knowledge: Reflections on Psychological and Spiritual Learning in the Psychedelic Experience,'' in Psychedelic Reflections, edited by Lester Grinspoon, M.D. and James B. Bakalar, J.D. (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1983) p 109-110.

... Then later when questioned about LSD by some of the young Westerners that were with him, he [Maharaja-ji] said, ``If you're in a cool place and you're quiet and you're feeling much peace and your mind is turned toward God, it's useful. It's useful.'' He said that it will allow you to come in and have the visit -- the darshan -- of a saint, of a higher being of a higher space -- higher consciousness is how you can translate it. But he says you can't stay there -- after a couple of hours you gotta come back. He said, you know, it would be much better to become the saint, rather than to go and have this visit; but having his visit is nice. He said it strengthens your faith in the possibility that such beings exist.

--Ram Dass, The Only Dance There Is (Anchor Books, 1974) p 112-113.

With these [psychedelic] drugs, science stands on an awesome threshold. Some religious leaders would undoubtedly consider it improper for man to tread upon the holy ground of the unconscious, protesting against the exploration of ``inner space'' as they have campaigned against the exploration of outer space. But man's apparent destiny to seek an ever greater comprehension of the nature of reality cannot be thwarted or suppressed.

--Walter N. Pahnke and William A. Richards, ``Implications of LSD and Experimental Mysticism,'' in Altered States of Consciousness, edited by Charles T. Tart (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1969) p 428.

It is my sincere wish that this book contribute to an objective reappraisal of entheogenic drugs and their place in the modern world. I have dedicated it to my late teacher Gordon Wasson, who more than anyone else catalyzed the contemporary revival of ecstatic, shamanic religion, and who wrote beautifully about the ``bemushroomed'' state. At the outset I reiterated Wasson's rhetorical question, whether, with all our modern knowledge, we needed the divine entheogens any longer. I would answer with Wasson, that precisely because of our modern knowledge we need them more than ever. Mother Earth, Our Lady Gaia, is suffering mightily the ecological consequences of all that modern knowledge... [T]o paraphrase one of the greatest Americans, Chief Seattle, the Earth does not belong to humankind, humankind belongs to the Earth. Any experience, pharmacological or otherwise, which makes us aware that ``every thing that lives is Holy,'' that we are all sisters and brothers... black, white, two-legged or four-legged, legless or centipedal; that the universe of which we are an integral part is divine and sacred... I firmly believe that contemporary spiritual use of entheogenic drugs is one of humankind's brightest hopes for overcoming the ecological crisis with which we threaten the biosphere and jeopardize our own survival, for Homo sapiens is close to the head of the list of endangered species.

--Jonathan Ott, Pharmacotheon (Kennewick, WA: Natural Products Co., 1993) p 77.

A good society is one that helps each individual develop his or her genetic potential to the fullest. It provides opportunities for action to everyone: to the athlete and the poet, the merchant and the scholar. It does not bar anyone from doing what he or she does best, and guides everyone to discover what that is. A good society makes it possible for each person to develop the skills necessary to experience flow in socially productive activities. At the same time, it guards against anyone's exploiting the psychic energy of another person for his or her own advantage.

--Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Evolving Self (New York: Harper Collins, 1993) p 269.

In many cultural patterns and in many regions, man has had recourse to drugs for various purposes: ritualistic, initiatory, diagnostic, dionysiac, or therapeutic. In response to obvious dangers, societies have made laws or pronounced taboos to prevent abuse and to protect the community.

--United Nations Declaration of the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control (New York: United Nations, 1988) para. 333.

Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.

--James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games (NY: Macmillan, 1986) p10.

Some years ago I myself made some observations on...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 disregarded. How to regard them is the question,--for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they fail to give a map. At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality. Looking back on my own experiences, they all converge towards a kind of insight to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical significance.

--William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902, New American Library edition 1958) p 298.

[Collection: March 1994, January 1995 Council on Spiritual Practices]

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