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EFR Cover Picture Entheogens and the Future of Religion

edited by
Robert Forte

with chapters by

R. Gordon Wasson · Albert Hofmann ·
Brother David Steindl-Rast · Jack Kornfield ·
Alexander and Ann Shulgin · Dale Pendell ·
Thomas Riedlinger · Terence McKenna ·
Rick Strassman · Thomas Roberts ·
Robert Jesse · Eric Sterling

Published by the Council on Spiritual Practices
San Francisco · 1997
Second Printing · Dec 2000
ISBN 1-889725-04-8

Available through your local bookseller or at
(to the trade from Baker & Taylor, Inc.)

"Collectively, these essays constitute the best single inquiry into the religious significance of chemically occasioned mystical experiences that has yet appeared."
-- Huston Smith, Ph.D., author of The World's Religions and Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World's Religions

bullet_blue.gif Comments about Entheogens and the Future of Religion

"This book provides a balanced, thoroughly research and clear account about a topic that has fascinated people for centuries - even millennia - and will be with us, on way or another, for a long time to come."
-- Harvey Cox, Ph.D., Professor of Theology, Harvard Divinity School

"This book of essays plows new ground.... It is well worth reading. Anything that can bring the human family closer together should be investigated."
-- Rev. Dr. Kenneth B. Smith, President, Chicago Theological Seminary

"We have long needed this well-articulated, thoughtful, and rational basis for understanding the power of psychedelic biochemicals to stimulate visionary experience. These essays make a strong case for the use of these substances in future religious practice."
-- Frank Barron, Ph.D., Sc.D., author of No Rootless Flower: An Ecology of Creativity

"The sensible use of entheogens is one of the most promising paths to deep spiritual insight for many people, and this book shows how that could be done."
-- Charles T. Tart, Ph.D. author of Living the Mindful Life

"If you think like I do that unless we expand our awareness we will not have a happy future, then this is the book to read."
-- Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi

"Essential reading for everyone concerned with spiritual, psychological, and social well-being. A fascinating and significant collection."
-- Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., author of Shadows of the Sacred and The Inward Arc

"This book offers a thoughtful, sane examination of a topic of great social, psychological and religious significance."
-- Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., University of California

bullet_blue.gif Excerpts from Entheogens and the Future of Religion

As long as ritual springs from a genuine awareness of belonging and cultivates that awareness by celebrating it, all is well. But when only hollow forms remain and the experience is gone, or when the forms even block the experience, then we have no longer ritual, but ritualism, an irreligious phenomenon. It is our responsibility to fill the rituals we have inherited with new life, or else to allow the wellspring of life that created the old forms to bring forth new ones.

-- Brother David Steindl-Rast, Ph.D., O.S.B., "Explorations into God"

The requisite transformations in the direction of an all-encompassing consciousness, as a precondition for overcoming materialism and for a renewed relationship with Nature ... must and can only take place in each individual person.

Only a few blessed people spontaneously attain the mystical vision which can effect this transformation. As a result, mankind has repeatedly sought paths and evolved methods to evoke deeper perception and experience.... An especially important aid in the induction of mystical-ecstatic states of consciousness, discovered in the earliest times, is decidedly the use of certain plant drugs. In the preceding discussion, I have made it quite clear that their use must proceed within the scope of religious ceremony.

-- Albert Hofmann, Ph.D., Dr.Sc.Nat.H.C., "The Message of the Eleusinian Mysteries"

I would not be surprised if at some point there comes to be a useful marriage between some of these drugs and a systematic training or practice that I have described. That marriage will have to be based on an understanding of the ancient teachings, the laws of karma, responsibility, action, virtue, training the heart and the mind, and the laws of liberation.

-- Jack Kornfield, "Psychedelic Experience and Spiritual Practice: A Buddhist Perspective"

[Sacred mushrooms] stimulate a mystical experience which cannot be reduced to words or concepts, much in contrast to most Christian worship based on "learned" theological systems. In that sense the Christian religion of the Mazatec mushroom eaters is defined, like Pentecostalism, not by doctrine or by dogma but phenomenologically. Both religions are examples of the primal spirituality which [Harvey] Cox describes as "reaching beyond the levels of creed and ceremony into the core of human religiousness, into ... that largely unprocessed nucleus of the psyche in which the unending struggle for a sense of purpose and significance goes on."

-- Thomas J. Riedlinger, M.T.S., F.L.S., "Sacred Mushroom Pentecost"

Subtle adverse effects ... of the non-medical use of psychedelics ... include a feeling of superiority in those who have taken a psychedelic, to those who have not. Rather than increasing tolerance for differences and compassion for those who may (or may not) be less spiritually or personally developed than oneself, this seems a move backwards, by increasing judgmentalism and divisiveness. Another rarely discussed adverse effect of non-medical psychedelic use is the belief that coming to a particular understanding or resolution of a personal problem on a psychedelic trip is the same as living the understanding or resolution in daily life....

In terms of combining religious practice and psychedelic drugs in a fruitful way one simple model comes to mind. This is one in which a religious aspirant, with strong moral and intellectual understanding of religious doctrine, practice, and community, lacks a deep experiential realization of the bases of these doctrines and practices. The view provided by a properly prepared, supervised, and followed-up high dose psychedelic experience may provide the validation of the teachings necessary for inspiration to continue the work at hand.

-- Rick J. Strassman, M.D., "Biochemical Research with Psychedelics"

These writings aim to direct attention to the distinctly sacred nature of [the entheogens] with the hope that religious minded investigators, policy architects, and the concerned public will take note. It is our hope that this book will contribute to an honest reappraisal of the historic and modern significance of entheogens, so that they may be used accordingly in today's world by those seeking to cultivate their spiritual awareness.

-- Robert Forte, A.M.R.S., from the Introduction

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Inside the Spiritual Practices Section

About CSP
Purpose and Results

Religious Leaders
needed to help with research
in Baltimore or New York

The Mystical Core
of Organized Religion