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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.
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
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
--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
--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.
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
--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
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.
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.
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
--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
The Varieties of Religious Experience
(1902, New American Library edition 1958) p 298.
[Collection: March 1994, January 1995 Council on Spiritual Practices]